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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another excerpt from The Fallen Bassoonist in drafty progress

Didier stops typing. Today, he is listless and uninspired. There is nothing to watch in the square under a somber sky dampened by half-hearted drizzle. Raymond the bum is taking shelter under the baker’s awning, composing miniature novels on his notepad.

The urge to escape the familiarity of his immediate space has abruptly grown into an overwhelming presence, as much as his urge to enter the space of the woman across the square, an odd, irrational desire. How far can I proceed in this chair, with these arms? he asks himself. Would I in fact proceed, in movement or the assumption of motion?

The bassoonist emails his friend Louis in Paris, in tardy response to Louis’s last missive:

“Yes, my friend, you are right. I’ve become insular since the accident, more aptly insulated --- a bit self-pitying, definitely self-enclosed, but taking comfort in small sensations that hold more meaning than I’d ever imagined. From my patio, the sight of a woman in her flat across the square, baring her drooping breasts; seemingly unaware of my watching, a woman as old as I, perhaps; from my patio, my detached observation of a foreign young woman in purdah riding the air with her child in tow, a woman I’ll never know; from my patio, the imagined aroma of a woman’s perfume and thighs, any woman. And here I am wondering what intimate memory has engendered the scent. Here I am alone and my solitude is oddly a solace. There is no difference between the woman and my sense of her … my recollection of the woman I have never encountered. As if I were a Solipsist, the omnipresent, omniscient inventor of women. The inventor of all women, but no men.

As though I were returning to our adolescence, a shared experience between young men with no need to compete, though a grudging acquiescence to appear to be doing so; as mere boys, Louis – recall the way we thought, as if thinking consciously, the way we spoke about the girls we wanted to claim. But what did we want of them, other than what we wonted? Vacancies to fill, yes. What we still are needing, needing, present continuous tense, till we are no more. Is there anything but? Reflex? No answer.

Of course, there is at times the music of The Ninth, etcetera, carrying me beyond my ridiculous self into my ‘authentic’ self, as if there were such a creature. I read about authenticity in a sociology text, or maybe a psychology primer many years ago. As if I am, were always wondering still and ever trying to make sense of my senses and perceptions, my images, imagination, what is of import and not, as if there were a difference among wish, sense, and perception or image (imagination). Is there? I only know that one feels what is outside, even if inside, and what is inside, wherever one is. Whether experienced consciously or not, these feelings can’t be helped or feared -- rather, welcomed.

And there are the intoxicants, now not the inflated gratifications of minor reknown, applause, ovation, but the novations of tasting, the complex fruits of Pinot Noirs paired with maigrets de canard aux cerises, for example, let’s take also the loups de mèr with a hint of anise and sugared citron and slivers of prosciutto, all languorous on the tongue with lingering moments of Pouilly de Fuissé.

I would build a pleasure palace, against and with Nature, like Huysmans would internalize and invent the external by interior design and the internal by external phantasms. It is only through what is erroneously called artifice that we know what is important, I think, though I could be deluding myself, desperate to make ontological sense out of this silence that is my life. Silence, yes, but not entirely vacancy, I wish. Well, sometimes. Then, there is this external, interior space of my actual rooms, this tiny, safe harbor of objects I call my own, the arrangement of this space, which is my own and of course what is beyond me that I have absorbed as my own. When I close the lights, I experience the space as part of me, without boundaries, and the intimacy of this space is a comfort."

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