Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



Much virtual ink has been metaphorically spilt over what should properly be considered the predecessor to the blog, whether as medium or as genre. In the latter case, that these are pieces for publication argues against diarists or occasional essayists, and for journalists of regular 'occasional' pieces casting their lines for larger audiences (than, for examples, 'zines). Two exemplars follow:

Flann O'Brien, At War: Among my top 10 20c authors, Eire is overrepresented by the Three Irish Exiles (3IE), Joyce, Beckett, and O'Brien. The latter, a case of internal exile, from himself as well, not least in name (Brian O'Nolan wrote these pieces for the Irish Times under the byline Myles na gCopaleen) but in displacement -- the mask slips only to reveal another. Here he is simultaneously Keats and Chapman:

See, I'm at the window now. I pull aside a corner of the blind and peer out. Dismal rain. A sodden fugure us making his way through the murk. He is approaching the house, he is going to call. Who can it be? I can scarcely make out his face but there is something familiar about his stride. The clothes too I have seen before. Now I see him! I know who it is. It is myself! I rush down and open the door just as the ring comes. Immediately I am confronted with the question.

'What were you doing at the window?'

'I was just looking out for myself,' I nimbly reply.

This is the third collection from Cruiskeen Lawn, of earlier pieces not quite as scintillating as the others (more excerpts). But even then he knew whereby a tale hangs off an execrable pun (e.g., As for drink, they tell me it can give you a red nose, a complaint that can be passed on to your children. Damn nosa, how red it is!* / *damnosa hereditas, a blighted legacy, but explaining the joke puts the humor out of its misery).

O'Brien's style (especially the cathecismic) has been pastiched by a number of bloggers, but without the feel for pacing and the superb absurd placing of the throwaway bit of erudition; I've indulged in it in bookchat myself, but like much else it was the most fun the first time. (The link may be self-indulgent, but. Best. Bookchat. Evah.)

Clarice Lispector, The Foreign Legion (trans G Pontiero): Short stories plus crônicas, the latter having that blog-journal feel. Lispector's stories vary (at least in translation) but her descriptions of that which words cannot capture about childhood ("The Misfortunes of Sofia", "The Message") are unmatched, though she's better known for her works on the worse off; both are well represented in the crônicas, as is the writing process and critical commentary. That these pieces, or fragments, come from her 'bottom-drawer' doesn't mean they're just shelf-liner. Here, she seems to anticipate Eno's ambient music more than reflecting Cage's 4'33" (though No.2 seems relevant as an Oblique Strategy):

In Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, I woke up in the middle of the night, as peaceful as if I were awakening from a peaceful bout of insomnia. And I heard an ethereal music which I had heard once before. It was extremely sweet and without any melody, yet it consisted of sounds that could be orchestrated into melody. It was undulating and uninterrupted. The sounds emerged like fifteen thousand stars. I felt certain that I was capturing the most primitive vibrations of air, as if silence were speaking. Silence was speaking. It had a low and constant pitch without any edginess, and it was criss-crossed with horizontal, oblique sounds. Thousands of resonances which had the same pitch and the same intensity, the same relaxed pace, a night of bliss.

It resembled a trailing veil of sound, with variations largely of shadow and light, sometimes of density (such as when the veil fluttered and folded over). The music was incredibly beautiful, and impossible to describe because there are no words to denote silence. The composer's presence was not felt; only angels in countless groups, impersonal as angels, anonymous as angels. When silence manifests itself, there is no warning; silence simply manifests itself in silence. As if you were to ask: what is the number 1357217? And this number were to come forward and reveal itself as 1357217. Silence can achieve the maximum: by becoming evident. And so my hotel room was inundated with the choral song of silence which became evident. And I was blessed in this manner. But I have no desire to renew the experience.

The rest is silence.


Blogger Ray Davis said...

Either diaries or feuilletons can match my own self-definition: "trivialities produced in a fragile medium by a middle-aged man with bad habits."

5/8/07 11:34  

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