How do we corrupt the youth? To start we give them, when they are teenage boys, George Steiner’s introduction to Kafka:
Intercourse, as we find it pictured in The Trial and The Castle, has the crass ambiguity of rape. It humiliates men more than women. It leaves them irreparably soiled and enfeebled.
And follow it up with “Tradition and the Individual Talent”:
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
And wait, arms folded, to see who will cut a hole through all that to let the air in.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Okay, smart guy, what if the infant grows up to be Harvey Weinstein?
Desiring this girl’s art, and that girl’s scope. But the café sound system couldn’t be blunter:
Don’t get any big ideas / They’re not going to happen / You’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking
The other night I had my first experience with some guy trying to pick me up off the street. It was confusing because at first, based off past experience, I thought he was asking me for money. It was only the immediacy of his questions—what are you doing right now? what are you up to right now?—that finally clued me into what he was after, his story about moving here from Indiana, home of Michael Jackson, you know Indiana?
What I was doing, I said (going at a clip up the sidewalk, him tailing after), was meeting someone. I’m going to get in a car. Which was true—J. was around the corner. So maybe give me your number, he said, and we could go to the movies?
I’ve never known what to say about the movies. Maybe some other time?
He stopped following. After my back he called: you know I’ll never see you again!
And J. was in the car around in the corner, headlights on.
Auden's lullaby has been killing me this week, in a different way than it used to. Age is part of it, the time and fevers that burn away beauty. But also the nocturne as oasis; outside the room all is not well. “Nights of insult let you pass / Watched by every human love.”
Early spring: rhododendrons in bloom, weeds poking through a pumice wall. More light, like Goethe asked for.
N. says, “The way you look now, it’s like you just took a mask off.” Of course she looks the same way.
I’m neglecting duties. I’ll do worse before we’re through.
Come back, my heart, come back.