– Jim Burns
GOETHEDÄMMERUNG - Alexis
OCCASIONS - Alexis Lykiard
DIVORCE - Alexis Lykiard
ASYLUM (1) -
Andrew Lee Hart
ONCE CALDER MOOR –
A PASTORAL FOR CALDER MOOR –
BURIED TREASURE –
THE CRUST OF IT
COINS AND FORGIVENESS –
TRY THIS AT HOME –
SHOPPING THIEVES (2) –
THE BEECHES (4)
L’AFFAIRE LEMOINE FROM THE
GONCOURT JOURNAL – Marcel
Proust (trans Enid
MOVING ON (2)
Ivan de Nemethy
SEARCH OF FORGOTTEN MEMORIES-(3) –
GETTING IT DONE –
THE PHOTOGRAPH –
DEAD DOG STORY –
EMIL CIORAN – A RUMANIAN KEN
On my first trip to Paris
I stayed at the Hotel Moderne in rue
Racine. It was a typical five storey doss
house just off the Boulevards St Michel and St Germain. A student
area – not quite the den of drug-addled hedonists as in Henry
Murger’s bohemia (see Jim Burns p 11) more the haunt of indigent,
scholarly bookworms. JP Sartre lived round the corner in rue
Bonaparte. Another famous, but self-effacing sage was Emil Cioran.
He arrived in 1937 from
Bucharest, ostensibly as
a student attached to the Sorbonne but not spending much time there.
He had more important things to do. He lived at the junction of rue Racine and rue Monsieur le
Prince. He loved the place and preferred rooms on the top floor.
There’s even a Youtube video of him wandering around reminiscing on
the good old days. See
A profoundly pessimistic nihilist
he could be surprisingly (unintentionally?) funny. I thought his
pensée on the plight of poets and editors v droll: I larfed. To
bring this apercu up to date simply substitute “oiks” for “émigrés”
tragic is the case of the poet. Walled up in his own language, he
writes for his friends—for ten, for twenty persons at the most. His
longing to be read is no less imperious than that of the improvised
novelist. At least he has the advantage over the latter of being
able to get his verses published in the little émigré reviews which
appear at the cost of almost indecent sacrifices and renunciations.
Let us say such a man becomes—transforms himself—into an editor of
such a review; to keep his publication alive he risks hunger,
abstains from women, buries himself in a window-less room, imposes
privations which confound and appal. Tuberculosis and masturbation,
that is his fate.
No matter how scanty
the number of émigrés, they form groups, not to protect their
interests but to get up subscriptions, to bleed each other white in
order to publish their regrets, their cries, their echoless appeals.
One cannot conceive of a more heart-rending form of the
Advantages of Exile
p75 in The Temptation to
Exist Quartet Encounter 1984
How true Emil! Of
course I myself do not have TB.
Like most of our
contributors Emil disdained riches and fame. He refused all prizes
but got noticed and even celebrated nonetheless. The publisher
Gallimard picked him up and accorded him the ultimate accolade – a
Pléiade edition of his complete works in French (he started off
writing in Rumanian). This can be yours for a mere £60. Emil stayed
in his Latin quarter lair and lived
to be 84 dying in 1995 after going nuts (Alzheimers). How come such
a miserabilist lasted so long? As his cheery aphorism explains:
is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill
yourself too late.”
Dodd himself might have said the same.
mandarin in coat of verdigris, he sprawls,
Goethe parked upon a
tarnished emerald throne.
The Great Man casts his jaded
over the dull succession of expensive cars
now hurtling down the broad and snow-flecked boulevard.
the grandiose plinth a single yellow crane
aspires to puncture
bloated clouds above Vienna.
wasn’t even Austrian”, our friend recalls,
noting the sole,
correctly-spelled graffito we have seen,
scrawled on a builder’s
board beside the German genius:
Urban Youth Never Sleeps
– an obscure boast, or threat perhaps.
Meanwhile by day the fur-clad female burghers
trottoirs in big boots and hats, well-preserved folk
smart and smug within their antiseptic city.
Muslims, buskers, beggars have been shovelled elsewhere
there’s not a speck of gum, dogshit or litter
immaculate streets, tram-routes, efficient U-Bahn.
affluent, conformist, uber-clean,
the imperial past just
icing-sugar. Kitsch prevails:
you can buy Klimt trinkets,
bonbons, most ingeniously gross confectionery.
heavy, decorative gates and ornate railings,
overwrought-ironwork, one might say;
looking is free at any rate,
the economy thriving
what with the great weight of Capital
hearts, minds and lives of Viennese today.
Enormous banks, curlicued façades of whitest buildings,
horse-drawn cabs, Hapsburg palaces restored post-war,
the largely Catholic bourgeoisie has triumphed:
ought revolutions to be for?
During yet another leisurely,
we found the old Jewish quarter, deserted
in the cold,
then passed a synagogue a single well-armed guard
as he strolled near his shiny van marked Polizei.
A couple of smaller, more pleasing details caught the eye:
commemorate some lesser literary lights,
the little-read Stifter
and Broch, sounding like attorneys
to the majority of tourist
types. The city’s edge,
all that satiric questioning, appears
rather long gone,
one must conclude – only some scattered traces
of dangerous artists, riskily creative minds, those
True, there’s the Freudhaus, or a passing mention of Karl
Roth the ‘holy drinker’, who preferred Berlin.
Blandness persists though; we’ve
come to wonder who might feel a
frisson of bohemian sex or
deathwish, syphilis and Schiele…
Wandering through the city, with
the river on our right,
casually retracing steps to more familiar
the four of us remark how – even at the smallest
each unimportant intersection – firm rules are
all abide by regulations once laid down.
ordnung, therefore everyone observes, must
understand, stand ready for the sign, the right time,
sure, the time that shall surely be, both arrival
brief moment of expectant certainty,
perception fit to free the
spirit and unfreeze the limbs,
bringing a quick flash of
unarguable reason –
the diminutive Green Man.
Garage (detail) 1919