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Tropic of Cancer[北回归线][En/Cn]





Sunday! Left the Villa Borghese a little before noon, just as Boris was getting ready to sit down to lunch. I left out of a sense of delicacy, because it really pains Boris to see me sitting there in the studio with an empty belly. Why he doesn't invite me to lunch with him I don't know. He says he can't afford it, but that's no excuse. Anyway, I'm delicate about it. If it pains him to eat alone in my presence it would probably pain him more to share his meal with me. It's not my place to pry into his secret affairs.



Dropped in at the Cronstadts' and they were eating too. A young chicken with wild rice. Pretended that I had eaten already, but I could have torn the chicken from the baby's hands. This is not just false modesty – it's a kind of perversion, I'm thinking. Twice they asked me if I wouldn't join them. No! No! Wouldn't even accept a cup of Coffee after the meal. I'm delicat, I am! On the way out I cast a lingering glance at the bones lying on the baby's plate – there was still meat on them.



Prowling around aimlessly. A beautiful day – so far. The Rue de Buci is alive, crawling. The bars wide open and the curbs lined with bicycles. All the meat and vegetable markets are in full swing. Arms loaded with truck bandaged in newspapers. A fine Catholic Sunday – in the morning, at least.



High noon and here I am standing on an empty belly at the confluence of all these crooked lanes that reek with the odor of food. Opposite me is the Hôtel de Louisiane. A grim old hostelry known to the bad boys of the Rue de Bud in the good old days. Hotels and food, and I'm walking about like a leper with crabs gnawing at my entrails. On Sunday mornings there's a fever in the streets. Nothing like it anywhere, except perhaps on the East Side, or down around Chatham Square. The Rue de l'Echaudé is seething. The streets twist and turn, at every angle a fresh hive of activity. Long queues of people with vegetables under their arms, turning in here and there with crisp, sparkling appetites. Nothing but food, food, food. Makes one delirious.



Pass the Square de Furstenberg. Looks different now, at high noon. The other night when I passed by it was deserted, bleak, spectral. In the middle of the square four black trees that have not yet begun to blossom. Intellectual trees, nourished by the paving stones. Like T. S. Eliot's verse. Here, by God, if Marie Laurencin ever brought her Lesbians out into the open, would be the place for them to commune. Très lesbienne ici. Sterile, hybrid, dry as Boris' heart.



In the little garden adjoining the Eglise St. Germain are a few dismounted gargoyles. Monsters that jut forward with a terrifying plunge. On the benches other monsters – old people, idiots, cripples, epileptics. Snoozing there quietly, waiting for the dinner bell to ring. At the Galerie Zak across the way some imbecile has made a picture of the cosmos – on the flat. A painter's cosmos! Full of odds and ends, bric a-brac. In the lower left-hand corner, however, there's an anchor – and a dinner bell. Salute! Salute! O Cosmos!



Still prowling around. Mid afternoon. Guts rattling. Beginning to rain now. Notre-Dame rises tomblike from the water. The gargoyles lean far out over the lace façade. They hang there like an idée fixe in the mind of a monomaniac. An old man with yellow whiskers approaches me. Has some Jaworski nonsense in his hand. Comes up to me with his head thrown back and the rain splashing in his face turns the golden sands to mud. Bookstore with some of Raoul Dufy's drawings in the window. Drawings of charwomen with rosebushes between their legs. A treatise on the philosophy of Joan Miró. The philosophy, mind you!



In the same window: A Man Cut in Slices! Chapter one: the man in the eyes of his family. Chapter two: the same in the eyes of his mistress. Chapter three: – No chapter three. Have to come back tomorrow for chapters three and four. Every day the window trimmer turns a fresh page. A man cut in slices… You can't imagine how furious I am not to have thought of a title like that! Where is this bloke who writes "the same in the eyes of his mistress … the same in the eyes of… the same …?" Where is this guy? Who is he? I want to hug him. I wish to Christ I had had brains enough to think of a title like that – instead of Crazy Cock and the other fool things I invented. Well, fuck a duck! I congratulate him just the same.



