Ancient History: A Paraphase
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An uninvited guest, entering the empty New York apartment of a man known to intimates as "Dom," proceeds to write for his absent host a curious confession. Its close accounts of friendship since boyhood with two men surely unknown to Dom and certainly to each other is interleaved with the story of Dom himself.
answer is that for all the intellectual and political force of the addressee’s public career—and these forces are respected by Cy as considerable in themselves—this monologuist may be seen to believe that the addressee has missed something. Missed something of life as it is actually lived, missed a thing as elusive as it is essential. It might even be supposed that it is this absence, this oversight, which has driven the addressee to his suicide. “You thought only the thirsty media cared for you,
came across in the wake of the car. I must get home to Ev in order to wake early, but after tonight perhaps like you Dom I’ll sleep late. That’s what some of us need—a new federal, state, and local Program Oversleep. I’d hoped that my paraphase would be a break-through. Into the unimpeded field beyond the sway of ordinary light: Beyond that foully funny dream in which you Dom ask me to be your Secretary of Field-State and I consent as, simultaneously, though in another congruent kit of
Utmosis the Last. I wish I could be Forgetorix the First, and leave behind me a mass of Past as merciful as Gail’s plaid case that Al started to take but I said we’d pick up later. I turned back into my apartment after Ted snubbed me tonight, and with her hands out toward me Ev came from the bathroom but came and spoke hastily because we had people arriving, and said, “It’s inevitable, you know that,” and she smiled at my sad stupor and said, “Well he doesn’t know about all you said to Doug,
that crap about the boomerang?” And at last now after more than twenty years I recall not only my consequent feeling but my words. On cue I said, “Why the hell didn’t I throw that pitch right over A.B.’s head? Why didn’t I stop you from doing that stupid window-stunt? Why didn’t I keep my boomerang?” Well, I didn’t have to underline my point, if you can underline a point. And Joey crawled out of the vestibule past Hugh, crying, “I didn’t touch any fuckin’ typewriter.” I thought I vectored hatred
written and spoken, with a brief interruption during which he hides, like Hamlet, behind a curtain. Monologue consisting of what? Of centrifugal meditations on Cy’s coming of age in the company of two friends, one—like the narrator—a native of Brooklyn Heights, a city boy. The other, a friend from summers spent fleeing the city, a country boy. The two friends have never met, but may be on the verge of doing so; this possibility is for the narrator strangely destabilizing, and supercharged. So: