Focusing


She was a walking abstract of the writers and thinkers whom she had loved or admired -- but what clever woman is more?

Durrell -
Justine

I'm back to weekly postings I guess -- though not because of some apathy or lack of desire -- mostly the days have become straining and the evenings a bit woolen through routine. That makes things sound worse than they are.

I've been reading Durrell -- now most of the way through Balthazar. I like his looseness -- the sense that what I'm reading isn't trying to say something definitively and that it's merely an examination of a set of related topics. The sort of writer who enjoys hearing many ideas -- all ideas seem equally good to me; the fact of their existence proves that someone is creating. Does it matter whether they are objectively right or wrong? They could never remain so for long.

But I hate his women. Again, I have no access to the sorts of women who are put onto pages. Not that I have much access to the men.


Let me see about this. Perhaps it's a specific sort of woman-character that incites me -- the woman-character who is identified by sensuality first and everything else second. After all, Clea is a character I do like. She seems to understand and to see past surfaces. Back to Justine and Melissa though -- these are women like La Maga in Cortazar's Hopscotch. Women like those the surrealists erroneously idealized. They hover at the brink of hysteria and nymphomania -- or at least so the men in their lives diagnose them. They speak deeply now and then, they see deeply now and then, but they are always brushed aside, they are always treated as a means to some end and they don't seem to expect anything different.

And I find myself noting little comments like the one above. To be an abstract and not abstract -- for these women are anything but that.

And then, of course, I start the spindling thought process -- how does one write about any person, man or woman? And hasn't this second book already revealed new aspects of the woman? Hasn't it refuted many of the previous assertions? (Just as the narrator is responding to and correcting the assertions of Arnauti and his version of Justine). The further I look into this problem of the personality, the more I'm convinced that Rhoda was right -- that it's all a great big cover-up -- everything -- the a prioris, the systems, the emotions, the histories. I think about how my own cover-up works -- my veil-throwing. And I call it a curse of awareness -- to sense the tensions and pressures and processes. I sometimes wonder if it all comes down to being vs. becoming.

It is a curse because it means no rest and no silence. The rest doesn't even come with sleep. My dreams have become parodies of the human condition. I dream narratives that loop and circle and contradict. I dream of injustices and crimes and of the strangest sorts of places. The rest may come with wine or with an especially fluid conversation -- for then the self is at its strongest-- it shines clearly and feels the warmth of the stage lights focusing.

This Rhoda-problem is very clear right now -- perhaps always clearest at moments of change and flux -- for then we can watch the self try and react in an 'accustomed' fashion to alien places and people. And once familiarity settles in, it becomes much easier to smooth over the inconsistencies -- the breaks in the seamless structure.

You see -- I'm an abstract too -- perhaps even worse, because I'm writing my own story, turning and focusing my own kaleidoscope.