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08.13.04, friday night

Night of Ziggy Stardust and cognac. That cinnamon scent, those vanilla notes! Painting owls too. We are thinking of visiting the cemetary. Cuz it's Friday the 13th.

Also reading Birds of America by Mary McCarthy, "the bad girl of American letters" back in those Cold War years. As I've gathered from her biography, McCarthy's novels were generally ill-received in her time. In its description of a restless, privileged young man's experience of American society in the 60s, this book is often funny, shrill at times, very curmudgeonly. Very far in voice and style from Angela Carter: a novelized essay.

Bisecting my 1972 paperback copy is an ad insert for British Sterling. On horseback, a young woman in Renaissance dress offers cologne to a dapper tuxedo'd man. There is a castle in the background--the British in the British Sterling, I suppose. A castle is a heritage is a cologne. Mary McCarthy must have found it especially ironic.

Particularly struck by a few sentences (these among others) for its understanding of a saint:

"In olden time a man who lived in a big house and wore a fur cloak felt superior to a ragged man who lived in a hovel. And the reason was simple: a tautology. He felt superior because he lived in a big house and wore a fur cloak. That was all there was to it. If he was charitable, like Good King Wenceslas [...], he could take a few sticks to the peasant in his hovel at Christmas-time. But Good King Wenceslas was a saint, and besides it was Christmas. And, being a saint, he didn't doubt the justice that had put him in his palace and the other in his forest-hut. That was where God had assigned them, for some unfathomable reason, and the difference in their degree made the poor man grateful for the king's goodness."

Underscoring why I won't ever trust religion, even if sufism (its non-dogmatism) calls to me.


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