Monday, February 25, 2013

A Story Without A Title - Anton Chekhov


"Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, 
I spend the night with the other. Though it's irregular, it's less boring this way, 
and besides, neither of them loses anything through my infidelity."

 IN the fifth century, just as now, the sun rose every morning and every evening retired to rest. In the morning, when the first rays kissed the dew, the earth revived, the air was filled with the sounds of rapture and hope; while in the evening the same earth subsided into silence and plunged into gloomy darkness. One day was like another, one night like another. From time to time a storm-cloud raced up and there was the angry rumble of thunder, or a negligent star fell out of the sky, or a pale monk ran to tell the brotherhood that not far from the monastery he had seen a tiger -- and that was all, and then each day was like the next.

The monks worked and prayed, and their Father Superior played on the organ, made Latin verses, and wrote music. The wonderful old man possessed an extraordinary gift. He played on the organ with such art that even the oldest monks, whose hearing had grown somewhat dull towards the end of their lives, could not restrain their tears when the sounds of the organ floated from his cell. When he spoke of anything, even of the most ordinary things -- for instance of the trees, of the wild beasts, or of the sea -- they could not listen to him without a smile or tears, and it seemed that the same chords vibrated in his soul as in the organ. If he were moved to anger or abandoned himself to intense joy, or began speaking of something terrible or grand, then a passionate inspiration took possession of him, tears came into his flashing eyes, his face flushed, and his voice thundered, and as the monks listened to him they felt that their souls were spell-bound by his inspiration; at such marvellous, splendid moments his power over them was boundless, and if he had bidden his elders fling themselves into the sea, they would all, every one of them, have hastened to carry out his wishes.

His music, his voice, his poetry in which he glorified God, the heavens and the earth, were a continual source of joy to the monks. It sometimes happened that through the monotony of their lives they grew weary of the trees, the flowers, the spring, the autumn, their ears were tired of the sound of the sea, and the song of the birds seemed tedious to them, but the talents of their Father Superior were as necessary to them as their daily bread.

Dozens of years passed by, and every day was like every other day, every night was like every other night. Except the birds and the wild beasts, not one soul appeared near the monastery. The nearest human habitation was far away, and to reach it from the monastery, or to reach the monastery from it, meant a journey of over seventy miles across the desert. Only men who despised life, who had renounced it, and who came to the monastery as to the grave, ventured to cross the desert.

What was the amazement of the monks, therefore, when one night there knocked at their gate a man who turned out to be from the town, and the most ordinary sinner who loved life. Before saying his prayers and asking for the Father Superior's blessing, this man asked for wine and food. To the question how he had come from the town into the desert, he answered by a long story of hunting; he had gone out hunting, had drunk too much, and lost his way. To the suggestion that he should enter the monastery and save his soul, he replied with a smile: "I am not a fit companion for you!"

When he had eaten and drunk he looked at the monks who were serving him, shook his head reproachfully, and said:

"You don't do anything, you monks. You are good for nothing but eating and drinking. Is that the way to save one's soul? Only think, while you sit here in peace, eat and drink and dream of beatitude, your neighbours are perishing and going to hell. You should see what is going on in the town! Some are dying of hunger, others, not knowing what to do with their gold, sink into profligacy and perish like flies stuck in honey. There is no faith, no truth in men. Whose task is it to save them? Whose work is it to preach to them? It is not for me, drunk from morning till night as I am. Can a meek spirit, a loving heart, and faith in God have been given you for you to sit here within four walls doing nothing?"

The townsman's drunken words were insolent and unseemly, but they had a strange effect upon the Father Superior. The old man exchanged glances with his monks, turned pale, and said:

"My brothers, he speaks the truth, you know. Indeed, poor people in their weakness and lack of understanding are perishing in vice and infidelity, while we do not move, as though it did not concern us. Why should I not go and remind them of the Christ whom they have forgotten?"

The townsman's words had carried the old man away. The next day he took his staff, said farewell to the brotherhood, and set off for the town. And the monks were left without music, and without his speeches and verses. They spent a month drearily, then a second, but the old man did not come back. At last after three months had passed the familiar tap of his staff was heard. The monks flew to meet him and showered questions upon him, but instead of being delighted to see them he wept bitterly and did not utter a word. The monks noticed that he looked greatly aged and had grown thinner; his face looked exhausted and wore an expression of profound sadness, and when he wept he had the air of a man who has been outraged.

