Saturday, December 31, 2011

Caloub Esquire

Caloub Esquire
“the lack of a future plot
outline (l’érosion de contours)
encourages the reader to
write his or her own story”
—Leonid Livak, “How to Write
a Novel,” How They Did it in Paris

“Caloub Esquire” is the story about a nightclub dancer, Édouardo—who makes his living as a male stripper in a risqué strip club, The Naughty Monsieur. He nurtures the idea of an “unpure novel” that would describe the process of doing male burlesque drag acts—codifying the rules of the genre as a kind of Art of the Male Nude Act.

Édouardo calls his novel Les Faux-Leonardo. He sees his dancing as a way of making a living—and his novel as a challenge to the naïve str8t realism and limitations of his so-so nightclub drag act.

Édouardo’s goal is a “Leonardo”-like novel-within-a-novel—since he’s a gay man posing as a str8t male dancer in a woman’s strip-club. He records his travails and adventures with sex-starved women in notebooks that are like Andre Gide texts.

The notebooks contain criticisms of his Novel—foreshadowing many of the same points raised against Gide and Nabokov’s novels. As with the other authors—Édouardo sees the story of his book as more important than the book itself. He doesn’t complete his project…

Like Gide’s “to be continued” storyline about meeting his young nephew Caloub, Édouardo ends his story and the story of his novel with a suggestion that he’s meeting a young male lover after the strip-show is over.

The boy turns out to be Édouardo’s young teenage nephew—who’s come to town to become a male burlesque dancer like Édouardo. The boy’s risqué stage name is “Caloubina”—somewhat like Miss Proust’s drag-act loverboy “Albertine.”

Albertine, as everybody knows, is actually quite the cute young butch chauffeur for Miss Proust. And Caloub turns out to be just as macho male and really Quite the Mr. Quite. And so the novel-within-a-novel continues—“Les Faux-Leonardo” turning into a lovely double male drag-act. Ever so pleasing and yet so frustratingly flummoxing—for all the pretty ladies at The Naughty Monsieur nightclub.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How To Write A Novel

How To Write A Novel

“The writer’s interest in
Les Faux-Monnayeurs
offered compositional,
narrative, and thematic
vistas that could revolutionize
the genre.”—Leonid Livak,
“How to Write a Novel,”
How They Did it in Paris

Miss Nabokov—
Such a sly “Leonardo”
Counterfeiting Gide’s
Les Faux-Monnayeurs

Gide’s artistic persona—
Containing features that
Were unacceptable to
Madame Nabokov…

Like estheticization—
Of homosexuality but
She capitalized on those
Gay stylistic elements

Marcel & Édouard—
Each had their own
Unfinished novel and
So did Miss Nabokov

“The Real Life of—
Sebastian Knight” being
A rework of the French
Masters and their art

The “to be continued”—
Of Sebastian Knight was
His brother (Vladimir)
Reliving Sergey’s life

The “to be continued”—
Of Les Faux-Monnayeurs
Was Édouard’s young cute
Nephew Caloub Esquire

The “to be continued”—
Sublime and obscene “A la
recherché du temps perdu”
A chauffeur named Albert

The “to be continued”—
My cute young Creole chicken
Hot “La Marseillaise” hustler who
I picked up at the Greyhound

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Caloub as Alain Delon

Caloub as Alain Delon

My lovely young nephew—my charming French boyfriend. He reminded me of Alain Delon—in Purple Noon (1960).

Playing Tom Ripley the talented counterfeiter, the cute mimic, the marvelous moocher, the moody forger and simply shameless improviser. Caloub was all these things—and even more.

Patrician Highsmith and René Clément would probably have been shocked by the uncanny resemblance. I know I was there in that New Orleans movie house—watching the film twice.

I couldn’t help it—what a déjà vu sensation. To see my young nephew up on the screen—doing the Purple Noon forbidden things I was doing with my young nephew.

After that I worshipped Alain Delon, of course—L’Eclisse, The Leopard, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, Le Samourai, Spirits of the Dead, Borsalino, The Assassination of Trotsky, Un Flic, Scorpio and especially Swan in Love as Baron de Charlus…

I was Swan, of course, just as I was the wretched Baron de Charlus. I repulsed myself, of course, and yet it was the Baron de Charlus that introduced me to Caloub as Odette among other male beauties.

I thought Caloub had a certain young male beauty—but a beauty to which I was indifferent. In a way it even repulsed me. He was as handsome as a chicken Alain Delon—and yet slutty like any typical Greyhound Bus Station hustler.

“Are you still seeing him?” the Baron asks me.

“I haven’t for ages,” I reply, lying to him.

“Does he write to you?” Baron de Charlus asks.

“Sometimes,” I say nonchalantly.

As we ascend the stairs, Alain Delon cruises a young dark-haired footman, turning his head to view the young male beauty, hardly any differently than Lot’s wife cruising a youth from Sodom before turning rudely into a shabby pillar of quivering salt. But, of course, this doesn’t happen to Delon—who has other actresses, directors and audiences to please later on in his exquisite career.

“Baron de Charlus. Monsieur Charles Swann,” their presence is announced. The Baron cruising yet another handsome young courtesan, standing erect at the base of a palatial staircase going upward.

“I hardly enjoy being in bed with him now,” I say. “It’s strange. Sometimes I even find her ugly.”

“But last night he was ravishing.”

“Did you get my letter?” the Baron asks a cute boy in uniform at the head of the stairs. “Without even looking at the youth, he says more than asks “Will you come?”

“You saw Caloub last night?” I asked.

“Of course. We dined at Prunier. Then we went to the Black Cat.”

“The Black Cat? That must have been his idea.”

“No, it was mine.”

“Really, how queer.”

“Well, that’s not such a bad idea.”

“I’m sure he knew a lot of people there.”

“No, he spoke to no one.”

“How extraordinary.”

“So the two of you just sat there alone?”

“We did.”

“That’s very kind of you, Baron. Thank you for taking such good care of Caloub.”

“Of course, my dear Denise.”

“Tell me, Baron. Have you been to bed with Caloub yet?”

“Not that I know of,” the Baron said, smirking.

“Some people say Monsieur Denise Swann is the sort one can’t receive at home, my dear,” one of the ladies at the recital says to another, leaning over the petite table.

“Is that true?” the other lady asks.

Another lady, Odette, says “You should know, my dear. You’ve invited him 50 times, and he’s never come.”

“My dear Charles,” Odette says, swishing into the waiting room. “My boredom ends only when I’m with you.”

“Why not spend a few days with us at Guermantes?”

“Marquise de Balleroy, Madame d’Arpajon, Princess Sherbatov, Monsieur de Narpois…” the introductions during the séance intermission continue…

Back in the Chimes Street Apartment

Denise is propped up in bed, young Caloub is gone somewhere. Denise is writing in her journal, the Baron de Charlus gives her a visit.

“Some coffee?”

“No thanks.”

“It’s time you got down to work,” the Baron says.

“If it isn’t already too late,” Denise says.

“When I woke up this morning, I knew I was free of Caloub. Not even his face is fading from my mind. His pale complexion, his troublesome manhood. His high cheekbones…”

“Really my dear,” the Baron says. “So when are you going to marry him?”

“Probably any day now,” Denise says with a shrug.

“Maybe you love him more than you think?”

“Perhaps,” Denise agrees. Caloub is all Denise can think about.

“He’ll probably cheat on you too, you know.”

“He’s going to Egypt with Forcheville and the Verdurins.”

“Are you paying for his trip?”

“Yes. And to think I’ll probably waste years of my life… that I’ll probably want to simply die… that he’ll be the lost love of my life… this troublesome youth I don’t even like. Who isn’t even really my type.”

“Life,” the Baron says, “is like an artist’s studio, full of half-finished sketches. We sacrifice everything to fantasies, that vanish one after another. We betray our ambitions, our dreams…”

“Our friends, as well?”

“Friendship isn’t that much, Denise. But, my dear, those who scorn it can still be the best of friends.”

They both smirk, then smile knowingly at each other.

“I love life. I loved the arts. Now I treasure all those old feelings. They’re like a collection. I open up my own heart as if it were a display cabinet. One by one I look over all my loves… loves that others never had. I tell myself it’ll be sad to leave all of that behind.”

“Try to live in the moment, my dear,” says Charlus.

They hear a loud clunking noise coming up the stairs.

“Oh, there’s Caloub…” Denise says.

Charlus smiles, standing up to leave. Inadvertently, he steps on a tube of K-Y beside the bed. It slowly squeezes out in an obscene thick oozing gob of jizz-like goop, just as Caloub slithers thru the door.

Caloub: Duchesse de Guermantes' Son

Caloub: The Duchesse
de Guérmantes' Son

“The jaded palates
of refined voluptuaries”
—Marcel Proust,
Le Côté de Guérmantes


“Young scum!”—
I thought to myself
Irritated by the youth’s
Rather icy lack of greeting

[Une sort d’âpre—
Satisfaction] in this
Boy I sucked off each
Morning, worshipped

“Really, I’m too kind”—
Well, now it was my turn
To ignore him, I said
“You little bitch.”

I was much too miffed—
To remain quietly alone
To myself without another
Listener enjoying my words

I could’ve called him—
A fop, a gigolo, or even
A jaded chicken who didn’t
Appeal to my jaded tastes

To render his rudeness—
Gamier and intoxicatingly
De rigueur matching my taste
For bitter disappointment


A bitter satisfaction—
Suggesting sophistication
Of the first order, Caloub’s
Smirky connoisseurship

Bemused contempt—
Rather than feigned
Disillusionment, Caloub’s
Perspicacious cruelty

He played it cool—
Realizing I no longer was
In love with the Duchesse
de Guérmantes cute son

Of course, my love—
For the Duchesse spoiled son
Must be taken with a bit of
Grilled crawfish in white sauce

The dizzying play—
In Recherche with its
Many gay closetries


Albertine’s ambiguities—
The gender of the sexualities
The crooked de Guérmantes
Couldn’t be more tres gay

Duchesse de Guérmantes—
Heterosexualizing presumptions
Same-sex desire perfumed
Boy her gay son on weekends

What was at stake—
Was I wanting to be the fool?
A snob with connections
Camouflaged in my closet?

Caloub was a bad boy—
My gay love for Marlene Dietrich
Her son the bright star in my
Homosexualized str8t family?

At the Hotêl de Guérmantes—
My wasp-waisted chicken trick
And me his ersatz sugar daddy
As gay as gay can certainly be?

Soon I lost my typical—
Fetishistic masochistic
Obsessiveness worshipping
The duchess, her cute son


Encountering that great truth—
Eventually getting what you want
When you no longer want it…
How cute tricks lose their charm

Such libidinal disappointments—
With revenge plots, angry, petulant
Resentments, with str8t queering
Of one’s dearest queer critique?

I became l’étrange gourmet—
A diet designed to prevent getting
Jaded, for becoming sophisticated
In the worst Adult ways

How is love to survive?—
The discovery of one’s own powers
Not to turn excrement into gold
Or gold into its worthless opposite?

