I've had Lars Iyer's Exodus lying part read (differently part read) at various times beside my bed for the past year. This is not because his novel, as people often complain of novels, 'didn't pull me through' -- or perhaps it is, since 'Literature should be boring!', as W. says in Exodus somewhere. Henry James once described reading Swann's Way as 'inconceivable boredom associated with the most extreme ecstasy which it is possible to imagine' (and my awareness that this is not only true but the highest possible compliment might even be the very reason I am still steadily rereading À la recherche du temps perdu, which will no doubt take the rest of my life -- a rest of my life that I am in no hurry to race to its end).
For all the protagonists' discussions of end times, Exodus is not at all a teleological narrative. I see Lars and W. agitated and blousy: bickering in a mid field of university canteens and parsimonious conference spreads, with a greyish green moor spreading out on all sides towards an encircling horizon (and an empty bottle of Plymouth Gin rolling around between the drain and the glass doors). Their diurnal stars are all the shining holies -- Kierkegaard, Weil, Duras, Blanchot, Badiou, Rosenzweig, Rosenstock, Gandhi, Marx, Žižek, Kafka, Krasznahorkai, Tarr -- as well as the faceless but ethereally beautiful Essex postgraduates. For some reason, I see W. as dry skinned, thin and woody; Lars, we are continually reminded, has a white, soft middle: they are the yin and yang of our emptying world. Theirs is a sidereal time with all stars, for the moment, descending, but there is something that remains, still, after the stars have passed. Try as he might to leave them utterly stranded, Iyer keeps his protagonists warm from the rumours of thinkers, in the thought of thinking, and we huddle beside them, trying to believe, even as we despair a faux Kierkegaardian despair, in all of this faithful thinking for ourselves.