19 thoughts on “The Paris Notebooks – Quentin S. Crisp

  1. 7 – 8 May

    “In any case, you never really catch up.”

    I am only reading this non-fiction diary or notebook of Quentin S. Crisp’s birthday present trip in 2007 by Eurostar to Paris and his stay there because I am the biggest fan of his fiction. Intrigued so far by anonymous S., a pretty young lady I merely infer, and going back to the apartment for Lieder and with a picture of the real Quentin Crisp on the wall. This is not fiction, I infer, but it is in the amenable textured style of his fiction, interruptible audit trail with literary or philosophical or, no doubt later, spiritual coquettish delays between actions and events and near synaesthesia of details. A found art in itself. The arguably ‘one person’ lift being almost a rendezvous of kindred souls, I guess, if not a game of sardines?

  2. 9 -10 May

    “But perhaps my tastes are rather strange. It’s hard for me to tell.”

    Seems apposite for those like us who fear perceived preciousness or as I call it pretentiousness. A travel through some thoughts on Art while accompanying S. (a Platonic friend?) to museums after traipsing himself alone to cafés for the optimum drink and food of neutralised self-consciousness. The Mona Lisa. The contrasts between the orient and occident of music (I simply listen to music so classical music or whatever music needs no agonising over as far as I am concerned) – but death in life and as depicted in Time’s Art does need agonising over, I guess, and there is a very powerful reference here in QSC’s journal to a couple of lines from Bowie that I had not seen before. But meanwhile a question from my reading of this book yesterday – Why peonies? And why today lilies of the valley? Not precious so much as the need to be precise, precise and agonisingly so?

  3. 11 – 12 May

    “S. told me of some writer — Diderot apparently — who preferred symbolic eroticism to graphic eroticism.”

    This journal, so far, other than perhaps the concept of the one-person lift, is overtly as far from eroticism as it can be, but the book itself as a thing in itself may be a symbol for eroticism as well as for many other things? I have read some Diderot, one of my favourite writers in fact, but I can’t remember that preference being stated or enacted. But my example of this book I think is, I claim, just as a good an example as its own cracked jug or a living moment or its author’s stated loneliness or celibate fruitlessness or a pink peony design on a china cup or an unlikely place where to conjure up someone who is not there … I cannot catch up with all the current topics, as a writer cannot ever catch up with everything, but as far as classical music goes I have been listening to a Haydn string quartet while reading these two days in my own real-time, and it has the same methodical, civilised, gentle agonising as the thoughts going through this author’s days. Probably from the same era as Diderot?
    I note, too, by skimming ahead of where I have reached in these days, that PARTS of this book divide a day into two. I give notice that I shall ignore those divisions for the purpose of this gestalt real-time review, although I will give due unacknowledged acknowledgement to them in my own mind: my version of textually thinning a thicket into a thinet?

  4. 13 May

    “It’s Sunday. The petals of the peonies have begun to fall.”

    That somehow feels sad. Perhaps S. is an acronym for Symbol?
    I now get the PART dividing a day’s date; it is a changeover of physical Notebooks. That makes more sense of what this journal said about the thicket.
    I liked the question, too, about whether Paris is like Paris.
    Different from London seems to be apt inarguable consensus, calm and collected as this real-time journal always is (if sometimes sad.) Always, so far.
    Thumbnails for colouring in later.

  5. 14 May

    “Oh no, I am very humble indeed. All I want is immortality. But the thought of me as an immortal is frankly comic.”

    A bit like me taking on the mantle of nullimmortalis?
    Meanwhile, this day’s “instinct to curate” by QSC’s 2007 May journal (strange that May is now our conniving prime minister ten years later) and the way that instinct is described evoke for me the feelings behind my obsession since 2008 to gestalt real-time review, dreamcatch, triangulate, hawl…
    Mention of Arcimboldo stirs me to think of his gestalt paintings of animals and fish into human faces.
    Proust, too, and his Proustian selves, and I wonder whether the earlier one person lift is the gestalt Symbol (S.) for this journal now turned into a book. Obscurity thoughts, then a special light in Paris, The chiaroscuro of self?
    Anyway, this journal will be ending soon, as he is said to be leaving Paris tomorrow.

  6. 15 – 16 May

    “dreaming chimneypots”

    Steerpike et al. (I recall an Aickman story where someone in bed at night hears a horse on their roof.)
    These days express, for me, a fully sympathisable sensitive anxiety about seeming normal matters in life, like catching a train. A sensitivity and agonising about other matters, too, a feeling that steeps the fractured, heartfelt, if smoothly stylish, prose. Stylish for a formal novel not only in a notebook or diary as this.
    I gained even more personal anxiety about the sudden dawning on me that this diary is still in real-time about a place and its events wherefrom the diarist has already left. An oblique sense thus instilled in me of a retrocausality that I have often feared – even hoped – might exist. Especially when I am hawling books on this site.
    As an aside, I just looked up the word ‘peon’ on the wide world web and found:-
    Pity the poor peon. He exists at the very bottom of the food chain of servitude, beneath wage-slaves, underlings , drudges, or even minions. His boss doesn’t even know he exists.

