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Authors: Sergio De La Pava

Tags: #Fiction, #General

Personae (2 page)

BOOK: Personae
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Digging further results in an untimely TV GUIDE (yes, the mini booklike magazine) this one remarkable at first glance only for its copious writing in red ink in seemingly every available margin that once provided respite from the publication’s incestually suggestive coverage of the titular industry. This writing is in the same
hand
as they say as marble notebook’s.

Next is a roll of paper towels but not the kind you would ever find in someone’s home with the heightened absorbency and easily perforated sections. No this is brown paper closer in the spectrum to wood than most paper dares and what on introduction appears to be meaningless scribbling thereupon evolves on closer inspection into more writing, again with the from the same hand thing, but made almost indecipherable by the fact that the writing has been quite literally rolled over itself so that the reader’s visual processing of the most immediate letters is undercut by the many successively fainter letters that constitute later writing and which essentially bleed through the paper to compete with the more relevant letters at least when the roll is in its most composed state.

Last is a collection (collected, at least in the nonhuman sense, by a binder clip in the upper left corner and this clip is of the largest size commonly available in the U.S.) of research. The bright whiteness of this recent paper is sudden and intense and it takes time to notice that what signifies here is not so much the computer-generated symbols on the front but instead the by now familiar and severely human prose on the back of almost every page.

All this represents work. Writer needs to be officially called in but I am reluctant to do so without concrete answers and I’m getting tired and it’s getting dark and, truth is, the epistemological scenery of that space, the various distances and positions etc., will not change significantly but what
will
change is the person charged with interpreting that scenery assuming she reads everything before her. I start with the notebook.

 

Now it is hours later, maybe the next day, and I have read everything before putting it back in the box exactly as I found it then retying said box and writing something of my own.

 

I’m tired.

I have done what I can.

I am only one person.

Any person will be imperfect.

Blood everywhere.

The sofa is warm and soft.

It’s a big world, cold and hard, and at some point someone will lie lifeless on every inch of it.

I am only one person and I am tired.

I close my eyes.

 II

 
1st
o
f
3
Excerpt
s
o
f
Dr
.
Hele
n
Tame’
s
Introductio
n
 t
o
He
r
Articl
e: BACH, GOULD, AND
 ACONSPIRATORIAL SILENCE
[3]
fn

 

In the beginning Man had fur. And his stomach hurt. It hurt and in a way mostly foreign to now. And there was sound and noise and even Music but when your stomach hurts, if it hurts enough, then sound is just sound and it doesn’t arrange into beauty or meaning. What you want then is for the pain to stop. For it to not follow you wherever you go and for it to not reduce everything to need and fear.

Turns out opposable digits help do this. They eventually hold tools and it is tools that will ultimately tame the world.

In this world birdsong now registers, the accidental melody of wind through gaps in wood is for the first time truly heard and it is pleasing and pleasure that consists of more than mere pain-avoidance is then seen as a good to be actively sought and the discovery that man need not wait for happy accidents but can himself replace the bird and the wind of course not only results in a great increase in that kind of pleasure but also by necessity gives prominence to those who best produce and arrange the pleasurable sounds so that significant human energy is now devoted to improving the production of these sounds initially focused on the necessary tools but later includes the realization, a big one, that the sounds have essentially hidden relationships to each other and thus to their listeners, relationships that can be broken down into kind of loose rules that while loose cannot be overstated when it comes to importance because it turns out that knowing these relationships/rules even if only intuitively and even if only to disregard them is like possessing a key (sorry) that opens precisely the doors you want opened and all this makes Music the kind of thing that can be studied and preserved, which activities give more of that prominence I mentioned to those who have skill or ability or talent or however you choose to denote the ineffable quality that allows some to order the sounds of our world into magic and it turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that a sole magician is preferable, in terms of not only effectiveness but certainly mystique and similar concerns, to collaboration, so that things like collective chants without an identifiable sole author would have to defer to the individual striving to order our chaos by sweetening our air.

And in Eisenach, Germany, in an ordinary house, on March 31, 1685, to a family steeped in Music, Johann Sebastian Bach was born.

 III

 I
n
Whic
h
Painstakingl
y
Restore
d
Aphorisms Ar
e
Aire
d
Afte
r
Dorman
t
Decades

 

A word here about what was in the box and how I’ve chosen to present it. First, the contents of said box are highly relevant to the instant investigation and as such I have decided to not merely catalogue and voucher said items but rather to present them here in their entirety. The works are here presented in chronological order, meaning in the order they were written with oldest first and most recent last. Of the chronology established and that the items represent the willful sum of Writer’s effort is beyond meaningful doubt but a brief word on the methodology used in dating the works seems warranted.

So what most directly follows is taken from the significantly aged marble notebook recovered. The manufacture date of the notebook is helpfully listed as 1970 and this date has been generally confirmed by various analyses. More significantly almost all the writing contained therein is in pencil. Contrary to generally accepted belief (yes, again) it is absolutely possible to date lead pencil markings as will be conclusively demonstrated in a forthcoming monograph that was initially underwritten by the Smithsonian Institute then only generously completed out of a sense of professional obligation in the absence of explicitly promised funds. This dating confirms that the contents of the notebook predate the three other works recovered from the box and does this by quite a bit.

