276 MICHIGAN QUARTERLY REVIEW
quick march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary
fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags
on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the
artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on
imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and
characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink-for the nightly labor
begins and ends with torrents of this black water,, as a battle opens and
concludes with black powder.
I recommended this way of drinking coffee to a friend of mine, who
absolutely wanted to finish a job promised for the next day: he thought
he'd been poisoned and took to his bed, which he guarded like a married man. lie was tall, blonde, slender, and had thinning hair; he apparently had a stomach of papier-mache. There had been, on my part, a failure of observation.
When you have reached the point of consuming this kind of coffee,
then become exhausted and decide that you really must have more, even
though you make it of the finest ingredients and take it perfectly fresh,
you will fall into horrible sweats, suffer feebleness of the nerves, and undergo episodes of severe drowsiness. I don't know what would happen if
you kept at it then: a sensible nature counseled me to stop at this point,
seeing that immediate death was not otherwise my fate. To be restored
one must begin with recipes made with milk, and a diet of chicken and
other white meats; finally the tension on the harp strings eases, and one
returns to the relaxed, meandering, simple-minded and cryptogamous
life of the retired bourgeoisie.
The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach
under these magisterial conditions produce's a kind of animation that
looks like anger: one's voice rises, one'Is gestures suggest unhealthy impatience; one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one
becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing. One actually becomes
that fickle character, The Poet, condemned by grocers and their like.
One assumes that everyone is equally lucid. A man of spirit must therefore avoid going out in public. I discovered this singular state through a
series of accidents which made me lose, without any effort, the ecstasy
I had been feeling. Some friends, with whom I had gone out to the country, witnessed me arguing about everything, haranguing with monumental bad faith. The following day I recognized my wrongdoing and we
searched the cause. My friends were wise men of the first rank and we
found the problem soon enough: coffee wanted its victim.
The truth I set down here is subject only to the tiny variations we find
among individuals; it is otherwise in complete harmony with the experi