Monday, November 14, 2005


Expunged Sunday pulling long bitter drafts of un-revery’d sleep out of the ventositous ambuscade of the day—handbills and religious tracts sailing whitely about in the gusts. Me an unsawn board of sleep, undisturb’d, flat, noticeable for its rectitude only. That and for the diminish’d ruckus of its senses. A perfect idiot of sleep’s kingdom. See 1601 B. JONSON Poetaster:
Hora. Barmy froth, puffy, inflate, turgidous and ventositous are come vp.

Tibv. O, terrible, windie wordes!

Or waking cursorily to read “at” Malcolm Lowry’s antic Under the Volcano, that book I always intend’d (and attempt’d) to read in a grand manner back in my scuffling days, & found undoable in my drink-diminishment. One kind of reply to Lowry’s own proceedings—that only a drunk comprehends the beauty of “an old woman from Tarasco who plays dominoes at seven o’clock in the morning”:
On the edge of the table her stick, made of steel with some animal’s claw for a handle, hung like something alive. She had a little chicken on a cord which she kept under her dress over her heart. The chicken peeped out with pert, jerky, sidelong glances. She set the little chicken on a table near her where it pecked among the dominoes, uttering tiny cries. Then she replaced it, drawing her dress tenderly over it.

Out of a book—the kind of Anglophile thing I normally avoid, associating it (or its kin) with Lady Di and other “royals” necrophiliack memorabilia—acquired largely against the recognition of the “chimney’d house” logo of Moyer Bell adorning its spine, a thing call’d Literary Britain (by Frank Morley, who “shared an office with T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber”), a report on the warring styles of Samuel Johnson and Edward Gibbon by one George Colman “the younger,” “a schoolboy of about thirteen when permitted by his father to join the guests at dinner in the Colman house in Soho Square” (‘On the day I first sat down with Johnson, in his rusty brown, and his black worsteads, Gibbon was placed opposite to me in a suit of flower’d velvet, with a bag and sword’):
Johnson’s style was grand, and Gibbon’s elegant; the stateliness of the former was sometimes pedantick, and the polish of the latter was occasionally finical. Johnson marched to kettle-drums and trumpets; Gibbon moved to flutes and haut-boys; Johnson hew’d passages through the Alps, which Gibbon levell’d walks through parks and gardens.
Morley continues:
What won the schoolboy’s heart was that Gibbon in the course of the evening talked once or twice especially with him—‘the great historian was light and playful, suiting his matter to the capacity of the boy;—but it was done more suo; still he tapp’d his snuff-box,—still he smirk’d, and smiled; and rounded his periods with the same air of good breeding, as if he were conversing with men’. Colman, recollecting that talk more than fifty years later, added a pictorial touch: ‘His mouth, mellifluous as Plato’s, was a round hole, nearly in the centre of his visage.’


In shower-standing review of the dream-mold, a “mental chuckle” at the self-caught phrase “Tremendous overweening desire for a cigarette.” First (dream-actual) incidence of heading off to purchase a box of Marlboros in ten-plus years of “quitting smoking” (an endless processual thing, apparently). The alarum sound’d before the deed completed.