Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stuff to Ponder

I won't be able to check in on the mayhem till later, so drink and chat you East Coasters. And while you do so, ponder these:

pg. 16: What's the deal with Spain being Hercules holding the U.S. (Antaeus) in the air? "Spain is still on the earth and we, in our country, we are being crushed in the air."

pg. 23: Referring to Rev G. after he has returned to America and resumed his pulpit: "He strayed far from his continent, and spent late hours of the night participating in dark practices from Borneo to Assam." Why does Rev G. turn to other religions? A loss of faith after the death of his wife? A disgust with the rigidity of Christianity, as it is practiced in his parish?

pg. 33: Aunt May presents creativity as the work of God and God alone. Any humans who would be creative are presumptuous and sinful. "Among provinces where He retained sway was that of creativity; and mortal creative work was definitely one of His damnedest things."

  • Further, on page 34, Lucifer is characterized as "falsify[ing] something in the divine order" and "steal[ing] the power of Our Lord . . . to bring his own light to man."
  • Also, even among its enthusiasts, creativity in TR is portrayed as a double-bladed sword.

pg. 45: Speaking of Wyatt: "The congregation breathed out stale prayers for the boy's recovery. But in the end they always gave their God full leave to do as He wished . . . loading the fever-stricken boy with the guilt it had taken them generations to accumulate." Wyatt is made the congregation's scapegoat, but then Rev G. makes his monkey, Heracles (the Greek name of the Latin Hercules), the scapegoat for Wyatt's illness.

pg. 60: What about Camilla and the portrait Wyatt is painting? Rev G says: "You must finish it, you must try to finish it . . . finish it, or she will be with you . . . She will be with you always." In what ways can Camilla be with Wyatt (she died before he even knew her)? What do we even know of her?


22 Comments:

Blogger gwenda said...

Well, on point the last, Camilla is a very present character here so far and to me her ghost -- the appearance of her ghost to Wyatt at the time of her death -- was one of the most striking and resonant things in the chapter. I keep looking for her to appear again... and hearing the song "Walking With a Ghost" by Tegan and Sara over and over again. So it seems to me that even though Gwyon doesn't know about her appearance (right?), he senses that she will always be hovering over Wyatt; and, of course, the dead mother always casts a long shadow over her child(ren) in fiction.

More wine, please!

November 18, 2004 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

And remember, she haunted Gwyon too, when he had his fever in Spain she appears in the moonlight...

(Which reminded me of scenes in Villette, where the main character hallucinates a mad nun appearing in the moonlight.)

November 18, 2004 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

That's right -- I'd completely forgotten that she appears to Gwyon.

What do you think she does between visitations?

November 18, 2004 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Things for Camilla to do between visitations:

Play whist
Matriculate into meteorological matter (tough to type after a glass of wine)
Do shots
Date a raffish Brooklyn boy of Gothic sensibility and tuberulosian lungs
Lobby for mandatory Board certification of all shipboard physicians ...

Write romance novels.

November 18, 2004 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

Write really long prose poem
Be nominated or a National Book Award
Play with Barbies

Torment Aunt May

Look up the Bronte sisters
Purloin letters

November 18, 2004 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

I sort of feel like this list could become a really long prose poem, "What Was Camilla Doing" (if we were in a bar we could write it on a napkin):

Google Scholar Ann Radcliffe
Meet Pedro Almodavar for cocktails
Take up the harp

November 18, 2004 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

(And/or we could write it in limerick form on the napkin. That's always fun. "There was a dead lassie named Camilla...")

paint her toenails pink
tell all about quiet typewriters
borrow a cup of sugar and never return it
prank call David Quammen (before he was born!!!)

sexx a hott Calvinist

November 18, 2004 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This is clearly where the real action is.

November 18, 2004 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Double date with Casper the Ghost, who her friend described as having "nice eyes" especially when he vaporized
Ride a boat in the South Seas, living off sardines and oranges and having wild stevedore sex ("it makes me feel so alive!")
Write fanmail to Elvis: "My name is Camilla. I am your number one fan."

November 18, 2004 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

I think Gwyon's taking up of other myths/religions relates to his loneliness and his missionary experience with the Indians, and probably his experiences in Spain with the ghostly Camilla/Moon goddess.

November 18, 2004 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Meaning, G., she's probably paint her nails Pearly Opalescence. Not pink. At least I think that's what Derik's getting at. :-)

November 18, 2004 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

"wild stevedore sex"

And now I am thinking of Buffy quotes. B to Giles: "My mom thought you were like a stevedore. What's a stevedore?"

November 18, 2004 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

ooh, Derik! That was totally an intentional reference; I'm so glad someone got it. I've been thinking of it since this afternoon when the Rake linked to a book discussion going on at Slate where one of the commentators hails the other, named Steve, as Stevedore.

yay!

As I've been typing here in the kitchen Mr. Tingle's been watching Season 6 shows ...

November 18, 2004 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Ahem. Back to Gaddis.

November 18, 2004 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

I will get any Buffy reference you throw out.

(I just got Season 7 in the mail today! But I'll have to wait to watch it as the gf and I are only on S5.)

November 18, 2004 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Speaking of loud typewriters, BTW... it's interesting to think of Gaddis *writing* this. Did he use a typewriter? Long hand?

Derik, does the Paris Review interview mention that?

November 18, 2004 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

Paris Review interview. On being asked (first question) why he agreed to an interview (he being notorious for not doing them):

I suppose because I've got some illusion about finally getting the whole thing out of the way once for all. In the past I've resisted partly because of the tendency I've observed of putting the man in the place of his work, and that goes back more than thirty years; it comes up in a conversation early in The Recognitions. That, and the conviction that the work has got to stand on its own -- when ambiguities appear they are deliberate and I've no intention of running after them with explanations -- and finally, of course, the threat of questions from someone unfamiliar with the work itself -- "Do you work on a fixed schedule every day?" "On which side of the paper do you write?" -- that sort of talk show pap, five-minute-celebrity, turning the creative artist into a performing one, which doesn't loiok to be the case here. (56)

I'm guessing he doesn't talk about his typewrite/long hand much.

November 18, 2004 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

Oooh!!! I go away to gossip on the phone and typewriters and stevedores!

More things:

sneeze
remove opalescent pink nail polish
marry lethem

November 18, 2004 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

Mmm, I guess not. I know it's a pedestrian concern. But I wonder about it with books of this size.

Was it the Ozick review of Tolstoy?, but I remember a mention recently of how Mrs. Tolstoy copied out War and Peace seven times ... and still he left her.

And the prose in this is so beautiful that it awes me a little to think of it being tapped out on a typewriter without benefit of the back key or eraser ribbon.

November 18, 2004 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

marry lethem ...

heh.

November 18, 2004 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

I meant:

paint nails red
catfight with (young) liz taylor
hire a publicist

November 18, 2004 at 10:11 PM  
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