Translated Excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Music

However, these reflections were based on the assumption that Reiko’s letter was telling the truth: if it was just an invention, things changed dramatically. How many times before had the young woman tormented me with her lies! In any case, not being able to verify what she—and she alone—could have experienced in a room at the Kofu hospital, far from Tokyo, I had no other way to progress than to admit for the moment that she spoke the truth. Or rather: true or false Reiko had taken the trouble to write to me to announce that she had “finally heard the music,” and this fact, this psychic reality, remained indisputable.

It was a physiognomy of celestial purity that resembled that of St. Therese, her hair crowned with light, her eyes half closed, her head thrown back, her lips half open, her wings quivering… Everywhere on her features floated an indefinable expression, between pleasure and pain, and her hands clasped the frightfully emaciated, yellow and withered fingers of a dying man.

—Yukio Mishima


Translated Excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Music

At one point, while we were making love, I thought I heard the slight scratching of a sapphire on the last furrow of a record that continues to spin indefinitely once the music is over. The furrow described an endless trajectory, a sizzle that did not stop, and when my ear captured it, I had the impression that it was the only sound to continue into eternity. That meant that the music of this record had stopped in a past so long ago that my memory could not go back to that point. It had been a long time since the music was dead.

–Yukio Mishima

Book of Lyrics

Last night, I finally began to collect my favourite song lyrics for a binder of them in my room. I thought for a while about the first entry, for a song that I felt should not only be preserved but proliferated. A great song is one that is worth re-singing again and again.

The choice was clear. I choose Gilbert and Sullivan’s “He is an Englishman.”

Jack Kirby’s New Gods

Prophecies have ordained that the final battle of chaos and order shall take place in a firepit–a burning, blasting sore on the surface of Apokolips.

There the father shall face the son he gave to his greatest enemy, and die at his hand.

—Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen, Legion of Super-Heroes #294, 28

Warner and DC should be making a New Gods film trilogy… without Zack Snyder.

Vogue’s Alexandra Shulman on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

When we meet Suzanne she immediately wins our hearts. Who wouldn’t want to be like her. From the very start she is unique and powerful. She takes the initiative when she “takes you down to her place near the river”.

You never feel that she gets her clothes from the Salvation Army because she has to. No. She chooses to. The rags and feathers she wears are surely light and sensuous.

Either way she is glorious. You just know that she is completely at ease with her appearance.

“The sun pours down like honey” and “there are heroes in the seaweed.” She has made a world that conforms to her own kind of loveliness. And everybody wanted a part of it.

Suzanne Was The Ideal Of The Age” by Alexandra Shulman in Vogue [UK]

Umberto Eco, 1932–2016

Umberto Eco in 1984 by Rob Bogaerts (Wikipedia / Dutch National Archives)

I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking to the late Professor Umberto Eco during his visit to the Toronto Reference Library back in November 2011.

Mr. Eco was a jovial and witty soul, who loved a good joke, cinnamon sticks, myths, languages, mysteries, traveling, ideas, and comic books. On his opinion of New 52 Batman series: It’s more difficult than (James) Joyce! And Professor Eco’s explanation for the success of Casablanca remains the best I’ve yet read:

[B]y any strict critical standards… Casablanca is a very mediocre film [….]

[But] Casablanca is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. Made haphazardly, it probably made itself, if not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control. And this is the reason it works, in spite of aesthetic theories and theories of film making. For in it there unfolds with almost telluric force the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it [….]

When all the archetypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion (Eco, Travels in Hyperreality).

And of course, I will also remember him for The Name of the Rose.