Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Jack E. Boucher, “Visitors Enjoy The View From Clingman Dome Parking Area…” (1959)

…although it had been his grandfather’s and then his father’s and uncle’s and was now his cousin’s and someday would be his own land which he and Sam hunted over, their hold upon it actually was as trivial and without reality as the now faded and archaic script in the chancery book in Jefferson which allocated it to them…

— William Faulkner, The Old People
 

“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell

Dream Sequence

U.S. National Archives, “St. Valentine’s Day Hop…” (detail) (1975)

“You’re wearing a new dress,” he said, as an excuse for gazing at her. And now he heard her answer.

“New? You are conversant with my wardrobe?”

“I am right, am I not?”

“Yes. I recently had it made here, by Lukaek, the tailor in the village. He does work for many of the ladies up here. Do you like it?”

“Very much,” he said, letting his gaze pass over her again before casting his eyes down. “Do you want to dance?” he added.

“Would you like to?” she asked, her brows raised in surprise, but still with a smile…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

“Do You Want To Dance” by Bette Midler

“How would it be…if you were to pack your things tonight and be on your way with one of the scheduled express trains tomorrow morning?”

Cincinnati Magazine, 1977

“…In your twenty-fourth year, you say? Hmm … please permit me one more question, or if you will, a modest suggestion. Since your stay here appears not to be good for you — neither physically nor, if I am not mistaken, mentally — how would it be, if you were to forgo the pleasure of growing older here, in short, if you were to pack your things tonight and be on your way with one of the scheduled express trains tomorrow morning?”

“You mean I should leave?” Hans Castorp asked. “When I’ve only just arrived? But no, how can I possibly decide about that after only one day?”

And as he said it, quite by chance he caught a glimpse of Frau Chauchat in the next room…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

I know I need a small vacation but it don’t look like rain.

David Falconer, “Reading and Studying by Kerosene Lamps…” (1973)

The gaslight shone yellow through the frosted transom above the door of Number 31. Gordon took out his key and fished about in the keyhole — in that kind of house the key never quite fits the lock. The darkish little hallway — in reality it was only a passage — smelt of dishwater, cabbage, rag mats, and bedroom slops. Gordon glanced at the japanned tray on the hall-stand. No letters, of course. He had told himself not to hope for a letter, and nevertheless had continued to hope. A stale feeling, not quite a pain, settled upon his breast. Rosemary might have written! It was four days now since she had written…

—George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Chapter 9

cf. Art Hanson, “Student at Work at Senior High School…” (ca. 1975)

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock…

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Chapter 4

cf. photograph by Josh Felise via Unsplash

When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn’t see me until I was five feet away…

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Chapter 6 (Continued)

cf. photograph by Peter Mason via Unsplash

What was it up there in the song that seemed to be calling her back inside? What would happen now in the dim, incalculable hours?

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
 

“Because The Night” – Patti Smith

Chapter 8 (Continued)

cf. Television Commercial

“You weren’t so nice to me last night.”

“How could it have mattered then?”

Silence for a moment. Then:

“However — I want to see you.”

“I want to see you, too.”

“Suppose I don’t go to Southampton, and come into town this afternoon?”

“No — I don’t think this afternoon.”

“Very well.”

“It’s impossible this afternoon. Various ——”

We talked like that for a while, and then abruptly we weren’t talking any longer. I don’t know which of us hung up with a sharp click, but I know I didn’t care. I couldn’t have talked to her across a tea-table that day if I never talked to her again in this world.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

Lyntha Scott Eiler, “Motorist Gets in Line for the Safety Lane at an Auto Emission Inspection Station…” (1975)

And so this storyteller will not be finished telling our Han’s story in only a moment or two. The seven days in one week will not suffice, nor will seven months. It will be best for him if he is not all too clear about the number of earthly days that will pass as the tale weaves its web about him. For God’s sake, surely it cannot be as long as seven years!

