The Now By Luc Sante


“When I was a teenager I was, like most teenagers, preoccupied with the idea that somewhere on the horizon there was a Now. The present moment came to a peak out there; it achieved a continuous apotheosis of nowness, a wave endlessly breaking on an invisible shore. I wasn’t quite sure what specific form this climax took, but it had to involve some concatenation of records, poems, pictures, parties, and behavior. Out there all of those items would be somehow made manifest: the pictures walking along in the middle of the street, the right song broadcast in the air every minute, the parties behaving like the poems and vice versa. Since it was 1967 when I became a teenager, I suspected that the Now would stir together rock ’n’ roll bands and mod girls and cigarettes and bearded poets and sunglasses and Italian movie stars and pointy shoes and spies. But there had to be much more than that, things I could barely guess. The present would be occurring in New York and Paris and London and California while I lay in my narrow bed in New Jersey, which was a swamplike clot of the dead recent past. At the time I had been in the United States less than half my life and much about it was still strange. I constantly found myself making basic errors about social practices and taboos. My parents certainly couldn’t help me—they understood even less. There wasn’t really anyone I could ask who would answer my questions and not make fun of me. Through force of necessity I had become adept at amateur anthropology, deducing the ways and habits of the Americans from the semiotic clues they threw off in their relentless charge through the twentieth century. I read every piece of paper I could get my hands on. I became a big fan of mimeographed bulletins, local advertising circulars, political campaign literature, obsolete reference books, collections of antediluvian Broadway wit, hobbyist newsletters, charity solicitations, boys’ activity books from the thirties, travel magazines entirely cooked up in three-room office suites on Park Avenue South, and the Legion of Decency ratings in the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Newark. …”
The Paris Review
W – Luc Sante

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