Interviews With Dead Authors, Part 3

Georges Bataille: I think there are two types of babies: the ones that cry and the ones that don’t. The first one depends on the level of human interactivity and the baby’s socializing with society. The other consists of deliberately holding its fundamental instincts in, for example, when it is alone, or against hunger issues. I, however, believer that these two cannot be separated from one another. Take siblings for example. One is a crier, the other is a man. What else can I say? To me, it seems that if crybabies stay away from the non-criers, the crybabies become more of a crybaby and it becomes rapidly annoying. If you were to keep the two together, I think, it would help the crybaby escape its mode of rather annoying and limited form of communication and enter the stoicism of the quiet and sometimes unnerving non-crier. This might seem surprising, which is not to say that it isn’t, but the two differs from one another and it’s only obvious that one will influence the other, and that is my answer to babies.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Babies have this nothing-can-harm-me and nothing-can-touch-me attitude towards the world. Ernest Hemingway felt this way for some time. I think it’s a bit ridiculous. I have thought about babies, I must admit. I would with unsteady concentration look over parenting material and I could feel a growing excitement. Of course, I have to admit my skepticism—my moments of triumph over the idea of babies came from spending nights at the tavern just downstairs. I remember having this talk with my mother a few years ago. I didn’t understand the work that came along with having a baby. My mother gave hints that having a baby would take a lot out of me, but I didn’t realize it then. Now I pray sometimes before bed, “Oh Lord, please don’t let me have a baby just yet, don’t let me have a baby just yet,” and of course Zelda would hear me and she’d smack my head and ask me why I’m praying in the middle of the night.

Bernard Malamud: You can’t teach babies. They mimic you. At the beginning, babies imitate the parents without knowing it’s teaching them life lessons. When you hold up a mirror to look at yourself and the baby does it too, seeing itself for the first time in its life, you’re aiding their growth as human beings. The odd thing is, babies have their own language until you introduce them to our standardized language. Let babies do what they can and help them out when they need it—you never know, that baby might be the next Einstein. Babies are life, but what we teach them is forever.

Gertrude Stein: Babies? Babies are nothing but an illustration. Let the mother and the father be the painters. They will add layers to this blank canvas that they have created. They will add layers and add layers and add layers and add layers and add layers and add layers and add layers to this baby until it resembles the two. The parents’ influence will be clear. Babies don’t have a say in what clothing they will wear, in what car they will drive, in what restaurant they will dine in, rather, it is the decision of the parents. We all have babies; we have babies that are compact, simple, fragile — our future. They are all, above all else, the escape to the realities that we as parents have been unable to experience. Their trajectories in life will be so far different from what the parents have experienced that it is unimaginable.

Jorge Luis Borges: Where are you from again? I’ve been there before, yes it is a grand city, a beautiful city, a city to get lost in. I’m afraid I can’t say anymore, else I forget to talk about this topic of babies. Yes, they are very timid creatures. I have yet to understand the trills and coos of this young generation. I can describe them and write about them, but that doesn’t mean I understand them. I’ve begun to lose my sight, as you may already know — yes, thank you — and the last image that I had seen before was a picture of a baby staring vacantly to the right side of the photograph and I wonder, still wonder to this day, “What is this baby looking at? Is it gazing to a past that we ourselves cannot view, cannot change?” The world now has begun to fade away from me, but I live in peace knowing that our fate rests in the chubby hands of these little creatures. When I was young, I thought, “Were I to have a child to call my own, would I be ready?” The answer now is painfully clear.

John Steinbeck: We all make love in beds for the most part. Babies spend a great deal of time on beds. All of this has to do with placing babies in a safe and comfortable place. About a year ago, a friend of mine asked me to take care of his infant son. I obliged and looked after him while writing a chapter of a manuscript. Now, you know I smoke while writing. I’ve begun to smoke pipes and it tastes a hell of a lot better than cigarettes. The baby didn’t like the smoke too much and he started coughing and having a fit. I put him outside and smoked my pipe outside too. It was a warm April day. I played with my callus on my finger from using pencils for so long while the baby sat on my lap grabbing at my fingers. It is hard not to smile when a baby looks up and babbles at you. TC mark

 

image – Sharon Mollerus

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