5.12.01 – Wednesday
5 December 2001, around 14.03.
Listen and take pleasure in what you were not given in life – quiet. Look, there up ahead is your eternal home, which you’ve been given as a reward. I can see the Venetian window and the grape-vine curling up to the roof. There is your home, your eternal home. I know that in the evenings people you like will come to see you, people who interest you and will not upset you. They will play for you, sing for you, and you will see how the room looks in candlelight. You will fall asleep with your grimy eternal hat on your head, you will fall asleep with a smile on your lips. Sleep will strengthen you, you will begin to reason wisely. And you will never be able to chase me away. I will guard your sleep.
—Bulgakov (The Master and Margarita, trans. D. Burgin & K. T. O’Connor, p. 325)
8.12.01 – Saturday
8 December 2001, around 14.04.
Reading Invitation to a Beheading:
In the evenings he would feast on ancient books in the lazy enchanting lap of wavelets in the Floating Library, in memoriam of Dr. Sineokov, who had drowned in just that spot on the city river (27).
Motivation, of course, something to do with latent shame, as usually I’m the one recommending books. M. read it two summers ago and I’ve been dilatory; still haven’t read Underworld, either…
12.12.01 – Wednesday
12 December 2001, around 14.06.
Smell of snow and, strangely, dust. Also leaves. Witnessed (a martyrdom indeed!) an incident of performance art in the library foyer, involving a team of ‘dancers’ and books, which received such abuse as dropping & general prop-dom (oh, ignominy!).
Also spent the last geology lecture of the year reading essays by Francis Bacon:
There be some whose lives are is if they perpetually played upon a stage, disguised to all others, open only to themselves. But perpetual dissimulation is painful, and he that is all fortune and no nature is an exquisite hireling. Live not in continual smother, but take some friends with whom to communicate. It will unfold thy understanding; it will evaporate thy affections; it will prepare thy business.
A man may keep a corner of his mind from his friend, and it be but to witness to himself that it is not upon facility, but upon true use of friendship that he imparteth himself. […] Perfection of friendship is but a speculation. It is friendship, when a man can say to himself, I love this man without respect of utility; I am open-hearted to him; I single him from the generality of those with whom I live; I make him a portion of my own wishes.
‘Of Friendship’ (1612)
‘Live not in continual smother…’ Of course not, Frank, wouldn’t dream of it…
22.12.01 – Saturday
22 December 2001, around 14.07.
Sent the last of my applications off yesterday, along with a story to JC and treats for other people. Well, maybe it is a bit overbold to call that little booklet a ‘treat’: more of a glorified holiday card, actually, except, of course, that it has nothing to do with the holidays, red cover notwithstanding.
Also, traveled from New England to SF yesterday, with the ever so joyous stop at Cincinnati. I read Nietzsche on the plane (it seemed suitably pretentious). From BDL to CVG, the fellow sitting next to me read the new biography of Teddy Roosevelt; from CVG to SFO, the woman next to me was reading something by Asimov the title of which I was unable to catch as she spent most of the flight using the book as a pillow.