How to turn a badboy like Caloub—
Contaminated by bad taste into
A newly desirable tantalizing
Contemptibility, my dear

A de Guérmantes kid—
A gay alchemy, gay science
A gay gourmet appetite
For bad boy bad good taste?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Caloub and Lost Time

Caloub and Lost Time

“The illumination is then
completed when the narrator
realizes that a work of art is
our only means of thus
recapturing the past”
—Vladimir Nabokov, “Marcel
Proust,” Lectures on Literature

Caloub Loses It

Caloub clicks it—like a light switch. That’s how it works for him. And for Denise. As surely as he clicks his heels—as surely as he snaps his fingers for Denise to stop. To stop schmoozing and wasting time—and to get down on her hands and knees on the ratty, worn-out Persian carpet. And for Denise to get serious and worship Caloub there on the dumpy sofa right away—there in the dim apartment on West Chimes Street.

Caloub is an immediate kind of guy—somewhere between the humid Deep South evening coming in thru the apartment window and the strange uncanny return of Lost Time into his groin. That fascinating jump forwards & backwards in time that Marcel Proust had rediscovered some say.

The ad lib spontaneous thing, the extemporaneous connection Proust alludes to in his 15 volumes between 1913 and 1927. The Après moi le déluge—a flood of 4,000 pages in English, a deluge of over a million words.

All the way thru Remembrance of Things Past. From Swann’s Way thru the Budding Grove, along Guermantes Way, thru the Cities of the Plain, the Captive Girl, Albertine Gone and Time Found Again.

The Snap—one can almost hear it. Feel it. Know it. That involuntary synaptic-snap when it happens. All those singular and translucent multiple connections. Not a simple scene—a minor mise-en-scene in some play. But rather a treasure chest of burgeoning mise-en-abyme portraits—a world of miniatures, full of mirages, superimposed gardens, games conducted between space and time (Cocteau).

Like the look on Caloub’s delicious, distended, stoned face—when he’d lose it really bad. Is it possible to recapture something like that?

Miss Proust

"I can’t—I simply can’t do it," I told Miss Proust. “Get real, my dear,” she said. She usually simply smirked at me, a cigarette dangling from her pouty lip. It was like "Get me some more cork, my dears, to shut-up this dummy." But then patiently, Proust began evoking the past for me—as a sequence of illustrations, images. All of them revolving around a particular phrase: “as if————.” Or another specific phrase: “To be continued————.” Any attempts to get more specific were bound to confuse my poor dizzy brain—it would make me lurch away into the useless realms of meaningless metaphysics. One had to be ad lib & gay… to play, my dear.

The key to the problem of jumpstarting the past Miss Proust said—turns out to be the key to the problem of Art. Especially Narrative. The treasure hunt is just as much in the storytelling as it is the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Miss Proust would smile, stepping back into Time. Leaving me to stare and ogle down at teenaged Caloub's crotch—he had a harelipped dick. It was uncut—but half its head leered back at me. His foreskin somehow damaged during birth, after all it was rather large. Leaving it sneering at me on the couch or in bed—even as it rudely started pealing slowly backwards.

Evil Sodomites

I was a superficial reader of Miss Proust’s work—engulfed by his yawns as much as mine. Especially his campy rendition of Sodom and the fleeing Sodomites hiding away in Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Berlin and Vienna.

The evil Sodomites got away with it tho—pausing, dilly-dallying, looking back over their shoulders at some cute young number fleeing Sodom. But were the salacious Sodomites ever punished or cruelly turned into pillars of salt—like Lot’s poor unfortunate wife? Hardly, my dear.

It was at this point I realized that Miss Proust’s soiree In Search of Lost Time—was actually a book within a book. It wasn’t quite a novel—it wasn’t a mirror of manners, nor an autobiography or an historical account. It was more like a dishy restaurant review, getting bitchy with the menu. It was a fantasy, but more real than, well, one really wanted it to be. But then who am I to quibble over the kitschy, haughty hors-d'oeuvres?

It was a pure “as if” and “To be continued” fantasy—like Miss Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” or “Anna Karenia" or Joyce's “Ulysses.” The narrator in Lost Time isn’t really the narrator—she’s actually one of the characters. Marcel contemplates his last volume in the work—at the end the ideal novel she will write. But even that’s a fantasy—that will never be written. It will always remain: "To be continued."

But it’s this book-within-a-book style—enclosing the parties, dinners, soirees, encounters, salons, hopeless passions, drawing room gossip, receptions, dinner afternoon parties, receptions, concerts, marriages—which attempts to reconstruct the past. Does it work?

Does it work?

Somewhere between certain sensations and memory. Is it always here around us—tastes, smells, touch, sounds that can resurrect some totally unexpected moment out of the forgotten past?

Whether Venice, Guermantes, Sodom or Gomorrah. I can’t stop—but help to notice it. I can’t help but stop and be stunned—by the immediateness of certain untimely coincidences. And yet it happens—out of the blue. Viola. There's Caloub next to me in bed.
My young chicken nephew. He has his own ebb and flow of memory waves—coming and going out of him. And me sitting here in bed, next to him propped up with pillows. Writing and rewriting nonchalantly, over and over again. The phrases "what if" and "To be continued" into the night...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Caloub's Kisses

Caloub's Kisses

“Proust now does a
most interesting thing:
he confronts the style
of his present with his
past”—Vladimir Nabokov,
“Marcel Proust: The Walk by
Swan’s Place,” Lectures on

Vanished Albertine—The Sweet Cheat Gone

The taste of Caloub—his cumly taste of young male madeleine. He converts himself—he becomes the subjective memory of the moment, the unevenness of what it means to draw out something from obscurity that Denise has felt, the conversion into its young male seminal equivalent. Something that reminds Denise of Caloub from then on.

As if Caloub is somehow hiding something beneath the intellectual scrutiny of his past memories or sensations. He’s there but what is it or who is it hiding underneath the moment? That’s something quite different which Denise wants to try to discover. He’s sketched it out in the manner of some kind of strange hustler hieroglyphic which one might think represents what had just happened that night.

Young pouty, moody Caloub—Denise knows that he isn’t free of him, that no amount of intellectual effort at recovery will bring back that manly moment, even tho they make love again back at Chimes, Denise trying to choose memories from their immediate past lovemaking for scrutiny, but such feelings flood his mind pell-mell, helter-skelter. He hadn’t thought of the possibility of two nude boys standing together up there on the steps of the Francois Rude statue before it actually happened—it just happened.

It was this precisely fortuitous unavoidable moment—that was the hallmark of its genuineness. When he leaned up and kissed both youths—the young Creole kid Caloub who he’d just sucked off and the Francois Rude built soldier-boy his penis so cocky cold with his French granite groin.

Denise hadn’t set out to pick up the kid at the bus station, and yet Viola! Caloub was there almost as if he were waiting for him. It was this series of déjà vu sensations that guaranteed the truth of the past for Denise—these sensations seemed to revive the mental images of it, recapturing the homoerotic scene up there on the Capitol façade steps that night and again later on in bed back in Denise’s West Chimes apartment. Swan's West Chimes Way became Guermantes Walk. Or was it the Sodom and Gomorrah Campus Ghetto?

The erotic sensation of feeling nature imitating art—the way the Arc of Triumph arched and the way it tasted and smelled and the excitement that revived the night images of Paris. Unerringly embracing and jump-starting Denise into deeper into his crush on Caloub.

It was this Caloub who did it—his Creole chiaroscuro of boyish light and manly shadows. The pouty emphasis and sullen omissions which provoked a sultry remembrance of further total oblivions to come. All of this recurring conscious memory undertow easily triggering a chain of strangely old impressions—when Denise thought surely had nothing to do with love. Surely it would all leave—and be gone by morning with all they’d done getting high on absinthe and weed that night.

But this wasn’t to be for Denise—her thoughts, her life, this new reality of so-called ‘art taken from life’ was a weird scenario. It could simply reproduce itself like a series of counterfeit lovers, a gang of beautiful faux-Albertine lovers. The kid he picked up turned out to be more than just a lovely cheat named Caloub squirting his brains out. More than just an epitome of young male beauty. The kid became a repetition of what Denise’s eyes wanted to see and craved even more than anything. A faux-reality to live with, so far removed from anything he’d known before. Their love affair became for Denise the formal knowledge from which Caloub’s exquisite succulence grew—the kid’s carnality cruised smoothly into Denise’s life.

It was Caloub who was in grave danger tho—he who let himself die in Denise’s arms each time they made love without ever having known himself as a man and yet was full of life, left virgin as he really was, an Adamic virgin kid disclosing himself again & again between the excruciating present and the past. This is what Denise wanted—to discover what he called nature imitating art in a certain relationship of pure sensations and memories which surrounded them both at the same time they were being destroyed by it.

In short, to recreate the past as something other than the operation of memory—to find lost time, to let lost time be found again in an imagined present time-line. To combine such a present time-line with a homoerotic mise-en-abyme. Instead of obliterating the present, continuing to be aware of it not as a single mise-en-scene—but as a series of delicate scenes plumbing the depths of an ancient gay mise-en-abyme.

In other words, thru Proust and Rude—to help young Caloub achieve an understanding of himself, letting him forcibly impress himself on Time, letting Caloub become a work of art, occupying in Time a place far more considerable than the restricted, allotted Marseillaise-Faux Monnayeurs façade of some imaginary Arc of Triumph. Or an art deco streamline-moderne skyscraper portrayal looming up by the Mississippi River late at night.

And the Narrator? Contextualizing herself with frivolous pleasures—all the idleness, tender affections and sorrows that Denise has stored up inside herself. Without foreseeing its final purpose or even its survival, reaching back into time. Caloub’s life and Denise—touching simultaneously for a brief moment—a tres gay epoch in their lives together. With countless young male madeleine moments—that seemingly continue to imitate art.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chimes Chinoiserie

Chimes Chinoiserie

Miss Proust

“the past is—
within the present”
—Richard Howard,
“An Introduction to
In Search of Lost
Time,” Paper Trail

Denise wasn’t trying to—
Evoke her past, such efforts
Were useless and hidden
Beyond realm or reach

It was by chance she—
Discovered it was the
Discoursing person who
Is the self who writes

Narrowly squeaking thru—
Proustian textual revisions
The strength & courage to
Know buried bent Allegory

Le Temps retrouvé—
Nude young Caloub there
In Denise’s West Chimes
Apartment smirking

Caloub, Speak

“It’s from adolescents
who last long enough
that life makes its
old men”—Marcel Proust

Denise’s desire to write—
Thwarted by her limitations
Learning to subvert lust
Into a retrouvé circle

Rediscovering it—
Regaining it, repossessing it
Time regained, realized
Thru displaced Narrative

A continuous allegory—
Product of a gay self
Sanguine, sullen, sulky
Caloub biting her neck

The things Caloub said—
What he made Denise do
In bed, the way she lost it
Almost as bad as him


“The discovery that
the two “ways”
are the same”
—Richard Howard,
“An Introduction to
In Search of Lost
Time,” Paper Trail

Serving the design—
Fulfilling the allegory
The “other” poetic drama
The maker’s subtle wrist

Variant readings—
Canceled plausible
Versions, androgynous
Agon about when to

Allegory compels her—
Discourse into Novel
“Doubling” recorded as
Denise et Caloub

One more grad student—
Notes later these decisions
Denise as gay Leonardo
Using the fake linear trick

The Narrator

“The nature of that
Narrator and his strangely
absent presence”
—Richard Howard,
“An Introduction to
In Search of Lost
Time,” Paper Trail

How to subtract—
Proust’s “empty” narrative’s
Discovery & possession of
Time regained

How to push a Novel—
Over the edge of the
“False permanence of

Past the lit crit—
Symbolist ditherings
Into the vast abyss of
Repudiation = modernity

“Everything’s a failure”—
Exhaustion, realist ruins
The Narrative that’s lost
Les temps retrouvé

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Leonardo

The Leonardo

“He was what is
termed a “slank,”
very lean, with a
pale sharp-nosed
face and appallingly
restless eyes”
—Vladimir Nabokov
“The Leonardo”

Embroiled as I was in—
Tres gay émigré (diaspora)
Homoerotic issues, was
I merely a “Leonardo”?

