L'esprit de l'escalier

It's all about the timing.

Name:
Location: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

I'd rather be somewhere else most of the time and I'm a huge practitioner of staircase wit.

7/12/2005

I fucking love Kurt Vonnegut

[So, I will share a little piece of him with you...]

I went out onto the giddy terrace that straddled the waterfall and found little Newt asleep in a yellow butterfly chair.

The painting on which Newt had been working was set on an easel next to the aluminum railing. The painting was framed in a misty view of sky, sea, and valley.

Newt's painting was small and black and warty.

It consisted of scratches made in a black, gummy impasto. The scratches formed a sort of spider's web, and I wondered if they might not be the sticky nets of human futility hung up on a moonless night to dry.

I did not wake up the midget who had made this dreadful thing. I smoked, listening to imagined voices in the water sounds.

What awakened little Newt was an explosion far away below. It caromed up the valley and went to God. It was a cannon on the water front of Bolivar, Frank's major-domo told me. It was fired every day at five.

Little Newt stirred.

While still half-snoozing, he put his black, painty hands to his mouth and chin, leaving black smears there. He rubbed his eyes and made black smears around them, too.

"Hello," he said to me, sleepily.

"Hello," I said. "I like your painting."

"You see what it is?"

"I suppose it means something different to everyone who sees it."

"It's a cat's cradle."

"Aha," I said. "Very good. The scratches are string. Right?"

"One of the oldest games there is, cat's cradle. Even the Eskimos know it."

"You don't say."

"For maybe a hundred thousand years or more, grownups have been waving tangles of string in their children's faces."

"Um."

Newt remained curled in the chair. He held out his painty hands as though a cat's cradle were strung between them. "No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's..."

"And?"

"No damn cat, and no damn cradle."


[I wonder if he would've used the term Inuit, today.]

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