[ilds] Nunquam

Kennedy Gammage gammage.kennedy at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 23:01:49 PDT 2016


Finally finished re-reading the Revolt, and yes it really is a ‘science
friction’ according to Felix, bringing Io back to life with Marchant’s
miniaturized version of Abel (the language-based AI we met on the first
page of Tunc) powering her new 1960s-era cyborg brain, while her world
famous flesh is recreated in “rubber, leather, nylon, steel…glass, wool,
jute and so on…gutta-percha, plastic…resins” by the best scientists of the
Firm. What do you bet Durrell experienced audio-animatronic Mr. Lincoln
when Miller took him to Disneyland in 1968!

Here’s all they had to do to bring the dummy to life according to Marchant:
“mocked out a musculature and a nervous system and allowed her to imitate
human behavior, speech, gesture, mnemonic response,” since Felix’s formerly
bulky Abel has been “reduced spectroscopically to the size of a pea.” Yet,
even though Marchant implies that Julian has sexually assaulted Io’s
waxworks after hours at Madame Tussaud’s (!) Durrell will keep up the
fiction that the Firm is in parallel developing a male cyborg consort for
her known as Adam, based on Rackstraw. We can all see where this is really
headed.

“Muscles powered by tiny photoelectric mnemonic cells.” Felix and Marchant
do make it sound easy: “It might seem complicated, but in fact it’s only
terribly detailed and intricate.” It’s Durrell’s strange science-frictional
mashup of Mary Shelley and Norbert Wiener.

Does the poem “Aphrodite” have anything to do with the _Revolt_? Just
curious. Sadly, that poem is not included in any of my three Durrell
collections…

Mentioned in the first line of section three: Hitler! So by my count that’s
only the second reference to WWII in the Revolt so far. What do you make of
that? Durrell was immersed in the swingin’ 60s looking forward not back.
The only ‘back’ for these characters are memories of their own past
interactions, seasoned with shadowy histories of the Firm. That said –
precisely zero reference to the contemporaneous Colonels’ coup. No outside
wars in Tunc & Nunquam to distract from the chilly interiors.

And then a third WWII reference: Toybrook, the skunkworks where they are
building the dummy, looks like the Bergen-Belsen death camp. Felix and
Marchant laugh heartily, though Durrell must have intended irony.

I believe Julian is the first character to explicitly mention Aphrodite –
in relation to Io. Though Felix describes his sleeping wife Benedicta’s
breast as “the rise and fall so reassuring, like the spring swell of a
marvelous free sea – a Greek sea.”  They are one of the triangles.

OK – here’s Caradoc’s (I mean Durrell’s) opinion of brutalist architecture:
“And now that the mob has too much pocket money we can expect nothing so
much as a long age of bloodshed expressed by the concrete block. It is hard
nowadays to distinguish a barracks from a prison or a block of
dwellings…they belong to the same strain of thought – Mobego I call it
after our old friend Sipple.” Very fair architectural criticism, but
suspect economics: blaming the mob and its ego (thanks for clarifying that
for me Bruce) for decisions the working class never made. If this so-called
UK mob had ‘too much pocket money’ in 1968 it was probably due to the long
privations from WWII finally easing! (Is this reference #4? Call it
three-and-a-half.) But why ever ‘blame’ the mob for the sins of the ruling
class? They certainly haven’t had too much pocket money for decades now, if
ever by definition.


I think there was some discussion of Hippo’s house, Naos, in relation to
Egyptian shrines. It would be fun to reference some of these earlier
threads from time to time on the listserv, both to avoid reinventing the
wheel - but mainly to re-enjoy what Bill Godshalk had to say about it!

“I thought vividly of the boy with his throat cut lying on his side in
Sipple’s bed…I thought of Iolanthe who had committed the murder. It was
unbelievable really. Unbelievable.” Yes, for the reader it really is
totally unbelievable and unsupported, though it amply served its
characteristically vivid & salacious purpose in the storyline.

Did Julian mastermind this shocking incident with Adam and Rackstraw? Of
course!

I guess my central question was what Durrell wanted or expected us to
believe about creating a true-to-life cyborg (not only that, but an exact
replica of a world famous person who was also the main characters’ personal
friend and lover!) – in 1968. I think we all understand what a challenge
this would pose in 2016 – but maybe the immediate readers of the day
thought anything was possible. Or – and I think this is more likely – maybe
Durrell thought of it as a modern fairy tale. Something more akin to ‘the
uncanny’ than to ‘sci-fric,’ more Pygmalion than _The Stepford Wives._

Of course, some of his ideas are profoundly politically incorrect: like
Baum talking religious leaders into endorsing the Firm’s paid recruitment
program for onanistic skin care product donors. That might have earned
Durrell a Fatwa if anyone had been paying attention back in the day.

That’s all I’ve got cheers – now I can finally read some of the Stanislaw
Lem books I picked up at Powell’s in Portland.

- Ken

P.S. How about doing one of these Virtual Book Club (VBC) sessions about
_Prospero’s Cell_ when the time comes? I can pretty much guarantee it will
be a lively discussion.


On Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 2:05 AM, Marc Piel <marc at marcpiel.fr> wrote:

> Hi Ken,
> You have caught me out; I have always read LD in English. l only have one
> book "Justine" in French (livre de poche edition) where original French is
> set in italics. I am lucky to have 2 languages, so use them completely ; I
> would never dream of reading Lawrence, Hemingway or Greene in French
> translation.
> B. R.
> Marc
>
> Envoyé de mon iPad
>
> Le 2 juin 2016 à 03:31, Kennedy Gammage <gammage.kennedy at gmail.com> a
> écrit :
>
> Following the dramatic ending of Tunc (no spoilers) Felix wakes up in the
> Paulhaus, the firm’s own psyche ward in the Alps. Only 10 pages in and I
> have already Googled:
>
> Javel
> Pelmanism
> Konx Ompax [really striking, ahead-of-its-time cover design by Aleister
> Crowley!] and
> Avain – Finnish for key/code/clef
>
> Since when did Durrell know Finnish? Or was that a typo for Avian? Hakkaa
> päälle!
>
> - Ken
>
> P.S. Question for Marc: in the French translations, how do they handle
> Durrell’s French quotes in the originals? Do they set them off in some way?
>
> _______________________________________________
> ILDS mailing list
> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>
> Envoyé de mon iPad
>
> Le 2 juin 2016 à 03:31, Kennedy Gammage <gammage.kennedy at gmail.com> a
> écrit :
>
> Following the dramatic ending of Tunc (no spoilers) Felix wakes up in the
> Paulhaus, the firm’s own psyche ward in the Alps. Only 10 pages in and I
> have already Googled:
>
> Javel
> Pelmanism
> Konx Ompax [really striking, ahead-of-its-time cover design by Aleister
> Crowley!] and
> Avain – Finnish for key/code/clef
>
> Since when did Durrell know Finnish? Or was that a typo for Avian? Hakkaa
> päälle!
>
> - Ken
>
> P.S. Question for Marc: in the French translations, how do they handle
> Durrell’s French quotes in the originals? Do they set them off in some way?
>
> _______________________________________________
> ILDS mailing list
> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>
> _______________________________________________
> ILDS mailing list
> ILDS at lists.uvic.ca
> https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/listinfo/ilds
>
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