the Cruelest Animal

Our favorite trendy urbanite who has most likely never held a gun.
Credit: Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

From “City Dwellers With Time to Kill” from this Sunday’s NYT, an expose into the dark heart of Gotham’s Big Buck Hunting subculture:

Recently, Richard Flynn, 30, a researcher at the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University and a nationally ranked player, formed a one-man hunting party called the Cruelest Animal. “It’s based on the Nietzsche quote,” he said.

That’s right, Übermensch Richard Flynn, dear friend of the Fishwicks, doing it real big on the electronic, simulated hunting scene all by his lonesome!

Kudos, Dick!

C’est fini

It’s officially turned to autumn here. The morning chill hasn’t burnt off the past couple of days. Rainy and gray. Feeling a little blue that our time is over.

I can’t decide if going back to a warmer clime will be nice or not. I think I’m ready for fall to stay. And that’s not just because I want to show off my new purple scarf (très chic).

Back to our standby Café Panis for brunch. We’re trying to beat the rain and see a couple last things; the Montparnasse Cemetery (and maybe the tower) and see the stain glass at Ste. Chapelle. Hop on the Metro to head south, and end up going the wrong way on the yellow line (again). Only line that has given us any trouble; I think the subway here is waaaaaay easier than say, NYC. We find the right train eventually.

Its grayer when we finally emerge on the Blvd. Edgar Quintent, where the Cemetery gates are. I’ve read that the maps for this one are free, unlike the ones at Père Lachaise, where you have to buy one from a street vendor. As we enter it starts to rain. I see the notice that they aren’t distributing free maps until October; they are being updated currently. Great. I scurry up to a small sign giving the location of the “notable” occupants. The map on the sign is small and the locations of several tombs I want to see aren’t on there (Man Ray and Susan Sontag) or are in obviously hard places to find. Maps here are terrible!

I sketch a rude layout of the plan, mark a few graves, and we try to find them. Its cold and wet; she finds the excursion a little macabre and I have no sense of direction. Steph says, “This is true love,” as she helps me navigate.

We visit Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Charles Baudelaire, Serge Gainsbourg, and after a long search, Emil Cioran. I had mainly come to visit him. William H. Gass called Cioran’s work “a philosophical romance on the modern themes of alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease.” His writing was strangely calming and supportive to me during some tough parts of my life, and, even though I don’t share his gleeful pessimism or identify with his alienation from society anymore, I greatly admire his passion and lyrical, original writings. It was very moving to visit.

Steph asked me why I like to visit cemeteries; see graves of people I admire. I like visiting them for the quiet and respectful air, an often pretty walk, and getting a helpful reminder that life is short. And what is a grave but a monument to someone’s life? I really don’t think its too morbid.

[ From Steph: I don’t think cemeteries are morbid, but today it was a little creepy what with the cold rain and giant crows cawing (wish I had gotten a photo of one of them!). But I’m really glad we went. The visit also led to some great conversations. Also, somehow, the weather really fit the excursion! ]

I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted (missed Baudrillard, Durkheim, Cortazar, Ionesco and Maupassant) but we didn’t want to catch cold, and they aren’t going anywhere.

We sped to the center of the Citie afterwards, and the weather was too wet and we too tired to wait in line to see the stained glass at the chapel. We promised each other it was first on the list for our next visit.

All packed-up now, back to Le Grenier de Notre-Dame for dinner and then our last night for this trip. We’ll update next from C-ville.


We are afraid of the enormity of the possible.

Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay (1949)

a quote for decade four(!)

Shared by DZ on Saturday night at my B-day party:

We have this notion in this country, not only of endless economic growth but of endless personal growth. I have a certain characterological antipathy to the notion of we’re all getting better and better all the time. And it’s so clearly belied by our experience. You may get better in certain ways for 10 years, but one day you wake up and although things are a little bit different, they’re not a lot different. And I think if one can get more accustomed to that somewhat more tragic view of life, that people would think yeah, ‘We don’t actually need to have a bigger and bigger house, and a bigger and bigger car, and more and more things in the house.’ That there might some way to think of the world in different terms, so it was more about being and less about growing.

Jonathan Franzen

I think, on entering my 30s, I’m at a place where I’m more concerned with removing obfuscation than self-improvement/growth. Trying to learn accept the self and the world just as they are, without too much judgment. Trying to rest in the fact that God has a place for me in this world independent of my striving and inclinations.


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.