Thursday, April 11, 2013
all her engauzements
"Where is the mark," I asked myself, still thinking of Wole Soyinka's absent acute accent over the e, "it is putting its emphasis in a spot, planting one thing there, it is in French, it is in another language, it is next door, it is with the neighbours, it is the compressive slanting finger that removes the need for a footnote or for Carol C. Harter (with three buildings named after her on the UNLV campus) pronouncing "wol-ay" after years of me imagining "hole," it is the behaviour of Joyce in Finnegans Wake, which is a poem or pun or puzzle or compressive act and a monument of thoughtful battle or mimickry of long playtime, the sustainment of its compressive effort to fuse the foetal and the adult words at once (burning parts off and melting the remains together), the words in the book are recognisable as their adult forms but other words have been grafted on to them and they grow together (all the warm soil around, which sustains them in that form, the landscape built for them, the stubborn, isolated and enclosed terrarium world) into this hybrid -- and here is one example from the middle of the book, 'engauzements' instead of 'engagements,' 'she cancelled all her engauzements,' writes Joyce -- she is not engaged any longer and her mind is not misted over either, the engagements were light and gauze, the gauze like a veil has been dismissed from her eyes, she sees what she must do and throws herself over a bridge I think it is, in the next sentence, being in a gauzy environment or in the middle of romantic questing novel prose just there, which drives her to accept dramatic acts when they occur to her, or so you can assume, for the brief time that you know her, which is about a page or so (pretending for one moment that she is a person --).
'You draw that conclusion" I told myself, "because the romantic-dramatic language says, 'She is likely to do this,' even before it says, 'She is doing this,' and meanwhile it is also saying, 'The presence of this specific and taxonomically more or less identifiable language means that she could be quickly constructed by the speaker, she is not built up in the slow way that someone in a realism-novel is built up, by acts reported and observed (being created as she proceeds through the time of the reader's reading, which is the way people come to me in life, appearing in the world and becoming a character through their acts or reported acts), but her history is inside this short box of romance-prose which exists within the larger box of Finnegans Wake.'
'It is the history of a form of language that prophesises her behaviour for me and not the imitated history of a person, she is the expression of a language and not of a species that is time-borne and made of meat, she is not a person as I am a person even though someone has disguised her with a name, as a different person once did me, either my mother or my father, I have not actually asked and what a gap in my development is represented here.
'The language itself is throwing her over the bridge; she would not have done it if she had been in the middle of a more ruthless passage. Slang would have saved her."
(And I felt that all those among us are stricken with unnecessary suffering, and so her as well, and so she is a person in that aspect of herself, though almost anything can be a person in one or more aspects of itself, even trees can be people in one aspect of themselves, the presence of skinlike coatings for example, or a habit of what could be called breathing which is conducted by the tree on a regular basis in order to sustain life; and people can be trees by a reverse process; by this argument we are all characters in books.)