Friday, August 26, 2011

A cup we've sometimes tasted

for every man hath
business and desire

The conveyor belt of boys and girls into the snob system creaks on, I read, less than ever capable of denominating itself as, society. The Assemblies at which my ex-wife was presented, portrayed an al-ready shattered fairyland by the time of Bachrach's staged portrait of her, descending the staircase to the second floor at home. It would surface in the papers a second time, with the announcement of her engagement. I'd always rather study her in her jeans and a cranberry cable knit, on the jungle gym in Gracie Square, wearing the Cartier choker I gave her, hammered by a Vietnamese goldsmith. It is a heart, on open links, and she is ravishing.

But hasn't New York always been refreshed by both motives, Hercule, a day-time, night-time dichotomy reflecting its energies? 

So you may hear, mon vieux; but snobbery possesses no fecundity, but entropy; and to mount that on the backs of youth is no ordinary deformity, it is to aspire to a kind of usurpation to rival Gertrude and Claudius.

It's the Prince, you have in mind?

Certainly, Auguste, but what had sickened Ophelia, first? 

Had not the young girls always dreamed of their party, Hercule, and their mothers gainfully lunched in its planning?

You make a point, Auguste, that inertia has its energies. Have you been having D'Alembert's dream, as we napt?

You do put one in mind, Hercule, of Diderot's two ways of seeing the cutting up of bees - that they may fly off in liberated directions, or that they may never be freed, but only their clusters concentrated, as in a polyp.

There you go, Auguste, depicting the pertinence of consent.



Edith Wharton
1862 - 1937
A Cup of Cold Water
Scribners, 1899©
The New York Stories of
  Edith Wharton
New York Review Books, 2007©

William Shakespeare
Hamlet, I, v
Cited in Wharton, ibid.

Denis Diderot
Le rêve de D'Alembert
L.W. Tancock, translation
Penguin Books, 1966©

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