Friday, July 18, 2008

Days

Days go by.

There are days I spend my lunch hour wandering across McGill campus, a school I once intended to attend but never did. Did you know?: Students still smoke pot and listen to Neil Young.

Some days are hot. The heat of wide open spaces, on mountaintops or on riverbanks, differs vastly from the dirty heat of the city, the bare skin of strangers grazing yours in the metro.

I've read Days: A Tangier Diary, by Paul Bowles.

I know little of Paul Bowles (yet I am vaguely fascinated by him), having read only a few samples of his work. (I remember reading the heat of The Sheltering Sky, while travelling through the heat of Tunisia.)

There are a few mentions regarding issues of rights and translations, as well as movie rights. On their own these journal entries are fairly meaningless, but they might have more value taken in the context of the writer's work.

Days — it's like reading the boring diary of someone you don't know. I think Bowles would've made a poor blogger.

He notes in the preface, "I suppose the point of publishing such a document is to demonstrate the way in which the hours of a day can as satisfactorily be filled with trivia as with important events." I'm not sure that is the point.

One of the more interesting entries:

I could think only of how fortunate it was that the weather was fine. Even a few drops of rain would have ruined a hundred evening dresses. It didn't seem an ideal manner of welcoming guests, to force them to stand in the street for a half-hour waiting to get to the bottleneck just outside the gate. There we exhibited our invitations, had our names checked on lists, and were admitted one at a time. The line continued through the courtyard, until we were given maps of the terrain and assigned to our tents. I counted nine of these objects, once I had passed through the receiving area, where our host stood grinning, flanked by his sons, and with Elizabeth Taylor seated by his side. "Wait till you see how fat she's grown!" people had warned me. To me she didn't look fat; she looked solid and luscious. She must have been tired; it's not easy to be introduced to nine hundred people one after the other. I refused the champagne and set out in search of the tent I'd been assigned to, pushing my way through the crowd until I'd found it. There were no placecards. I sat down at an empty table until a waiter asked me to choose another, also empty. No one seemed to be in a hurry to eat. My table did eventually fill up — with, among others, the governor, the chief of police, and a military man decked with medals. At the next table sat Malcolm Forbes and his family. Miss Taylor was on his left, her back to me. The crown prince sat on his right. For three hours as I ate I watched their table. The French woman next to me made repeated comments in a whisper about Elizabeth Taylor's shoulders and the crown prince's face, which she characterized as "frightening" and "almost Japanese." All I could reply was that he never altered his poker-face expression and spoke very little. I myself thought he was unutterably bored; if that is so, it was understandable.


Days keep going by.
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