European Diary

An Idle Character

The riddle of Svengali is only a riddle because men, in particular, tend to caricature their position as the breadwinning yang with respect to the theatrical female yin, supposing that what lies on the far side of the sexual divide is love, while what lies to this side of it is money.  But the idea of bread, no less than that of spectacle, is so naturally ramified in its symbolism that any attempt to cut it down to size renders it sterile.  The cultivation of wheat, for instance, gave mankind the building material of straw as a byproduct, which, in turn—as the etymology of the word, a cognate of structure, suggests—gave us brick and architecture.  Straw was mixed with clay, the substance from which Adam had been fashioned, which was worked like dough and baked like bread.  Clay, incidentally, is what provides the nourishment for the Merlot grape—to this day cultivated by every productive chateau in Bordeaux—upon which viticulture is founded.  Thus civilization, no less than Eve, is a man’s reality, flesh of his own flesh.  And while, in the modern world, money may claim for itself the role of straw, there are other ingredients, including clay, that make up this reality.

One of the main points of interest to this side of the sexual divide is time.  Even in the world as it is presently constituted, time is as powerful as money, arguably more powerful in its specific...

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