A Visit From the Goon Squad; X's and O's
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Author:  Suzanne [ Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:21 am ]
Post subject:  A Visit From the Goon Squad; X's and O's

Jennifer Egan

Chapter 6: X's and O's

Author:  heledd [ Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Visit From the Goon Squad; X's and O's

This voice could only belong to Scottie. As soon as he declares ‘I have the patience and the self control to walk that line for hours – days if I have to’ we realize that this is the magnetic, obsessive, brilliant guitarist from The Flaming Dildos. The boy who, in Fifth Grade, sat on the grass for hours staring at the sun, and refusing to go to school.
Rhea had realised back in 1979 that ‘out of all of us, Scotty is the truly angry’.
Now his obsessions have taken a less productive form and become more compulsive. He dry cleans his jacket, even if it is still in the wrappers from the last time, he eats five or six portions of take away string beans every night, he spends his days off at Hudson News, once even manning the tills because it was assumed he worked there.
His marriage to Alice has ended, and with it, the feeling of belonging to the world.
Come inside’ her face said, and I did. For a minute, I came inside.'
Scottie tries to define personal experiences and relationships through science and maths. ‘It’s all just X’s and O’s and you can come by those in a million different ways’.
Stone walls, he reasons, are merely composed of atoms and molecules, and should not preclude him from the experience of those the other side of it. But even as he stands shivering outside the gala benefit, he denies he is excluded and claims he has ‘ ….through sheer physical proximity, been infected by that same delusion and in my drugged state had come to believe I was Excluded: condemned to stand shivering outside the public library at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street forever and always, imagining the splendours within .’
Bennie assumes that Scottie wants something from him, but Scottie only needs to know what happened, and how their lives have taken such different paths. He realises that Bennie is still insecure, and afraid that Scottie could somehow take everything away from him.
‘And behind Bennie’s smile the fear was still there: that I’d tracked him down to snatch away those gifts life had shovelled upon him, wipe them out in a few emphatic seconds’.
The two men, who were once so close that they had no need to speak, no longer understand each other. When Scottie gives Bennie the fish
‘Bennie looked at me like he was waiting for a cue to laugh’.
Bennie is 44, and has a three month old son. I’m thinking this may be Chris? If so, in nine years time, Bennie will be as alienated as Scottie, and riddled with shame, as we saw in Chapter Two – The Gold Cure.
Bennie gives Scottie his business card, and Scottie inadvertently leaves his – the fish! He laughs at the thought of the corporate types picking up the leaking bag and realising ‘- Oh Christ, it’s that guys fish – dropping it, revolted.’
Scottie does a strange thing with the business card he obviously cherishes. He gives it away to a couple of junkie musicians.
‘I could do this only once; I would never have that card again’. After a confused pause, the couple thanked him.
‘It had been a long time since anyone had thanked me for something’ ‘Thanks’ I said to myself. I said it again and again, wanting to hold in my mind the exact sound of their voices, to feel again the kick of surprise in my chest’.
Scottie’s ‘dry’ life has taken a turn for the better. He looks forward to taking his jacket to the dry cleaners.
‘I’ve been somewhere, and I need my jacket cleaned,’ I would say, like anyone else. And she would make it new again.’

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