One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just Started Coetzee's "Age of Iron"

I know: I'm on a real Coetzee kick.

Just a few excerpts that struck me this morning (they struck me so I struck/marked them with a pen):

1.) After our little trip to Europe (remember: gold and dross) I was thinking about Leibniz's "best of all possible worlds" and mentally revising it to read "best because it's all we got." Under that light I was reading the cancer-struck narrator of Coetzee's Age of Iron:
  We sicken before we die so that we will be weaned from our body. The milk that nourished us grows thin and sour; turning away from the breast, we begin to be restless for a separate life. Yet this first life, this life on earth, on the body of earth -- will there, can there ever be a better? Despite all the glooms and despairs and rages, I have not let go of my love of it. 
2.) The narrator is reading Tolstoy:
Read Tolstoy -- not the famous cancer story, which I knew all too well, but the story of the angel who takes up residence with the shoemaker.
[Note: The famous story must be The Death of Ivan Ilyich (which I've not read in years). The other story is apparently What Men Live By (if I've read it I've forgotten it and I will certainly run it down: I'm sure I've got it somewhere).]

3.) There's over a billion ways to imagine heaven.  Here's one:
Heaven. I imagine heaven as a hotel lobby with a high ceiling and the Art of Fugue coming softly over the public-address system. Where one can sit in a deep leather armchair and be without pain.
[Note: Though it is the fictive narrator speaking, I can't help but hear the Bach-loving Coetzee here. Apparently the Art of Fugue (originally Die Kunst der Fuge)  is an unfinished masterpiece by Bach.]


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