The monks fell to weeping too, and began with sympathy asking him why he was weeping, why his face was so gloomy, but he locked himself in his cell without uttering a word. For seven days he sat in his cell, eating and drinking nothing, weeping and not playing on his organ. To knocking at his door and to the entreaties of the monks to come out and share his grief with them he replied with unbroken silence.

At last he came out. Gathering all the monks around him, with a tear-stained face and with an expression of grief and indignation, he began telling them of what had befallen him during those three months. His voice was calm and his eyes were smiling while he described his journey from the monastery to the town. On the road, he told them, the birds sang to him, the brooks gurgled, and sweet youthful hopes agitated his soul; he marched on and felt like a soldier going to battle and confident of victory; he walked on dreaming, and composed poems and hymns, and reached the end of his journey without noticing it.

But his voice quivered, his eyes flashed, and he was full of wrath when he came to speak of the town and of the men in it. Never in his life had he seen or even dared to imagine what he met with when he went into the town. Only then for the first time in his life, in his old age, he saw and understood how powerful was the devil, how fair was evil and how weak and faint-hearted and worthless were men. By an unhappy chance the first dwelling he entered was the abode of vice. Some fifty men in possession of much money were eating and drinking wine beyond measure. Intoxicated by the wine, they sang songs and boldly uttered terrible, revolting words such as a God-fearing man could not bring himself to pronounce; boundlessly free, self-confident, and happy, they feared neither God nor the devil, nor death, but said and did what they liked, and went whither their lust led them. And the wine, clear as amber, flecked with sparks of gold, must have been irresistibly sweet and fragrant, for each man who drank it smiled blissfully and wanted to drink more. To the smile of man it responded with a smile and sparkled joyfully when they drank it, as though it knew the devilish charm it kept hidden in its sweetness.

The old man, growing more and more incensed and weeping with wrath, went on to describe what he had seen. On a table in the midst of the revellers, he said, stood a sinful, half-naked woman. It was hard to imagine or to find in nature anything more lovely and fascinating. This reptile, young, longhaired, dark-skinned, with black eyes and full lips, shameless and insolent, showed her snow-white teeth and smiled as though to say: "Look how shameless, how beautiful I am." Silk and brocade fell in lovely folds from her shoulders, but her beauty would not hide itself under her clothes, but eagerly thrust itself through the folds, like the young grass through the ground in spring. The shameless woman drank wine, sang songs, and abandoned herself to anyone who wanted her.

Then the old man, wrathfully brandishing his arms, described the horse-races, the bull-fights, the theatres, the artists' studios where they painted naked women or moulded them of clay. He spoke with inspiration, with sonorous beauty, as though he were playing on unseen chords, while the monks, petrified, greedily drank in his words and gasped with rapture. . . .

After describing all the charms of the devil, the beauty of evil, and the fascinating grace of the dreadful female form, the old man cursed the devil, turned and shut himself up in his cell. . . .

When he came out of his cell in the morning there was not a monk left in the monastery; they had all fled to the town.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Boddah

Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994

To Boddah

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand. All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, the ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things. For example when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seem to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can't fool you, any one of you. It simply isn't fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. I must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child. On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know! I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I've become. I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along and have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess. Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody, baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out then to fade away.

Peace, Love, Empathy. Kurt Cobain.

Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your altar. Please keep going Courtney, for Frances. for her life will be so much happier without me. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU

[Note: towards the end of the message Cobain was quoting from Neil Young's 1979 song My My. Hey Hey:
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tiger Lily

Happy Birthday Aaron John

A Father's Prayer 
In Memory of Aaron
February 19, 1986 - May 20, 2007

Aaron, our son, our brother
Our friend, our love.
God took you erly in the Morning
Our son to shine on us no more.
Aaron, our lovely Aaron.
His drums will be played for our Lord
His smiling face and so much more.
God, please take his hand
And lift him on your shoulders.
Love him as he has loved all of us.
Mary, Our Mother Mary,
Protect our son and keep him safe.
Cleanse his scraped up face.
Aaron our lovely Aaron
You now can be with our sister Karen
And baby Rose ...

Tiger Lily

Gray are the gardens of our Celtic lands
Dreaming and gray.
Tended by the devotion of pale hands,
On barren crags, or by disastrous sands,
That night and day
Are drenched with bitter spray.
There rosemary and thyme are plentiful,
Larkspur that lovers cull,
Love-in-the-mist that is most sorrowful.
Flowers so wistful that our teardrops start ....
Scarcely one understands that regal, rare,
Bravely the tiger lily blossoms there,
Bravely apart.

