I have such things to write, but for some reason I have neither the energy nor talent this morning. So this will be the usual observational goulash. I will need to develop more discipline to do otherwise. Rather, I will need to write other than in the morning after spending an hour with the online news outlets. My mind is nervous and jumping all over the place after that, and quite often I am attempting to answer texts and emails, too. I have the time. I could write in the afternoon or the evening, though it might be better if I wrote first thing before I worried about the world out there. But it is a commitment and with commitment, as I have learned, there is often failure, and I am as averse to failure as I am to serious effort.
Such has been my downfall, I fear.
I watched a documentary last night that I didn't know existed. I was at first excited to watch it, then dismayed. It featured my old friend George Plimpton. I'm kidding. I only met him a couple times. Also prominently featured was Peter Matthiessen who I had also met on a number of occasions. I just tried, but I don't have it in me to recount those meetings. It would take too long and the stories are complicated. I have told them in some form or other on the blog somewhere years back, probably more than once, and to try to do justice to the retelling now--well, I can't. And anyway, the retelling is more vanity than necessity, I think. I will leave it to say that I had spoken to each of them about putting together a coffee table book of their Paris years when they first started the Paris Review. They were trying to recreate the Hemingway/Expatriate Paris experience of the twenties following WWII. They were, however, disliked by the French and were referred to as The Tall Young Men. I had suggested that enough time had passed that people of this generation would be as nostalgic over their snapshots and observations of those years as they had been about Hemingway and his crowd. Matthiessen didn't mind the idea but didn't take that much interest in it and, indeed, I don't think I was really his sort of chap. Plimpton, on the other hand, thought idea marvelous and said he would talk to Peter about it.
Per usual, I am full of great ideas. I never really followed up.
I spoke with Plimpton about this in the later part of the 1990s. The documentary was released in 2001.
That was my idea!!!
Oh, I wish I had the energy to write it this morning. It truly was my idea, a book rather than a doc, but still. . . . I have done it no justice here.
They are all dead now and no one will ever be able to live the lives they were afforded again. They loved art and literature and cocktails and traveling and philandering, and they were admired for it. Today, I'm certain, they need to be cancelled, but someday another generation might find something attractive about their libertine passions.
Day four--no car. Perhaps I will pick it up this morning.
I've been re-reading Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime." He was the best writer of the bunch. Writing like that is work. First you must observe, then you must work. You can't do it quickly. There are no shortcuts. It is all style shaped from constant revision and attention. You must cut everything out and leave only the tiniest tender parts. Everything else is left on the floor.
Ken Burns' four part documentary on Hemingway starts Monday (link). I suspect I will have much trouble with it. I already have disagreement about some of their assessments, but I will watch it and look to see if they have consulted the correct authorities. I could be depressed by the number of them that I once knew. Once upon a time. . . .