First Person

Still from第七印章courtesy of the Criterion Collection. The film is available to溪流, 和作为光盘集

We’re in a room on the ground floor of a hotel, the bed facing a wall of curtained windows that in turn faces the street. It is nighttime. Rain is coming down, steadily, reflectively, a stream of passersby visible through the curtains, which are sheer. Everyone is moving in the same direction, bent slightly forward and holding an umbrella, from left to right, the good direction, from past to future, the opposite of where Death leads the knight and the squire and the monk and the smith and the mute in their final dance against the backdrop of time in Ingmar Bergman’s第七印章。伞是天堂的树冠;雨永远不会放松。我们可以看到路人,但他们看不到我们,尽管埃里克在床边的侧面变得亮起了。

我很痴迷第七印章my senior year in high school; I was obsessed with the vision it presented of a handsome knight playing a game of chess with Death. Death’s face was unexpectedly round and white, the blackness of his eyes and their sparkling avidity as terrifying as the sound of his name in Swedish.Döden。毫无疑问,它的死亡升高了生命结束的事实 - 这是一个别人缺乏困境,人类有义务,有义务吃饭和伴侣,并拥有就业机会并从事毫无意义的谈话 - 进入一个值得热情的依恋的领域。骑士很帅,是的,既是不是一个非常好的棋手,根据我最好的朋友Peggy的哥哥马托,但死亡超过了一些似乎更像生活的东西,而不是那种动画他的对手。当骑士说,“你画了黑色,”死亡回答,“适当,你不觉得吗?”与电影中的其他人不同,他有一种幽默感。我爱死了。如果我不能拥有他,我会为玛托这样的人来满足于玛托,一个帅气,快速的ne'er-do-do-do井。

In the dream, Eric is propped against the pillows, restless, paging through a newspaper, scattering and discarding pages across the bedspread, which is heavily quilted in hues of old gold and dusty rose. Normally I would have removed such a bedspread and jammed it into the closet. “I’ve had it,” Eric says. I remind him that first we have to meet family. We can fake it, he says. He’s been ready to leave for a long time. “I thought we were happy,” I say. “Weren’t you happy when we were watching that movie?” That was okaythen,埃里克解释说,但这现在。“现在,这就足够了。”他开始移动,以右手放松,这表明他正准备从床罩下方摆脱腿部和地板。然后,一下子,他消失了。就好像他蒸发了。

For many years of our adult lives we sat in bed like this, side by side. The difference is, it would be early morning, not nighttime, the paper recently delivered, a piece of the world hurled onto our porch in Saint Louis or dropped at the edge of our front yard in Vermont, requiring me to make a trek in my pajamas to retrieve it. I can’t remember the last time Eric and I sat together that way, sharing the paper. When someone you have lived with for a very long time dies, memory stops working its regular way—it goes crazy. It is no longer like remembering; it is, more often, like astral projection. “Like darkness in the movies, it tests the outline of your astral footprint,” my subconscious mind informed me the other night, speaking from beyond the bedroom wall, whereas the great memoirist Chateaubriand, speaking from beyond the grave, observed sourly that memory is often a quality associated with stupidity.


In the Cloisters people trod softly. They spoke in hushed voices but even so their words echoed everywhere; it was as if the past was speaking, as if it issued from the smell of the place, water dripping on stone. I could stand by myself—enamored of the thought of myself, alone, standing there, sufficient unto myself—staring down at the effigy of Jean D’Alluye, the French Crusader knight, more handsome by far than the boy in my class I’d thought I had such a crush on and yet, somehow, both of them similar by virtue of their inaccessibility. Boys, then, were wearing their hair longer but they also had bangs. The knight’s flowing locks left his forehead elegantly bare; he wore a chain mail shirt, and folded his hands piously above his breastbone in exact replication of the knight at the beginning of第七印章,在他与死亡遇到之前的时刻。在Jean D'Alluye的脚上有一个狮子休息,我们的老师告诉我们意味着勇气。他还告诉我们,错误地,交叉的腿在战斗中表示死亡。

