15. Cities of the Mediterranean

IT WOULD BE SEVERAL years before I ran into Andre Babasco again, this time quite literally bumping into him in the aisle of one of those shops you find in all cities of a certain size, invariably run by a young Turkish man or an old Chinese woman, that sell just about anything you can imagine, as long as it is made of plastic. The conversation began politely enough but before long Andre was enthusing about some new idea of his that was exciting him, some new book he had embarked upon, describing the concept to me in some detail. He said he was going to write a book about the Mediterranean, about all the great cities of the Mediterranean. He said the basic idea of the book was that these Mediterranean cities had more in common with each other than with other cities in their own countries, that these cities were almost never the capitals of their countries for they could not be trusted, that these cities were condemned to be suspect and misunderstood. Andre said he was sure it would be a great project, and that it would make a wonderful book. He felt confident that publishers would be interested in this kind of book, adding that none of his previous projects had inspired or excited him to the extent that this project was inspiring and exciting him. Hearing Andre describe his project only made me shudder, for I already knew that this project, like all of Andre's other projects, would amount to nothing, would simply fall by the wayside, and sooner rather than later. It was hard not to feel, as he spoke, a certain pity for Andre, for it was already obvious to me at least and I daresay to anyone who truly understood Andre and who he was that none of his grand ideas would ever see the light of day, that his entire life would be a series of grand but ultimately futile projects, that Andre was undoubtedly possessed of a certain genius, but a genius that could only be described as completely useless, which made Andre a truly tragic person, one of those truly tragic people about whom it is truly said, even if only in a manner of speaking, that they were not made for this world.