Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lo: Dancing a Tragedy.

Remember I was reading Lolita? It got put on ice for a week or two while The Struggle was holding my undivided attention. I picked it up again a few nights ago and finished it tonight. So what did I think of it? Do you want to know? No? OK, I’ll make it brief.

I thought it superbly well written, intelligent, complex and engaging. Unfortunately, the plot began to depress me about two thirds of the way through and it got worse the further it progressed. I mean no disrespect to Nabokov, of course. Tragedies are perfectly legitimate and aren’t supposed to be enjoyable. (‘He broke her heart. I only broke her life.’) In short, what I read was a tragedy about different sorts of victim locked in a dolorous (no pun intended) dance to one form of destruction or another. (Note: I didn’t say innocent victim. Remember what Mandela said about the guards at Robben Island?)

And then I read what some New York literary professor said about it and felt a little irritated. It seemed to me that he had engaged Nearest Shibboleth Mode and come up with a view that was politically correct but ludicrously over-simplified. I thought of writing a long article myself, but decided against it because:

1. I can’t be bothered. I don’t have the mental energy for long articles at the moment.

2. Hardly anybody would ever read it, even if I published it here.

3. It would necessitate using the only word in the English language which I decline ever to use either verbally or in writing. And that includes now. Please don’t even try to guess, let alone ask.

So now it’s off to watch another episode of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. After the power of Lolita, a bit of easy listening is called for.

2 comments:

girl-interrupted said...

Hello Jeff.

I hope you don't mind me commenting here. I felt obliged (read: compelled) to reply to your comment left a while ago on my bog. Also I suppose I should wish you a happy new year.

I don't believe I know what you mean by 'on this level' or 'the obvious and ordinary' any more. Everything that used to make sense regarding those phrases no longer do. I feel there is much more to it now that neither of us understand. And I have met people who have understood more than I - true, people like us are rare, but I have met them and they give me hope that more exist. There are entire worlds out there that I have not yet seen. It makes me reluctant and almost angry to be so dismissive of the 'ordinary'. I feel that doing so is simply an excuse to stop trying to find connection and understanding (and enlightenment?). Perhaps it is even a mask for failure. If we are wise, if we feel more strongly, if we see realities and 'truths' ahead of our peers, is that a good enough reason to withdraw from society entirely? That sort of 'giving up' seems deplorable to me.

I do not believe you have reached the end of your journey, and I wish you would not hold on to me as though I were the final chapter. Maybe you have changed in your beliefs and your thoughts since we last spoke. If I could help you in any way, it would be to urge you to keep seeking. I might have only been the beginning to your Avalon. Why do you doubt that there may be more to life?

In response to your last statement, I don't think I will end up alone. I have my doubts and my fears, and maybe it is all too far away right now, but my feeling is that I will be able to love very much one day. He need not understand everything about me, but I can handle that. Life is not perfect after all, and contrary to what you might think, I've never sought perfection, only meaning, and meaning comes in many forms.


JJ Beazley said...

I must say, it does disturb me a little that you should choose to communicate all this by way of my blog rather than answering the comment on your own or maybe sending an email. I have two guesses as to why and I suppose I could simply delete it, but that would seem disrespectful. Better that I suffer shame and the mockery of the masses than be disrespectful, Jen! Nothing if not a gentleman, as ever. (And it was most moving to hear from you after all this time. It was.)

As to your points regarding life and isolation, this could be the beginning of an endless discussion which I see no point in starting. Let’s just say that you’re possibly right in your version of reality, and I’m possibly right in mine.

And of course I hold onto you, Jen. I have a very good reason for so doing – the best of reasons actually – but henceforth I will remain silent. Invisible would be harder to promise.