Wednesday, November 30, 2005 Books | Whatsizface:

As a teenager reading "Death in Venice," I understood the world to be divided between the Aschenbachs and the Tadzios. There are those who gaze, and those who are gazed upon. I am not talking about the natural inequity of attention that the old bestow upon the young -- we are all hardwired to respond to babies, for example, but it would take the rare and deeply odd child to singsong to a grown-up, "Who's got a cute receding hairline? Oh yes it is." I am talking about within one's own cohort: some are destined to promenade the Lido in Venice, blooming like flowers under the heat of appreciative stares, while the rest of us are born to watch, sweating through our grimy collars and eating our musty strawberries while the plague rolls in.