Our gardens are enamored of the spring
Of silver rain.
The cloudy green of buds slow-burgeoning,
The sorrow of last apple blooms that cling
And are not fain
To yield their fruit again.
We do not long for tropic pageantry,
Yet surge with love to see
The tiger lily's muted ecstasy.
Watered by mist and lashed by wind-blown rime,
She is no alien thing; but vivid, free,
She has no heed for paler rosemary,
Larkspur or thyme.

It is in vain they worship her who knows
Pity nor pride.
Their petals whirl down every wind that goes
South to the palms or northward to the snows,
Mourning they died
So distant from her side.
But the brave tiger lily blossoms on,
Never to be undone
Till the last rosemary and thyme are gone.
Tattered by autumn storms, she will not fling
Herself to sullen foes.  The winter rain
Alone can beat her down, to bloom again
Spring after spring.

Walter Adolphe Roberts

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moto Guzzi - It makes no difference, Mama

It makes no difference, Mama

It was raining horizontally, haphazardly,
unenthusiastically in fits and starts,
drizzling spasmodically, spitting ironically
into the wind with no inclination to fall
or dribble down. Be that as it may,
one could only say, emphatically,
there was no trace, not the slightest,
of Florentine fingerprints on the front
spaghetti fender of Rudolpho’s Moto Guzzi
as the fat left hand of Detective Suzzi,
held high in the air swore
while his right hand rested solemnly on
The Little Golden Book of Mother Goose.

Rudolpho’s mother, Donna Caterina,
having one hundred and ten years
but looking not a day over one hundred and two,
sat in the front row on a plump tapestry pillow,
dabbing with a lavender scented hankie
her crocodile tears, wondering whether she
should roast some pork tonight
or perhaps a chicken. She turned to
Rudolpho and whispered in his ear,
seeking his opinion. He farted twice
and said loud enough for all to hear:

“It makes no difference, Mama.”


Bob Dylan's Jams

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wikipedia -Empowering People Everywhere - the most important and beautiful site on the web

source: one guess :-) Jimmy Wales 

 When I was a kid I wanted more than anything a set of Encyclopedia Britanica.  I settled for visits to the public library when I could get there.  Later, in 1969, with four children of my own, I again felt that longing to have those 24 volumes at our fingertips, always there, so we could spontaneously search for knowledge.  I even went so far as to invite an encyclopedia salesman to our house so we could discuss the possibility of  purchasing such a wonderful set of books. His name was Mr. Livolsi and he reeked of a sweet sickening cologne.  He was an ambitious salesman and I wanted those books so badly (the revised 14th edition) that I signed that dotted line.

It never did pan out; it was too costly.  I had buyer's remorse and tried for days to reach Mr. Livolsi in order to cancel my agreement within the allotted time.  It was the late sixties; no voice-mail, no home computers.  I thought he was purposely avoiding me, he may have been, but finally he answered his phone and I cancelled.  I remember the experience as being very sad, disappointing, and oddly traumatic.

Encyclopedia Salesman

He left his scent
all over my telephone.
I resent that.
I try to call him.
His line is always busy.
$899.00 is too much.
I shouldn't rush
into such things.
I'm gong to cancel.
This thing has
given me a headache.
Why is it so expensive?
I said if.
He didn't know what if meant.
What does if mean?
Look it up Mr. Livolsi.
Answer your phone.
I'll tell you what if means.
Everytime I pick up the phone
I gag - that's what if means.
Sure, it would be nice
to know exactly
what a codfish is
and what a codfish isn't
but holy cow Mr. Livolsi

Today, forty years later, I am still in love with knowledge, but even more so I am in love with the  concept of knowledge being universally distributed free of charge and literally at our fingertips.  Wikipedia is like a dream come true, for me personally, yes of course, but also for its founder, Jimmy Wales and his team. This past year I decided it was time, finally, for me to show my appreciation for such a precious gift of knowledge by making a modest financial donation to help the cause.  Today I was happy to recieve the following email from the Wikimedia Fundraising Team. 
Dear Leo,
 Thanks to more than a million generous donations, our annual fundraiser was over in record time. We said thank you on Wikipedia at the end of 2012. In case you missed that, we're saying it again here. 
Your donation makes it possible for the Wikimedia Foundation to provide thousands of volunteer editors with the tools and infrastructure they need to keep Wikipedia going -- software developers, a data center fit to serve the world's fifth most popular site, support programs around the world and more.

