Saturday, 11 February 2017

I began Middle C by William Gass on the plane, at thirty-eight thousand feet.
... it repented Jehovah that he had made man... 
I continued on a rooftop in Garachico on the north coast of Teneriffa, under the volcano. Lava flow & sea vapours, backlit yuccas and birdsong, the least murmur of human life. Church bell somewhere short of twelve. I was ready to embrace uncertainty in that back and forth, jewish/not jewish way. The part of jewishness that is also not jewishness, as part of identity is having none. Wrestling with William Gass wrestling with how to phrase the human race.
The fear that the human race might not survive has been replaced by the fear that it will endure.
I read William Gass with the greatest pleasure in the sun, his shifts and his emphases, his tries and retries, fitted my disponibilité. This is someone I know.
First Skizzen felt mankind must perish, then he feared it might not.
He had a feeling of great relief before he wondered what he might do with his wayward thoughts if he had no sentence to focus on.
And then the music.
Olive Fremstad and her sound—CalvĂ©'s, Caruso's sound—sounds—hollow, odd, remote,—that created a past from which ghosts could not only speak to admonish and astound, they could sing again almost as they once sang, sang as singing would never be heard sung again, songs and a singing from somewhere outside the earth where not an outstretched arm, not a single finger, could reach or beckon, request or threaten or connive.
Anywhere this would stop me in my tracks; in the sun on a rooftop in Garachico, it was glorious.

Later, on a beach in La Gomera, putting Middle C down after a few chapters, it seemed possible that all reading, as well as all hopes and fears and curiosity, could come together between two covers. Then I closed my eyes.

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