Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unintentionally Blank Look

My copy of Emigrants, by W. G. Sebald (Vintage Classics, translated by Michael Hulse, 2002), has four completely empty leaves after the last written (typed) page of the novel, which is on the right hand side. That means that there are nine blank pages. I haven't seen a printed book like this for a while. Yes, I do know how books are constructed, thank you very much.

After discovering this rather endearing quirk, I left the Starbucks (nothing better nearby, not having brought my Nescafe premixed sachets) and I hop-scotched up Soi 2, where the paving has been repaired to such an extent that it verges on being almost not as terrible as it was prior to having been torn up for several months and then carefully thrown down, I can only assume, as part of his a day-job, by that poor blind man who can be seen every night slowly walking the length of Sukhomvit, and up and down all its main sois, squealing Thai love songs to the annoying and, compounding the pain, annoyingly loud screech of his back-pack amplifier all the while being guided, with her hands on his shoulders, by his suspiciously young "mother", and my head was filled, inevitably, by thoughts on the once common practice of printers of placing their oft-mocked, self-contradictory comment, printed on an otherwise, please note, blank page, that the page in question has been left blank intentionally: blank, that is, on, but not for a, purpose. Blank, with the exception of deblanking the page with the notice itself, to the contradictory effect of its intended message. For, patently, it is no longer blank.

What if the page had been left blank unintentionally? What would be their notification on the page in such a case? This was the sort of questioning that was swirling frothily and maculate post cappuccino, around in my brain.

Of course, I reasoned (sic), it would make more sense to print any notice about the blank page on another, best adjacent, not necessarily initially, blank page.


Contradiction expunged. Problem solved.

The mystery of what should have been printed on the page had it not been left blank, unfortunately, teasingly, insomnia-inducingly, remains unknowable.

Just like


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wings To Fly

“Curiously enough,” he added, “Gregor the beetle never found out that he had wings under the hard covering of his back. This is a very nice observation on my part to be treasured all your lives. Some Gregors, some Joes and Janes, do not know that they have wings.”

Vladimir Nabokov, on Kafka's story The Metamorphosis, in a lecture to his students at his Cornell class which was published as Lectures on Literature.

via Futility Closet


Which brings me up to my favorite INXS song, one of my favorite rock songs of all time, indeed.


Something Michael Hutchence might have appreciated is the following quote. [If someone wants to ask me for some stunning secrets not revealed in the report of Hutchence's autopsy, please send me an email, or promise to buy me a drink at the pub.]

“The meaning of life is that it stops.”
― Franz Kafka


In fact, despite the existential despair we think of when his name is mentioned and, while Kafka's death was horrific (he slowly starved because TB of the larynx made it almost impossible for him to swallow {ironically, tragically, the final crisis came while he was trying to correct the galleys for his story "The Hunger Artist"}) he didn't want to die. He was otherwise happy and he was in love. He even proposed to his new(ish) and bestest girlfriend, Dora Diamant, not long before he passed away (as she stroked his forehead with a damp cloth.)


Then she burnt a great wad of his papers...

“I passed by the brothel as though past the house of a beloved.”
― Franz Kafka, Diaries of Franz Kafka


[Also an enormously entertaining read is Nabokov's Lectures on Russian Literature - available online]

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tic Tac Taxi

I was even thinking when I was in the taxi this very morning that all of this crazy shit was behind me now. Taxi-drivers have become normal. (Up to a point. They still can't understand Australian.)

I haven't had a nervous jumpy guy for ages now. No accelerator pumpers and clutch riders, no twitchers and shruggers, no wheel swingers or greasy-hair brushers, no gear-stick must-touchers or steering-wheel strokers*. It's been good.

OK the guy who brought us back from the airport last night was singing under his breath, but it was "Hooked On A Feeling."

(Unca-chucka, unca-chuka...)

Understandable; and much more forgiveable that the four of us who couldn't get Goyte out of our heads - because AirAsia had been using "Somebody That I Used To Know" on heavy rotation while we were taxiing and sitting at the gate. Swear to god...

[Somebody... (used to know)... Somebody...]


You know what happens just after I was congratulating myself on having successfully used this blog to shame taxi companies into screening their drivers for Tourrette's syndrome, something I have been lobbying heavily for since I got here, holy shit, eight and a half years ago? You know, don't you?


I notice that the driver, about 45 or so, not really an uncle to me, keeps placing the tip of his left thumb gently against the back of the wing of his not insubstantially prominent left ear. That's twice now. He rubs it softly, tenderly. He is holding his hand lightly clenched and his elbow out, almost as if he were answering an imaginary phone call.

He does it again, maybe three minutes later. Now he is using the cleft between his index and middle finger knuckles to caress (there is no other word for it) his delicate and shell-like. He gently folds forward that elephantine auricle and lets it flip back - where the curve of the cup at the rear of the cartilage had been convex, outward, it went concave, popping inward while he does this, then, when he lets it go, it pops back - is there a sound only he could hear? Ffp... Pph...

This is in slow motion. I swear.

Then, I think he has caught me looking. I think he is aware I am watching him out of the corner of my eye. I can sense a slight tenseness in his head movement. He is trying to bring himself under control; he is self-conscious, but he can't stop himself, and he does it again.

It's the elbow sticking out that gets me; so obvious, but casual and therefore unremarkable. He may have done this once or twice before I did indeed notice.

I am typing a draft of this report into my phone for the rest of the ride so I have made myself look busy and distracted - relaxed, he does it three more times. Like I said, it was a caress, a slow sensual massage.

Weird. Where do they find these people?


Free Podcast

Related Posts with Thumbnails