And in the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo

There really are an ungodly amount of lectures available around here to go to. It seems like every visiting ichthyologist and failed insurrectionist has to throw their two cents in the trough like visitors to the Trevi Fountain in Rome do for good luck (only the crudest and most literal manifestation, by the way, of the phenomenon upon which practically everything pretty in Rome seems to be based: throwing money used to buy spiritual well-being into art). I suppose it’s impressive in a way, and should indicate that the owl of Minerva has landed, evoking images of Athenians sitting around the Agora and boring each other with metaphysics, even if it was only in lieu of buggering each other behind the olive tree. But I don’t usually go to them, partly because there are so damn many of them that there’s no balance. The joke about the German tour bus at the gates of heaven, with a sign saying “Heaven” pointing to the left and a sign saying “Lectures about heaven” pointing to the right, and all the Germans filing to the right, would certainly apply here.

It’s like a conspiracy to change the basic mode of verbal exchange from dialogue to monologue and conversing people into book and reader. There’s something so programmed about that form of interaction. And there’s already a lot of that in life. Have you ever watched somebody walking around, moving, and tried to count how many of their movements and gestures were really spontaneous, unique, indicating the spiritual individuality of humanity, as opposed to stereotyped, instinctive, uniform from person to person? How many any of us make of that kind in a day? That was really one of the most disappointing aspects of that teenage descent into pituitary gland-dominated chaos and confusion so sardonically called “sexual awakening”: the realization (at least for those of us who had a passing knowledge of biology inflicted on us) that all of these new pleasures that erupted so spontaneously and naturally were in reality standard, even mechanical in their homogeneity and deflatingly functional. It’s like going on a trip for pleasure and then finding out it was business all along.

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