Thursday, December 30, 2004

Philadelphia was cold and beautiful, a labyrinth of wind and history, and I felt a bit awkward waiting for my interview and wandering the center city in my suit. Sad that I'm so broke I couldn't afford to register for the convention; I would have liked to attend the panel on C.D. Wright. I was a bit disappointed that the city didn't seem flooded by literary scholars; I expected to be mobbed by like-minded, like-dressed doppelgangers. I expected to be able to look at people and say, ah, clearly a Marxist--you can tell by the expensive cut of her suit.

I must admit that I like the way I look in a tie, uncomfortable and asphyxiating as they are. It's strange that this fashion has persisted; women don't wear girdles or corsets. And yet, year after year men don these pseudo-phalli from which they may be conveniently and quickly hanged.

No surprise that our government is miserly in the face of disaster, and our president on vacation. Perhaps W is a bit jealous; for a moment or two, he's in second place for most dangerous force on the planet. Don't worry, Georgie--you'll doubtless ruin more lives in 2005. No one will hasten us toward the end of days quicker than you, pal.

An exhausting day, but as I said, the interview went well. About as well as it could. My colleague gave me an incredibly thorough list of potential questions, some of them very tough, and I came equipped with a number of talking-points. Nice people, good people; I think I'd be happy there, although it is a 3-3 teaching load. If anyone ever wants to see these questions, just send me an e-mail. I'd be glad to share them.

Karl and I have been talking over a screenplay on Berryman. I think the damn thing would practically write itself. Open with a long shot of an ambulance pulling away from the rainy, manicured grounds of a mental insitution: topiary trees in the desperate, frozen gestures of half-spoken lyric. Cut to Berryman (played by Al Pacino?) in the back of the ambulance, bearded and jittery, bumping along and reading over his typed lecture notes. Shot of ambulance on the highway, crossing the bridge from which he would throw himself. Entering the University. Berryman is helped out of the ambulance. There's a bit of rain on the camera-lens. Berryman is shaky and almost falls. Enters the hall, passes a few colleagues. In front of the class, gathers himself, opens his dossier, and the elegant, eloquent half-ruined folds of this most beautiful of minds begin to spill forth. Yes, dialogue is hard.

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