A “Korolek” creep posing—
As a would-be artist named
Romantovskii, conflating
“Romanticism” with “roman”?

Was I a fake “true artist”—
Caught in a philistine shack
Bemoaning my fate, vulgar
Neighbors persecuting me?

“Meanwhile the brothers
began to swell, to grow,
they filled up the whole
room, the whole house,
and then grew out of it”
—“The Leonardo”

Str8ts have a way—
Of abhorring a vacuum
Especially if the black
Hole is somewhat gay

Oh, heaven forbid—
Was I just a con artist
A counterfeiter str8t fake
A pervert poet incognito?

Both Gide & Nabokov—
Subverting traditional str8t
Poetics with something a
Little more Euro-moderne

“Gigantic, imperiously
reeking of sweat and beer,
with beefy voices and
senseless speeches, with
fecal matter replacing
the human brain”
—“The Leonardo”

Did Les Faux-Monnayeurs—
Offer compositional, narrative
And thematic exits from having
To embrace their mise-en-scene?

Did gay aesthetics find a way—
For me to be a Romantovskii
Using Gide’s mise-en-abyme
To live and write about love?

Wasn't every original novel—
Rather "anti-" in that way of
Not resembling known genres,
Leaving predecessors behind?

Caloub Flambeaux Memoirs

Caloub Flambeaux Memoirs

Novel / Journal

“We are supposed
to get together
tomorrow night [ ...]
I look forward
to meeting Caloub…”
—André Gide,
Les Faux-Monnayeurs

Unlike Gide’s Caloub—
I refused to follow Proust’s
Novelistic metanarrative:
My Caloub wasn’t Albertine

I proposed a metanovel—
That confronted the Proustian
Model, oriented my text toward
The reader of the future

Considering the story—
Of the book more important
Than the book itself, like
Édouard I won’t finish it

“La Marseillaise”—
Mirrored by my fake
Revolution & fake narrator’s
Journal des faux-Monnayeurs

The distinguished Francois Rude’s—
“La Marseillaise” nude statues
Transposing the Arc of Triumph
From Paris to Baton Rouge

A doubling of textual-mirrors—
Reflecting each other momentarily
With the Édouard captive author
Caught up in a House of Mirrors

How I faked my way into it—
Faked my way out of Miss Proust’s
And Miss Nabokov’s circularity with
Nude young Caloub as my guide

A young Marseillaise male—
Cumly Caloub coming to life or
Was he just another Lolita?

Was I Gaston or Humbert—
Both Story & History as one?
Going down on Arc of Triumph
Getting the kid’s exquisite wad?

A fake novel, a fake journal—
Telling two separate stories: that of
A boy and that of a man writing
A novel/journal—simultaneously?

Nabokov’s Fedor in Dar—
Feeling only intuition can transfer
His text from another dimension
Where it already exists

Édouard likewise assuming—
His method of cult of process works
Like Fedor’s trial and error method
Revealing the novel’s denouement

But for Gide a novel isn’t merely—
A mirror walking down the road
Bernard Profitendieu finds out that
He’s fruit of an extramarital affair

What appears real is actually—
Deceptive, must be filtered thru
The lens of writing since reflected
Life-utterances can’t be trusted

Mirrors as mise-en-abyme—
Mirrors imitating art like Fedor’s wallpaper
Matching the pattern of Frau Stoboy’s
Dress, movers move mirrors reflecting…

Mirrors becoming mise-en-abyme—
Like Fedor’s “mirrory heart” sliding
And swaying, haunting its way thru
Fedor’s manipulated literary mirrors

The author & hero of Counterfeiters—
And Dar’s “mirror prose” moving thru
Incorporated-incorporating texts and
Mirror compositions working together

Monday, December 19, 2011

Princess Zinaida Shakhovskaya

Princess Zinaida Shakhovskaya


“But, my dear, how did you ever get such a wild thought into your head?” chimed Princess Zinaida Shakhovskaya.

Princess Zinaida reminded me of Martita Hunt playing the Grand Duchess Elise Lupavinova in Anastasia. She was such a flighty thing—full of gossip.

“Why, after all, my dear, one could write—I don’t know—say, about the life of so many other gay Russian émigrés?”

She paused a moment—looking up at the ceiling. Her elegant cigarette-holder was long and slender—designed by Erte with black onyx, mother of pearl, gold trim and small diamonds. She breathed it in ever so gently—hardly enough to inhale the absinthe-soaked hashish lavender cigarette.

“Don’t you agree, Dmitri?” she asked. “Something more in the orbit of a nice young male Lolita-type perhaps—a young beautiful thing like that young Prince Youssoupoff immediately comes to one’s mind?”

Princess Zinaida Shakhovskaya motioned to her brother Prince Dmitri Shakhovskaya the new Archbishop of San Francisco to close the door and get her another drink. I intrigued her—that and she was simply dying with sheer, utter and complete boredom. She always needed something gay and scandalous in her life—something to help her avoid the usual tiring Parisian soirees. The same old White Russian émigrés and tiresome non-entities.

“Tell me now—why Sergey? Why Sergey Vladimirovich Nabokov? After all these years, my dear, I can barely remember him—he was very handsome and gay but rather elusive.”

Princess Zinaida was genuinely intrigued by presence—her Erte necklace gave it away. Her pearl, pink tourmaline, amethyst and diamond necklace had seemed to come life again—the Madeira and exquisite champagne citrines were glowing again like they did those beautiful nights back in the palaces and gay parties in St. Petersburg. I could even sense the crystal chandelier trembling above us—like svelte stilettos of an icy stillicide. The lights dimmed at the mere mention of Sergey—they flickered ever so delicately… Was I the only one to notice—was there an unseen visitor with us in the room?”

“Dmitri tells me you’re a writer,” Princess Zinaida finally said, peering over her cards at me.

I couldn’t help but notice her long thin Monte Carlo earrings so gracefully dangling from her old wrinkled earlobes. They were sterling 14K Erte compositions—with tiny shimmering diamonds,

Princess Zinaida must have noticed how much I admired her jewelry—staring at her art deco “Love’s Enchantment Pendant” with its gold, silver, diamonds, black onyx and mother of pearl profile. She was used to it though—in fact she expected it from young louche American writers like me. Louche and helplessly gauche—that’s how I felt around her.

Even more stunning and charming though—her amazing gold/diamonds and onyx “Follies Necklace” epitomizing Erte’s work in both theater and fashion. Based on a cover design for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine—the necklace was truly unique and stunning.

It was as if Princess Zinaida wasn’t a real person at all—she was actually a very sophisticated creation by Erte himself. Her life was simply an extension of his stylish jewelry—it was all she could get out of Russia as the rude Revolution descended on her life. It was all the rich and famous had left—suitcases of smuggled jewelry, some mildewy Romanov memories and the Russian language itself to comfort them in their exile.

Somewhere in the background somebody was playing the piano—various melodies I simply loathed. The instruction to the artificial flowers in Faust (…dites-lui qu’elle est belle…) and Vladimir Lenshi’s wail (…“Koo-dah, koo-dah, kood-dah vi udalilis’...). Was it Sergey playing the grand piano in the other room—or was I just imagining it? It must have been the decadent cigarette smoke—it was growing increasingly oppressive. Yet I couldn’t help but breathe it in—paying attention to tiny details that otherwise would remain hiding in the purple shadows.

The aging sepia gloom of the old apartment in midwinter was deepening into an oppressive Bolshevik blackness—every once in awhile I caught the slight gleam of a bronzed angle, a surface of glass or polished mahogany shimmer here and there in the darkness. They reflected the odds and ends of light from the street where traffic was coming and going—as my drifting mind was already diffusing itself into a somewhat slightly lunar lucidity.

She took a much longer drag on her elegant cigarette-holder this time—and handed it to me. I simply loathed aphrodisiacs and cheap hallucinogenic divagations—but I went ahead and forced myself to take a long toke. Then in the mausoleum stillness of the moment, I felt my nerves shudder as I heard the delicate sound of a single chrysanthemum petal falling onto the marble surface of a nearby table with all the rumbling and crumbling and startling reverberation of a giant boulder falling down from mighty Mt. Olympus onto my poor throbbing head…

“Yes, Princess Zinaida—I’m a writer.” I managed to say it rather aloofly and calmly—although it seemed like somebody else was doing the talking.

“Please don’t call me Princess, young man,” she said rather abruptly.

Zinaida Shakhovskaya's forthcoming death would not made big news in Moscow—except for a radio announcement and a brief Lenta-Ru notice. Apparently, she was always correcting those who called her knyaginya Shakhovskaya—that is, a prince’s wife. She explained that she used to be knyazhna Shakhovskaya—a prince's unmarried daughter. Both words were "Princess" in English—but in Russian there were different kinds of princesses, duchesses and queens. It must have been the last straw for her—in her Lenta-Ru obituary—when she was called knyaginya Shakhovskaya…

I apologized profusely and had another toke. I couldn’t help myself—I was getting totally enamored with her lovely Erte jewelry. Princess Zinaida’s golden minaret ring, for example, with its glowing rubies and yellow sapphires—the jewels were strangely pulsating there on her left index finger as she held her cards somewhat carelessly.

I knew it was rude and uncouth to gawk and stare—but this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ogle to my heart’s content. Just look at that lovely stealthy serpent ring I said to myself—that one really caught my attention. It was an Erte masterpiece of stylishly-crafted exquisite silver coils encircling her dainty little pinkie. It had green onyx eyes that glowed in the dark—and tiny little diamonds along its sides as it tried to slither off her skinny withered finger. Her Salome brooch pendant leered back at me—exuding an evil truly pleasing hauteur to my envious eyes. Never had I seen such a beautiful brooch—not at Tiffany’s or even in the famous ancient Roman Brooch Factory Museum there in gay Naples.

“Yes, I’m doing a biography of Sergey Nabokov, Madam Shakhovskaya,” I said. “My contention is that Sergey was Vladimir’s homoerotic lover—or at least his gay double. I think Sergey blew the whistle on Uncle Ruka’s love affair with the chicken Vladimir—that’s why he willed two million dollars and his estates to the young Volodya and not Sergey.”

