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Friday, 8 December 2017

Condor Wing 7: The blind exorcist turns our way at last / Donne: The good-morrow / Time in Tristram Shandy

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Bangkok, The Exorcist | by Piti Dui 
Bangkok, The Exorcist: photo by Piti Dui, 2 December 2017

Bangkok, The Exorcist | by Piti Dui

Bangkok, The Exorcist: photo by Piti Dui, 2 December 2017

Bangkok, The Exorcist | by Piti Dui

Bangkok, The Exorcist: photo by Piti Dui, 2 December 2017

Oktoberfesta #8 | by Riccardo Gerbi Cattaneo

Oktoberfesta #8: photo by Riccardo Cattaneo, 6 December 2017

Debora | by Sona Maletz

Debora [Bratislava, Slovakia]: photo by Sona Maletz, 5 December 2017

Debora | by Sona Maletz

Debora [Bratislava, Slovakia]: photo by Sona Maletz, 5 December 2017

Debora | by Sona Maletz

Debora [Bratislava, Slovakia]: photo by Sona Maletz, 5 December 2017

Ontop of the Pnyx | by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Ontop of the Pnyx. Snapped in Athens, Attiki, Greece.: photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos, 11 November 2017

Ontop of the Pnyx | by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Ontop of the Pnyx. Snapped in Athens, Attiki, Greece.: photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos, 11 November 2017

Ontop of the Pnyx | by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Ontop of the Pnyx. Snapped in Athens, Attiki, Greece.: photo by Spyros Papaspyropoulos, 11 November 2017

John Donne: The good-morrow

Hove Lawns, East and West by raworth.
 
Hove Lawns, East and West (24.2.10): photo by Tom Raworth, 2010

I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we lov'd? Were we not wean'd till then?
But suck'd on countrey pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the seaven sleepers den?
T'was so; But this, all pleasures fancies bee.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir'd, and got, 'twas but a dreame of thee.

And now good morrow to our waking soules,
Which watch not one another out of feare;
For love, all love of other sights controules,
And makes one little roome, an every where.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have showne,
Let us possesse one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appeares,
And true plaine hearts doe in the faces rest,
Where can we finde two better hemispheares
Without sharpe North, without declining West?
What ever dyes, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none doe slacken, none can die.


 Hove Lawns, East and West by raworth.

Hove Lawns, East and West (24.2.10): photo by Tom Raworth, 2010
John Donne (1572-1631): The good-morrow, from Poems, by J.D., with Elegies, on the Authors Death (1633)

DSC05033 | by noppadol.maitreechit

DSC05033 [Chumphon, Thailand]: photo by noppadol maitreechit, 4 September 2017

DSC05033 | by noppadol.maitreechit

DSC05033 [Chumphon, Thailand]: photo by noppadol maitreechit, 4 September 2017

DSC05033 | by noppadol.maitreechit

DSC05033 [Chumphon, Thailand]: photo by noppadol maitreechit, 4 September 2017

Unwinding the Clock: Time in Tristram Shandy

File:Horloge-republicaine1.jpg

Horloge republicaine: clock dial of the French Revolution, from The Republican Calendar, late 18th c.: image by Kama, 2005

 
Pray, my dear, quoth my mother, have you not forgot to wind up the clock?

Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Volume I (1760), Chapter I

1 Beating the Clock: Italo Calvino on Tristram Shandy

The great invention of Laurence Sterne is the novel made up entirely of digressions; an example to be followed immediately by Diderot. The divagation or digression is a strategy to postpone the conclusion, a multiplication of the internal time of the work, which is in perpetual flight: from what?
 
...Death is hidden in clocks: the death that is time, the time of individuation, of separation, the abstract time that rolls toward its end. Tristram Shandy does not want to be born, because he doesn't want to die. All means, all weapons are good ones in the battle against death and time. If the straight line is a shortest distance between two points and inevitably fatal, lengthen the digressions; and if these digressions become so complex, tangled, tortuous, so fleeting as to get lost in their own tracks, who knows that death and time are not also thrown off the trace, allowing one to remain hidden in changing hideouts.
 
Italo Calvino: from Lezioni americane: Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio, 1988

2 "...a metaphysical dissertation upon the subject of duration"

Like Locke's doctrine of the association of ideas, at once foregrounded at the narrative surface of the novel and yet made the butt of endless gentle mockery, abstractions like Time and Space are treated in Tristram Shandy as ridiculous bubbles, idle play-things of the dull mind, their pseudo-serious deployment in the text repeatedly undermined by irony and a highly civilized form of wit. 

It is two hours, and ten minutes,---and no more,-----cried my father, looking at his watch, since Dr. Slop and Obadiah arrived,-----and I know not how it happens, Brother Toby,-----but to my imagination it seems almost an age.

