A vida perseguia-o. Qualquer que fosse a casa para onde se mudasse, a história repetia-se: quando o senhorio lhe entregava a chave, primeiro, não havia nada, o soalho cheirava a amoníaco e a sensação de vazio era imensa; mas depois, os dias passavam e, pela simples força da sua inacção, toda uma panóplia de seres – reais, não fantasmas -, se reconstituía. Tudo começava com uns pontos minúsculos, uns brancos, outros negros, para os quais haverá certamente uma designação nas enciclopédias dos cientistas, mas ele desconhecia-a, depois, vinha o musgo, os líquenes, os bichos-da-prata, os mosquitos, as traças, as vespas, as aranhas, as baratas, os pássaros de parapeito, os ratos, e, logo, os predadores destes, felinos, furões, raposas, cães, e, paralelamente, feno, grama, capim, trepadeiras, silvas… Num curto espaço de tempo, o oco habitável preenchia-se de populações, tendo por ingredientes principais a sua inércia e a profusa actividade de tudo o resto. Tão inerte quanto um guardião, no seu posto de sentinela. Quando a abundância de germes era tal que os vizinhos protestavam e os boatos chegavam aos ouvidos do senhorio, ele então remetia a chave pelo correio e fugia pela calada da noite, perseguido, sempre perseguido, pela vida, até encontrar o próximo buraco de nada, à espera de ser inseminado. A lenda atribuiu-lhe um nome: ele era o “Cínico”, aquele que vivia como um cão. “Pelo Cão!” – não é essa a expressão mais animadora dos diálogos platónicos?
Quem suponha que o comunismo e o capitalismo são opostos deveria ver este filme. Tão claro desde o início. O mesmo desejo: de enriquecimento monetário, de exploração agrícola, de sujeição animal, de comodismo, de mecanização, de poluição… Se há diferença, ela reside somente no número de tiranos chamados a desempenhar a função: no capitalismo de elite, uma minoria; mas no capitalismo de comuna, são mais do que os 100 milhões do filme… O que corta a vida, a lâmina (seja de foice manual, seja de gadanheira mecânica) ocupa uma longa sequência (aos 01:11:00), filmada em grande plano como a protagonista principal… “A terra, a quem a trabalha“. “O trabalho liberta”. Os dois extremos rezando ao mesmo ídolo: o Tripalium. Uma história de autómatos: os artificiais em detrimento da Máquina da Natureza.
“Old and New” (1929) by Sergei Eisenstein.
«I am myself a machine!»
[“What do you think killed Gia?” – it is asked in a documentary. The answer is pretty obvious: shooting. Every type of shooting. And each time a little bit more.]
Gia Carangi (1960-1986) in Vogue magazine, November 1978.
«Gia goes on to confess that getting into the spirit of a shoot hasn’t always been easy.»
«You gotta get into it. You gotta feel the guy who’s shooting and know what he wants.»
«At the end of a long day’s shooting, Gia usually tries to forget everything and just go home and flop out in bed.»
«Gia smiles and shakes her shoulders as the last cut [from Blondie, “Living In The Real World“, 1979] blares (…):
“Every day you’ve go to wake up
Disappear behind your makeup (…)
You can look through the glass
and take a photograph (…)
I can do anything at all
I’m invisible and I’m twenty feet tall (…)
Hey, I’m livin’ in a magazine,
Page to page in my teenage dream (…)
Cause I’m not livin’ in the real world,
I’m not livin’ in the real world”».
– Gia, interview by Maury Z. Levy in “Philladelphia” magazine, January 1980.
«You have to be a magician and make it work. Sometimes I’ve felt like running out of a shoot – I had to contain myself – but the pictures turned out nice. Often the idea that you don’t look good is all in your head.»
«Old friends look at you differently. They don’t see you as their sixth grade chum, they see you as an ideal of fashion. It’s hard to live up to that image. When I get out of work, I throw on a t-shirt, jeans and my sneaks just to get back down to earth. I want a job where I can be out of the limelight making things happen, possibly cinematography.»
– Gia, interview by Lisa Interollo in “Cosmopolitan”, April 1982.
«You know, I thank God that I’m good looking or that people think I am good-looking. But there’s a lot more to it than make-up and prettiness and all that stuff. There’s a lot more to being a woman than that.»
– Gia, interview in Francesco Scavullo, “Scavullo Women”, New York: Harper and Row, 1982.
