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Thread: John Fowles

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    Jul 2010
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    Default John Fowles

    John Fowles:
    IEI? or IEE?

    It was February, 2008; after the robbery; and I was homeless. There was this girl ('Tara') who was a friend of Myron's, yet I kind of liked her. I remember seeing how other guys treated her -- this one guy kind of pushed her or something. I felt bad that I couldn't help her. I remember how there was this gang guy, and she and Myron were both talking to him. The gang guy was upset about the incident that happened when Antaeus, Myron, and another girl when they were at my stepdad's place, and of course I was there too. And although I wasn't entirely innocent in that I did let them visit, yet I didn't know what would happen. Besides the alcohol, and pot which I didn't partake in (at the time or month or year or age) there was the episode when he punched her . . . and then after she left, there was also the thing when they stole stuff. Yet the gang dude was exclusively aware and concerned with the incident of this girl being punched, and of course I secretly (and unconsciously) agreed with his (righteous) anger. Yet the girl I kind of liked was arguing that this gang guy in the past had punched her or beaten her up or roughed her up, etc. yet he never had to face any consequences/punishment. I was there too, in the downtown public library in Edmonton.
    Yet another scene with the girl I (thought I really) liked (she wasn't the one that was punched by Myron)... There was this guy, who was kind of mean and scary I suppose. He said he had a one-hit wonder once, and then he got addicted to drugs. So we were at the Old Strathcona Youth Co-op (Society)... and I'm there, and the girl ('Tara') is there sitting and reading, and he's there. And he told her how she's a "natural beauty." He had a tendency to hit on women, and as far as I could see none of them accepted his advances. Then he mentioned a novel about a guy that keeps a woman locked in his cellar or closet or something. I thought it was kind of weird that he would mention that, yet I didn't say anything. I'm sure she thought it was kind of weird too. Of course I definitely knew the girl thought I was "weird" -- she had said it in no uncertain terms. It's probably related to my social ineptitude. Yet later on, I would mention that incident to my Aunt in an e-mail, and she told me what book he was talking about, and how it illustrated that you can't love someone and keep them trapped, that you have to let them go or something. I'm not actually sure what she wrote, yet I learned what novel it was, and maybe I'll finally finish it soon.
    There was another girl there that said I have "too much mother." A staff there who assumed I must be the kind of guy that lived with his Mom, etc. The drug-addicted guy also shared the sentiment that I have to become independent from family. The girl said she would've gone crazy if she still lived with her Mom, etc. Yet she also got pregnant. As did the girl who was punched by Myron. Anyway, that's an entirely different story that I probably don't know anything about.

    my Aunt: "Pain is part of life and part of what we are when our world and the principle of life collide."

    Yet back to February 2008 and being homeless (for a week), and I remember attempting to adapt the lyrics of the song Rehab by Amy Winehouse. I called this lyrical revisionism.

    The proletariat said "Why do you think you here?",
    The petite bourgeoisie said I got no idea,
    I'm gonna lose my symbolic marriage,
    So I always keep my thoughts unclear
    He said "I just think you're repressed..."

    Enough is enough. Here are the quotes:

