|the great work of (& other prepositions)
||[Oct. 29th, 2010|01:34 am]
There's an entire book of essays on The Ground Beneath Her Feet! It's called The Great Work of Making Real, and it is (infuriatingly) written by a bunch of Italians. At the end of the gloriously eloquent preface, its author has the gall to thank someone for her help in smoothing out any wrinkles in their English. These amazing essays! These essays in what (I presume) is their second language! Europe, I must protest. That's just silly.
Admittedly, I'm biased in favor of the essays just because what is this?? Criticism on the book about which I'm actually writing??? Surely not~!!
So far I have read the preface and the first two essays, both of which were concerned with myth. Of the three, the preface was the most exciting. Myth Essay #1 (Elena Rossi's) was for the most part a magnificent catalog of references and patterns based in Greek and Latin mythology, and must have involved a lot of digging through the book for names used and works alluded to. I wasn't left with any particularly potent ideas about the use of myth when I was done, but all the compiling's damned useful. Myth Essay #2 was far more ambitious and, well, so gleefully academic as to be incoherent. It's hard to stay focused on an article when it's so stuffed with sentences like "This uncertainty that mis-locates the inflexibility of difference in paradigms should not be understood in terms of truncated development of diachronic identities," and words like "discursive". Yuck, I say unto you, and yuck. But I kind of liked it in spite of itself.
Introduction: Crossing Frontiers
“suggested a discussion on crossing frontiers and listed a series of dichotomies: rational/irrational, natural/supernatural, local/global.” (1) don’tthinkaboutIthacadon’thinkaboutIthacadon’think Dammit.
(3) “the revision of binary systems, the non-disjunction of contradictory terms…either/or becomes both/and.”
Ormus: 1st calling—music, 2nd calling—prophecy? mysticism? a la his classical predecessor. Out loud.
Rai: 1st calling—photography, 2nd calling—narration. ‘silent’. Ish.
Ormus is in fact more isolated, and Rai less so. He needs the audience more than Ormus does; Ormus wants it, but Vina’s the only audience he needs.
Could I in any way talk about Ormus and Rai’s pack of dichotomies in the same manner that I talk about Bloom’s and Stephen’s in ‘Ithaca’? Except that Bloom and Stephen are reconciled by the text, lingustically if not actually (yet), and while reconciliations and middle grounds are (to an extent) praised by The Ground Beneath Her Feet it’s actually more likely that…It’s more likely that two ideas will coexist, clash, play over and occasionally in potent, if dissonant harmony with each other as opposed to (ha) the two joining per se. You could cast Vina as the mediating force between Ormus and Rai, but look at The Lady Vanishes! Vina captivates, Vina loves and is loved and is intoxicatingly compelling and irreplaceable (it’s the voice, it’s always the voice) but she doesn’t mediate a damn thing. Ormus is Doctor Love, and she’s the Whole Catastrophe. Also, hello, haven’t I been reading a book about Orphic religion wherein a central role of Orpheus is to mediate between Apolline & Dionysiac worship? …except he doesn’t succeed, of course. In the middle, he is ripped to pieces.
“voracious & insatiable” (14) yes, rather like Joyce there
Vina-myth—the Saurapurana, Indian, Eastern to compliment Western Orpheus-myth—Rati goes to Shiva to regain Rama—though it’s ironic, because Vina was born in the West (I think? check) and Ormus in the East. Myth-travel. I like the parallel (and it’s alluded to in Vina coming to get Ormus in London), but I also like casting Vina as Orpheus & gender be damned; Vina-the-voice.
“Against an amnesiac culture”: Greek and Latin mythology in The Ground Beneath Her Feet
(23) Vina & Ormus & Rai as ‘creators of myths’ in modern times—hm, maybe—I mean, they’re all creators, but Vina & Ormus are myths created by circumstance/celebrity, whereas Rai as journalist/paparazzo/photographer is a bit more of a myth-creator, so it’s fitting that he’s the one telling the story and saying “Oh look, this is so a myth”—though he does and doesn’t want it to be. Rai’s relationship with mythology, his need to look to it and his desire to look away…
O! a cataloguer.
(33) I disagree with Rossi’s claim that Vina’s parallels with mythical figures reinforce her protagonism—at least from Rai’s perspective, though he makes Vina into this myth, he also hates that she’s become a myth when he experiences her as a person. If she’s so many disparate myths, she’s none of them; she’s a bag of selves and thus human just like everybody else.
(36)use of Proteus—interesting compared to Joyce’s use; whereas Joyce says to be Protean is quite useful and would certainly do Stephen a world of good—and he says this while revelling in his position as elusive Protean narrator—Rushdie finds power in a Protean nature, but also confusion and difficulty and alignment with the condition of the outsider.
(37) “Ormus…chooses to become the agent of transformation…Rai chooses to accept the world as it is, with the storms of its metamorphoses, and the fragile precariousness of any conquered ground”
(41) “the conciliatory forms of the humanistic sphere” as opposed to the “heroic dimension” Right, because the humanistic sphere is so conciliatory? mixed feelings about this one.
A Hoarding of Goats and Rumours of Mermaids: Puzzling Out Myth in The Ground Beneath Her Feet
…Holy sesquipedalianism, Batman.
(45) “This parodic rehearsal of myth…spotlights ambivalence in the apparently free discursive fluency that seems to be deployed by the diasporic move across cultures and ages. Such clever handling of myth as if it were a strategic agency of mediated difference might be viewed in subdued terms as “return to type”. However, myth may also stand as an archaic background to unspeakable difference. IT even suggests forbidden transitions of identity and finally entails a sly re-positioning of the migrant self, who assumes an interstitial position.” Once I figure out what in the Sam Hill this means, I think I’m going to agree with it.
(53) “The scope of music moves far beyond the congealing fixity of ritual…so as to efface the antinomy between the living being and the shadow.”
Had I not been up until absurd o'clock last night going over Bacchae (couldn't help myself! Pentheus! Dionysus! stichomythia! Had to be there!) I would proceed to paragraph away about reconciliation (or the lack thereof) and Rai and Ormus as parallel protagonists and Orph...ei and why Rai's spiel at the end about ordinary human life winning out over the grand drama of myth etc. is no less endearing & encouraging for being, well, some bullshit, and I might even take a hammer to the fourth wall again.
O and I'd talk about some of the delightful things Orpheus and Greek Religion has been yielding. Kickass plural angsty poet-priest to the rescue?