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18 juin 2009 @ 19:48
My dear friend,

I write to you now after what is an insensitive and careless lapse in communication. In addition to being ill, I have been preoccupied with the design and construction of my mausoleum, to the protest of everyone around me. Those who despise me, such as my family, have been issuing absolutely vitriolic missives against me after I voiced the possibility of disinterring the remains of my ancestors to make room for a reflecting pool, which I think you will agree is essential. Some of my less scrupulous relations, such as my uncle Bernard, have even published letters in the back of Figaro. Meanwhile, those who profess to love me try to distract me from my designs by insisting that I should focus less on my own mortality, which in their great physiological expertise they deem to be non-imminent. Can you believe that?

This has been a most trying evening, which is why I now comfort myself by writing to you, my beloved friend. It began when a mass of cold wet air settled over town like a filthy sponge, causing my joints to ache terribly and my head to spin. All I could do was take to bed. Antoine of course tried to warm me up with some brandy and a dinner of coq au vin with potatoes; I would have none of it. Heavy peasant food, it would kill me. I compromised with a pamplemousse before settling on oyster soup and wine-poached figs. I know that people poach their figs in Sauternes but I prefer them in Liebfraumilch, which is not as sweet, and which adds something of an herbaceous accent to the fruit. Delicious.

Somewhat refreshed, I turned to my letters. You may remember our friend Remi-Paul Comont, who I believe was close with your sister when we were all in Neuilly. In any case, he is in Marseilles now lecturing in philology at Université de Provence, and has been sending me a great deal of literature about the aesthetics of the Far East, with which he is particularly well-acquainted. In the Mongoloid languages there is this concept of "aware", which means a sensitivity to transience, to the passing of things (its serendipitous English homonym is not uninteresting in this regard...) Perhaps because of my own frailty, I recognize the delicacy of all other things, whether they be flower blossoms, or the surprising use of herbs in a well prepared dish, or the innocence of young boys. I have always felt that everything beautiful must be temporary, but beauty itself is the only thing that is immortal, lasting, and certain.

Comont says that beauty is necessary and I agree with him. It is everything else that is contingent. Money, lovers, books, land; they all pass. The beauty of a cherry blossom is reproducing itself in every other cherry that has ever unclasped its soft petals in the sun. That it withers and dies, just as we do, is of no consequence; it is a vehicle for its essence, just as we are vehicles for ours. But even our essences as men are simply recombinations or harmonies of man's timeless features as an aesthetic genus, a species-essence. That the particularities of our mortal consciousness might perish is irrelevant to the lover of beauty; a man who has loved has no particular love of his own, but is a vehicle for love itself, which flows throughout the lives of men in all ages, reprising itself with subtle variations at every turn. The beauty that is love is immortal, even if the flesh in which it temporary manifests itself is not. It is a formal power. It shall return in some other reincarnation. And in what sense would we not be "there" for it? Even the contemplation of death is a moment of morbid beauty awaiting some further reiteration.

Mm. Mélingue of course can hardly stand these Asiatic reflections. He protests that our individuality is of the highest importance and must be spent with great urgency before an all-important and necessarily private death. He has in mind Napoleon and Caesar, &tc. It is all so much heroic trash, how can I submit to such a view? Mélingue is strong and virile. Even in starched cotton his muscles and appendages seem to be on the brink of bursting through his vestments, as if the barbaric heart that beats within him can not stand to be clothed, regardless of how civilized, docile, and ultimately tame a man he is... How strange it must be to have a body full of urges all its own, like an animal's!

Men are savage. I much prefer the company of plants, the patient beauty of which is wholly lacking in human society. The bond of true friendship between men is my only succor in this regard, and for that I am forever thankful to you, apperception.

with love, for-ever,
yours truly
mendaciloquent
 
 
19 octobre 2008 @ 20:30
Dearest Mendaciloquent,

Accept my apologies for not answering your last missive sooner, gentle friend. My mind has been preoccupied as of late by Scientific matters, leaving precious little energy at the end of the day to keep up correspondences. Yet as I read your letter, penned by your fastidious hand, my vital energies stir and renew. I should have written sooner.

As you know from my last letter, I am attempting to deduce Light. Once I am able to prove its existence by means of self-evident principles, I will have provided the necessary framework for a system of Science capable of rationally grounding phenomena as general as the forces of Attraction and Repulsion, as well as the most seemingly arbitrary existences (the Pygmies of Musical Africa, inter alia).