    - from The Collector by John Fowles; pp. 7-9: If you are on the grab and immoral like most nowadays, I suppose you can have a good time with a lot of money when it comes to you. But I may say I have never been like that, I was never once punished at school. Aunt Annie is a Nonconformist, she never forced me to go to chapel or such like, but I was brought up in the atmosphere, though Uncle Dick used to go to the pub on the q.t. sometimes. Aunt Annie let me smoke cigarettes after a lot of rows when I came out of the army, but she never liked it. Even with all that money, she had to keep on saying spending it was against her principles. But Mabel went at her behind the scenes, I heard her doing it one day, and anyway I said it was my money and my conscience, she was welcome to all she wanted and none if she didn’t, and there was nothing about accepting gifts in Nonconformism.
    What this is all leading to is I got a bit drunk once or twice when I was in the Pay Corps, especially in Germany, but I never had anything to do with women. I never thought about women much before Miranda. I know I don’t have what it is girls look for; I know chaps like Crutchley who just seem plain coarse to me get on well with them. Some of the girls in the Annexe, it was really disgusting, the looks they’d give him. It’s some crude animal thing I was born without. (And I’m glad I was, if more people were like me, in my opinion, the world would be better.)
    When you don’t have money, you always think things will be very different after. I didn’t want more than my due, nothing excessive, but we could see straight away at the hotel that of course they were respectful on the surface, but that was all, they really despised us for having all that money and not knowing what to do with it. They still treated me behind the scenes for what I was—a clerk. It was no good throwing money around. As soon as we spoke or did something we gave the game away. You could see them saying, don’t kid us, we know what you are, why don’t you go back where you came from.
    I remember a night we went out and had supper at a posh restaurant. It was on a list the pools people gave us. It was good food, we ate it but I didn’t hardly taste it because of the way people looked at us and the way the slimy foreign waiters and everybody treated us, and how everything in the room seemed to look down at us because we weren’t brought up their way. I read the other day an article about class going—I could tell them things about that. If you ask me, London’s all arranged for the people who can act like public schoolboys, and you don’t get anywhere if you don’t have the manner born and the right la-di-da voice—I mean rich people’s London, the West End, of course.

    - p. 4: I can’t say what it was, the very first time I saw her, I knew she was the only one. Of course I am not mad, I knew it was just a dream and it always would have been if it hadn’t been for the money. I used to have daydreams about her, I used to think of stories where I met her, did things she admired, married her and all that. Nothing nasty, that was never until what I’ll explain later.
    She drew pictures and I looked after my collection (in my dreams). It was always she loving me and my collection, drawing and colouring them; working together in a beautiful modern house in a big room with one of those huge glass windows; meetings there of the Bug Section, where instead of saying almost nothing in case I made mistakes we were the popular host and hostess. She all pretty with her pale blonde hair and grey eyes and of course the other men all green round the gills.

    - pp. 5-6: My father was killed driving. I was two. That was in 1937. He was drunk, but Aunt Annie always said it was my mother that drove him to drink. They never told me what really happened, but she went off soon after and left me with Aunt Annie, she only wanted an easy time. My cousin Mabel once told me (when we were kids, in a quarrel) she was a woman of the streets who went off with a foreigner. I was stupid, I went straight and asked Aunt Annie and if there was any covering-up to do, of course she did it. I don’t care now, if she is still alive, I don’t want to meet her, I’ve got no interest. Aunt Annie’s always said good riddance in so many words, and I agree.
    So I was brought up by Aunt Annie and Uncle Dick with their daughter Mabel. Aunt Annie was my father’s elder sister.
    Uncle Dick died when I was fifteen. That was 1950. We went up to Tring Reservoir to fish, as usual I went off with my net and stuff. When I got hungry and came back to where I left him, there were a knot of people. I thought he’d caught a whopper. But he’d had a stroke. They got him home, but he never said another word or properly recognized any of us again.
    The days we spent together, not together exactly, because I always went off collecting and he’d sit by his rods, though we always had dinner together and the journey there and home, those days (after the ones I’m going to say about) are definitely the best I have ever had. Aunt Annie and Mabel used to despise my butterflies when I was a boy, but Uncle Dick would always stick up for me. He always admired a good bit of setting. He felt the same as I did about a new imago and would sit and watch the wings stretch and dry out and the gentle way they try them, and he also let me have room in his shed for my caterpillar jars. When I won a hobby prize for a case of Fritillaries he gave me a pound on condition I didn’t tell Aunt Annie. Well, I won’t go on, he was as good as a father to me. When I held the pools cheque in my hands, he was the person, besides Miranda of course, I thought of. I would have given him the best rods and tackle and anything else he wanted. But it was not to be.

