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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Narrative Rhyme

A playwright I reached out to because of his play about Loa, and it turns out he read and very much liked Apocryphal Lorca in college. He is related to one of the poets I studied in that book. Could my book have influenced a work of literature that will be included in my second book on the same topic?


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I guess the word for this is O'Henry plot twists? Feedback loops? Things coming full circle? I know these various stories are different, but they share a common element somehow. Maybe we can call this narrative rhyme.

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I was in a public place and saw two men at ten minute intervals, unrelated and unconnected to each other, it would seem, who both had large bandages on their fingers or hands. The beginning of a novel occurred to me: a stranger arrives in a train station and notices that there is a pattern of injuries, taped or bandaged hands. He starts asking questions, but is met with stony silence or evasion. This same fact could be treated as a mere triviality: after all, people do injure their hands sometimes! or as a pattern: what causes the conjunction of so many similar injuries in the same place? The stranger could be a detective, or else someone there for some purpose unrelated to the injuries. To explain the injuries would be banal, eliminating all mystery. In fact, the explanation is fairly obvious, (some shared pastime or local industry that is hard on the hands?) though wanting to know this explanation brings an inherent risk. The end of the novel has the stranger leaving the town, several years later, with heavily bandaged hands.

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That is another kind of literary or novelistic reasoning: seeing a pattern out of seemingly isolated events. Making a rhyme out of two strangers seen in a coffee shop.

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Imagine at a coffee shop. Two women sitting together, looking like graduate students. One a bit heavy, has a baseball cap, over long and unstyled hair, neither curly nor straight, no jewelry, glasses with heavy black frames, no makeup. Nondescript clothes. Fingernails and toenails, however, are painted an extremely intense shade of violet or purple. Something here does not seem to rhyme. The toes, in flip flops, rhyme with the fingers, but not with the remainder of her appearance. She has a beautifully patterned decorative scarf around her chest. A bad novelist would probably make her all dowdy or all fingernail polish. There is a rhyme, though, in what does not rhyme. The explanation is simple: she has indulged herself with manicure and pedicure, at the same shop, but this does not change her general attitude of wanting to hide her face from view.

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Then this post of mine tries to rhyme all these stories and descriptions. There is no common thread except if you want there to be. The similarity is in the observer, not the things observed.

2 comments:

Thomas said...

Cf. Ezra Pound's Guide to Kulchur, Chapter 7, with which this post rhymes.

"These disjunct paragraphs belog together,…are parts of one ideogram, they are not merely separate subjects" (p. 75).

profacero said...

Footnote: this would be cool.

"Could my book have influenced a work of literature that will be included in my second book on the same topic?"