Baudelaire in Babylon

No Baudelaires in Babylon

We’re scribbling hostages to fortune, and there is no guarantee that anything will refrain from drying up and fluttering away. Our stuff might not even stick around long enough to prove our efforts more than vain to our own nephews. Traces remain of neither Nero’s Fall of Ilium nor Claudius’ histories of Carthage and Etruria, and these men were better placed even than Mark Helprin, if that can be imagined. I have a great uncle whose novels were made into Clark Gable and Alan Ladd movies, who lived like a king on the Riviera, and even can’t locate his titles or his name. And, remember, unlike us, these guys used to be in hard copy in a big way.

. . .

We are all Juvenals, and the web is our Bum-Fuck Egypt. The web’s our Patmos, and we share it with the ranting epileptoid Sons o’ Thunder of our time, our beloved fellow deportees, who dare to write the truth about, for example, America’s Reichstag fire last September. We’re saints producing and propagating the apocalypses of the day, but also the good news of the future. We’re Baudelaires kicked, safely and gratefully, out of Babylon.

—Tom Bradley