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Saturday, June 20, 2015

*****The Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai

This author is truly amazing - an awesome piece of literature!

Structure
  • No paragraphs
  • *Dense writing where one thought flows naturally to the next negating the need for many sentences.
    • Sentences can be as long as a page or more.
    • The writing was so dense, I could not stop in the middle of a chapter; the chapter often being one long paragraph.
Themes
  • Dissonance in music and political life. If in the political, will naturally effect the personal
    • Mr. Eszter's dissonant piano tuning typifies this theme.
  • Destruction necessitates creativity, creativity necessitates destruction
  • social chaos - anarchy 
  • abject indifference
  • dark humor mixed with the absurd
  • bourgeois as evil
  • atheism 
  • lust for power 
  • schemers vs. dreamers (Mrs. Eszter vs. Mr Eszter and Valuska)
  • loyalty, as seen through Mr. Eszter and Valuska, or
    • lack of commitment enabling one to slide in any direction as long as it is personally advantageous, no matter if contradictory or not
  • God failed at creation and his plans for man and earth and is an indifferent power.
    Symbols
    • occurrences in the town that portend something dark and evil, causing anxiety among towns people
      • an unusually long and protracted freeze w/o snow
      • unexpected circus - one with a singular exhibit - that of a the huge stuffed dead whale
      • a huge tree that has suddenly been uprooted w/o previous signs of decay
        • the noise it made when rising and falling from the ground was inordinately loud, shocking everyone
    Quotes & Notes
    • not a moral tale but a statement
    • author uses the surreal to portray reality.
    • p. 3-4    essence of book: "everything was subject to the prevailing conditions: all normal expectations went by the board and one's daily habits were disrupted by a sense of ever-spreading all-consuming chaos which rendered the future unpredictable, the past unrecallable and ordinary life so haphazard that people simply assumed that whatever could be imagined might come to pass, that if there were only one door in a building it would no longer open, that wheat would grow head downwards into the earth not out of it, and that, since one could only note the symptoms of disintegration, the reasons for it remaining unfathomable and inconceivable, there was nothing anyone could do except to get a tenacious grip on anything that was still tangible..."..."for it was as if some vital yet undetectable modification had taken place in the eternally stable composition of the air, in the very remoteness of that hitherto faultless mechanism or unnamed principle - which, it is often remarked, makes the world go round and of which the most imposing evidence is the sheer phenomenon of the world's existence - which had suddenly lost some of its power, and it was because of this that the troubling knowledge of the probability of danger was in fact less unbearable than the common sense of foreboding that soon anything at all might happen..."
    • p. 6    humor: "...that noise 'so calculated to offend all one's finer feelings', but in her opinion, 'perfectly common  among common people' of munching and crunching..." (Mrs. Plauf on eating loudly, relegated only to commoners)
    • p. 36    humor:  Mrs. Eszter of Mrs. Plauf and her flat: "...the cosy comfiness, the stolid air of inactivity, the treacly prettiness of this 'filthy little viper's nest'..." .
    • p. 78-79    of Valuska:  "...he confronted the slow tide of human affairs with a sad incomprehension, dispassionately and without any sense of personal involvement, for the greater part of his consciousness, the part entirely given over to wonder, had left no room for more mundane matters, and had ever since then trapped him in a bubble of time, in one eternal, impenetrable and transparent moment. He walked, he trudged, he flitted blindly and tirelessly with the incurable beauty of  his personal cosmos in his soul..."
    •  pp 95-96    Valuska: ..."Everyone was talking about 'the unstoppable stampede into chaos', the 'unpredictability of daily life' and 'the approaching catastrophe' without a clear notion of the full weight of these frightening words, since this epidemic of fear was not born of some genuine, daily increasing certainty of disaster but of an infection of the imagination whose susceptibility to its own terrors might eventually lead to an actual catastrophe..."
    • of Mr Eszter: 
      • p. 96... " the darkness occasioned by the 'apparently inoperable cataracts' of his soul."
      • p. 99-100..."nothing would disturb his in his real mission, which he referred to as his 'strategic withdrawal in the face of the pathetic stupidity of so-called human progress'.
    •  p. 102    "...the fatal early frost that had descended on a dry autumn with its terrifying loss of precipitation could mean only one thing, sure as the toxin, the undeniable fact that nature herself had laid down her tools and finished her regular task, that the once-brotherly bond between heaven and earth was well and truly broken, and that the last act had assuredly begun wherein we were orbiting along among the scattered detritus of our laws and 'would soon be left staring, as fate had decreed, idiotically, uncomprehendingly, watching and shivering as the light steadily withdrew from us'."
