Book Jam: The Party

“Call me Ishmael,” I said to the girl.  “So”, said Estella, “I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but together the two make sense.”

I understood her pain – I have always felt that you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.  My friend Jame Gumb also understood.  He said “It puts the lotion on is skin or else it gets the hose again.”

I left Jame and Estella to it.  They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Watching them leave the party I recalled how I first entered this society, months ago. Like more than one Englishman in New York, I looked upon Americans as hopeless children whom Providence had perversely provided with this great swollen fat fowl of a continent. Any way one chose to relieve them of their riches, short of violence, was sporting, if not morally justifiable, since they would only squander it in some tasteless and useless fashion, in any event.  I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited–they went there. 

Walking back, I chanced upon a conversation between two of the guests, though I did not know their names.  He said, “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”  She said “It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,’ he answered, “Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?” 

I did not know what to say to this…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.

All these thoughts made social discourse impossible. Lacking a response I simply nodded noncommittally.  But he carried on “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

I was bored now when Emma Bovary suddenly began to sob on my breast; and my heart, like the people who can only stand a certain amount of music, became drowsy through indifference to the vibrations of a love whose subtleties I could no longer distinguish.

We walked off together.  “A plague on both your houses”, shouted Mercutio.  He loved Big Brother.


 …Answers on a postcard…


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