Sunday, November 16, 2008


On the plane descending into Zurich I encountered, in Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, in the chapter on Phosphorous, a dismissal of Swiss precision as "a collection of witless impediments bordering on persecution mania"

Thomas Bernhard, the Austrian writer who found the Swiss even more loathsome than his fellow Austrians, said of both them, that they suffered from "sub-alpine cretinism".

As the plane landed, I remembered that when I was a young woman, I had had sex with one member of the Swiss modern pentathlon team while desiring yet another member (pun completely unintended).

Based on all this, I thought Zurich would be an unsatisfying experience filled with uptight, anal, navel-gazing inbred cretins.

Instead, in the midst of a performance from Compagnie l’Alakran, that, in its play on geeky sub-alpine cretinism that made me laugh from the bottom of my belly, I had an encounter with silence, stillness and beauty. I even wrote a poem on command.

Here is the poem:

Le poisson est
La cigarette,
mon désir
le temps
walks slowly

I also had memorable warm potato salad in a restaurant by the river.

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