Ode to the West Wind | Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822

 Theodoros Stamos, What the Wind Does, 1947

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened Earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Tolstoy’s illness is beyond me | A Letter by Anton Chekhov, 1900

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy in Gaspra, Crimea, 1901

To Mikhail Osipovich
January 28, 1900

Dear Mikhail Osipovich,

Tolstoy’s illness is beyond me. Cherinov hasn’t answered my letter, and it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from what the newspapers say of from what you now written. Intestinal or stomach ulcers would involve different symptoms. So he doesn’t have any, or he may have had several bleeding lacerations caused by gallstones which passed and wounded the intestinal wall. Nor does he have cancer, because cancer would have shown itself in a loss of appetite and in his general condition, but above all, his face would have betrayed it, if he had cancer. No, Lev Nikolayevich is most probably well (except for the gallstones) and has another twenty years ahead of him. His illness frightened me and made me very tense. I fear Tolstoy’s death. His death would leave a large empty space in my life. First, I have loved no man the way I have loved him. I am not a believer, but of all beliefs I consider his the closest to mine and most suitable for me. Second, when literature has a Tolstoy, it is easy and gratifying to be a writer. Even if you are aware that you have never accomplished anything and are still not accomplishing anything, you don’t feel so bad, because Tolstoy accomplished enough for everyone. His activities provide justification for the hopes and aspirations that are usually placed on literature. Third, Tolstoy stands firm, his authority is enormous, and as long as he is alive bad taste in literature, all vulgarity in its brazen-faced or lachrymose varieties, all bristly or resentful vanity will remain far in the background. His moral authority alone is enough to maintain what we think of as literary trends and schools at a certain minimal level. If not for him, literature would be a flock without a shepherd or an unfathomable jumble. 

To finish with Tolstoy, let me say a word about Resurrection, which I read in one sitting, and not in bits and snatches. It is a remarkable work of art. The least aspect is everything pertaining to Nekhlyudov’s relationship with Maslova; the most interesting—the princes, generals, Nekhlyudov’s aunts, peasants, prisoners and prison wardens. I could barely breathe as I read the scenes with the general who is both the commandant of the Peter ad Paul Fortres and a spiritualist—it was so good! And Madame Korchagina carried around in her chair and Fedosya’s peasant husband! The peasant says his wife can handle anything. That’s just what Tolstoy’s pen is live—it can handle anything. The novel has no ending; what it does have can’t be called an ending. To write so much and then suddenly make a Gospel text responsible for it all smacks a bit too much of the seminary. Resolving everything by a Gospel text is as arbitrary as dividing prisoners into five categories. Why five and not ten. What a Gospel text and not a text form the Koran? First he has to force his readers to believe in the Gospel, to believe that it alone is the truth, and only then can he resolve everything by the text.

Have I bored you? When you come to the Crimea, I’m going to do an interview with you and print it in News of the Day. What reporters write about Tolstoy is like what old women say about holy idiots—unctuous nonsense.

I’ll be sure to send you my photograph. I am happy to be elected a member of the Academy because it’s gratifying to know that Sigma is envious of me now. I’ll be even happier, though, when I lose the title after some misunderstanding, because the scholars of the Academy are always afraid we’re going to shock them. They elected Tolstoy only grudgingly. In their eyes he’s a nihilist. At that’s what a certain lady—the wife of a privy councilor—has called him, which I think is cause for giving him my heartfelt congratulations.



Alphabetarion # Subjective | Marcel Proust, 1871-1922

George Kotsonis, Leda and the swan, 1978

“No doubt, few people understand either the purely subjective nature of the
 phenomenon of love, or how it creates a supplementary person who is quite 
different from the one who bears our beloved’s name in the outside world, and 
is mostly formed from elements within ourselves. So there are few who see
 anything natural in the disproportionate dimensions which we come to perceive
 in a person who is not the same as the one they see.”

Marcel Proust, 1871-1922

Anticipation / Fantasy / Spanking / Pleasure / Orgasm | Chloë Thurlow, 2006-2015

Egon Schiele, Nude with Blue Stockings Bending Forward, 1912

“Masks reveal. They don’t conceal. Masks reveal your cravings, your passion, 
your deepest most secret desires.”