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

“You are a silly philosopher, Hans Castorp,” she said…

Photograph by Tom Eversley via Unsplash

After all, I did not really wait in vain, because you are here again, we are sitting next to one another just as then, I can hear the wonderful edge to your voice, so familiar to my ear for a very long time; and under that billowing silk are arms that I know well…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

“Lastly, dance records were put in…”

LIFE, 1972

Lastly, dance records were put in. There were specimens of the new imported dance, the tango, calculated to make a Viennese waltz sound sedate and grandfatherly by contrast. Two couples displayed the fashionable steps. Behrens having by now withdrawn, with the admonition that a needle should be used no more than once, and the whole instrument handled “as though it were made of eggs.” Hans Castorp took his place as operator…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

Indeep – “Last Night A Dj Saved My Life”

“Cheering” is a paltry description…

cf. LIFE, 1957 and Skyline New York : Dudley Pictures Corporation

Each weekend I traveled the fifty-odd miles from Glacial Falls to Watertown, where I spent Friday night and all day Saturday in some sustained whisky drinking, tapering off Sundays with a few bottles of beer at The Parrot, eyes fixed on the television screen, cheering for my team. “Cheering” is a paltry description. The Giants were my delight, my folly, my anodyne…

—Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes
 

“You won’t like them,” she returned indirectly; “they’ve run wild…”

“You’re from the white boat that sailed in at sunset?”

“Yes,” he replied, “and I am returning immediately.”

“It was like magic! ” she continued. “Suddenly, without a sound, you were anchored in the bay.”

Even this quiet statement bore the shadowy alarm. John Woolfolk realized that it had not been caused by his abrupt appearance; the faint accent of dread was fixed in the illusive form before him.

“I have robbed you too,” he continued in a lighter tone. “Your oranges are in my pocket.”

“You won’t like them,” she returned indirectly; “they’ve run wild. We can’t sell them.”

“They have a distinct flavor of their own,” he assured her. “I should be glad to have some on the Gar.

“All you want…”

—Joseph Hergesheimer, “Wild Oranges”

young-woman-with-basket-of-oranges-and-lemons-1080

cf. Eugene de Blaas, Young Woman With Basket Of Oranges And Lemons (1902)

 

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – “Crimson and Clover”

Madame Bovary

…yet all the time she was conscious of the scent of Rodolphe’s head by her side. This sweetness of sensation pierced through her old desires, and these, like grains of sand under a gust of wind, eddied to and fro in the subtle breath of the perfume which suffused her soul. She opened wide her nostrils several times to drink in the freshness of the ivy round the capitals. She took off her gloves, she wiped her hands, then fanned her face with her handkerchief, while athwart the throbbing of her temples she heard the murmur of the crowd and the voice of the councillor intoning his phrases. He said—“Continue, persevere; listen neither to the suggestions of routine, nor to the over-hasty councils of a rash empiricism…”

—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Help me
I think I’m falling
In love again…

 
the-ball-1278

Charles Wilda, The Ball/Der Ball (1906)

“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way…”

cf. H. H. Brook, “The Warning Light” (ca. 1916)

I decided to call to him. Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and that would do for an introduction. But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone — he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Under The Volcano

cf. Photograph by Luke Porter via Unsplash

“Sometimes, when I see the little red mail plane fly in from Acapulco at seven in the morning over the strange hills…I think that you will be on it, on that plane every morning as it goes by, and will have come to save me. Then the morning goes by and you have not come…Yvonne come back to me, hear me, it is a cry, come back to me, Yvonne, if only for a day…”

—Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

Sometimes I pretend you’ll come back again
And you’ll console the heart you stole…

“Whispers reach me of Miss Shepherd having said she wished I wouldn’t stare so, and having avowed a preference for Master Jones—for Jones!”

