Thursday, January 31, 2013

turning over every stone of any size

So Mr Vane never has to think about work or putting ink in the printer because the author George MacDonald has given him tonnes of money, doling it out with the same vivid and enviable freedom that he used when he was killing the forebear, not feeling guilty about either largesse or murder, and Mr Vane takes the dead beautiful woman into a cave where he begins the river-water experiment, bathing her every day even when something decides to come at night while he is asleep to nip blood out of him through the hand. "The back of it was much swollen, and in the centre of the swelling was a triangular wound, like the bite of a leech.

As the day went on, the swelling subsided, and by the evening the hurt was all but healed. I searched the cave, turning over every stone of any size, but discovered nothing I could imagine capable of injuring me."

That "imagine" is the potent word in this sentence; the reader (meaning me) can see one obvious culprit lying there with him, soaking up water, and they are shouting, "Look behind you!" as in a pantomime. And the hero is shrugging at the children in the audience, shading his eyes, scanning the horizon, turning around (the villain stays behind him as he turns) -- "Where?" and the children are shrieking, "There!" and so anxious they're nearly throttling themselves, their faces go blue and they fall off their chairs. Still he goes on bathing the sweet corpse (Trakl) in a dutiful and reliable way, as if some higher power has ordered him to act like this, which (the author) it has, washing the dead woman and sleeping in the cave where the unknown thing drains his fluid. What are you doing, Mr Vane? I am being in an allegory. But he doesn't know that he is in an allegory, he can't, otherwise why would he give names to the objects around him, "bread," "princess," "white leech," and so on, why would he not cut to the chase and spend his time thinking, mm, now, never mind names, what does this object represent? What is that giant going to do, he could wonder, and then remind himself, "I am in an allegory," and at that moment he figures out what this giant-thing's allegorical behaviour has to be. Like this he will stare straight into the monster's subconscious. He will have a periscope into its heart and brain, he will be the reader. As for the monster, it will never know. It will still be a character in the book.

After he has thought about allegories for a while he realises that if this is an allegory then he must be allegorical too, and if so, what does he represent? He does not know that he is the narrator necessarily; he does not know that he is the focus or Everyman. He suspects that he is the Everyman but then he tells himself that everybody in an allegory would think they were the Everyman if they knew they were in one. He wouldn't know for sure. He might be one of the other characters. But why is he the only one like himself, why is he travelling, why does he keep meeting people? I am behaving like an Everyman, he thinks. I can't look at myself clearly, though. I don't know.

Now he has firm ideas about other peoples' manners and a shaky idea of his own, which puts him in the same mental category as so many people that he is confirmed as the Everyman though that fact is invisible to him and does him no good.

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