In my book of diaries, I read about the thirteenth of February. There was much about movement and the body and the three-sidedness of it all. On this day, the Cappadocian fathers first dreamt a trinity. “Cleanse only my face and not my soul,” did plead the three heads of god. Or perhaps I have the palindrome wrong? On the same day, though, did someone approach Christopher Wren to build a cathedral library. Naturally a Wren library would be housed in a cathedral. And just as natural it is that the far away Earl of Singapore would marvel that day upon a pink commode in the home of a Mr Shaw of Burma and Hong Kong, whose Christian name was none other than Run Run.
This was the day of John Hunter FRS, who stole the body of a dead giant in the days when the Irish learned English and Christmas roses paled.
More to the point, Josephine Baker danced in Berlin, her arms and feet moving in small, repetitive arcs, finding endless variations on the theme. Count Kessler called this “unerotic.” Not unlike Degas’ ballet dancers, perhaps, whom the painter used for their soft tints as much as for their movements. The Brothers Goncourt called them “monkey girls” and were as taken by his washerwomen, each steeped in the arcana of laundering, as by the seemingly silent dancers. Nowhere is music mentioned. Nowhere is there sound.
On this day, Steinbeck lamented the paucity of neologisms in the Book of the Dead.