Day 6: Letter to a friend
Today was spent largely in the company of Janet Flanner—that is, perusing her book “Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939.” That period interests me greatly for a second—yes second—WW2 novel that I am working on, concurrently with the first WW2 novel and with the third and final book in the After Trilogy.
I wish there were more hours in the day to write! Especially here, where there are so many delicious streets to walk down and absorb into every angstrom of my being. It’s optimistic to think I can get a lot of pages pounded out when I am saturating myself with this city. It’s a process of enchantment and permeation, it demands its due.
Flanner’s observations over this period were originally sent to the New Yorker. They are useful as a resource for the texture of life during this era. What were people thinking about, what was daily life like, what were the concerns? Flanner has a gift for skewering the newsworthy figures of the day, and she has a lively, often elegant, way with the language. I read her and I meet a sharp mind at play. Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”—this woman could really think.
I’ve picked up “The Hollow Years” by Eugen Weber, but I doubt I will enjoy it so much. I spent some time contemplating Zola’s aggressive distaste for Carpeaux, especially his rant about “La Danse,” which Zola criticized as an offense to common decency. But the sculpture is gorgeously vital and masterfully realized. Zola should have pulled the stick out of his butt and enjoyed its energy.
It’s interesting how art has shifted; how it has strained beyond the bounds of energy into chaos. What is most distressing is how art has lost its grounding in mastery, and we are all poorer for it. Somehow the task is to bring mastery back—while retaining the richness and fullness.
You will find no salacious regrets in today’s missive. No matter what advice I may have been given about opening to eros by the Most Beautiful and Wayward Countess—who, by the way, much enjoyed meeting you, and has made several comments about you that would surely embarrass you. Were you open to hearing them from me, or I able to speak them gracefully to you. I’m afraid such matters mute me around you. Eros, indeed.
For reasons of my own I took a bus all the way out to Neuilly, enjoying the splendid weather currently gracing the City of Lights. I did not go to Place des Vosges to meet Francois.
And, as of this moment, if I go to Notre Dame tomorrow, it will NOT be because of the note slid under my door after a dinner of poulet roti and salade tomates: “URGENT, Notre Dame, tomorrow at 2:00 pm. Francois.”
Til tomorrow, and as always, with my warmest thoughts.