Indigo sky swept clear of fleecy clouds, gaunt trees infinitely extended, their black boughs gesticulating like a sleep-walker. Sombre, spectral trees, their trunks pale as dear ash. A silence supreme and altogether European. Shutters drawn, shops barred. A red glow here and there to mark a tryst. Brusque the facades, almost forbidding; immaculate except for the splotches of shadow cast by the trees. Passing by the Orangerie I am reminded of another Paris, the Paris of Maugham, of Gauguin, Paris of George Moore. I think of that terrible Spaniard who was then startling the world with his acrobatic leaps from style to style. I think of Spengler and of his terrible pronunciamentos, and I wonder if style, style in the grand manner, is done for. I say that my mind is occupied with these thoughts, but it is not true; it is only later, after I have crossed the Seine, after I have put behind me the carnival of lights, that I allow my mind to play with these ideas. For the moment I can think of nothing – except that I am a sentient being stabbed by the miracle of these waters that reflect a forgotten world. All along the banks the trees lean heavily over the tarnished mirror; when the wind rises and fills them with a rustling murmur they will shed a few tears and shiver as the water swirls by. I am suffocated by it. No one to whom I can communicate even a fraction of my feelings…
The trouble with Irene is that she has a valise instead of a cunt. She wants fat letters to shove in her valise. Immense, avec des choses inouies. Liona now, she had a cunt. I know because she sent us some hairs from down below. Liona – a wild ass snuffing pleasure out of the wind. On every high hill she played the harlot – and sometimes in telephone booths and toilets. She bought a bed for King Carol and a shaving mug with his initials on it. She lay in Tottenham Court Road with her dress pulled up and fingered herself. She used candles, Roman candles, and door knobs. Not a prick in the land big enough for her … not one. Men went inside her and curled up. She wanted extension pricks, self-exploding rockets, hot boiling oil made of wax and creosote. She would cut off your prick and keep it inside her forever, if you gave her permission. One cunt out of a million, Llona! A laboratory cunt and no litmus paper that could take her color. She was a liar, too, this Liona. She never bought a bed for her King Carol. She crowned him with a whiskey bottle and her tongue was full of lice and tomorrows. Pool Carol, he could only curl up inside her and die. She drew a breath and he fell out – like a dead clam.
Enormous, fat letters, avec des choses inouies. A valise without straps. A hole without a key. She had a German mouth, French ears, Russian ass. Cunt international. When the flag waved it was red all the way back to the throat. You entered on the Boulevard Jules-Ferry and came out at the Porte de la Villette. You dropped your sweetbreads into the tumbrils – red tumbrils with two wheels, naturally. At the confluence of the Ourcq and Mame, where the water sluices through the dykes and lies like glass under the bridges. Liona is lying there now and the canal is full of glass and splinters; the mimosas weep, and there is a wet, foggy fart on the windowpanes. One cunt out of a million Liona! All cunt and a glass ass in which you can read the history of the Middle Ages.
It is the caricature of a man which Moldorf first presents. Thyroid eyes. Michelin lips. Voice like pea-soup. Under his vest he carries a little pear. However you look at him it is always the same panorama; netsuke snuffbox, ivory handle, chess piece, fan, temple motif. He has fermented so long now that he is amorphous. Yeast despoiled of its vitamins. Vase without a rubber plant.
The females were sired twice in the 9th century, and again during the Renaissance. He was carried through the great dispersions under yellow bellies and white. Long before the Exodus a Tatar spat in his blood.
His dilemma is that of the dwarf. With his pineal eye he sees in silhouette projected on a screen of incommensurable size. His voice, synchronized to the shadow of a pinhead, intoxicates him. He hears a roar where others hear only a squeak.
There is his mind. It is an amphitheatre in which the actor gives a protean performance. Moldorf, multiform and unerring, goes through his roles – clown, juggler, contortionist, priest, lecher, mountebank. The amphitheatre is too small. He puts dynamite to it. The audience is drugged. He scotches it.
I am trying ineffectually to approach Moldorf. It is like trying to approach God, for Moldorf is God – he has never been anything else. I am merely putting down words…
I have had opinions about him which I have discarded; I have had other opinions which I am revising. I have pinned him down only to find that it was not a dung-beetle I had in my hands, but a dragonfly. He has offended me by his coarseness and then overwhelmed me with his delicacy. He has been voluble to the point of suffocation, then quiet as the Jordan.
When I see him trotting forward to greet me, his little paws outstretched, his eyes perspiring, I feel that I am meeting… No, this is not the way to go about it!
“Comme un oeuf dansant sur un jet d’eau.”
He has only one cane – a mediocre one. In his pocket scraps of paper containing prescriptions for Weltschmerz. He is cured now, and the little German girl who washed his feet is breaking her heart. It is like Mr. Nonentity toting his Gujurati dictionary everywhere. “Inevitable for every one” – meaning, no doubt, indispensable. Borowski would find all this incomprehensible. Borowski has a different cane for each day in the week, and one for Easter.
We have so many points in common that it is like looking at myself in a cracked mirror.
I have been looking over my manuscripts, pages scrawled with revisions. Pages of literature. This frightens me a little. It is so much like Moldorf. Only I am a gentile, and gentiles have a different way of suffering. They suffer without neuroses and, as Sylvester says, a man who has never been afflicted with a neurosis does not know the meaning of suffering.
I recall distinctly how I enjoyed my suffering. It was like taking a cub to bed with you. Once in a while he clawed you – and then you really were frightened. Ordinarily you had no fear – you could always turn him loose, or chop his head off.
There are people who cannot resist the desire to get into a cage with wild beasts and be mangled. They go in even without revolver or whip. Fear makes them fearless… For the Jew the world is a cage filled with wild beasts. The door is locked and he is there without whip or revolver. His courage is so great that he does not even smell the dung in the corner. The spectators applaud but he does not hear. The drama, he thinks, is going on inside the cage. The cage, he thinks, is the world. Standing there alone and helpless, the door locked, he finds that the lions do not understand his language. Not one lion has ever heard of Spinoza. Spinoza? Why they can’t even get their teeth into him. “Give us meat!” they roar, while he stands there petrified, his ideas frozen, his Weltanschauung a trapeze out of reach. A single blow of the lion’s paw and his cosmogony is smashed.
The lions, too, are disappointed. They expected blood, bones, gristle, sinews. They chew and chew, but the words are chicle and chicle is indigestible. Chicle is a base over which you sprinkle sugar, pepsin, thyme, licorice. Chicle, when it is gathered by chicleros, is O. K. The chicleros came over on the ridge of a sunken continent. They brought with them an algebraic language. In the Arizona desert they met the Mongols of the North, glazed like eggplants. Time shortly after the earth had taken its gyroscopic lean – when the Gulf Stream was parting ways with the Japanese current. In the heart of the soil they found tufa rock. They embroidered the very bowels of the earth with their language. They ate one another’s entrails and the forest closed in on them, on their bones and skulls, on their lace tufa. Their language was lost. Here and there one still finds the remnants of a menagerie, a brain plate covered with figures.