Wednesday, February 19, 2020

On Quixote, Labyrinths, and the Trials of Friendship

Salvador Dali on Quixote.
Part II begins on page 491!

Quixote and Sancho - Salvador Dali
Jorge Luis Borges


"Gemini & Scorpio present
12th Annual Steamy Valentine's Night at the Russian Baths
Feb 15, 7pm-2am,
Brooklyn Banya, 602 Coney Island Ave bet Beverley Rd & Ave C, Kensington, BK
Break out your bikini or swim trunks, and join our hand-picked crowd of artsy, funky (and nearly naked) New Yorkers for the glorious return of Gemini & Scorpio's legendary Russian Baths party.
We will have the banya to ourselves, with a few hand-picked professionals on hand for the optional platzas and massages. Enjoy: Russian, Turkish and Swedish steam rooms, jacuzzi and cold plunge pool; poolside dance floor; rooftop smoking deck; authentic and delicious Russian food in a private restaurant room with a view of the dance floor."

The trials of friendships are everywhere –
from desires to civic life, our conflicts throughout the contours  of  our social worlds.

“[A] large amount of time they did spend together was devoted to the complaints of one friend and the excuses of another,” writes  Cervantes in Don  Quixote (p. 274).

Complaints and excuses –
we navigate between the two,
What we need and expect,
Can  do  and  cannot. 
The fights we have.
That Quixote and Sancho Panchez have:
 “I tell you now, Sancho,” said Done Quixote, “that you are, forgive me, a dolt, and let us say no more. Enough.” (p. 325).

I arrive early for our book group  at Glady’s house near Lincoln Center.
Blown away by the storm the last time we were  to meet,
“It was like Mary Poppins with an umbrella,” says Gladys.“
Gladys returned home soaked.
“Get in your bed and take off all your clothes,” said the doorman,  when she came home  sick.
Hello.

Julie and Catherine arrive 
Chatting away about what everyone is reading.
Emma Goldman by Vivian Gornic,
Reading  Lolita in Tehran.
Bukowski in a Sundress.

Its hard just to read Cervantes.
The meta text’s infidelities to form intrigue and confuse.

“I’ve gotta read twenty pages a night,” says Julie.
“Its like a screwball comedy,” says Catherine.
“But lyrical,” says Joan E.
Emily gets it all. 
I certainly don’t.
“My question for the book: is he mad?” says Gladys.
It feels more Shakespeare, I follow,
more  of an irreverence for powers and principalities, the doctrine of the inquisition, the imposition of the alarm clocks of reality, the colonized mind dueling  it out with the colonizers, diachronic time contending  with mythic sensibilities and consciousness.
Gradually the book becomes a meditation on the nature of reality.
How do you choose to see the world?
Is it a castle or an inn?
Is she a peasant girl or a princess?
Its really how we see it. 

Captive, he seemed to learn to be Quixote,
to dream, to reject the reality principle in favor of freedom.

We all get lost.
He’s saying.
So what do you do?

Hope and wonder.
And dream throughout the mid summer.

Cervantes and Shakespeare writing and dreaming,
Shuffling off with each other,
Their lives and stories tumbling through time.
In a space where we all arrive from time to time,
Thumbing through one of their texts, 
William’s soliloquies, Miguel’s dialogues,
stealing each other’s best lines, chasing tempests.
“All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare”
writes
Jorge Luis Borges in Labyrinths.
He saw no difference.
We are all the bard.
am not sure that I exist, actually,” confessed Borges.   “I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities that I have visited, all my ancestors.”
A part of all the places we have been,
With Tennyson.
To see Ulysses.

Three centuries later this poet in Buenos Aires drew a map between this universe and his library:
“Then I reflect that all things happen, happen to one, precisely now,” writes Borges.
“Century follows century, and things happen only in the present. There are countless men in the air, on land and at sea, and all that really happens happens to me.”
Without sight, he saw a universe.
“There is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.”

Trying to find our way out of the labyrinth, moving  in countless directions.
“Don Fernando thanked heaven for its mercy in extricating him from the intricate labyrinth in which he had been on the verge of losing both his good name and his soul….” writes Miguel (p. 321).

Is this labyrinth despair?
An image of the mind lost,
Trying to find something
Looking  for action.
Trying to make sense of  our stories.

God knows we all are,
 Making it through our days.
From the Gowanus to the Banya Baths near Coney Island Friday.
Losing  and  finding  and losing.
Battling windmills and myself,
Back home to sleep.
And off to watch Gotham take on Philly.
From Brooklyn to Manhattan,
To  Brooklyn with the Book club on the  train.
Lost like tears in the rain.
And off to see Mom for a beer.
Looking at the trees in her backyard.
“They are still holding up,” I say, pointing to  our favorite Mabel.
“It’ll be here as long as I am,” says  Mom, looking at  the tree. 
Back to Brooklyn.
Pints with friends all afternoon.
Wondering about what happened.
Why kids, why 42nd street.
What happened?
Through the struggles.
The laughs.
Everyone negotiating.

James drinking across town.
Dad, Jamesy is here says the teenager in  a text.
Really?
No  call from my old friend.
Friends explain and complain. 
I couldn’t get away, says he.
“[A] large amount of time they did spend together was devoted to the complaints of one friend and the excuses of another…” Miguel reminds.

The parameters of friendship are always evolving.

Catherine Talese writes:


02.15.20
.
With Valentine's day behind us
what about the famous story within the novel Don Quixote?
.
The Man too Curious for His Own Good
.
"Very well, then. Pay attention, all of you. This is the way the story begins." [and the character in the story begins to read us the following 30 page story.]
.
Anselmo: "What thanks does a woman deserve for being good if no one urges her to be bad?" "Accordingly, she who is virtuous out of fear and lack of occasion is one whom I cannot esteem as I do her who is solicited and beset and still emerges with the crown of victory."
.
translation: Hey Lotario, my best and trusted friend, will you try and seduce my wife so I can test her fidelity?
.
Lotario: "True friends, as the poet has said, will prove and make use of each other usque ad aras, which is to say, they will not put their friendship to the test in a manner that is contrary to God's will."
.
translation: Ah…no way friend.
.
Lotario on friendship: "You look upon me as a friend, and yet you would take away my honor, which is a thing contrary to all friendship; and, what is more, you wish me to rob you of yours at the same time."
.
Don Quixote, the novel continues to entertain and instruct.























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