It was while reading Jean-Paul Sartre's monumental study of Flaubert, The Family Idiot, that I fell into an 'epileptiform' state. That was Flaubert's words, not mine. It signified hallucinations, anxiety, a vague seeking for sequestration. For me, it seemed to occur every July in the southern hemisphere and sometimes, when I was in the northern hemisphere, in December, most notably on a Christmas morning, when, for example, while staying in a bed and breakfast...though there was no breakfast that morning as the owners were away...I was somewhere near the Cumbrian Lakes...I recall taking a walk along an old trading route marked with a stone wall and met a man who looked like Wordsworth.Castro's writing - particularly his short pieces - bring to life that very part of the mind that looks up from the computer to the shelves and across at the piles of books and magazines and notes, that stirs, while you are walking, say, along a particularly busy road where the sight of the girded gap that is the building which you have always known to be there gets you thinking about other gaps, other similar experiences of being brought up short, and then so to the paving-stones after Marcel's near accident in Time Regained, and perhaps the wishfully prescriptive Kundera who would never have noticed; about something you have written elsewhere, a person you talked to that morning, or only talked about, and another book whose title eludes you but whose cover, for some reason, embodies everything you thought as you were reading it even if you are someone who tells everyone you know that covers don't matter.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
That very part of the mind
In my bookshelves - or should I say shelves and piles - one book is always leading to another, or something read somewhere else (such as in a blog post) gets me searching for the edition of HEAT that has Brian Castro writing about W. G. Sebald and Thomas Bernhard, and so leads (after a thumbing through of other editions) to another piece of his, a story called 'My Nervous Illness' in HEAT 21, New Series, which begins: