Thursday, June 20, 2013
Then thinking about this activity that is not done in other books: the author pretending to search for his own location in his own story, as if, moving on, he has somehow lost the true story, which was abandoned five pages ago he says, slapping an invisible forehead theatrically, though in the eyes of the reader he has not done anything more extravagant than continue the story in the same way that other authors continue their own stories, but no, he says: the real story is the one I left behind five pages ago, or however long he decides to state.
He slaps his forehead again and declares that the third sentence of the real story is going to be represented by the last paragraph the reader has read, even though we're on page forty.
Himself pretending that there are standards that are not really there, and that something external to himself has constructed requirements he is supposed to follow, when the requirements are being constructed by himself on his own (no one else is asking him to stop and reposition) -- pretending that he is obeying some higher or more exact and aesthetic will -- behaving as if he thinks we will criticise him for not telling us the story properly, when really he is writing the story normally, and this stop-and-search operation is the abnormal part. The part that he pretends he's conducting in order to be normal -- is weird -- and the way he frets as if he can hear us muttering at him through the page ("Fix that," mutters the figure he's put in place of the reader, this author who is writing his own reader by implication, and writing over the one who is there -- writing over them with a griping ghost) -- is weird -- but the normal chatty tone continues in translation by Janet Cropper, nice as nice, as if, dear reader he (Bobrowski) is doing this for you, and for himself as well, and the satisfaction of making this story correctly, as it should be done, with the third sentence positioned now on page fifty, and where this leaves the rest of the words we're not sure.
In some strange limbo, is where it leaves them: they are suddenly detritus, the part the reader has been following is detritus, "But it isn't," the reader says. "I've been reading it. I think I'll decide for myself."
No, no, says the author. It's detritus. Now hish hush.
This is a game, with game-rules. All books therefore might be games, with game-rules. The reader has to go along with it (or else close the book or skim ahead), these strange excursions indicating all possible excursions that might occur in books at any moment, and a fresh character introduced in the last few pages, unusually and in defiance of normal narrative activity, as Bobrowski points out, diverting into another chat, very chatty throughout and pretending to expose the mechanics of his own storytelling when the bit of gantry he's exposing is as artificial as the rest.
Very important for Levin's Mill to refind itself periodically. You know that because it takes up portions of its own substance doing so, it spends time doing so, and time in this instance is prose, it is indivisible from prose: when I say that the book "takes up time" doing something I mean that the author has written about that thing.
I take up my own time reading it and the book gives me an opportunity to take up time that way, in fact strokes and provokes and perhaps coaxes me into doing so, and I allow it: I let it take up my time when what it is taking up, is space, in some dimension or another.