Perhaps history this century is rippled with gathers in its fabric such that if we are situated at the bottom of a fold, it’s impossible to determine warp, woof or pattern anywhere else. By virtue, however, of existing in one gather it is assumed there are others, compartmented off into sinuous cycles each of which come to assume greater importance than the weave itself and destroy any continuity. Thus it is that we are charmed by the funny-looking automobiles of the ‘30’s, the curious fashions of the ‘20’s, the peculiar moral habits of our grandparents. We produce and attend musical comedies about them and are conned into a false memory, a phony nostalgia about what they were. We are accordingly lost to any sense of a continuous tradition. Perhaps if we lived on a crest, things would be different. We could at least see.
—Thomas Pynchon, V, Chapter seven
From the synopsis of Thomas Pynchon’s “Against the Day:”
[T]he author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they’re doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.
Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.
Brother, brother, what are you saying! You shed blood!" she cried out in despair.
“Which everyone sheds,” he picked up, almost in a frenzy, “which is and always has been shed in torrents in this world, which men spill like champagne, and for which they’re crowned on the Capitoline and afterwards called benefactors of mankind.
—Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, p. 518
Dan Flavin, untitled, 1996; Chiesa di Santa Maria Annunciata in Chiesa Rossa, Milan; rendering by flickr user Carlotta.taf
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