Monday Scramble:


Last night, we gave a small dinner party, partly in order to introduce a young artist to some old friends. The young artist came down with something in the afteroon and wasn’t able to make it, but his mother, whom I hadn’t seen in almost forty years, and who happens to be in town at the moment, was, and so the mini-reunion part of my plans met with success.

The only problem (aside from the lees of red wine) is that I am tossing, today, in a backwash of recollections that, for the moment, only grows more turbulent. To meet with an intelligent friend whom you haven’t seen in forty years is to take a very quick measure of the ground that you have covered in that time. There is also the perplexity of looking at an old snapshot of yourself that you have not seen before. These personal sensations are enveloped in a dim but vast awareness that it really is not, repeat not, all about you.

It is not unlikely that these roiling impressions are inspired by recollections of the great friend whom the young artist’s mother and I had in common, Michael Patrick O’Connor. As I was making the bed this morning, it struck me, with all the force of Rilke’s famous last line, that Michael Patrick was our Archaic Torso. To spend time with him was to know that you must change your life.

Wealth and ease invite us, we forget.
Renouncing talents that you do not need
in moonlit snaps of tourist Attica
discover sleep as an exercise
for the whole body and five eyes
Ignore the rain that has not filled the skies.
                                            (From “Coming Out”)

“Running late” barely attains the level of understatement.

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