    - p. 7: There were even times I thought I would forget her. But forgetting’s not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn’t happen to me.

    - pp. 78-79: “You’re the most perfect specimen of petit bourgeois squareness I’ve ever met.”
    Am I?
    “Yes you are. You despise the real bourgeois classes for all their snobbishness and their snobbish voices and ways. You do, don’t you? Yet all you put in their place is a horrid little refusal to have nasty thoughts or do nasty things or be nasty in any way. Do you know that every great thing in the history of art and every beautiful thing in life is actually what you call nasty or has been caused by feelings that you would call nasty? By passion, by love, by hatred, by truth. Do you know that?”
    I don’t know what you’re talking about, I said.
    “Yes you do. Why do you keep on using these stupid words—nasty, nice, proper, right? Why are you so worried about what’s proper? You’re like a little old maid who thinks marriage is dirty and everything except cups of weak tea in a stuffy old room is dirty. Why do you take all the life out of life? Why do you kill all the beauty?”
    I never had your advantages. That’s why.
    “You can change, you’re young, you’ve got money. You can learn. And what have you done? You’ve had a little dream, the sort of dream I suppose little boys have and masturbate about, and you fall over yourself being nice to me so that you won’t have to admit to yourself that the whole business of my being here is nasty, nasty, nasty—“
    She stopped sudden then. “This is no good,” she said. “I might be talking Greek.”
    I understand, I said. I’m not educated.
    She almost shouted. “You’re stupid. Perverse.”
    “You have money—as a matter of fact, you aren’t stupid, you could become whatever you liked. Only you’ve got to shake off the past. You’ve got to kill your aunt and the house you lived in and the people you lived with. You’ve got to be a new human being.”
    She sort of pushed out her face at me, as if it was something easy I could do, but wouldn’t.
    Some hope, I said.

    - pp. 83-84: Well, at seven I had my best suit and a new tie I bought on and I went down to see her. It was raining, which was all to the good. She made me wait about ten minutes and then she came out. You could have knocked me down with a feather. For a moment I thought it wasn’t her, it looked so different. She had a lot of French scent which I gave her on and she was really made up for the first time since she was with me; she had the dress on and it really suited her, it was a creamy colour, very simple but elegant, leaving her arms and her neck bare. It wasn’t a girl’s dress at all, she looked a real woman. Her hair was done up high unlike before, very elegant. Empire, she called it. She looked just like one of those model girls you see in magazines; it really amazed me what she could look like when she wanted. I remember her eyes were different too, she’d drawn black lines round them so she looked sophisticated. Sophisticated, that’s exactly the word. Of course, she made me feel all clumsy and awkward. I had the same feeling I did when I had watched an imago emerge, and then to have to kill it. I mean, the beauty confuses you, you don’t know what you want to do any more, what you should do.
    “Well?” she said. She turned round, showing off.
    Very nice, I said.
    “Is that all?” She gave me a look under her eyebrows. She looked a real sensation.
    Beautiful, I said. I didn’t know what to say, I wanted to look at her all the time and I couldn’t. I felt sort of frightened, too.
    I mean, we seemed further apart than ever. And I knew more and more I couldn’t let her go.