«When you’re young, you don’t always… it’s hard to make the difference between what is real and what is not real. There’s a lot of vultures around you.»
– Gia, interview in “20-20“, ABC TV, January 6, 1983.
«The model is a commodity. (…) It’s not just models. It’s editors, photographers, hair and make-up… That’s the nature of the business. (…) Everything for the picture»
– Harry King, hair stylist, in “An American girl: The self-destruction of Gia” (2003) by J.J. Martin, 00:38:00.
«Her career soared like a star shooting in the night sky.»
«At the end of a day’s shooting she often went back to her empty New York apartment.»
«At one major magazine shoot an editor supplied Gia with a bag of cocaine and some heroin on the set.»
«… models now shoot heroin under their toenails or tongue, where track marks cannot be detected.»
«What changed was that Gia started going directly from $10,000-a-day fashion shoots to the heroin shooting galleries on New York’s Lower East Side.»
«She had, said her agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, “a fantastically pliable face”; she could be really sophisticated in one shooting and be a real Lolita type in another».
– “Gia: The tragic tale of the world’s first supermodel“, Independent, 09/09/2005.
«People look at me and they think I’m this beautiful thing and I must be extremely hot… and what they don’t know is that I’m extremely boring.»
«[Maurice Tannenbaum:] She seemed used to being abused because she was so beautiful. And she became very hardened to that. (…) She loved kids — because they were pure and going to love her for the right reasons.»
«Gia hated the business from the beginning. She felt like a piece of meat. I know it’s an old cliché, but that’s what she always said. She just wasn’t cut out for the business, she was too sensitive for it. In the beginning she would do a lot of tests, which are free shootings for your portfolio, and then you take the portfolio around to the thousands of photographers in the city. And they’re very coldhearted when they look through your book. They flip through it while you’re standing right there.»
«[Francesco Scavullo:] When I first worked with her I said: “Oh my God, this is like a new Colt.” (…) It was a challenge to photograph her, to follow her. There are very few models who experiment like that and do it well.»
«… girls who were beautiful without makeup or expensive clothes being made up and dressed up to entice women to buy a range of products promising to make them, if not beautiful, then at least ‘attractive’.»
«Gia’s mother came to visit her in New York as often as she could, often coming in to do the laundry. (…) “She would tell me all the stuff that most women want to know about models… which one had hips that went on forever, which one had the pimpIes, which one did Quaaludes to get the starry looks in her eyes, which one was a real dog. (…) Jack Nicholson tried to get her to meet him in his room. I was in New York that week. I was making slipcovers for her sofa and she came back from this party and she said, ‘Can you believe it, I just turned down Jack Nicholson?’. Still, I worried because I knew how fragile she was and I had this vision of her becoming this Marilyn Monroe type.»
«According to Rothchild and Gia’s stepfather Henry Sperr, who prepared her taxes, Gia made more than $100,000 a year during her first two full years of modeling. And that figure was artificially low for several reasons. (…) She was doing mostly editorial work and covers, which were good for exposure and prestige but paid lower than advertising or catalog work. And two of the economic revolutions that changed the modeling business in the late ’70s hadn’t quite taken hold yet. John Casablancas had just opened his upstart Elite agency, which would eventually bring new heights of flash, trash and cash to the industry, sending maximum fees through the roof. And a new rate structure of bonus fees was just coming into use; instead of the traditional one-time-only payment, models were beginning to get residuals every time a picture was reused. That meant that a single day’s work could be worth up to $18,000. A Wilhelmina spokesman told one magazine writer that Gia was expected to make closer to $500,000 in 1980, her third year.»
«A new kind of celebrity was born: the Beautiful Person. And the easiest way to be a Beautiful Person was to be part of the world that created works of professional, marketable beauty: the models, photographers, makeup artists, clothing designers. (…) “China Brown,” as this heroin was called, was brought to the Beautiful People as something to smoke or snort when cocaine was either no longer a thrill or so much of a thrill that a “down” was necessary. (…) …a generation of accidental junkies was born.»
«”Those days everyone had this idea that being a junkie was very glamorous“, Mudd Club DJ Anita Sarka said in a recent Vanity Fair article. (…) “Bowie looked like a junkie, Iggy [Pop] looked like a junkie, Lou Reed looked like a junkie, Sid Vicious was a junkie, so they all wanted to be junkies. (…) Gia regaled friends with stories of nights out with Hansen and her boyfriend Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and David Bowie and impressed her brother Michael with tales of taking drugs with members of the Rolling Stones and Blondie».
