Inside Rampart Cave was a mound of dung deposited, he and his colleagues concluded, by untold generations of female sloths who took shelter there to give birth. The manure pile was five feet high, 10 feet across, and more than 100 feet long. Martin felt like he’d entered a sacred place.
When vandals set it on fire 10 years later, the fossil dung heap was so enormous that it burned for months.
61. KITTENS IN THE STUDIO
Madame Ronner loved any kind of cat, but she adored that furry, sprightly, roguish spark of life – a kitten. She watched the ways of kittens until she could paint them better than any other artist. Here we have a delightful example of her art. Leaving her room for a few minutes, she came back and found her mischievous little models playing in her paint-box and disarranging everything. Instead of being angry, however, she sketched the kittens and their mother, and so obtained a prettier, livelier, and more amusing picture than the one she had intended to make.
Tears came to her eyes. I felt I’d best not ask why. I kissed her hands across the table: “You’ll be beautiful whatever.”
After the meal I hurried off to the bathroom (the normal proportion between what I drink what I excrete has yielded to a magic process that produces a liter of piss from a glass of anything, and vice versa); once alone I remembered these pages waiting to be filled. Not only filled but provided for. A full account of my life requires a full life. Example: I can’t report what I read unless I read. Having scribbled these paragraphs, I’m going to do precisely that. Young Days in Bratislava – not comparable to Goethe or Henri Beyle, but good enough to make me want to write memoirs of some sort. I’m no writer, but if I ever became one, what greater gift to readers (at least I’m a reader!) than that of past times judiciously salvaged in the written word?
Is the growth of a lifetime. Portions
have been written: portions dictated
through the years of blindness.
Always has rung in my ears the
wail of that old Greek threnody:
Ai! Ai! Ai!
The dead that come not back!
In a book I am reading Fellini says that and that
Augustine never advocated caprice
An unknown woman says to my mother
I’m so sorry for your loss
“Since you possess the sum I ask for, sir, and my guarantee is sufficient, why do you refuse me?”
“Because men have their caprices as well as women, madame.”
“But what is this caprice, which makes you act thus against your interest? for, I repeat to you, make your conditions; whatever they may be, I accept them!”
“Your grace will accept all the conditions?” said the notary, with a singular expression.
“All! two, three, four thousand francs – more, if you will; for I tell you,” added the duchess, frankly, in a tone almost affectionate, “I have no resource but in you, sir – in you alone. It will be impossible for me to find elsewhere that which I ask you for to-morrow; and it must be – you understand – it must be absolutely. Thus, I repeat to you, whatever condition you impose on me for this service, I accept.”
In his blindness, he had interpreted in an unworthy manner the last words of the duchess. It was an idea as stupid as it was infamous; but we have already said that sometimes Jacques Ferrand became a tiger or a wolf; then the beast overpowered the man. He arose quickly and advanced toward the duchess. She, thunder-struck, rose at the same moment and regarded him with astonishment.
“Well then, and now I want to tell you what Mendel Teichmann had to say about Pechmann: that he was an attempt on the part of nature to make a good man. There are a million such attempts. Inexhaustible Nature is patient in its inventions. That’s what Mendel Teichmann said.”
“Yech,” said Pepe, bored, “we can’t use good people right now. What we need are heroes, fighters, executioners, knife-grinders, desperadoes.”
“You will need all sorts of people,” I said, “when the revolution has taken place.” I gasped—it wasn’t me speaking, it was Mendel Teichmann speaking through me. What had Teichmann done to me? What had Pechmann done to me? And what would Pepe do to me?
1 - Alan Weisman. The World Without Us. NYC: St. Martins, 2007.
2 - Arthur Mee and Holland Thompson, eds. The Everyday Library for Young People, Volume V: Plays, Pictures and Poems. NYC: The Grolier Society, 1916.
3 - Harry Mathews. The Journalist. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1997.
4 - Joseph P. Widney ("Author of: Race Life of The Aryan Peoples; The Lure and the Land; Genesis and Evolution of Islam and Judaeo-Christianity; The Faith That Has Come To Me; The Three Americas. In Preparation: LIFE AND ITS PROBLEMS AS SEEN BY A BLIND MAN AT NINETY-THREE"). Whither Away? The Problem of Death and the Hereafter. Los Angeles: Pacific Publishing Company, 1934.
5 - Laura Solomon. Blue and Red Things. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling, 2007.
6 - Eugene Sue. Mysteries of Paris. NYC: A.L. Burt, no date but probably late 1800s.
7 - Fred Wander, tr. Michael Hoffman. The Seventh Well. NYC: Norton, 2007.