Friday, June 20, 2014

In which the whole world might be invoked from a remote or neglected standpoint

Dr Ivor Indyk is perhaps the best person to discuss the writings of Gerald Murnane, not only because he is Murnane's publisher or because of his rather touching thesis about what he sees as a peculiar strength of several of the more eccentric writers in Australia -- their provincialism -- but also because his own voice -- soft, earnest, seemingly hesitant and always ready to laugh a little at what he has just said -- is the perfect vehicle for describing the work of what he calls 'imaginative recursion' in Murnane's writings. He argues that this 'imaginative recursion' is more than a virtuosic technique. It is a means of dealing with 'real issues' -- real issues, however, which the text, as I would suggest, finds hard to name or to be sure of, even as it works towards them with meticulous determination.

While a Murnanian text might seem as far from the Gothic as might be imagined, the extreme claustrophobia of its highly turned verbal world puts us in mind, paradoxically, of the wide windless moors of Emily Brontë which connection, as you will hear from Indyk, is far from accidental. David Punter has remarked that in the Gothic we are in the wake of effects of events that we cannot know have even happened, and the remains of history that assault us 'are not to be obviously or readily learned from; for they are the remains of the body, they are the imaginary products of vulnerability and fragility,they are the "remains" of that which still "remains to us"; or not'. Murnane: a Gothic writer? Hardly, or at least hardly not.