My sister wrote the other day. She recommended I bring you a gift of a Mastiff the next time I visit. She thought it would make a precious gift, and I had to concur—but then I remembered the lamentable delicacy of your pleura. Your doctors would surely object, as the fur of the creature might bring about another attack. I will bring you one of my orchids instead. I created a new species this fall.

It has been far too long since we have been together in one another's arms. We must remedy it soon. I ache for the fullness provided by your company, dearest friend.

Until then, I am, as always
Your loving and gentle companion,
Apperception
 
 
13 juin 2008 @ 18:13
My dearest apperception,

The evenings of summer are too brief, the light too lingering, the heat too reluctant to release its grip upon the land. The languor of sweat and sunlight sinks deep into the bones and is alleviated only by the chill of night. And it is in the clarity and stillness of night that I like best to think of you.

Often, when the blue of twilight finally recedes and gives way to splendid black, I dress in a robe and go out to the telescope to gaze at the stars. As I ponder the heavens, I wonder at times if I am gazing at you, for the rumors of your death weigh heavily upon both my dreams and my waking mind.

It was only last week that, after happening upon M. Lindsey Milton at the Hotel India, I was told that you had been spotted in the company of a young woman at the jockey. Such was my desire to believe this news that I was willing to overlook your hysterical gynophobia and expulsion from the club, which I must say was conspicuous in its lack of justice and gentlemanly care. This came less than a month after having an opposite reaction, when seeing your cousin Anton, to being told that you "were in China" for all he knew, after which I had a string of terrible nightmares wherein you were stricken by Yellow Fever alone on the Yangtze, far from the preserving embrace of good society and European science.

But lest you think that I am merely selfish in my concern, let me relate to you that a number of friends, both dear and esteemed, have asked after your health and whereabouts, and have expressed both publicly and in confidence their misgivings regarding your mysterious absence. Just the other day, after my late-morning nap, I decided to rouse myself from the mists of sleep by perusing the latest issue of Parnassus. No sooner had I started reading than I ran into a glowing (if shallow) review your poem about Daphne. Oh, how I can remember that poem tumbling off your lilting tongue as if it were yesterday.

By Zeus, come back to me, dear friend!

with affection,

and tenderness,

yours always and forever,

mendaciloquent
 
 
19 décembre 2007 @ 23:12
The ice flows down the river in large sheets, and snow covers the ground, so far as my feeble eyes – pained by the light – can see, and the branches of great trees tremble like ghosts in the frigid wind. It is as though the freezing temperature has banished from my mind any memory of the sun’s warmth, green foliage, and above all walking arm-in-arm with you, apperception.

Yes. Within my heart beats a furious hunger for the masculine companionship only you have provided. How did I end up in this strange and bewildering land? Everything portends death and infertility. I enter upon my drawing room and spy a dried rose left from autumn. Its shrunken face reminds me of joys now past and of a vital essence that has vanished from my veins. I listen to the Sonate a la Maresienne and can hear deep within its pulsing grace a virility that I now lack. I eat a tender duck cooked in cream and mustard, and the sharpness of the sauce reminds me only of my own flaccid and helpless spirit. What has become of me?

For it was not always this way. I can remember charging through the woods on my mare, with you only a few paces ahead on your stallion. When we stopped to water, our brows covered in sweat and dust, we would admire the stallion’s protuberance. I always wished for a faster horse.

And now in my old age, secluded in this frosty glen, I look back upon those days and wish that I could recapture some feeling of the fledgling manhood that has left me utterly. In the middle of the night, I will often awake in this dark and drafty house, and the dust and smell of oak is a casket to me. I’m afraid that I will soon perish.

When you receive my missive, I ask that you raise your goblet to me, my dearest apperception, and be thankful for the days you have left.

with love,

and tenderness,

yours forever,

mendaciloquent
 
 
18 juin 2007 @ 21:54
Dearest Mendaciloquent,

It is now well into the lonely, quiet hours of the morning as I set down to pen you this missive. Scarcely a leaf moves on the trees outside my window, and all is shrouded in the heavy, humid air beneath the sidereal sky. At this late hour, I am moved by overwhelming want for your companionship and counsel, as it is one of the few things able to allay the fear that has overtaken me now. Against grandaunt's wishes, I stole from my chambers after bedtime and snuck down to the study so that I might work by "electric lamp" on my treatise on chemistry, religion, and poetry. It was well past midnight when I finally retired to bed, yet I was not asleep long before I awoke with a start from a most horrifying dream.

