The Means and Meanings of Western Culture

“Ye that make mention of the LORD, keep ye not silence.”

—Isaiah 62:6

I am holding in my hands a scatola musicale the size of a matchbox, which somebody gave me the other day as a frivolous keepsake.  You can buy one just like it in any souvenir shop in Venice for two, maybe three dollars.  The thing is so cheap because it is made in some Oriental sweatshop, of course, but also because it is not really a music box in the conventional, nostalgic or grandmotherly, sense.  More precisely, it is the guts of one, under a removable plastic cover.  The mechanism is exposed, and, when you turn the little handle, you can see how the little tines catch on the little bumps, printed as though in Braille on the revolving cylinder:

Dark eyes, passionate eyes,

Eyes smoldering and bea-u-u-ti-ful . . .

I am but a poor, lovelorn Russian emigré, and I happen to like the tune it grinds out.  Naturally, as one who has heard Zina—said to have been the last of the legendary Dmitrievich family of gypsies—sing the original at the Raspoutine in Paris, I understand that it is not the actual little tinkling sounds made by the little tines as they catch on the little bumps that I love, but the underlying reference to the original.

Yet the fact that...

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