European Diary

A Sicilian Mirage

Everybody laughed at me as usual.  The state of absolute passivity outwardly resembling the comatose, but distinguishable from it by voluntary alimentation and libation, was derided by my friends as unattainable.  A Sicilian mirage.

Yet it had been an idée fixe for years, my vision of a holiday so impeccably philistine it would reduce me to the condition of a vegetable, preferably one pickled in Dom Pérignon.  The object was to exorcise the demon of thought, as Byron called the writer’s master, by throwing a monkey wrench of housewifely normality in the twin conveyor of juxtaposition and tergiversation that runs up and down the heart of our profession like the anterior coronary artery.

I had been dreaming of such a holiday “as an accountant dreams of retirement,” in a Russian poet’s phrase.  I yearned for it as the revolutionaries of Garibaldi yearn for idleness in Lampedusa’s The Leopard.  I recalled it “as freezing persons recollect the snow” in Emily Dickinson’s poem.

Yet my pocket is that of a mendicant writer, and it hardly allows for housewifely normality.  How was I then to persuade my demon master to give his favorite guest the chance to eat, drink, and sleep, instead of dragging him all day long through the bogs and deserts of mediated existence?  I hoped that one day a caprice of fate would yield a solution.

Then...

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