«Her problem didn’t keep her from spending her 20th birthday in Paris doing shots for Vogue. And it didn’t keep her from traveling to St. Barts with Scavullo, Patti Hansen, Way Bandy, Harry King and Polly Mellen for a weeklong shoot that would produce some of the best editorial work of her career. Scavullo assistant Sean Byrnes remembers finding Gia’s drugs during the boat ride to St. Barts and throwing them overboard. “She got hysterical,” he recalls. “She was ready to leave. But she stayed and the pictures were gorgeous.”»
«…she was interviewed by Scavullo for his book on beautiful women. (…) She explained that the reason she had turned to drugs was that (…) “for me to be doing drugs made me just as bad as I thought society was… the world seems to be based on money and sex. And I’m looking for better things than that, like happiness and love and caring…”»
«Before more serious drug treatment, she went to celebrity doctor Robert Giller, who had developed a high profile by treating Scavullo and Bianca and Baryshnikov and Liza for various health problems. Dr. Giller (who didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview for this story) tried to wean Gia off heroin with a diet regimen and vitamin B-12 shots. Gia was also seeing a Manhattan dentist who was giving her questionable prescriptions for the painkiller Percodan.»
«The stories of her going to Harlem or down to Avenue A to the scuzziest of shooting galleries were swirling through the photography studios. (…) Monique Pillard at Elite blamed New York itself: “New York was sort of a relapse for this girl».
«She’d go down to these shooting galleries with $10,000 in her shoe.»
«As part of the therapy, she drew a large mural depicting herself carrying a cross, floating somewhere between the earth and the sun. Her face had one weeping eye, a Bowie-esque lightning bolt, a question mark and stitches on her skull. In her chest was a broken heart and a small black swastika. On her arms were needle marks; on her genital area were male and female stick figures. Next to the figure she listed the themes that the drawing — and her therapy — sought to address: “confusion, hate, separation, frustration, growing pains, sexual abuse, mental abuse, helplessness, love.”»
«[Gia’s mother:] “She was kind of huffy with me,” Kathleen recalls, “and I said, ‘Don’t you understand that I had to say no?’ She said, ‘Maybe you should’ve done it before — this is the first time you ever said no to me.’ (…) She wanted to go to Disneyland.»
– Quotes from “Thing of Beauty” by Stephen Fried (Gia’s biographer) “Philladelphia” magazine, February 29, 2008.
One of Gia last shots (source)
«Man muss noch Chaos in sich haben, um einen tanzenden Stern gebären zu können».
[One must still have chaos in oneself, in order to one can give birth to a dancing star.]
– Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra.
«I live only here and there inside a minor word in whose inflection I lose my useless head for an instant. The first and last sounds are the beginning and end of my fishlike emotion.»
– Kafka, Diaries.
χώρα (Gr.), chôra, was the space outside the city, polis. In Plato’s philosophy (Timaeus, 48e4), it designates an interval, a receptacle, a material substratum. In Heidegger’s philosophy, it designates a “clearing”, an illuminated space (Lichtung).
χορός (Gr.), choros / horos, circle, choir, performing round dances accompanied by circular chorus, related with the course of the seasons (called Ὧραι, Hōrai).
The Greek χορός is cognate with Pontic khoron, Bulgarian хоро horo, Romanian horă, kolo in the languages of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonian and Montenegrin oro (the Slavic verb oriti means “to sound, sing, glorify”), the Turkish form hora, valle in Albania, and in Hebrew הורה (hora), all are dance varieties. The Khorumi dance of Georgia and the Horon dance in the neighbouring Turkish regions might be connected.
Fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Siena (Italy), 1338-40. A group of women doing a “bridge” dance figure while accompanied by another woman playing the tambourine
Vignola, Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola, 1550-1573
Dome of Chiesa Sant’ Antonio del Portoghesi, Campo Marzio, Rome, 1676.
Mozart, “Rondo alla Turca”, played by Glenn Gould
Beethoven, “Turkish March”, played by Evgeny Kissin
Asi Trabzon, Sampiyon Horoncular, Turkey, 2010.
‘Hora’ dance, Giresun (Turkey).
