Friday, May 16, 2014


Hogarth saw at Southwark Fair
The skeleton of a cat.
Sad, yet not too strange
But consider: the skeleton
Stood upright, wore a hat,
Had a sword at its side
(You can see it still
In Hogarth’s engraving).
In that busy scene the cat
Stands near a collapsing balustrade
Which seems like to crush
Those beneath it. Perhaps
Those who died had just time
To reflect that the world
Was odder than they’d suspected

I will go onto a bar someday -- Gavagan's perhaps -- and announce some out-of-the-way fact I've found. "Nietzsche," I'll announce, "played the piano. More; he was highly skilled at improvisation."
"Splendid!" the wizard will say. "I'll conjure up his spirit and ask him to play."
"You forget," the psychiatrist will put in, "that Nietzsche died mad; before we ask him to play I'll have to restore him to sanity."
Another voice -- that of the Countess, I think -- will speak. "Then I'll seduce him and drive him mad again." She'll shrug, charmingly, and sound almost apologetic. "It's what I do."
The Artist will suggest a gigantic mural be commissioned called "The Spirit of Nietzsche Summoned from Beyond the Grave to Play the Piano for some Drunks in a Bar." Not wanting to disturb my friends, and the men's room being out of order, I'll quietly step into the alley out back. A shadowy figure will be checking that his fly is buttoned. "Nietzsche?" I'll say. "No; sorry. Just Franz Kafka. I came by because I heard Nietzsche might be playing ... I have an idea for a musical I want to pitch him."

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