    - pp. 71-72: There was a long silence, I knew she was looking at me, but I wouldn’t look at her. Then suddenly she got up and stood in front of me and put her hands on my shoulders so that I had to look at her, she made me look down into her eyes. I can’t explain it, when she was sincere she could draw the soul out of me, I was wax in her hands.
    She said, “Now you’re behaving like a little boy. You forget that you are keeping me here by force. I admit it is quite a gentle force, but it is frightening.”
    As long as you keep your word, I’ll keep mine, I said. I had gone red, of course.
    “But I’ve not given you my word not to try and escape, have I?”
    All you live for is the day you see the last of me, I said. I’m just a nobody still, aren’t I?
    She turned half away. “I want to see the last of this house. Not of you.”
    And mad, I said. Do you think a madman would have treated you the way I have? I’ll tell you what a madman would have done. He’d have killed you by now. Like that fellow Christie, I suppose you think I’m going for you with a carving-knife or something. (I was really fed up with her that day.) How daft can you get? All right, you think I’m not normal keeping you here like this. Perhaps I’m not. But I can tell you there’d be a blooming lot more of this if more people had the money and the time to do it. Anyway there’s more of it now than anyone knows. The police know, I said, the figures are so big they don’t dare say them.
    She was staring at me. It was like we were complete strangers. I must have looked funny, it was the most I’d ever said.
    “Don’t look like that,” she said. “What I fear in you is something you don’t know is in you.”
    What, I asked. I was still angry.
    “I don’t know. It’s lurking somewhere about in this house, this room, this situation, waiting to spring. In a way we’re on the same side against it.”
    That’s just talk.
    “We all want things we can’t have. Being a decent human being is accepting that.”
    We all take what we can get. And if we haven’t had much most of our life we make up for it while the going’s good, I said. Of course you wouldn’t know about that.
    Then she was smiling at me, as if she was much older than me. “You need psychiatric treatment.”
    The only treatment I need is you to treat me like a friend.
    “I am, I am,” she said. “Can’t you see that?”

    - pp. 67-69: She had moods that changed so quick that I often got left behind. She liked to get me stumbling after her (as she said one day—poor Caliban, always stumbling after Miranda, she said), sometimes she would call me Caliban, sometimes Ferdinand. Sometimes she would be nasty and cutting. She would sneer at me and mimic me and make me desperate and ask me questions I couldn’t answer. Then other times she would be really sympathetic, I felt she understood me like no one since Uncle Dick, and I could put up with everything.
    I remember a lot of little things.
    One day, she was sitting showing me the secrets of some paintings—secrets were the things you had to think about to see, the secrets of proportion and harmony she called them. We sat with the book between us and she talked about the pictures. We sat on the bed (she made me get cushions and a rug on it for the day), close but not touching. I made sure of that after the events in the garden. But one evening she said, don’t be so stiff, I shan’t kill you if your sleeve touches mine.
    All right, I said, but I didn’t move.
    Then she moved, so our arms touched, our shoulders. All the time she went on talking and talking about the picture we were looking at, I thought she wasn’t thinking about the touching but a few pages later she suddenly looked at me.
    “You’re not listening.”
    Yes, I am, I said.
    “No, you’re not. You’re thinking about touching me. You’re all stiff. Relax.”
    It was no good, she’d got me all tense. She stood up. She was wearing a narrow blue skirt I bought her and a big black jumper and a white blouse, the colours really suited her. She stood in front of me and after a bit she said, Oh, God.
    Then she went and beat her fist against the wall. She used to do that sometimes.
    “I’ve got a friend who kisses me every time he sees me and he doesn’t mean anything—his kisses are meaningless. He kisses everybody. He’s the other side of you. You don’t have any contact with anybody and he has it with everybody. You’re both equally sick.”
    I was smiling, I used to smile when she attacked me as a sort of defence.
    “Don’t put on that ghastly smile.”
    There’s not much else I can do. You’re always right.
    “But I don’t want always to be right. Tell me I’m wrong!”
    Oh, you’re right, I said. You know you’re right.
    “Oh, Ferdinand!” she said. And then twice more, Ferdinand, Ferdinand, and she sort of prayed to heaven and acted someone in great pain, so I had to laugh, but suddenly she was all serious, or pretending it.
    “It’s not a little thing. It’s terrible that you can’t treat me as a friend. Forget my sex. Just relax.”
    I’ll try, I said. But then she wouldn’t sit by me again. She leant against the wall reading another book.

