The Sunday Tunnel: Noe Jor
[Continued from here.]
I spent a week in Gotham. After a couple of days I found myself tuning into subway conversations of the young Gothamites. It sounded vaguely like English and it made me feel like the old bastard I am. It made me feel good; an old bastard I am.
“Why should another’s body be so beautiful its absence is as painful as the presence of your own?” (ibid., p. 297)
That’s it: people who like taking pictures are The Threat. They feel the pain when things get out of their frame. They feel old then. They want to conserve. They put salt and sour in every new wound – and make their hurt the principle focus of a world in which they no longer want to belong. The pictures, nice or not, will go stale, mate, but any draw is better than their loss.
“A book, I wrote, is like a deck of windows: each page is made of mind, and it is that same mind that perceives the world outside, and it is that same mind that stands translucently between perception and reflection, uniting and dividing, double dealing. It’s clear that you copied your paper, Miss Duck said (what do ducks do but quack and coo the whole night through); it’s not your work, and simply couldn’t be your work, from whom did you steal it? where did you get it? did your daddy find it for you? in some fancy magazine, maybe?
I shared the joy of the Jews in unjustified accusations.” (ibid., p. 302)
There’s irony in that. Miss Duck and Old Kohler, one strife, ready for revolution, only the latter in some doubt whether to restore things forcefully in hic stans nunc stans (that’s Latin!); divided in that but united in the here and now that despises the here and now. Kohler doing the double dealing with two decks of windows – one deck rigged to quack and coo of what is not, cannot, should not (on reflection) be because it it were (to be) it would hurt like people talking in a strange tongue who make you feel out of place and insecure and out of date and, I guess that’s it in the end, out of fucking mind – and the other deck straight up perceiving Heisenberg-style and seeing, therefore being seen; windows that go both ways, behind the which you cannot hide like a voyeur perversely enjoying seeing without being seen.
An Old Kohler deck and the Young Kohler deck. Miss Duck won in creating the former but it is the latter that will last.
“for history, I do believe, is not a mighty multitude of causes whose effects we suffer now in an imaginary present; it is rather that the elements of every evanescent moment endeavor to hitch a ride on something more permanent, living on in what lives on, lengthening their little life by clinging to a longer one, and in that manner, though perhaps quite unintentionally, attaching what will be to what still is (and so far has survived) the way a word’s former employments are the core of what it presently means (..)” (ibid., p. 315)
And all that is true but Old Kohler still does not want to die even if not dying means killing Young Kohler once and for all, killing him perhaps quite unintentionally but in trying to making sure he survives to outlive Old Kohler and bite him back when the crust is removed, the window cleaned of dirt and the original idea perceived for what it was: a cause of causes in blissful ignorance of desired effect.
Miss Duck will have hated progress, I’m sure. She will have hated it so much she hated the mere mention of the word, the way it sounded, looked and smelled. After all, if there is progress, she did not have a place in it (an unjustified accusation, if only because she was a teacher – we should be charitable to teachers even if they teach from The Old Books).
A quote: “The consequences of our actions escape our intentions the way cattle stampede at a pistol’s shot, and there are always friends and enemies ready to steer corollaries into their own corrals.” (ibid., p. 323)
A thought: two hands clapping.
Let me introduce some slowth in my prose like a cat eying a bird, getting low on all fours and moving its shoulder bones (does a cat have shoulders?) as two pistons of death.
“I suddenly realized, considering this, that perhaps I spent so readily because I felt more secure in my future, while Martha conserved because she felt she hadn’t any.” (ibid., p. 337)
Or so he felt she felt. It is all paradox with the disappointed: go back to a past that never was and do it quickly – impatient to see the evidence of progress’ evident regress. Neither space nor time to allow soft brewing. Stuff has to happen, until it does because when it does it doesn’t happen the way it should have happened – and that’s the stampede waiting for a high-toned whistle, any high-toned whistle, to meanwhile disregard other tones as noise, as insufficient. Conservation is not the aim of the unintentional.
The truth is … the insult is … reality’s bastard boomerang is that the unintentional is what moves things without wanting to move anything. Acute neurosis outmaneuvered by continuous psychosis to that point where brewing becomes boiling and the neurosis of the few can, momentarily, capture the psychosis of the many and … boom!
The question is: can we neurotics learn? or are we condemned to teach? to patronize and condescend? The answer is that: yes, we can ever so slowly and certainly not fast enough to outpace all of our individual impatience meaning that there is always that clear and present danger of one neurotic collectivizing his disappointment into a future which is as secure as the past that should have been.
“My outrage rapidly became metaphysical. I called down on all women the character of my mother like a plague, and then cursed them with her fate.” (ibid., p. 352)
That about sums it up, really. The stampede, the corral of the disappointed and the future a past that cannot be escaped; a prophecy that cannot but be curse. Hers should be the last word (even if her name is spelled with a superfluous ‘h’ and her character deformed by a concave window.
“I don’t want to hear all I do – every squeak in my works. I want a bit of oblivion, Koh. I want a little rest of awareness. You’ve made me so conscious of my chest, I’m counting breaths.” (ibid., ibid.)
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