Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ancestor Worship

[From Donald Barthelme’s posthumous “Flying to America”]

18 March

Sing, goddess, the brilliance of Perpetua, who came then to lend her salt-sweet God-gift beauty to the film. Sing to the beauty of the breasts of Perpetua, like unto the cancelment of action at law against you, sing the redness of her hair, like unto the anger of Peleus’ son who put pains a thousandfold upon the Achaeans. Sing the hauteur of Perpetua, like unto that of a thief of fine porcelains, sing the movement of her naked leg under the long gray gown, like unto the progress of that sad song, the Borodin Quartet in D Major. Sing the whiteness of her brow, like unto a failed poem pulped into Erasable Bond, sing unto her sudden smile, like unto the shriek of that swan which hid Zeus the powerful. Sing, goddess, the rancor of Perpetua, which is plain to see, sing her gold-glistering trumpet, with which she promulgates her rancor and earns her daily bread, by the sweat of her lip. Sing, goddess, the mystery of Perpetua, of which I cannot speak, without undue emotion, sing her stern eye, which tells me that, among the sons of men, I am not worthy.

Perpetua showed us her breasts.

“Yes, they’re wonderful,” I said.

All of the members of the crew were smiling.

She has just left her husband, Harold.

“Order is not interesting,” Perpetua said. “Disorder is interesting.”

“Thank you, Perpetua. Ezra will call you when we’re ready for you.”


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Blogger San said...

Paschal, I'm ashamed to admit I never read a book by Barthelme. Only a single story.

But you've whetted my appetite for more.

5:48 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Greetings, Ms San: DB is a surrealist's must. I was late to the party meself. He was, however, Padgett Powell's "teacher" at U of H, and a good buddy of Grace Paley, who is a must for each and every, regardless of stripe.

Y'all stay warm up there.

5:30 AM  
Blogger San said...

P.S. (off topic) Didn't it give you that warm, fuzzy feeling of rightness to see those lovely young composers in Once take the Oscar? Thank you again for recommending that movie to us.

4:49 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Did not see the show, but heard: twas very cool: "real" music winning Oscars: what a novel idea.

8:24 AM  

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