Have you ever wondered who wrote the millions of articles on Wikipedia? This year we made a video to introduce you to just a few of them. If you have a few minutes, please watch: (above)

We also convinced a pair of independent filmmakers to donate this clip from their upcoming documentary film showing a remote village in Peru where children learn to edit Wikipedia and add an article about their own community: (above)

The 2012 fundraiser was our shortest and most successful ever. Thanks to our readers, we've been able to spend less time asking for donations each year even as rising readership and new challenges -- such as the rise of mobile -- increase our expenses.

In 2013 we're going to experiment with a significant change in the way we fundraise. We're going to try showing our readers fundraising messages one or a few times outside of our annual fundraiser. This will allow us to receive donations from a broader population of readers (rather than only those who happen to visit during the end-of-year fundraising days) while showing far fewer messages to users overall. We're not sure how this will work. Please let us know if you feel you are seeing our fundraising messages repeatedly before December. Our goal is to show our readers as few fundraising messages as possible, but for everyone to see them at least once.

If you have any feedback -- positive or negative -- about our fundraiser please reply to this email or send a message to:

Once again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting what we believe is the most important and beautiful site on the web, and a community of volunteers who we love and respect.

The Wikimedia Fundraising Team

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saint Blaise

on the Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, almighty and all-mild, by your Word alone you created the manifold things in the world, and willed that that same Word by whom all things were made take flesh in order to redeem mankind; you are great and immeasurable, awesome and praiseworthy, a worker of marvels. Hence in professing his faith in you the glorious martyr and bishop, Blaise, did not fear any manner of torment but gladly accepted the palm of martyrdom. In virtue of which you bestowed on him, among other gifts, the power to heal all ailments of the throat. And now we implore your majesty that, overlooking our guilt and considering only his merits and intercession, it may please you to bless + and sanctify + and impart your grace to these candles. Let all men of faith whose necks are touched with them be healed of every malady of the throat, and being restored in health and good spirits let them return thanks to you in your holy Church, and praise your glorious name which is blessed forever; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

on the Feast of St. Blaise

{This is one of the most popular blessings. St. Blaise was bishop of Sebaste in Cappadocia, and was martyred by beheading about A.D. 316. Not much more can be affirmed of him with any degree of historical accuracy, but legends about him are numerous. One day- -so goes the legend--Blaise met a poor woman whose only pig had been snatched up in the fangs of a wolf but at the command of the bishop the wolf restored the pig alive to its owner. The woman did not forget the favor, for later, when the bishop was languishing in prison, she brought him tapers to dispel the darkness and gloom. To this story may be attributed the practice of using lighted candles in bestowing the blessing of St. Blaise. While in prison he performed a wonderful cure on a boy who had a fishbone lodged in his throat and who was in danger of choking to death. From this account we have the longtime custom of invoking the Saint for all kinds of throat trouble.}

After blessing the candles on the feast of St. Blaise, the priest holds two candles fastened like a cross to the throat of the person kneeling before him, and says:
By the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every malady of the throat, and from every possible mishap; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

R. Amen.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I hate myself for lovin’ you and the weakness that it showed
You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road
The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel
I hate myself for lovin’ you and I’m glad the curtain fell

I hate that foolish game we played and the need that was expressed
And the mercy that you showed to me, who ever would have guessed?
I went out on Lower Broadway and I felt that place within
That hollow place where martyrs weep and angels play with sin

Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped
Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped
Like a slave in orbit, he’s beaten ’til he’s tame
All for a moment’s glory and it’s a dirty, rotten shame

There are those who worship loneliness, I’m not one of them
In this age of fiberglass I’m searching for a gem
The crystal ball up on the wall hasn’t shown me nothing yet
I’ve paid the price of solitude, but at least I’m out of debt

Can’t recall a useful thing you ever did for me
’Cept pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees
We stared into each other’s eyes ’til one of us would break
No use to apologize, what diff’rence would it make?

So sing your praise of progress and of the Doom Machine
The naked truth is still taboo whenever it can be seen
Lady Luck, who shines on me, will tell you where I’m at
I hate myself for lovin’ you, but I should get over that

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

My sister took this picture of me standing next to the statue of
Ignatius J. Reilly. It was Easter week of 1997 and at the time we had
no idea who the statue represented. It looked like a fireman to me.
Recently, while going through our NOLA photos, looking for a few
I could enlarge and frame as a gift to my sister, I found the above. 
An internet search revealed the statue's identity. I can only surmise
 that what is now Chateau Sonesta was formerly Hotel New Orleans.