In this dream I was strolling the grounds at the summer house, walking across the field down the hill from the conservatory. It was the middle of the day, there were no clouds in the sky, and as such, no objects cast any shadows as I made my way across field. The earth was uncannily quiet as I reached the stream with its large plane tree under which we sought refuge last summer from the oppressive heat to read one another poetry and splash around in the water. I stared into the flowing, dark waters of the stream. I was about to sit down under the plane tree when I noticed that one of the rocks by the stream seemed out of place, as though the earth around it did not conform perfectly with its edge. The sun was beginning to sink below the horizon as I approached the stone. I placed my fingertips under the edge of the rock, and expending more physical energy than I am normally wont to do, I turned it over. As it landed with a crash in a crop of mugwort, the stench of the irriguous earth wafted up from the depression and filled my nostrils so powerfully, I nearly lost my bearing. I strained my eyes to peer into the maw left behind where the stone once sat. It was quite dark now. I could make out what appeared to be something wrapped in a piece of cloth. When I reached in to remove the object, I realized it was burlap. The outside was clammy and cold, but as I began to peel it back, arid flakes of dirt and cloth fell off. As I reached the rectangular object at its center, the smell of the agglutinative pollen of the oversexed plants rose all around me. I thought I heard what sounded like a raspy panting to my left as the last of the cloth fell to the ground. It was a book. And it was sticky.

I awoke in a panic, my clothes drenched in so much sudation that I thought I might have wet the bed again, the stench of that damp earth still clinging to my nostrils. It is times like these that I still wish you were with Mother and me, that you might sit up with me awhile, soothe my apprehensions and misgivings, and perhaps fix me a warm cup of tea. You were always able to palliate my delicate sensibilities better than any other!

I dare say, it has been too long, my good friend, and I believe that the time approaches when, once again, we must take a little romp down to the seaside. I thought we might enjoy victuals at Mother's first. There is also a delicious libation to which I would love to introduce you; it comes from the Southern area of the United States of America, the only region of that modern continent which self-consciously organizes itself according to principles of nature rather than simply tossing itself together as a mere aggregate. I have the greatest respect for that region of the world, and though I have never had the pleasure of conversing with a southern gentlemen, I imagine that, if I did, I would find in him an ineliminable world-wisdom and probity. In any case, the drink is called a "mint julep". It has a most racy effect on the humours, I find, and the taste is incomparable. Afterward I thought we might go to the seashore, perhaps for a swim, and afterward enjoy some fruit de la mer.

Maybe this would be an appropriate occasion to bring your new lady along? You did not know that I knew about that, did you? Do not worry, Kyle told me everything. You don't have to keep it a secret anymore. Mendaciloquent, you have the ways of a gregarious little beetle, I know just as well as you the demands of society. Should you feel the need to maintain a rapport hétérosexuel, I would be the least to object. Fear not: I promise I will behave and keep my obstreperous jealousy at bay for you!

Ah, there we go, my dove! See? Just the thought of your presence manages to soothe my agitation. I find myself calm and depleted, ready to rest my head back on my pillow and slip away to quiet slumber.

I pray that my missive finds you vital. Please make sure in your next correspondence to send me some more of your poems. I am enclosing a draft of my most recent work: A Treatise on the Sciences & Myths of Man, Beginning With Culture In Its Oriental Infancy & Progressing Forward to the Technological Advents of Modernity, Such as the Dirigible, &c.

Until next time and forever
I am faithfully yours,
Your most humble friend and servant,
apperception
 
 
 
08 mars 2007 @ 20:42
Dear Apperception,

I beg your apologies for not writing sooner -- my faint constitution, which as it is might be troubled by sudden changes in humidity, the excitation of the nerves, the presence of dander or soot, and of course my heliophobia (in the summer, I must often walk about town with a woman, holding her parasol aloft under the guise of chivalry, when really it is to escape the dreadful sun), has failed me once again, though in this case I might truthfully say that the incident did not stem from the various congenital afflictions for which I am well known. Allow me to explain.

I had been enjoying a late-summer morning on the balcony, reading the paper and finishing my tea, when in the society pages I read that an Elephant had been brought to the sea-shore. I had spotted one once, at the circus, though my view was so constricted by the hats of the matrons that I had never received a proper impression of these magnificent beasts of Black Africa, and needless to say I was resolved at that moment to go.