“Getting dressed for a woman is an art form, surreal, vaguely abstract, figurative 
and byzantine. When you undress a woman you enter her subconscious kingdom,
 her scents, her secrets and her fantasy.”

“You feel vulnerable but also liberated when you are 
naked and the man you are with is dressed.”

“Getting dressed starts with shoes. Getting undressed ends with shoes.”

“Each clip and zip and fastening, each button and bow, each stretch of elastic as you
 undress a woman reveals hidden treasure, a clavicle, a shoulder blade, the shadowy 
line of a breast, a hip bone carved by Michelangelo, the discreet charms and mystery
 of the navel, a neglected erogenous zone cherished by the Ancient Greeks.”

“Blindfolded, your feelings are enhanced. You see less, you see nothing, 
but you feel more. You feel everything.”

“Sex is about anticipation not culmination.”

“Your facial lips and the butterfly lips of your vagina are connected by a fine invisible 
circuit. When you take a hard cock into your mouth, the feeling of pleasure zips in pulsing
 waves down through your body and rings the bell of your clitoris. The vulva swells with 
blood and the sensation is carnal, exquisite, the essence of femininity.”

“Girls fantasize about being tied up and bent over a broad pair of knees. Girls dream 
of being dominated and worshipped. Girls adore dressing up, role play, changing roles.”

“There is nothing to compare with that moment when you are bent over his knee and feel
 the material chaff against your bottom as he pulls your panties down. At that second, 
round cheeks revealed, plump and quivering, it is like jumping out of an airplane, 
pulling the ripcord and waiting for the parachute to open.”

“In an invisible mirror you see your invisible self.”

When the tip of his tongue touches the little hard nub of my clitoris I feel the same
 jolt in my sex as I do in my throat when I light up. There must be a connection.

When one sense is diminished, the others burn more brightly. In a blindfold, you feel 
every minute motion of his hand as it crosses your body, his fingertips finding secret
 places, his palm on bare buttocks, his cock nudging at your clitoris.

“When you succumb to obedience, in an erotic sense, you are not giving away a part 
of yourself, but seeking something new, something other, within yourself.”

There's a moment when fingers of heat race through your skin and light your clitoris. 
You start to get wet and your juices douse the flames of pain and erupt in an 
all-consuming pleasure. This is the joy of spanking. 

“It is important to warm and caress every portion of the curved surface, into the groove 
and up over the base of the spine. Pause around the open lips of the vagina to see if she
 is wet and, if so, she is ready for the first strike. Spanking is sexual, sensual, erotic. It 
has absolutely nothing to do with causing pain. It is about ultimate pleasure.”

“Spanking outdoors has the double pleasure of doing something
 illicit and doing it in a place where you might be seen.”

“The best position for spanking girls is over the knees in such a way that your fingertips 
and toes just touch the ground and your bottom is at an angle that makes it easy for the
 spanker to maintain a metronome beat. There is something overwhelmingly feminine
 being exposed in this way, breasts full and pendulous, eyes pressed shut, your mind
 clear and your body free to plunge into absolute sensation.”

Spanking must be steady, rhythmic, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, moving from one area 
to another until both cheeks glow with a rosy bloom that lights the charge and sends
 the electric message to the restless clitoris. 

“When a hand comes down across your bottom, the sting is quickly followed by a prickling
 numbness. The pain vanishes and the heat generated from those slaps sends lines of 
electric fire through all the tissues and nerve endings, ripples of warmth that gather
 in a wave of sensations, a million tiny kisses that lap over your clitoris and take you
 to a breath-taking orgasm. That’s why girls like spanking and spanking girls 
is a unique pleasure.”

Spanking is about pleasure, not pain, and contemporary couples of my acquaintance 
swap positions so that she has a turn at spanking and he submits to her loving hand. 
He does not have a clitoris, of course, but an erection heated by a good spanking 
is firmer and lasts long into the night. 

“There is an innate gratification in falling from grace. The supreme pleasure of love
 is illicit love, a feeling that you are doing wrong. Spanking girls and being a girl
 receiving a spanking captures that feeling, that beyond the pleasure enhanced by 
the pain is a sense that you are being just a little bit wicked.”

