Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
Our host picked three bird-pecked grapefruit off her tree and threw them away into the desert where they're resting now, one after the other on the bare dirt, glowing like Yeats' golden apples, and making me think of Elizabeth Jolley's Lovesong, which uses those two lines about the apples as a lietmotif. The book is arranged like a piece of music, with certain ideas and events recurring like riffs or fragments, these repetitions growing more loaded as other ideas change place around them, throwing their different aspects into relief. Crucial moments in the protagonist's past are hinted at but unexplained, and the lietmotifs seem to provide clues, but the purpose of those clues, the meaning of them, and the deductions we should draw, are obscure. David Lynch works in a similar way. Inland Empire was the last Lynch I saw, and there was a shot of a bedside table lamp, coming back and coming back, burring and buzzing, weirdly ominous. In Jolley a woman picks up and picks up a single eclair until it becomes the most depraved eclair in all literature. Spike Milligan had the notion that you could make a pointless idea funny by repeating it, so he tested it out in one episode of the Goons -- I think Eccles opened a door and said hello, then closed it -- and by the second or third time the audience was laughing. (To do something once is to make it mean something; to do it more than once is to make it mean more.) The repetition of the words "Look" and "Listen" in Evan S. Connell's Compass Rose irritated me, but repetition in Lovesong had me spelled and solemn. What's the secret? Lovesong and Empire are both mysterious; Compass Rose is bustling, extroverted, and bossy. Is tension the answer? The tension of a mystery? The tension of restraint?