And it was there at the board-walk that I had my brush with Death. Mm. Mélingue and I must have spent three-quarters of an hour searching for the Elephant, and I naturally enough began to complain of the heat, when Mélingue suggested I try this new concoction to cool myself, an "ice cream". Have you heard of it? It is, I suppose, a sweetened milk or cheese of some sort which is cooled by some means, perhaps by electricity or by vapors, into a sort of slurry. I put the cream close to my mouth, and I was fascinated by how cold it felt against my sun-warmed lips -- what wizardry was this? But after this point my reason failed me. I couldn't quite tell if I were supposed to eat the stuff, as a cheese, or drink it like buttermilk... I guessed the latter, given its consistency, and the white cream down my throat created a most fantastic sensation.

But then I began to worry. The human body, the stasis of fluids and humors, indeed the very functioning of the heart, all depends upon a relatively even temperature of the tissues as it is found in Nature, with the various changes happening at the exterior (note how all our most vital organs are found the deepest within us, and the most extraneous parts on the perimeter), and I began to worry that this sudden disequilibrium would have grave consequences.

I contracted pleuropneumonia only days later. This "ice-cream", as far as I'm concerned, is -- along with the auto-mobile -- simply one more sign of a society in decay, of a people forced to amuse itself with deadly technological trivialities. It is dreadful.

yours,
for-ever,
Mendaciloquent
 
 
05 octobre 2006 @ 14:37
Dear Mendaciloquent,

Less than a fortnight has passed since we last saw one another, yet already I feel your absence as an ache within my breast so heavy that it compels me to sit down and pen you a missive. The month we spent together with Mother at the chateau is forever burned into my memory. The long walks through the woods, the late nights by the fire sipping white wine and discussing French New Wave films, the mornings spent sacrificing cocks to Eos, the afternoons spent picnicking and wrestling in the damp grass as the brook babbled nearby and created delicate white bubbles of froth against the bank – oh my friend, how I miss you! I can still see you smiling in the late summer sunlight, a small trail of hot, white stickiness dripping down from the corner of your mouth. (You always were a fan of my buns!)

Though I will always remember those halcyon days spent with you at the chateau, I find now that my mind, perhaps propelled by the onset of autumn, has turned to more intellectual pursuits, videlicet, the relation between philosophy and the fine arts.

Contrary to the way the vulgar think about philosophy, my dearest Mendaciloquent, you and I both know that it is not the duty of the philosopher to refute the Skeptic. For men like us, there is nothing the skeptic gives us with which we can work; there is only his doubt, only his possible yet forever unrealized Love for that which endures and is beautiful. Once the most primitive notions of involvement, belongingness, camaraderie, and acquaintance are demolished by the insensitivity of the brawny mind, how are we expected to argue philosophically with such a person? Those who expect philosophy to accomplish such a task take it to be like a shovel or a cudgel, rather than Beautiful and Pointillistic as it truly ought to be.

Nay, my friend! Philosophy is not meant to refute the skeptic; all it can do is give us non-skeptics – those of us guided by the spirit of Beauty and Nature – internal reasons to think that we are rationally justified in holding the beliefs we do. But we must start with beliefs! I am reminded of that staid and saintly Prussian philosopher of old, Immanuel Kant, who refused to begin his philosophy with doubt but rather started with our engagement with and knowledge of the world, so that he might show the necessary preconditions underlying it. He knew as well as we do that there is no passage from absolute ignorance to knowledge; there is no path one may construct to connect absolute immorality with morality. Just as nothing can make a cubicle rat see why he should put a dimple in his tie or wear French cuffs rather than button cuffs, so there is no way to make these myopic philistines see what is so plain to us every day, what you and I feel as easily in our being as we feel the fresh air in our lungs. Those who believe we have neither knowledge nor morality cannot be convinced by argument that we do. One would sooner meet with success casting pearls before swine then try to get one of these bean-counting pinheads to see one bit of Truth. The only thing that will convince them is if they let go of their fear and once again orient themselves to lambent Beauty. But since their state of self-imposed ignorance reinforces their fear, they leave us with no choice but to turn our backs and return to the task of hybridizing orchids in the aviary.

My mind is drawn once again to the work of Hegel, who showed in his Phenomenology of Spirit that we cannot logically defeat the antagonist, but rather we must convert him. Think of those times in your life during which you have really changed your mind, Mendaciloquent. Were those changes the result of logical argumentation, or did some path of activity suddenly lead you to turn around and undergo what seemed at the time to be a religious conversion?