I paused a moment—the elegant Erte cigarette holder guiding my thoughts like the baton of some maestro. I shared with Princess Zinaida my thoughts about the two young Nabokov aristocrats—how they like all adolescent boys were caught up in a kind of gay sibling rivalry there in Rozhestveno, Berlin, Paris, Cambridge—and even for heaven’s sake there at Wordsmith College in New Wye Appalachia.

I elucidated magnificently on my projected magnificent gay opus—delineating how Vladimir had done the same thing with Lolita, Pale Fire, The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading, Despair and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight.

It was as if somebody else was giving the long and convoluted lecture—as if the card deck itself were saying it. In fact, I had the distinct sensation the deck I was shuffling was actually alive—I wasn’t shuffling it but rather it was shuffling me. I also sensed the deck was a woman—she was the one doing the talking. The strange deck of cards was crooked and it had a real name—her name was Adelaida Ivanovna. She was bored with Bridge—she preferred tavern games with young ruffians, thieves and crooks. Young handsome types with long slang skaz names like Zamukhryshkinseems and Zakhmuryshkin. There was an air of Gogol’s “The Inspector General” and “The Gamblers” in the room—I even noticed Princess Zinaida’s nose was getting larger and larger. I even told them the real identity of Gogol’s Nose—they looked at me in dazed shock and amazement. I could tell they were thinking they’d underestimated me—I wasn’t a young writer at all. I was a Dostoyevsky madman—surely I was an insane Zemblan con-artist in disguise?

“Sergey was Vladimir’s shadowy doppelganger—his better queer half. Vladimir spent the rest of his life—wrestling down by the river like Jacob with his Angel. Sergey was the dark Angel—Vladimir’s bruised thigh was his oeuvre of dark troubling novels.” That’s how I concluded my literary discussion—I paused quietly, examining their faces.

Princess Zinaida Shakhovskaya smiled…

Prince Dmitri the Archbishop of San Francisco also smiled knowingly—mentioning how Sergey showed up at Mass in full drag with mascara and eye-shadow. Dmitri was no blue-nose—he knew secrets about the Vatican and Taormina that would make even Jacob’s angel blush.

“Well said, my dear boy—which is to say the very least—exquisitely enigmatic,” remarked the other guest. He was Professor Boydovitch—a well-known University Distinguished Botkin Professor of Russian Literature at the University of Gawkland.

Professor Boydovitch sipped his martini—playing nonchalantly with his talking cards. He was working on a new book himself—about Nabokov’s Pale Fire and the poem of Vladislav Khodasevich inside it. It was the “Ballada” poem—the one that Nabokov had translated for New Directions back it 1941. Nabokov admired Khodasevich very much—both as a sympathetic reviewer of The Defense and as a fellow poet. By alluding to Khodasevich in Pale Fire—the grateful Vladimir was insuring that “Ballada” and Khodasevich’s poetry would survive longer than most émigré literature within the confines of the 999 lines of the Shade poem.

Princess Zinaida was no slacker herself—her naughty long-awaited tell-all biography—In Search of Uncle Ruka—had been published by La Presse Libre in Russian V poiskakh Uncle Ruka in 1979. Professor Boydovitch had done an exquisite translation of the book—it was full of revealing photos, letters and postcards from Vasiliy Ivanovich Rukavishnikov to young Vladimir over the years. Suppressed Egyptian ones, for example.

The first shocking chapters had come out in The New Yorker. Professor Boydyshevski—also the author of an extensively large twelve-tome biography of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev—nodding knowingly when I mentioned the fascinating influence of Uncle Ruka and Vladimir’s early literary interests (see Speak, Memory). As well as Uncle Ruka’s (Vasiliy Ivanovich Rukavishnikov) influence on Sergey’s life as well—despite Vladimir’s insistence that Uncle Ruka wasn’t interested in Sergey. They went to operas together and concerts—Sergey played the piano and Vasiliy sang long Proustian romances to the amber vineyards below and the empurpled mountains in the distance. Flights of doves striating the tender sky—a hush falling over the terrace at his Pau castle. Uncle Ruka even taught Sergey to stutter better—and how to do it stylishly.

But Vladimir had to be the favorite with not only his gay uncle—but his parents as well. The question was why and how—and what for? One of my sources said that the Nabokov’s first child was stillborn—that’s why they spoiled Vladimir who himself had an early sickly boyhood. Sergey had a Caesarian birth—making him older-appearing and more mature than Vladimir? Two boys—and the difficult years were yet to come.

But all that was detail work—I had more research to do in the morning. I needed to track down the “doll-house” apartment that Sergey and Pavel Tchelitchev lived in during their productive days in Paris designing sets for Diaghilev and Stravinsky. Then I had to catch a flight to Innsbruck Austria—and Schloss Weissenstein.

Princess Zinaida pretended to be in mock-boredom most of the time—it was just a tiny little aristocratic facade she put up like a Japanese fan to obscure her actual conniving decadent schemings. Soon we got down to the dirty details—the kind of gossip that only queer cognoscenti know and share…

We discussed Sergei Nabokov and his handsome young lover Hermann Thieme—and their hauntingly tragic love affair. Even Vladimir liked Hermann—perhaps too much. Princess Zinaida filled me in on the dirt, excuse me, the juicy gossip.

It was quite revealing to the Princess one evening in Paris—when Vladimir turned to Hermann and winked knowingly at him. He felt him up and called him Sergey’s well-endowed “husband.” For a brief romantic panicky second Hermann was suddenly caught sexually between two worlds—the two worlds of this fascinating pair of stunningly goodlooking young aristocrats exiled from a life of Russian wealth and untold luxury.

Both of them so very talented and charming in exquisitely different ways. One arrogant and aloof—the other resigned and gay. Both calmly smoking cigarettes—both of them coolly examining him there in Pavel Tchelitchev’s apartment. The Nabokov boys were like two facets in a Erte snake-ring of black onyx, gold & diamonds—the sunlight catching the sleek ring’s stylish double-headed Russian eagle with the last golden burst of a dying empire’s sunset rays.


“Where Rubloo’s colors ooze from the icons”
—Nikolay Klyvev

Dearest Hermann—

How I miss you—words cannot describe my loneliness.

The long summer days we spent together lounging around the castle—playing tennis and bridge with your parents.

It was so gay—compared with Berlin. I still feel simply exquisitely suffocated with love—your lovely embrace a moonlight sonata on the terrace beneath the stars….

The nights we spent together in your bedroom—listening to the strains of The Firebird coming through the window at Schloss Weinssenstein.

Can such a fairy tale really be true—was I just dreaming I was in love?

The tiny Alpine village of Matrei im Osttirol near Innsbruck—I can still see it now. Visiting the taverns—all the cute blondes! Then playing tennis—wearing tuxedos for dinner.

Your charming face—the way you kissed me on the staircase beneath Apollo’s gaze.

I keep a photo of you on my nightstand—Berlin just doesn’t seem so bleak and threatening that way. I’ll be joining Tchelitchev in Paris this weekend.

Please hurry—Diaghilev is getting impatient to finally meet you.

Wishing you were here with me—my dearest Hermann.

Your abject Russian serf—



“Ah, it’s good when the twilight mocks us”
—Sergei Esenin

Dearest Sergey,

There are people like Vladimir who don’t understand us. .
They never will—even though they want to know the secret to our happiness.

They find completely incomprehensible the kind of love we have for each other.

It’s so natural for both of us—it’s like breathing in and out or flying to the moon.

They’re jealous fools—especially your brother Vladimir.

You and Vladimir—how could two brothers be so different?

Both of you so extremely handsome—could I have fallen in love with Volodya too?

How could I knowing you’re the real one—Volodya is just your shadow.

His neurosis is so telling—are all poets that way?

You worry too much that I’ll break your heart, dear one.
Innsbruck is insufferable without you.

I will always love you, dearest Sergey—but you must be brave.

My dearest Russian prince—I am forever your loving



“I have Sebastian’s aversion to postal phenomena.”
—The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Dear Professor Charles Kinbote,

Thank you for your recent letter in regard to Sergey Nabokov.

As an esteemed English professor at the University of Zembla, I’m sure you sense my hesitation in even attempting to describe Sergey’s love-life with any kind of academically methodical continuity since it would be utterly impossible—something normally achievable only if Sergey Nabokov were a character of fiction.

Even if I attempted such an impossible task as a fictional biography of Sergey, I would surely end up with one of those atrocious gay “biographies romancées” which are simply the worst kind of bourgeois literature imaginable. Sergey’s life would make pulp fiction blush—his was a classy “poshlust” princess gone bad. And there would be those I’m sure who would point the finger of doubt in my direction—saying I was truly the one to be blamed. An unforgivably louche and sullen unreliable narrator on many levels and within many worlds. I’d be the first to admit it—I’m worse than Miss Gogol…

Sergey was somewhat fond of a few of the books lingering in my modest oeuvre—Albinos in Black, The Doubtful Asphodel and The Prismatic Bezel. They were among his favorites I’ve been told—although I know he was also fond of Miss Proust, Madame Cocteau and the usual Gide-esque French gay intelligentsia back then.

I do happen to have some letters between Sergey and Pavel Tchelitchev dated 1923 Paris—along with a few photos of Tchelitchev’s lover Allen Tanner. I’ll send you a copy of them.

The rest mostly sketches of set designs for Diaghilev—for instance the set and costumes for Ode Charreuse(choreography by Leonide Massine) which had its premiere in Paris in June 1928. That was before Charles Henri Ford showed up—the bright-eyed Mississippi boy (and future editor of View) who, according to Kirstein, possessed a "provocative coltishness, kaleidoscopic curiosity, and faun-faced sharpness.”

It was through Tchelitchev and his cousin Nicolas that Sergey met Diaghilev and Virgil Thomson. I myself was at a literary soiree once with Sergey and Pavel at Gertrude Stein’s salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus. Tchelitchev was there too—going on and on about himself. I even developed a taste Alice B. Toklas’ famed brownies—although they made me rather dizzy and ill.

I kept gazing at a portrait of Edith Sitwell by Tchelitchev on the wall. They were lovers—or rather they were lovers in love with themselves. Sitwell, according to Lincoln Kirstein, "fell madly, head-over-heels in love with herself, the passion of her life. She was to be Michelangelo to her own throbbing Vittoria Colonna.”

Miss Picasso was there too—leering at anything with two legs. I wisely stayed away from him—his mistress having already forewarned me about the vile little reprobate and his disgusting artistic guilty pleasures. “First he’ll gore you—then he’ll do your portrait,” she said.

I was disgusted with the possibility—being fucked over twice. His poor mistresses—I sympathized with their terrible plight. Picasso was always trying to put the make on Gertrude—she’d give him an elbow or a “get-lost” dyke sneer. Two tops—not a very good combination. Or were they bottoms?
Other than that, my dear Professor Kinbote, I simply don’t have too many other recollections about Sergey other than he was a charming young man who loved music and opera—unlike his tone-deaf but cute older brother Vladimir.

Sergey was a bit of a dandy, an aesthete and balletomane—very tall, blond. Plus he had a charming stutter like his Uncle Ruka—the only time he didn’t stutter was when he was reciting some memorized poetry. I found him rather sexy—especially when he was playing tennis. He never seemed like a disillusioned émigré to me—he fit very nicely into the gay scene in Berlin and Paris… He never looked back—unlike his brother.

