the mortal enemy of videogames

yeah their shit rocks. looking at their website now and it looks like they’re bringing out a bunch of leguin stuff and even more crime novels.

they have some obligatory lame stuff, but then they’ve gone out on a limb for Joanna Russ, Jane Bowles, and Virginia Hamilton really impressed me nice pick american libary

Unfortunately I only became acquainted with Dino Buzzati’s work earlier this year, so Il Colombre and the short story Seven Floors are the extent of what I’ve read of his. A few of the shorts from Il Colombre were translated in an English compendium, scanned here on The nine stories in a row from The Colomber to Quiz at the Prison were in the original Il Colombre collection. There’s a good variety in that selection indicative of the range of genres he writes in. But still, many missing when the original collection has 60+ stories. Anyway, I’m definitely planning to read more of his work and will share when I do!

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Trigger Warning: Mansplaining, Misogyny

I started Infinite Jest.


I actually think this has reversed. Infinite jest is a girl book now and Pride And Prejudice is for the dudes


just had a waking nightmare about getting one of those get shredded and build weath with passive investments youtube ads, but this one is about “going Mr. Darcy Mode”


the relaxed and low-commitment reading environment i’ve created for myself by using the Libby app to borrow books has been tarnished now that I can see how many people are waiting to borrow a book i’m reading.

the app tells me there’s 4 people trying to borrow slow down by kohei saito which i’m only 1/3 through. im making a bigger deal about this than i should but i can’t help but imagine i am holding up the line. theres no escape from big other.


i think ultimately it’s good for the ecosystem if there’s a long line for books as it will cause either the library or individual to buy another copy should the hold continue.

i’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that book when you’re done–i think degrowth is not only the last resort for the climate but will more or less be forced on us should things continue as they are. however as a popular movement it seems pretty nascent so i don’t think anyone (including myself) has a serious idea of what that would look like beyond a few thinkers. i was thinking of this yesterday when i read this paper that more or less successfully argues we’re cooked when it comes to lowering emissions at all, let alone by 2025, due to our lifestyle choices. we simply use too much energy. in fact we use more now than we ever have!


speaking of mr. darcy mode and celebrated female authors of the british isles, i finished reading the waves by virginia woolf last night. (i googled virgina woolf + jane austen and found this pretty pithy review woolf wrote)

woolf is likely one of the five best writers in the english language on a style, syntax, and sentence level. her language is incredibly rich and florid–it has a viscosity that is distinctly hers and when she’s at her best she does what seems impossible in that she constructs a world purely from language, meaning she is not signaling the visual world but actually creating one of her own.

however, as much as i mark phrases and passages in her books that i admire, i can’t help but feel removed from her work. the density and complexity of the waves, for example, made it so that instead of enjoying the novel, i was observing myself enjoying the novel. this isn’t a problem unique to woolf, but i do think her particular craft lends her books a rarefied and isolating quality. it gives me a sense of longing that makes me wish i enjoyed the book more, or worse that something is wrong with me for not doing so (maybe true).

my fav quote:
“We have destroyed something by our presence,” said Bernard, “a world perhaps.”


didn’t think of it that way but it makes sense! tbh i’ve been better about returning books early because of it so i think it works as intended.

i’m enjoying the book so far, it was exactly what i was looking for. i’ll reserve my thoughts for a longer post once i finish, but so far it’s:

  1. articulated and applied key concepts of sustainable development theory, keeping academic jargon to a minimum
  2. addressed the prevailing ‘ideology’ around green capitalism (and its proponents/implementations) and its limits both in theory and practice

which is what i was looking for. and yeah stuff looks pretty bleak the way things are going.

looking briefly at the report you linked this seems like good complimentary reading. thank you!


I’ve been reading these before bed the past few nights (though I’m one day behind) and having a great time. “Dream actors” shit-talking their dreamers is such a fabulous concept.

  1. Dementoid is a funny word
  2. Wondering when Cuboid Man is showing up in her dream
  3. Prologue seems to imply the dream people don’t usually inhabit someones dream all at the same time though Servant Girl seems to be able to make them do so :muscle:

If your circle is not a winding one upon the moorlands in the pitch of a torrential downpour, it is time to elevate your circle


Looks like there’s a character limit on individual posts, so going to re-post the whole play across three

300 Million, by Roberto Arlt



Being a crime reporter for the newspaper Crítica in the year 1927, one morning in the month of September I had to report on the suicide of a Spanish servant girl, single, twenty years of age, who killed herself by throwing herself beneath the wheels of a streetcar passing by the doorway of the house where she worked, at five in the morning.

I arrived at the scene as the shattered body was disentangled. I might not have seen any special importance in the event (back then I saw corpses almost every day) if my subsequent investigations hadn’t uncovered two singular details.

The lady of the house mentioned that the night the servant girl formulated her suicide this maid didn’t sleep.

An ocular examination of the maid’s mattress confirmed the servant girl had not gone to bed, and it was theorized that in all likelihood she passed the night seated on her steamer trunk. (A year had passed since she arrived from Spain.) When the maid went out to throw herself under the streetcar she forgot to turn off the lights.

The sum of these small details made a deep impression on me.

For months and months I went walking with the vision before me of a poor, sad girl who, seated on the edge of a steamer trunk, in a small miserable whitewashed room, is thinking hopelessly of her fate, in the yellow brightness of a little twenty five watt lamp.

Of this obsession this work and it’s suffering characters was born, which may not have even been written if not for the intercession of Leónidas Barletta.

When Barletta formed el Teatro del Pueblo he asked me to collaborate with him by writing a play for his venture, which no one had any faith in, including me; but in spite of everything, one day I set myself to working on it without even a faint hope of success.

The premier and subsequent performances (having reached thirty, which is a phenomenon for an art theater like Barletta’s), have me convinced that if technically speaking I haven’t quite constructed a perfect dramatic work, then the dose of humanity and compassion within it has touched the public with the clarity of its purpose.

Roberto Arlt, 1932


by Roberto Arlt

A prologue and three acts.

(In order of appearance)

AZUCENA (1st Old Lady)
GRISELDA (2nd Old Lady)
Compadre VULCANO
Voices, etc.


Astral zone where people’s imaginings design through electrostatic force lines the phantoms that haunt them or recreate in their dreams.

Stage made to look like a cavern past which is a copper-colored plain demarcated by a mountain range. Pulsing violet lights give the panorama the dryness of the desert and the unreal magic of phantasmagoric scenery.

A colloquy of naïve and childish phantasms.

ROCAMABOLE: As in the woodcut prints in the first Maucci edition that appeared in Barcelona. Gray top hat, black jacket, black and white checkered pants cinched to the instep of his feet by loops around the soles of his shoes. Coachwhip under his arm. His ostentatious appearance gives a sense of what made the illustrations popular in Barcelona. The rake could be mistaken for an insurance salesman or a funeral director or a lawyer. Looks forty.

CUBOID MAN: Cuboid-shaped steam boiler with two parallelograms for legs. An equilateral triangle in place of head. Lacks arms, like all structures imagined by inventors of homunculi and mechanical men.

BYZANTINE QUEEN: Twenty. Slight, resembles a Carnival queen. Dressed regal red, and on her head a scarlet tortoiseshell crown attributed to Carnival royalty, and countless sequins, symbolizing the splendor of noble heritage.

PRINCE GALLANT: Cynical affect: smoking and has a gardenia on his lapel. Pedophile mustache and aspect of a 17th century court jester.

DEMON: An imp with a Mephistopheles cape, like every devil at the circus: the requisite arched eyebrows, red tights and black slippers curled up like the bow of a canoe. Red staff and a wild expression.


    ROCAMBOLE (enter stage right) — Night falls.

    CUBOID MAN: (he from stage left) — I can’t sit down. My father forgot to put hinges on my legs.

    ROCAMBOLE (seated on some rocks) — The time has come to get to work.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Days like this, when I was a human person, my liver hurt. Who could have guessed I’d later become a builder of dreams?

    ROCAMBOLE — No, the builders are those ones, those people.

    PRINCE GALLANT (going to join the group while rushing to clean his shoes with a handkerchief) — We’re ghosts in their dreams.

    DEMON (until now sitting in silence) — Give us some credit! We’re the protagonists of their dreams.

    ROCAMBOLE — Not a good description. We represent the desires of mankind!

    DEMON — We exist without form, like clouds. Without warning, a man’s desire gathers us and imprints his form on us.

    CUBOID MAN — I’m confused.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — You’re confusing us.

    DEMON — I understand myself.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Why should we care if you understand yourself if we can’t understand you?

    CUBOID MAN — Hold on…leave it to me, I’m a product of pure science.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Now I know why you look so bizarre.

    PRINCE GALLANT — That’s not nice, señora! Imagine if the Cuboid Man called you a freak.

    CUBOID MAN — We are focal axes of strength.

    ROCAMBOLE — That…axis of force like this whip handle…

    CUBOID MAN — Orbiting these axes, as if around that whip handle, the dreams of men accrete. This way the axis holds itself independent of its form, like wine in a barrel…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Good news for a steam boiler man…

    CUBOID MAN — If I had arms I’d teach you a lesson.

    ROCAMBOLE — That’s how it is for all of you novice phantoms, but I’ve been Rocambole since the moment I was created.

    DEMON — How nice! And you were made in a novelist’s imagination.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Whatever the case, man is enslaved by his dream…or from another angle, he’s our slave. So, I, before taking on the role of Prince Gallant, played the part of a depressive pirate cutthroat. For a boy who went on to commit suicide because the daughter of a collier, who was his neighbor, didn’t want to elope with him in a golden boat. That’s what he said, the boy.

    ROCAMBOLE — If we start telling tales about what every kid said and did we’ll wind up with a neverending story.

    CUBOID MAN — But don’t you think I’m especially weird? Can you even guess who dreamt me like this?

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Some loony boilermaker.

    CUBOID MAN — I take offense at being spoken to like that. No, my father isn’t a boilermaker, no, but a land surveyor. He wants to invent a diving apparatus that can resist any subsurface pressure. Yesterday – without going into too much detail – he changed my head into an ellipse, then into a parallelogram of forces, then at last left me with a triangle for a head.

    DEMON — An unpleasant pumpkin.

    CUBOID MAN — And who knows where it’ll end…!

    PRINCE GALLANT —You really have to be able to play any part.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Like true artists do…

    DEMON — Who were bellhops one day…

    ROCAMBOLE — And on another generals…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Or emperors…

    CUBOID MAN — Well, it’s good that we’re talking…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — If I could I’d spend day and night just talking.

