The Best Moments in Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy -The Toast

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61KZZJl5UBL._SL1000_Jacquelyn Ardam’s previous work for The Toast can be found hereBecoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy is by Carolyn Burke, and a jolly good read.

1. “She was dividing her time between her psychoanalyst and her love affairs.” (5)

2. “Lucas was good enough to draw but not to marry.” (48)

3. “Mina’s situation struck her as comical. She was unprepared to go in for naughtiness yet generally perceived as a femme fatale. In order to appear “voluntarily unseductive,” she decided to disguise herself as an eccentric. This process of self-transformation began with the purchase of a clay pipe adorned with an albino fly. (60)

4. “As if she had no choice, she let herself be drawn into his circle—an unlikely blend of British dabblers in black magic, spinsters, and elderly ladies.” (81)

5. “Mr. Lowy gave her a floor-length fur coat and told her to look after herself.” (85)

6. “The Gazette des Beaux Arts singled out ‘Mlle Mina Loy who, in her uncommon watercolors…. shows us ambiguous ephebes whose nudity is caressed by ladies dressed in the furbelows of 1855.'” (100)

7. “New arrivals were also told about the owner of the Villa Gamberaia—the Princess Giovanna Ghyka, who lived in seclusion with her companion, Miss Blood.” (108)

8. “She spent the next few years in an orgy of decorating.” (120)

9. “While Mable liked to think of herself as a seductress, she considered Edwin “matter-of-fact.” He was too prosaic to use the rope ladder she had installed for him to descend into her bedroom from the floor above.” (121)

10. “Mina was explicit: ‘More organically conscious than most women,’ Mabel longed ‘to stuff everything in her vulva to see what marvelous creative modification it has undergone in the process.’” (134)

11. “He offered the party the use of one of his more remote castles.” (172)

12. “’The feminist movement as at present instituted is Inadequate,’ she declared. ‘No scratching on the surface of the rubbish heap of tradition will bring about Reform, the only method is Absolute Demolition.’” (179)

13. “‘I am too modern to despair of the future,’ she went on bravely, adding, ‘Oh Carlo do you think there is a man in America one could love.’” (182)


Spawn   of    Fantasies

Silting the appraisable

Pig Cupid    his rosy snout

Rooting erotic garbage

“Once upon a time”

Pulls a weed   white and star-topped

Among wild oats   sewn in mucous-membrane (203)

15. “Despite her fine figure, many New Yorkers were put off by her dress: at times the Baroness was seen wearing a bustle equipped with a taillight, a brassiere made of tin cans and string, and a birdcage necklace (complete with canary) or, in a gesture toward current events, a French soldier’s helmet over her vermilion crewcut. She could often be heard muttering in her thick German accent, ‘Marcel, Marcel, I love you like hell, Marcel.’” (216)

16. “Although guests had been asked to dress as schools of modern art, artists rarely followed directions: Clara Tice came as a steam radiator, and John Covert as a hard-boiled egg.” (239)

17. “‘You had better come and live with me in a taxi-cab,’ he told her. ‘We can keep a cat.’” (239)

18. “Their mutual self-absorption stuck some members of the group as a folie à deux, particularly when they showed up at the Arensbergs’ with their imaginary children—a paper lion and tiger purchased in Chinatown and baptized ‘Gaga’ and ‘Moche.’” (245)

19. “‘How can we die,’ she recalled protesting, ‘when we haven’t finished talking.’” (259)

20. “’Her hats were very like lamp shades,’ she went on, ‘or perhaps it was the lamp shades that were like hats.’” (330)


Her face

screwed    to the mimic-salacious

grotesquerie of a pain larger than her intellect

— — They pull

A clotty bulk of bifurcate fat

Out of her loins (351)

22. “The previous spring, she and Fabi spent hours at Djuna’s helping to hand-color fifty copies of Ladies Almanack.” (368)

23. “At a time when most people dressed Western-style, Mina wore trailing robes of velvet or brocade and wrapped her head with scarves or turbans pinned with antique brooches.” (426)

24. “She prepared puddings, wheat germ, and the alarming mixture of raw liver ground up and blended with grapefruit juice on which Mina depended, and enjoyed grooming Mina’s long white hair or rubbing her feet with wheat-germ oil to alleviate the dryness brought on by the climate. While it was clear to her that Mina had once been a beauty, Esther admired her as she was.” (429)

25. “After reading more “Love Songs” and savoring their wit, she asked coquettishly, ‘Don’t you think I must have been awfully wicked?’” (437)

26. “As Joella sat by her side in the hospital, Mina took her hand, kissed it, and whispered, ‘I never knew what you were.’” (440)

Jacquelyn Ardam usually writes about alphabet books.

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