Thursday, August 30, 2007

faking out your reflection


Tricks with mirrors. Conjoinment, communion, reflection. My favorite writers (including myself) have one essential story they reiterate in different ways.

Borges told of the Double, or the Platonic ideal, the recycling of time, the one thing becoming the other.

Nabokov wrote about mimesis, metamorphosis, the one thing echoed in the other, the reality behind the mundane veneer.

William Gibson wrote about the present as the future. Time having caught with him, he now writes about the future as the present. (Looking up ‘mimesis’ to verify my doddering memory, I rediscovered a favorite word: metathesis. Can I get away with applying it to the double-reverse Gibson does with futurity and presentism?)

Paul Auster writes about the story within the story. He studies how reality changes as we examine it, and how we change as life ponders us.

I write about the metathetic double, as in the transmigration of souls (Channel Z), or being stalked by one’s doppleganger or vice versa (Burton in the Sind), or being schizophrenically one with god, or a detective search following a string or network of coincidences to reach the vanishing point of the asymptote between coincidence and miracle (Augustus Googol, Demimage, Feral).

Another boring critic has spoken. However, for really bizarre critiques (and one that I think would have Old Vlad howling with laughter, read this:

Provided that we follow Nabokov's instructions and exchange the pawn for a knight, the author then insisted that the best move open to Black was to avoid placing the White King under check from the Black Rook. Instead he advised that the Black Pawn on c3 should be advanced to square c2. This move, I strongly suspect, is the equivalent of the "modest dilatory move" (Speak Memory, 230). Via this ingenious code Nabokov managed to divulge how Uncle Ruka escalated his abuse from fondling to anal digital penetration. (Ruka richly deserved his reputation as a 'bottom-feeler.') The Black Pawn is now only one move away from his fraught rendezvous with the Black Knight on square c1 and no chess piece can intercede to prevent its perilous advance.

"Non-traumatic anal penetration can be very pleasurable for children (as well as adults). It is clear that this indelicate maneuver, performed by Ruka upon Vladimir, placed his nephew in grave and immediate danger. It set Vladimir off on a disastrous course whereby he agreed to meet his uncle in private. So began a long and painful period of sexual enslavement and tuition. Nabokov's acute sensitivity to how adults 'seduce' children in order to gain their co-operation and compliance (escalating from fondling, gift-giving, and lavishing the child with special attention to tickling games, and more sexual forms of stroking and genital contact) is well illustrated in Nabokov's novella The Enchanter where Arthur knows he must perform certain unspecified actions on Marie in order to awaken her sexual curiosity. This disastrous, seductive sequence of events, which invariably results in the 'queening' of a pawn, is precisely what the true solution to Nabokov's chess problem must prevent."

For a less speculative, less absurd treatment of the subject, something that doesn't read like a Victorian era ghost medium using chess to contact the homoerotic dead, read this:

The Gay Nabokov

Friday, August 24, 2007

withdrawing the gibson


It’s a precious logic, like a baby’s cry when the nipple goes away. I don’t have Internet access this AM. I can’t visit my 2-3 favorite forums and blogs, or check yahoo headlines. So I dredge up my lowly word soft and write about it.


This stimulates me to take aspects of my life, the LAN of my daily life, and write them into position for upload rather than my usual habit of downloading stuff, ruminating on it, and then uploading the cud this makes, which is typically how we happy cattle of the mediated world discourse.

I acquired, by devious accident, a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s “Vineland” that formerly was a guest book at last week’s family rental cabin on Lake Getaway. I had never read Pynchon before except for detestable opening pages from alleged masterpieces like Gravity’s Rainbow. But William Gibson, whom I admire, revere, and adore (he is by all accounts a very gracious fellow), worships Pynchon.

So… to my surprise I find Vineland enjoyable. I am not reading it front to back. I see no reason to do so with books cited by critics as prime and pinnacle examples of ‘hysterical realism’ and described as brilliantly unreadable. Instead, I dip in here and there, and enjoy how Pynchon gets away, at least in “Vineland”, with indulging himself as he will but, owing to talent, practice, and discipline, does so in easily understood prose that meanders where it will yet rarely trips over itself. As if Salman Rushdie, another ‘hysterical realist’, actually paid attention to what he wrote. (No, I don’t care for Rushdie. Yes, he is a brave man, and ‘twould seem a genius, but genius has difficulty avoiding the vulgarity of its own excess, and I do not think I will ever read more than a few paragraphs or pages of his.)

I can see why Gibson loves Pynchon. He is funny, very stylish, and sensitive to technology and its futurist implications. Indeed, it is as I thought (nay, knew) all along: Pynchon is for Gibson what Nabokov is to me: they are writers who uniquely inspired us, and whose influence on our writing we must struggle to remove from the word, sentence, paragraph, work at hand. For if we must be married to our work, we must visit our Nabokovs and Pynchons after hours, in a rented room or spare apartment uptown, and consistently tell our work-wives that that old thing is over, definitely over, long ago.