-----Here-----pray, Sir, take hold of my cap---nay, take the bell along with it, and my pantoufles too.-----

Now, Sir, they are all at your service; and I freely make you a present of 'em, on condition you give me all your attention to this chapter.

Though my father said, 'he knew not how it happen'd,'-----yet he knew very well how it happen'd;-----and at the instant he spoke it, was pre-determined in his mind to give my uncle Toby a clear account of the matter by a metaphysical dissertation upon the subject of duration and its simple modes, in order to shew my uncle Toby by what mechanism and mensurations in the brain it came to pass, that the rapid succession of their ideas, and the eternal scampering of the discourse from one thing to another, since Dr. Slop had come into the room, had lengthened out so short a period to so inconceivable an extent.-----"I know not how it happens,"-----cried my father,-----"but it seems an age.'

—---Tis owing, entirely, quoth my uncle Toby, to the succession of our ideas.

My father, who had an itch, in common with all philosophers, of reasoning upon every thing which happened, and accounting for it too-----proposed infinite pleasure to himself in this, of the succession of ideas, and had not the least apprehension of having it snatch'd out of his hands by my uncle Toby, who (honest man!) generally took every thing as it happened;-----and who, of all things in the world, troubled his brain the least with abstruse thinking;---the ideas of time and space,-----or how we came by those ideas,-----or of what stuff they were made,---or whether they were born with us,---or we picked them up afterwards as we went along,---or whether we did it in frocks,---or not till we had got into breeches,---with a thousand other inquiries and disputes about INFINITY, PRESCIENCE, LIBERTY, NECESSITY and so forth, upon whose desperate and unconquerable theories so many fine heads have been turned and cracked,---never did my uncle Toby's the least injury at all; my father knew it,---and was no less surprized than he was disappointed, with my uncle's fortuitous solution.

Do you understand the theory of that affair? replied my father.

Not I, quoth my uncle.

-----But you have some ideas, said my father, of what you talk about?-----

No more than my horse, replied my uncle Toby.

(III.XVIII)

The central joke and symbol of Sterne's grand comic novel is the clock, which plays a role in his hero's fate from the literal moment of his conception -- an act interrupted by his mother's question to his father, "Pray, my dear,...have you not forgot to wind up the clock? (I.I)

In this initial scene, of course, as throughout his novel, Sterne is "winding up" his reader, who is habitually bound to a mortal finitude by the restrictive constraints of an iron temporality: "...in our computations of time [laments Tristram's father, a bit later on], we are so used to minutes, hours, weeks, and months-----and of clocks (I wish there was not a clock in the kingdom)…'' (III.XVIII)

Sterne contracted tuberculosis as a young man and struggled with the disease throughout his life. Though already in failing health in his mid-forties, when he began Tristram Shandy in 1658 he managed to complete the first sixteen chapters in six weeks and the first two volumes within two years, and resolved thereafter to write two volumes a year for the rest of his life. Despite the intermittent advances of his disease he kept approximately to this schedule, completing nine volumes before his death in 1768. The entire work was composed under the pressure of an acute consciousness of mortality.

The strategies of extension, elaboration, complication, equivocation, prolongation, procrastination, prevarication, teasing, lengthening, stretching-out -- the strategies, in short, which drive this most digressive of novels -- can be seen to have a common logical basis in the desire to retard an ending, not only of a novel but of its author's existence.

Here we find our author/narrator, after six weeks of composition, fourteen chapters into the affair of a character who has however not yet been born. Tongue securely in cheek, Sterne, through the voice of Tristram, supplies his impatient reader a kind of apology -- or better to say, perhaps, an apology of a very curious yet, already by this stage of the proceedings, familiar and characteristic kind.


Could a historiographer drive on his history, as a muleteer drives on his mule,—---straight forward;-----for instance, from Rome all the way to Loretto, without ever once turning his head aside, either to the right hand or to the left,---he might venture to foretell you to an hour when he should get to his journey's end;-----but the thing is, morally speaking, impossible: For, if he is a man of the least spirit, he will have fifty deviations from a straight line to make with this or that party as he goes along, which he can no ways avoid. He will have views and prospects to himself perpetually soliciting his eye, which he can no more help standing still to look at than he can fly; he will moreover have various
....Accounts to reconcile:
....Anecdotes to pick up;
... Inscriptions to make out:...
....Stories to weave in:....
....Traditions to sift:....
....Personages to call upon:
....Panegyricks to paste up at this door;
....Pasquinades at that:-----
All which both the man and his mule are quite exempt from. To sum up all; there are archives at every stage to be look'd into, and rolls, records, documents, and endless genealogies, which justice ever and anon calls him back to stay the reading of:---In short there is no end of it;-----for my own part, I declare I have been at it these six weeks, making all the speed I possibly could,—---and am not yet born:---I have just been able, and that's all, to tell you when it happen'd, but not how;---so that you see the thing is yet far from being accomplished.