Thus the notebook can be seen as a kind of warming up to the subsequent works that form the greater part of this report. The short story, play, and either unfinished novel or novella that follow in many ways
result
from the notebook. That the gestation depicted therein appears to have taken decades while certainly highly suggestive does not alter the fundamental relationship between notebook and offspring.

Lastly, the sad fact that only a portion of what was placed in the notebook has been recovered. Various forms of damage, over time, befell the notebook. It was never the highest quality paper to begin with and pencil starts fading the moment it hits such paper. In many cases what is displayed here is the result of various techniques designed to uncover the lost. So, for example, the many instances where what was once clear and distinct devolved into invisibility but not quite because the impressions remained: tiny canals dug into the sheets and still readable once magnified and interpreted. Predictably the result often feels fragmentary or inchoate, perhaps heightening the effect that what we have here are halting steps towards future cohesion. All by way of maybe apologizing for the imminent lack of symmetry, narrative propulsion, cheap suspense, or any of the other décor generally sought by eyeballs like yours:

 

. . . write because of an aesthetic impulse to order the world into greater attractiveness, which ordering…
 
English is richer than Spanish, just is, and I want primarily to be rich.
 
Art seems at least a subspecies of Love because in Art we sense Love’s greatest response yet to Life’s inherent cruelty.
 
I do not like to talk about what I’ve written, I do not like to talk about how or why I write, I do not like to talk about myself, what I’ve seen and done or what it’s like to be me now, I do not like to talk.
 
Joseph Conrad was twenty-one before he even heard English. Twenty-one! Conrad!
 
Now that you’re found, I’m lost.
Now that you feel love, I don’t.
 
. . . the selfsame beauty runs through it.
 
Okay just off the top of my head because life is brief and real work beckons. Take out your copy (
Cien
años
de
soledad
) and follow along. What follows is mine (with crucial differences sometimes italicized) and therefore what a just world would have received:
 
Many years later,
in
front
of
the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to
recall
that
remote
afternoon in which his father took him to discover ice. Macondo was then a village of twenty adobe houses
constructed
on the edge of a river of
diaphanous
waters that flowed over a bed of
smooth
stones, white and enormous like prehistoric eggs.
 
The specific sounds of the letters, word order, relative incidence, line length, syntax; if you can preserve these and maintain fidelity to meaning shouldn’t you? Moving on:
 
The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and to
mention
them one had to point with a finger.
 
It was necessary to is so terrible here, though maybe not as bad as in order to just before it. If this was GGM’s intent there were perfectly valid and expected Spanish equivalents. If you don’t know them your Spanish isn’t good enough, if you know them and ignore the above reasoning it’s your English that’s likely the problem.
 
Every year, in March, a family of
derelict
gypsies would
stake
its tent near the village and with a great
commotion
of
whistles
and bells display the latest inventions.
 
Stake, derelict, and commotion are just plain better; whistles just plain correct.
 
First they brought the magnet.
 
Hard to mess that up so no one did.
 
A
corpulent
gypsy with an unkempt beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquiades, made a
truculent
public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the
sage
alchemists of Macedonia.
 
Heavy
and
bold
are so unjustifiable in light of the above options that I lose all faith in the endeavor. Yet somehow, like eyeballs to a gruesome car accident, I skip ahead past insufferable clunkiness and inartistry to:
 
In March the gypsies returned. This time they brought a telescope and a lens the size of a drum, which they exhibited as the latest discovery of the Jews of Amsterdam. They
sat
a gypsy woman at one end of the village and
installed
the telescope at the entrance to the tent. Upon payment of five reales, people
would
look through the telescope to see the woman within arm’s reach. “Science has eliminated distance,” proclaimed Melquiades. “Soon Man will be able to see what occurs anywhere on Earth without leaving his house.”
 
Theirs is not terrible, unlike the following’s equivalent:
 
One scorching midday they made an amazing demonstration with the gigantic lens: they placed a mound of hay in the middle of the street then set it ablaze by means of concentrated solar rays.
 
There is no reference to the sun in the original Spanish nor to any magnification hence none in the above translation and mound works nicely for
montón
, certainly better than pile, see how it works?
The
sun’s
rays
here would be like
dry
hay
, dumb. Later:
 
Jose Arcadio Buendia didn’t even try to console her, entirely absorbed as he was in tactical lenticular experiments that he conducted with the abnegation of a scientist and even at risk to his own life. Trying to show the potential effects of the lens on enemy troops, he so exposed himself to concentrated solar rays that he suffered ulcerous burns that were slow to heal.
 
Fine I added lenticular and arguably modified ulcer into its adjective form but said additions are yummy and amply supported by the record that is the original. Similarly contrast this:
BOOK: Personae
13.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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