And that combined this past weekend, among other things, with a lovely trip back to Antwerp on the sort of crisp sunny autumn day that makes Europe seem worthwhile, and a wade through the art gallery there, with all its Ensors and oils and old things. The Ensors were the highlight of the gallery for me, besides the single sultry Modigliani, who was looking at the F-word that way, and of course that's great, because my reptile brain registered her as a threat as well as a beauty and I love it when tricks are played on my reptile brain.
But Ensor wins. He combined absolutely inappropriate colours and a sort of shimmery pointillist-without-the-headache movement (his people - and his objects and corpses, for that matter - look ready to bounce off the surface of the painting) with a deep morbidity, or skepticism, or fatalism, or something to do with death and vanity in a way that really satisfies me. The Antwerp museum has tonnes, versus the fucking none in Ensor's home town of Oostende.
Anyways, for much of the weekend, I was at that point of happiness where the only fly in the ointment is that not everybody is this happy. Even the trembling under-knowledge, the teenage paranoia of 'if you let yourself be this happy you stand to lose so much' was just the lime in the sorbet. And any troubles from work seemed part of a little part of a little something, like braces getting tightened, a nothing, a bagatelle that wasn't even a story yet, an unobtrusive skin rash.
Of course that set off its own worry for me Monday morning as I walked to work deafening myself with the Bad Seeds' last album and visualizing a violent burlesque routine (still love it but it sounds more and more like stripper music to me); I wondered, does ignoring work like that, thinking 'work is not real life, real life is real life, work is a task I do to fund my real life until I retire or get a job that counts as real life' lead into the kind of evil professional behaviours that allow people to do truly horrible things with no guilt at all, just because it's their job to do them? But that's not enough of a worry to ruin my mood. I don't do horrible things at work. I just write about other people doing them. And that may be a moral cop-out, but as Baywatch pointed out last week this only is a temporary nightmare.
Anyways, another good thing about Antwerp was the train reading, which was the rest of the Mosquito Coast. Eesh. That's a fucking great book, an epic of a lip-smacking good read. My favourite by Paul Theroux, possibly. Over the travel books, even, which I love. Adventure and Oedipus-complexes and adulthood and puberty and jungles and marital strife and racism and religion and murder, oh my. Speaking of Oedipal-complexes, how do you describe the father with a complex about his son, or a grown man with a general complex about young men? As having a Laius complex? The fact that there's no popular name for something so apparent when we're attributing formative murderous hate to all the little babies in the world makes me hate Freud more than I already did. Atta blame childhood, Herr Doktorb, obviously none of the shit in your brain is anything worth dealing with if it came up post-pubescently.
A lot of things going on there in the Mosquito Coast, in short, and yet never too busy, if you know what I mean, never hard to fix the mind on because of all the things and words going on, like books by that World According to Garp guy, which are just too magenta for me to get into. I recommend Mosquito Coast 100%.