Wednesday, 1 January 2014

I'm On the Plane

Or at least I was. And that meant I had time to read the London Review of Books. Only one issue on this occasion, as I also did a bit of sleeping and watched Frances HaBefore Midnight and La Cage Dorée, as well as bits of various other films, all of which seemed fairly rubbishy, (Elysium took the cake on that score).

Still, what I did read in the London Review of Books was interesting. There was an article about Nijinsky and how he lived in Budapest, (hey, that's where I'm going [where I am now, in fact]) and how his last performance went like this:

"An audience of about two hundred had gathered. Nijinsky spent the first half an hour sitting staring at them. The pianist began playing some Chopin. Romola [Nijinsky's Hungarian wife] encouraged him to dance. 'I am not a machine,' he replied and Romola ran out of the room. When she returned, he was dancing. After a brief pause, he laid a velvet cross on the floor and stood at its crosspoint with arms outstretched. He then proceeded to dance the First World War."

That must have been quite an evening.

There was an article about a film called Upstream Colour, which involved people who have grubs introduced into them, so that they can be seen traveling about under their skin, pigs, into whose bodies the grubs are subsequently introduced and Thoreau's Walden, which the people, once they've rid themselves of the grubs, read to each other, while diving for stones. Apparently, it's a very good film.

There was an article about Gabrielle d'Annunzio, who I think one could safely describe as one hell of a character. The two bits of the article that particularly caught my attention were these:

1.  "...d'Annunzio was an insistently amorous presence at his lovers' sickbeds. 'Your beauty is spiritualised by illness,' he told Elvira Fraternali. 'I think that when you are dead you will reach the supreme light of beauty.'"

Not the most encouraging way to speak to an invalid, I'd have thought.

2. "In his last years d'Annunzio grew shrunken and bandy-legged, living a frugal and contemplative life interspersed with cocaine fuelled sex with a tubercular Milanese prostitute chauffeured up from her lodgings above a trattoria on the lakeside."

I think that, by that standard, we all live frugal and contemplative lives - in fact, mine is a great deal more frugal and contemplative than that, as it happens.

Finally, there was a review of Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge. It sounds v good and the quotation I particularly liked from it was this one, in which a character characterises the internet as a:

"magical convenience that now creeps like a smell through the smallest details of our lives, the shopping, the housework, the homework, the taxes, absorbing our energy, eating up our precious time."

Yes, well - on that note, I shall turn away from this screen and go out into the great city that lies outside my window.

Happy New Year to all.

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