Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Fiction  (Read 26109 times)
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #585 on: September 12, 2007, 07:52:10 PM »

The persistence of memory - Now there's some satire for you.  I see Dali clocks everywhere.

It is not memory that persists, after all, is it?  Something persists, but not memory and Faulkner seems to be sort of on this track.

It's about something more than entropy though because something sneaks in to fill in the gaps.  I see memory as a decaying hulk, a concrete building with wholes that bare the rebar, only some sort of nice fuzzy material keeps filling in the gaps.  It isn't of the same consistency as the original, but it helps to hold the structure together.

But Rosa's memory didn't decay, nor Quentin's.  And we're not sure which of Rosa's are accurate.  Quentin's are probably more accurate, but then he crosses the line into speculation on the meaning of the events he's trying to decipher.   

The Sutpen that Rosa knew was a brute who ripped his plantation from the earth, a brute who treated both her and her sister badly.  Those events color Sutpen's for her.

Quentin views the Sutpen tragedy through his own experiences, which also include unresolved issues of incest and race.

Quentin also has no direct knowledge of Sutpen.  He interprets Sutpen only through the words of others. 
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #586 on: September 12, 2007, 09:51:34 PM »

Entropy

Rosa's memory didn't decay, but we aren't sure which of Rosa's are accurate.  Quentin's are more accurate.  More accurate or accurate.  Can one be more accurate?


You make a good point there.  I should have said more accurate than Rosa's.  But we can't really be sure of that because Quentin only gets his information second hand.

On entropy and off-topic, but something I've always been interested in...."the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity; b: a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder"  

Everything (matter...energy) that exists has always existed, and nothing that has not existed ever will..it's all about form.

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #587 on: September 12, 2007, 09:53:59 PM »

memory:    the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms (Merriam Webster Online)

accuracy:  freedom from mistake or error (Merriam Webster Online)

Rosa Coldfield isn't just remembering.  Quentin Compson isn't either; not just.  They are digging, furrowing, culling, even growing, trimming and picking, hybridizing, planting and then transplanting.  Their memory is collective and growing.

There is no persistence of memory.  Isn't that Dali's point?  Isn't it Faulkner's?

The past isn't even past, says Faulkner.  I always assumed he meant that the past had not passed, that it lives in us, that it persists.  That may be what he meant.  But after reading AA, I get the idea that maybe what he meant was that the past simply is not.  There is no past because history -- like memory -- is fluid.  The same for the present.  Hence, the story must be structured in a new way.

Faulkner isn't just writing stream of consciousness because he wants to write like something thinks.  He's writing it because he knows these things about the fluidity of the past and memory and the present and perception.

Does anyone buy any of that? 

Have any of you come across -- or done your own -- work on the way Faulkner chose to tell this tale?


I buy it wholesale.....and so do historians.  Otherwise, why so many books on WWI, WWII, Civil War, Gutenburg, Music History....you name it.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #588 on: September 13, 2007, 11:45:27 AM »

The past (and of course this past relates specifically to slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction) truly had not passed in the South in early part of the 20th century, and to some extent, for some Southerners, never has because of its destruction and a sort of collective memory among us.  Many people down here still do stupid things like waving the stars and bars flag right in front of their house or mounted on their pick-up trucks.  Like the families of former slaves, there is a strong oral tradition among most families that go back to the 18th and 19th centuries in the South.  I believe this is very common among the families who remained in the deep South throughout reconstruction rather than moving on to a better place.
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weezo
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« Reply #589 on: September 13, 2007, 01:39:15 PM »

Dessie,

There are indeed southerners who still display the stars and bars. Hubby has an artificial eye, and has plastic faces for it, depending on the time of year. His "party eye" displays the stars and bars. He got his picture in the paper for wearing the eye to a civil war battle re-enactment close to home. That said, he does not have a racist mentality and vehemently argues against those who do. When the "N" word is used in his presence, he usually point out that he knows more white "N"s than black "N"s, which usually causes most people to rethink their expression. There is a non-racist contigent in the south that view the stars and bars as their "heritage", and will defend it as a symbol of courage and heroism rather than as a symbol of racism.