Francis William Edmonds, The City And Country Beaux (detail) (Oil on canvas) (ca. 1838)

Miss Shepherd being the one pervading theme and vision of my life, how do I ever come to break with her? I can’t conceive. And yet a coolness grows between Miss Shepherd and myself. Whispers reach me of Miss Shepherd having said she wished I wouldn’t stare so, and having avowed a preference for Master Jones—for Jones! a boy of no merit whatever!

–Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Marry him or marry me
I’m the one that loves you baby can’t you see?
I ain’t got no future or family tree
But I know what a prince and lover ought to be…

“The bowl with all our happiness in it. The bowl without the crack.”

“…the point for me is that he understands.”

“Yes,” Fanny Assingham cooed, “understands—?”

“Well, what I want. I want a happiness without a hole in it big enough for you to poke in your finger.”

“A brilliant, perfect surface—to begin with at least. I see.”

“The golden bowl—as it WAS to have been.”

And Maggie dwelt musingly on this obscured figure.

“The bowl with all our happiness in it. The bowl without the crack.”

—Henry James, The Golden Bowl

Stop and take a big breath
Begin with something hollow…

 

Polishing the Brass Large 2
Thomas Benjamin Kennington, Polishing the Brass (1912)

“In those few minutes he saw himself and his life, saw the whole cosmos guided, ordered, and interpreted by the spirit of music…”

“Do you happen to know what a fugue is?” the Master now asked.
Knecht looked dubious. He had already heard fugues, but had not yet studied them in class.
“Very well,” the Master said, “then I’ll show you…”

In those few minutes he saw himself and his life, saw the whole cosmos guided, ordered, and interpreted by the spirit of music…

Many years later Knecht told his pupil that when he stepped out of the building, he found the town and the world far more transformed and enchanted than if there had been flags, garlands, and streamers, or displays of fireworks…

—Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

Tender Is The Night

Harris & Ewing, Young woman and man at automobile (1932 or 1933)

He went into the house, forgetting something he wanted to do there, and then remembering it was the piano. He sat down whistling and played by ear:

“Just picture you upon my knee
With tea for two and two for tea
And me for you and you for me–“

Through the melody flowed a sudden realization that Nicole, hearing it, would guess quickly at a nostalgia for the past fortnight. He broke off with a casual chord and left the piano…

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness…”

photograph by Christian Spies via Unsplash

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness. What friends I had were married, raising families, and had locked themselves, ever so tightly, behind their neat-trimmed lawns and white clapboard houses, their children cute, their wives sexless and anxious, my friends plotting their next moves to achieve the Black River Valley Club, never asking themselves what, if they achieved that—the town’s most venerable institution—could possibly be left for them. My friends and I had long proved an embarrassment to one another; I embarrassing them because I drank too much, was unreliable in my debts and working habits, and had been “hospitalized” a number of times; I embarrassed because they were. We never stopped each other on the streets without, eyes avoiding mine, their patronizing me with queries about my health. It was distressing because there was a kind of gloating—undoubtedly a good deal imagined on my part—in these encounters, as though they were telling me that getting myself proclaimed mad and dragged away a number of times was only a childish and petulant refusal to accept their way of life as the right way, that in seeking some other way I had been assuming a courage and superiority I hadn’t possessed. After a time these encounters had proved so painful that whenever I found myself compelled to move about the streets in daylight hours, I dropped my eyes to the sidewalk and charged through the streets as though in a hot-brained hurry…”

—Frederick Exley, “A Fan’s Notes”

I got my own world to live through
And I ain’t gonna copy you…

Don Quixote

Camille Corot, View of Genzano with a Rider and Peasant (ca. 1843)

Presently he broke out again, as if he were love-stricken in earnest, “O Princess Dulcinea, lady of this captive heart, a grievous wrong hast thou done me to drive me forth with scorn, and with inexorable obduracy banish me from the presence of thy beauty. O lady, deign to hold in remembrance this heart, thy vassal, that thus in anguish pines for love of thee.”

—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“Two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon…”

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor…

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby