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A barbarian in his job would be bad enough, but a fellow of some refinement and culture? It's awful. We are here in these chairs at these desks like randomly distributed steel balls in some enormous Pachinko game. I keep telling myself that. It's not his fault. It's not my fault. Fault assumes cause and effect, assumes a rational universe, and, as Joe Orton said, "You can't be a rationalist in an irrational world. It isn't rational."

I return my attention to Lansberg and the here and now. He wants more of these pieces, a whole series - which is difficult not to resent. There were other victims, and there are other objects waiting to be interviewed and exploited. More confidences to be prized out of the hurts these people have suffered. What I am doing is turning these people, the dead and their survivors too, into objects. That's what our paper does anyway.

It is what all papers do.

Lives of the Saints, a novel
by David R. Slavitt
225 pages

But I seem to have contrived a way of doing it more blatantly. Which is, in Sidney Lansberg's view, a step forward. What he cannot imagine is that one day his own toys and totems, that little Tiffany clock on his desk, his letter opener with the jade handle, the photograph on the wall behind his desk showing him smiling with the mayor on his right and the governor on his left, may all be called upon to testify against him. Or even on his behalf, his grotesque and violent death having catapulted him into one of the lesser spheres of veneration:


Still, I'm getting a raise - from my chum.

Sidney is the elided form of St. Denis.

Denis was a bishop who went to convert the Gauls and was martyred near Paris. An abbey, built on the spot where he died, was under the protection of the counts of Paris, so that, when they dethroned the sons of Charlemagne and became the kings of France, Denis got lucky and became the patron of the country. The oriflamme, the banner of the convent, became the national battle flag.

Denis is also a form of the older name Dionysus. As in the tyrant of Syracuse.

I wonder whether Sidney Lansberg knows any of this. Or cares.

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