    PRINCE GALLANT (to the Byzantine Queen) — So the usual.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Yes, to visit my sardine monger…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Oh, your man…your man!..

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — On his feet all day. His boots look like the Wandering Jew’s. Enough grease on his hat you could sell it. And this wretch, who trembles when the boss addresses him, dreams he’s the Emperor of Byzantium by nights.

    ROCAMBOLE — That must be entertaining.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — It’s sad and fantastic. At times he imagines he’s warring with the kings of Europe, other times…

    DEMON (to Prince Gallant) — And are you still with that girl?..

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Yes, whatever happened to the little hunchback?

    PRINCE GALLANT — I visit her every night.

    ROCAMBOLE — Is it true she’s severely contracted?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Horrible and awful. Not only is she ugly, she’s perverted. Has calloused fingers and a wart on her nose. And despite how she looks, I’m obliged to pretend I’m desperately in love with her, to the point she won’t be satisfied if I’m not kneeling before her. Remember she lives in germ-ridden room. When I greet her I have to do it according to these standards: (declaims) My love, when will you permit me to cover your lips with my kisses?

    CUBOID MAN — Oh!..Oh!..

    ROCAMBOLE — Why is this malformity going Oh! Oh!..?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Then I tell her: My dear, your indifference is like ice in my soul, let me hold you to my chest.

    CUBOID MAN — Oh!..Oh!..

    ROCAMBOLE — Why does this diabolical thing go Oh! Oh!..?

    CUBOID MAN — I’d like to take Prince Gallant’s place. More fun than passing the hours with an imbecile land surveyor.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Quit interrupting…(to Prince Gallant) And what does she say?

    PRINCE GALLANT — She fidgets and begs me to go away, that her mother could catch us, but the strange thing is she’s an orphan; but she tries to build up the farce by saying: Go dear, go before mother bursts in on us…

    DEMON — Interesting…And what do you reply with?

    PRINCE GALLANT — By that point, I don’t have to say anything, just take her gently by the waist and…

    CUBOID MAN — Oh!..Oh!..Oh!..(these oh!s are screams now.) I want to play Prince Gallant’s part, even if it’s with a hunchback.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN (to Cuboid Man) — You’re all steamed up…Sit down, man.

    DEMON — Hahaha!

    ROCAMBOLE — Boiler seems new to this imagination business…

    PRINCE GALLANT — A gift from his father…

    CUBOID MAN — Yes, I’ve been a phantom for just a short time…

    ROCAMBOLE — You’ll get used to it before long. Look, see me here with this musty getup and indecent spats, I’m playing the part of a marquis in a forty volume novel.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Forty volumes, señor Rocambole?

    ROCAMBOLE (takes off his hat) — Not one more and not one less, as the distinguished señor Ponson du Terrail wrote them.

    DEMON — Forty volumes!..

    PRINCE GALLANT — And you’re always this same person?..

    ROCAMBOLE — I’m always the same person across different names. Once I was called The Gray Man, another time the Marquis de Chamery, others…

    CUBOID MAN — That’s the fun in being a character!..

    ROCAMBOLE — And I earn thousands and thousands of francs for my creator, the illustrious señor Ponson du Terrail.

    CUBOID MAN — Forty Volumes!

    ROCAMBOLE — Read by every cashier, dressmaker, and dry cleaner in the world…

    DEMON — And are you, señor Rocambole, still faithful to your Servant Girl?..

    ROCAMBOLE — She doesn’t deserve to be a Servant, but grand dame…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — What a great honor for her!..

    ROCAMBOLE — My part is nice and easy, though you doubt…

    CUBOID MAN — How couldn’t we believe a forty-volume character!

    ROCAMABOLE — People have a lot of affection for dirtbags and lowlifes…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Maybe because there’s a lowlife in every man.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Goes together like dressing on a salad.

    DEMON — Or ring on finger…

    PRINCE GALLANT — So what’s your part?

    ROCAMBOLE – When the Servant Girl goes to bed, tired out from working all day, I draw up to her and say: Señorita, I’m a Businessman; I came to tell you that you’ve inherited thirty million.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN – How much?

    ROCAMBOLE — Wait, I was wrong. It’s three hundred million.

    CUBOID MAN — But that’s barbaric! Why three hundred million? It couldn’t be thirty thousand pesos?

    ROCAMBOLE — If your average citizen, able to dream he inherits three hundred million, imagines instead he inherits thirty thousand pesos, he deserves to be executed.

    PRINCE GALLANT (to Cuboid Man) — You’d be cheap, Boiler! Economizing even in your dreams…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN (diplomatically) — Our friend Boiler is unaccustomed to dreaming.

    CUBOID MAN — I don’t want to be called Boiler…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN: (diplomatically) — Ok, don’t get upset; we’ll call you Cupid.

    CUBOID MAN — See? I like that name…

    DEMON — Moving on, my person is a boy of fourteen. He, like your people, calls on me before falling asleep: I’m his Demon. I’m obliged to present myself every night and tell him: I am Lucifer; and I can grant you all the power on earth. Choose, what do you wish to be: the most handsome man in the world, the strongest, the smartest, the richest? And my kid becomes the strongest boy one night, the wisest on another…I think tonight he wants to beat Tony Canzoneri in a first round knockout.

    PRINCE GALLANT (in thought) — And mankind (walks the stage end to end.) What do you all say about mankind?…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — He’s infinitely sad…

    DEMON — God has granted him a soul changeable as the sea…

    ROCAMBOLE — He looks to suffer, that’s evident.

    CUBOID MAN — More: looks for happiness…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — I’ve come across some terrible men: they were somewhere between God and beast.

    DEMON — We can agree they’re almost always nearer beast than God, huh?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Yes; being an instrument of people’s imaginations isn’t always agreeable.

    ROCAMBOLE — To be frank, I prefer to take it seriously.

    CUBOID MAN — What do you mean by that?

    ROCAMBOLE — When I play the character in some drama, I want to suffer and to dream like I was a flesh and blood man instead of a phantom.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — What you’re saying is, if you could give three hundred million to the Servant Girl, you would?

    ROCAMBOLE — Of course. Can you imagine what three hundred million hard cash would look like? Three hundred million in hundred peso bills? Ten bills together are a millimeter thick.

    CUBOID MAN — I’ve done the math: it would form a column three hundred meters in height.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Good work, Boiler. I mean Cupid.

    ROCAMBOLE — It…, a stack as tall as the Eiffel Tower…Could you imagine a servant girl with that amount of money?

    PRINCE GALLANT — If people knew everything they dream leaves an imprint in this astral zone, they’d get scared. They wouldn’t believe the power of their imaginations.

    ROCAMBOLE: — I think there are people whose imagination produces planets and civilizations in outer space.

    CUBOID MAN — If it’s as you say, they must also create repulsive monsters…

    DEMON — Better not speak such things aloud…

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — Yes, because I get goosebumps…I once thought I could see a monster galloping in the gloom of night…

    PRINCE GALLANT — If people had better vision they would see us…

    ROCAMBOLE: How naïve you are! Of course they can see us. The person who imagined you sees you…if we’re children of his fantasy…

    PRINCE GALLANT — What I mean to say is that all people would see us like they see birds and clouds…

    ROCAMBOLE — They’ll see us someday.

    CUBOID MAN — If that happens, people wouldn’t dare think…

    DEMON — Good for Boiler! He’s a philosopher!

    CUBOID MAN (in weepy tone) — I don’t want to be called Boiler.

    BYZANTINE QUEEN — No, what will happen is people will dream up nice things in place of monstrosities…

    PRINCE GALLANT (puts his hand to his ear) — I sense them calling out…

    A DISTANT VOICE — Where are you, my queen?

    BYZANTINE QUEEN: (moving her arms despondently) — Here I come, my beloved husband…


    ROCAMBOLE — Dammit! Where’d I put my whip?

    A VOICE — I’m waiting for you, love…come love…come.

    PRINCE GALLANT — It’s the malformed devil-woman…Fuck me!


    THIRD DISTANT VOICE: I want to be the handsomest man in the world.

    DEMON: My kid. I’m flying outta here.


    ANOTHER DISTANT VOICE – Rocambole…Where are you, Gray Man?

    ROCAMBOLE (emphatic) — Here goes the master criminal. He goes, but he’s going to repent of his crimes.


    CUBOID MAN (desolate in the twilight) — Tonight my surveyor isn’t calling me. What will I do if he forgets about me? I’ll be left in this absurd form. And look at the face of the moon!..(leans against a rock.) What’ll I do armless and with this cosmic judgement? (Starts sobbing with moos through the bugle of his mouth. A gray moon like an ostrich egg winks at the puppet amidst the desolation of astral night.)

    A DISTANT VOICE — Where are you, you triangular lowlife?

    CUBOID MAN (leaping up) — Thank God he didn’t forget about me…(exits unsteadily, looking like a Martian monster.)



    Servant’s quarters with a small single bed, in one corner a wardrobe of white wood, a nightstand, a three-legged barstool. Door to the front. A small window beside the door. The room painted chalky light green, it has the desolate polychromatic look of a Luis de Val serial. The scene is silent for a few seconds. A moonbeam and the remote squealing of streetcars and the distant finale of a piano waltz enter the room.

    Real people:

    SERVANT GIRL: Woman of twenty four. Tough and feisty expression that can instantly be tempered when under the spell of a cheap childish daydream. Recalls Rina the Angel of the Alps or any little waif meant to soften the coarse hearts of Carolina Invernizzio or Pérez Escrich readers.

    Spirit people:

    DEATH, ROCAMBOLE, CAPTAIN of a transatlantic vessel, SAILOR, PRINCE GALLANT, VALET with sideburns, friends GRISELDA and AZUCENA, CINDERELLA in diapers.

    SCENE 1

    SERVANT GIRL (lying in bed with hands beneath her head; taking a moment of quiet) — If I were a rich girl none of this would have happened. (goes silent again and once more the rumbling of streetcars, all the night noises of the city. She rises partway up then stays at the edge of the bed clutching her knees in her hands.) I tell ya if I was rich it wouldn’t be this way. (a dull noise can be heard on the floor and she, swaddled in blanket, turns on the light. Then approaches the mirror and examines herself.) I’m skinny and ugly…Not even Death would want me…

    SCENE 2

    Death appears in the doorway, creeping in like a spy. His head is framed by a shroud which makes his face appear rigid like plaster and roughly lined, with uneven eyes above a rectilinear nose. Fingernails of tin and dark shoe polish circles under the eyes.

