Two Stories

Fashion is out of structuralism

Caitlin Keogh, Untitled. 2016, acrylic on canvas. 81 × 108". Courtesy the artist and Bortolami, New York.

Improvisation Is the Heart of Music
“The rest was pure Arabian Nights. Gazelle-eyed maidens with perfumed robes brought inlaid boxes of Turkish delight and roast hummingbirds and sugared grapes and honeyed wine — ghastly stuff — and tiny cups of sludgy coffee. Silks kissed the earth. Our host raised his hands and clapped — once — twice — three times, and on the third the strains of a harp wafted in from the wings.

“‘But my dear chaps! You’re not eating!’ he cried. ‘Try the hummingbirds, I assure you they are excellent. Or a morsel of lamb? And you must, you positively must sample the mare’s-milk cheese, it is a speciality of my people, a great delicacy. Fatima! See that the gentlemen have some cheese!’

“He went on in this way for some time, and after I suppose half an hour or so said — ‘But come! I shall order them to prepare us a hookah, and my companions shall entertain you. Which did you favour among those who served you?’

“Now, I was prepared to see what the hookah was like, and even — dare I confess it? — be entertained by one of the companions, at least up to a point. But Angus is a true Scot; his Presbyterian blood curdled at the sound of this.

“‘Of course I’ll not touch his filthy hookah,’ he whispered to me in tones just loud enough not to be tactful.

“Our host went on with the utmost urbanity, as though nothing had been said, urging us to express a preference for one of the girls. Angus preserved the silence of outraged virtue. I murmured something noncommittal, all extremely attractive, impossible to choose one above the rest. This, it turned out, was a bad move.

“‘My dear fellow’ — he cut me short — ‘I understand perfectly — to tell the truth I’m not, myself, entirely in the mood — as your friend’s tastes, it seems, are not in that direction’ (he smiled rather maliciously at poor Angus, who went

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