Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

I have been out and about of late, an ambassador of this and that; an emissary to here and there: I have been bar-hopping. On one such occasion the Moesian had this to say, and I am paraphrasing: “If you’re white, 40 and male, you’re white, 40 and male, and ipso facto racist, misogynist, and God knows what else. That you may have a sex life is a horror to contemplate, whereas the sex lives of your critics are sacrosanct and nobody’s business except for Facebook. I think I’ll reread The Leopard and Moby Dick. Faulkner?” Myself, I have not read Faulkner since I was a teenager and had a crush on Lorca—Longinus asked at the end of his treatise On the Sublime why there were so few great men in his time and gave the explanation that it was partly because of the end of the republics and liberty, and partly because of avarice, lust and sloth. Now, these are not the mothers but the sisters of that effect of which we speak. And they all derive from the progress of reason and civilization, and from the absence or weakening of illusions, without which there will almost never be greatness of thought, or power or force and boldness of spirit, of great actions, which are usually a kind of madness—The above words are to be found in Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone; and I can almost hear them in a Monty Python skit; and I otherwise do not know what to make of them. “So why do we write poetry anyway,” the Moesian asked. “I mean, why bother?” or so he said in so many words, and then, just before he hit the deck of the terrasse out back at Grumpy’s (because he was somewhat more snockered than what had seemed apparent), he quoted Yeats to this effect: HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, / Enwrought with golden and silver light—Or was it this? The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober. Or this? What can be explained is not poetry. I am afraid I have lost the sense of that moment, and I was beginning to become distracted by the blonde looks of a girl whose pigtails and attire were reintroducing me to the 1930s and some youths’ campfire, some culture event in progress—There have been backyard parties and other gatherings. Yes, we’ll gather at the river / the beautiful, the beautiful river—Most recently, I found myself in Cinema 14 at the Forum, alongside Golden Girl and Bo, and the fare was Godzilla – in 3-D. Great cinema it was not. At movie’s end, after the Japanese had done the Americans a favour, saving them from their worst impulses, and Godzilla proved himself to be one of those dark, dark primordial Titans with a noble heart and who was also doing double-duty as an instance of nature correcting her own lapses (well, Greek myths do not always make much sense, either), the three of us hiked up a busy Ste Catherine street like the hand-me-down magi that we were, and it was somewhat disconcerting: hundreds of boys and girls committed to the simultaneous use of cell phones. It was as if we had hit upon on some grand spectacle of nature. Alright, fireflies then, what with those lit up screens—McGravitas’s love life turned a little tragic. What might have been comic in the affair has not yet declared itself and so, noted. We extend to him our regards. Nature, as I have said, is great, reason is small and an enemy of the great actions that nature inspires. The enmity between these two great mothers of things has been reconciled only by Religion—(Leopardi’sZibaldone). Can the thought-police be far behind, troubled perhaps by the close proximity of words like nature, reason, religion? Otherwise, morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress has either discovered drugs, got religion, or her husband has been unusually attentive in past weeks; she is awfully and spookily cheerful. And some non-familial member of Irish Harpy’s retinue is, as we speak, complaining most bitterly about aspects of Quebec bureaucracy. To my surprise, Irish Harpy, in a most rational manner, is forcing the gentleman to revisit his sentences with a view toward ridding them of knee-jerk logic and getting the best result possible out of the bureaucrat to whom he must pitch his plight: or that monies are owed him. Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy—That would be Yeats. And lately, too, I have been hearing whispered scuttlebutt, perhaps old news by the time they arrive at my ears, saying how it is that nature, labour, money – all these things that once said something to me one way or the other – are now just fictions; that business mergers are everything, including the intimacies. Or else these are auditory hallucinations, whispers that smolder under the ground and on occasion erupt into full-blown forest fires.