That teacher is dead now. He may not have known that the knight’s sword came from China, or that the effigy of the knight, face-down, had served for a period of time following the French Revolution as a bridge over a small stream outside of Tours, watching the little fish swim by below. Of course the knight himself was no longer there to watch anything; whatever was left of him had been summarily disposed of by the sansculottes. We read “The Knight’s Tale” in the original Middle English in that teacher’s class. “Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan / Than may be yeve to any erthely man; / And therefore positif lawe and swich decree / Is broken al day for love in ech degree.” The words barely hovered at the thin edge of familiarity, not unlike the overwhelming beauty of the knight’s face, thoughts forming behind it in a mind of stone.

最终我们在公共汽车回家。这是维ark; I was sitting beside the crush who, amazingly, had decided to take the seat next to me. The darkness of the bus was nothing like the darkness of the Gothic Chapel where Jean D’Alluye lay on his back, his eyes wide open, staring up at the ribbed vault of the ceiling for all eternity. Some of my classmates had lit the little lights above their seats but the crush and I kept ours unlit, his intentions perhaps having been amorous, whereas mine were to sink deeper into the darkness, made darker still by the intermittent lights appearing out the window once we’d left the city behind. In those days it was a three-hour ride from New York City to Philadelphia. The boys sitting behind us had brought whiskey in a flask. I could smell it, the smell of cocktail hour on Woodale Road. I don’t live here, I thought. I am not here. In the Gothic Chapel the only light had come from outdoors through the stained glass double lancet windows. It was hard to see anything, really. When we first came into the room there had been a single large candle in a candle stand in the corner, but at some point the candle had gotten blown out.

Shaken, not stirred, the crush said, accepting the flask from the seat behind us. Bond, replied one of the two boys, James Bond. The candle had gone out and the wick was still glowing, emitting the trail of smoke our teacher told us signified the presence of the Holy Ghost, the most mysterious and hence most terrible (as in causing terror, awe, or dread) aspect of the Trinity. Outside the window the lights of apartment buildings loomed near the highway, the shapes of trees, the great heaving bodies of the willows.


The point is, a crush goes nowhere. It’s called a crush because it’s like something landed on top of you, making movement impossible. It isn’t the same as a love affair that—whether star-crossed or blessed—confers motion, ferrying you through time. There you are, crushed, the sole stirring of life in you occasioned by the sight of the crushing object, no matter the grace of its limbs or the lightness of its spirit. And, truly, what is the point? In terms of the future of the planet, for example.

在纽约市的公共汽车上,我讨论了恐怖,这是一个诞生的东西,坠入爱河,爱一个人,和他们一起过生物,然后在它的尾端遇到死亡。黑暗的房间,伟大的黑暗拱形天花板。“四个太阳在下午的天空中悬挂,”王乡,追随他的骑士横跨瘟疫景观。“但如果羊吃花,”很好的读,“对他来说就像突然一样,所有的明星都出去了,”埃德迪威廉姆斯笑了一倍。我想独自一人,而且我想恋爱。我想要整个历史,而不仅仅是一生,而且是vaster,无限的,除了不是reallyinfinite since infinity was too frightening. “Cause I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you,” Peggy Lee sang, “that when that final moment comes…” And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

凯瑟琳戴维斯’s most recent novel is丝绸之路。她收到了美国艺术学院,古根海姆和兰南文学奖的莫顿迪劳·Zabel奖和凯瑟琳安妮搬运工奖。她在圣路易斯圣路易斯大学教授圣尔蒙特的生活。

This excerpt is adapted from Davis’s forthcoming memoirAurelia,Aurélia将于2012年3月1日的Graywolf Press发布。

Still from第七印章courtesy of the Criterion Collection. The film is available to溪流, 和作为光盘集