Sunday, November 16, 2014

A series of seemingly meaningless human movements

He understood, just in time, that the best he could do was to use his memory to fend off the sinister, underhanded process of decay, trusting in the fact that since all that mason might build, carpenter might construct, woman might stitch, indeed all that men and women had brought forth with bitter tears was bound to turn to an undifferentiated, runny, underground, mysteriously ordained mush, his memory would remain lively and clear, right until his organs surrendered and "conformed to the contract whereby their business affairs were wound up," that is to say until his bones and flesh fell prey to the vultures hovering over death and decay. He decided to watch everything very carefully and to record it constantly, all with the aim of not missing the smallest detail, because he realized with a shock that to ignore the apparently insignificant was to admit that one was condemned to sit defenceless on the parapet connecting the rising and falling members of the bridge between chaos event and comprehensible order. However apparently insignificant the event, whether it be the ring of tobacco ash surrounding the table, the direction from which the wild geese first appeared, or a series of seemingly meaningless human movements, he couldn't afford to take his eyes off it and must note it all down, since only by doing so could he hope not to vanish one day and fall a silent captive to the infernal arrangement whereby the world decomposes but is at the same time constantly in the process of self-construction. It was not, however, enough to remember things conscientiously: that "was insufficient in itself," not up to the task: one had to compile and comprehend such signs as still remained in order to discover the means whereby the perfectly maintained memory's sphere of influence might be extended and sustained over a period. The best course then, thought the doctor during his visit to the mill, would be "to reduce to a minimum such events as would tend to increase the number of things I have to keep an eye on," and that very night, having told the useless Horgos girl to clear off home, informing her he longer required her services, he set up his observation post by the window and began planning the elements of a system that some people might consider insane.
— from Satantango, by László Krasznahorkai.

I'm having a difficult time with this book, not least because it doesn't have paragraph breaks and so does not lend itself to being read on one's daily commute, and I find I read the same page several times over, which contributes to the overall effect, I suppose, quite possibly just as intended. I don't entirely dislike the experience. And there are bits of this book that are strangely compelling.

Like this doctor character here. I assume these are quotes from his notebook. Very formal. He's pretty insane, just sitting there amid decay (the old estate), taking notes, indirectly recording the decay.

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