    • Mr. Eszter: 
      • p. 104 "the harmless truth...we are simply the miserable subjects of some insignificant failure, alone in this simply marvelous creation; that the whole of human history is no more than the histrionics of a stupid, bloody, miserable outcast in an obscure corner of a vast stage, a kind of tortured confession of error, a slow acknowledgement of the painful fact that this creation was not necessarily a brilliant success."
      • p. 108 "...he never passed up the chance to draw a sharp distinction between 'the enchantment of illusion and the misery of its fruitless pursuit' -  such a dizzying journey, all he could count on would be 'the unique quality of his own immobility'."
      • p. 109-110  "..he wanted to "wipe from his memory... 'the whole breeding ground of dark stupidity' was to be annihilated in one fell swoop and for ever. Of course, the person he most devoutly wished to remain ignorant of was Mrs. Eszter, his wife, that dangerous prehistoric beast from whom he, 'by the grace of God', had separated years ago, who reminded him of nothing so much as one of those merciless medieval mercenaries, with whom he had tied that infernal comedy of a marriage thanks to an unforgivable moment of youthful carelessness, and who, in her uniquely spectacle of disillusionment' the society of the town, in his view, somehow succeeded in representing."
      • p. 117    "The world consisted merely of  'an indifferent power which offered disappointment at every turn' ... struggle, that was all there was to the world if we but realized it...Faith, is not a matter of believing something, but believing that somehow things could be different; in the same way, music was not the articulation of some better part of ourselves, or a reference to some notion of a better world, but a disguising of the world, but no, not merely a disguising but a complete, twisted denial of such facts......a cure that did not work, a barbiturate that functioned as an opiate."
      •  p. 121   humor: "an evening over supper together" = Mrs. Eszter's warning to Mr. Eszter that, if you do not do as I say, I will move back in (we will be eating supper together again).
      • p. 127  "...the exclusively human capacity for mind numbing levels of neglect and indifference was, beyond a doubt, truly limitless. The amount of it!"
      • p. 128  The author's concept of things is completely different than Orhan Pamuk's in, "The Museum of Innocence":  "Apple cores, bits of old boots, watch-straps, overcoat, buttons, rusted keys, everything, that man may leave his mark by, ..a museum of pointless existence...houses, trees, lampposts...could this be a form of the last judgement...no apocalypse, but mankind swallowed without fuss or ceremony by its own rubbish. Not an altogether surprising end."
      • p. 181   "The nail in the plank is stationary while the position of the hammer is variable."
      • p. 191-2  Mr. Eszter, waiting and hoping Valuska returns home safely during a night of violence, has an epiphany: "  "...he suddenly realized that he had been escaping all his life, that life had been a constant escape, escape from meaninglessness into music, from music to guilt, from guilt and self-punishment into pure ratiocination, and finally escape from that too, that it was retreat after retreat, as if his guardian angel had, in his own peculiar fashion, been steering him to the antithesis of retreat, to an almost simple-minded acceptance of things as they were, at which point he understood that there was nothing to be understood, that if there was reason in the world it far transcended his own, and that therefore it was enough to notice and observe that which he actually possessed...he seemed to hear anew -sounds-; could taste the air outside and smell the dust within;...and he knew that all these, the tastes, scents, colors, sounds - the beneficial sweetness- they had not passed away, because they existed and would continue to exist."
    • The last paragraph of this book (pp. 310-314) is actually a description of our bodies deteriorating after death. It is, at once horrific and beautiful; that is our body as nature decomposing back into earth.
      • "Everything was there, it is simply that there was no clerk capable of making an inventory of all the constituents; but the realm that existed once -once and once only-had disappeared for ever, ground into infinitesimal pieces by the endless momentum of chaos within which crystals of order survived, the chaos that consisted of an indifferent and unstoppable traffic between things. It ground the empire into carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen....and unstitched them till they were dispersed and had ceased to exist, because they had been consumed by the force of some incomprehensibly distant edict..."
        • So what is the author saying here? That there is order within chaos and that there is some order, or possibly even meaning, to our lives; that life is controlled by something we cannot comprehend...God? I do not feel he would go so far as to say that, God.
          • Unlike Yukio Mishima's, "Temple of Dawn", there is no reincarnation.

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