Joined: Jan 2009 Posts: 324 Location: Vancouver, BC
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Just some random thoughts as I read - on the road today so they are really random.
You can sure tell this guy is a poet obsessed with how words mean things. “The train rushed lazily..” “collapsed comfortably” The way he drops French words (and Frenchified words) and the when it comes to a name like Marseilles he puts”mah-say.” As he is smashed by his circumstances, he is breaking into parts in his “pilgrim's progress” His words are doing the same thing..
Where, I wonder, is word paradise?
How he responds to things is interesting. By naming the people escorting him to Marseilles alternatively guards and “his protectors” he keeps the meaning of what is happening destabilized.
About ¾ of the way through the chapter there are a couple of extraordinary paragraphs. It starts with the description of taking a drink from the stream. “I drank heavily of its perfect blackness. It was icy, talkative, minutely alive.” Drinking of blackness carries a charge of danger, depression, negativity, yet here the darkness is talkative and minutely alive. That seems resoundingly important with respect to the pilgrim's quest. The paragraph that follows has him :hoisting his suspicious utterances” right after imbibing of a dark and talkative stream. That whole paragraph reads more like a prose poem than straight prose. “some night-noise pricked a futile minute hole in the enormous curtain 9f soggy darkness” His growing exhaustion suddenly bears metaphysical fruit when he is face to face with “a little wooden man hanging all by itself in a grove of low trees.”
Then in the next paragraph the character and the wooden body seem to merge. The wooden man is more alive than the man. The wooden “body clumsy with pain burst into fragile legs with absurdly large feet and funny withing toes.” He is full of movement where the man is numb with exhaustion. And then you find out that the wooden man is a carving of Jesus without his 2 sidekicks. Here is the pilgrim met his goal – a effigy of himself that has, despite its inanimate nature more animation, more life and more potential than he does, especially given his circumstances. Really nicely done bit of writing.
_________________ I've always found it rather exciting to remember that there is a difference between what we experience and what we think it means.
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