The bronze statue of Ignatius J. Reilly, sculpted by William Ludwig in 1996, stands 71 inches tall under the clock at the former site of the D.H. Holmes Department Store, now the Chateu Sonesta Hotel. The statue mimics the opening scene from John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, where “in the shadow under the green visor of the cap, Ignatius J. Reilly’s supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D. H. Holmes Department Store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress.” The statue is modeled on New Orleans actor John "Spud" McConnell, who portrayed Ignatius in a stage version of the novel.
A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one's soul.
--from A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces was published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly becoming a cult classic. Set in New Orleans in the early 1960's, the story revolves around Ignatius J. (Jacques) Reilly, an intelligent but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, because of family circumstances, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

Walker Percy's Foreword to A Confederacy of Dunces
"Perhaps the best way to introduce this novel -- which on my third reading of it astounds me even more than the first -- is to tell of my first encounter with it. While I was teaching at Loyola in 1976 I began to get telephone calls from a lady unknown from me. What she proposed was preposterous. It was not that she had written a couple of chapters of a novel and wanted to get into my class. It was that her son, who was dead, had written an entire novel during the early sixties, a big novel, and she wanted me to read it. Why would I want to do that? I asked her. Because it is a great novel, she said.
 Over the years I have become very good at getting out of things I don't want to do. And if ever there was something I didn't want to do, this was surely it: to deal with the mother of a dead novelist and, worst of all, to have to read a manuscript that she said was great, and that, as it turned out, was a badly smeared, scarcely readable carbon.
 But the lady was persistent, and it somehow came to pass that she stood in my office handing me the hefty manuscript. There was no getting out of it; only one hope remained -- that I could read a few pages and that they would be bad enough for me, in good conscience, to read no farther. Usually I can do just that. Indeed the first paragraph often suffices. My only fear was that this one might not be bad enough, or might be just good enough, so that I would have to keep reading.
 In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity: surely it was not possible that it was so good. I shall resist the temptation to say what first made me gape, grin, laugh out loud, shake my head in wonderment. Better let the reader make the discovery on his own.
Here at any rate is Ignatius Reilly, without progenitor in any literature I know of -- slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one -- who is in violent revolt against the entire modern age, lying in his flannel nightshirt, in a back bedroom on Constantinople Street in New Orleans, who between gigantic seizures of flatulence and eructations is filling dozens of Big Chief tablets with invective.
 His mother thinks he needs to go to work. He does, in a succession of jobs. Each job rapidly escalates into a lunatic adventure, a full-blown disaster; yet each has, like Don Quixote's, its own eerie logic.
His girlfriend, Myrna Minkoff of the Bronx, thinks he needs sex. What happens between Myrna and Ignatius is like no other boy-meets-girl story in my experiences.
 By no means a lesser virtue of Toole's novel is his rendering of the particularities of New Orleans, its back streets, its out-of-the-way neighborhoods, its odd speech, its ethnic whites -- and one black in whom Toole has achieved the near-impossible, a superb comic character of immense wit and resourcefulness without the least trace of Rastus minstrelsy.
 But Toole's greatest achievement is Ignatius Reilly himself, intellectual, ideologue, deadbeat, goof-off, glutton, who should repel the reader with his gargantuan bloats, his thunderous contempt and one-man war against everybody -- Freud, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Protestants, and the assorted excesses of modern times. Imagine an Aquinas gone to pot, transported to New Orleans whence he makes a wild foray through the swamps to LSU at Baton Rouge, where his lumber jacket is stolen in the faculty men's room where he is seated, overcome by mammoth gastrointestinal problems. His pyloric valve periodically closes in response to the lack of a "proper geometry and theology" in the modern world.

I hesitate to use the word comedy -- though comedy it is -- because that implies simply a funny book, and this novel is a great deal more than that. A great rumbling farce of Falstaffian dimensions would better describe it; commedia would be closer to it.
It is also sad. One never quite knows where the sadness comes from -- from the tragedy at the heart of Ignatius's great gaseous rages and lunatic adventures or the tragedy attending the book itself.
 The tragedy of the book is the tragedy of the author -- his suicide in 1969 at the age of thirty-two. Another tragedy is the body of work we have been denied.
 It is a great pity that John Kennedy Toole is not alive and well and writing. But he is not, and there is nothing we can do about it but make sure that this gargantuan tumultuous human tragicomedy is at least made available to a world of readers."