Still Life: Are All Men Chimps

Day after. Awake for 3 hours in the middle of the night, roaming the cosmos while remembering the details of an evening out completely over-stimulated. That the curve of a shoulder as I glance beyond behind you reveals the filip of an eyebrow. As the eye moves to the new painting second from the end, I hear the whirr of elevator, clink of wine glass amid room of 100 people, dimly aware of lights various, like my attention unfocused then focused.

So I went to the art opening. I attend so many I don’t capitalize them anymore. Been here in general so am more or less comfortable and know a few people. Talk with my friend Max about research mathematicians vs high school math teachers and the analogy begins to be meaningful that groups of men are like chimps, are chimps in fact. High school math teachers, he tells me, can’t stand to admit ignorance in front of a research mathematician and learn less as a consequence. Can’t stand to say “I don’t know.” Can’t stand to feel that feeling in the chimp chest that realigns the troop, sends him to the back.

Humans are primates. I know because I am here in this group and an acquaintance named Curtis has just arrived, suitably late. An art critic and flaneur, he apologized to me years ago for selling out and getting a teaching job. There’s an idea in his head of who he is. It comes from taverns of the ‘60s and salons of the 30’s by way of Paris and Bohemia. I remember having the same idea.

I love that Bohemia is a place, a country with sidewalks and taxes, and not a dream. Curtis got stuck in the Baudelaire version and now grooms his troop. If you are cool enough, he will talk to you. He’s on his third wife, I think, and she is 20 years younger, a tell-tale sign that the fellow is hunkered down in a delusion. How does this happen? That a human with vast mental reserves should stop growing and take to grooming. Stop in place and start spinning, patting the hierarchy he’s constructed based on his idea, up and down, all parts in their proper coolness, who’s shown lately where, who’s been written up, who’s just come back from NY and just sold for whopping sums. Information like nits, picked and flung, or passed around to confirm his mental edifice, his troop.

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