    DEATH — You called for me, beloved?

    SERVANT GIRL (before the mirror, poking at her face and not turning away) — I’m calling for Life.

    DEATH (pausing half way into the room) — They told you to eat deviled ham and bundle up, and instead you inspect your teeth in the mirror looking like a lecher. Also plain rude: you won’t offer me a seat?

    The Servant Girl moves to the stool then stays sitting on the edge with elbows on knees and chin in hands. She looks straight ahead. Death, waiting, watches her.

    DEATH — You’re all the same. Summon Death and when I show up greet me with a long face as though they were doing me a favor. I’ve never met a soul pious enough to offer me a glass of wine.

    SERVANT GIRL — You look more like a street thug than Death. Leave me alone.

    DEATH (scolding, eyes roving around) — You see? This is what you get for not eating deviled ham. Instead of being cooped up here and bleeding out your mouth you could be in cab on the way to the opera looking like the picture of health. And health is a wonderful thing, my child. A wonderful thing! And you still haven’t asked me to sit.

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m just a servant with only a single stool in my little room.

    DEATH — Didn’t you at least go to school?

    The Servant Girl looks at him as if to say “Is he serious?”

    DEATH — Didn’t they teach you to respect your elders?

    SERVANT GIRL — Sit on the bed if you want…

    DEATH — Your bed’s probably infested with fleas. You servants don’t know how to look after yourselves.

    SERVANT GIRL — Then sit on the floor.

    DEATH — I’m not about to sit on the floor like some gypsy.

    SERVANT GIRL — Then keep standing.

    DEATH (swiveling his head around and sniffing) — You know you’re a rude little girl?

    SERVANT GIRL — My God! You’re more nosy midwife than Death. You’re a fraud.

    DEATH — And who told you I wasn’t a midwife? Don’t I dispatch the living so more beings may enter this world? Besides, I’m here because you called me. Or do you think I’m deaf too? You’ve called me for a long time. So, I said to myself, let’s do her a favor. And here I am, beautiful…

    SERVANT GIRL (looking at Death) — Disgusting!

    DEATH — Sweetheart…I was young once too.

    SERVANT GIRL — But I don’t want to die. I don’t want to.

    DEATH – Thy will be done, little pigeon. People die only when they wish. Who has the will to live, lives. Maybe at a crawl, but they live. You’ve seen those agonized old misers who hang on year after year among the cobwebs?…

    SERVANT GIRL — Alright then…, you’ve said enough…you can go.

    DEATH (creeping closer) — You know you’re quite a beautiful girl? (The Servant Girl, at the sound of Death’s shuffling footsteps, violently leaps to her feet, with a taut expression, her gaze fixed on the horizon) You’re beautiful…let me look at you…smile. (The Servant Girl makes a face as though hypnotized.) I’m telling the truth. You’re beautiful. Know something? I might like to see you naked?..Here… (He has the Servant Girl sit on the stool then parts the blanket so her breasts are uncovered. Death steps back heavily and studies the woman like a painter his model. Then he reaches out his arm and points to her left breast.) That’s a shame! You’ve got a funnel chest, which ruins the image. And you’re beautiful otherwise…Well it’s your fault…Who said you could stop eating deviled ham? If you ate roast chicken this wouldn’t have happened. And to someone beautiful like you! (Shakes his head mournfully.) If you weren’t working as a servant you could actually live a little. ( Counseling ) Why not find yourself a rich old man? Old men are blinded by lust. An old man’ll give you deviled ham no question. And he’d call you his own little dove, his sweet little dove. (Three knocks on the door. Death flees through a paper wall, and the Servant Girl, shudders all over , cinches the blanket over her chest. Three more knocks then the door opens.)

    Enter Rocambole, looking much the same as in the prologue only now wearing a pair of black counterfeit glasses and bootleggers. He carries behind his back the ever-present Vendéan coach whip. The Servant Girl stands still. Rocambole halts a few paces behind her.

    ROCAMBOLE — Christ it’s cold in here! (Takes a pipe from his pocket and lights it; then moves toward the Servant Girl, stops in front of her and examines her with the attentiveness of a coachman considering whether to by some worn old nag.) So you’re the orphan? (The Servant Girl doesn’t respond.) Forgive my coming in without waiting for you to open the door. I’m the Businessman…

    SERVANT GIRL — Huh?..

    ROCAMBOLE — I’m the Gray Man…Also known as, I must confess, Rocambole. (He removes his black shaded glasses.) My eyes were singed by gunpowder, you see, during a prison escape.

    SERVANT GIRL (breaking out of her stupor) — It’s you! In the flesh! How wonderful!..

    ROCAMBOLE — Some call me an ex con. Others, the ex head of the Jack of Coins Club. (He gestures towards his eyes with a handkerchief like a sappy libertine puppet.) The Duchess of Chamery, a true angel, forgave me.

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes! I knew she would…The Duchess was so kind…I cried when I read that part. And it ended with you thinking about Paris.

    ROCAMBOLE — That’s the God’s truth. I kept on thinking about Paris. But when a terrestrial angel weeps for the fate of a phantom, the phantom comes to life, those tears his blood…

    SERVANT GIRL — Weird! Well, let me see: can I touch you? (She approaches and feels his shoulders) You’re certainly real. Why are you dressed old-timey? Nowadays you can get chauffer and coachman outfits for cheap.

    ROCAMBOLE — It’s the skin of an old bandit, señorita. But the bandit died and was redeemed by an angel, and the Gray Man remains.

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, I knew that already. I admire her greatly. I read her whole life story when I was working as a maid in the home of a teacher, who had a child with water on the brain.

    ROCAMBOLE — Forty volumes, señorita.

    SERVANT GIRL – I read all forty…

    ROCAMABOLE — (Summoning a reserve of magnanimity) — Written by señor Ponson du Terrail, a very distinguished gentleman…

    SERVANT GIRL — Sure…, I can never quite remember that man’s name. But the Duchess of Chamery, yes. So nice!

    ROCAMBOLE — An angel of a woman…

    SERVANT GIRL — And of course I remember Bacarat…

    ROCAMBOLE — She truly was a troubled girl. But she found her redemption. Stopped selling her body and dedicated herself to good deeds. Even so, she didn’t have forty volumes written about her, true? (Steps emphatically through the room.) Forty volumes! It’s quite an honor, yes?

    SERVANT GIRL (with childlike admiration) — Yes of course it’s an honor, and a great one. Forty volumes!

    ROCAMBOLE — You said it yourself! Forty volumes. You know, just about everyone’s read me.

    SERVANT GIRL — If you could have seen how I cried while reading about your adventures…

    ROCAMBOLE — And had not my very noble patron (doubling back), señor Ponson du Terrail, died he’d have written another forty volumes. Do you realize? So instead of forty there’d be eighty volumes…Then my happiness would be complete…Eighty volumes! But we must be content with what we have, don’t you agree, señorita? Every day thousands are born and so many others die and no one writes a line about them. Yet forty volumes have been written about me. Tell me: am I wrong to be proud?

    SERVANT GIRL — And quite proud at that…If I was in your place, I don’t know what I’d do…

    ROCMABOLE — It’s not that I’m vain…, but they made movies too.

    SERVANT GIRL — I saw them: in a serial…

    ROCAMBOLE — And they didn’t include even a tenth of what’s in those forty volumes…Goes to show that filmmakers are a bunch of thieves…You think they’re jealous? (Confiding.) There are many people out there jealous of me. (Lamenting.) And why? Because the very noble señor Ponson du Terraíl (goes to take off his hat) wrote forty volumes about me…, but to get back to the matter at hand, I really didn’t come here to sing my own praises, but for something much more important. You have received an inheritance…

    SERVANT GIRL — An inheritance!..

    ROCAMBOLE — Yes, thirty million…

    SERVANT GIRL — Thirty Million!

    ROCAMBOLE — Wait, my mistake…what I meant was…three hundred million…

    SERVANT GIRL (clutching her breast) — Can it be?..Three hundred million!

    ROCAMBOLE — And fifty three centavos.

    SERVANT GIRL — (wobbling on the stool) — I feel dizzy…I don’t know…

    ROCAMBOLE — But listen, you’re not the Servant Girl any more, you understand? You’re the orphan. (Emphatic.) The poor little orphan, the impoverished orphan.

    SERVANT GIRL – This is all too much. I can’t take it, señor…

    ROCAMBOLE — You must be strong…How would you withstand it if forty volumes were written about your life? How did I cope? I’ve managed…

    SERVANT GIRL (timid) — Forty volumes isn’t exactly three hundred million…

    ROCAMBOLE (offended) — Señorita…please…You can’t compare the obscenely gaudy number of three hundred million to forty volumes. Three hundred million is for any rich sausage maker, any New York grocer, any illiterate Australian…but forty volumes…don’t offend me, señorita…Can you give me the name of any other man whose had forty volumes written about him? Citations please. Tell me.

    SERVANT GIRL — No, I don’t think I could.

    ROCAMBOLE (satisfied, exhales) — You see…don’t get mixed up…(firmly) You’re the orphan…I found out who swindled you out of the three hundred million…and I bring it to you; I magnanimously give you three hundred million and fifty three cents. (puts a package on the floor.) Now you sign for the delivery. (Extracts a paper and fountain pen from his pocket.)

    SERVANT GIRL — Sign this receipt?

    ROCAMBOLE — Rules are rules, señorita. You have to respect them. This is a business transaction. I give you three hundred million and you sign the receipt. No trotting out later that I never handed it over…

    SERVANT GIRL — But, señor…

    ROCAMBOLE (insistent) — Rules must be followed, señorita. Sign…

    SERVANT GIRL (feigning offense) — How could I not? As if I wouldn’t sign it!.. (Signs.)

    ROCAMBOLE (stuffing the receipt in his pocket) — Because you can’t predict what might happen in life, you know…

    The service bell rings and the Servant Girl goes out. Rocambole slips through the door, and the scene stays still for an empty moment .


    Light slowly dims in the hovel until the graduating darkness turns into Cimmerian gloom. You can hear footsteps and a cold greenish light inundates the stage, revealing now the Servant Girl sitting on the edge of her bunk. But the hovel has now grown, its walls now stretching into the bridge of a transatlantic liner, with slanting yellow smokestack and feathers of cranes and winches spreading out. Orange brightness swirls on the ship and on the silver and graygreen appearance of a chimeric ocean.

