For Alfred

He comes home and tells me while cracking up: “J. Alfred Prufrock’s meanderings from brothel to brothel have been turned into a theme of love and community.” “Really?” I say. “That’s interesting. Who has been over interpreting?” I furthermore inquire. “Evidently not students,” he says. “They usually either get it or they don’t.” I feel like a student. “It’s a teacher in high school,” he says. “Oh,” I say, and lose interest. I’m more into the notion of dasein, being among the women. It helped Michelangelo in Dante’s Inferno to be gay. But Eliot didn’t get it, and that’s why his Alfred got etherized. All men who think they are straight but in reality are not pose questions. Alfred drives me nuts: “What is it?” “Do I dare, do I dare?” “Disturb the universe?” “And how should I presume?” “And how should I begin?” “And should I then presume?” “For Christ’s sake”, I think. “I’m not even in Norway yet, where climbing walls is a piece of cake." Give me Seneca as a woman. But Greek philosophers don’t lend themselves so easily to feminization. It’s easier with the Latin ones. All you need to do is replace the consonantal us at the end of their names with the vowels ia. Marcus Aurelius, Marcia Aurelia. “Lazarus, Lazarus,” Prufrock yells in awe of the geist upright, uptight, and properly resurrected. But he is of course thinking of Lazara. In Michael Hollinger’s new play “Opus” Elliot is a lead intellectual in the fictional but famous Lazara Quartet. The other Eliot was into Quartets. Quarter this and quarter that. Divide by four and love thy community. After love making, Prufrock is now into making name tags. Catherine Gonnard and Elisabeth Lebovici are supervising: “Jacqueline Pollock, Marcelle Duchamp, Miss van der Rohe, Francine Picabia, Renée Magritte.” There are no unknowns here. It is clear that two plus two is five.


Bent said…
I am afraid it was a student who attempted to etherise me upon the exam table on that occasion. We also had to hear her re-interpretation of the Sirens in Eliot's poem ("We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us, and we drown.") as a force for good (offering love and community!) in poor Prufrock's lonely life.

In the end we carefully measured out her grade with coffee spoons...

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