Thursday, May 21, 2015

born not made

I was reading Tom’s blog when I came across the Trout from Little, Big being described as a gateway between different states of the world,* which is true, but it made me think of the moment at the end of Crowley’s Four Freedoms when a few of the characters are travelling down a road with a dog and suddenly he shows you Dorothy, Toto, and the others from the Wizard of Oz.

Inside that phrase the characters were present to me for the first time in the story (hundreds of pages long); I could see them radiating outwards in that state of transition, dimensionally lit, and undergoing a motion that was important. They had been jerked unstuck from their realistic narrative onto the same plane that the people in Little, Big occupy from the beginning of their book until the end: they were vibrating between realism and archetype.

In the last chapters of Little, the characters will move finally to the place that represents one of those two states and the suggestion is that they’ll stay there: this is the time for the book to close down, the trembling action of its being has been transformed into a new, less trembling, action, with which it chooses not to deal. With a fairy (says the book without using the word) you can say that it is one thing and also, equally truly, say that it is the opposite of that thing: they are “born not made” but also “made not born,” and so on: they are precise and imprecise – in short, the essence of a fairy, understood from the real world, is a motion.

So I began to wonder how often the noun in Crowley is superimposed into a verb, if you want to put it that way: the movement, the travel, the state of being not in one place, not in another, is made to seem three dimensional because it is named Trout or Dorothy, in contradiction, you’d think, of its smoke and mirrors presence. And yet the motion not arrested by this noun but active, in fact positively conjured by the association, made into a solid point, but a solid point that draws action into it and through it, specifically the action of travel.

* But that passage doesn't actually exist in Tom's blog: where did I see it?


  1. Doors, the novel is nothing but doors.

    That bit from Four Freedoms is - well, Crowleyish. Gotta read that book sometime.

  2. His realism has never seemed as sharp to me as his fantasy. That vibration effect gets tamped down and I miss the frisson. (By that point in the book I needed the Oz reference to wake me up.)