All rise! The judge is in the court: "I write to indict mankind." Gass almost said "indite", because that would have been reallJudgemental as Anything
All rise! The judge is in the court: "I write to indict mankind." Gass almost said "indite", because that would have been really punny. He didn't, but he tells us anyway about the pun foregone but not forgotten. And so a little titter (whatever that is) runs through the courtroom and back out the entrance.
The Emperor Gassius is a self-proclaimed master of the declaratory sentence. Here he plumbs the depths of the imperious and obnoxious mode. As the subtitle promises, it is more plural than singular: there are more judgements than judgement on display. Also, perhaps, more accounting than taste. Beyond the reach of his acolytes, his spawn shall be spurned! Does that sound right? Is that how you do it?
[The remainder of this essay is on temporary loan to The Phat Batarde Review of Contemporary Fiction Studies.]...more
Let A Young Christian Declare What He Seeth [Dedicated to Jorge Luis Borges]
Jean Louise got out of her train seat and went to the toilet to get changedLet A Young Christian Declare What He Seeth [Dedicated to Jorge Luis Borges]
Jean Louise got out of her train seat and went to the toilet to get changed. She took off her slacks and put on her Maycomb clothes: gray skirt, a black sleeveless blouse, white socks, and loafers. She admired herself in the mirror, then removed her panties and placed them in her handbag.
She tried to turn the handle, but it was jammed, so she pounded on the door.
Luckily, the porter happened to be patrolling the corridor: "I'll get you out, Miss."
"No please," she said. "Just tell me how to get out."
"I can do it with my back turned," he said, and he did. But he turned his head as well.
Outside the station, she saw a tall man standing on the steps of the adjacent courthouse. He ran to meet her. She ran to meet him.
He grabbed her in a bear hug, put her from him, kissed her hard on the mouth, then kissed her gently. It wasn't her father.
"Not here, Christian," she murmured, much pleased and moistened.
"Hush, girl," he said, holding her face in place. "I'll kiss you on the courthouse steps if I want to."
The possessor of the right to kiss her on the courthouse steps was Christian Grey, her lifelong friend, her brother's comrade, and if he kept on kissing her like that, her husband. Love whom you will but marry your own kind was a dictum amounting to instinct within her. Christian Grey was Jean Louise's own kind.
"Want to drive?" said Christian.
"Don't be silly," she said.
With green envy, she watched Christian's effortless mastery of the automobile. Cars are his servants, she thought. They've made a master of him.
"Power steering? Automatic transmission?" she said.
"You bet," he said.
"Well, what if everything shuts off and you don't have any gears to shift. You'd be in trouble then, wouldn't you?"
"But everything won't shut off."
"How do you know?"
"That's what faith is. Come here...Tired of New York?" he said, gliding his spare arm around her shoulders, briefly glancing the unyielding nipple on her right breast.
"No," she responded, equally unyielding.
"Give me a free hand for these two weeks and I'll make you tired of it."
"Is that an improper suggestion?"
"Go to hell, then."
"Honey, do you want me to put it like a gentleman?"
"Christian, I'll have an affair with you, but I won't marry you."
"Don't be such a damn child, Jean Louise!"
"Slow pickup, isn't it?" she said, going on the attack, but moving back to her side of the car. "No good for city driving."
Christian glared at her, wondering what she had learned about fast pickups in Manhattan. "What do you mean by that?"
"Where'd you get that appalling tie?" she said.
He looked hurt, momentarily. He was still vain, even if his business was doing well. Very well. Extraordinarily well, in fact.
"Honey, I'm sorry, truly sorry," she said, and she was. She raised her left leg and placed it in his lap.
"That's okay," said Christian, and slapped her knee. "It's just that I could kill you sometimes."
He slid his hand up her thigh. He didn't meet any resistance.
"I know I'm hateful."
Christian looked at her. "You're an odd one, sweet. You can't dissemble."
She looked at him. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, as a general rule, most women, before they've got 'em, present to their men smiling, agreeing faces. You never hide anything."
"Isn't it fairer for a man to be able to see what he's letting himself in for?" She put her other leg in his lap.
"Yes, but don't you see you'll never catch a man that way?"
She parted her legs, so that, if he looked, he could see the whole way up to his expectations. He looked, he saw, he declared, "Wow."
She said, "How do I go about being an enchantress?"
"That's a pretty good start." Christian warmed to his subject. So did Jean Louise. She moved over and unzipped the fly on his trousers.
At thirty, Christian was a good adviser. And he had the makings of a successful public speaker, if a little stiff. Maybe because he was a lawyer.
"First," he said dispassionately, "hold your tongue."
"Second, don't argue with a man, especially when you know you can beat him."
She squeezed him harder, as if she was going to beat him there and then.
"Smile a lot," he said, though he himself was wincing.
"Make him feel big."
"Right. That's something I'm good at." She pulled back, then went down again.
"Tell him how wonderful he is, and wait on him."
She lifted her head, smiled brilliantly and said, "Christian, I agree with everything you've said. You're the most perspicacious individual I've met in years, and you're charming, good looking, strong...not to mention six feet, nine inches..."
"You got that wrong, sweet. I'm only six feet in my socks."
"I know that, honey. The nine inches don't measure what's in your socks."
He pulled into the office car park.
"Do you like it when I light your cigarette? How was that?"