What these self-styled skeptics fail to see, and what you and I see all too clearly, is how utterly disappointing knowledge is. People today, brought up as they are in this slop we call “modern life,” expect that anything of value must have a USE. Everything must be brought to a purpose. Philosophy, according to them, has no value unless it can accomplish something, if it can solve some “real world” problem. I will be the first to admit it, my friend: Philosophy can do no such thing! Nor should it! All philosophy can do is provide justification for a way of life of which we are already a part.

Therefore, we do not begin with premises and rational argumentation. On the contrary, we begin with genealogy, so that we may unlock the logic of our own responses, the responses into which we have been cultured, the sentiments that are too close to us to even notice. Once we have perspective on our beliefs, then and only then are we free to transform them in a productive way.

Philosophy therefore does nothing more than make explicit the internal logic of our experiences and practices. It gives them conceptual shape, thereby making perspicuous the beliefs and practices we already inhabit.

Even as I write these words, my friend, I can see that boyish grin of yours slyly spreading across your dimpled and downy face. Right at this moment you are beaming, thinking to yourself, “But Apperception, that’s just what novels do!” And you are absolutely right, my dove. There are different logics by means of which we make things explicit; some are narrative as in novels, and some are representational as in painting. They’re all ways of making explicit those congealed little difficulties in a human life. Philosophy is the version of that activity that uses concepts.

I can sense that I’ve already given you plenty to read; I know how frail your constitution has become, and so I’ll give you time to rest before sending you more of my thoughts on this matter. I hope my letter finds you in good spirits and in good health.

Until next time,
I am your most humble and devoted friend and servant,
Apperception

P.S. - If you see that "rogue," Shelley Snodgrass, send him my regards. Will you? -A
 
 
25 août 2006 @ 13:50
My Dearest Friend,

I have just returned from the Kingdom of Norway. I can not recount to you the number of times, upon the deck of the tramp steamer bespeckled by sea-spray, that I gazed out upon the tireless throbbing of the sea and thought fondly of you and my return to the placid sun-drenched banks of the Raritan, the approaching warmth of which I could sense with each passing league.

During my tour of that cold country, with its innumerable fjords gouged out by the Creator's unforgiving hand, I happened to cross paths with a Norwegian philosopher with a most bizarre Angophilic temperament, which piqued my curiosity in the same way as would the sight of a palm-tree growing at the foot of a glacier.

He was very much enamored of the utility of common sense, that quaint sensibility which has been the source of a perennial and unjustifiable love among English-speaking men of ideas, and the Norwegian was surprised that I, a nominal American, would be skeptical of such an approach. I tried my best to explain to him that while common sense might be a perfectly good tool for deciding what to eat for dinner, or for repairing some simple device (a bi-cycle for example), its philosophical virtue was at best dubious, in as much as it is not at all obvious why one should think it a good idea to submit common answers to entirely uncommon questions; it goes without saying that my protests were not embraced in an altogether fond manner.

This philistine encounter only caused me to ache more profoundly for my return home and into the familiar company of unscrupulous intellects such as yourself. I do hope that we will be together soon, and perhaps enjoy, as is our habit, a little cognac by the sea-shore following a some nautical repast.

yours,
for-ever,
Mendaciloquent
 
 
26 juin 2006 @ 19:42
Dear mendaciloquent,

Allow me to offer my apologies for not replying to your letter sooner. I assure you, the delay in response was not due to working too hard -- you know I would never do that -- but rather owed itself to a mood that overtook me, grappled me like a ruddy wrestler-boy, and would not let me go until it had its way with me. Languorous and melancholy did I become this past weekend, bashfully retiring from the company of friends, stubbornly eschewing the nourishment of food, and frivolously surrendering to the bottle. It wasn't until vespers this day that the spell broke, and now I write this letter to you as I sit on the veranda, wearing the apple blossom print silk kimono you adore so much, sipping gingerly from a cup of violet flower tea. I am in a weakened state, my friend, but I have much to share with you that I experienced during the denouement of my malaise.

Insofar as anything can be clear when one spends his days, as do I, lounging in a deck chair, sipping wine, and watching the inconstant shapes of the clouds, the following manifested itself pellucidly to me during my recent fit: the only true things are those which are utterly useless. Usefulness and utility are spoken of far too highly these days, mendaciloquent. All the time I hear men who are otherwise learned and of good breeding complain of the vagaries of metaphysics and praise the virtues of industriousness and utility. They claim that usefulness is the yardstick by which all men ought to measure the truth, and they point to such recent inventions as the automobile and the "radio" as proof that the veracity of our ideas about Nature is reflected in, and can only be reflected in, the Mastery we have over her. But these men traffic in falsehoods, and they do Nature violence which can only be appeased by reconciliation.

