Friday, 19 September 2008
...the cold that is. If that's what it is. It looks like a cold, it behaves like a cold, but it could be a fancy new allergy I have been cooking up, moving on from hay fever to cats. Well, I hope not. The cold is far more likely. The only thing I could concentrate on was finishing off Art Spiegelman's Maus. I don't know why but I have been avoiding it all these years.
Well, I do sort of know why. Somewhere inside me I know it all already, or at least as much as I can deal with rationally: as to the rest it can feel like vicarious horror, which I distrust more than vicarious pleasure. Viscerally, I don't feel the world is to be despaired of, and the normal accounts, unless somehow transfigured, as by Levi, or Kertész, or worked through into larger, difficult redemptive patterns, as by Sebald or David Grossman - or even, extraordinarily, by Reznikoff - are matter for despair, a kind swelling, conglomerate, bud of poisonous despair. I know this side of humanity exists, but I know the other side too.
Maus is good, but chiefly because of the parallel relationship, as everyone has observed, of the narrator with his camp survivor father. The graphic novel seems an appropriate form. The odd, dark, macabre, slightly crude drawings act as a bridge between the generations, a child's offerings to his lost, distorted, half-destroyed father.
And so to bed, as Mr Pepys used to write. I will stream horizontally. Tomorrow to Northampton to read poems and participate in a round table about Europe. Must get my beauty sleep. Perhaps I will wake up beautiful.
ps. I have added Bill Herbert' magnificent site(s) to the roll on the left. Hit the one to get a portal to the others. A highly metamorphic poetic gentleman of the Scottish persuasion and absolutely full of life and invention joie de vivre and stuff like that. Makes you feel better.