April 6, 2014
Some years back, while I was on the bus returning from work at Book Soup, I noticed a very beautiful young girl reading one of my favorite books of all time. Alberto Moravia’s “Contempt.” Now to me that was strange enough, but what made it even more attractive to me was that she was reading a mass-market movie-tie of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” with of course Brigitte Bardot on the cover. I have never ever seen this edition of this book before, and it was obvious by the design that it was made available in America around the time of the film’s original release here in the States. In fact, just now, I tried to find the cover on the Internet, and failed in finding this edition. I didn’t approach her, because the moment was too abnormal for me. But what made it odder is that I saw her a week later on the bus. On the same line, and she was reading Andrew Loog Oldham’s “Stoned, ” which is another one of my favorite books of all time. How is it possible that this beautiful young girl is caught twice on a public bus line, reading my favorite books, and not only that, but reading either very rare or difficult editions to get. For instance, one can’t just pop in a bookstore and buy either of those two specific books. I was convinced that she was aware of me being there, and she was using these two books to get my attention. Of course, me being me, I totally ignored her.
Obviously, this is the same thing that happened to the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch, when he came upon Laura, a woman he didn’t know, but saw in the church of Sainte-Claire d’ Avignon in 1327. Petrarch wrote many poems to and about this woman, who he didn’t know, and Laura pretty much ignored him and his work. On a side-note, she was an ancestor of the Marquis de Sade! A perfect woman to be obsessed with!
Anita Pallenberg must have shared some traits with Laura as well as the girl on the bus. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones met her while she was working as a model, and they became an iconic couple, but eventually she left him for Keith Richards, his co-player in the Stones, and some say she had an affair with Mick Jagger. I was taught in a very young age never play in one’s playground for too long, and in this case I think the Stones put all their marbles in one place and all suffered from it, but on the other hand it was good for their art. This I believe works for all relationships with respect to the artist who is influenced by a muse or a woman/man/ or even child, when you think of Lewis Carroll or Thomas Mann with respect to his short novel “Death in Venice.”
The Brussels-born cult comic artist Guy Peelaert was very much inspired by the French teenage singing sensation Sylvie Vartan for his erotic comic strip “The Adventures of Jodelle.” In fact he based the visual image of Vartan and made it into his “Jodelle.” I often wondered if seeing the girl on the bus was a message for me to use her as either as a muse or an inspiration to do my writing. From those two sightings of her, she has become an ideal beauty or is that even true? Would I have noticed her if she wasn’t reading those two rare editions of my favorite books? Art operates in mysterious ways, as well as the affairs of the heart. Eros, passion, and good reading material goes hand-in-hand.