I wish him luck with his fine title. Here's another slice for you – for your next book! Ring me up some day. I'm living at the Villa Borghese. We're all dead, or dying, or about to die. We need good titles. We need meat – slices and slices of meat – juicy tenderloins, porterhouse steaks, kidneys, mountain oysters, sweetbreads. Some day, when I'm standing at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, I'm going to remember this title and I'm going to put down everything that goes on in my noodle – caviar, rain drops, axle grease, vermicelli, liverwurst – slices and slices of it. And I'll tell no one why, after I had put everything down, I suddenly went Home and chopped the baby to pieces. Un acte gratuit pour vous, cher monsieur si bien coupé en tranches!


  一个人怎么能空着肚子四处乱逛一整天,而且还不时勃起一回?这是”灵魂剖析家”们能轻而易举解释清楚的秘密之一。 在一个星期日下午,百叶窗都放下来,无产阶级以一种麻木、呆滞的方式占领了街道。有几条大路纵向延伸出去,只会使人联想到一只下疳的大公鸡。而恰恰是这些大路有力地吸引着人们,例如圣德尼街或圣殿郊区。正如从前纽约市的联邦广场或是纽约曼哈顿的鲍里街前段,人们被引诱到简易博物馆来看橱窗内陈列的蜡制的、被梅毒和其他性病侵蚀的人体各个器官。巴黎像一个各处都患了病的巨大有机体向外延伸,这些美丽的大道相比之下不那么令人厌恶只是因为它们体内的脓已挤出去了。

How a man can wander about all day on an empty belly, and even get an erection once in a while, is one of those mysteries which are too easily explained by the "anatomists of the soul." On a Sunday afternoon, when the shutters are down and the proletariat possesses the street in a kind of dumb torpor, there are certain thoroughfares which remind one of nothing less than a big chancrous cock laid open longitudinally. And it is just these highways, the Rue St. Denis, for instance, or the Faubourg du Temple – which attract one irresistibly, much as in the old days, around Union Square or the upper reaches of the Bowery, one was drawn to the dime museums where in the show windows there were displayed wax reproductions of various organs of the body eaten away by syphilis and other venereal diseases. The city sprouts out like a huge organism diseased in every part, the beautiful thoroughfares only a little less repulsive because they have been drained of their pus.



At the City Nortier, somewhere near the Place du Combat, I pause a few minutes to drink in the full squalor of the scene. It is a rectangular court like many another which one glimpses through the low passageways that flank the old arteries of Paris. In the middle of the court is a clump of decrepit buildings which have so rotted away that they have collapsed on one another and formed a sort of intestinal embrace. The ground is uneven, the flagging slippery with slime. A sort of human dump heap which has been filled in with cinders and dry garbage. The sun is setting fast. The colors die. They shift from purple to dried blood, from nacre to bister, from cool dead grays to pigeon shit. Here and there a lopsided monster stands in the window blinking like an owl. There is the shrill squawk of children with pale faces and bony limbs, rickety little urchins marked with the forceps. A fetid odor seeps from the walls, the odor of a mildewed mattress. Europe – medieval, grotesque, monstrous: a symphony in B mol. Directly across the street the Ciné Combat offers its distinguished clientele Metropolis.



Coming away my mind reverts to a book that I was reading only the other day. "The town was a shambles; corpses, mangled by butchers and stripped by plunderers, lay thick in the streets; wolves sneaked from the suburbs to eat them; the black death and other plagues crept in to keep them company, and the English came marching on; the while the danse macabre whirled about the tombs in all the cemeteries…" Paris during the days of Charles the Silly! A lovely book! Refreshing, appetizing. I'm still enchanted by it. About the patrons and prodromes of the Renaissance I know little, but Madam Pimpernel, la belle boulangère, and Maître Jehan Crapotte, l'orfèvre, these occupy my spare thoughts still. Not forgetting Rodin, the evil genius of The Wandering Jew, who practised his nefarious ways "until the day when he was enflamed and outwitted by the octoroon Cecily." Sitting in the Square du Temple, musing over the doings of the horse knackers led by Jean Caboche, I have thought long and ruefully over the sad fate of Charles the Silly. A half wit, who prowled about the halls of his Hôtel St. Paul, garbed in the filthiest rags, eaten away by ulcers and vermin, gnawing a bone, when they flung him one, like a mangy dog. At the Rue des Lions I looked for the stones of the old menagerie where he once fed his pets. His only diversion, poor dolt, aside from those card games with his "low born companion," Odette de Champdivers.

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