As to moving to a better place, I moved to the south forty years ago, and cannot think of a place where I'd rather live. I really do like the beautifully long spring and fall seasons, the mild winters, and, with air conditioning, tolerate the torrid summer. I like it here. And, I am a staunch opponant of racism, both that occurs in the south, and that which is practiced in other places.
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rmdig
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« Reply #590 on: September 13, 2007, 04:11:42 PM »

weezo

And when your husband says "that he knows more white "N"s than black "N"s," what exactly does he mean?
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #591 on: September 13, 2007, 04:18:50 PM »

Rmdig....haven't seen you here in ages.  Have you been reading along?
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #592 on: September 13, 2007, 04:23:22 PM »

Hey....look what I found while web-browsing.  Haven't read it all, but some of it looks quite good.

http://www.isc.senshu-u.ac.jp/~thb0559/No8/EJNo8.htm
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #593 on: September 13, 2007, 04:26:06 PM »

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy   "some of it looks quite good"......how pretentious is that!  What the hey....It all looks good!
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weezo
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« Reply #594 on: September 13, 2007, 05:24:29 PM »

rmdig,

I gather you believe that the "N" word only means race and does not indicate a person who lives a marginal life, has marginal morals, eschews steady work, etc. When hubby makes that comment to someone referring to a black person, especially a respectable black person as an "N", it puts the person on notice that he/she is being judged by the same standards.

It is, as your question points out, a very effective means of stopping people from using the term.

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rmdig
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« Reply #595 on: September 13, 2007, 06:15:04 PM »

lhoffman

I'm not reading along.
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rmdig
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« Reply #596 on: September 13, 2007, 06:20:58 PM »

weezo

I am not familiar with the word being used to "indicate a person who lives a marginal life, has marginal morals, eschews steady work, etc."  At least I have never heard it being used in that way.

Are you suggesting that the "N" word was used with that intended meaning before it was used to refer to blacks? 
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johnr60
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« Reply #597 on: September 13, 2007, 06:50:22 PM »

"Memory not always being an accurate barometer of history."


"The past isn't even past, says Faulkner.  I always assumed he meant that the past had not passed, that it lives in us, that it persists.  That may be what he meant.  But after reading AA, I get the idea that maybe what he meant was that the past simply is not.  There is no past because history -- like memory -- is fluid."


Let me bore you again with Spengler:

"Every happening is unique and incapable of being repeated. Becoming lies beyond the domain of cause and effect, law and measurement. But history, as positively treated, is not pure becoming; it is an image radiated from the waking- consciousness of the historian, in which the becoming dominates the become."

Jaynes calls it narratization --an essential and  primary facet of reflective consciousness.

In Convent, Saramago cites Yourcenar from her book upon Adrianus:

"The true birthplace is that wherein for the first time one looks intelligently upon himself"

Later he says:

"...what one narrates often becomes more real than the actual events narrated..." and when his hero leaves his parents, Saramago says he doesnt know what was said but what the author envisages is often better than the facts. 

True history is closer to fiction as in RLS's oft quoted:

"The most influential books, and the truest in their influence, are works of fiction. They do not pin the reader to a dogma, which he must afterwards discover to be inexact; they do not teach him a lesson, which he must afterwards unlearn. They repeat, they rearrange, they clarify the lessons of life; they disengage us from ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintance of others; and they show us the web of experience, not as we can see it for ourselves, but with a singular change--that monstrous, consuming ego of ours being, for the nonce, struck out. To be so, they must be reasonably true to the human comedy; and any work that is so serves the turn of instruction."

Faulkner certainly knows all this.

Leaving aside the issues and economics of drunkeness and magazine publication the restructuring (at which he is not too good) and the Epic of the South, in designing his pieces he uses primarily the storytelling intellect of his people; his success comes in the actuality, the presence of his characters, (the domination of the become by the becoming) making us believe their truth above what might be fact.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #598 on: September 13, 2007, 07:14:58 PM »

John....on Spengler and what Faulkner certainly knew...Maybe so, maybe not.  The theory of eternal recurrence has been floating around for quite a long time.  Logically, it seems that it would be impossible for a single event to be duplicated in every aspect, but eternity is forever.....If we look at mathematics as a model for the universe, it becomes clear that duplication is possible.   In larger numbers and combinants, duplication is of course rare, but not an impossibility.

Nietzche (although he may have changed his mind), Schoppenhaur, Mann, and others going as far back as ancient Egypt, India and Greece viewed time as circular rather than linear.  Mr. Spengler is just one in a long line who have speculated on the complexity of time.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #599 on: September 13, 2007, 07:28:28 PM »

I may have misread, but I think the point of the Spangler was to address the idea of time as fluid.  (But as to Spengler being boring:  anything but... and explorations of time are always fascinating.)
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