Sufi Zikir, Sufi Dhikr
Makkah, “tawaf” seven-time circum-ambulation around the Kaaba (a stone mark for Qiblah point) in a counter-clockwise direction at the sound of “Azan” (prayer calling), from the documentary “Samsara” (2012).
[This post is aimed at those people who, with the cruellest expression on their face, yell during condominium meetings: “Kill the pigeons! They are rats with wings, they spread diseases”. Sometimes, I wish to ask them: “Should we kill you, too – you, rats with two legs, that spread more diseases than any other species in the whole world?”
It is also aimed at those who accuse Tesla of anti-semitism (but see no harm in mistreating living birds). It is so stupid to attribute to him such prejudices. Though, it is true he said about Saturday:
«Though a day of plebeians – drummers, grocerymen, Jews, and other social trilobites, toe prospect is nevertheless delightful.»
Do people know what a trilobite is? Notice that he mentions, not one, but three tri-lobites, and they are not arbitrary elements. By the way, Tesla loved the number three and its multiples (“If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe”). So, can’t people understand the joke? Oh, keep quiet and think once in a while! Pigeons are so much lovelier, clever and cleaner than some people’s mind. Long live Piazza San Marco!]
«No one knew when the inventor began gathering up the sick and wounded pigeons and carrying them back to his hotel. Usually however; it was a mission that he carried out late in the day. His whole routine was that of a night person. (…)
Tesla passed the Engineers’ Club almost daily, but no longer went inside. The building stood, as it still does, directly across from Bryant Park, the rectangle of sooty grass and listless trees behind the public library where he went each day to feed his pigeons. Many engineers observed the strange tall figure, less magnificently dressed than in his prime yet still erect and proud, as he entered the park to be greeted by swirls of birds. Pigeons even then were considered socially unmeritorious. Their hunger seemed to touch only people who were, like them, in need. Pigeons appealed to quirky lonely, unreliable, usually poor, and eccentric persons. Important engineers did not hang about in city parks feeding dirty birds.
Journalists too had noticed Tesla on his avian missionary work. Going home after midnight a reporter might find him standing in the darkness, lost in thought, with a bird or two taking food from his hands or lips, even though it was well-known that birds were blind at night and preferred to be in their roosts. At such times Tesla was apt to make it clear to the reporters that he did not care to talk with them. Later two of them would find out why.
Another journalist told of meeting him wandering about in Grand Central Station. When asked if he had a train to catch, he replied, “No, this is where I do my thinking.”
On the night of the Edison Medal presentation ceremony, a banquet was held in the Engineers’ Club. Afterward the members and guests were to reconvene across the alley in the United Engineering Societies building on 39th Street for speeches. It was a splendid white-tie affair. The guest of honor [Tesla] was impeccable, the radiance of his personality shining forth as forcefully as in his youth. All eyes followed his tall, charismatic presence. Yet somehow between the banquet hall and the nearby auditorium, he vanished. How such a flagpole figure managed to disappear, Behrend could not for the life of him understand. The committee was in a dither, and a search was begun for the guest of honor. Waiters peered into rest rooms. Behrend, thinking Tesla might have become ill, rushed into the street to take a taxi to Tesla’s hotel, the St. Regis. But following an impulse, he found his steps turning instead toward Bryant Park. Making his way through the gathering dusk, Behrend reached the entrance to the park, only to find it blocked by a group of strollers watching something in the shadows. Behrend edged his way in, and there stood Tesla festooned from head to toe in pigeons. They perched upon his head, pecked feed from his hands, and covered his arms, while a living, gurgling carpet of birds swarmed over his black evening pumps. The inventor spotted Behrend and cautiously raised a finger to his lips, disengaging feathered friends in the process. Finally, while Behrend stood anxiously by, Tesla dusted feathers from his finery and consented to be led back into the hall to receive his tribute. (…)
Some years later, Dragislav Petkovic, visiting from Yugoslavia, would walk with the inventor to Bryant Park on his daily mission of mercy and hear a revealing comment. “Mr. Tesla looked up at the [library] windows, which are fenced with the iron bars, that some pigeons did not fall down somewhere and got freezed,” he recalled. “In one comer he spotted one which was halfway frozen. He told me to stay here and watch that the cat does not come to get him, while he look up for others. While I was watching, I tried to reach the pigeon, but could not do it because the bars were so close to one another. When Mr. Tesla returned, he quickly bended and pull him out“. “All things from childhood are still dear to me“, he told Petkovic, as he began to pat the almost frozen pigeon, assuring it that it would recover. “Then,” said Petkovic, “he took the package from my hand and started throwing the food all around in front of the library. When he distributed the food he told me: “These are my sincere friends.” (…)