    - pp. 58-61: I took the photos that evening. Just ordinary, of her sitting reading. They came out quite well.
    One day about then she did a picture of me, like returned the compliment. I had to sit in a chair and look at the corner of the room. After half an hour she tore up the drawing before I could stop her. (She often tore up. Artistic temperament, I suppose.)
    I’d have liked it, I said. But she didn’t even reply to that, she just said, don’t move.
    From time to time she talked. Mostly personal remarks.
    “You’re very difficult to get. You’re so featureless. Everything’s nondescript. I’m thinking of you as an object, not as a person.”
    Later she said, “You’re not ugly, but your face has all sorts of ugly habits. Your underlip is worst. It betrays you.” I looked in the mirror upstairs, but I couldn’t see what she meant.
    Sometimes she’d come out of the blue with funny questions.
    “Do you believe in God?” was one.
    Not much, I answered.
    “It must be yes or no.”
    I don’t think about it. Don’t see that it matters.
    “You’re the one imprisoned in a cellar,” she said.
    Do you believe, I asked.
    “Of course I do. I’m a human being.”
    She said, stop talking, when I was going on.
    She complained about the light. “It’s this artificial light. I can never draw by it. It lies.”
    I knew what she was getting at, so I kept my mouth shut.
    Then again—it may not have been that first morning she drew me, I can’t remember which day it was—she suddenly came out with, “You’re lucky having no parents. Mine have only kept together because of my sister and me.”
    How do you know, I said.
    “Because my mother’s told me,” she said. “And my father. My mother’s a bitch. A nasty ambitious middle-class bitch. She drinks.”
    I heard, I said.
    “I could never have friends to stay.”
    I’m sorry, I said. She gave me a sharp look, but I wasn’t being sarcastic. I told her about my father drinking, and my mother.
    “My father’s weak, though I love him very much. Do you know what he said to me one day? He said, I don’t know how two such bad parents can have produced two such good daughters. He was thinking of my sister, really. She’s the really clever one.”
    You’re the really clever one. You won a big scholarship.
    “I’m a good draughtsman,” she said. “I might become a very clever artist, but I shan’t ever be a great one. At least I don’t think so.”
    You can’t tell, I said.
    “I’m not egocentric enough. I’m a woman. I have to lean on something.” I don’t know why but she suddenly changed the subject and said, “Are you a queer?”
    Certainly not, I said. I blushed, of course.
    “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of good men are.” Then she said, “You want to lean on me. I can feel it. I expect it’s your mother. You’re looking for your mother.”
    I don’t believe in all that stuff, I said.
    “We’d never be any good together. We both want to lean.”
    You could lean on me financially, I said.
    “And you on me for everything else? God forbid.”
    Then, here, she said and held out the drawing. It was really good, it really amazed me, the likeness. It seemed to make me more dignified, better-looking than I really was.
    Would you consider selling this, I asked?
    “I hadn’t, but I will. Two hundred guineas?”
    All right, I said.
    She gave me another sharp look.
    “You’d give me two hundred guineas for that?”
    Yes, I said. Because you did it.
    “Give it to me.” I handed it back and before I knew what, she was tearing it across.
    Please don’t, I said. She stopped, but it was torn half across.
    “But it’s bad, bad, bad.” Then suddenly she sort of threw it at me. “Here you are. Put it in a drawer with the butterflies.”
    The next time I was in Lewes I bought her some more records, all I could find by Mozart, because she liked him, it seemed.

    - p. 48: That first day I bought a gramophone too. Only a small one, but I must say she looked very pleased, I didn’t want her to know I didn’t know anything about music but I saw a record with some orchestra music by Mozart so I bought that. It was a good buy, she liked it and so me for buying it. One day much later when we were hearing it, she was crying. I mean, her eyes were wet. After, she said he was dying when he wrote it and he knew he was dying. It just sounded like all the rest to me but of course she was musical.