Truth, mendaciloquent, is beauty intellectually represented. It is that which resists mastery, that which refuses to yield to and buckle under the demands of usefulness. It is the normative element in and of nature-bound, sensible experience. It is that which is completely free and which suffers insult in being called "matter." Indeed, the only way to appease nature, such as we have insulted her, is by means of the spirit of beauty.

Surely this insight will be difficult to accept for day laborers and others who participate in the idiocy of work. For those who care only for Sundays and paychecks, my words will remain completely incomprehensible. And I would be sorry if they understood me. I hope my words may so bewilder them that they see nothing but characters on the page, whilst the pushbrooms and shovels they call their minds are torn hither and thither by the caged anger within. For I tell you now, anything useful is false. The only truth is l'inutile, the useless!

I had to pause just now from writing as I was overcome with a fit of coughing. Oh, mendaciloquent! I feel so anemic -- yet so strangely sanguine at the same time. Though my constitution is still far too weak even to consume a petit pâtisserie, I feel, deep inside, a shift in the balance of my Humours. This singular insight into the sublime truth of all things that are useless and beautiful will establish the foundation upon which I plan to construct a baroque, metaphysical edifice. And it is my hope that you, my friend, will help me construct this tower of thought, a tower which floats above the ground, constructed of dried flowers and arranged into pointillistic displays -- a philosophy of French impressionism!

Ahh, again I had to pause so that I might sip more fresh fruit juice. I must reinvigorate my blood, mendaciloquent. I must make my body as strong as my spirit, so that it may assist (much as you, with your able hands, will assist me) in completing this endeavor. Therefore, I shall bring this letter to a close. Already I hear mother in the other room, ready soon to take me to bed. (She threatens to take away my allowance if I do not get proper rest!)

Until next time, fair friend,
I am yours,
Forever and ever,
Apperception
 
 
Dear Apperception,

I can not tell you enough how dreadfully bored I am this afternoon. The air outside is remarkably hot, and the water-vapors hang in the atmosphere like a dreadful and stultifying miasma; I fear that I shall simply wilt, like a fist-full of peonies, should I venture out-of-doors. Yet there is simply nothing to do here. My office, comfortable as it is, provides me with ample furnishing for my mind, and plenty of fine music for the exercise of the Soul, yet I wish the climate were such that I could instead exercise my body. I sometimes wish that I had some useful thing to do, that I might labor to some purpose, but I know that the idiocy of such toil would soon numb me.

I am not quite finished with the Hegel essay -- I'm currently in Part III. Even so, it has proven to be illuminating, and I hope to be done with it soon. Indeed, there are so many compelling themes within the work that it is difficult to know where to begin when discussing it, and there are a number of elements I would like to cover. Nevertheless, I'm sure that by time your next letter reaches me, I shall be ready to engage the text in full.

I think your comments are generally true with regards to women and femininity. But note that "taking up the doilie" is not a feature of androgyny -- the traits are neither muted, nor metamorphosed into one another -- rather, it is a dynamic counterbalancing of elements (such as we might find for example in the velajee) into an intensified and sensitized whole, an electrification of the vital element. It's no surprise to find a predecessor to this belief stated rather flatly in that happy people who combined these elements so well -- the Periclean Greeks. But I digress. Women are lost in their own femininity -- whether it is by nature or by breeding, it makes little difference -- if there is no element with which to counterbalance it, these delicate inclinations simply become lost in a saccharine and grandmotherly mire. No, it is only when those delicate morsels within us are tempered by the often blunted sensitivities of manhood that they reach the zenith of aesthetic potency. If I may venture to speculate, I would say that this is because a man, who for diverse reasons might not ordinarily be disposed to this type of perceptual care, must strain and work hard to affix within his inner life a space for refined sentiment and gentle things. And it is because a man must work at it, and develop his femininity in a forceful and concerted way, much like a laser-beam, that he can at times (it is rare) succeed in this process in ways that a woman ordinarily can not. It is not a question of innate aptitude, therefore, but one of learning and devotion, of becoming one's other. We might use the problem of language as an analogy; it is true that anyone learning a language that one is not born to will often retain a certain lack of precision and an ineptness of understanding. Many fail. Yet those few who actually master a language other than their own have the capacity, because they are learning it a-fresh, and must toil over its most mundane and overlooked features, to uncover its secrets and charms in a way that is often closed off to those born to it. And this is the challenge men face when learning the language of the feminine. And so when they succeed, they succeed brilliantly.

