|"They say it's better to be blessed, than it is to be clever..."
||[Nov. 5th, 2010|01:03 am]
(but I don't care.) ♫ ~~
Rai as Aristaeus as Dionysian & Ormus as Orpheus as Apollonian??? Oh, not this one again. First of all, if we could stop pitting A. and D. against each other for one second please. Second, Rai leaves so, so much to be desired as a Dionysian initiate of any kind—his silent art, his affinity for Darius Cama’s library and complementary zest for cataloguing and paralleling, his role as narrator, hello, hello?? I confess I kind of like Concilio’s identification of Rai’s engagement in ordinary life as a Dionysian quality. But I have no idea what Concilio means by Rai’s ‘challenge to life itself’ save his tentative subscription to (& subsequent rejection of) Ormus’ odd theories about reality, or his stealing/shooting of life-in-images in his profession… And Ormus is a pretty solid Orphic figure in terms of mediating between Apollo and Dionysus. He does it, in his music, order/chaos solemnity/joy high/low contemplative/crazy whatever. Also, he’s too good an avatar and can’t really manage the turmoil of his whole theogony, blah blah. Vina is straight-up Dionysian if anyone is.
…ah, pointing out graphein linking narration & photography is nice, though. Like Joyce says: “…light-writing is a beautiful word for a painted picture.”
Writing as betrayal—as “the last Orphic gaze”--….Maybe. But I am not so sure. Writing = a kind of speech, speech = articulation of an idea, which = seeking an audience, seeking an audience = either confidence or insecurity or both, if it’s insecurity then that’s because of doubt, and doubting = at times, betrayal???
But what the hell…
Writing as betrayal of the secrets of your subject (“Vina, I must betray you, so that I can let you go”), sure, but that’s not Orphic, not unless we presume that Orpheus lost Eurydice a second time on purpose because he knew he’d write a kickass lament about it later (or went to the underworld not seeking her, but seeking knowledge of the underworld). Which is preposterous. I think.
Plus, Concilio doesn't cast Rai as Orpheus, and Rai's the only one really writing. Oblique Ormus (even at his most prophetic) doesn't cut it. Though Orpheus-Orpheus purportedly did a heck of a lot more writing than people playing Orpheus usually do in later works. What with the whole composition of a theogony around which was based an entire religion augh why did we lose that.
but I digress.
Pulled a good Sontag quote about photography being the “elegiac art, the twilight art”—and a strange thing, because isn’t photography the only way one ‘captures’ the present at the moment that it’s happening? even if the result is by necessity more…memorial? Something so very unlike the transformation Rushdie ascribes to departure & memory; to his own memories of India and how they’re of an India that, in a way, is not. One’s choice of subject & atmosphere can create distortion, but it’s still a picture of an object that was there. most of the time. If I were (not) a (terrible) photographer, I could claim that I'm babbling & inarticulate on this subject because my profession concerns images instead of words, but unfortunately I just can't seem to spit it out.
Ends on confirming Rai’s “commitment to the complexity of life”. This reminds me: that’s rather the problem with writing about Rushdie. He champions complexity, heterogeneity, Joyce’s ‘all of the above’ approach and so on, and you can observe the various ways in which he plays that out, and it’s amazing—the collision of opposing ideas that must exist in the same place at the same time, etc.—OK, but a sprawly novel is a perfect format for discussing that while an essay…is not. : ( You need many voices to discuss that. An essay’s only got one (no, copious quotation doesn’t quite count).
This is not the first time—my reputation has often hurt me, Creon, done me so m—adlkajsldkjasdoops
No sensible man should have his children taught to be too clever.
Tonight I sat down for a bit and attempted to make a list--a proper list, I thought I'd make it, though it's not and I know why. I didn't consult all my previous this & that. But from memory, I tried to list off stuff I'd rather like to talk about in oh-so-nebulous Rushdiepaper, and, I swear to God, I called it
Things About The Ground Beneath Her Feet That Might Kind of Be Interesting to Discuss, Or
The list looks like this:
• Rai & Ormus, parallel protagonists—both as exiles, and artists, both following their own versions of the Orpheus myth and their own versions of the exile narrative. Contrasts & complements. Why Rai can tell Ormus’ story instead of his own and eventually his own instead of Ormus’; why Rai survives. Why Vina sucks as a mediator between them—except that she aligns them most strongly—before Vina, Rai & Ormus had a lot less in common. After Vina, they share grief, but Rai finally breaks out of his role. Ormus as immortal personality/character but brief being; Rai as being lasting a bit longer & art that (while less immediate) can survive in its original form for a bit longer.
• “Our lives” (and languages) “are in many ways deficient”—looking outside silence for sound, looking outside unreality for reality, desire as link between is/should be and bridge across dichotomies? mundane wants mythic, mythic wants mundane. The collisions (not reconciliations). Necessities for both. Why Rai the photographer wants music, & why departure fuels, you know, stuff.
• Narrative shenanigans: Rai-as-storyteller, messenger from his own other/underworld. What he says and doesn’t say; the effects of describing music and photography, the strange chronology, the academic digressions, the misleading directness—stylistic stuff; why & when he breaks off and starts or stops talking about himself, his open search for what the “subject” is, his so-called invisibility—page and a half = HELLO I AM HERE, LOOK AT ME and you know what I’d never do is reveal with what of themselves people trust me! Look, I just wrote a novel about it. etc.
• Tellings & retellings, ascents & descents: the many variations on a) myths (Orpheus, itself varied, Jason&Medea, Apollo v. Dionysus) & b) typical human narratives so wide they can’t even be myths (exile—imposed/self-imposed, etc., ‘I love that person & she loves me’, ‘I love that person and she doesn’t love me’, etc. etc.)
• This idea of the song being more important than the singer (& certainly outlasting him)—Yes, all right, but it’s the same Orpheus problem (Orpheus, my Orpheus & Orpheus-Orpheus as well maybe & Ormus yes and Vina definitely)--!!!—Rai loved Vina before he ever heard her sing, and though he loved her voice, he loved her more—and he says it one step over about even (especially) his own art: “You can have the fucking photo. I want her back.” It’s not ‘let’s reconcile the mythic and the mundane’ or (aa) ‘let’s reconcile the global with the local’—both collide, both exist, both will exist always. Bombax, bombalobombax. It’s ‘one wants the other’. These mythic figures (Ormus, Vina) want and deserve to get their humanity back—so-called normal invisible Rai is fascinated by myth & immortality—The…God, I was going to say ‘departed’? in the sense of those who have left their homeland, whether via self-exile or forced exile. Those guys. They want a specific home, too, just as when they were once trapped in their local sphere they wanted to get out and be free to become these strange international creatures they now are. It’s Rushdie, for crying out loud. Rushdie is never going to champion any absolute. ‘when we stop revering the gods we can listen to their stories’.
See, that is a repetitive mess of messes. Three reasons why this is
1) I am kind of lazy; a bum really on the sidewalk that is (etc.)
2) All of the things I want to talk about are connected and they keep turning into each other (Rai-narrator to Rai&Ormus to their dichotomies to their different variants on Orpheusmyth to Orpheusmyth to exilemyth to etc. etc.)
3) I was right to complain; the subjects at the heart of Ground Beneath suit a novel so much better than an essay--character-voices in plural are so much more qualified to talk about 'em & themselves
Well, if I can wake up tomorrow, I will try and write regardless. Otherwise, let's hope I dream in paragraphs tonight. This morning.
Coming this Saturday or Sunday: let's talk seriously about Joycepaper. Jocoseriously anyway. Oh, don't look at me. Blame Joyce (Carol Oates) for that one.