Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Commonplace Entry

This week's entry comes from The Death of My Brother Abel by Gregor Von Rezzori

And there I had a vision all at once. You, Mr. Brodny, the model American (hadn’t gone over on the Mayflower, to be sure, but all the more militant in New World spirit for that: a pogrom-tested Babbitt from Galicia), and as the personification of that spirit you were eating not patè de grives but a dish named Yurop. The thing you smeared so thickly on your little pieces of white bread and inserted between your perfectly serviced teeth, the thing on which you closed your lips, leaving them to their so original play of expressions, while you were totally interiorized to a chewer and swallower—that thing was not thrush patè, it was Europe. Her spirit, her soul, her dream of herself, her self-illusion. Her old skillfulness, her inexhaustible wealth of forms, all her many forms so thoroughly imbued with her spirit, in short, the essence of her being. Indeed, that was a feasting! I saw palaces and cathedrals vanishing into your mouth, which closed over them, contorting—either disdainful or offended, mocking or arrogant—while your teeth chewed. Entire cities, lovelier than Nuremberg, were gobbled up by you, for instance Bruges or Siena or Salzburg or Varasdin or Prague. With you, I tasted Paestum still in swampland and a tangle of wild roses, I saw a spring morning in Brabant melting on your tongue. You forked up the Lubeck Dance of Death and chewed it with delight; you then insert Michelangelo’s David with its oversize head and fists (but what a head, what fists!), promptly followed by a Klimt portrait of a lady. Shakespeare’s sonnets tickled your palate. You swallowed the facade of Chartres with all the mysterious queens and angels and granted yourself, last but not least, the concluding chapter of Proust’s Du cotè de chez Swann. And you washed all this down with a wine that got its color from Giordano Bruno’s blood and its charmingly virile spirit from Spinoza. And with the sounds of Palestrina, Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, your angelic voice now clambered over the threshold of my consciousness: Gaia’s first lover.
I had to hold my breath and writhe and squirm to keep from throwing up.
from The Death of My Brother Abel (c)Viking Press (1985)

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