(I.XIV)

By a typically Shandean irony, it is the very dilatoriness of Sterne's narrative procedure, with its seemingly infinite retardations and interruptions, pausings and turnings-aside to cast off in new directions -- “But there is a fatality attends the actions of some men: Order them as they will, they pass thro’ a certain medium which so twists and refracts them from their true directions..." (I.X) -- that seems to hold mortality at a safe remove as long as the story, through whatever ingenious trick or ruse or stratagem of suspension or delay, can be kept going.

… for I had left Death, the lord knows -----and He only---how far behind me-----"I have followed many a man thro’ France, quoth he---but never at this mettlesome rate"-----Still he followed,-----and still I fled him ----- but I fled him chearfully----still he pursued ---but like one who pursued his prey without hope-----as he lag’d, every step he lost, softened his looks-----why should I fly him at this rate?


(VII. XLII)

As Time, however Death may seem to lag, remains a wasting force, and as such drives a wing'd chariot, the narrator must achieve his necessary slowness by moving at an ever swifter pace:


“-----write as I will, and rush as I may into the middle of things, [...]---I shall never overtake myself.”


 (IV.XIII)

“Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen...”

(IX.VIII)


The paradox of this unique Shandean rate of movement, a narrative development alternately almost maddeningly protracted, and then shockingly sudden and abrupt, begins to make sense when considered in light of Sterne's overall objective -- that is, never to complete things, by never coming to a full stop. 

 
"Now I....think differently; and that so much of motion, is so much of life, and so much of joy---and that to stand still, or get on but slowly, is death and the devil-----"

 
(VII, XIII)

And we are thus able to begin to understand that for the purposes of the writer the putting-off of tasks is not perhaps the vice it is generally regarded to be. Take, for example, the case of the parlour-door hinge:


"Every day for at least ten years together did my father resolve to have it mended,-----tis not mended yet…"

(
III.XXI)
 

To mend the parlour-door hinge, in this typically good-natured Sternean metaphor, would be to resolve matters; and the ultimate resolution of the matter of life, of course, is its termination. An end to be escaped at practically any cost.

3 Method (The Serpentine, or Scriptural Indeterminism)

08_1970

Volume IX, Chapter IX: "A thousand of my father's most subtle syllogisms could not have said more for celibacy."

4 Temporal Structure of the Work

08_1904
 
Volume VI, Chapter XL: "I am now beginning to get fairly into my work."

5 White Pages (Time Passing)

09_1970

 Volume IX, Chapters XVIII/XIX: "---You shall see the very place, Madam; said my uncle Toby."

6 Black Page (The Passing of Yorick)

03_1931

Volume I, Chapter XII: "Yorick followed Eugenius with his eyes to the door,---he then closed them,---and never opened them more."

 
7 The Score (Rhythm of the Work)

05_1925
Volume IX, Chapter XX. Cf. Vol. I, Chapter XX: "My uncle Toby would never offer to answer this by any other kind of argument, than that of whistling half a dozen bars of Lillabullero.".

8 "Nor marble monuments..."

Wales_169


Princeton_170

"Nor marble monuments": from Lucan's Pharsalia, trans. Nicholas Rowe (1812). Unique marbled pages from the first edition of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Volume III (1762), from copies in the National Library of Wales and Firestone Library, Princeton University.

what the blind exorcist saw

100_8237 | by Francesco Luppolo

100_8237: photo by Francesco Luppolo, 29 February 2016

100_8237 | by Francesco Luppolo

100_8237: photo by Francesco Luppolo, 29 February 2016

100_8237 | by Francesco Luppolo

100_8237: photo by Francesco Luppolo, 29 February 2016

December | by juliehrudova

December: photo by Julie Hrudova, 3 December 2017

running pig | by yaya13baut

running pig | montpellier, 2016: photo by Yannis Bautrait, 30 January 2016

running pig | by yaya13baut

running pig | montpellier, 2016: photo by Yannis Bautrait, 30 January 2016

running pig | by yaya13baut

running pig | montpellier, 2016: photo by Yannis Bautrait, 30 January 2016

* | by UsedNapkins

* : photo by Jakepong Kanjanajetane, 2 December 2017

* | by UsedNapkins

* : photo by Jakepong Kanjanajetane, 2 December 2017

* | by UsedNapkins

* : photo by Jakepong Kanjanajetane, 2 December 2017

@Amber fort,Jaipur. | by Vijayaraj PS

@Amer Fort, Jaipur [Rajasthan]: photo by Vijayaraj PS, 3 November 2016

@Amber fort,Jaipur. | by Vijayaraj PS

@Amer Fort, Jaipur [Rajasthan]: photo by Vijayaraj PS, 3 November 2016

@Amber fort,Jaipur. | by Vijayaraj PS

@Amer Fort, Jaipur [Rajasthan]: photo by Vijayaraj PS, 3 November 2016

. | by ngravity

Untitled [Tarragona]: photo by Dimitris Makrygiannakis, 3 June 2017

. | by ngravity

Untitled [Tarragona]: photo by Dimitris Makrygiannakis, 3 June 2017

. | by ngravity

Untitled [Tarragona]: photo by Dimitris Makrygiannakis, 3 June 2017

... | by Fermin Guzman

Texcoco, EDOMEX 2015... [Jardin, Texcoco de Mora]: photo by Fermin Guzman, 15 July 2015