    A Sailor enters the bridge section and without so much as a word deposits a hammock. Then looks at the sea and he leaves.

    The Servant Girl gradually emerges from her daydream and advances toward the gangplank of the ship, placing a hand over her eyes like a visor so as to look on the horizon. The maid, once withdrawn and sad, has transformed into a voluptuous and slinky creature delighting in the scenery that surrounds her.

    IMPORTANT DETAIL: The Servant Girl continues wearing her maid’s apron throughout the whole play, and the Spirit People pretend not to notice.

    SCENE 2

    Walking like a sly cat, the Captain enters the scene behind the Servant Girl. He watches the maid for a moment, then smiles with a sneaky smile.

    CAPTAIN — How do you like the view, señorita? (The way they’re both positioned, the view is invisible, but they act like it was there in front of them, demonstrating the Servant Girl’s wondrously creative imagination and her dream-power.)

    SERVANT GIRL — Those roads going up and down the little mountains are so striking!

    CAPTAIN — They’re called hills. That one, on your left, is San Andrés; the other over where that line of donkeys is going, is San Antonio.…

    SERVANT GIRL — And that golden dome?

    CAPTAIN — Part of the cathedral. Those little streets were once a path that reached the gypsy village…There’s where an accomplice of Rocambole’s would walk before an angel saved Rocambole…

    SERVANT GIRL — The Duchess of Chamery…

    CAPTAIN — The very same.

    SERVANT GIRL — Now I think I see a fire on the mountain. So red!

    CAPTAIN — A trick of the sunlight.

    SERVANT GIRL — And that white road?

    CAPTAIN — Not a road, but an abandoned canal. It’s been filled with water-lilies.

    SERVANT GIRL — Doesn’t that waterfall look like a diamond next to the red trees…

    CAPTAIN — Flowering pomegranate trees. It’s the season.

    SERVANT GIRL — I knew perfectly well they were pomegranate trees…But I didn’t want to give you the impression that I did, Captain.

    CAPTAIN — How odd!

    SERVANT GIRL — Seems to me that being passenger who asks nothing and knows everything must be unsatisfying. To travel knowingly wouldn’t be any fun. And, besides, how would the Captain of the ship show off his learning? Don’t you agree? And that golden tower?..Now that I really don’t know…

    CAPTAIN — Yellow marble. Part of the great castle of Spain.

    SERVANT GIRL — What a strange coincidence, Captain!

    CAPTAIN — What coincidence?

    SERVANT GIRL — This view is identical to one I saw in La Esfera. I remember it perfectly.

    CAPTAIN — Ah!..The Spanish magazine…Yes that’s it, now I remember the reproduction. It said gypsies gather on that peak, you see it?

    SERVANT GIRL — I can make out the shepherdess clearly.

    CAPTAIN – And the little lambs.

    SERVANT GIRL — And the shepherd in back.

    CAPTAIN — Yes, the one carrying the pipes.

    SERVANT GIRL — And the one with the musket and red strap?

    CAPTAIN — Must be a bandit or a smuggler.

    SERVANT GIRL — How interesting! The mountain has gone purple.

    CAPTAIN — It’s thanks to the sun setting…You’ve never traveled?

    SERVANT GIRL — No, since I recently received an inheritance of three hundred million, I’m just now traveling…

    CAPTAIN — Three hundred million! That’s a respectable sum…

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, for sure…

    CAPTAIN — So that’s why I asked myself: Who is this distinguished young lady who travels so luxuriously? I guess she’ll find the service aboard this ship satisfactory.

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes…the maids are very nice girls.

    CAPTAIN — Personally chosen. My ship is like a temple. The waiters are chaste and the maids virtuous. Is the food agreeable?

    SERVANT GIRL — yes…And I’m not too picky anyway…

    CAPTAIN — When you have three hundred million you’ve got to be discerning about everything.


    CAPTAIN — But why have three hundred million then? Don’t you see? If it wasn’t like that then a penniless person would have just as much reason to be picky and pretentious as a multimillionaire, such as yourself. (Looking around.) The moon has risen in hurry!

    SERVANT GIRL — It’s wonderful. The mountains look silver.

    CAPTAIN — Can’t you see that bonfire?

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, very well…How amazing!..See those women…

    CAPTAIN — Dancing a bolero…

    SERVANT GIRL — (Cupping her hands around her ears) You can hear the guitars…

    CAPTAIN — See how that gypsy stamps his feet…

    SERVANT GIRL — (dropping to her knees) — Lord God, thank you for letting me delight in such wonders…

    CAPTAIN — What’s going on, señorita? (The Servant Girl rises to her feet. )

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m touched, Captain. If you only knew! When I lived in Buenos Aires and hadn’t yet received my inheritance, I’d occupy myself going to train stations…I would travel by train… Naturally…, short trips…, half hour…to me it felt like going very far…, don’t know to where. I got the idea that the train could only stop at a station where there’d be houses in which every single person was happy…

    CAPTAIN — Travel is very educational.

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m not interested in education. I like the train because it goes far…and also, you know the wet charcoal smell locomotives have?..(tone changes.) Oh what a shame! You can’t see the bonfire now…

    CAPTAIN — The desert starts here. If you’ll permit me, my second mate is calling.

    (He exits. The Servant Girl sits down in a rocking chair.)

    SCENE 3

    The Prince Gallant appears as he does in the prologue. A cylinder of cold lunar light falls on the Servant Girl and rocking chair.

    PRINCE GALLANT (beside the rocking chair) — Señorita…, señorita…

    SERVANT GIRL — Oh! Is that you…?

    PRINCE GALLANT (softly) — Yes, it’s me…it’s me…

    The Servant Girl eyes him for a moment then decides to go along with this love comedy game.

    SERVANT GIRL — Oh!..Is it you…, is it you…?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Will you permit me to declare my love for you?

    SERVANT GIRL ( sweetly ironic ) — You couldn’t tell me some other way?

    PRINCE GALLANT (surprised) — But why?

    SERVANT GIRL (keeping up her ironic manner) — Because that’s the way various stockboys at the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the bakery have made the same declaration.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Don’t compare us!..You desire mine to be special.

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes…a bit more expressive.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Do you want me to kneel?

    SERVANT GIRL — Oh! No, it’s old-fashioned, and besides, you’ll stain your pants.

    PRINCE GALLANT — So you want me to pretend to be Prince Melancholic?

    SERVANT GIRL — Men! You’re so hard to understand! If I was a man I’d come up behind this rocking chair and deeply kissing the girl I wanted, I would tell her tenderly: I love you so much…, so much…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Ah! So you’re looking for the German novel procedure…

    SERVANT GIRL (firmly ) — I’ve never read any German novels. I’ve read Rocambole, which is really long…, forty volumes…, and nothing else… (The Prince Gallant remains silent and ret reats ; the Servant Girl closes her eyes and Prince Gallant, then goes forward tiptoeing, turns her by the chin and kisse s her on the mouth.)

    PRINCE GALLANT — I love you so much…, so much…

    SERVANT GIRL (haughtily) — That wasn’t all bad…and I as well, my master. (Roar of a desert lion in the distance.) The lion!

    PRINCE GALLANT — Roaring for love…

    SERVANT GIRL — Like in the Zoological Gardens.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Where’s that?

    SERVANT GIRL — Back there…, in Buenos Aires…But returning to matter at hand…so, you love me?

    PRINCE GALLANT — I’ve loved you since I saw you in the dining room. And in my mind I vowed that if you gave me your hand I would make you my wife before man and God.

    SERVANT GIRL — Can you try this again? If I were a man I’d make my declaration a different way…

    PRINCE GALLANT (grouchy) — Could you just tell me what part I’m supposed to be playing here? Is it me or you that has to do the declaring?

    SERVANT GIRL — Don’t get upset, man! Gosh, you’re a bit stupid for a Gallant. Would anyone really think to say just: I love you to a woman? That’s what they say in the theater; in reality they do it a different way. In reality, when a man wants a woman, he tries to manipulate her. I thought you were more intelligent. Us women are attracted to shameless men…

    PRINCE GALLANT — You have to see it…to believe it.

    SERVANT GIRL — Be bold. I’m a bold woman like all women are. And women don’t like prologues in love. No, señor Gallant, steel yourself. (Assertive) I’m going to give you a lesson. Sit down on that rocking chair. (Prince Gallant sits; the Servant Girl paces back, then approaches and leans over him.) Ok, act like I’m the man and you’re the woman. (Says in a very sweet voice) Baby…I want to be a kitten in your lap. (Really leaning over the man. ) I want you to make me your slave. I’d like to debase myself for you…Well, now do what comes natural, but you see what I’m looking for. (Prince Gallant rises from his seat; the Servant Girl occupies it.)

    PRINCE GALLANT — You do realize no decent person would do that?

    SERVANT GIRL — If we stay stuck in this rut we’ll never get anywhere. It’s not a matter of trying to get a good grade, just that you do it how I like it. You’re…I have three hundred million…

    PRINCE GALLANT — It’s that I’ve never run into a woman like you.

    SERVANT GIRL (shaking her head, then she laughs) — What a piece of work…such an Adolfo!..

    PRINCE GALLANT — Oh!..You know my name! Oh! You pronounced its syllables! I can die content!

    SERVANT GIRL — Wouldn’t be a great loss if you just popped…, but why do you want to die young?

    PRINCE GALLANT — My life unfurls under bad sign. I’m hunted by the murderous love of a gypsy girl…

    SERVANT GIRL – Aw go fuck yourself! So goofy…

    PRINCE GALLANT (furious) — This is impossible…you’re fighting every attempt.

    SERVANT GIRL — Calm down; I’ll go through the motions….(gesticulating like an actress) What’s this…? Have you been unfaithful to me?

    PRINCE GALLANT — No, I never returned her affection…, still she pursues me over mountain and sea…

    SERVANT GIRL (lovingly) — Cute! Very imaginative!

    PRINCE GALLANT — She’s a femme fatale.

    SERVANT GIRL — Sweetie, femme fatales only exist in the movies. We wind up getting married and that’s the end of that femme fatale.

    PRINCE GALLANT — I don’t have the money to get married. And anyway a married gallant is a figure of ridicule and faces the laughter of those women he seduced and didn’t marry.

    SERVANT GIRL — I like you and I’ll buy you. I have three hundred million.

