As I mentioned the other day, this Talk of the Town column about Paul Giamatti is easily the best example of the genre I have ever read. People in the comments to this post are encouraging me to write a scathing letter to the New Yorker about Kolbert’s article; I’m more inclined to write them a letter letting them know they can retire the feature because it’s peaked. End on a high note, guys.
Evidently Giamatti is working on a film about a soul extraction and storage company, a conceit that sounds pleasingly Kaufman-esque. His character’s soul, it turns out, looks like a chickpea. In the piece, Giamatti freewheels through descriptions of other famous souls, and apparently the guy majored in soul-description or something because he is AMAZING at it:
As he sipped chicken soup, reputed to pep up the soul, he grew less agitated. “I’d like to try Willie Nelson’s soul for a day,” he volunteered. “It would be like an ear of roasted corn. And I go to Dolly Parton, for some reason—her soul would be light and airy, like a hummingbird. Yes, I like the idea of having a country singer’s soul. But not Merle Haggard’s—it’d be an engine block. Powerful, but kind of rusty, with lots of buildup.
“Freud would be interesting,” he continued. “I’m seeing a piece of Babylonian statuary, with the curly beard, the half-a-lion, the wings. Or Donald Trump: a nice set of whitewall tires.” To Giamatti’s surprise, he was also drawn, like many another, to the apparently soulless Jessica Simpson: “I can’t get a read off of her, which is why I’m curious. Her soul might just be a tape measure.” He drew the line at the guitar player Slash, “a blood orange left on a windowsill, all dried out and leathery”; Kim Jong Il, “a crazy box of crabs”; and Henry Kissinger, “a doorknob.”
I don’t know if any of us here have Giamatti’s surprising facility with soul imagery, but let’s give it a shot. What would your soul look like if it were extracted? Some people, including me, find it a little daunting to codify their own soul (Giamatti says his is “a hand-painted ceramic toad,” but he’s clearly the master of this art) — so alternately, describe the soul of someone you know here or a famous person. (Obviously we’re not talking theologically here — you don’t have to believe in The Soul to play, and it should go without saying but let’s please not touch that with a ten-foot soul pole! Forget it, Jake, it’s Friday Fluff.)