Thursday, February 26, 2009

The adulterer who sought anwers in mazes and literature.


On the night Bearice Viterbo died they were advertising one or another kind of cigarette..

Ah, Beatrice Viterbo, long-lost lover of, the reader supposed, J. L. Borges, the Dante of modern Spanish literature.
Writes Borges:
"I could consecrate myself to her memory, without hope but also without humiliation..."

Well, on the night his marriage died, your present narrator really needed a cigarette, but he had none, not even the pack of oval Delicados which he had so long saved for just such an emergency. But he had long ago smoked the pack, and had drunk even the hidden whiskey of his lover at the time.
Resolves not kept.
Adulterer. Man of letters. From the annals of ancient Demetrius, a scribe, "Ha. You say you are a man of lettters, yet you have contributed to the enemies of your civilization, adultery and promiscuity. Contract and transgression. It will all fall apart. As you are falling apart."
And after the first realization of real loss, our adulterer moved into the midst of Borges' literature, concecrating himself "to her memory", wthout hope, but certainly with sure humiliations to come.
For if the truth is always revealed in humour, dying for love would be beautful, but stupid.
But also,it seemed, was loving the one you were actually with. And somehow persiting in the adultery.
Our adulterer decided this tryst was inauthentic. It was living a lie.
Jame Joyce, Dubliners: "You made me give up my wife, my children. You even made me give up my God."

A song plays on the radio. It is about an adulteress, not and adulterer, but our adulter gets the point.

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of jupiter in her hair, hey hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's time to change, hey hey


Drops of Jupiter. The adulterer watches a lot of television, Oprah, American Idol. He hears "Drops of Jupiter" on American Idol. He surely knew its meaning, though it seemed that Simon Cowell didn't get the immediate reference.
Jesus, Simon. Dense for once.
Its poetic-- Came back like a whore.

Our narrator himself had come back like a whore.

Shortly afterward, he decided to abandon his lover, and he did. "You are a loser, loser!"

He started to morbidly look into the occult, the Ouija board, the I-Ching, studied Dante,the Master himself having loves at times profane.
Our narrator looked into the the maze of a modern day Dante, the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges. Borges himelf, in his fiction tried to find his answer from his own subconscious, an all-knowing Aleph, the all- wise thing in the cave, but this time in the basement of his own lover, who was dead.
Writes Borges about the Aleph he saw in his Beatrice's basement:

The Aleph was a point in the universe whose centre was everywhere and nowhere. He peers inside the basement to see what what imjust surely be the Aleph now all around him and yet seemingly nowhere around him:

…I clearly saw the universe from every point… I saw a broken labyrinth (it was London), I saw a silvery spiderweb in the center of a black pyramid…I saw in Inverness a woman whom I will not forget, I saw her long, violent locks, her haughty body, I saw a cancer in her breast, I saw a circle of dry dirt in a sidewalk where there had once been a tree… I saw a copy of the first English version of Pliny… I saw at the same time every letter of every page (as a child I used to be amazed at how the letters of a closed book didn't get mixed up and lost in the course of the night)… in a desk drawer (and the handwriting made me tremble) incredible, precise, obscene letters which Beatriz had sent to Carlos Argentino, I saw a beloved tombstone in Chacarita, I saw the atrocious remains of what delightfully had been Beatriz Viterbo, I saw the circulation of my dark blood, I saw the mechanics of love and the modification of death… I saw in the Aleph the world, and in the world once again the Aleph and in the Aleph the world, I saw my face and my guts, I saw your face, and I felt dizzy and I cried…

Our narrator cried too, but with the song he was hearing on the radio. Borges was not revelatory enough and had said so.

For Borges surprises us with the intimation that his Aleph could well have been a false Aleph, but there was nothing false in the song our narrator had been hearing on the radio.

But tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is over rated
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And then you miss me while you were lookin' for yourself out there


From the Aleph to a Train song. A sudden revelation of an Einstinian universe, the train coming well before the sound of it. Doppler.

Doppelganger.

A passing playwright had seen right through our narrator.

"Between the subjunctive and the indicative," said the playwright, "That's where you are." Lost in space.

Well, what of it for our narraator now, thirty years later?

He turn over a leaf. And then he turns it over again. It becomes stressed, worn. Becomes a crumpled flower.

And the answer is not in Borges, but,in the song our narrator is now hearing. Drops of Jupier.
There is a segue on the radio. He is now hearing another song, an old one from ancient Appalachia.

And I just spend my time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge.

And drop them into the muddy watters offa Tallahatchee Bridge.


Is it art that exacts a terrible price or is it it sin?



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5 comments:

the walking man said...

It is the feeling that some action or another is sin, that takes the toll from them passing the over the bridge.

Yet if you count nothing as sin then there is no toll to pay.

As an artist I would pay the toll before I'd take a free pass.

Charles Gramlich said...

Art is only sin if it's done right.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

The Walking Man and Charles,

The hell would be sinning and then not doing it rightl!
"Oh Faustus. Now thous shall be damned perpetually."

Lana Gramlich said...

Art & sin are both relative, but I have to admit, in a very real, "bottom line" kind of sense, art has already extracted too high a price from me in the past year.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Interesting, Lana.

Matthew Arnold as poet and school inpector ponddered it quite a bit.
My professor, at university said, when I quoted Arnold as saying the only reason we can not see the sweetness and the light is because of sin.
He had answered, "That's all you Eastern Eropeans say."
But it's deep, isn't it?
This goldurn devilishness we have to have to get that artistic halo.