‘The Quality of the Affection’ by Lloyd Lynford
|March 5, 2013|
Olga Rudge, c.1915
That night at Natalie’s in Paris, Olga was wearing her most boyishly cut jacket and a low-waisted skirt so she’d be ready if someone asked her to foxtrot. But before any of that could happen, before the dancing, before she could remove her jacket or display herself at her flexible best, he came up to her and touched her on the arm. Why the arm? If Ezra liked a woman, she’d heard the gossip, he would become paternal, kiss her on the forehead or draw her onto his knee. But he touched her arm. Then they began to tease, describing each other’s eyes – Ezra went first. Botticelli, he said. How could Olga not flush at being compared to Venus? She knew to stay away from art or literature – but she should reciprocate – so she scanned the room, both in English and French. The ice chest, perfect, so she covered as much of his hand as she could with her own long fingers, and whispered cadmium. Or, no, now she was unsure, maybe he’d seen her eyes searching behind him, so she took it back – not cadmium, no, more amber. Surely he was playing a joke, turning away from her like that, surely he couldn’t have been disappointed – hadn’t the Botticelli reference been in jest? – had she misread his intentions? – One more chance, she pretended to plead, and when Ezra turned back and smiled she said, Your eyes are topaz in Chateau D’Yquem.
When Olga Rudge met Ezra Pound he had just put the last flourishes on his theory establishing the link between complete and profound copulation and cerebral development. The brain is a great clot of genital fluid held in suspense and the woman’s role, Ezra had written, was to be the passive receptacle for the poet’s sperm. Not any woman – for a permanent liaison, only a woman of artistry and classical beauty would do.
Olga had nothing to gain by becoming Ezra’s lover. She was no third seat in a provincial orchestra. She’d performed in London – he’d seen her – that night she’d been the soloist at the top of the bill. Olga had nothing to gain by becoming Ezra’s lover. If only Mama were here, but Olga was alone in the elegant flat near the Bois. She was secure – knew Paris like a native, travelled in better circles than Ezra, who after all arrived just before Christmas. He was a decade older than Olga, was rarely seen in public with his wife Dorothy. He’d been sleeping with three or four women she knew and just last week she’d heard about one recent late – night prowl of Ezra’s that began on Boulevard Arago and ended . . . or did it ever end? So Left Bank, she thought. How could she converse with a man who complained he’d spent the whole summer of 1921 without finding a congenial mistress? That was the word he used, congenial.
Inherent Vice’s Two Directions
The jokes certainly strike one as sophomoric and the latter one as clichéd, further below Pynchon’s intelligence than one would like to think he would stoop, at least in print. Discounting them and moving on, or throwing the book across the room as Parker half implies we should do, however, would be to lose sight of “that high magic to low puns”.
Auden, Larkin and Love
I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb” contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Plato, Our Comrade?
Not surprisingly, there have already been critics of Badiou’s translation. The first is that his translation breaks the formal rules of translation to such a degree that the original meaning of the text has lost its significance. But this critique is inadequate at face value because Badiou’s hyper-translation is forthright in its intention of taking Plato’s concepts and modifying them into his own lexicon.
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