I agree with your theory that perhaps Vladimir was consumed with guilt and remorse about his younger brother Sergey—a rather odd form of literary confession to make to the world but who knows what really happened between them.

Much of it probably had to do with something both ancient and quite natural—the very serious business of sibling rivalry. It goes back all the way back to Cain and Mable, my dear—and probably even further than that. Like Cain perhaps Vladimir blamed himself for Sergey’s death—maybe it was the Mark of Cain that made him such a great writer. Who knows what goes on in the hearts of straight men—only their Shadows know…

Some say it went deeper than that—that Uncle Ruka was perhaps overly fond of the young chicken Vladimir. Invariably taking him on his knee after lunch—while his two young handsome footmen were clearing the table in the empty dining room. Uncle Ruka was always spoiling Vladimir with exotic gifts from his travels, precious books to entertain him, even fondling him sometimes in the coach—whispering sweet nothings into his ear with crooning sounds and fancy French endearments. In his will Ruka left his estates, his possesstions and millions of dollars to Vladimir not Sergey. All of it lost to the Revolution, of course. Was such a relationship the true beginnings of Lolita—did it really start that way ?

I find the photos of Uncle Ruka (Vasily Rukavishnikov) in Speak, Memory to be very revealing—he reminds me a little bit of a gay aristocratic Humbert Humbert. A wealthy, eccentric dilettante—feigning sickness and fainting-spells on the dining room floor after dinner.

Everybody thought his angina and mock heart-attacks were fake—but in the end they weren’t. He died alone in Paris—without anybody to say goodbye. He caressed his young nephew nonchalantly in his mansion after lunch—or in the elegant carriage with its incredibly cute coachman taking long rides in the countryside.

The photos of young Vladimir are simply stunning—for example, the one with his father when he was 9 and the one when he was sixteen. What a cute little St. Petersburg dream-boat Vladimir Nabokov was!!! I can see why Uncle Ruka was infatuated with him—along with all the other queens in Berlin and Paris. Perhaps this close involvement with his gay uncle explains Vladimir’s later ambivalence to homosexuality—and his aloofness toward his gay brother?

I sense a certain homoerotic voyeurisme at work here—with Vladimir’s obvious fascination with satire, parody, mock-authorial game-playing and chess-gaming going on throughout his novels and short stories. His poetry is very playful too—much of his juvenilia I find rather titillating. Not often do we find such a chicken—with a silver spoon born in his mouth. Just ask poor Verlaine—what he went through with young Rimbaud…

As I’m sure you’re quite aware, Dr. Kinbote, there are some rather notable literary critics and esteemed academicians who say that the center of Nabokov’s narrative—the eye of the hurricane, you might say—was indeed his brother Sergey Nabokov. They say Vladimir was truly troubled by both Sergey and Uncle Ruka—they were truly his troublesome Doppelgangers. What would you do if you had a gay Doppelganger shadow—hanging around in your head all the time? If I were straight—it could be very distracting I'd think. If I were gay—it would probably distract me even more.

That’s what Vladimir seems to say about Sergey—he dissipates himself pretending to be Sergey worse than Sergey does. Squandering his talents on music, ballet, Paris nightlife. Vladimir had only the bleakest of recollections associated with Paris—his relief at leaving was over-whelming. Sergey came by to find an empty apartment—only to be left stuttering his astonishment to an indifferent concierge. Yet didn’t Vladimir always have a portrait up there in the attic? Wasn’t he always projecting his gay brother constantly into all sorts of characters in his novels?

Why, my dear Kinbote?

Some say the pale lavender flame that burned in Sergey—was the same pale fire that burned in Vladimir too. Even now the pale fire still hovers around them and through all the novels and short stories—they’re like the double-headed Russian eagle facing in opposite directions. But then who are we to say—we’re not exactly the most reliable narrators are we?

They say, Dr. Kinbote, that you’ve never really existed—anymore than I have either. They say you’re only the figment of Professor Shade’s poetic imagination—or visa versa that Professor Shade is your creation and that all of Zembla is in your head. I must admit that it makes me feel rather queer to be fictional—and getting a rather professional letter from a fellow fictional character. Even though we’re both the creations of fictional biographies—I still find it charming that one novel has reached out to another novel. Should we call it intertextual discourse—or something more gauche and rude like “skazzy” intercourse?

Forgive me but for a moment I got caught up in a game of words and worlds—thanks to Vladimir Nabokov’s dark imagination. Being Sebastian Knight has been rather difficult for me—but surely not as difficult as your life of Charles Kinbote. The Queen of Zembla—what a challenging thought.

And yet neither one of us would probably exist at all—if it weren’t for Vladimir’s endearing and troublesome love and guilt over Sergey.

Well, my dear, I doubt if I’ve been very helpful to you in regard to your Zemblan research—one of these days I will read your fascinating new novel The Queen of Zembla and perhaps then I’ll understand this world-within-a-world we’re both caught up in.

I trust you’ll have a very fruitful fall semester at Wordsmith College this coming academic year—and I look forward to seeing more of your college-boy stable table tennis photos.

Sincerely yours,
Sebastian Knight

Bibliotheque Rose

Bibliothèque Rose
“those same Bibliothèque
Rose volumes”
—Vladimir Nabokov,
Speak, Memory

“a Proustian excoriation
of the senses”
—Vladimir Nabokov,
Speak, Memory

The idea of “elliptical self-portraiture” seems to fascinate Nabokov throughout his oeuvre—the act of “vividly recalling a patch of the past” as he says at the end of Chapter 3 of Speak, Memory:

“I have reason to believe that the almost pathological keenness of the retrospective faculty is a hereditary one”

He connects and compares himself with his Uncle Ruka in 1908 or 1909 becoming totally engrossed in a passage from a French children’s book from his boyhood past:

“Sophie n’était pas jolie…”

And feeling the same sense of his Uncle Ruka’s re-discovering the moment of “robust reality making a ghost of the present” with phrases like:

“the blue roses of the wallpaper”

“its reflection fills the oval mirror”

“Everything is as it should be”

“nothing will ever change”

“Nobody will ever die”

What are we to make of such “selfsame slippages”? Slipping into the self—through other selves? The Fictionalist in me likes the way Nabokov fictionalizes his autobiography in SM (Speak, Memory). Isn’t it memory that’s speaking to the reader? Speaking through Nabokov—as he plays a game of “selfsame slippage” like a game of chess?

And if memory is speaking to the reader in SM—then isn’t Nabokov doing the same thing in TOOL (The Original of Laura) as well as PL (Pale Fire) and L (Lolita)? To say that when memory speaks, it’s simply an unreliable narrator like Humbert Humbert or Kinbote speaking is only in my opinion half the story.

From my Fictionalist POV—the other half, the “self-effacing technique” and “central conceit of the novel-in-ovo”—is Nabokov himself providing us a window into his style of auto-obliteration and Bibliothèque Rose intertextuality.

As Nabokov confides in SM:

“Houses have crumbled in my memory as soundlessly as they did in the mute films of yore.”

A kind of Glistian “Glandscape” (receding ovals) and “auto-photography” interests me here—in the sense that I see “Index card fiction” as a kind of “selfsame slippage” into my own version of filmic Bibliothèque Rose narrative, i.e., schmoozing as Nabokov and his Uncle Ruka schmoozed their way through those early cloying Frenchified boyhood books of theirs.

Except with my Fictionalist weaknesses and guilty pleasures, the Bibliothèque Rose of my boyhood imagination is decidedly more cinematic than bibliophilic. Rather than Frenchified fiction—I seem to prefer what I have come to refer as “schmaltz noir.”

In other words, my own box of index cards.

Notes and Nabokov photos. More random and Fictionalist perhaps than online Ada. Grade B films from the late ‘50s—that have been called poshlust Snake Pit teenage sexploitation movies. Movies that simply coincided with my own hormonally-vulnerable boyhood imagination—in the same way perhaps that Bibliothèque Rose coincided with Nabokov and his Uncle Ruka’s youthful eyes.

The Original of Laura

(Dying is Fun)
By Vladimir Nabokov
Edited by Dmitri
278 pp. Alfred A.
Knopf. $35

“Good night, Nabokov,” said Vivian Nightbloom. Or at least that’s probably what she should’ve said. Instead of leaving us with a charmingly ghostly oeuvre like The House on Haunted Hill—now we’re stuck with a sad incomplete Nabokovian House of Cards. To be precise there are 138 cards to play with—each conveniently perforated like a Costco ad for our own personal little game of Solitaire.

Vivian Nightbloom was so clever—covering up for Clare Quilty in Lolita. Surely Vivian would have been just as clever at this latest little game of cards—playing bridge with the dead Vladimir Nabokov. The famously inventive and naughty author of Lolita—the rascally old St. Petersburg Pantomimic Person from Porlock himself. Dasvidaniya—to Kubla Khan & all that.

I can hear all of them now—the nervous anxious Nabokovians out there or rather in here. Fidgeting like rats behind the faded jaded wainscoting—chewing their fingernails behind the walls. They’re already lining up—to be the first to take a nibble and devour a tiny morsel—from the masters last masterpiece. A sort of has-been rehash of Lolitaesque chit-chat—and pillow-talk poshlust.

What is it about the Vladimir literati—that makes them so lewd and lascivious? Do they see themselves as somehow above it all—like James Mason sneering at Shelley Winters? Making fun of her Mexican schlock—while putting the make on her lovely hula-hoop daughter?

But it’s too late—it’s Après le Déluge.

After Lolita there is only a fable on the theme of rebellion. Nabokov’s morality? Let us revolt again and again, even if a best seller is unlikely—as we have not yet discovered the secret pain that prevents us from being happy.

So that even now, Brian Boyd has got into the act— opining eloquently in The Wall Street Journal: “The opening few words just blew me away. There’s a kind of narrative device that he’s never used before and that I don’t think anybody else has ever used before.”

I don’t think anybody really knows what Nabokov had in might for Laura—perhaps Vladimir and Sergei up in there in literary heaven are having a bitch fight now, kvetching about it. Who’s the Real Sebastian Knight, my dear—and who’s the real Laura?

I forgot about Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse”—the way she begins her novel in medias res. What was that question her character answers—that we don’t get to hear? I know—let’s shuffle the cards and find out the real “pulp fiction” truth.

Those index cards are no big secret—we’ve known about them for years. Revising and deleting and making notes to himself—where would we be without them? But I’m sure “The Original of Lolita” would be a great disappointment—and I doubt if that Hollywood movie contract would have been very lucrative. At least not enough to retire from academe—and enjoy a relaxed productive retirement in the swanky Montreux Palace Hotel.

Playing with index cards and playing with words are two different things—it seems to me. “The Original of Laura” might be worth a game of cards—after all Nabokov was a chess enthusiast. He was obsessed with the game—and supposedly carried around a miniature chess set. With holes on the board for the pieces—the kings, queens and pawns. Perhaps “Laura” could be written like a William S. Burroughs cut-up novel—full of peacocks, pigeons and peanuts?