I wonder if we might draw a further parallel betwixt these ideas and those of that luminous champion of the aesthetic sensitivity -- Friedrich Schiller -- for in the most general and superficial of ways, we might say that there is a symmetry between the masculine and feminine, and the Formtrieb and Stofftrieb in Schiller's aesthetic system. Similarly, as within Schiller, the combination of these two spheres of activity, when permitted to complement and interact fully with one another in a reciprocal development, lead to that prized realm of creativity and genius, the Spieltrieb; for isn't what we are talking about indeed a sort of sublime Play?

In any event, when we reflect on these matters, we can not in so doing forget the "masculine" -- I hate to use these terms, I'm sure you understand, for in probing ourselves we find not a single entity, but a confused mix of qualities, a symposium of impulses and desires. Transvestites and other such deviants are merely the externalized realizations, often crude ones, of that complexity of human potency which lingers undisturbed in all of us. Again I digress, for I meant to write to you about the importance of calisthenics, fasting, and the imbibing of healthful tinctures. The vital element must be maintained, and its rigors can only be laid bare on the canvas of life when one guards its purity with a jealous and fastidious care.

I would argue that a man's Ideal vitality must have a friend and a home in his physique, in the flesh -- in the Real, and furthermore that this encroachment of the vital impulse upon the realm of life must not be the fruit of a mere duty, or the obedience to any Levitican scripture, but the natural out-flowing of the life force itself, something which blossoms from the whole of one's Being. And perhaps the Ancients, while not ever fully meaning to do so, were on the right side of things to regard this type of education and development from the perspective of arete, as considered from the wholeness of qualities in which a lithe and taught physique is just as valuable, and in some sense indistinguishable, from the flexibility and clarity of the mind. We may never be able to fully return to that naive and innocent holism with regard to ourselves, yet it can provide a fruitful inspiration to those of us for whose activity and character strive toward the Absolute.

On that note I take my leave of you, and desperately await the coming of your next missive.

In Eternal Friendship
Yours For-Ever,

Mendaciloquent


(Post Script: With regards to this week-end, I shall be rather busy, but I do suspect that I have some time free Saturday afternoon, and perhaps the early hours of that evening. Perhaps we might -- how do they say it? -- "pump some iron", or engage in some other vigorous activity.)
 
 
 
22 juin 2006 @ 13:56
Dear mendaciloquent,

Too long has it been since I received one of your warm letters. Zut alors! What a treat!

You are of course right to wonder about the release date of Raoul Ruiz’s Klimt; I myself have pondered over the same matter and have done no small amount of online investigation. But, alas, it was of no avail: so far as I can tell, there are no plans to release it in American theaters. Vraisemblablement, we will have to wait for it to come out on DVD.

But then, would it be so terrible for you and I to enjoy what will surely be a film beloved by both of us in the privacy of your own home, far from the boisterous plebs? There, behind closed doors, you and I may indulge, sotto voce, in our wicked vice: long, atmospheric films about sensitive and artistic Kulturmenschen.

Do you remember the last time we watched Le Temps Retrouvé together? Do you? (I pray the stimulation of my words might have much the same effect on you as the madeleine cookie had on our friend Marcel.)

I was at the office when I sent you an urgent missive, asking if, after a long hiatus, we might practice calisthenics together. You were apprehensive in your coy way. “But who will spot me on the squat thrust, mendaciloquent?” I asked. “With whom will I clean and jerk?” Finally you relented (you always do) but only on the condition that, afterward, we settle in with a bottle of white wine, light some candles, and watch Le Temps Retrouvé.

So much of that evening now is burned in my memory: dinner in the open air, a bottle of crisp Alsacean pinot blanc that took both our breaths away, your expression of surprise as I pumped ten pounds more than usual, and, of course, the film.

Mais, bien sur! The film! Such stunning photography! Such sublime camera direction! (Critics, be damned!) I’ve always found so remarkable the scene in which Marcel is in the café, reading a letter from Gilberte about the battle at Combray, and all the while there are scenes of war and destruction projected upon the wall. As Marcel reads the letter, we see the devastation in the background, and, appearing next to him, we see young Marcel, as a nipper of no more than ten years, with film camera in hand. Naturally, Marcel spent many days of his youth in Combray, and so its destruction, its physical obliteration by the Germans, signals a part of his past now irretrievable save through remembrance.

