It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain
Spring again. Who could believe it, another bloody spring. It keeps coming back, this exciting, thrilling, head-spinning season of new beginnings. No matter how dead winter makes matters appear, spring will carry the day once again, insuperable, fresh to death, pumping hormones into everybody’s bod.
Spring, spunk. Fresh, clean, flukewarm air flushing out the streets, boulevards, avenues, which are overflowing with livid human masses, all attired in that light clothing of life-affirming temperatures. Indeed a spring’kling of shorts, naked skin, ungoosebumped, advertising the advent of spring. A spring in everybody’s step, even the Octogenarian, incredulous s/he held out another winter to witness yet another rebirth of life.
Finally the world doesn’t seem to hate or treat us with indifference any more. We are granted a modicum of respite, a possibility to trudge about in unarctic clothing, to peer all the way up to the sky instead of at the underside of a grey broth.
Ding-a-ling, it’s this spring thing, makes our hearts sing, a meteorological state of bada-bing! Goddamn Spring, I can’t believe it, I quite feel like I haven’t even really done enough to deserve it. But what can one do to deserve the blessing of the most heart-warming season? Make sacrifices to the sprites of the air, the sun goddess, the sweet demons that tilt our earth-axis just so? No, this is a given arrangement from the day our planet got a’spinning. Here now, the incredible feeling of having escaped from the brink of death, of having woken up despite everything, all those wintry nightmares, the next morning with the sun glancing into our rooms ever so goldenly.
Spring, whence doest thou hail from? Whence doest thou depart in September? No, not now, let us rejoice in your sweet, ozone-addled, windy, sparkling presence, happy you came back again as if to save us. Which you did.
• • •
And at times it perhaps leads to too much good cheer and daring.
The other day, returning from a friend’s place, perambulating innocently to the bus stop, I came by LU’s sex worker lane: young East-European, African and, I assume, Swiss women braving the night’s gelid temperatures in attire intended to attract brisk business. In and out. One of them, blonde or blonded, perplexingly comely, partially stepped out into my prospective lane as if to intercept me, she intered my course, tossing out a baited line that shouldn’t have held any surprise but did: “Come on, yes, we could do it. I know you’d like to.” A diversionary smile entered my face as I shook my head at this improv movie-line and responded that I didn’t. Perhaps it amused me how she attempted to turn a business proposition into something flirtatious, to make finance into romance. Slow dance, no pants, prick prance. “No, not me” I said out loud, quite correct as others in cars were slowly creeping up and down the blonde-lined lane, certainly many a potential customer in perusal/arousal mode.
Then however, she fully stopped my homewards trajectory, gripped my trainer-clad arm and repeated her suggestion, radiating an industrial strength, salacious casual-sex-worker smile. [Why casual? Nothing casual about it, not one intimota.] Now I couldn’t help a little laugh edging its way out of my belly then head. Doubling up on her smile I replied in the neg “No, sorry. Definitely not. Good night anyway.” Irritated or incredulous she let go off of my arm, the non-business limb, as I bid my goodbye for a second emphatic time. Looking back I quoth “Have a nice evening”. Which if I’d reflected on it just a chronon would’ve been flagged as “Moronic!” and not even subvocalized. Instead I said it, trying for the human touch in the cold, fleshy world of sex work. Sometimes we are all of us tiny black figures on this big blue chunk of ice, all oceans and hearts frozen alike, trying not to slide off into the void.
I even felt slightly bad about having turned down her offer so brusquely, possibly even guilty [by national association] about the fact that some hideously ungainly compatriot would later take up the offer [only still implied by her presence and location] without further ado; too old and ugly and bad-of-breath for such a young, fair lady. She muttered something about not biting, which I had my serious doubts about. At any rate, I was surprised by a sex worker being so pro-active in pursuit of her business, way above and beyond the basic expedient of a cat call.
• • •
Which is the most worthwhile book I’ve dug into lately? Without a doubt “Humboldt’s Gift”. Rather a statement for me to make after I left it idling on my desk for over two months. It’s not a tome, not even two fingers thick [as the bookworm bores] but the pages are so hair-splittingly thin and the font so Walseresque that it amounts to the same thing. Microscript.
To start with the silliest, maybe most obtuse argument first, whenever I read Bellow, I always have the feeling of reading the right book, of spending time on the right literature. With too much other reading matter [compulsory often or just ill-chosen] it feels like I’m frittering away valuable time that could be spent on better, more enlightening, delightful, insight-inspiring literature. And having started a read [a non-compulsory one] it takes some time to admit one’s mistake, bite the bullet [inscrutable simile imho] and discontinue it. It goes against all the well-socialized routines of finishing, bringing to a satisfactory conclusion whatever it is one has started, be it taking a shit, writing a billion-Renminbi-project report or reading a book to the last page. This goes together with the notion/dogma of the ends justifying the means, which all too often is not sensible. Fortunately, I’ve learnt discontinuing bad books, stopping the wastage of precious time, rather than soldiering on, page for page, in the name of socially glorified closure. It’s just a bit naïve to imagine that “The End” and closure are the same thing. The means should prefigure the ends so that at any point in time the means could be the end, the end could come, the end would not be mean. Which well applies to life: one must be prepared to die at any moment and, ideally, with a modicum of dignity. • What else of this Bellow fellow? Pound for pound, paragraph for paragraph so very, very literary. His sentences and characters gleam like super powerful, ultra polished machinery running to maximum RPM. And speaking of characters, you get what every “Write-a-novel-in-80-days” manual eternally asks for: an unforgettable personality… racing Senna-like through a biographical Monaco of ideas, ideals, sentiments, UHD holographic set pieces. They are always pressed to the very bones of their existence, in a effervescent process of unending convulsion. Read “Seize the Day”, “Herzog”, try not to have your heart shattered as the protagonist’s if you can and even if you cannot, end up not wanting to not. To this day I now and then fondly think of Herzog and what crazy letters he might be penning at this very moment in the alternate world of fiction. Yes, the multiverse does exist and it commonly goes by the name of literature. • Ultimately, not least of all, Bellow appeases a dear nostalgia of mine: the sublime, unrequited longing for the metropolitan drama & inspiration of Chi-town, the Windy City, the White City, the Black City [named contrarily, as all terms important are], the City that Works, it does, the Chi Ill, Nature’s Metropole, Paris on the Prairie. For completion’s sake: Urbs in Horto. Two blue riverine bands bounding four stars of blood. What an extravagance for a city, I have always thought, what lovely stroke of boldness!
“Humboldt’s Gift” in particular? Charlie Citrine’s glamorous trials and tribulations, the sparkling tornado of characters which carries him from New York to Chi-Town to Houston thence Italy [Milano?] and back again. Let this Renata broad run her crazy schemes. Find out what is Tomcheck’s deal. Maybe another session with Durnwald. Is it Durnwald? And of course, heaven forfend, find out what will be Cantabile’s Waterloo. I give the word to the man himself:
“You are lazy, disgraceful, tougher than you think but not yet a dead loss. In part you are humanly okay. We are supposed to do something for our kind. Don’t get frenzied about money. Overcome your greed. Better luck with women. Last of all – remember: we are not natural beings but supernatural beings.
• • •
 the smallest unit of intimacy