“Don’t spit, swallow: there is protein and other good stuff in male semen; 
it’s an acquired taste and, once acquired, totally addictive.”

“There is a moment when time stops, when the air grows still, when you enter a 
state of nothingness, a state of purity and perfection. That is the moment to strive for.”

“In pain you are living in the present and as the pain passes there is pleasure
 from having endured the pain.”

“With a man, pleasure ends at the moment of his orgasm. With a woman, 
pleasure begins at the point of her orgasm.”

Chloë Thurlow

Erotic novelist and essayist. Her books include A Girl's Adventure 2006, Being a Girl 2007, 
Girl Trade 2010, The Secret Life of Girls 2010, Sophie's Secret 2012, and Katie in Love 2015

Alphabetarion # Balance | Mark Twain, 1835-1910

Stanley Kubrick, Circus scene, for Look Magazine, 1948                                Children balance on rail in South Dakota, 1959
Oskar Schlemmer’s or Hannes Meyer’s children near the Bauhaus Masters’ houses, 
Dessau, 1928-1932, Lyonel Feininger

“What is joy without sorrow? what is success without failure? what is a win 
without a loss? what is health without illness? you have to experience each if you are 
to appreciate the other. there is always going to be suffering. it’s how you look at your 
suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.” 

Mark Twain, 1835-1910

Holidays | Illustrations by Jean-Jacques Sempé, 1932-2022

Illustrations by Jean-Jacques Sempé

Jean-Jacques Sempé [1932-2022], was a French cartoonist. He was expelled from school as a young man,
 and then failed to pass exams for the post office, a bank and the railroad. He then found work selling
 tooth powder as a door-to-door salesman and also worked delivering wine by bicycle in the Gironde.
  After lying about his age, he joined the army in 1950, he subsequently explained, and would
 occasionally get into trouble for drawing while he was supposed to be keeping watch during 
guard duty. 

After being discharged from the army, he moved to Paris and began working with René Goscinny. 
His work has appeared as the cover of The New Yorker magazine many times. 


Έχουνε πάψει να περνούν | Ελευθερία Σαπουντζή, 2000

Duane Keiser, Bikes 

Έχουνε πάψει να περνούν
από τις μέρες μου ποδήλατα.
Αυτά τα ωραία
των σχοινοβατών
των νέων αγοριών που μικρή
Χάθηκαν τα απογευματινά
ποδήλατα της προκυμαίας.
Ποιος θα με μάθει ισορροπία
με το γνωστό κόλπο – που
πάντα καταφέρνει ωστόσο
να σε ξεγελά
πως σε κρατά
είναι πίσω σου
δεν θα πέσεις.
Κι όταν πάρεις φορά και
νομίζεις ότι πετάς
μια κρύα ανάσα στη ραχοκοκκαλιά
μια γλυψιά ανασφάλειας
σε κρυώνει.
Γυρνάς. Δεν είναι πια
το ωραίο αγόρι να κρατά
το ποδήλατο.
Η αρχή του κόσμου.

Ελευθερία Σαπουντζή, Σε χρόνο αιωνίως ενεστώτα, 2000

Prot-a-gonist* Inner Beauty | Dolores del Rio, 1904-1983

 Dolores del Rio, 1929                                                                  Dolores del Rio, 1920s

"Take care of your inner beauty, your spiritual beauty, and that will reflect
 in your face. We have the face we created over the years. Every bad deed, 
every bad fault will show on your face. God can give us beauty and genes 
can give us our features, but whether that beauty remains or changes is 
determined by our thoughts and deeds."

Dolores del Rio

Dolores del Rio                               Dolores del Rio in Joanna, 1925

"When I returned to Mexico, I joined with people eager to create the Mexican cinema. 
We were full of dreams and had no money whatsoever, but we were able to achieve 
something and open markets for our films all over the world."

Dolores Del Rio

Dolores del Río in Bird of Paradise, 1932

"Del Río represented the highest erotic ideal with her 
performance in the film Bird of Paradise." 

