[ilds] words written and read and shared

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Sun May 4 09:52:09 PDT 2008


> Charles, this reminds me of sitting at the dinner
> table among polite company and forswearing to talk 
> about religion or politics. 

I, for one, don't mind if mixed company sits down at the table.  I think 
I may be part of the mixed company myself, and I like the shift from 
serving the food to sharing it.  As for forswearing the most interesting 
topics of conversation, /that/ implies a very strong presence indeed, 
one that is already rife with theories and interpretive demands.

But, for the troop of casual readers out there, I have to agree with 
Ilyas that we should not foreclose on such readers' interests or 
attentiveness to the book in hand.  I had a nice chat last night in a 
pub known for mixed company (and actors, oh my), and that turned to the 
problem of which book we read, how we privilege the author (by 
'intentions' or as a function or figure, etc.), and how we agree that a 
given book is the same book in its various appearances and guises.

I found myself arguing that if I had two different copies of /Justine/, 
they are two different books, even though both have an author behind 
them who likely had intentions and maybe even wrote or lied about them, 
and even though a reader would find the book to be the same book if I 
were to reprint it on a series of cereal boxes.  Yet, does that sameness 
depend upon some 'emergent property' of the book (the marks indicating 
words), or does it rely on the reader's interpretive activities?

Personally, I'm not comfortable going too far into a book's 'emergent 
properties' because it sounds too much like metaphysics for my tastes. 
Just how many emergent properties can fit into the last period of 
/Ulysses/?  For that reason, I'm interested in the differences between 
my various books and the things different readers do with them.  I don't 
want to deify any author, though I acknowledge the demiurge in the 
creator -- I like my authors to mind their proper place in mixed 
company: on the table on the back of the dustcover, preferably face 
down.  I'd expect the same treatment for myself.

So, by way of query:

Bruce, you've held that Durrell is astonishingly adept at hiding himself 
in his works, essentially keeping 'ur-Durrell' masked and perpetually 
out of sight, obfuscated.  Yet, you'd like to keep the author in the 
text.  I can see the appeal of both ideas (and I regularly feel their 
faint impulse), but how do you reconcile them without taking on the garb 
of a reader yourself, the greatest reader you've likely ever seen in 
action?  I agree that Durrell was a masterful writer, but I wonder just 
how far I can trust my speculations on him.

Bill, Durrell's dead, and I think you mean a broader authorial death in 
that statement.  Personally, I like the koans you drop in our midst like 
pebbles, even if the ripples make a few folks seasick, but I'm curious 
if you put the Durrell books together in your library, and if so, why? 
Are you a fan of some kind of author function if not an author hirself?

Ilyas -- the mystery man...  Even if you're a self-styled casual reader, 
I don't think I'd call your chosen repertoire casual in any way.  I'm 
still very intrigued to see a reading in action.  For instance, what can 
you tell me about your Tarquin?  I'm in a personal hunt after his 
emergence in /Panic Spring/ and the rumour that he made a brief 
appearance in California under George Leite's influence in what is a 
very mixed Circle indeed.  Any thoughts?

Best of Sunday mornings to everyone,
James

Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Charles, this reminds me of sitting at the dinner table among polite company and forswearing to talk about religion or politics.  Behind assertions lie theories, theories shape views, and that's what I've brought up.  But if this is considered impolite, I won't pursue.
> 
> Re Keats's Grecian urn, Durrell should have gone to the British Museum and looked at the Elgin marbles, as every good school boy knows.
> 
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: slighcl <slighcl at wfu.edu>
>> Sent: May 3, 2008 4:46 PM
>> To: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] words written and read and shared
>>
>> On 5/3/2008 7:05 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>>> Sorry, Bill, but I'm just dense.  I don't understand what you're saying or the point you're trying to make, which you don't elaborate on.  I will, however, make a wild guess loosely based on Saussure's formulation.  
>> I will not speak for Bill.  But I have no need of any other source 
>> beyond Lawrence Durrell and his Pursewarden for noting the severe 
>> skepticism about language and meaning that run through the /Quartet/.  
>> Cf. especially the posthumous reports on Pursewarden in /Balthazar 
>> /regarding Pursewarden's letting the read "sink or skim" or throwing the 
>> reader back upon his resources. 
>>
>> Why trot out Guy Fawkeses or bug-bears or Aunt Sally's like Saussure or 
>> Barthes &c.?  No need to throw sand, I think.  Surely Durrell's works 
>> provide ample evidence for us all to weigh and to consider 
>> and--yes--about which to disagree.
>>
>> While at the library the other night I thought again of what you said 
>> about the poet Lawrence Durrell and the poet John Keats, Bruce, and I 
>> thank you for drawing my thoughts toward those two. In his essay in /The 
>> Windmill /from the 1940s Durrell writes the following:
>>
>>
>>> "Each great man builds a cocoon out his work which finally swallows 
>>> not only his life but also his death.  Could Homer be anything but 
>>> delighted to see Schliemann dig up his Iliad bodily out of the 
>>> ground?  I have hunted through every museum in Greece looking for 
>>> Keats' Grecian Urn."
>> By the way, in this same essay, Durrell--or whichever persona utters 
>> these gnomic "Significant Data"-like fragments--recalls another persona 
>> ("V.") as saying "All poetry partakes of the epitaph."  Mighty food for 
>> thought in that line.
>>
>> Does anyone know if "V." refers to a particular or to an imagined someone?
>>
>> Charles
>>
>> -- 
>> **********************
>> Charles L. Sligh
>> Department of English
>> Wake Forest University
>> slighcl at wfu.edu
>> **********************
>>
> 
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