My father tells a story about driving through Beverly Hills with a friend of his. As they passed yet another enormous and ridiculously appointed mansion, my father’s friend turned to him and said, “Nothing exceeds like excess.”
The Romantic poet William Blake had a slightly different take on excess. He claimed “the road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” While I’m not sure I agree with him, I’m certainly no stranger to excess. Behold my apartment, below:
Of course, excess of one kind often leads to excess of another kind. Chez moi, the ladder is the road, which allows you access to an excess of books, which leads you to some kind of palace of wisdom. At Forever 21, however, I’m not sure where the road to excess leads you. Perhaps to the cash register?
The actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning. Dame Elizabeth–Queen Elizabeth II knighted her in 1999–knew something about excess. Over the course of her life, she had many roles, many husbands, and many jewels. She was also an alcoholic who had trouble maintaining her weight. Her behavior with husband Richard Burton was so flamboyant that the Vatican denounced their romance.
Still, this penchant for excess brought with it many positive qualities: She was a gifted actress, a stunning beauty, and a dedicated activist who championed AIDS awareness at a time when people wanted to pretend that the disease did not exist. Although I haven’t actually seen National Velvet, you can’t do much better than having the writer James Agee say of you, “I think she and the picture are wonderful, and I hardly know or care if she can act or not.”
As for tributes to Madame Taylor, Butterfield 8 is now in my Netflix queue.