Went perfume sniffing with an old friend yesterday, my list of scents dutifully in my ever-schoolgirl hand. A decadent afternoon sealed with a purchase (Guerlain, Derby, "one of the ten best masculine's of all time," says my perfume bible, Perfumes: The Guide) and best of all, samples. Coffee, lemon meringue (one piece, two spoons) in a tea place on the Rue des Rosiers. Then, ever dutiful, I traipse to the Louvre, to gawk at Titian and Co, autumn's blockbuster art show. The portraits of men--admiral this, doge that, pope x--and even a twelve-year-old boy on the verge of a manhood one can predict will be illustrious, are full of humanity, the hands, the faces speak, but why oh why are the women so vapid, mounds of naked or lavishly-draped flesh, emblems of patrician domesticity or desire, the girl-child already dolled-up? Renoir, it said on the wall, of Titian, but surely only for the vacuousness of the women, that softness-around-the-edges in the eye of the viewer. Who, I ask myself, among painters, and when, painted women as other than objects: Chardin, with his servants, and middle class mothers? Vermeer? Manet's sardonic and ambiguous figures? Maybe the Greeks? Maybe the softig earth-mothers of prehistory? This is turning into a rant. Should I smash my flacon of perfume?
One more thing: there was a review in Le Monde recently, praising a book about friendship. The history of friendship, in general. But the history of friendship, in general, it turns out--should we be surprised?--is "from Aristotle to Blanchot." Excluded, I feel excluded.