Sunday Stories: Gravity’s Rainbow (4)
What is paranoia but being haunted by your own attempt at making sense of what you are doing? You know: “This is the kind of sunset you hardly see any more, a 19th-century wilderness sunset, a few of which got set down, approximated, on canvas, landscapes of the American West by artists nobody ever heard of, when the land was still free and the eye innocent, and the presence of the Creator much more direct.” Type of thing. Kind of.
I don’t particularly like Slothrop. I certainly don’t like the intermittent song lyrics. It is not their sporadic showing up I don’t like, it is the lyrics qua lyrics I don’t like. I have no clue how to sing them. They don’t make sense. It is well possible that both the lyrics and Slothrop are intentional nuisances (a bit like this maybe), but I still don’t like them. Go figure. But I do like the hatred of cruelty done to animals:“All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, bu the least free of all.” There’s just one word too much in this: ‘even’. I don’t like animals. I certainly don’t like plants and minerals. Hell, I don’t like most people (note: without ‘even’). But cruelty to any of them is not nice because cruelty is not nice, whatever the target of it is.
Forget about detectives and finding crime and criminals, I even don’t want to try to make sense any more. “Who’d know better than an outfit like Shell, with no real country, no side in any war, no specific face or heritage: tapping instead out of that global stratum, most deeply laid, from which all the appearances of corporate ownership really spring?” Why go on? Because there has to be payback! Slothrop, song lyrics and pages about excrement-eating halfwits are all investments for the final payback: a glance of eternity, or better still: feeling yourself slightly better than the next person. “… and oh, oh boy, it just occurs to Slothrop now where all the rocket intelligence is being gathered – into the office of who but Mr. Duncan Sandys, Churchill’s own son-in-law, who works out of the Ministry of Supply located where but at Shell Mex House, for Christ’s sake. …”
The Wife hates when people use ‘…’ in their written communication. That surprised me a little, initially. I can see it now. It suggests you fill something in and whatever it is can be claimed to be wrong by the putter of ‘…’ because she put them and, supposedly, put them there for a reason. “Proverbs for Paranoids 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Indeed. The thing is to be able to write without feeling the need to explain yourself. Just see this as self-therapy, an exercise in free-floating, a temporary defiance of gravity suspending the knowledge of the certain return to questioning and trying to answer and failing to answer. See it as a suspension of belief. “American voices, country voices, high-pitched and without mercy. He lies freezing, wondering if the bedsprings will give him away. For possibly the first time he is hearing the America as it must sound to a non-American.”
There has to be a reason why my quoting is limited to non-story-telling phrases. “The German inflation, that should’ve been my clue right there, zeros strung end to end from here to Berlin.” Literary mash-up (collage maybe, to use less sexy simile), a re-mix (dialogue, to use a more intellectual metaphor). I’m your book jockey. Even that term exists. Still, if you have missed the start, just go back to square one.
I leave you with this. “In the days of the gauchos, my country was a blank piece of paper. The pampas stretched as far as men could imagine, inexhaustible, fenceless. Wherever the gaucho could ride, that place belonged to him. But Buenos Aires sought hegemony over the provinces. All the neuroses about property gathered strength, and began to infect the countryside. Fences went up, and the gaucho became less free. It is our national tragedy.”
Quod non. No soy argentino. Damn the past. Double damn. In the past everything is fixed and nothing can be gained. The past is our loss. Now come 100s of pages which I’ll read. Part 3 will come, and go again. I’ll read ’em as a tribute to Enrique Sensini, just plowing through them (if plowing is a word) in search of what will at least be there: nothing. Ain’t that comfort for you?
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