Chapter 18: Where He Starts To Know the Only Sane Dream of Paradise Is Paradise Lost
An anesthetist walks into the corridor with blonde hair and a smile which seemed to be saying ‘blonde’s have more fun although it’s a bitch making a living’.
It was a phrase that ran through the atmosphere when she came down the corridor.
She quickly asked him how he was and shook his hand with a firm grip, as they say, which made him wonder whether it was a test, to see if he was weak or strong, that kind of thing.
But then she said ‘come this way’ so he did, ambling behind her in a juxtaposition that was almost hilarious but not allowed to go that far, so he settled for witty.
'Here we go, the two of us, like signatures.'
'What I do is make convenient your inner chronology. This is the one time where you'll be able to interrupt, if you like, the shortcomings and concessions of the luminous projection of subjective desire,' she explained as they walked along.
'What?' he exclaimed.
'Ah, a comedian.'
'I wouldn't go that far.'
They strode on a while as if those were closing words. But not at all.
'This is the first thing you need to know. Space, extended beyond measure, and now time too. This is how I like to explain it. Time starts to grow - taller.'
'There's no escape from hours and days,' he observed.
'Yesterday has deformed us, true. You, for instance, you aren't whatever you were before yesterday and its assaults.'
He had to agree.
And then didn't. Rather, he perched, as if on stilts between impertinance and equilibrium.
But he said nothing and she,sensing that he was stumped, took up her theme again.
'Your body's intelligence works with cosmological dislocation all the time. Its terrors and hopes are.... superfoetations. That is the word we like to use here.'
'Bloody hell,' he exhaled, for at that moment what he had darkly suspected was being confirmed and by a medic no less.
Yesterday's sorrows get yesterday's ego, but no carry over.
He glanced over to his walking companion, her air of attainment like the vengeance of Orestes it seemed, and he wondered how that worked given that her today was a mere day long ego, and there had been suffered, like the rest, so many deaths.
And why make the dalliances daily?
He asked himself. Why not a death each moment?
A disturbing sequence of micro deaths, one each moment?
And this inevitably roused him to a further anxiety.
He began to wonder about the calculation of the requisite moment, its duration and the strength required to endure. It was a conundrum that threatened to founder on the ad infinitum between point to point, a succession of joyless dawns, memories and isolation.
Zeno for that.
Chrysippus for the further headache of borderlines, vagueness, the damned heap.
'You shouldn't worry about the actual scales and mechanisms too much,' the anaesthetist reassured him.
'I was just wondering...' he trailed off.
'Yes...' she too paused for a moment, as if not a portrait of what was there but rather of what deformed it.
'... But you've got to forget about voluntary memory as being anything like an evocative instrument, accurate or not. See yourself simply as a decanter and you'll be getting somewhere,' she advised, taking on for him the mysteriousness of an Albertine in Balbec where the courage to live is based on what preserves us from death, life where love is the provocation of a lie, and love the appeasement of our suffering by its cause.
I am little more than a petulent dribbing, he surmised with his own version of mock epic enchantment.
'Decanter. Ok, I'm that,' he agreed, but he sounded forlorn, agitated and felt there was something pernicious in this approach but he couldn't put his finger on what the trouble was.
'On your card here there's the appointment time and date. The operation is scheduled and its that time, somewhere down the future line, that is what murders sleep, if you'll pardon my flourish,' she gained.
He repeated her smile involuntarily.
'All opinions on death are meaningless and abstract. Death has never before had a time and date attached for which we are obliged to keep free. But you have the date, and we have it too, because here we are. I am exhorted not merely to be in the vicinity but have a date.'
Merciless, he thought to himself, merciless.
'As observer, I infect you with my own mobility. I think you observed that already,' she shrewdly added.
Glumly he nodded, as if insatiable.
'Whatever happens, see it as an effort to enlarge a compromise, one where we decide not to stir from the field of the possible,' she added.
'What we're going to be disturbing here is a certain ordering, nothing more, the ordering of things on the plane of what is feasible. In this, we are holding the line, turning away in disgust from the puny exploits we pretend are enough to sustain on other days. But today, with the time and date decided, we must be scrupulous. We hold to our obligation to live alongside the realisation that we should live without hope for more than the thinnest of obligations.'
He shook bitterly. What we need here is a better system of communication.
'Communication networks, intelliget decision supports, modelling - the hoy trinity.'
This inner hypersecretion was what? - retrospective jealousy? Recrimination? Just who was he imagining to be in his sights?
'Stunt pilotry in fiction was the thing when I was getting to grips with adulthood. Epiphanies are a bore though. As are diagrams when they peter out.
Trying to access emotional stuff in a different way is all very well but there's always the fear of manipulation and it makes me uneasy.
There are people who have sat me down and called me a misogynist and wanted me to do something about it. But I really have no reasonable sense of what they're worried about.
That's maybe a feature rather than bug. Perhaps there's a trap for all of us and if we work really, really, really hard we might be able to work it out.'
He was surprised that she wasn't reacting in any formalised, particular way. She was enigmatic, as larger things can be.
