Wednesday, January 05, 2005

“the static sane side outside to another outside saneside” or Where is Everybody?

Hey, where is everybody? I wasn't going to do any of these cross-posts from my site anymore, but it seems that there's no life here. I'm probably way behind everyone else on my reading (had to read some of those Christmas books), but here are some thoughts on what I've read recently:


I read from The Recognitions out loud last night. I'm not sure why I even started to, because doing so usually annoys my wife. There's something about vocalizing that's revealing, particularly rhythm and the sounds of the words. I vividly recall reading Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, which demands, absolutely commands its reader to mimic the voices in the book and read it as if it were a play and you are an actor (but then again, all the world's a stage). I did this compulsively, reading out-loud to my wife as I sat in the passenger seat on our trip that year to Chicago. The cadence and the emotion of the novel became clear and I don't think it would have been the same otherwise.

But I wouldn't have expected the same with The Recognitions. It's dense, there are a lot of big words and only occasionally a segue, switching from scene to scene like in a film. But as luck would have it, I decided to read aloud just as Wyatt is returning home to his father and we are hearing his thoughts, like a deranged man (that he may be).

Try this paragraph on for size [399]:

Above, another blue day, (upstairs) the room papered with green capped pink-faced dogs, and the button drawer, only apparitions move to perfection, there! Pray the Lord to keep you from lying, there, O spectral stabat mater may I go out and play the violin outside to the town wearing its sinside inside and not a soul in sight. Church bells inspissated the air, dropping it in sharp fragments. He sat down in his place at table, excused by the falling weights of the bells, and motionless when they had done. There, old vicary, congratulate my refuge, the saneside outside sheltering the insane inside: to present the static sane side outside to another outside saneside, to be esteemed for that outsane side while all the while the insanside attacks your outsane side as though we weren't both playing the same game, and gone down Summer Street (singing unchristian songs) the inane sinside, pocketing a cool million wearing the shoutside outside and doubtside inside, the vileside inside and the violinside outside skipping dancing and foretelling things too come all ye faithful, of thine own give we back to thee.

This is a lot more alliterative than most passages in the book, but I think I happened on something here and it will inform the rest of my reading.

I am a very fast typist, but the above was a difficult paragraph to type out. But fun to read. It's cheating unless you read it out loud. It seems to be the only way to appreciate it.

10 Comments:

Blogger CAAF said...

Excellent post, Bud! I noticed that Derik is starting a new job so maybe once he gets settled in we could backtrack a little and reassign some of the chapters' synopsis? If I'm remembering his note correctly, that should be next week.

I'd like this to keep going ...

January 5, 2005 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Bud Parr said...

Yeah, I would like to see this going too and get some of the original signers of the declaration of Gaddis-dependence get more involved too.

January 5, 2005 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

Regrouping sounds good to me, too. I've mislaid my copy and will have to unearth it.

January 5, 2005 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I've been woefully behind (good life stuff and also hectic holidays) and unable to participate much recently, but I definitely want to continue on... I'm in the 330s...

Incidentally, Bud, leafing ahead to p.399, I note that, during my initial reading, I had penciled in an "!" right next to the very passage you excerpt here... very sing-songy, reminds me in that way of parts of Rushdie's Midnight's Children, oddly.

And, I've enjoyed your posts and hope that you continue putting any thoughts that you might have on Gaddis or The Recognitions here (though I also like reading your own blog).

January 5, 2005 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

Hey guys. I'm up to page 379 as of today and was planning on getting to the end of that chapter (390something) for this week. Sometime this week, I'm gonna break up so more of the novel into weekly chunks.

Do we want to playsome catch-up... go back a section or two? Just wait a week and then do the next section?

January 5, 2005 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger CAAF said...

I'd value some catch up time. I'm still in the 200s.

January 5, 2005 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

Catch up time to catch up would be good. I appear to be the only person who stopped pretty much right after the first section. Oops.

January 5, 2005 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger DerikB said...

Catch up time it is, assuming those requesting it are really gonna put in the effort.

I'll post a new group of sections in before the week is out, and then we can figure out dates.

January 6, 2005 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Bud Parr said...

Sounds good to me too, but it seems that once we get back on track, we should really get going so were not still reading this thing come summer time.

Derik, what do you think of, being that you know the book pretty well, pose some weekly questions to consider, points to ponder, thoughts to think on, you get the idea. If they were put up in advance, maybe that could be the center or starting point for discussion on Thursday. Just a thought.

January 6, 2005 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger la la la I can't hear you said...

I love reading out loud, and I love even more when someone else does it, the first thing I do in spring is drag my husband outside and we read poetry to one another.

January 7, 2005 at 2:09 AM  

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