Sunday Stories: Gravity’s Rainbow (2)
Back to the detective work. Let’s start with a clue:
“Why is your equation only for angels, Roger? Why can’t we do something, down here? Couldn’t there be an equation for us too, something to help us find a safer place?”
I was thinking about a detective who forgot the solution, that he even forgot to differentiate between clues and non-clues. I believe that may not have been radical enough. Maybe the crime was also part of the pattern of amnesia; not that there was a crime but what the crime was. Maybe this gives a clue: “The young statistician is devoted to number and to method, not table-rapping or wishful thinking. But in the domain of zero to one, not-something to something, Pointsman can only possess the zero and the one. He cannot, like Mexico, survive anyplace in between.”?
Is the crime that there is something to write a story about? Something unpredictable and undefined that gave rise to both the defined and the desire for the predictable? Too many questions. Let us try an example: sex.The reason we want to have sex and maybe even enjoy having it is that in having it we are freed from anything but basest reflexes, reflexes conditioned by natural rather than personal history. There’s neither zero nor one, nor anything between it. And, by the way, with sex I mean sex and therefore not the not-sex that has a zero and a one with the zero assuming the position of the number one and treating the other one’s as zeroes. It would be criminal to give probability and to allow for deriving from it the concept of necessity that is afterward abused to negate the necessity of probability.
Sorry, one more: “One despised the upper classes but tried desperately to behave like them. …” And another one: “Here now is Crutchfield or Crouchfield, the westwardman. Not “archetypical” westwardman, but the only. Understand, there was only one. There was only one Indian who ever fought him. Only one fight, one victory, one loss. And only one president, and one assassin, and one election. True. One of each of everything.”
Each story, each character within a story (however much it or she wants to be somebody else, like somebody else) is just entirely individual. This is important because however much it may have been criminal to put us in a situation where we’d like not to be, it is even more criminal to negate the fact that we are where we are. More: nobody put us.anywhere; putting doesn’t come into it. It is normal to be wanting to be better off even if it is far from necessary to be wanting at all. There’s a place for progressive insight because in wanting there can only be wanting to be better off. Any wanting is attracted to its center of gravity and for all the bloody mess we are in, and will continue to be in, that’s at least something, isn’t it?
“Ernest Pudding was brought up to believe in a literal Chain of Command, as clergymen of earlier centuries believed in the Chain of Being. The newer geometries confuse him.” Earlier ideas are more primitive but they are comfortable to who has grown up in them. The attachment is mutual. One has to understand. In writing stories one has to understand how out of the many reasons, there are always reasons to do or not to do. One cannot understand a lot of things that are done, but one can always understand the reasons even for those things that are completely not done, like being attached to all those primitive ideas and wanting to rescue the world from the eagerness to abandon them, completely and utterly: not even to accord any original wisdom or insight to them.
“Do we have to do it because the Americans do it? Must we allow them to corrupt us?” Yes, we have.
“She asks this seriously, as if there’s a real conversion factor between information and lives. Well, strange to say, there is. Written down in the Manual, on file at the War Department. Don’t forget the real business of the War is buying and selling. The murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of death is useful in many ways. It serves as a spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequence of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world.” Being naïve has no place. We are not free from the struggle. Far from it, as it is our struggle to slow down the inevitable: that time removes us farther and farther away from when the old things, things that are certain, were still commonly held to be certain.
To finish this: ” … For as much as they are the creatures of God, and have the gift of rational discourse, acknowledging that only in His Word is eternal life to be found … And there are tears of happiness in the eyes of the dodoes. They are all brothers now, they and the humans who used to hunt them, brothers in Christ (..)”
Isn’t that a possible crime? To have to go through all of this just in order to come back to the state from which it started? Create the potential for guilt just to better define innocence? Innocence as an achievement? All these shades of grey, and all this uncertainty just to underline the certainty of black and white?
Also, I like the story’s treatment of those who treat dogs and dodoes badly.
[Maybe I can actually keep this up and finish it before Xmas. I will have to start keeping it up by skipping next week.]
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