Filed under IJ
from T. Theodore: Well, there is so many characters still appearing in this story that I still don’t have a real feel for what’s going or what is going to happen.In this segment we meet another drug addict and a continued presentation of their weird and strangely coincidental world. We also meet, among others, Kate Gopmpert and the absolutely incredibly named Gerhardt Schtitt, complete with his creepy body and his leather helmut, goggles and BMW cycle. (Not to mention the whip)
We’re seeing here an author’s love of pretending – but not just pretending but pretending to be pretending. Troeltsch wonders if Radar was pretending to be pretending to sneeze on his (Troel’s) lunch tray. And then the beautiful sequence between Steeply and Marathe. “But do my brother’s on wheels know that you are knowing this, that they have sent me to pretend I double?…have I merely pretended to pretend to pretend to betray?” Priceless!
The Hamlet scenario seems to be lapping around the edges of this story. Hal’s father dies tragically and his whoring mother takes over the kingdom (E.T.A.) with Hal’s kind of Uncle. The relationship between Arvil and Uncle Charles remains a bit mysterious at this point. He is descibed as her adoptive half-brother…what the heck is that?
The depiction of Hal as the shining light now takes an even more pointed tone with the locker room scene. Toward the end of that wonderfully crafted sequence Hal’s name is turned gradually from Hal to Halation: “A halo-shaped exposure pattern around light sources seen on chemical film at low speed.” Speacking of the locker room, has there ever been, could there ever be, a more beautifully crafted and accurately moving depiction of locker room talk, mood, and banter than is here captured. Just plain stunning in every way. The stolen minutes of calm, the mood of acceptance and banter, the ringleader (Troeltsch), the age based pecking order, the humor. Everything is perfect here. And the Shining Light Hal, of course, shines out not only to the others by knowing things, but also internally we see him contemplating the mystic experience of waiting, the peace and calm of waiting, from pope to begger, when one takes a crap. This priceless meditation is sparked by looking at the innocent and peaceful feet of a comrade who is in just such a worshipful waiting attitude in one of the stalls in Hal’s sight. Another great one in the locker room is Stice’s wordy explanation of language inflation in which he uses as an example how the word hyberbolic inflates to hyperbolicer. Hal is the only one who raises an eyebrow at this hilarious word. Stice himself doesn’t seem to get his own joke and it seems totally lost on the others. As does the humorous and ridiculous nature of inflated speech everywhere, and, I think, probably a good deal of the hidden humor in this book. And perhaps in the larger sense, the book itself. How many are getting the joke?
One more thought. I love the name of the Entertainment Class instructor: Disney R. Leith. Yes, yes, may as well turn that R around backwards like in Toys R Us and declare what Disney really is: Leith (al). I’m hearing that Entertainmnet is one of the primary themes of this book…but as a first time reader, its a little tough to pick that up at this point. Right now, this is just a book that is enormously fun to read.
The whole Marathe/Steeply crossing and doublecrossing thing is such a mind bender, it takes me forever to remember every time where everyone’s allegiances lie. It is interesting for all of Marathe’s talk about the Nation living beyond the individual that he’s a selfish prick in it for himself, too.
Along with ‘Hamlet’ I’ve also been looking into ties to ‘Ulysses’ because of the size of the books and various themes, but probably overall because I love both books. Anyway, all the double crossing is later tied into the Hamlet theme, when Stice claims, ‘It’s always seemed a little preposterous that Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything, never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions whether his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned. Stice had promised something boggling to look at. That is, whether Hamlet might only be feigning feigning.’
All this fancy theorizing about ‘Hamlet’ is very reminiscent of the Library scene from ‘Ulysses’ wherein Stephen tries to prove his intellectual strength by going on about his ‘new’ theory about Hamlet, which I still don’t understand.
Other ties: Hamlet’s father wants Hamlet to kill his usurping Uncle, as the Uncle is responsible for Hamlet father’s death. (I’m not exactly an authority on Shakespeare so please correct me when I err.) Does IJ probe this? Does Himself want Hal to kill CT? Is CT responsible for Himself’s suicide? I don’t have any textural proof just yet but it could be CT was X’ing Avril (‘cause who wasn’t X’ing Avril?) and that caused Himself’s demise? Himself did, after all, have his penis removed shortly before he died.
I totally agree about the Locker Room scene. Every scene in this book is like, ‘Wow, this guy lived this. He truly experienced this and wrote it down.’ But it can’t be. There’s too many lives in this book.
Another ‘Ulysses’ tie in here with the bathroom, crap-taking sequence. I’m thinking of the Bloom sequence early on in his morning in the outhouse with the newspaper.
As far as the Entertainment angle: you hit the nail on the head. JO’s film (which already claimed the Medical Attache) is referred to by Steeply, Marathe and all their cohorts as ‘The Entertainment.’