House of Mirth
Crappy Cornelia was feeling rather crappy today. Usually I tried not to intrude on her morning soirees with Edith and Henry—it’s so tiring to be around a Madame Sosostris clairvoyante. Miss Merrill was bad enough—with her Ouija Board communiqués with Miss Auden and that gang. You know, Christopher and his crowd… I looked at my watch. I had a date with a cute number in the University District. Upstairs in the coffee shop of the Barnes & Noble Temple. Where all the freshmen and their laptops gathered for their coffee klatches—I preferred to surround myself with not-so-innocent you-tube youth lately. They weren’t jaded yet like Edith and Henry—not yet anyway. “Off to campus, my dear?” Crappy Cornelia snarked. I smiled at her—giving her a knowing wink. "How you do like to play Madame Merle, don’t you, my dear? All those young innocent freshmen—all of them rich and well-endowed with the innocence & wealth of youth and beauty? How you love to woo & ruin them.” “Ruin? Me ruin anybody? Surely not that?” “My dear, you’re much more Machiavellian than me—you don’t write about, you do it. You do them in—inside-out and all about. It’s all about you, isn’t it?” To change the topic, somewhat, I said “What have we here?” I’d noticed a beat-up well-thumbed-through copy of Leo Edel on the breakfast table. It was her long louche languishing closety biography of Henry James. It was earmarked here & there—with scribbled notes in the margins. It had seen better days—but then that could be said for all of us. “Mirror, mirror—on the wall…” Crappy Cornelia wasn’t easy on books. She ate, slept, lived, died with books. She spent hours on the Throne with books. Books were her literary hors-d’oeuvres—her intellectual snacks and little tidbits to nibble on here & there. To hold back the awful Craving—the Starvation of her famished mind for the World of Manners. She loved the World of Manners so much—she got rather unmannerly at times. “Nothing else matters,” she’d say. “Manners rule the world.” But then Crappy Cornelia got pensive. “Perhaps Manners go beyond the beyond? Denizens of Mars and the Rings of Saturn—surely they have manners too? Some kind of intelligent otherworldly pecking order? Some celestial Ways and Means Committee of Exo-Table Manners—to help them devolve, excuse me, evolve according to Divine Plan?” “The Plan of Intelligent Design—for a Better Manners? Better Manners—for a Better World and Better Solar System and Better More-Mannered Civilized Well-Bred Galaxy and all that baloney?” “Surely Black Holes are part of the Great Grand Novel of Manners—surely Black Holes didn’t Fart or Belch after devouring whole vast Star Systems? You know, old ancient Krell Civilizations older than Manhattan and Central Park? Older than the Empire State Building and the art deco Temple itself: The Chrysler Building? Older than the Big Apple—more swank than the Village? More upscale than Park Avenue—more ritzy than Tiffany’s?” Dear me, I said to myself. Let me outta here. “Even Forbidden Planets with Bad Manners like Earth—surely there are worse ill-mannered worlds than ours? Spanning the vast Known Unknown Universe? Surely, Intergalactic Manners aren’t as bad as Earth? Surely there are sci-fi sophisticated Table Manners and decent hoity-toity Party Times out there—better than our tacky little Sunset Boulevard schmaltz and Beltway bingo games?” “Surely what makes Super Civilizations rise above the Planetary Pig-Sty Stage—is Good Manners? And Good Manners help to achieve, like the ancient Krell, the ultimate Civilization of Manners? Surely there’s some kind of chic svelte Scheherazade Principle—to tell the Thousand Tales of Technology in Polite Ways? Some kind of Etiquette of the Gods—to save us from Götterdämmerung? Some kind of Ultimate Wish Fulfillment Principle—to make each day a Commander Magic Carpet Show? Some old wise all-knowing Miss Manners—to swoop down on her broom and guide us to High Society?” “But then look what happened to the Krell? The wise all-knowing High-Tech Krell? They wished themselves into Nothingness. They ended up waiting for Morbius of the Dingbattron and that Spaceship of Fools—to resurrect them as Monsters of the Id. Talk about a Walt Disney House of Mirth…” “But what about The Age of Innocence?” I asked. “Wasn’t that the one she got the Pulitzer for? Wasn’t it more upbeat and uplifting—than House of Mirth?”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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So snark me!