In either case, of course, Laura’s reception surely wouldn’t be the author’s fault. I’m willing to believe in a real novel—but not a last-minute masterwork. Something half-done in a hurry—with the author deceased. That’s kind of like that—sad campy bridge game in Sunset Boulevard.

Index Card Fiction 1

Index Card Fiction 1
“Language leads a double life—
and so does the novelist”
—Kingsley Amis, “The problem
with Nabokov,” The Guardian,
14 November 2009

“As Laura was unfinished and Nabokov often wrote the middle section of his stories last…”

Ah yes, there’s the rub: “Nabokov often wrote the middle section of his stories last…” Getting the beginning going—and having the narrative ending firmly in mind. That’s the easy part I’d think.

The hard part, the fun part—that would be the ludic playing out of the Montreux meanderings in the middle. At least for me—that Nevernever land of the Lewis Carroll “Hunting of the Snark” middleground—that for me would be the ultimate chessgame-like compositional fun & games part of the process…

The actual living-day-to-day family life part of the novel—the thing Faulkner talked about and didn’t want to leave. The Sound and the Fury scenario—falling in love young Caddy and her dirty drawers up in the tree. Benjy, Jason and Quentin—that whole ongoing Yoknapatawpha stream of consciousness reverberating through Deep South decadence and oozing south of the border thanks to Borges.

It’s that long lovely “Ada Archipelago” process—that’s the fun part. Puttering around in the comic evening chiaroscuro of Pale Fire’s “in-between” otherworldly garden. Taking Lolita to the Bijou—letting her choose which matinee lover she liked the most. Cool ironic James Mason—or blubbery-lipped morose Jeremy Irons? Meandering in the pale afternoon sunlight—beneath the palatial ruins of the Montreux Palace Hotel. Thumbing through some index cards…

Enjoying another lovely Montreux matinee day—with no class to teach or papers to read. Just sitting out there in front of the hotel alone on a bench. Enjoying what every writer surely loves to do—letting something like Poe’s “The Oval Portrait” extrapolate luxuriously in the clean cool Swiss mountain air.

The Montreux Palace hotel—that charming old chateau, a pile of commingled gloom and grandeur. Nabokov’s apartment up there in the topmost remote turret of the building—where Peter Ustinov once lived and tromped around above Vladimir’s head. Creating the trompe l'œil illusion of a Fresco dome “loud” painting on its low vaulting—like some church in Vienna done by Andrea Pozzo.

But now, after Peter moved out, how lovely to be there in Ustinov’s apartment—with nobody above him and Vera. Not even a likeable fellow Russian émigré friend. To enjoy once again that St. Petersburg rich luxury so suddenly taken from him—but given back to him just as that Speak, Memory dream with Uncle Ruka predicted. With the help, of course, of a lucrative Lolitaesque movie contract—and years of American exile learning the strange English language with all its fascinating poshlust peculiarities and Wild West motel peccadilloes.

To bid Vera goodnight—to close the heavy shudders and pull the fringed curtains of black velvet closed which covered the bizarre chateau’s windows. To contemplate the lingering chiaroscuro light of the tall candelabrum standing by the head of the bed.

To peruse perhaps a small volume of verse, propped up by some convenient pillows. To daydream once again as Poe did—about Aurora Lee or was it Laura Lee—or how many other young teenage Lolitas across the land, framed in richly gilded filigreed Moresque, vignetting momentarily in his vacuous imagination, the life-likenesses of how many young subdued Lauras, contemplating all those confounding virgins bored in the backrows of his boring lectures at Wellesley and Cornell, with Vladimir droning on with Nikolai Gogol-like ogling eyeballs and obscene subversive Snozzola smirks, opining on dreary Monday mornings about poor Franz Kafka’s cockroach transformations, the yawning Cornell football players heavy with their all-American hangovers from the weekend before, to say nothing of what’s his name and those troublesome short stories Ultima Thule and Solus Rex…

Perhaps it’s the best this way—leading a double life. To have lost it all—and then to have gotten it all back again. To have been matured by frightening WWI weltschmerz and terrible WWII world-weariness. To have written all the novels he wrote—to have played all the Pnin chess games he was obliged to play. Rather than ending up a spoiled Russian playboy—in some haunted Europe without the Revolution or the wars. Just think of all the schadenfreude shed for others that he missed out on—that ironically ended up aimed at him instead?

Sadistically fickle fat fate—as Kingsley Amis and Humbert Humbert call it. But cheer up—the reader gets to vicariously languish and die with Nabokov the late great but still dying Russian author in his hospital bed. It’s not just the short story “Laura”—in this new book that’s struggling toward being novella. It’s the whole compositional process—that gets “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” Ray Milland literary treatment.

Nabokov’s loathsome belly moaning and groaning, his elephantine constipated stomach clogging his thoughts, the heartburn and indigestion from too rich restaurant food, then embarrassment of doing number one and two confined to a bed, depending on some lovely young nurse to wipe his ass, to find himself regressed from his once proud handsome Monarch butterfly status—to nothing but a pusillanimous pupa or lepidopteral larva lump of you know what…gasping for air.

Index Card Fiction 2

Index Card Fiction 2

“Always the writer, Nabokov
on a bench in the garden of
the Montreux Palace Hotel
using a box of index cards
as an improvised desk”
—Jane Grayson, Vladimir
Nabokov, New York: Overlook
Press, 2004, 107

“…equal parts academic parody, postmodern romance and prose poem, a kind of ancient-world equivalent of Nabokov’s Pale Fire…”

Let’s see now. We’ve got this stack of 3-by-5 cards—they all add up to some kind of Laura story. Some kind of mental picture with 138 cards. Perhaps 45 printed pages of a novel so far—but then who knows how they should be shuffled this way or that way. Talk about disambiguating the narrative…

If Nabokov wrote the beginning and ending on cards, saving the middle of the novel for later—then which cards are the alpha and omega cards? Which ones frame the narrative—the inner Laura storyline?

Pondering the mysteries of such a compositional process, I pause a moment and stare lovingly at Vladimir’s calm repose—sitting there in the Montreux garden on a bench. Enjoying what probably every writer enjoys doing—being totally lost in the process of living in another world. Another world—and yet the same world he’s writing in. A kind of Bibliothèque Rose...

Except through the writing—the Montreux garden roses become more than just garden roses. The garden becomes perhaps a Garden of Eden with the fair Oredezh—winding its way following the St. Petersburg-Luga highway. Meandering through floating islands of water lilies and algal brocade. Or perhaps a Rozhestveno rose garden with lovely piano music in the background. Uncle Ruka pink-coated or wearing his opera cloak—singing sad barcaroles and modish lyrics.

Or perhaps young Vladimir heard nothing—saw nothing. Instead of the country estate and long row of Lombardy poplars—instead of the white-pillared mansion on the escarped hill. Instead of the two thousand acres of wildwood and peatbog. Instead of all that around him—another mansion, the tall old elegant Montreux Palace hotel. Would his yearning for his boyhood home—ever recede away? How could it--it was his index card fiction.

The novelist sitting on the bench in the cool Swiss sunshine—isn't he the same novelist sitting in his beat-up stationwagon writing away during one of their long sojourns across America. Always the writer—no matter where he was. Whether Pnin or Humbert—Van or Sebastian Knight. Professor Shade—or the Queen of Zembla. Writing as his way of — "selfsame reportage."

Nabokov’s advice about Pale Fire—cutting it down the middle along the spine. Shade’s poem on one side of the desk—Kinbote’s commentary on the other side. That way it saves time—instead of thumbing back and forth. One can get easily lost in the Commentary—with the Queen of Zembla’s rambling, shambling, shamelessly outré imagination.

Where did Nabokov learn how to be so flagrantly disjointingly camp—so POMO cosmopolitan and gay? How could be invent so many flagrant queens—like Gaston Godin in the French department there at Beardsley College? Or Professor Kinbote or Pnin?

Surely not all Beardsley French professors or émigré Europeans were that way? Although maybe his younger brother Sergey Vladimirovich in Paris after the Revolution perhaps was "that way"—with that Parisian crowd he ran around with. Certainly Uncle Ruka was a flaming queen—Madame Vasiliy Rukavishnikov.

Speaking of fag-baiting—a nasty habit I don’t “normally” indulge myself in like so many Baptists, Mormons and Freudians—one can’t help but admire those lovely portraits on Gaston Godin’s sloping walls. A veritable pantheon of homosexual artists: Andre Gide, Peter Ilich Tchakovsky, Norman Douglas, Waslaw Nijinsky, Diagilev (“Dangleleaf”) and Marcel Proust.

All these gay portraits of the same Harold D. Doublename—an obvious fag-baiting trope like Humbert Humbert’s homosexual doublename. Surely it’s a red herring clue—a sure-giveaway dish of the gay milieu. Just like Humbert Humbert’s doubled initials.

Harold’s D. Doublename—just one small skip and a jump ahead of Humbert’s Doublename. Something to give the psychiatrists in Chapter 9 Part One—a thing or two to kvetch and gossip about. Although they don’t seem to have a clue—and never guess what Humbert’s real secret is. Although some interpret nymphets—as substitute boyz.

In a way, Lolita is like Pale Fire. One could sit at one’s desk—with Lolita at one’s left and the Annotated Lolita at one’s right. And then peruse both books—at one’s leisure. Alfred Appel’s salacious footnotes and fascinating detours and divagations make the same impression on the reader—as Professor Kinbote’s mad meanderings manage to do with Shade’s poem, “Pale Fire.”

Such intertextual games and scholarly cut and paste routines involving the texts of Lolita and Pale Fire are perhaps like the academic parody, postmodern romance and prose poem strategies that might be helpful with interpreting and composing Nabokov’s unfinished last novel Laura.

“Ancient literary texts have a habit of turning up at historical junctures.”

Perhaps the same can be said of contemporary literary texts as well—turning up at various literary junctures. Some real—others imaginary.

So that this lovely stack of 3-by-5 cards allows the reader to work on any section he wants to, then place it “in the sequence he had unforeseen, among the stack already written” — and, in the case of “Laura,” a series of stories within stories could easily keep any reader busy transferring his index cards into more than a novel or two for simply years of personal entertainment and pleasure.

One could ad lib somewhat like Tim Whitmarsh does in his Times Online essay “A Nabokov of the ancient world,” applying the scholarly approach of George Economou’s interesting book ANANIOS: Ananios of Kleitor, Shearsman Books, 2004, to more recent times and books:

"In AD 2010 a mighty earthquake shook the coast of California, exposing an underground cavern near Eureka; in that cavern was a precious text, written in “Arcadian letters.” The manuscript eventually ended up in the hands of the emperor Schwarzenegger, who summoned his experts to decode it. Amazingly, it turned out to be the journal of one Appaloosabeachicus, a participant in the Persian War. Ancient literary texts have a habit of turning up at historical junctures. When Nixon the Great captured the Cambodian city of Twot in 1968 AD, one of his soldiers found a tomb outside the city. Alongside the coffins was a cypress chest, which turned out to contain a marvelous novelistic account of adventure, magic and love, much of it set mysteriously in that same mysterious north-Pacific town of Arcata (Arcadia?)." What are the odds for that? llegitimi non carborundum?

