Saturday, December 31, 2016

empire

Denver. I am reading The Man Without Qualities on an elevated glass walkway between airport concourses. Behind me: terrifyingly flat, endless plains. I am sitting with my back to them so that, when I look up from my book, I see instead the snowy scapes of the Rockies, interrupted periodically by the silhouette of a jet taking off in the direction from which I've just come.

I am really hungry but cannot decide which food to try to eat; I approach the counter and recoil. Or, between chapters, I wander from one identical bookstore to the next – in which the only books on offer are "now a major motion picture," and the magazines are differentiated by the degree of shrillness with which they celebrate capitalism (on a scale of Economist to Inc.), perhaps with some firearms and naked women on the top shelf, for our more direct patrons. The bathrooms at the end of this walkway double as tornado shelters. My friend and former roommate OF lives and practices architecture in this city, but for some reason I have never visited...always coming and going from coast to coast. Someday, maybe.

Today I read and wait for the proverbial connecting flight that will plug me back into some reality – a quality (speaking of Eigenschaften) that this walkway lacks: in the nonplace of the airport, it is even more in-between, more non-. Perfect for disappearing into a long novel about civilization devouring itself.

In a bid to loosen Leo Fischel's daughter Gerda's attachment to Hans Sepp and his German nationalist and anti-semitic circle (at the desperate request of Gerda's mother Klementine), Ulrich visits Gerda and relates a (spurious) history of the earth's moon, which, he finally reveals, has no truth to it; in fact, he says, "the moon isn't really coming any closer to the earth."

Last year at this time I was finishing IQ84 in the Dallas airport, under more or less the same circumstances – a chrono-architectural link forms, not unlike the one between 1984 and IQ84; superimposition superimposes itself as mood. Perhaps, as Philip K. Dick would have it, "the empire never ended."



2 comments:

  1. I finally crack this morning, while reading aloud to my child some blank verse of Lee Ranaldo's: "Bloomington, Indiana: Autumn" (I am trying to teach her to slow down and breathe when reading poetry):

    "I have made a new book from all the random pages
    The story the same no matter how we sequence it
    Change is in the heart
    The head waits, and follows, a slower creature
    and that is what I am doing, now

    Waiting
    for this pursuit to end
    Waiting
    to see you again"

    And the tears roll, and as I'm choked up, my child takes over and reads the final stanza and a half to us...

    "...Help me see this through."

    She looks up at me, all question marks. "Thank you," I say, and my heart overflows.

    ReplyDelete