    PRINCE GALLANT (scratching his head) — A respectable sum. The hundred million! But what will she say after crossing mountain and sea?…

    SERVANT GIRL — You’re too dense to understand! You see, the seas and mountains are a fib meant to give a little poetry to my dream. I’m the dreamer here, no one but me.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Then I kneel before you…

    SERVANT GIRL (grouchy) — Just do what you want. (Aside) This man’s a complete imbecile, like all the gallants.

    PRINCE GALLANT (proclaiming) — Crossed mountain and sea.

    SERVANT GIRL — And forests. Where’d you leave off?..

    PRINCE GALLANT (to himself) — I was looking at a woman…then looking at another, and none of them pleased me…(The Servant Girl looks at him and shakes his head appalled at this cad) And I said to myself: Why will no maiden love me? Why will no young woman run to meet me and hold me to her bosom?..Why don’t cities tumble down when I pass and governors not crown me with flowers…, and the lamb not graze beside the lion, nor the lion frolic with the kid, if my heart brims with love?

    SERVANT GIRL — That’s interesting.

    PRINCE GALLANT (pensively) — What are you thinking? That I don’t know how to think for myself? Of course I’ve thought about this! The part of the gallant is simultaneously comic and dramatic. As you can see, you and I are here with the sea before us and we still haven’t really kissed.

    SERVANT GIRL — And you’d like to kiss me?

    PRINCE GALLANT — I’d like to love you, despite your devilish character.

    SERVANT GIRL (uncertainly) — Love me?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Yes, I want to love you a great deal even if you don’t love me back, and to humiliate myself before you like a dog.

    SERVANT GIRL — Why humiliate yourself?

    PRINCE GALLANT (sudden anguish in his voice) — I don’t know…, but some women have that effect on us. First we try irony…it’s like having the feeling that we can push them around…then soon that feeling is shattered and in our hearts a bittersweet need to be humiliated by that woman, to suffer…

    SERVANT GIRL — Very pretty words you’ve said. Sit by my side. (Prince Gallant sits.) Sometimes we feel that same feeling: that we’re conquered by a man who gives us a sleazy look that makes us shiver…and who slaps us…and who kisses us…Why don’t you kiss me know?..I’d like it if you kissed me.

    PRINCE GALLANT — I don’t want to kiss her. (He rises and goes to the gangplank of the ship. ) The sea…, the moon…, the heart of man is more changeable than the sea…

    SERVANT GIRL — Is it true about the gypsy girl?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Why do you ask me?

    SERVANT GIRL — Since we’re in love we have to talk about something.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Are we cheating on each other then?

    SERVANT GIRL — What if we neither cheat nor lie?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Then we’ll have to tell each other heavy things…

    SERVANT GIRL — Tell me.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Alright…I can’t stand women, least of all you. I hate your kissing technique…, your jokes… I can’t stand them because what small proportion of fun they produce isn’t worth the little digs at my expense. (Abrupt change.) Pardon me,…, I forgot I’m supposed to be playing the part of Prince Gallant…

    SERVANT GIRL — So why’d you ask me for a kiss just now?

    PRINCE GALLANT — For the sake of asking…a gallant is always obliged to ask for kisses, like a boxer has to throw punches. It’s his “métier.”

    SERVANT GIRL (kindly) — You’re a cynic…

    PRINCE GALLANT — That’s the only compliment I’m flattered by. Yes, I’m cynical and shameless and, in fact, I like being this way. When I stop being shameless my heart seizes…, my asthma acts up. I go around the world pretending. I know a thousand ways to hoodwink fools; the crooked smile, the soulful look while deep inside myself I’m mocking human weakness. Sometimes I study loving couples, and in the lady’s expression I can see by what method she’ll sour her husband’s life, just like how in his body language I can predict how many minutes his fidelity will endure…

    SERVANT GIRL — And what sort of women do you like?

    PRINCE GALLANT — The well dressed ones. Doesn’t matter if they’re ugly. Between a well-dressed ugly and a beauty in a plain getup, I’ll keep the ugly one. A woman is nothing more than a dress…, some skin, and a hat…

    SERVANT GIRL — I like you and I’ll buy you from…

    PRINCE GALLANT — You’ve got three hundred million and I’ll sell me to you myself…

    SERVANT GIRL — Perfect. Done deal. Here comes the Captain and Azucena. Announce our engagement.

    SCENE 4

    The Captain, Griselda, and Azucena appear from the left. The two girlfriends are suited in crepe satin of ivory and emerald, tight on the figure in a way that draws an elegant silhouette in obvious contrast to the proletarian apron worn by the maid. The Captain, the girlfriends, and Prince Gallant trade the kind of glances at once ironic and sympathetic natural to people of a higher class on finding a lowlife in their “sphere.” Then they bow to the demands of the farce and it’s soon impossible to tell if they’re simpatico or enemies.

    CAPTAIN Gazing out to sea?

    AZUCENA and GRISELDA (in unison) — Good evening…

    PRINCE GALLANT — Señoritas…, Captain…, you’ve come at a very happy moment for me. I’ve just become engaged to señorita Sofía.

    CAPTAIN — My congratulations, señorita…Congratulations, good sir…

    AZUCENA — My congratulations to you, lovely young lady….and to you as well, señor.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Thank you…

    GRISELDA — I hope that you’ll both…

    The Service bell rings repeatedly and the Servant Girl goes to her room and leaves. The ship’s lights dim and the characters now continue their dialogue amongst themselves.

    SCENE 5

    GRISELDA — That lady’s crazy…

    PRINCE GALLANT (angrily) — All of you are nuts…

    AZUCENA — How is your predicament any fault of ours?..

    GRISELDA — Don’t forget we’re phantoms same as you.

    CAPTAIN — Her imagination: the base premise is Rocambole novels and the geography learned from the magazine “La Esfera.”

    GRISELDA — The only things she’s ever read or seen.

    AZUCENA — Makes me want to give up…

    PRINCE GALLANT (assuaged) — You know I can’t do that.

    CAPTAIN — And she really thinks she’s a millionaire.

    GRISELDA (to the Captain) — Did you see how she talked like she’s our equal?

    AZUCENA (to Prince Gallant) — How’d you manage?

    PRINCE GALLANT — It was hellish.

    CAPTAIN — Did you get her into the act?

    AZUCENA — Did she faint?

    GRISELDA — Did she act the pure maiden?

    PRINCE GALLANT — The floozy?..Did she embarrass herself? You’re way off. She nearly gave me a slap in the face because I was following my system and wasn’t acting the way she wanted me to.

    CAPTAIN — Ours is a dirty business.

    AZUCENA — I’d leave, but my feet are like lead.

    PRINCE GALLANT — My head’s spinning…After the hunchback I wind up with the Servant Girl. I go from bad to worse.

    GRISELDA — Same for me.

    CAPTAIN — And me.

    PRINCE GALLANT — When I think back to better days!..

    GRISELDA — Poor people shouldn’t be allowed to dream…

    AZUCENA — That’s right. A poor dreamer imagines the tackiest nonsense.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Because they lack culture.

    CAPTAIN — The lowliest dishwasher thinks he’s got airs. Been this way for a while now.

    GRISELDA — It’s because of the movies…trust me.

    PRINCE GALLANT — How tranquil we were once in our astral world!

    GRISELDA (to Azucena) — The gallant is so well-spoken! (To Prince Gallant) I’m falling for you, you know?…

    PRINCE GALLANT — A pity…, I’m nothing more than a little smoke and ether.

    CAPTAIN — We’ve lost the strength we had in antiquity; anyone can enslave us.

    PRINCE GALLANT — And this woman has a demonically strong obsession.

    GRISELDA — That’s not it.

    CAPTAIN — She’s like a magnet.

    PRINCE GALLANT — I feel like I’m being tossed around by the back and forth of her thoughts.

    AZUCENA — Now I ask myself how this is all going to end.

    PRINCE GALLANT — We’re like actors in a theatrical work.

    CAPTAIN — She’s the author…

    GRISELDA — With the distinction that only she sees us.

    AZUCENA — In any case, I’m feeling a powerful urge to get out of here.

    CAPTAIN — Yes…you get sick of this nonsense.

    PRINCE GALLANT — My bonds are loosening…

    GRISELDA — Sure enough.

    CAPTAIN — Her thoughts are drifting.

    The light fades further until the scene is clouded in the insensibility of night.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Let’s fly off. (The y go.) The stage is deserted for some minutes. In this silence, a piano recital of “Asturias” by Albéniz can be heard in the distance. Everything darkens totally and, as in the prior scene, the maid’s footsteps repeat as we hear her walk about her hovel.


    When the lights come on the stage looks deserted. On the extended wall occupied earlier by the ship’s bridge now opens an immense, colorful leaded stained glass, of which a partway-opened panel lets us see rows olive trees and a cordon of mountains. The first person appearing on stage is a Nanny in a white bonnet, and month old infant in her arms. Behind her, from the side door, enters Prince Gallant arm in arm with the Servant Girl.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Well, I’ll see you later, sweetheart.

    SERVANT GIRL — Don’t be late.

    PRINCE GALLANT — I’ll do a turn around the mountain.

    SERVANT GIRL — Don’t linger because when the sun sets I start getting restless. I don’t know why.

    PRINCE GALLANT — Relax. (He leans over the little creature held by the Nanny and kiss her, saying:) Say goodbye to daddy. (Exits waving goodbye.)

    SERVANT GIRL — Until later, beloved. (To the Nanny.) How’s the weather?

    NANNY — Pleasant, señora.

    SERVANT GIRL — Go out to the garden. Take good care of the little one.

    NANNY — Yes, señora.

    SERVANT GIRL — Stay in the shade, but not somewhere damp or windy.

    NANNY — Yes, señora.

    SERVANT GIRL — If she falls asleep, bring her back at once.

    NANNY – Yes, señora.

    SERVANT GIRL — Put her in the stroller.

    NANNY — Will that be all, señora?

    SERVANT GIRL — Come back in a half hour.

    NANNY — I’ll be back then, señora.

    SERVENT GIRL — Until then.

    (The Nanny leaves.)

    SCENE 2

    The Valet enters and announces:

    VALET — Pardon me, señora. The ladies Griselda and Azucena are asking for you.

    SERVANT GIRL — They may enter.

    (Valet leaves.)

    SCENE 3

    Griselda and Azucena enter, they run to greet the Servant Girl, and each embraces her.

    GRISELDA — It’s been so long since we last saw you!

    AZUCENA — You look so pretty!

    SERVANT GIRL — You ladies look well…

    GRESELDA — You’ve put some meat on your bones…You’re glowing!

    AZUCENA — And the little one?.. I want to see the little one.