    - from WORMHOLES: Essays and Occasional Writings by John Fowles (Edited and Introduced by Jan Relf); pp. 32-33 [Of Memoirs and Magpies (1983/1994)]: I hate books that can be put down; and if they have no narrative to sustain them, then they had better, so far as I am concerned, be bloody good in other directions. Narrative is my second connective principle in choice of reading. I have an unlimited greed for it, which seriously distorts my literary judgment. An abysmally low boredom threshold has prevented me from ever finishing countless serious and worthy novels by serious and worthy authors. I can admire people like Richardson and George Eliot, but I could never read them for pleasure. All this makes it difficult for me to answer questions about influence.
    I would admit it, in a direct and singular sense, of only one of my own books—the first in the writing, though not in the publishing. The Magus is a kind of homage to Le Grand Meaulnes, but even that flawed masterpiece (whose faults I can see, whose deep emotional hold on me I cannot understand) usurped another, the first book that I ever loved passionately and almost totally lived—and that I think I should have to name, on quasi-archetypal grounds, if I was limited to a unique master-influence. That is Richard Jefferies’s Bevis. I still consider it the best boys’ story in the language; and the fact that not one child in a million today has read it I regard as the others’ loss, not as proof of my own faulty judgment.
    I have in any case no memory at all for novels, for their ideas, plots, or characters. I could not even reconstitute my own with any accuracy if I was obliged to. I suppose I read as I write. I live the direct and present experience very intensely; but when it is over, it sinks very rapidly out of sight . . . A novelist must, I believe, extend humani nihil alienum to books as well. A quite literal pair of magpies breed in my garden every year. Wicked creatures though they are, I let them be. One must not harm one’s own.

    pp. 346-348 [The Nature of Nature (1995)]: Some reference books have me down as an atheist; and certainly, as regards any established deity or religious figure, I am so, and all the more resolutely when some god or goddess is presented with purely human qualities such as being kind or merciful, and possessing listening and intervenient powers. Such fairy-tale figures are for children; my universe is, or appears, infinitely bleaker. I do respect and sometimes admire many religious images and icons, sects, theologies, and what lies beyond them, but I am by trade an inventor of fiction, almost a professional liar. I appreciate the countless virtual realities that the religious create; and what drives them to claim, sometimes with a savage fervor, that their plausible fictions are unique truths. The religious instinct is in essence a great novelist.
    So. If I’m not at all religious in any conventional sense, what am I? To try to pass my view off as a philosophy would, at this date and among so much infinitely more sophisticated thinking on such matters, be ridiculous. I’d prefer a more human term. My feeling about human existence on this uncontrolledly sprouting planet is that its perceptible reality, and its destiny, waver and zigzag amid a triangle of opposing yet counterbalancing factors. Physically and mentally we individuals bounce, carom, and ricochet like pin-table balls. I call (rather in the way I rebaptize plants) these beliefs or views among which we collide by classical Greek names: sideros, keraunos, eleutheria. Iron necessity, lightning hazard, freedom.
    The first pin off which the ball (our soul) bounces is iron necessity, which projects all those inevitable facts, only too real, that curtail or limit our freedom. A ubiquitous example of these is death. A slightly less obvious—to us self-obsessed humans—one is the cell we are all obliged to inhabit. Its walls are formed by eachness and ego, our difficult individuality. We imagine disciplines, efforts of ascesis, that may exceptionally seem to grant us a sort of freedom from these two tyrants; but generally we know we must, like grubs in their cells, inhabit the cramping structures our biology and psychology—and that odd computer we call the brain—have evolved for us. We can then devote our imprisonment to becoming (at least in the West) distinguishable and—we hope—distinguished. That latter seems the only plausible way we shall partly avoid the certain final oblivion of the primary iron necessity.
    The second and most random course-changing pin is the one I typify as keraunos, “the thunderbolt.” This is pure hazard. It shows as much in fatal air crashes as in exciting lottery wins, in many dire tragedies and in as many shocks of happiness. Its results may be hoped for, expected, predicted, dreaded; but they are never certain, real, until after they have occurred. Yet very few would have it otherwise. Bliss, hell; the good cries to the bad, while the keraunos makes a nonsense of that dark iron necessity, the arrow of time.
    The last pin or shoulder off which we spring on our loxodromic way is eleutheria. Freedom springs from our instinct to revolt against iron necessity and from our perpetual doubt as to whether we can possess any verifiable freedom of will, or whether everything is not, finally, determined for us. Because our individuality and so much else (like our eventual death) is imposed on us, we crave escape. Almost all we think of as progress is this eleutheria. It destroys all stasis. We may call it rebellion, revolution, a thousand things, many of them seen (especially if one is comfortable with how and where one lives) as evil. But evolution itself is a form of terrorism, a civil war against stasis. We don’t realize it because its bombs take a demi-eternity, compared with the brevity of our human lives, to explode. Freedom has long had a deep and powerful fascination for humankind. Its effects may be good or bad; those of iron necessity are almost all counted outwardly as the latter. For us humans, sideros lies in shadow; eleutheria in light.