Kevin Hoover's So-Called Thoughts: The alternate-reality Arcadia – July 8, 2009 “Arcata is well and deservedly known as an alternative to the real world. Because, though there are some things you can never, ever do here, people somehow have.

The Mutant Twins

The Mutant Twins

“He had actually wanted
to write about the love
life of Siamese twins…”
—Michael Maar,
“Speak, Nabokov”

The young Vane brothers were rather vain—and why shouldn’t they be that way? After all, they were young, extremely handsome & very wealthy. They lived in the big old Vane Mansion—on the top of the hill overlooking beautiful downtown Poughkeepsie.

The only problem was—they were Siamese twins.

I had never met them—until one dark & stormy night I knocked on their door. I’d gone to Albany-SUNY with their sister—Sybil Vane who was majoring in pre-med like me. She was very shy & reclusive—I never could understand why. Until that strange, spooky night—when she invited me over to meet the Vane Family.

I’d heard rumors about the Vane Mansion. And the crazy old Dr. Fricke who lived there. He was a rich reclusive taxidermist—not a real doctor. He was the guardian for the Vane Family & Estate. He did strange experiments in his laboratory. His wife had run away years ago—for some secret reason.

Apparently, not too many readers—know about this sordid story involving Dr. Fricke. It’s a rather monstrous tale. Nabokov’s "Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster"—is loosely based on this rather obscene twisted gothic romance.

As I mentioned, Dr. Fricke was a taxidermist—not a doctor or scientist. He took a ghoulish interest in the two Vane brothers—his adopted sons. Apparently, according to Sybil, they had a rather monstrous boyhood. They were both 18-years-old now—but nobody had seen hide nor hair of them for many years.

After dating Sybil for a semester—my interest was naturally somewhat pricked by some of the rather repulsive details about the twins that Sybil told me. Since I was in pre-med—I too like Dr. Fricke had became fascinated with the anatomy of freaks.

“I might never have heard
of Cynthia’s death, had I
not run, that night into D.”
—Vladimir Nabokov,
“The Vane Sisters”

The story opens with Herr Doktor Fricke (played by Colin Clive) having some fun cavorting in bed with Floyd & Lloyd—the young pair of cute teen Siamese twins during a playful three-way upstairs in the palatial splendor of Castle Frankenstein’s master bedroom.

Of course, Mary Shelley & Elsa Lanchester have already flown the coop by then—there being nothing else in this gay version of the Hollywood monster movie left for them to be interested in.

But fickle, fey Herr Doktor Frankenstein (played Fricke)—is getting into it. It’s not just another one of your normal Bijou Halloween Midnight Specials, you know. dark & stormy nights, you know—it’s a new tale of terror being brought to you by the Lolitaesque quickie imagination of VN. The biggest closet-case Euro-fag this side of the Revolution—and I don’t mean just Cuba either.

Lightening strikes it long snaky, jagged strokes across the tremulous fracturing the sullen night sky—those wicked nervous jittery jig-jags up there so high in the Herzegovinan heavens. While Igor the creepy Hunchback & his rowdy skinhead boyz keep those sky-kites going—sailing fast & taunt above in the dark moody medieval castle turrets.

Sucking up the skanky lightening bolts—draining the dark moody clouds of their terrible, seminal electrical voltages. The liquid ozone oozing cathode ray lightening bolts—captured by the kites, then sucked down into shiny metal bottles down in the laboratory basement crypt where all the nitty-gritty action is.

The power of the lightening—giving the stitched-together two young teenage monsters life eternal. Just the right Zippity-Do-Dah Zap homoerotic buzz—that Herr Doktor Frankenstein craves so very much. Those cute Vane Siamese twin brothers—really give nefarious, decadent Dr. Fricke a nice piece of Tainted Love.

Floyd & Lloyd the Siamese twin monster boyz—tied up & spread-eagled there. On the huge canopied Louis XIV plush sumptuous bed. They’re wired, baby—they’re into it. They even fuckin’ glow—the moody midnight darkness!

Plus, of course, the two Boy Toys are totally loaded outta their gourds. Thanks to the unusual herbal aphrodisiac concoctions—lovingly brewed by that charming old Transylvanian Witch. The Gypsy Fortune Teller Maria Ouspenskaya.

Ah yes, Maria Ouspenskaya! The beloved mother of famous/infamous badboy Bela Lugosi. Her much despised & misunderstood Werewolf son—who lives down the hill in the whitetrash Balkan Trailer Court. There outside the castle moat—in the deep dark Forest of Wolves by the Poughkeepsie Bowling Alley.

Madame Ouspenskaya gathers the tender midnight blooms of the wild Wolfbane herb—that only opens up & becomes potent during the Full Moon. Adding other Transylvanian herbs & West Coast folklore newly legalized weeds—for the ultimate long-lasting Aphrodisiac of Tainted Love. That Herr Doktor Fricke needs so desperately—for his decadently arcane research into Young Geek Love.

On this particular stormy night, the good Doktor wears a dreamy, stony smile—etched onto his high-cheekboned, calm-as-death surgeon’s face. He’s stroking the lovely pink fleshy cartilaginous uncut boner—that the twin young males so intimately share. He strokes it with loving attention & scientific care…

That’s where I walk in. Sybil cautions me not to be too shocked—but I am, of course, much too cocky, young & foolish for my own good. I’m in love with Sybil—and want to make love with her that stormy night. Sybil had made sure I’m loose as a goose after one too many dry martinis.

I know something is going on that night—with all the lightening & thunder, the commotion up there on the mansion roof & all the mysterious goings-on down there in the basement. That’s when Sybil tades me to the master bedroom—and opens the heavy moaning, groaning door.

There’s the lascivious Dr. Fricke—in the huge master bedroom. In bed with the two nude Vane Boyz—who’re enjoying the lavish attentions of their jaded, unforgivable stepfather.

Dr. Fricke is stroking the magnificent piece of Siamese male muscle—that both Floyd & Lloyd share so intimately together. A huge 12” fleshy cartilaginous organ—that unites the two young lascivious Siamese twins in midnight ecstasy. They’re co-joined at their sexy “Elvis the Pelvis” hips—and from their twisted loins springs forth the shared tool that makes them so exquisitely, shockingly and naughtily studly divine!

I’d never seen anything like it! In all my pre-med surgery studies & intense medical research. In all my autopsy classes—and anatomy lectures. This was the first time I’d ever seen—a pair of Siamese twins with a huge throbbing 12” penis ready, willing & able for some real “down & dirty” Midnight Show hanky-panky!

I blushed & turned to Sybil—we’d both read Nabokov’s short story “ Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster.” But this was the real thing—I was totally shocked & blown away. Sybil smirked and locked the door—behind her on her way out.

“Don’t’ be shy,” said Dr. Fricke. “C’mon young man—we’ve been expecting you.” The twins nodded appreciatively—flexing their monster endowment down there in a most agreeable way.

“You see, my young doctor-to-be,” Dr. Pickle opined, motioning me over to the scene of the dirty crime. “I call this lovely piece of Siamese sexual anatomy that my two boyz share—I call this lovely thing their “omphalopagus diaphragmo-xiphodidymus” as Herr Doktor Professor Pretorius has dubbed a similar case with his own young teenage Frankenstein.

Like a bird hypnotized by a snake—l felt myself drawn over to the obscene bedside of gruesome-threesome sex-play going on that fateful stormy night. That dreadful ménage-a-trois taking place there in the luxurious bed—in front of my unbelieving bulging eyeballs. I couldn’t help but notice on the walls above the bed—several kitschy motel moderne Elvis Presley black-velvet paintings. They added just the right poshlust allure—to the rather skanky proceedings that dark & stormy night.

I’d heard louche rumors about gay both Dr. Fricke & Ernest Thesiger—getting it on with foppish Colin Clive playing a gay Henry Frankenstein. Leaning against the stainless steel operating table—having an orgasm & ejaculating “It’s alive! It’s alive!” But surely not even James Whale—could get away with something like this!

Lloyd the cute Siamese twin youth on the right—contemplated me placidly. Puffing some hookah smoke—down thru his erect nostrils. As if I were nothing more than—an awestruck child-idiot who’d just walked off the street. Floyd the youth on the left—was cross-eyed and gimpy. Harelipped—and drooling. Obviously the dummy lower IQ Siamese half—of the lovely twin combo. What a shocking twosome combination—such two completely different brothers made.

Dr. Fricke that filthy old scoundrel—had somehow concocted a true circus horror show just for his own sordid enjoyment & devilish delectation. He was obviously in his element—and Sybil had locked me in with this fiend and his indecent ungodly Siamese Twin creation!

Even tho Fricke was merely an ignorant, old-fashioned, Transylvanian taxidermist—he’d managed somehow to create this stunning shocking pair of seminal young male monsters! I couldn’t help but stare—I felt myself growing weak in the knees. Dr. Fricke & the Twins—smirked at me. As if they knew something about me—that surely was hidden deep in the recesses of my supposedly straight closet…

I could feel it, almost taste it—all those simply awful oozing male orgones comin’ straight outta every pulsating pore of the nude twins in bed looking at me. Surely these two Siamese Twins represented—the sheerest horror and most forbidden depths of human bestiality I’d ever seen in my life. Nothing on the internet could possibly compare with it—not even Lady Gaga on YouTube!!!

The nefarious Dr. Fricke had created—a virtual homegrown nightmare dynamic duo. A nefarious pair of slithering sick mutants—a pair of shameless Zoophilia Zoo Boyz from another world. A couple of teenage extraterrestrial sex-fiends—truly a most disgusting carnival sideshow act of Devil Boyz from Mars exo-depravity.

Right there in the master bedroom—of the Vane Mansion! In innocent Poughkeepsie USA—downtown Middle Class Americana! A sterling example of Bad Science gone amok—Bad Romance on the make! A walking, talking, animalistic, forbidden Tale—Siamese Sin & Twin Brotherly Love Degradation!

But that was just the beginning—from then on I got sucked into being the assistant of mad Dr. Fricke. It was completely different—than studying or doing medical research as Albany-SUNY.

There’s no comparison between that kind of straight academic knowledge—and the sudden impact of the disturbing & emotional shocks I went thru with Dr. Fricke & the Twins. Adjusting to the deliberate abuse of the possessive singular—in favor of the kind of unrestrained, ignorant, passionate communicative things that went on with these “Brothers of the Head” in the Vane Mansion late at night.

There was something dreadfully wrong about medicine & science—that only looked at one patient at a time. Twin-patients were beyond the limits of modern science—when it came to Siamese psychology and EEG brain activity. The way Lloyd & Floyd interacted together was truly unique—even when they were deep in REM dream-time they actually dreamed the same dreams!

Which actually doesn’t sound that strange—given the fact that Siamese Twins shared the same brain waves & feelings when they were awake as well. The kind of adolescent wetdreams & nocturnal emissions—they experienced as their male hormones kicked in earlier. Even these tentative, libidinal & copious interruptions in the middle of the night were quite revealing. Both Floyd & Lloyd reported that they were having the same sensuous, homoerotic love affairs with each other—that they began having even as they were wide-awake with Dr. Fricke in tow.

