Friday, March 5, 2010

Not A Parody

But theres a prize for anyone who can guess who wrote it. Editorial interjections could not be avoided.

Urban life is a sacrifice of nature for culture, but it is not obvious that culture can provide the same exaltations as nature. . . . What is the metropolitan sublime? The city is built on delineations and differentiations, and its particular beauty is owed to its artifice, to its rejection of stillness, to the almost anarchic spectacle of its many relations. It is a pluralist world. It is not created for oneness or wholeness, or to strike you dumb. [ALAS. WOULD THAT IT WERE] Instead it articulately disperses you. Sometimes the art of the city has renounced these profane fascinations for an ontological ambition . . . but these experiments in timelessness seem almost like protests against the subways and the streets, in the name of a more fundamental plenitude, with no parts. . . . Sometimes even the most sophisticated man [SUCH AS MYSELF] needs to see the sky. The urban-spiritual question is whether the soul can subsist only on the experience of other people. Is the Other--the epic hero of contemporary thought--enough? . . .  I detest crowds and their oceanic effects; for me, they promise only conformity and violence. But last week the disorder of the city delivered another sort of release. . . .  On my way to work I stopped at a local filling station, and as I stood at the pump I was taken up contentedly with errands and obligations. I phoned a friend to talk about the battle of Marja [ABOUT WHICH I WAXED POETIC! EXTREMELY!]. I reviewed the plans for Purim [HMMM. SHALL I DRESS AS PLOTINUS?]. I made a mental note to check on the publication date of Saul Bellow’s letters. I looked at some girls. The public square was a rich and good place to be. And then I heard the tapping of a cane against an oil truck. . . .When I turned around, I saw a hideously mutilated man. He was tall and thin, with a dancer’s body, and dressed in jeans and a red sweater; but there was a crater where his nose would have been, and his upper lip was ripped and pulled and seemed to have been soldered to his cheek. The skin on his face was twisted and flattened, like a mask gone horribly wrong. And he was blind. The deformed man immediately emptied my mind. All my contentment was banished by the shock. For a few moments, he was everything I knew [FOR I AM PLOTINUS, AND UNIVERSES OF KNOWLEDGE ARE IN ME]. I am embarrassed to say that pity gave way to fear [THOUGH NOT, APPARENTLY, EMBARRASSED ENOUGH]. It was suddenly an uglier universe. The image of this devastation filled me with a sense of all possible horror. I lived with the shudder for most of the day. My last stop was the flower shop, and I bought thistles. [THISTLES! THISTLES, I TELL YOU!]

The lowest rung of a parking garage is a forsaken place, a prison without prisoners [I AM DEEP]--the gray, dank netherworld of the urban conceit. When I drove down to the bottom of the cave on a recent afternoon, the luckless man who sits there instructed me to back my car up all the way to the far wall, [WAIT, THIS IS GOING TO BE FASCINATING] past a row of cars that were parked perpendicularly to mine. I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the love theme from Once Upon a Time in the West, the greatest melody that Puccini never wrote. [DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? SOMETIMES I'M TOO SUBTLE BY HALF.] Maybe it was the long warm line of the music, but when I put the car into reverse and began to move smoothly backwards, something happened. All heaviness, inside and outside, disappeared. As I glided by the parked cars I watched them glide by me, as if I were standing still and they were in motion, and in the steady wafting procession--like the quietly turning pages of those wall calendars in the old movies, or the cherry blossoms loosened by the teasing breezes and floating into the Tidal Basin in early spring--in a sweet moment of indefinite suspension--I had a glimpse of the flow, an intuition of perfect evanescence. [FOR ONLY I, AND POSSIBLY WALT WHITMAN, CAN FIND THE BEAUTY IN A PARKING GARAGE.] It was over quickly, but the gladness was overwhelming. I left the building in a grateful daze, and not even the important street and its important people broke the spell. In that featureless pit, a sensation of infinity! Is there really no place without grace? I do not take kindly to such uplift, but the event in the garage could not be argued away. I strolled around the block to ponder my blessing, and then proceeded to my office, and the more impure transience of my work.

Theres more, but Ill spare you. Remember, you get a prize for guessing!


  1. Only Leon Wieseltier is incapable of being parodied.

  2. Clues: he pumps his own gas, but calls it a
    "filling station" - indicates he is a wanna be elitist. He has plans for Purim - indicates he is of Jewish descent (cannot be ol' Joe). He looks at girls - indicates he is not gay (shoot - I was going to guess Andrew Sullivan). (Unless he was admiring their handbags.) He is a Saul Bellows fan - indicates he is involved in literature in some fashion. He is able to recognize the sound of a blind cane tapping on an oil truck - indicates he is willing to sacrifice his integrity to make himself sound profound. He listens to Yo-Yo-Ma and knows what Puccini didn't write - indicates he has a stereo in his car. He mentions cherry blossoms falling into tidal basins - indicates he is familiar with D.C. He has an office in an office building - indicates he doesn't work from his ranch in the Poconos.

    Sounds like something from the New Republic. How about Chait or Cohn?

  3. Whoever he is, his pretentiousness is staggering.

  4. Isn't this the kind of overwrought and pretentious stuff the NY-behind-the-Times offers up editorially at the changes of the seasons?

  5. I would've guessed Pete Hamill, but he doesn't use such run on sentences & there's no reference to The Mets!

  6. BTW I hate to be a spoiler, but always now with these things, by cutting & pasting the first sentence on Google, one will be directed to the answer.

  7. It's funny that the question is so easy. The only thing to wonder about is if you're being tricked into the obvious answer.

  8. how about this:

    [And it came to pass, after Israel was carried into captivity, and Jerusalem was desolate, that Jeremiah the prophet sat weeping, and mourned with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and with a sorrowful mind, sighing and moaning, he said:]

    1 Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princes of provinces made tributary!

    2 Beth. Weeping, she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.

    Lamentations, 1

  9. I know for a fact that the author is:
    - not a friend of mine
    - not someone I would care to hang out with
    - not someone any of my friends would care to hang out with
    - a pretentious a$$
    - someone who has never camped out in his life
    - someone who has never hunted
    - someone who has never known anyone who has camped out or hunted

  10. Interesting.... I would have guessed Sharon Zukin.