    pp. 351-352: I’d often been harried by academics over my own writing, and probed over what they evidently saw as a noisome paradox, a lamentable deficiency, in my work. I might keep claiming that natural history (as I knew it) was behind all my fictions; yet where was there any real evidence of that? I might say I admired Gilbert White, Thoreau, Richard Jefferies, and many others, but I seemed totally disinclined to try to emulate them. This was at least half true. I have always regarded nature as peculiarly sacrosanct. It was Jefferies who first pronounced it “ultrahuman,” or beyond humanity. D. H. Lawrence, nowhere near as misguided as Snow made out during his vendetta with Leavis, reached nearest—especially in his poetry—to penetrating that strange otherness about it. The experience is nearly impossible to describe in prose, but I will try.

    The acutely sensitive Virginia Woolf stated my own general difficulty quite plainly: “Nature and letters seem to have a natural antipathy . . . they tear each other to pieces.” I have always felt, from long before I became a practicing writer, very nearly the same thing. As soon as we start, an angry “Trespassers are forbidden” or Noli me tangere springs up. I know I adore nature; yet must feel myself as regards expressing that love, when faced with it, a eunuch. I may seem to go where I want, but in reality I may not, because I cannot.

    - pp. 357-358: All writers make up their own private slang as to what goes on when they write. An important term—at any rate for me, in my own practice—is the fork (as in a path), by which I mean a fairly continuous awareness of alternatives, both “learned” (remembered) and “fortuitous” (wild), in what is done. This possibility-mongering may vary intellectually and emotionally in the shape of narrative, in dialogue, through moral and descriptive passages, down to individual words. One thing eternally “on sale” is the blue pencil: omission. This fertile awareness is far subtler than a mere crossword quickness at hitting on synonyms, and derives in part from the green embryo without clues constituted by the pristine, unformed, barely conceived text. The polycistronic (“producing more than one gene”) and polyfunctional capacities of the imagination invent both the clues and the final answers to any work of art. This can lead the artist nearer to something he or she may profess not to credit: God, or a simulacrum (in my own case, once, a muse).
    This two-edged power of hypothesization can very easily transfer itself from the text to ordinary life. Every time I fly, I know I shall crash and be killed; every time (even at my age!) I meet an attractive woman, I imagine love will follow . . . even though I’m only too certain it neither will nor can. A puritan might equate the freedom to invent with being given the luxuries—in both senses—of a Mogul emperor, a perpetual license. But my intention here is to suggest that being allowed to exist within such an infinity of possible variations, the endless bifurcations of the alternative, forms the reality, like some difficult differential equation, that most serious artists have either to worry or rejoice over.
    Last edited by HERO; 03-31-2011 at 05:08 PM.
    “Must get that Capel street library book renewed or they’ll write to
    Kearney, my garantor. Reincarnation: that’s the word.

    — Some people believe, he said, that we go on living in another body
    after death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived
    before on the earth thousands of years ago or some other planet. They say we
    have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives.

    The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea. Better remind
    her of the word: metempsychosis. An example would be better.”

    —from Ulysses by James Joyce

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