July 31st, 2006


Writers Cavort at Yale

The Pauls plus the wonderful Deb and the irrepressible Faye (actually she may be repressible but I've never been tempted to try) went on from the reading at Koffee to dinner at the Cafe Istanbul, a New Haven feature for many years, and ate hummus and moussaka and kebabs etc and drank mudlike coffee for hours on the diwans.  Fun.

Do writers have an innate fascination with (or attraction to) empires and ramifying ineffectual and unchanging hegemonies?  I like the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire  even more the Austro Hungarian Empire, whose passing was a great loss to Civilization.  I know, I know -- but sit down and list the injustices of the Emperor Franz Ferdinand and his society (snubbing of Jews, snobbism, hidebound conservatism, supressing nationalisms, closing the odd radical paper, endless pointless ceremony, special priveleges and forms of address for the well born) and put them alongside the crimes of all the successor states down to the present.  The old Austro-Hungarians would have been apalled at the crimes and follies that succeeded their ouster.  Once at a major Writers Festival in Toronto, where (mostly left-wing) writers from all over the world gathered to read their work (to see or hear which those wonderful Canadians PAID MONEY) I asked a panel of writers if each of them could discuss his or her most regressive political fantasy.  They were quite obviously offended and ignored the question.  But we are writers!  Our imagined empires, monarchs, armies in splendid uniforms,  can't hurt anybody.  Let's confess!

Also:  A new query in re old humor:  jokes of the form "You tell 'em, ------, you're --------!"  Th eonly one I can recall, from my mother's flapper youth, is "You tell 'em, baldy, you're smooth!"  Any others?