'When I say we might work it out I don't mean escape. I mean just understand where we're at. I think when they accuse me of being a bit of a pig it's a disagreement about what we're prepared to take on faith. We just happen to find values and spirituality in different places. But once you realise that then everything comes in quotation marks, and that's unsettling.'
' There's a lot of cultural energy in what people say these days. We're bombarded by media and its both homogenised and broken up.
But money runs it, so marketing isn't as easy to spot anymore because it runs the whole show. Every show.
And what people say and think runs through this, and reflects whatever the media market tells and shows.
People live pretty boring lives so the media spices them up, and provides a much needed service in doing this.
Solitude needs a relief. I get it.
Nevertheless, one thing that I think can be annoying...' and he coughed a little as if suddenly a feeling had come choked him, '... everyone lives as if there's a bow tying everything up neatly, like a happy ending or something. I prefer to think of resolving ourselves in a different way, one that respects the way we maunder.'
'But here we are, with a date and a time. It's almost the opposite of that,' she said.
'Yes. Yes it's true. So some art wraps itself up with a happy ending, and that works. Other art doesn't. And that can work too.
So what am I saying?
That we have limitations, and somehow we don't want to drown them in receiving too much goading from commerce. It may be as banal as that.'
She smiled in a way that seemed like she thought smiling was doing the right thing.
'It's not a thought. It's not cerebral. It's just whether something feels right, in the gut. That's why I don't worry if life seems abstract and abstruse, and very very hard.
Because of course it is, and that's what makes it interesting. For that reason alone we should be wary of the happy endings or the surface resolutions we seem to be addicted to. It takes a bit of effort to cut away from those.
That's all I'm saying here.
My surfaces are more paradoxical. They drive me crazy. But that's alright because it's about admitting something to ourselves. Admitting our limits and not trying to fudge it.
Living shouldn't be about getting to the happy domination.
Not because there isn't one, but what use would it be anyhow? What difference would it make?
I don't think everything's in spin, that there's no truth and all that. I really don't.
But truth's persective matters.
I feel the pull of mysteries. There's an integrity to incoherence, its personal, raises my temperature, has a perfume and intelligent memory I'm never immune to.'
His sensations pivoted. The circumstances took on an accidental favourability. The rooms and corridors were subconscious and annihiliated every spatial and temporal restriction, and became a rush of infallibly proportioned beauty.
Proust didn't recover time, he obliterated it, he remembered.
Baudelaire is the autosymbolist of Proust.
Solicit no facts.
He recalls. Continues when he gets his inclination back after a few stutters and false starts.
Chisel no pommels.
He couldn't recall why the prohibition, nor the exact understanding of pommel, yet it struck him as urgent, so once, no doubt, it had been ineluctable.
'I have insane inward callings. They strike me as necessary. I have set myself against plausible concatenation. It is in my nature, just as in others it is all about fandango's of death a la Chateaubrand etc etc.'
They passed a couple of cool dark rooms where patients lay withdrawn and extracted, so it seemed, from the total essance of the midday from the scarlet stellar blows of Hammersmith and its exact quality of chimes, calls and hawkers.
It was muffled, is what I took from this passing intuition.
'Writing is bookkeeping, that's all.'
'Relativism is the weapon of choice for the anti-intellectual.'
'My favourite author states his characters without explanation.'
'The only explanations worth their salt are those that are experimental.'
'The worst are demonstrations.'
'The only fatigue worth cultivating is the fatigue of the heart, so long as one is never stupefied.
It's a matter of finding involvement, periphrasis, obscurity and no foundations within the narrow limits of an impure world. '
'The only challenge is to resist the collapse of the will. Resist the temptations of the bee, to crouch annulled, mossy and in a fume of the poppy ruptures and oozing moments, sweetness cloyed up in moss.'
He made what he could of his circumstances and Keats.
'The contemplative is my highest form. That's my summary.'
He vegitated on it, defunct and pensive, damned to the life of the body and a testament to the vaudeville ineffables that were now perfectly intelligible and so too, perfectly inexplicable.
'Absurd,' reflected the anaesthetist.
A fortnight later: 'Yes.'
'Come in here. You must lie down and I'll talk you through what's going to happen.'
They entered a small room which had a trolly of medical instruments on it. Against the wall was a long bench raised up on wheels. In the corner a desk with a computer, a bowl of apples and various strewn papers. Yet the overall impression was of penury, and of predicaments that probably would be best not talked about.
Was she obsessed with her expressive vocation?
Was likewise he with the pursuit of the occasion?
Was the room a warren of modes and attitudes, from plates of fruits to low mathematics and self-commiseration?
Would opinions vary here?
Would a Pythagorean terror lurk in its dock?
What was its final duty - desertion, art, craft, good housekeeping, living, fidelity, submission, admission, obligation, psychiatry, innocence, prayer, forgetting, transparency, renunciation, glowering, logic, technique, or else all those departing densities of high classical mannerisms done in the style of frolicsome herbivores?
He is not inclined to remain ferocious, and she too tempers her own maladies, as if reaching for succour from without.
It was almost the terrific climax of imagination applied in vacuo to what was either absent or going that way.
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