    SERVANT GIRL — In the garden…I’ll have her brought in now.

    GRISELDA — What’s she like? Who does she take after?

    AZUCENA — Quiet down a moment, let’s see if I can guess. Is she a blonde?

    SERVANT GIRL — No, she has black hair.

    GRISELDA — I knew it!

    SERVANT GIRL — She has her father’s nose…Though her brow and little mouth are the same as mine.

    AZUCENA — She must be a pretty little thing! I’m dying to see her.

    GRISELDA — And Adolfo?

    SERVANT GIRL — He went out just a moment ago.

    AZUCENA — How’s life as a married woman, eh?

    GRISELDA — You’re happy?

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes…relatively.

    AZUCENA — What a thing to say!

    SERVANT GIRL — To put it plainly, getting married’s not worth the trouble.

    GRISELDA — Adolfo doesn’t behave himself?

    SERVANT GIRL — That’s not it…I’m not sure why exactly, but it seems like Adolfo has been preoccupied.

    SCENE 4

    Commotion outside made up of female shouts, questions, and strained voices behind the curtain. The Servant Girl stands in a flash and her friends do the same.

    SERVANT GIRL — What’s happening?

    VALET (enters in disarray) — Señora, the baby!..

    NANNY (Appears covered in blood) — They stole the baby, the stole the baby!

    SERVANT GIRL (advances stiffly, pressing her hands into her temples) What’s this woman saying?

    SCENE 5

    PRINCE GALANT staggers stumbling in, doubled over at the chest, his hands pressed to his heart.

    PRINCE GALLANT — They’ve killed me…, the gypsy woman…, my daughter…, God. (He crumples into the arms of the Servant Girl).

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m going crazy.

    PRINCE GALLANT — The gypsy woman’s revenge. They have to find my daughter! (Falls to the ground.)

    SERVANT GIRL (Chest heaves with her arms held aloft) — This is a dream.

    SCENE 6

    Rocambole appears in the doorway like a sleepwalking puppet, extending his arms melodramatically.

    ROCAMBOLE — I vow to find your daughter, señora!

    The Servant Girl sinks to her knees beside Prince Gallant. Griselda and Azucena hold each other tight. The service bell rings so furiously that the Servant Girl leaps to her feet and hurries out of her room. Exit The Servant Girl and Rocambole.

    SCENE 7

    PRINCE GALLANT (getting up off the floor where he was playing dead) — I swear on my life that woman’s crazier than a goat.

    GRISELDA — She’s not playing tiddly-winks. Her drama’s asking for dozen corpses at least.

    AZUCENA — The imagination of a plebian.

    PRINCE GALLANT — To hell with this job!

    NANNY — Thank god I’m not needed for anything else.

    GRISELDA — So you get to leave?

    PRINCE GALLANT — Fortunately.

    AZUCENA — You’re lucky.

    GRISELDA — You don’t want me to go with you?

    PRINCE GALLANT — I don’t want any hassles, machinations, or complications; between hunchbacks and dementoids my life has gotten fouled up enough without getting ensnared by phantoms too.

    NANNY — Like you aren’t one yourself!

    PRINCE GALLANT — I can’t argue that point…, but I’m leaving.

    (The Gallant exits and after him, severe and bowed, one after the other, the phantoms of the drama. The witchy set lighting slowly fades out. In the gray desolate rectangle of the dream Death comes creeping in. He peeks through a gap into the Servant Girl’s room.)

    DEATH — The dreamy little dove isn’t quite done yet. All because she doesn’t eat deviled ham.


(the new installment for today 6/13

    ACT 2

    Now the Servant Girl’s room dream zone extendsinto a collier’s business in slum. Piles of coal are heaped along the perimeter allowing narrow passage. Rocambole and the Servant Girl swiftly conceal themselves. They haven’t completed hiding behind the piles when onto the stage comes a girl of fourteen in espadrilles. Long red dress, and hair hanging down her back like the trichromes of Genevieve of Brabant that decorate the stalls of bootblacks and barbers. The girl struggles with a coal shovel in one hand and in the other carries a bag. She starts filling the bag, then stops and kneels in the center of the stage.



    SCENE 1

    CINDERELLA — Why didn’t you give me a good mother like all the other girls, God? Why am I alone in this word, Lord in Heaven above, if I’ve never done anything bad? (Behind a coal heap but visible to the audience, the Servant Girl starts to run towards the girl, but Rocambole gestures her to keep still then removes a revolver from his pocket. The Servant Girl holds back. Cinderella goes on.) Dear God, if you’re real, make them find my mommy! (As Cinderella speaks these words, a huge man, face smeared with coal, wearing tincloth cap and workman’s smock enters through an adjoining corridor. This oaf, known as Compadre Vulcano, listens to Cinderella’s beseechings, sidles up to her, then twists he r ear and exclaims.)

    V ULCANO — So this is how you repay me after all I’ve done for you: by asking God to hurt my business!

    Compadre Vulcano releases the girl’s ear but raises his hand and glares at her.

    CINDERELLA — I was praying, uncle…

    VULCANO — Praying’s forbidden in my colliery. What did you need to pray about? You’re plump and pampered as a little rabbit.

    CINDERELLA — Uncle…, forgive me…

    VULCANO — I’m not your uncle. I don’t even want to be. So I’m not. Legally speaking I can’t be your uncle. Let Satan do it. Yes, Satan. I sacrifice for you and you respond by praying to God in my own charcoal business to my detriment; my clientele don’t want to hear anything about God!

    The dirtbag paces from one side of his “establishment” to the other, while Cinderella, unsettled, shakes her head. Vulcano dabs his forehead with a checkered handkerchief then continues like a disturbed jerk.

    VULCANO — I can’t be sure, but I thought I saw Rocambole lurking around this house. Curse that outlaw! (addressing the girl.) Can you deny I treat with kindness? No! Can you deny my heart is sweet and generous? No! After they brought you here I might have cut out your tongue and burned your eyes with acid.

    Behind a bag of coal the Servant Girl holds her head along with Rocambole who makes indignant gesticulations.

    VULANCO — Had I done what the gypsy woman who had you stolen you wanted, maybe then you could ask god to punish me. (Cinderella shivers and grasps her elbows and pulls her arms tight against herself.) But you see that I’m merciful. I didn’t cut out your tongue. At the Taberna de la Sangre I cut out a girl’s tongue. Let that fucker Rocambole tell you about it. You understand? But I listened to my tender heart and didn’t cut out your tongue.

    The thug paces and then continues proudly and magnanimously.

    VULCANO — I’m just sentimental. No sense fighting it. My blessed mother would tell me: you’ll never get anywhere in life, Vulcanito, with your soft heart. You’re too virtuous. She was right, my poor mother. I am sentimental. I feed you and look after you to my own detriment. And how do you thank me? Can you inform me? By invoking God’s grace to hurt me. Don’t you know it’s a sin to invoke God’s name in vain? Thou shalt not invoke the name of God in vain. Yet you insist on this sinful conduct calling down the wrath of God to fall upon by commercial establishment and my customers. You were supposed to fill ten bags of coal…so where are they?..

    CINDERELLA — I filled four…, uncle.

    VULCANO — And here I go sacrificing myself. This is why I fatten you with nutritious food? And while I go patrolling the city streets because an honest citizen has to keep an eye on his neighbors and know what those robbers are up to…, you slack off in my charcoal business like a general’s daughter and have fun like you’re a banker’s heiress.

    CINDERELLA — Uncle…, I’m having fun?

    VULCANO — What’s that? Filling bags of coal isn’t fun enough for you? Oh this earthly ingratitude! Then how are you going to pay me for that dress you’re wearing? Those pretty little shoes? How would you survive if you were shipwrecked on a desert isle? How would you find food? You want me to bring the lyric opera to this shop to entertain you? To hire the Hagembeck circus? Maybe you want me to beg for charity so along with all my other sacrifices I can afford to get you dolled up like the daughter of nobility? No, no…glory to the devil, this has to stop. Listen, come here.

    (Cinderella moves close to Volcano, and he whispers in her eye for a moment. The sound of a struggle outside, and Vulcano exclaims)

    VULANCO — There he is! Come in!

    SCENE 2

    Enter a fat old greasy pimply man, with a tan suit, a cane, and a jolly top hat.

    OLD MAN — Good evening, señor, Vulcano.

    VULCANO (to Cinderella) — My dear niece, this is the Honorable Ruffian, who I was just telling you about.

    OLD MAN — Oh!..As for honest…there’s no one like me…And as for ruffian, that’s my profession, because ever since I was a boy I’ve always held fast to this maxim: idleness is the mother of all vices.

    VULCANO — You see, niece, how alike this gentleman and I are?

    OLD MAN (extending his cane and tapping Cinderella) — Is this the dove you’re trying to sell?

    VULCANO — The very same.

    OLD MAN — Skinny.

    VULCANO — That shows I keep her in good condition. She’s not a glutton. Only lazy women fatten. And men don’t like fate women like they do skinny ones.

    OLD MAN — That’s one opinion.

    CINDERELLA — My God!

    OLD MAN — What’s the matter with this little goat?

    VULCANO — She rejoices to God because you’re taking her home.

    OLD MAN — Is that so, little dove?

    CINDERELLA (sadly) — Yes, señor.

    OLD MAN — I’ll teach you right.

    VULCANO — You see how I’ve sacrificed. By the sweat of my brow…

    OLD MAN (wryly) — So that’s why you want me to take her off your hands. (To Cinderella) I have many girls like you…, it’s true…, better dressed and better fed. All happy and content.

    CINDERELLA — How wonderful! Is it a big school, señor?

    VULCANO — Big as ship. Several floors high and there’s even music.

    OLD MAN — I’m like a father to all my girls. Let’s look at you, young lady…(The Old Man reaches with is cane) Turn around…

    (Cinderella spins and the Old Man shades his eyes with his hand, examining her intently)

    VULCANO — Stop trying to find a discount, you old skinflint.

    OLD MAN — She’s skinny. One shoulder’s taller than the other. (To Cinderella) You know how to talk French?

    CINDERELLA — No, señor.

    OLD MAN — What about classical dance?

    CINDERELLA — No, señor.

    OLD MAN — Boyfriend?

    CINDERELLA — No, señor.

    OLD MAN — Not good…, not good. Do you know how to attract men?

    SCENE 3

    From beyond the pile of coal the Servant Girl leaps wielding a revolver and Rocambole beside her holding another pistol.

    SERVANT GIRL — Shut up, monster!..You old devil!..