Lloyd was the smart one—he did all the thinking for the Siamese Twin Brothers. But intelligence & IQ didn’t make any difference—when gimpy, sex-maniac Floyd wanted to get down. What can you do—if you’re conjoined for life with your alter ego? Even tho Lloyd was right-handed & refused to abuse himself—Floyd was unstoppable & insatiable. Floyd had simply turned left-handed—and went to town that way.

There was plenty to abuse—even tho the act of self-abuse was always imbued with an oxymoronic quandary of twinned cognitive dissonance. Repulsion, pity, horror, ambivalence, boredom—all these emotions played thru both boys growing up thru adolescence. As peach-fuzz slowly grew on their upper lips—and wiry pubes sprouted down below. Both Siamese twins—had to make compromises with their wants & desires. To keep the peace—and still be brothers in the skin.

Their limbs grew into handsome components—both had silky skin with velvety veins & violet-pink arteries coursing thru such a pair of innocent lambs. Who would have ever guessed such joy, pride, tenderness, adoration & gratitude—would be turned by God & Dr. Fricke into such terrible horror & despair?

That’s when the fatal realization happened—when Lloyd & Floyd realized the Awful Truth. That the linked Lloyd & Floyd weren’t especially—the complete and normal way that things really were. That all the other unhooked, disconjoined, separated human creatures they came into contact with—weren’t the Freaks, the Gimps, the Mutants that both Lloyd & Floyd indeed were.

That’s where Dr. Fricke came in—the soothing, benevolent Guardian of the Vale Estate. Elucidating as thoroughly as he could—without reaching for a scalpel or knife. With calm adult emotions unstained with guilt or premonitions—without even the slightest whiff of disgust. By virtue of some kind of uncommon common sense—a sort of jaded duplicity & forward-looking duplexity. Taking care of the Siamese twins, wiping their noses—brushing their teeth, kissing their pouty lips.

Others might seek both Lloyd & Floyd—as nothing more than a couple of freaks, a pair of drunken dwarfs. Fit for a carnival sideshow—or a Tod Browning silent movie. But Dr. Fricke had better plans—after all even if they died, Fricke could still stuff them & put them in his Taxidermy Cabinets. And still make a buck or two—like he did with his incredible two-headed chickens, mutant monkeys & other graceful formaldehyde bottled beauties!

But yes indeed, the Siamese twins grew like weeds—assuming side-by-side reciprocal positions. Reverting in sleep to their usual fetal lovey-dovey arm-in-arm embrace—engendering telepathic dreams all night long.

Only when they became teenagers—did they find uncomfortable their clumsy conjunction. Even tho their minds—didn’t question their normalcy yet. When they did become aware mentally—of the obvious drawbacks. Well, then, their instinctual physical intuitions always discovered a means of tempering the problem.

It always amazed Dr. Fricke—how judicious their spontaneous compromises could be. Often a mutual urge formed itself quite ad lib & impromptu—when some discrete impulse, Floyd’s or Lloyd’s, wanted to follow its own course of action. But always that impulse got redirected by the warp of both bodies—and never went athwart of the common weave with simply a pushy whim.

Later tho, Lloyd suffered the most—more in adolescence than childhood. He began questioning the need for compromise with goofy Floyd—and began regretting they’d not perished or had been surgically separated earlier than now. Before the initial stages of animal-like ever-present rhythms took place. Their mutual heartbeats—sounding like twin jungle drums in their conjoined nervous systems.

Lloyd began having regrets. Like when it came to conjoined sexuality—and Floyd wanted to get off and taste the ripe fig of their exquisite double orgasm. For it was both a gift & a curse—a double-barreled sot of the twin’s shotgun of jungle love sexuality.

Both youths experiencing their own prostate glands suddenly shivering—as their shared organ of desire milked both youths of everything they had as young hormonal mature individuals. The enriched ripple of their shared desire—twice as “enriched” as one single pulsating youth simply masturbating himself with singular pride. A kind of self-conscious resentment grew inside Lloyd’s heart—a kind of first intimation & frustration of privacy lost forever.

Again this is where Dr. Fricke came in—helping the two Siamese twins to adjust to this new world of the will-to-life (Wille zum Leben) will. With all its troublesome Schopenhauer insights—into the human condition:

"We should be surprised that a matter that generally plays such an important part in the life of man has hitherto been almost entirely disregarded by philosophers, and lies before us as raw and untreated material."

“Love... interrupts at every hour the most serious occupations, and sometimes perplexes for a while even the greatest minds... It knows how to slip its love-notes and ringlets even into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manuscripts..."

Lloyd had a better chance to understand it intellectually—but even so Floyd instinctively understood it not as some cognitive problematic, but as something to do. And do it as much as possible. Which cramped Lloyd’s style, of course—making him feel tapped twofold-wise. First, feeling Lloyd’s animality & lack of cerebration penetrating his mind—and the other problem of not being able to do anything about it.

Eager rascal Dr. Fricke—solved the problem very efficiently and practically. Tranquilizers and sedatives didn’t work to calm the beastly other—since the two boyz shared the same bloodstream they both simply became zombies.

Then Dr. Fricke turned to more drastic methods. He pondered giving over-sensitive, over-intelligent Lloyd—a louche lobotomy to relieve the poor kid of his Siamese anxiety & uneasy twinned ennui. But then that would make the Vane Mansion a very lonely place indeed—without Lloyd to talk, play cards, do chess & opine about the things Dr. Fricke loved to talk about.

But as the Siamese twins got older—Lloyd left Floyd far behind him. Floyd seemed mired in the same old mind-fucks—the struggling teenage reality he got stuck in was a No Exit for the kid. But he didn’t have enough IQ to know the difference—other than watching porno on the internet gave him something to do.

While Floyd forgot everything & lived in the continuous present moment—Lloyd forgot nothing & wanted to move ahead. He soon got tired of entertaining Dr. Fricke with card games & chess—he got the idea of the opposite sex giving him what he needed most. Dr. Fricke caught Lloyd with a pillowcase over Floyd’s head—having incestuous sex with their sister Sybil.

Shit! Dr. Fricke luckily caught them in time—and explained the use of Trojans & other handy prophylactics. He made Sybil start taking the Pill—but otherwise had no moral compunction to make the Vane threesome cease & desist their brotherly-sisterly fun & games.

It was something Dr. Fricke enjoyed himself—a rollicking roll-in-the-hay with all three young vivacious Vane offspring. He no longer plied his trade—as a salesman of patent medicine. This bald little fellow—in a dirty-white Russian smock. Even tho he could speak a dozen languages—the nightly rendezvous intense bedroom encounters demanded a whole new pigeon-English language to encompass the depths of depravity they engaged in.

And sleeping together as they did—Dr. Fricke himself began having strange telepathic dreams about Sybil, Lloyd and Floyd. Somewhere in the deep dark past—before Dr. Fricke showed up. The Vane brothers’ dainty loving mother—had been gangbanged by a terrible bunch of disreputable young men in the Balkan Trailer Court next to the Poughkeepsie Bowling Alley. Dr. Fricke could actually visualize them in his lucid dreams—after a night of glutting himself with the Siamese boyz seminal young male fluids.

There was the ardent burning eyes—of a gigantic, bronze-faced, skinhead retard as brutal as any AWOL sailor from Herzegovina. There was a one-eyed hunchbacked Armenian truck-driver (gimpy monster in his own right). There was the gaping, toothless mouth of Bela Lugosi in the next-door trailer—bent on one last suck-and-fuck before he kicked the fuckin’ bucket.

There even was even a university linguist—from Waindell College or was it Wordsmith from New Wye? Who was an uncanny expert at sneaky, conniving cunninglingus—with his embroidered toupee sliding down over his shiny bald head. Courting all the women in the trailer park—and then with his steel-rimmed spectacles perched on his craggy nose, going for sloppy seconds with the Siamese twin’s helpless, defenseless, dazed mother.

No wonder the Siamese twins—were the rarest of freaks. The hidden Lost Knowledge of their poor mother—who died unconsciously during childbirth. After being in a sad coma—for the whole duration of her nine month pregnancy. It was this heartbreaking knowledge of their atrocious anonymous birthright—that empowered even overpowered Dr. Fricke—into his own special kind of fatherly concern for these poor Vane children.

Sybil Vane had grown up—becoming a well-rounded college graduate. She went on to being a missionary nurse on the new colony on Mars—where her expertise in dealing with freaks came in handy dealing with the two-headed Martian creatures who lived on the shore of Amazonis Plaintis. She went on to becoming a wizened colonialist—like Zsa Zsa Gabor the Queen of the Universe.

Meanwhile back in lowly Poughkeepsie—I took up residence as Dr. Fricke’s lowly assistant. I too started having strange telepathic dreams—after some of our all-night “Double-your-Pleasure, Double-your-Fun” Double-Mint Romps in the Master Bedroom. I imaged melting away my earthly shackles—and the feeling of mind-melding with both Lloyd & Floyd. How can I describe it—the strange, eerie feeling of unadulterated, shameless, sudden doppelganger-déjà vu?

I became Lloyd’s dream-double—hobbling along beside him like Floyd did. I was hopelessly joined to leering, smirking, know-it-all Lloyd—as if I too were just a piece of extra no-good spare luggage. Just another old suitcase Lloyd had to drag around—more genetic baggage he’d rather get rid of. It made me so depressed—I had to wake myself up.

That’s when I appealed to Dr. Fricke—that we perhaps all four of us pool our minds into one dream at a time? Like a Clipper ship on the high seas—with 4 masts full of sails that were Lloyd, Floyd, Fricke and me? It worked pretty good—and I don’t know how many times we sailed that vast Siamese Sea of our conjoined REM dreamtime imaginations.

The Siamese Sun would rise over our heads—Lloyd’s hand would be on the steering wheel. Our nocturnal nautical voyages—along with foul-smelling young sailors with purplish-pink hickies on their necks. Tattoos of Popeye & Olive Oil on their bulging biceps—walking the gangplank of love when Floyd got to be pirate captain. Into blurry lagoons—lined with crooked palms, cypresses & Judas trees in full bloom. Man-eating natives—and buried treasure chests. How we haggled over the ersatz gold doubloons & fake fading Siamese sunsets in the evenings.

I don’t know what we feared the most—getting bored in that big old Vane Mansion. Or knowing too much about each other—each of us eventually the same Siamese twin brother merging with each other. Sometimes I’d be the chauffeur—in some dream Mercedes limo convertible. Driving fast along the autobahn at night—on the outskirts of Berlin beneath the Siamese stars. Taking long silent rides for the heck of it—just to feel the speed, the darkness of some other vast Other that encompassed us four lonely human beings.

Sometimes I could feel Lloyd’s arm around my shoulder—as if I were Floyd sitting there next to him. Sitting in some midnight Bijou theater balcony—lost in some cinematic film called “Casablanca.” Slipping down the slippery slope—into some casino nightclub romance scene. With Dooley Wilson playing “As Time Goes By”—at the end of one war & the beginning of another.

So that pretty soon—I lost track of time in that huge lonely Vane mansion. I became vain with myself—thinking I was Lloyd & Lloyd was me. That Floyd was me too—and I him. I even became Frau Fricke—when I had to. And the Siamese sunsets in the evening—they just went on & on…