Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And the day arrives

Selected Poems, by Vladimir Nabokov.
"This title will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on May 29, 2012."

No more scrounging around in old city libraries for scraps of verses in out-of-print editions and furtively taking snaps on the phone for posterity. No more zealous inquiries in second-hand stores on travels in foreign lands, run by old men with hopeful eyes that turn wistful at the mention of the name.

The poet who emigrated to prose, is coming home.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The most evocative thing ever put to film

[Carlos Kleiber conducting the Liebestod from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde". At Bayreuth, perhaps 1975.]

There you have it, the only thing any of us will ever need to know. The purpose of art, the justification of all existence.

Mild und leise,
wie er lächelt,
wie das Auge
hold er öffnet...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Her: Favourite song.
Him: "Videotape", by Radiohead.
Her: Undisputably?
Him: Undisputably. 

Her: Most overrated of all human qualities.
Him: Intelligence.
Her: Most despicable?
Him: Hubris. 

Her: The most beautiful three-worded phrase in the English language. 
Him: Take me away.  

Her: Somewhere you'd love to live. Sometime.
Him: Way too many wheres, too many whens to name one. 
Her: I thought we had agreed that those sort of responses were "irresponsible". Verbalise the moment's desires please.
Him: Venezia. Early sixteenth century. Dorsoduro. In the depths of winter, preferably. 

Her: Motto in life. 
Him: Life doesn't fascinate you unless it is fascinated by you. 

Her: Death.
Him: That singular moment we spend our life in preparation for. If not for it, how would you précis a lifetime's worth of reality? 

Her: Favourite Quote.
Him: "Like everybody who is not in love, he thought one chose the person to be loved after endless deliberations and on the basis of particular qualities or advantages." - Marcel Proust 

Her: Three people you'd wish to spend an evening with.
Him: I want five.
Her: How about four?
Him: Bargaining, seriously? You sound like Charon.
Her: And you're Aeneas? Cough up the two extra obols, mister.
Him: How about two more questions than initially agreed?
Her: Now, that's good business. A quintet it is then.
Him: Sergei Diaghilev, Anna Akhmatova, Carlos Kleiber, Christopher Hitchens, Caravaggio.

Her: Greatest love story ever told.
Him: Lolita. 

Her: One thing you can't live without.
Him: Nothing in life is indispensable. 

Her: Moving to an island. One book, only one. For the rest of life.
Him: You don't have to sound so pleased about the whole idea, you know.
Her: Of course. What else do you think is the point of doing all this.
Him: Philip Larkin's Collected poems.

Her: One trait that would instantly, unconditionally, endear any girl to you. Like being a ballerina. Or being Armenian. Or having size 7 feet. 
Him: A love of reading Pynchon. With that, believe me, she'd have me by the neck. 

Her: Your greatest inadequacy. 
Him: Not being as well-read as I'd have liked to be. 

Her: One abstraction that you're obsessed with.
Him: Distances. In time, in space. Between people, between nations, between ideas.
Her: Care to elaborate?
Him: That will count towards another question.
Her: I should've known. No thanks, cheapskate. 

Her: The hardest thing about being in love?
Him: Being selfish.