    VULCANO — Where’d this hag come from?

    OLD MAN — And this fellow with a revolver? (To Vulcano) You’re trying to frame me…

    ROCAMBOLE — Good afternoon, gentlemen.

    VULCANO ( angrily) — I’ll call the police. Who are you? You’re trespassing in my home.

    ROCAMBOLE — Good afternoon, I said!

    OLD MAN — You and your revolver are interrupting a business transaction.

    SERVANT GIRL — Shut up, criminal!

    OLD MAN — I won’t let an old goat call me criminal.

    SERVANT GIRL — Creepy ruffian!

    OLD MAN — I won’t stand for this. I’m an entrepeneur. I engage in lawful business practices. I maintain a license. I contribute to society. My paperwork is up-to-date. (The Old Man stomps the floor indignantly.) Why did you come here to interrupt our business transaction?

    ROCAMBOLE — I said good afternoon and no one’s answered me.

    VULCANO — Why would I care if you wish me a good afternoon?

    OLD MAN — Who the hell are you that we need to return your greeting?

    SERVANT GIRL (To Cinderella) Come here, poor thing.

    CINDERELLA — Yes, señora…You have a kind face. (Stands next to The Servant Girl.)

    VULCANO (to Rocambole) — You’re breaking the law…threatening me with a deadly weapon…

    ROCAMBOLE — I’m the ex-con. I’m Rocambole!

    OLD MAN — Rocambole!

    VULCANO — I’m good as dead!..

    OLD MAN — Aren’t you supposed to be dead?

    ROCAMBOLE — Wherever there’s an orphan to protect from villains, or a widow from lawyers, Rocambole will be there.

    OLD MAN (removing his hat) — If you are indeed Rocambole…as it seems you must be…I graciously retract everything I said. Yes, señor, I take back what I’ve said. Madam, I called you a hag. But from this moment on you’re not a hag, but a dignified dame.

    SERVANT GIRL — Shut up, monster!

    OLD MAN — We infirm old men are always bumbling into trouble. And really, your quarrel is with señor Vulcano, if I’m not mistaken.

    CINDERELLA — Señora, this little old man wanted to take me to a school.

    OLD MAN — Such innocence brings me joy. I want to state plainly that I haven’t sullied her virtue. I leave her as I found her.

    CINDERELLA — He wants to bring me to school, why is that bad?

    VULCANO (pathetic) — You see how well I’ve brought her up? I have no ill intent. I’ve sacrificed…the sweat of my brow.

    OLD MAN — I’ll be going now, if you don’t mind…I don’t want to associate myself with a man of ill-repute such as this. (Points to Vulcano.) Señor Rocambole, fair maiden…, forever at your service. (He walks backwards with hat in hand until reaching the exit, then exclaims:) Take your time skinning him, mum’s the word! What goes around comes around!

    SCENE 4

    Rocambole, the Servant Girl, Compadre Vulcano, and Cinderella.

    ROCAMBOLE — Now that we’re alone we’re going to chat, Vulcano my friend. Where’s your real wife?

    VULCANO — In jail.

    ROCAMBOLE — And your kids?

    VULCANO — In prison.

    ROCAMBOLE — How’d you get them all to take a summer vacation? You’re living free and easy as a lone wolf. No relations to bother you.

    VULCANO — And the police leave me alone too. I’m reformed I swear, señor Rocambole. There’s no greater satisfaction than the honest life. (Turning to the Servant Girl) So you’re this esteemed gentleman’s wife? Your heart must swell with pride as the virtuous matron to be wed to such as great man!

    SERVANT GIRL — Shut up! (Vulcano tries to step toward her.)

    ROCAMBOLE — Dear man…, if you take another step I’ll blast the filth from your heart. ( Vulcano steps back. ) Honestly, where did you find this little girl?

    VULCANO — A woman gave her to me to care for when she was just a little one.

    ROCAMBOLE — Speak plain. Who was this woman?

    VULCANO — The mother.

    ROCAMBOLE — You’re lying, Vulcano.

    VULCANO — The father died in prison.

    ROCAMBOLE — Compadre Volcano, let’s put our cards on the table.

    VULCANO — The mother came to me and said I’m giving you the apple of my eye.

    ROCAMBOLE — I’m getting bored of this. She was really given to you by her mother when she was a little girl?

    VULCANO — I give you my honest word.

    ROCAMBOLE (to the Servant Girl) — Uncover her back, señora.

    The Servant Girl makes a rip in her dress, and looking at the girl exclaims:

    SERVANT GIRL — There’s the little scar the midwife made during her birth! My daughter!

    CINDERELLA — My mother! I’m so glad!

    SERVANT GIRL — All these years…, my daughter…, my dearest.

    CINDERELLA — I knew this day would come.

    The child and the Servant Girl suddenly embrace and hold each other in silence.

    VULCANO — What a pretty scene! ( Still trying to lie his way out.) I think I’m about to cry. (Takes a step forward, but Rocambole quickly raises the revolver.)

    ROCAMBOLE — Quiet, criminal!

    VULCANO — I’m overjoyed. I always told this little one that she was of noble birth.

    ROCAMBOLE — You’ll have to start singing sooner or later, stool pigeon…, so start singing…

    VULCANO — And if I’m not a singer?

    ROCAMBOLE — You know, I’m starting to think how easy it’d be to put you on ice, so out with it.

    VULCANO — Fine then, boss. I’ll sing like a canary. I did bad. They offered me the baby. Lizard’s the one who who knifed the father, and Monseñor snatched the kid.

    ROCAMBOLE — I think it must have been you. Monseñor was in prison at the time.

    VULCANO — What would my saintly old mother say…?

    ROCAMBOLE — Leave that cursed old woman out of this.

    VULCANO — Lizard stabbed the father. I stole the kid. I swear on the Gospel, boss, I only stole the baby. The gypsy woman didn’t hold up her end.

    ROCAMBOLE — And you only got fifty thousand francs instead of the hundred thousand you agreed to…

    VULCANO — How’d you know, boss?

    ROCAMBOLE — My friend: I’m the one asking questions here…And if you didn’t blind the girl or cut out her tongue, it was only as a means to more profit down the line…

    VULCANO — Those are just lies Lizard spread. I didn’t harm the girl because of my tender heart. The kid’ll tell you. (Turns to Cinderella.) Isn’t it true that I cared for you like a colonel’s daughter? Isn’t it true that I dead my best to give you the most meticulous education? Isn’t it true I gave you nutritious food abundant in vitamins>

    CINDERELLA — He often hit me…

    VULCANO — In a fatherly way. What sort of father doesn’t give his kids the hand every so often?

    CINDERELLA — He whipped with wires when he got mad…

    SERVANT GIRL — Monster!..My beloved little girl!..Poor little child of mine!..

    VULCANO — Oh! Oh! This breaks my heart! No, I didn’t hit her…not with wires, no.

    ROCAMBOLE — So he whipped you with wires?

    CINDERELLA — Yes, but he said it was for my own good.

    SERVANT GIRL — Monster!..Monster!..Aren’t you ashamed?..

    ROCAMBOLE — Time to pay the piper, Compadre Vulcano. You killed her father. You kidnapped their daughter. You destroyed this dignified lady’s life. Get on your knees, Vulcano.

    VULCANO — I don’t want to die.

    ROCAMBOLE — Fine with me if you want to die on your feet. (Vulcano kneels. Rocambole in a righteous voice.) You cut out the tongue of the mute at the Tavern of Blood, Vulcano. Murdered your friends.

    VULCANO — Forgive me!

    ROCAMBOLE — Ask the wife of the man you killed for forgiveness.

    SERVANT GIRL — I can’t forgive him.

    VULCANO — Forgive me!

    ROCAMBOLE – Ask the mother whose daughter you stole for forgiveness.

    SERVANT GIRL — I can’t…I’ll pray for his soul…

    VULCANO — I don’t want prayers over my grave. I want to live, to eat.

    ROCMABOLE — May the society you’ve insulted with your dark deeds forgive you. You have one minute to pray and commend your soul unto God.

    CINDERELLA — I forgive him, señor Rocambole.

    (Vulcano crawls to kiss her feet.)

    ROCAMBOLE — Do you forgive him with your whole heart, child?

    CINDERELLA — Yes, señor Rocambole. I forgive everything because he didn’t cut out my tongue or leave me blind.

    ROCAMBOLE — Filth, the mercy of this angel saved your vile hide.

    (The Servant Girl and the child retreat. Rocambole grabs a phial from his pocket and says:) But you can’t go unpunished…

    He tosses the contents of the phial into his eyes; Vulcano thrashes his arms and shrieks at the same time…

    VULCANO — I’m blind…, I’m blind! Oh!

    ROCAMBOLE — A merciful punishment I’ve given you.

    (The service bell rings for some time, and for a few moments none of the characters seem to hear it. Then suddenly the Servant Girl hears the bell calling and hurries in a panic back to her room.)

    SCENE 5

    The Mistress of the House appears abruptly at the door of the Servant Girl’s room and says:

    MISTRESS OF THE HOUSE — Hey!..What’s wrong with you that you don’t come when you’re called. I’ve been ringing the bell for a half hour.

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m sorry, señora…

    (Both exit. The spirit people hold their positions like statues, immobilized by the sound the Mistress of the House’s voice when she entered the maid’s quarters. The greenish like that flooded the scene slowly fades out.)


    The Servant Girl’s room is now arrayed like a lavishly appointed parlor like in any romantic story. Gilded porticoes and red curtains give the impression of extraordinary opulence. Furniture, mirrors, and sofas. A sad brightness floats through this last dream-scene.

    Real People: The Servant Girl, Son of the Mistress of the House.

    Spirit People: Azucena and Griselda profoundly aged and dressed in black. Valet with sideburns, Cinderella, Little Gallant, Rocambole.

    SCENE 1

    VALET now fat, wearing green, gray sideburns, enters carrying a tray of liquor, serves it, then goes.

    1st OLD LADY — How the years fly by!

    2nd OLD LADY — That’s life.

    SERVANT GIRL — Suffering.

    1st OLD LADY — Why go on?

    2nd OLD LADY — Nothing but disappointments.

    SERVANT GIRL — Monotony.

    1st OLD LADY — Sadness.

    2nd OLD LADY — Wanting.

    1st OLD LADY — Quitting.

    SERVANT GIRL — Don’t talk.

    1st OLD LADY — Yes, it’s better not to talk.

    2nd OLD LADY — Certain things are better left unsaid.