As for young Swezey, on meeting the inventor for the first time in 1929, he was surprised to discover (as he wrote) “a tall skinny man of upright posture” who might go about for hours in a daze of concentration, but who also had a side intensely human and “almost painfully sensitive with fellow-feeling for everything that lives.” Swezey himself, residing in a bleak apartment in Brooklyn, had few close ties to family or friends. He became both a journalistic champion of the scientist and a devoted admirer. (…) Although Tesla worked hard while others slept, he also knew how to refresh himself with long rambles through the city. Swezey often joined him on these nocturnal excursions. He too was introduced to the pigeons. One evening as they were walking down Broadway, with Tesla discoursing intensely on his system for sending electrical power wirelessly to the ends of the Earth, the inventor suddenly lowered his voice. “However, what I am anxious about at this moment,” he said, “is a little sick bird I left up in my room. It worries me more than all my wireless problems put together”. The pigeon, which he had picked up two days before in front of the library, had a crossed beak which had started a cancerous growth on its tongue so that it could not eat. Tesla had saved it from slow death and said that with patient treatment it would soon become strong and well. But not all of the birds he saved could be fitted into his hotel room, where the servants already complained of dirt. “In a large cage in a bird shop,” wrote Swezey, “are several dozen more pigeons. Some had wing diseases, others broken legs. At least one was cured of gangrene, which the bird specialist pronounced incurable. If a pigeon is afflicted with something that Tesla has not the facilities to treat, it is put under the care of a competent physician.” (…)
Because so many strange interpretations have been made of Tesla’s devotion to pigeons, the following letter from Tesla to Pola Fotic, the young daughter of Konstantin Fotic, Yugoslavian ambassador to the United States, is cited for its simple portrayal of love for the creatures of his childhood. Entitled, “A Story of Youth Told by Age,” he describes the winter isolation of the house where he was born, and of his special friend, “the magnificent Macak, the finest of all cats in the world. It was in connection with Macak that his first intimation of electricity came to him one snowy evening when he was three years of age. “People walking in the snow left a luminous trail behind them,” he wrote, “and a snowball thrown against an obstacle gave a flare of light like a loaf of sugar hit with a knife..” Even at that early age his vision was hyperreceptive to light. Footprints in the snow were not in muted shades of blue, purple, or black as they might seem to others. “I felt impelled to stroke Macak’s back. What I saw was a miracle which made me speechless… Macak’s back was a sheet of light, and my hand produced a shower of crackling sparks loud enough to be heard all over the place.” His father told him this was caused by electricity His mother said to stop playing with the cat lest he start a fire. But the child was thinking abstractly. “Is nature a gigantic cat? If so who strokes its back? It can only be God, I concluded.” Later, as darkness filled the room, Macak shook his paws as though he were walking on wet ground, and the boy distinctly saw the furry body surrounded by a halo like the aura of saints. Day after day he asked himself what electricity could be, and found no answer. (…) “I liked to feed our pigeons, chickens, and other fowl, take one or the other under my arm and hug and pet it”. (…)
Now, in New York, as he withdrew more and more from a frenzied age and from people with whom he felt little harmony, his fondness for pigeons took on a strange intensity. He became alarmingly ill in his office on 40th Street one day in 1921 and, as usual, refused to see a doctor. When it became apparent that he might be unable to return to his apartment at the St Regis Hotel, he whispered to his secretary to telephone the hotel, speak with the housekeeper on the fourteenth floor, and tell her to feed the pigeon in his room — ”the white pigeon with touches of gray in her wings.” He insisted that the secretary repeat this urgent message after him. The housekeeper was to continue feeding the pigeon each day
until further notice. She would find plenty of feed in the room. Whenever in the past the inventor had been unable to visit Bryant Park with the feed, he had hired a Western Union messenger to take care of the errand for him. The white pigeon, it was apparent, was special to him. From his attitude, his secretaries thought he might be delirious. He recovered, and the matter was forgotten — until another day, when he telephoned his secretary to say the pigeon was very ill and that he could not leave the hotel. Miss Skerritt recalled that he spent several days at home. When the pigeon had recovered, he resumed his usual routine of working, walking, thinking, and feeding the birds.