... | by Fermin Guzman

Texcoco, EDOMEX 2015... [Jardin, Texcoco de Mora]: photo by Fermin Guzman, 15 July 2015

... | by Fermin Guzman

Texcoco, EDOMEX 2015... [Jardin, Texcoco de Mora]: photo by Fermin Guzman, 15 July 2015

Untitled | by andreas katsakos

Rethymno, Crete, Greece, December 2, 2017: photo by Andreas Katsakos, 2 December 2017

Untitled | by kenwalton

Untitled | Santa Monica, 2017: photo by Ken Walton, 25 October 2017

Untitled | by kenwalton

Untitled | Santa Monica, 2017: photo by Ken Walton, 25 October 2017

Untitled | by kenwalton

Untitled | Santa Monica, 2017: photo by Ken Walton, 25 October 2017

Untitled | by whitey_hendrix

Untitled [carnivale, venice]: photo by Gavin Bragdon, 26 February 2017

Untitled | by whitey_hendrix

Untitled [carnivale, venice]: photo by Gavin Bragdon, 26 February 2017

Untitled | by whitey_hendrix

Untitled [carnivale, venice]: photo by Gavin Bragdon, 26 February 2017

Untitled | by wikornr

Untitled [Red]: photo by Wikorn R, 4 October 2017

Untitled | by wikornr

Untitled [Red]: photo by Wikorn R, 4 October 2017

Untitled | by wikornr

Untitled [Red]: photo by Wikorn R, 4 October 2017

A wedding... | by chrisowenrichards

A wedding... [Muswell Hill, London]: photo by chrisowenrichards, 10 September 2014

A wedding... | by chrisowenrichards

A wedding... [Muswell Hill, London]: photo by chrisowenrichards, 10 September 2014

A wedding... | by chrisowenrichards

A wedding... [Muswell Hill, London]: photo by chrisowenrichards, 10 September 2014

X10S785720160815 | by ilja.vandenbroucke

X10S5785720160815 [Dusseldorf]: photo by wwwdotvandenbrouckedoteu, 14 August 2016

X10S785720160815 | by ilja.vandenbroucke

X10S5785720160815 [Dusseldorf]: photo by wwwdotvandenbrouckedoteu, 14 August 2016

X10S785720160815 | by ilja.vandenbroucke

X10S5785720160815 [Dusseldorf]: photo by wwwdotvandenbrouckedoteu, 14 August 2016

The blind exorcist took an apartment in which to prepare his plan strike that peeped with unseeing eyes through partly open sliding glass shop doors and saw

2017-12-04_07-22-36 | by Chris Tuarissa

2017-12-04_07-22-36 [probolinggo, gili ketapang, indonesia]: photo by Chris Tuarissa, 27 November 2017

2017-12-04_07-22-36 | by Chris Tuarissa

2017-12-04_07-22-36 [probolinggo, gili ketapang, indonesia]: photo by Chris Tuarissa, 27 November 2017

2017-12-04_07-22-36 | by Chris Tuarissa

2017-12-04_07-22-36 [probolinggo, gili ketapang, indonesia]: photo by Chris Tuarissa, 27 November 2017

6 comments:

TC said...

The tune Uncle Toby whistles:

Lilibulero March - British Grenadiers, from Barry Lyndon [Kubrick, 1975]

TC said...

Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz: The Girl from Ipanema (live, 1964)

TC said...

The Beatles: Ticket to Ride (live, Wembley, 1965)

TC said...

P.P. Arnold: The First Cut Is the Deepest (live, 1967)

Tom Palmer said...

Moving post, Tom. Calvino is so brilliant. The tunes took the air right out of me. By the time P.P. Arnold came around I could bearly breathe. And a question, I hesitate to ask because I don't know if it's obvious or ridiculous, anyway, how much of a debt does Burroughs owe to Sterne?

TC said...

Hey thanks Tom. Record should show Calvino responsible only for italic bits at top, me to blame for the rest. PP Arnold has knockt the breath out of the best (and worst!) of us, and more than once. WSB and Sterne, immortal bedfellows in fleabag hotel of Eternity Genius, though I don't think it's a matter of influence... Timeless Imagination Contagion?

"Time is the enemy, beloved."