Thursday, January 3, 2013

a clear movement

"That's right," they say, "we have been reading Heidegger on Trakl, but as soon as we saw those words we knew it was true, so it is not as if we're fishing," they say, "it's not as though we were groping for a phrase; we do believe it, and it suits and fits the feelings that we are sure were there prior. People sometimes find what they are looking for," and they pick up my phenomenally brutalised secondhand copy of Thomas Pynchon's V., lifting, along with the book itself, stains and brown leaves, which they open to page one hundred and eighty-three where an old owner has underlined the words, "what was the tag-end of an age if not that sort of imbalance, that tilt toward the more devious, the less forceful?"

"They had to wait nearly until page two hundred to find it," say the friends of Katherine Anne Porter, "but they found it eventually, and then there's nothing else until page three hundred and one --" which they show, and the words "Decadence, decadence" have been underlined at the start of a paragraph.

It says:

Decadence, decadence. What is it? Only a clear movement toward death, or, preferably, non-humanity.

"You can imagine," they say with a sort of fluttering pleasure and thrill, "the same kind of mind picking out both those sets of words; you can imagine the same person wanting to remember that their point of view here in the book, was upheld, by this author, who had expressed it so well, and so beautifully, and honoured their feelings, which may well have been paranoia, and maybe delusion, and depression, and a belief that the world was going to the dogs, and horror, and suicidal despair, but respected here by this famous writer, who lets them know that other people have conceived the bones of the same thoughts on which they have clumped the meat they have collected (this meat that cooks and seethes in their minds, the memories of atrocities in the newspapers or the argument they hear downstairs); to this meat they may now add the words of Thomas Pynchon. and if they try to explain their point of view to someone later they could quote V. for support, saying to the other party, look I am not alone, I am less mad than you think, and from these words of Thomas Pynchon's though he wrote them so long ago, they can say, today, "Thomas Pynchon thinks this" -- showing that page -- because they have never heard anything that would contradict that belief, and yet he ages, Thomas Pynchon, like the hero of the Zoshchenko novellette who will never be described because he is going to get older before the end of the story, and whatever you describe him as now he might not be today, and may have conceived the opposite point of view in secret, deciding that the world is not going to the dogs, that decadence is not a problem, and that all his old thoughts about entropy were just his body trying to warn him about an oncoming case of alcoholic poisoning because he had been drinking too much gin; the whole book could have been gin.

'We have no idea if Thomas Pynchon actually imbibes," they add, "that was just an example. Maybe he is a teetotaller." They wring their hands.

No comments:

Post a Comment