Thursday, February 3, 2022

"What's the Deal, Hummingbird?"

"Anagnorisis" is the term for recognition in Greek Tragedy. It's what happens when Oedipus discovers he's murdered his father and married his mother. It's also a feeling you may experience reading Arthur Krystal's story, "What's the Deal, Hummingbird?" in The New Yorker (1/24/22). "What's the Deal" takes the form of an autobiographical rant, rather than a piece of fiction. Of course, unless the author provides a "reveal," there's no way to know. The feeling is that Krystal is talking to your life. You instantaneously fall for him and want to know him, as if he has a magic power to know your inmost soul. There are plenty of signposts which validate the impression, lots of evidence. He's 73 and you're 73 if you're a baby boomer of that age. He had slept with his wife either l900 or 3000 times in their nineteen years of marriage (plus the 4 months preceding) or maybe it was 5422. Have you ever indulged in statistics like this? Oliver Burkeham's 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals partakes of this kind of erotic actuaryalism. Life is 38, 368,800 minutes for the author as he writes. Krystal disposes of the 60s with the citation of 2001: A Space Odyssey H follows by describing"Bumping into a friend, who told him she had slept with two men that day, and it so aroused him that he asked if he could be the third." "He remembered dropping acid on Martha's Vineyard and asking everyone who Martha was." "He remembered being face to bosom with Jackie Onassis as he was going up the stairs at the Metropolitan Opera and she was coming down." "He remembered the first time he removed a girl's bra only to be reminded of a character in 'Catch-22' who claimed that life is all downhill after that." He remembers "riding a motor scooter in Ibiza in '71 or '72" and picking "up a short, pretty American girl" with whom he had "painful slapstick, sex." His former wife tells him "You need to get Netflix...two weeks after New York went into lockdown." She says "Watch, 'Call My Agent,' "It'll cheer you up." This last is almost like a dagger, stabbing you in the heart. Uncanny since along with the Jackie Onassis vignette, it's almost exactly what happened to you. However, say you have never dropped acid on Martha's Vineyard or been to Ibiza, the author makes you feel it's about you anyway. In some alternate universe, you've been there. You find yourself reading and rereading the piece to remember the things that have happened or the things that have something to do with you even if you haven't directly experienced them. Do you remember the first time you read Uncle Vanya, the star of Hamaguchi's Drive My Car and felt that Chekhov stole your ideas? Oh yeah, Krystal went to The University of Wisconsin and Columbia. He became a critic and so did you. Is Krystal your doppelgänger,  your double a la Dostoevsky and Borges? Has Krystal stolen your life?

watch the animation of Erotomania on You Tube

and listen to "Tell It Like It Is"by Bonnie Raitt, Gregg Allman and Aaron Neville (it doesn't get better than this)

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