The Beautiful and the Damned;

“Fame, money, beauty, and early success: This was the American dream. Zelda and Scott embarked on a series of madcap escapades to celebrate: They rode to parties on the roofs and hoods of taxies; they went to a play and laughed during the serious parts, then remained silent during the funny parts; they jumped into the fountain at the Plaza Hotel. Everything they did was chronicled in the papers, and the couple began to symbolize the freewheeling era of flappers and flaming youth. But achieving all of your dreams at such a young age can be a mixed blessing. Later, Fitzgerald remembered “riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again” – Preface, Beautiful and the Damned

It is sometimes difficult – no, impossible to explain to someone (except to someone like Irving), this spurious need to be swept away, the inability to be complacent, the restless feeling sitting inside you even for a mundane act like drinking tea. It means that one can never properly sit through life as a calm ride, one desires the waves, misses the Fitzgerald moments of riding on taxi hoods, and lives life recalling and moving out of memories. Is the most beautiful moment of my life over? Will I ever relive it again or be able to recognize it when it comes etc. At those moments I remember making that logical note to myself to grasp it, to remember it the way the hand muscles do for a rendition of grade 8 Chopin pieces, the notes after one another, the association of Alice in Wonderland characters to poker cards. But here it is, one forgets, just as the way one forgets the middle of a Conrad novel while reading the end, and needs to reread it all over again, only this time it has changed, and in between the two readings you may not be the same person anymore.

Yesterday was a simply marvellous day, meeting 2 people – 1 of them was a window into another world, a sheer sweet inspiration to live one’s life loving it – the other was the sort of comfort of violet tea, new places and old-school jazz by the talented Melissa Tham.

The first – the owner of Kind of Wonderful (we are working on a secret project together!) – stood before me a long moment in the Coffee Club queue, dressed in an Ashen brown blazer and sporting a beautiful Chanel Jumbo. We did not recognize each other! And so we stood for a long while in those soldier positions (I had forgotten my phone, and together with it lost the conveniences of having a phone), before I borrowed the mobile of a kind guy behind me, only to have us realize we were standing behind each other! It was an adorable moment, that realization, as if fate had something in store for us that afternoon. But I really enjoyed our conversation, she was like a breath of fresh air and I loved her whimsical, beautiful nature as she shared about what she loved and her little fancies against the whole world. People like that are always stunningly beautiful, and still down to earth in such a sweet way.

Can’t reveal more for the moment, but we have a secret project coming up! ^-^

Evening. Returned home to old school jazz with some of the crew from Noir, and it was my first visit to Mandarin Oriental. I went with WS, whom I have been meeting in and out of my life since I was 19, things have changed for me since then but he has stood in time. Sometimes he reveals something a little different, but yet so familiar. WS plays the organ, as well as the yangqin, and it was quite intriguing to hear the concept of a jazz improvisation of Tea for Two on the organ. At one moment, I declared to him, how much I would have loved a Great Gatsby jazz age party, with all the works, flappers living their romances, Zelda doing cartwheels on the floor! But Melissa remained so charming, so beautiful in a black vintage scalloped dress singing tunes which still play in my mind, and my choice of beverage- After Eight- recalled the old days of absolut vanilla in the old Jazz @ Southbridge with the rare taste of peppermint ice cream that comes into my life.

“F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Beautiful and Damned, his second book, when he was only twenty-five. It was published in 1922, just as the Jazz Age was beginning to hit its stride. The war was over, the economy was booming, the skyscrapers were rising, the flappers were vamping, the alcohol was flowing (despite Prohibition), the music was swinging, and the party appeared to be never-ending. America was, as Fitzgerald later said, “going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it”

“Free to socialize, Scott finally allowed himself to have a little fun. He was now posted in Montgomery, Alabama, and while attending a dance he met one of its most celebrated belles, Zelda Sayre. Zelda was the youngest of the five children of Judge Anthony Sayre and already at nineteen an infamous beauty. Uninhibited, fearless, and effervescent, her exploits were legendary: She rode on motorcycles, smoked at a time when it was taboo for women, turned cartwheels at dances when things got boring, and entertained beaus round the clock. In Fitzgerald’s eyes, Zelda was an original, both the embodiment of his ideal woman and a fierce, bold individual whose flame burned bright, and he pursued her relentlessly.” – Preface, Beautiful and the Damned

Yes, here it is that jazz and conversation made me marvellously happy! But still the feeling that those old days are past…and yet I am only but a wisp away from 25. Are my days of being Zelda over?

I wish you were here Irving, to be my Tommy as I can be your Tuppence, to start new companies and have new adventures together, so I will not feel so frightfully old, that I can still feel dreamlike at the end of the day of doing photocopying and writing letters so that you can convince me that it will be alike Kafka’s training rhetoric for his novels (that Kafka was a lawyer too!). That you will convince me I can read my future in a bowl of ramen soup, the way one does for tea leaves, and I will believe you. I wish you were here for me to feed you with cakes and nice things so that there will be a moment in that old happiness where I imagine that my life’s mission is to bring cake to my best friend (Imagine! The roads I have traversed to the one finite moment of bringing Irving a tiramisu!)

Yes, even while the world feels like one big writer’s block revolving around me, you remain my secret of an Equalia, and I do wish you will hum a little bit of an old song which turns out to be a self improvisation later when we speak as I steal your rose and your glove.

The movie Great Gatsby is coming. But it is to be done in 3D! Blistering Barnacles! Whatever were they thinking!

“At the age of twenty-four, Fitzgerald had achieved all his dreams, and the future looked infinitely bright and promising. Yet within fourteen years he would hit rock bottom and become an alcoholic living in a cheap motel, eating twenty-five-cent meals and washing his own clothes in the sink while his wife was treated for schizophrenia in a nearby sanatorium. By then, unable to write and owing tens of thousands of dollars, overwhelmed by his dire situation, Fitzgerald would crack, suffer a nervous breakdown, and, like his character Anthony Patch, become a broken man. While there is no simple explanation of how Fitzgerald’s downfall came about, there is no question that by writing The Beautiful and Damned he was expressing his fears of dissipation and, to a certain extent, prophetically anticipating and foreshadowing his own decline. Although he created several memorable heroes, in many ways Fitzgerald was his own greatest tragic figure. In keeping with the credo of his Romantic idols, like John Keats, he lived life at full speed, flinging himself into every experience with frightening energy to enlarge his powers as an artist.”- Preface, Beautiful and the Damned

No prizes for guessing what I am currently reading.


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