    SERVANT GIRL — Why am I talking to you two?

    1st OLD LADY — What’d she say?

    SERVANT GIRL — I’m young.

    2nd OLD LADY — She’s crazy.

    OLD LADY — She says she’s young…ha…ha…ha!..

    SERVANT GIRL — I’ve got plenty of time left. I’m only twenty-four.

    1st OLD LADY — She’s crazy. Says she’s twenty-four.

    SERVANT GIRL — Oh! I’m…not sure…I’m old too.

    2nd OLD LADY — It was a joke.

    1st OLD LADY — Right. A joke.

    SERVANT GIRL — But my hair is black.

    2nd OLD LADY — Are you going to bring this up again? You don’t have black hair.

    1st OLD LADY — You’ve got white hair like ours.

    SERVANT GIRL — I have a lost daughter…

    2nd OLD LADY — Delirium. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.

    1st OLD LADY — You don’t remember when Rocambole found your daughter?..

    2nd OLD LADY — In Compadre Vulcano’s colliery.

    1st OLD LADY — And now she’s a young lady.

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes…I didn’t remember.

    2nd OLD LADY — You’re forgetful.

    1st OLD LADY — Comes with old age.

    2nd OLD LADY — We’re holding up better than her.

    1st OLD LADY — And more youthful.

    2nd OLD LADY – She’s suffered a great deal.

    Valet enters, bows to the Old Ladies and says:

    VALET — The car is here, señorita Griselda.

    2nd OLD LADY — Let’s go, Azucena.

    1st OLD LADY (stooping to kiss the Servant Girl who remains motionless in her chair) — See you tomorrow, my dear.

    2nd OLD LADY (does the same as 1 st Old Lady) — See you tomorrow, my dear.

    SERVANT GIRL — See you tomorrow.

    The Valet follows the Old Ladies out, then suddenly turns, and with an open hand and finger on the tip of his nose makes a vulgar gesture to the Servant Girl, who doesn’t see. The Servant Girl remains motionless in her chair. Distant laughter is heard, and suddenly The Servant Girl’s daughter Cinderella appears. She is a young woman of the same age as her mother. She wears a white dress and a white bonnet secured by a ribbon under her chin and carries a bouquet of flowers in her arms. She runs into the room.

    SCENE 2

    The Servant Girl, sitting, Cinderella, her Daughter.

    DAUGHTER — How are you doing, mommy dear? I brought you some flowers (she places the flowers in her lap.)

    SERVANT GIRL (slowly coming to) — How are you, little girl? Where did you come from?

    DAUGHTER — We were out in the country, gathering flowers.

    SERVANT GIRL — I thought there was nothing but pasture in the country.

    DAUGHTER — You’re such a kidder, mommy! The countryside is full of flowers. Everywhere you look you see nothing but flowers. Even the clouds look they’re stuffed with flowers. Sit and rest, mommy, you’ll tire yourself out.

    SERVANT GIRL — You like flowers?

    DAUGHTER — Yes, I like flowers. I like everything pretty. (She walks the room as she speaks.) When you see flowers, it seems like the entire world must be a garden, that wherever you go, you’ll find nothing but perfumes, colors, clouds above, flowers below…

    SERVANT GIRL — I thought the countryside was nothing but cows and horses.

    DAUGHTER — Mommy, you have no imagination. You don’t let yourself dream. I bet you’ve never dreamed of flying.

    SERVANT GIRL — What’s that like?

    DAUGHTER — Yes, you fly. All of a sudden the world goes small and you feel an elastic force pull you by your heels…It seems like you could leap to the stars if you wanted to.

    SERVANT — That’s what it’s like in your twenties.

    DAUGHTER — Mommy…, tell me… Are other women like me? Do they dream like I dream? Do they feel like I can feel?

    SERVANT GIRL — Some, yes.

    DAUGHTER — Mommy, I have to tell you something. I’m in love.

    SERVANT GIRL — Ah! are?..

    DAUGHTER — You’re not upset?

    SERVANT GIRL — No…, it’s lovely…

    DAUGHTER (kneeling beside her) — I was going to tell you, Mommy…(sudden transition) Is it customary for the daughter to kneel beside her mother and tell her that she’s in love…?

    SERVANT GIRL — No, some make that confession to their mother while the mother is reheating some chicken.

    DAUGHTER — You’re such a joker, Mommy…, look out that you don’t hurt my feelings…

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, precious…don’t get annoyed…

    DAUGHTER — Don’t you think I look lovely?

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, you’re very lovely.

    DAUGHTER — Do you remember how ugly I was when I was in Compadre Vulcano’s colliery? But as I was about to tell you, he’s tall, blonde, well-mannered.

    SERVANT GIRL — Young?

    DAUGHTER — But of course!

    SERVANT GIRL — He’s not married?

    DAUGHTER — I’m mad at you, mommy. I’m mad. I can’t talk seriously with you. Why not ask me how many kids he has? Or of he’s got a criminal record?

    SERVANT GIRL — Forgive me, my child…my mind’s been elsewhere. So your boyfriend is well-mannered? He loves you?

    DAUGHTER — He’s not my boyfriend, mommy…, or yes…, yes…, he’s my boyfriend…as long as you’re not opposed.

    SERVANT GIRL — And it was with him you went to see the countryside full of flowers?..

    DAUGHTER — And not just the countryside…, even the clouds…(going closer.) If you only knew how good he is!…

    SERVANT GIRL — All boyfriends are good.

    DAUGHTER — You seem jealous I have a boyfriend…

    SERVANT GIRL (steps back) — What did you say?

    DAUGHTER (embracing her) — I’m sorry, mommy.

    SERVANT GIRL (aside) — Sometimes authors start to envy their characters. They wish to destroy them.

    DAUGHTER — What do you say, mommy?..

    SERVANT GIRL — I want you to be happy…, my beloved little girl. I don’t want to say anything to upset you, it’s just that we old people have hearts full of sadness…

    DAUGHTER — You’re sad, mommy?..About what?..

    SERVANT GIRL — You’ll get married…, you’ll leave me…and I’ll be left on my own again…, alone again…(she moves away from the young lady and, sitting down in an armchair, starts to cry.)

    DAUGHTER — Mommy…, why are you crying?..If you don’t want…

    SERVANT GIRL — Yes, I want it for you. I want you to be happy, my dear little girl, that the entire earth always be full of flowers, that your husband loves you forever.

    SCENE 3

    The Valet, dressed in green, carrying a tray in his hand.

    VALET — Señora…(lowering the tray. The Servant Girl takes a calling card.)

    DAUGHTER— Mommy…, it’s him…

    SERVANT GIRL — Let him in. (Valet leaves).

    DAUGHTER — You’ll see, mommy, how good; how truly good he is…

    SERVANT GIRL — I believe you, my daughter.

    (The Valet reappears and opens the door through which The Little Gallant, an ordinary young man, enters. The girl runs to greet him and takes his hand. The Servant Girl stands.)

    DAUGHTER — Mommy…, this is…

    LITTLE GALLANT (tripping over his own words) — Señora, I’ve come to tell you I’m in love with your daughter. (Both approach her.) That we love each other very much.

    DAUGHTER — You kneel, and I’ll kneel too. (They both kneel down.) Mommy, we ask for your blessing.

    SERVANT GIRL — I, my children, you…

    SCENE 4

    In that same instant, in the glass of the small window looking into the Servant Girl’s quarters, the grotesque visage of the Son of the Mistress of the House. Disheveled and drunk, he screams:

    SON — Open the door, Sofía… Open it, don’t be stubborn, Sofía…

    The Spirit characters remain motionless. The Servant Girl looks with an expression of strange pain at the boor demanding his pleasure in this very moment she’s blessing the happiness of a daughter who doesn’t exist, and as the lights dim on the scene, the drunkard’s face resolves and reddens in the glass of the small window.

    SON — Open up…Open up, stop playing hard to get…

    The Servant Girl picks up a revolver and presses the barrel to her forehead.

    SON — Don’t act crazy, Sofía…

    A blast. The Servant Girl falls. Suddenly, the phantoms animate about the Servant Girl’s room.

    DAUGHTER — Free…, we’re finally free of this crazy woman.

    LITTLE GALLANT — Free from the Millionaire Maid.

    VALET — She died so we can rest.

    1st OLD LADY — I can breathe…, she was unbearable.

    Griselda and Azucena, Cinderella, the Little Gallant, and the Valet clasp hands and start dancing in a circle around the little human form, singing while they kick their legs joyfully as they dance.

    The crazy lady’s dead at last.

    The crazy lady’s dead at last.

    SCENE 5

    Slowly and somberly, Rocambole enters. He watches the spirit people dancing, then with furious anger lunges at them and, with his coach whip, lashes the phantoms on their backs. They disperse and run off stage. The ex-con removes his dark glasses, his hat, puts the coach whip on the ground, kneels down before The Servant Girl and kisses her on the forehead sorrowfully.

    ROCAMBOLE (pressing his hands to his heart) — Lord God, this inveterate criminal begs you please have mercy on this poor little creature, who has endured so much on this earth. (he rises, gathers his things, and leaves.)

    SON (still pressed to the glass, voice ragged) — Open up, Sofía. Open up…, don’t play around.


Is Infinite Jest itself a problem, or the dudes who are actively “reading it”? I’ve only gone so far as to figure out what the jest was online, never touched the book.

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it’s a book that fell out of fashion not long after it was published because it’s a big lap crusher written by an arch gen-xer white guy (no particular value judgement just calling balls and strikes). It seems like a “type of guy” who likes it has been either identified or invented (I don’t know which is actually the case) and the book is criticized for this supposed association. I’ve never actually seen that particular criticism attached to the text itself. As far as actual critique goes, James Wood wrote a famous attack on that’s pretty well reasoned imo. I personally think it’s kind of an annoying book idk what the big deal is :person_shrugging:


yeah–i think the book is usually used as short-hand for a type of “lit bro” that has echoes of reality but for the most part is a person that doesn’t actually exist outside of fan fiction like the guy in your mfa twitter account (anyone remember that?). i’ll also disagree with yeso somewhat in i don’t think it ever quite fell out of fashion.

the book is a great novel and undoubtedly one of the best american books published in the 20th century, but is not a perfect novel and worthy of criticism. it’s a little annoying like yeso said, though maybe obsequious is a better word to use when its at its worst. when its at its best? pure literature, baby. its also pretty fun.

his short story good old neon is a condensed, albeit much darker, sample of what i think a lot of people gravitate toward in infinite jest.