That scene, mendaciloquent, gives me pause to dab my eyes with kerchief. There are moments in my life when I pause and wonder how I might reflect upon the most innocuous events of my youth when I am a wizened old man. I think of the irretrievability of the past, and this thing of which I think, this absence, is me. It is a part of me forever lost, and yet, I was barely aware of it when it was there.

Yet that is only the first of many scenes to have that effect on me. (There is no reason to mention the final scene with the hall of busts and the beach.)

Femininity truly is wasted upon women. Wouldn’t you agree, friend?

I must needs draw this letter to a close; it is nearly time for my afternoon constitutional. I pray my words find you in good spirits. Perhaps we can rendezvous for tea later in the week and colloquy more on this matter?

Until then I am
Your friend,
apperception

P.S. – Have you had a chance to look over the Hegel essay? I dearly hope we may discuss it soon, as it has provoked much thought. -a
 
 
21 juin 2006 @ 16:57
Dear Apperception,

Though it is late, I can’t seem to get to sleep -- even a glass of warmed milk with tupelo honey can not sooth me, and so I remain awake in the hope that writing to you will prove to be as palliative as your presence by my side.

I must admit, as much as I try to steer away from the novelties of modern entertainment, to be feverishly anticipating the American release of the Klimt film. I have searched vainly for its U.S. release date, to find nothing specific, and it pains me. I have thought to write to the company’s press agent but I suspect that this would prove to be equally futile... I had forgotten about this, until today’s announcement of the sale of the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait.

In any case, as you are well aware, this will be Raoul Ruiz’s third film with John Malkovich, though the first with him in the lead role. The affection I feel for these two men is beyond compare when it comes to figures in popular culture (save perhaps for a certain boyish delight in Willem DaFoe...), and to see them working so closely on so interesting a subject electrifies my nerves with anticipation and glee.

I’ve always found Klimt’s artwork to be mysterious, and I know almost nothing of the artist. His paintings contain a very strange mix of elements for me – a clear art nouveau utopianism, mixed with a sort of stern Teutonic iconography. He has a very peculiar way of picturing his female subjects with a cold elegance that is also somehow enticing... I wonder if learning more about him would alleviate some of my anxiety about the film, or serve to bring it to an unbearable climax?

Of course, the reviews are already bad. Then again, the critics smashed Le Temps Retrouvé, and it was absolutely wonderful. I can only pray that Klimt will be as “awkwardly paced and ponderous” as Le Temps... I’d count myself lucky. Tell me, what part of that film makes you cry first?

For me, it is always when Marcel is having tea with Gilberte, just before he breaks the tea-cup, when he is speaking about love and death; how falling out of love with someone, or having the love between two people die, is in some ways even worse than if that person you loved really were dead, because in the case of lost-love, you become indifferent to the loss. It doesn’t even matter. At least in death, something of the love still remains. Isn’t that terrible? And the way he presents it, he sounds to tired, so detached, so drained of whatever love he had in mind (was it Gilberte or Albertine he was thinking of? – I assume the former, as I don’t think he ever truly loved Albertine*...). In any case, that little speech always succeeds in dampening my eyes. Isn’t it beautiful?

The critics didn’t think so, of course, I’m sure they would have been satisfied with a few gun-fights or some other silly trash. Slow paced! No matter how many times I watch Le Temps, I am on the edge of my seat. Every watching uncovers a new facet of the film, or a new detail or correlation which I hadn’t made the last time. I admit this is partially true because each time I watch the film, I’ve read a little more of the books, but I think it is also because it was constructed with great care. This fact sets me somewhat at ease with regard to Klimt, because I feel that I might use this time in limbo to secure a full and rich enjoyment of the film when I am finally permitted to see it, to really have that background which would allow me to take it all in.

All of that really does put my mind at ease. I have in the course of these paltry paragraphs traversed the space between powerless anxiety and a clear mission...

for-ever yours,

Mendaciloquent



( * Albertine -- “She was one of those women who can never distinguish the cause of what they feel. The pleasure they derive from a fresh complexion they explain to themselves by the moral qualities of the man who seems to offer them the possibility of future happiness, which is capable, however, of diminishing and becoming less compelling the longer he refrains from shaving.”)