  7. 17 May

    “A minute or two later, if I remember aright, I was directing S. to photograph me in front of a shop window displaying old manual typewriters.”

    Several things here for my diary about this diary to report about it. Meanwhile, I can hear my iPad letter keys clattering back and forth against the silent screen.
    Björk leading to considerations about humans needing to ‘be’ like rocks and plants rather than expressing themselves ostentatiously.
    I’d interpolate that there WAS a serious earthquake in England near where I live, towards the end of the 19th Century. See my real-time view of it when writing about the Essex Serpent.
    I note that futile and future both begin fut. Perhaps it’s is futile to call futile things futile – because they are.
    I also hate the expression carpe diem and already thought it more erotic than any Symbol, like a cracked jug if you seize it too roughly?
    A precious moment is mentioned. Cf the use of precious earlier in this diary of this diary.
    And I am happy to laud this book (ha ha).

  8. 18 – 19 May

    “, ‘I have no wishes left.'”

    Topics: suicide, the dignity of the writer or lack of it, the solipsism of the one person lift, greasy spoon cafés, the ambiguity of the above statement (Empson said there were seven types of ambiguity – I never understood that – ambiguity is itself ambiguous.)
    An era when no smoking in pubs was about to come into force – I thought that was before 2007? Is this diary’s perspective itself becoming ambiguous? We are now talking about events outside of Paris, subsequent or prior to the visit and meeting S. there? A visit to a London pub with Drapeau – wasn’t he a character in Ligotti?
    I am now suspecting this is not a diary at all but a fictional novella. FIctional in the sense it is a work of fiction or a false-fictional novella that is really a diary? Or an ambiguous bit of all these things. Also a deliberate or accidental view of France from the vantage point of today’s retrocausal Brexit?

  9. 20 & 24 May

    I take it back. I have since discovered that it is indeed the 10th anniversary of banning smoking in pubs. Time crawls.
    A new notebook starts this section, notably a moleskine. A Paris notebook by dint of that fact as well as of writing about things that already happened in Paris. Plus criticism of Christianity, Science and Buddhism. Japanese meanderings. Talk of diarist’s job door to different door in housing estates. Time was when there was an aura of the end of the world. Now, today, I, as a diarist upon this diary, claim that ending has loomed real at last, including what some have described as a coffin in the sky, a Symbol, a housing block that QSC might once have visited talking about supermarket bags. These two days end with a sentence that reminds me of a variation on TS Eliot.

  10. 25 May

    “I have said that I never know who will answer the door when I knock,”

    …and one can read that in two ways, paralleling the England-bought moleskine’s diarist’s telephone conversation with S. in Paris (truly perhaps a Symbol now she is not there in person), a conversation stemming, by dint of this diary, from walking, as part of his job, up and down the tower housing blocks meeting seeming zombies in horizontal pits – in two ways, then, paralleling a bifurcation between anti-natalism and a form of solipsism. Leading to some sort of epiphany with paving weeds that reminded me ironically of Dennis Potter’s epiphany (that I watched live on TV in real-time) with the blossomest blossom just before his death. This day seems to contain some sort of core to this diary…

    “…in which your mind makes so many connections, and so many things occur to you, that most of them go unsaid.”

      • 26 – 31 May

        “The only ability in which I have had a scrap of confidence, though only a scrap, is my ability to imagine, and so fiction seems all that I am truly qualified for.”

        I feel qualified for what I am doing right now while writing these words ABOUT fiction. A meaning of life through gestalt real-time reviewing, a preternatural fiction about fiction, a double fiction leading, for me, to faith, even a religion. This, though, strictly, is a fiction about a non-fiction, so perhaps this is different? Though it FEELS the same. It is not this diarist’s view on the ACADEMIC approach to literature. But any argument on that score would indeed be academic.
        “I have given up trying to give up.” “I will never catch up.”
        Agonising, yet with a certainty somewhere, perhaps in peonies mentioned here again. Proust. Baudelaire. Ligotti. All important in their different ways. And cakes and paintings. A description of a painting that reminded me of my 70 capsule real-time reviews of Adam Golaski’s COLOR PLATES (here). A book that resonates well with this one. Non-fiction, but in some way, fiction, too.
        Talk of education in France and England, the diarist’s need to find himself and his raison d’être, a theme and variations on uselessness that become useful to my mind. And I really believe now I have met S. and would recognise her again. As I do this whole book. QSC always opens up new usefulnesses for the likes of me.
        I hope I can be useful to him by pointing out that ‘learnéd’ to indicate two Syllables should be ‘learnèd’ and Sickhert should be spelt Sickert.
        Essentially, though, perhaps I am a flibbertigibbet, too, with these reviews of fiction which have both obsessed me and agonised me since 2008. “Flighty and flimsy”, not academic. Yet, part of me knows, as part of this book’s diary knows, that there is something out there useful, however much we dally on a daily basis with concepts such as suicide and uselessness.
        Writing is a mop. (I say this purely because someone came into the room just now talking about a mop.)

        “Just look at these blowsy great peonies sprawling on the jaundiced sides of my cup.”

        end

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