In so much art, I can smell the author’s desire for me to be more interested in how they and/or their characters interpret and inhabit boredom than actually doing something. Simple action. Anybody involved doing anything. I’m thinking here of The Stranger, The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño, The Immoralist. The strung along. The boredom of relative luxury. How this seems to at least temporarily obliterate any internal gyre of philosophy or gut thought that would lead to decisions being made and bodies being moved, followed then by trailing thought, fallen out words. Is there a novel out there concerned mostly with people moving and acting with little thought, but in which plot in its traditional patterns of building (attention, suspense, terror) does not build its usual cores but delves or unearths something deeper in its time: meaninglessness? Beckett, I guess, right? Of Molloy. And not yet just a list of actions but a trail of subsumed desire, of wiped want, or cleaned out intuition. Belief born without a tail. Who’s out there? And how are they speaking? And in that smell, be it a pleasant suprasense or the shit of deadening culture, you can either yes to it or no and walk away, close the book. Off the screen. Say hi to a realm of light and seeming chaos that somehow provides you wind.
But meaninglessness is tricky. Just as the word impossible is framed by a language that both codes it and decodes it simultaneously (it’s a combustive word; no wonder artists take it as such an engine), meaninglessness doesn’t truly touch through the black skein of a void, the void, void. We know it just gestures. (from Mark Leidner: poetry like the Midas of meaning; everything you reach for is dissolved in the spectacle of the gesture) So we’re left with a hologram of a projection of deeper sense or finality: we’re left just out of reach of the point of cataclysm, or at least where the earth can break through enough to swallow its container. It’s not geometrical at all, nor is it a sphere without a skin: in a way, culture in its progression, bacterial (maybe moreso than a viral way), keeps as its form the method by which we can get as close to a system of thought’s event horizon. A hollow zone where the force holding you in place is milliseconds away from its pull toward another place: lesser star, complete off.
I dreamed earlier today about writing I am paralyzed. In the near immediate wake of death. And how, seeming to me then in the open dream, that must necessarily precede a statement of numerical precision: how many times the page itself I had typed or tapped onto white had been deleted. And reformed, necessarily. All I’m thinking about now is how the Dionysian and the Apollonian were easy outs. It seems to me both of those frames of vision have a third hand somewhere: just out of frame, the marble grates against its mate. Touch.
The Arabian Nights
‘the artist, like the god of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails’ – joyceyboy
noli me tangere makes me hungry for fruit
last night i learned that our perception of the universe might be a hologram in which case we exist in two dimensions splattered on the outermost wall of the universe itself (can’t believe i didn’t know this) & i have been thinking a lot on this shot from the double life of veronique
Holograph theory is fun. That shot is gorgeous. And, yeah, Joyce: Joyce.
Ken, didn’t you think The Third Reich he was waiting there for his lover, the older woman co-owning the hotel? I mean is that boredom? To have a quest? I thought he was stalking (before the word was dirty and associated with stalker–I do not mean that connotation. I mean committed to something.) I thought the “game” was a metaphor for what he hoped would be realized, but his plan was not good, was too dissolved, like Germany’s plans; he did not foresee certain defenses, changes in “weather” like the tourist season dissolving to, well, winter (Russian front), etc. What do you think? I mean I think you went reductive on a complicated work of fiction.
I’m about halfway through. That said: I don’t think it’s simple fiction at all; but, in many sections, the narrator feels to me in the same mental space as Mersault, etc.,; a semi-stupefied passenger in the events of the story. Again: only in sections. I’ll finish the book and probably write more on it.
OK, I like the word “stupefied.” I sort of see the Mersault thing, though I think you are seduced by the nearly exact setting, the malaise that sets in anytime anyone has been on a beach or the sun too long. But I actually see Third Reich narrator as less abdicating his free will. I think his mental space owns his own slippage and corrects–he is not C (who dies from nothingness, no, the waves lead him?) on a surfboard pulled out to sea. Have you read A Sport and a Pastime? Salter? It would maybe illuminate this conversation. ? Maybe. I think you are striking rich soil, but maybe want to defend Bolaño’s book. Maybe. I myself am surprised. But I feel it.
‘Meaninglessness’ is tricky. Like disclosing ‘nothing’, as soon as one predicates ‘meaningless’, one has already interpreted – one is already in an economy of signification.
I think when ‘meaningless’ is asserted of a particular thing or attribute or experience or event or relation, one is saying that it ‘means’ too little, or that’s it’s confused or carelessly made or, simply, inscrutable.
When someone says ‘it’s all meaningless’–life, the world, reality–, that, to me, is disappointment talking, or frustration, or ressentiment–a disclosure of attachment.
Mersault is a proposition of knightly indifference, one metabolizing the lotus of because-it-will-die,-it-is-dead. What are the effects of someone proposing this fiction? of it resonating with someone else? These effects are not the residue of meaninglessness.
I don’t think Beckett’s ‘trilogy’ winds one towards – or surrounds and suffuses one inexorably with – “meaninglessness”. There are attributes of being ‘unnameable’: puny, squalid, futile. To call that creep of a crawl ‘meaningless’ is to glamorize the namer rather than to indicate void.
No Salter yet. I feel your feeling it. Glad for the engagement.