Chimera Song Mosaic
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I've lost the urge to archive. This is somewhat problematic because without such urge I am unlikely to post. But there it is. Oh, I have been posting, but in my head. Pretty much every other day I think to myself of what to say, I compose the post in my head, and that seems to be sufficient. Should I worry about this?
I would say no, perhaps say, well, I'll just stop blogging. But I know I'm going to need it soon, and I'd rather not say with any finality exactly what I'm going to do. "Oh, bother," as Pooh would say.
One of the changes is the addition of a list of things I'm reading. Of course, it is already out of date. The Woman Destroyed, for example, was finished almost before I created the list, and I guess I put it there because I wanted to quote from it. But don't get me started; I would be quoting on and on! And well, just read the damn book yourself. If I had sucumbed to the archiving urge while reading the book, I would have spent pages and pages (but how can one count this on a computer?). Perhaps it's best to distill it to the most essential quotation: "I am afraid" (254). Or perhaps,
When the silence stifles me I turn on the radio and from a remote planet there come voices that I can hardly undertake: that world has a time, set hours, laws, speech, anxieties and amusements that are essentially foreign to me. How far one can let oneself go, when one is entirely alone and shut in! The bedroom smells of stale tobacco and spirits; there is ash everywhere; I am filthy; the sheets are filthy; the sky is filthy behind the filthy windows: this filth is a shell that protects me; I shall never leave it again. (223)
But I don't feel like this right now, but I have before, but I could do. I think the essentials of my life right now preempt it. For example, I have to mow the lawn and such twice a week. I've taken up a regular exercise program. Just going outside here during daylight hours prompts so much sweat that a daily shower is necessary. I suppose I should be grateful to be prevented from depression.
But the point is that I have also lost my urge to annotate my reading and compile my ideas. It happened while I was reading The Woman Destroyed, or perhaps, more accurately, that's where it began. Previously (I think I have commented on this before), I would painstakingly annotated every single book I read, mostly with lines down the side of paragraph, less often by underlining actual words and sentences, and sometimes writing in the scant margins of texts. It was if I was preparing every text for a critical response, or even more thoroughly, for the day that I might teach it. But then, midway through The Woman Destroyed, I stopped. This was mostly because my pen ran out of ink, but in normal situations I would go and get another.
The interesting thing (to me) is that I was able to keep this up until the last story of the book, basically the end of the whole thing, when I wanted to underline everything. So now as I look back at it, there are deep scratches against the margins of text.
Then, I lost the urge completely when I began The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. More specifically, I was determined not to pick up the habit again. When I ask my literary-minded friends if they compulsively highlight and annotate, they say no. I realize that I am pouring over texts at a much reduced speed because of this, and I envy the lists of reading they complete, while I struggle with meaningful highlighting. I also sometimes find, when I reread a text I have previously highlighted, that my marks have little meaning for me. Whatever interest I had in them has passed. I go on to highlight other portions of the text. So for this, I said no.
But when I got a bit into The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I started highlighting and annotating when I found the Golem. The Golem is something of a personal obsession of mine. I have written a series of poems about Golem, and I look for Golem allusions everywhere (I found them in Frankenstein and Tanith Lee's gorgeous fantasy/scifi novella, The Silver Metal Lover). When I relied that Golem wasn't just a mild reference but an essential theme in the novel, I stopped highlighting. I'm still reading TAAoKaC, probably because at first I was only reading it on airplanes (to and from Mexico City and Boise, Idaho), but now I need to finish it because it's part of our reading group. But I want to savor it, too. Everyone loves it. You should seriously read the book if you haven't; it's lovely, lovely, lovely!
I actually drew a picture in the column next to one sentence: "They don't go down straight: they are like little creatures that for mysterious reasons of their own slant off to the right or to the left, slipping between of the motionless drops, stopping and then starting against though they were in the quest of something" (de Beauvoir 211).
It is a picture of five raindrops.
Also, I just noticed a typo in my book when I typed that paragraph. It's amazing how many errors are in books that have been combed over by various prestigious editors. Sometimes I feel a little anger when I find them; sometimes I just feel superior. This time I felt nothing. But we rarely notice them when we read, at leads not the first time.
I love this description also. The woman (whose husband was having an affair) said, "I had loved our car: it was a faithful animal belonging to the house, a warm and comforting presence; and suddenly, there it was [at the other woman's house], being used for betraying me" (175).
Underneath this page I had written, "Women avoid stereotype; men embrace it," which I suppose is true, as far as any generalization goes. It seems that a woman whose lover cheats on her is determined not to react in a way that other women have reacted. They might feel the urge to confront the other woman, call her up on the phone or perhaps beat her up, but they don't do it. It seems like a perfectly natural thing to do! Even the way women dress--they always want to be distinctive. Men, on the other hand, when confronted with a cheating lover are praised when they behave in a stereotypical way, that is, confronting the other man. I think a man who ignored his wife's or girlfriend's lover would be criticized. But I supposed in general men are encouraged to repsond violently whereas women aren't.
I suppose I'm supporting this from another quote in the book: "All women think they are different; they all think there are some things that will never happen to them; and they are all wrong" (136). In the column, I wrote, "And all men think they are the same?" Of course not, but still; it does seem like many men are hoping that they get to have an affair; they don't shy away from the predictability of it.
And here is the best line from the whole book: "I have taken to my pen again not to go back over the same ground but because the emptiness winthin me, around me, is so vast that this movement of my hand is necessary to tell myself that I am still alive" (224).