European Diary

Leaving London, 2005

On the way to the airport we were stuck in systaltic traffic, my taciturn Charon and I, and the weather mimicked the condition, blazing with sunshine like a Neapolitan urchin’s smile one moment, dourly hawking tickets to the Museum of British Cloud the next.

At times the sky was the color of Delft tile, reminding the traveler that Holland was only £49.99 away; then suddenly it would become a glassy gray, like a medical specimen in a jar, and the disgusted eye would turn for relief to the colors of buildings, to the shapes of vehicles and the clothes of pedestrians.  The Earl of Shaftes­bury believed that the essential quality that anyone who wishes to appreciate art must possess is disinterestedness.  This I had to spare.

The colors, the forms, the costumes—all were signposts on the motorway of longing; fetishes of man’s desire, tabernacles of lucre.  Narcissistic glass of the buildings reflected their fundamental superficiality; architectural concrete, cracking under the burden of modernity like a Chinese fortune cookie, intimated that nothing is forever; green, magenta, and ochre exalted primary emotion in a Swahili of designer newspeak.  Styrofoam coffees in hand, office girls scurried like mutant insects with female faces, fashion fleshings protruding from their futuristic tabards like fluorescent tubes.  Trucks blew their horns in the rush to deliver exclusivity to millions,...

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