Monday, May 30, 2005

Report to the Academy

I wish that I could explain my absence from blogging by way of an exciting narrative with multiple, shifting points-of-view, street-cred-building references and animals whose quaint way of speaking bears the heavy hand of The Censor, but alas I've spent most of the last week supine, reading Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembing, Deleuze's Difference and Repetition, and Wings of the Dove, or lamenting the beating that my favorites the Phoenix Suns are taking at the hands of San Antonio Spurs. Yet another reason to hate Texas: what state can have three playoff-quality basketball teams? One with lots of oil money. . . Kierkegaard says that I should both accept that they will lose tonight and hold on to the hope that they won't, marry Beckett's "I can't go on" to his "I'll go on."

There's that paradox again, the one that makes relaxation, or the absence of responsibilities, one of the most time-consuming endeavors one can pursue. As the temperature rises, more and more air percolates in between my thoughts; by mid-July I'm averaging a mere one or two perplexed, mostly empty looks a day. Until then, I'll be perusing the Library at Nothingness, a trove of writings on and by the members of the Situationist International. I haven't looked at any of this stuff since my undergraduate days in Lester Mazur's Decentralism class, and I'm thinking that it will help Toward a Pornography of the Sublime, which is at the very least getting longer. LA D->rive anyone?

Something ought to be said, and then retracted just as quickly, without as much as exposing one chink in the mosaic of armored silences which it is our custom to dutifully polish, about litotes in James, not only the rhetorical kind, at which he's certainly no hack, but the larger thematic or characterological variety, where, to take a cue from Josh, any positive emotion, thought or motive you can attribute to the characters is the result of a negated negative--the bad thing the person does not do or does not say, as Milly "was to wonder in subsequent reflection what in the world they had actually said, since they made such a success of what they didn't say. . . ." It's a dizzying and alien place to spend an hour or two, but what's amazing is how well James quickly sends me to finishing school, how quickly he teaches me to read the proper cues, or lack thereof. And his syntax is, as everyone says, a visceral thrill, as if the comma had become its own kind of word. A fun to place to visit, but I don't think I could live there--those impressionistic, beaten-gold interiors would give me a permanent case of vertigo.

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