I am not what I publish


I think I might have grown weary of online conversations, I suspect they only go one way.

Were it a normal one (read: face-to-face), there would likely and immediately be some kind of palpable feedback, even if negative. At least I could choose to deal with, say, disinterest in some physical, human way, as it is somewhat detectable in body language (and hence counts as feedback). On a website where everything is recorded for posterity I don’t have the luxury of such a reaction, like for instance walking away. And before you even utter the words “comments’ section” or “social sharing”, let me establish right away that I don’t think that an online comment to an online post can ever stand for real conversation. Also, “social sharing” is no more than a reheating of yesterday’s dinner and it doesn’t even get to live that long.

More to the point is perhaps the fact that I’m slowly finding myself incapable of sharing here only parts of all those things that amaze me, that I can’t conceive of a relationship where my interlocutor gets to pick and choose fragments of my discourse, and broadcast them as an epiphany of their own. It may sound selfish and excessively meticulous, but I do not believe that those fragments fully exist outside of both the wider context of the discourse they belong to, and the dialogue they may or may not foster (see “disinterest”, above). I am most certainly not enthusiastic about sharing the tidbit, the odd post, without having the opportunity to let the whole of me transmit the wonderment in every possible way.

To me, sharing something which I find elevating, funny or whimsical is after all no more than a seed, one from which a whole world of serendipity should grow, one which ought to encompass the whole of me and the whole of you, including the body language, the looks exchanged, the misapprehensions, the tangents, the pauses, everything. If you take part of me or part of you out of this, then there is nothing left: what we end up with is a bastard, an online variant of the “friend zone”. I mean I am all in favour of us all reaching for those bits which augment our resonance to beauty, but standing alone on the supply side is not particularly fascinating.

I am aware that the internet is fantastic for reinventing yourself or for giving you a chance of being who you want to be, but here’s the thing: I don’t want to “be” anyone, I just want to become whoever the conversation leads me to be.

I want to grow, not be.

Paul Watzlawick once said that you cannot not communicate. Well, it appears that online you can, especially while trying to communicate.

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Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more

(or “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”)

It is astonishing that the score to Allegri’s Miserere Mei was such a closely guarded secret by the Holy See — it was considered to be “too beautiful” — that whoever was caught copying it was threatened with excommunication (which nevertheless didn’t stop Mozart, who else, from transcribing it from memory at age 14).

Performances today are probably less ornate than what the Roman school would have recommended back in the 17th century, but it remains a work of breathtaking beauty.


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Read deeply, not to believe, not to accept, not to contradict, but to learn to share in that one nature that writes and reads.

Harold Bloom — How to Read and Why

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A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

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Rott & Mahler: Fellows, Masters or Students

Hans Rott, a fellow pupil of Mahler at the Vienna Conservatory, managed not only to publish before him, but to also influence Mahler himself: his Symphony No.1 in E major eerily announces Mahler’s early work.

Rott died insane at the age of 26. Too much beauty?

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Helpless Child

Often a man can play the helpless child in front of a woman, but he can almost never bring it off when he feels most like an helpless child.

F. Scott Fitzgerald — Tender is the Night

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Hell is the incapacity to be other than the creature one finds oneself ordinarily behaving as.

Aldous Huxley — Eyeless in Gaza

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The whole and the part

Whoever reaches into a rosebush may seize a handful of flowers; but no matter how many one holds, it’s only a small portion of the whole. Nevertheless, a handful is enough to experience the nature of the flowers. Only if we refuse to reach into the bush, because we can’t possibly seize all the flowers at once, or if we spread out our handful of roses as if it were the whole of the bush itself—only then does it bloom apart from us, unknown to us, and we are left alone.

Lou Andreas-Salomé — Lebensrückblick

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To All You Newly Minted Gin Pedants


Up until not long ago, ordering a Gin & Tonic was a simple affair, as it consisted of saying: “I’ll have a Gin & Tonic, please”.

Much to my dismay, and since the other option would have been to stop drinking them altogether, this is how I have to order it these days:

“I’ll have a Gin & Tonic, please. Wait!

I’ll have it in a highball glass, with just ice, gin, tonic and a lime wedge. I do not want the coupe glass, or giant bucket, or whatever the crap you call that ice-filled thing. You can skip the straw (two, sometimes!), as well, seen that I’m not twelve and you’re not serving me a Tang.

Please avoid adding juniper berries, pepper corns, basil, cucumber, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, lavender, or any other ingredient, even if it has been lovingly harvested under the full moon, on the altitudinal zones of the Swiss Alps, by a herd of enchanted unicorns.

You can skip the stupid pouring of the tonic over the twisted stir spoon, “to avoid bubbles”. You’re not “avoiding bubbles”, you’re just feeding your smugness. Remember that I’m the one paying for this drink, so go be a pompous fool on someone else’s money.

Actually, don’t pour the tonic at all, bring the opened bottle. You may have read the many opinions on gin-to-tonic ratios, and your bar even has a Gin & Tonic “menu” to indicate how confident you feel in your skills in treating the people you serve as ignorant nitwits, but since it is my drink, I’ll determine the ratio, thank you.

As to the gin itself, and keeping in mind that this is a cocktail with more tonic and ice than actual gin, any decent London dry gin will do. Stop with the endless discussions of the peculiarities of gin A, B and C, and how their bouquets, aroma and distillation process differ from each other in, oh, so subtle and magical ways. The truth of the matter is that in a mixture raped by too much ice, fancy tonics and herbal mixtures concocted by a self-important apothecary, the particulars of any gin are lost to the taste buds of most of your clientele, not to mention your own; you could probably replace the gin with vodka and they wouldn’t even notice. Those of us who truly care about gin differences drink proper dry martinis, anyway.”

I usually avoid ranting about how I’m not looking for the “truly premium experience” of enjoying “boutique gins that offer affordable luxury”.

One wouldn’t want to come across as rude, after all.


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