About a year later, however, he arrived at his office looking shaken and distraught. In his arm he carried a tiny bundle. He summoned Julius Czito, who lived in the suburbs, and asked if he would bury the dead pigeon on his property where the grave could be properly cared for. But scarcely had the machinist returned home on this curious mission than he received a phone call from Tesla, who had changed his mind. “Bring her back, please,” he said, “I have made other arrangements.” How he finally disposed of her, his staff never knew.
Three years later Tesla was completely broke and his bill at the St Regis Hotel had gone unpaid for a long time. One afternoon a deputy sheriff arrived at his office and began seizing his furnishings to satisfy a judgment against them. Tesla managed to persuade the officer to grant him an extension. When he had gone, there remained the matter of his secretaries, who had received no salaries in more than two weeks. All that was left in his Mother Hubbard’s cupboard of a safe was the gold Edison Medal, which he now removed. It was worth about one hundred dollars, he said to the embarrassed young women. He would have it cut in two and give half to each. Dorothy Skerritt and Muriel Arbus declined in one voice. They offered instead to share with him the small sums of money in their own purses. When Tesla was able to pay them a few weeks later, he placed an additional two weeks salary in each envelope. Yet on the day when he had offered to divide up the Edison Medal, there had in fact been a little money in the office – $5 in petty cash. But this he claimed at once for his pigeons, saying he was out of bird seed. He had asked one of his secretaries to go out and buy a fresh supply.
With the help of Czito, to whom he also owed a substantial amount of money, he then moved all his office belongings into a new office building. The next blow fell shortly afterward when he was asked to vacate the St Regis Hotel, in part because of his pigeon friends. At one point Tesla had put some of the birds into a hamper and sent them home with patient George Scherff, thinking that a spell in Connecticut might do them good. But alas, so fond were they of their old friend and of their risky old haunts that they were back on his window ledge in time for dinner. Sadly he packed up his possessions of decades and moved to the Hotel Pennsylvania. The pigeons followed. After another few years, he and they would be forced to move on to the Hotel Governor Clinton. Nikola and his birds were to spend the final decade of his life in the Hotel New Yorker.
The strange tale of the white pigeon was told by the inventor to O’Neill and William L. Laurence, science writer for the New York Times, one day while the three sat in the Hotel New Yorker lobby. John O’Neill, a member of a psychic society, saw mystic symbolism in Tesla’s white pigeon. He and other psychics who have written about the inventor preferred to speak of the pigeon as a dove. Although pigeons are technically rock doves, only the most meticulous birdwatchers ever call them that and Tesla never called his pigeon anything but a pigeon. But what he told the two journalists in the hotel lobby says his early
biographer, was the dove love-story of his life. “I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years,” he said. “Thousands of them, for who can tell —. But there was one pigeon, a beautiful bird, pure white with light gray tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I would know that pigeon anywhere. No matter where I was that pigeon would find me; when I wanted her I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. She understood me and I understood her. I loved that pigeon. Yes, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. When she was ill I knew, and understood; she came to my room and I stayed beside her for days. I nursed her back to health. That pigeon was the joy of my life. If she needed me, nothing else mattered. As long as I had her, there was a purpose in my life. Then one night as I was lying in my bed in the dark, solving problems, as usual, she flew in through the open window and stood on my desk. I knew she wanted me; she wanted to tell me something important so I got up and went to her. As I looked at her I knew she wanted to tell me she was dying. And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes— powerful beams of light”. Tesla paused and then, as if in response to an unasked question from the science writers, continued. “Yes, it was a real light, a powerful, dazzling, blinding light a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory. When that pigeon died [in 1922], something went out of my life. Up to that time I knew with a certainty that I would complete my work, no matter how ambitious my program, but when that something went out of my life I knew my life’s work was finished. Yes, I have fed pigeons for years; I continue to feed them, thousands of them, for after all, who can tell —”. The writers left him in silence and walked several blocks along Seventh Avenue without speaking.»
– Margaret Cheney, “Tesla: Man out of time” (2001).
«… when he lived at the Hotel New Yorker, he had the hotel chef prepare a special mix of seed for his pigeons, which he hoped to sell commercially. Naturally, this prompted speculation about his mental well-being. His aversion to germs also heightened in this period, and he began to wash his hands compulsively and would eat only boiled foods.»