Saturday, 18 July 2009

anais NIn in 1946, in an American suburb, longing for France; "Everybody was at home with bottles from which they hoped to extract a gaiety bottled elsewhere."
The line from her published diary (or letters?) stuck in my mind while I was working in a factory in 1979, working out what I was supposed to be doing with my life. That year I got arrested on a French beach while 'in my cups'* and was locked up for the afternoon. And with the wisdom of thirty years between then and now, I would arrest me too. Drawing the incident in The King Canute Crowd six years after, I recalled the line and dropped it into the text.

*And now I'm wondering where that one comes from. A quick google.:
IN HIS CUPS - "Drunk. Long ago the phrase meant both drunk and participating in a drunken bout. It appears in one of the Apocyrphal books of the Bible (I Esdras 3:22): 'And when they are in their cups, they forget their loue(love) both to friends and brethren.' The Romans had similar expressions, such as Cicero's 'in thy cups, in the midst of thy revels' (in ipsis tuis immanibus poculis), suggesting the great age of the association of 'cup' (poculum) and 'carousal.'" "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).
I'm not sure why some drunks have the power to amuse me, and I won't take the liberty of saying 'us', since I have met many who are impervious to their humorosity, indeed to the whole sphere of the absurd in general. And God knows there are some violent ones out there, or idiots who get behind a driving wheel, and I condemn them with all the vitriol I can round up. But leaving those out of it, I think what appeals to me indeed, is that the drunk, where he is harmless, reflects back at us the absurdity of our notions of order. Take this young loony, who thought it would be a great jape to get into a suitcase locker at the rail station at Ludwigshafen and close the door.

Author portrait from the second set of Bent Books bookmarks, 2005 (drew this one in pencil for variety)

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2 Comments:

Blogger spacedlaw said...

Perfectly lovely.

18 July 2009 11:55:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Mitchell said...

Oh wow. So I took a link here from the Hey Oscar Wilde! blog the other week, and saw the Vonnegut bookmark. It looked familiar, and I was impressed when I found out it was for Bent Books. (I like that shop, and own a Mary Shelley bookmark.)
It was a little while later when I realised OH WOW IT'S EDDIE CAMPBELL, and felt like a dope for not catching on sooner.
So this is a roundabout way for me to say I like your work and I like this blog.
And yes, the harmless and goofy drunk is definitely a source of entertainment.

18 July 2009 11:30:00 pm GMT-5  

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