Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My Holden Caulfield fantasy--and other rushes of a raw youth.
We go through phases-- especially if over forty-- wherein we somehow convince outselves that we already written the great American (Canadian?) novel, but the critics had somehow missed it.
Take my fantasy. I am convinced that in my first draft of my "The Hat People", I had already incorporated the Man from U.N.C.L.E,, The X-Files, The X-Men. Rollerblade, and even Soylent Green.
And there's more:
In my second draft I have no doubt that I'd already invented Holden Caulfield, most of Dostoevsky's A Raw Youth, and a good bit of Gunther Grass--I had surely done some of that!
It all came from reading and identifying works by authors whose teenage conundrums seemed so much like mine in my adolescence,though such hangups and scrupulocities seemed common only in young Eastern Europeans
But no. As I read more, English eccentrics had religious hang-ups too. An English author named George Borrow, could manufacture, out of his own head, hang-ups that I as weird European kid with a penchant for writing, could hardly imagine.
Borrow's father lived in mortal fear of an unexplained act of "committing a sin against the Holy Ghost". Those who commit this awful sin can not get to heaven. There is a stoppage on the soul here. This is a sin ever worse than "mortal". No baptism will take it away.
"'Ah!" said my father,"thank God I never committed that--how awful must be the state of a person who has committed the sin against the Holy host! I can scarecely think of it without my hair standing on end;
and then my father and his friend began talking about the nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and I hard them say what it was as I sat up with greedy ears listening to their discourse.
I lay awake the greater part of the night musing upon what I had heard. When I awoke in the morning the first thing I thought of was the mysterius sin and a voice in me seemed to say, "Commit it:; and I felt a strong temptations to do so, even stronger than in the night.
"After breakfast, I went to sdhool and endeavored to employ myself upon my tasks, but all in vain: I could think of nothing but the sin against the Holy Ghost; my eyes instead of being fixed upon my book, wandered in vacancy. My master observed my inattention and chid me.
The time came for saying my taks and I had not acquired it. My master approached me, and yet more, he beat me. I felt shame and anger, and I went home with a firm deteminamtion to commit the sin agains the Holy Ghost.
See how that goes? Magnificent obsession. Sin agains the Holy Ghost.
Go across the English Channel and East: How close would that be to Kafka and his "sin"?...There is no God and the imppersonal god that rule us show up in their trail in documents and trials .
Kafka was born almost next door to my house.
So the young hero in my early works was committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. And all the time. No only that, but the cumpulsive masturbation! Double sin! This of course, would have made an adult laugh, but with the obsessive and talent-possessed child, it seems a matter of life and death.
God will get me. I have committed a sin agains the Holy Ghost!
Well, little boy, little boy, how important do you think you are?
Everything does not turn around you, though it seems there are whirls and eddies in some obscure literature where you could almost fit.
Or is it missfit?