The Only Paradise is the One You Have Lost
Pass the Chateau Margaux
On Memorial Day, 1994, The New York Philharmonic was playing Mahler’s 9th under Kurt Masur at St. John the Divine. I had a sublet and a summer job. My college sweetheart was on my arm. It had been a turbulent semester, but we had finally arrived at this place of Mahler’s 9th. Every rise and fall spoke to something in us. Mahler is constant irony and constant emotion. It’s all real. I had just come out of a yearlong seminar on Modernism, and it culminated here. Here was Ralph Touchett on his death bed telling Isabel Archer that although she had been hated, she had also been adored. Ah, Isabel, adored. And here was Kafka, telling his father, I am literature, in a letter never sent. Here was Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus telling us about the nightmare of history from which he could not awake. Here was Proust telling us that the only paradise is the one that we have lost.