Orson Welles

Throughout the filming of Citizen Kane, 1941, del Río was often at the difficult Welles’ side, 
soothing him when he banged his head against the wall and dealing with his insomnia as 
he abused Dexedrine. They acted together in the movie Journey into Fear, 1943

Dolores Del Rio in Journey into Fear, 1943
Directors: Norman Foster, Orson Welles (uncredited)

On Journey Into Fear, 1943 "Orson insisted I play this role. He said he was unable to see 
anyone else in it, and after reading the part I became equally enthusiastic. I wear no 
glamorous gowns in the film. My main costume is a battered raincoat."

Dolores Del Rio with artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo
Dolores del Río in The Fugitive, 1947                    Diego Rivera, Portrait of Dolores Del Rio, 1938 

Dolores Del Rio

"The secret of youth is work, keep busy, and never be bored. 
Boredom is the only thing that ages you."

Dolores Del Rio, 1960

George Hoyningen-Huenem, Dolores del Río, 1940

"Personally, I buy only what suits me. In the daytime I dress very simply, but 
after 7 p.m. I dress dramatically. I usually wear a tiny nose veil on a cocktail hat. 
Men love it, and it seems to suit my face and personality."

"Hollywood, what a place it is! It is so far away from the rest of the world, so narrow. 
No one thinks of anything but motion pictures or talks of anything else."

Dolores del Río

Edward G Robinson & Dolores Del Rio            Orson Welles And Dolores Del Rio, 1941
Dolores del Rio and Marlene Dietrich, Los Angeles, 1935                               Marlene Dietrich and Dolores Del Río in 1939

Dietrich once called del Rio 
"The most beautiful woman in Hollywood."  

Alphabetarion # Spectator | Isaac Babel, 1894-1940

Toy Theatre

 “For me the whole world is like a gigantic theater in which I am the only spectator without
 opera glasses. The orchestra plays the prelude to the third act, the stage is far away as in
 a dream, my heart swells with delight—and you want to blind me with a pair 
of half-ruble spectacles?”

Isaac Babel, 1894-1940

Book//mark - A Month in the Country | J.L. Carr, 1980

J.L. Carr, 1912-1994                                                               A Month in the Country, 1980

“Novel-writing can be a cold-blooded business. One uses whatever happens to be lying around in memory and employs it to suit one’s end….
Then, again, during the months whilst one is writing about the past, a story is colored by what presently is happening to its writer. 
So, imperceptibly, the tone of voice changes, original intentions slip away. And I found myself looking
 through another window at a darker landscape inhabited by neither the present nor the past. ”

"Summertime! And summertime in my early twenties!  And in love.  No better than that–secretly in love, coddling it up in myself.  
It’s an odd feeling, coming rarely more than once in most of our lifetimes.  In books as often as not, they represent it as a sort 
of anguish but it wasn’t so for me.  Later perhaps, but not then."

“By nature we are creatures of hope, always ready to be deceived again, caught by 
the marvel that might be wrapped in the grubbiest brown paper parcel.”

“And, at such a time, for a few of us there will always be a tugging at the heart—knowing a precious moment had gone and we not there. 
We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever - the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed 
on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, the touch of a hand, a loved face. They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass.

All this happened so long ago. And I never returned, never wrote, never met anyone who might have given me news of Oxgodby.
 So, in memory, it stays as I left it, a sealed room furnished by the past, airless, still, ink long dry on a put-down pen.

But this was something I knew nothing of as I closed the gate and set off across the meadow.”

“But one thing is sure -I had a feeling of immense content and, if I thought at all, it was that I'd like this to go on, no-one going, no-one coming, 
autumn and winter always loitering around the corner, summer's ripeness lasting for ever, nothing disturbing the even tenor of my
 way (as I think someone may have said before me).”

“That was the missed moment. I should have put out a hand and taken her arm and said, "Here I am.
 Ask me. Now. The real question! Tell me. While I'm here. Ask me before it's too late.”

“I’m an apple expert. Apples are the only exam I could ever hope to pass.”

“Ah, those days...for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. 
The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and,
 at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.
If I'd stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die, and the bright belief 
that there will be another marvelous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies.”

“The first breath of autumn was in the air, a prodigal feeling, a feeling 
of wanting, taking, and keeping before it is too late.”

J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country, 1980

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