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Monday, January 28, 2013

Living inside our novel

A couple of passages from The Trick Top Hat on "living inside our novel" caught my eye:

The first quote is in a passage in which Blake Williams is talking with Natalie Drest:

"You know, Professor" -- Natalie sits up and gives him a level glance -- "I met a midget once, a nasty little son-of-a-bitch, but he told me something I never forgot. All that exists is metaphor, he said, and whoever controls our metaphors controls us.

"As an anthropologist," Blake Williams said, "I must agree. Are we living in an occult thriller, a porn movie, a philosophical treatise, a sci-fi novel? It depends on which parts of our experience we chose to highlight. That brings us to the question: Are we writing our life-scripts, or is there a Hidden Variable, as the new quantum theories suggest?"

(Pages 274-275 of the omnibus edition of Schroedinger's Cat, in the "The Universe Decides" chapter.)

The second quote is Simon Moon, writing down "the important things he had learned in his out-of-book experience":

1. A novel, or a Universe, is a Whole System.

2. Who we are, and what we do, depends on which novel or universe we are in. Every part is a function of the Whole.

3. It is very hard to remember the whole novel or universe because our horns won't fit the 

[this is where the text says he is "losing the meaning of Mooning"]

Page 322, in the chapter "Wise Guys and Nebbishes."

As more one writer has pointed out, reading a novel is an exercise in creation on the part of the reader; the "Elizabeth Bennet" created in my mind when I read Pride and Prejudice is never the person I see onscreen when I see a film adaption. If we are conscious of what kind of novel were are in, as Blake Williams is, perhaps we can be "co-authors" of our own reality.

Incidentally, in the bit about the horns in the second excerpt, RAW is tripped up by the cuts he made in the book; the original version of The Trick Top Hat has a zen parable about a monk who meditates upon the ox, and then achieves illumination when he finds that his horns are so wide he can't leave his cell. It's not in the omnibus editon.

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