I am onto something.
I was supposed to write this more than a week ago but never did it. Nothing really relevant, just something I enjoy. I already said I like to follow links between the most disparate things, find correspondences. I also said that in literature I look for “truthfulness” which I consider the most (if not only) relevant quality. I was actually struggling finding a definition because I was absolutely sure I found something I wanted the moment I found it, but couldn’t pinpoint what it was that some books gave to me and some other didn’t. Something more visceral like a deeper form of accord. I agreed to define it “truthfulness” since it’s strictly related to the use of language and has a well defined opposite that is “rhetoric”. Or: tell me something that is true.
It’s on the same line of a comment I wrote to Erikson’s blog:
I’ll just say that it’s also one significant strength of your series if it’s not just ambitious, staggering and broad in scope, but also personal, and so not a safe or steady, unfailing journey. Without that, its echoes would be echoes of emptiness.
It’s the reason why while reading “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace, a completely different book, I arrived to similar conclusions and similar feelings coming out of it. In the end the purpose of fiction, and other forms of art, is to say something truthful. Nothing else matters. So you’re right in what you imply: your crisis feeds this narrative, and your lack of definite(-ive) answers is itself a more important truth. Lots of writers had to come to terms with their craft (or at least those who explore uncharted lands). Some didn’t survive, some other found their hands empty and just felt helpless. It’s a kind of obsession.
It’s also why “magic”, even if it makes a significant impact, never comes ahead of the narrative. In the end it is all “fluff” if it’s not somewhere and somehow deeply rooted into something “true”. Creating fictional worlds gives that type of conceit and delusion, you think you are creating something other and independent, but it would be all truly meaningless if whatever level of abstraction wouldn’t come back on the ground to feed on something true.
At some point I was convinced that “feeding on something true” means that things are ultimately linked, because if something is true, then it should also be universal in a way or another. So you dig and enjoy the discovery.
Sometimes links are fun if relatively harmless. For example this. I ordered two books. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and its companion since I read it’s good and I always enjoy to tap on more insight and have more ways to understand a text. For me, the more the better. If I enjoy a book I could as well read about the book forever, especially if it allows for this depth.
Gravity’s Rainbow is a book that should do that. Being much more staggering than its physical shape. Like Erikson or DF Wallace. Books that aren’t simply contained in this world, but that actually seem themselves to contain the world. The display of the omnipotence of literature. Actually, I don’t know if GR does this. I bought the book because I hope it does.
GR is also itself made of links. Which makes it challenge definitions and boundaries. Defy whatever limit you put in front of it. It’s “just” 776 pages, but they can sure bite your ass.
Anyway, the harmless links are to “Lost” (the TV series). This was still happening a few days after Lost finale, so everything echoed nicely. The very first page that starts with a quote:
“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.” -Werner von Braun
Quite fitting since we were dealing with the afterlife after Lost finale. From the companion:
“I believe… that the soul of a Man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.” -Benjamin Franklin
Even more fitting, don’t you agree?
Pynchon’s depictions of technological, psychological, and paranormal research all demonstrate how modern culture secularizes that redemptive hope.
I’m actually convinced that “culture” is our true redemptive hope. And the book in question is so defined:
American Pop and material culture, the occult, varieties of pseudoscience, real science, vernacular geography
Perhaps if you smashed together the dozen best novels of Philip K. Dick you would have something that approaches it – a pulpy low-culture version of Gravity’s Rainbow, it’s tempting to say, except that not the least of Pynchon’s revolutions is how he obliterated the distinction of low and high culture, at least for anyone paying attention.
Lots of stuff, apparently un-linked. Good stuff. Coherent with what I wrote here and before. Don’t let genres and boundaries limit your perception. Reach out and enjoy something true, no matter how outrageous or absurd it appears. You are your own limit.
This should be fun.
No idea if there’s some truth, but my first thought about the rocket on the cover was that it symbolizes a… pen. The writing seen as the ultimate truly subversive or catastrophic activity.