Strange Summer Reading Coincidences

first published in 1936,
this second printing of the first paper-bound edition
published 1971

In Minneapolis, at a Little Free Library in the Lake Harriet neighborhood, I find The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, a famous Russian dancer of the early 1900's who I've never heard of, who winded up in an insane asylum after being dumped by the man who made him famous.

He obsessively kept a diary during the time leading up to his asylum stay.

He wrote about loving everyone and about god and how he is god and how he loves everyone and how everyone thinks he's crazy because he loves and does not hate and how angry he is at Diaghilev for cheating him and how much he loves his wife.

The book is divided into two parts: Life and Death

Nijinsky writes in Part One, Life (page 13):

I know if everyone thinks I am a harmless madman they will not be afraid of me.  I do not like people who think that I am a dangerous lunatic.  I am a madman who loves mankind.  My madness is my love towards mankind.

And then, in the mailbox is the latest New Yorker and an article by Joan Acocella with the sub-title:

Baryshnikov plays Nijinsky in the grip of insanity.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, the world famous Russian ballet dancer of my youth who rose to popular American fame with the movie White Nights, my father forever impressed, "He does that wearing jeans!"

The New Yorker, June 27, 2016

Baryshnikov, now in his late sixties, is playing Nijinsky in a one man show by Robert Wilson. According to the caption, they both "share a fascination with Nijinsky's diary".

Me too, picking it up every evening and reading a few paragraphs thinking, maybe he wasn't as crazy as everyone seemed to think, until the thought dissolves and I can not remember what I was just thinking and I fall asleep.

Nijinsky writes in Part Two, Death (page 119):

I will behave like others because I want people to take care of me.  I am not an egoist, but a man of love, and will do everything possible for other people.  I want to be looked after.  I hope that people will love my wife and my child but I want love for everybody.  I want to act in plays which will interest the public because I know that people like to be pleased, but in this excitement I will make people feel what love is.

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