Friday, May 27, 2011
If threads did not wander there would be no tapestries
Each sentence which enters our mind, enters with an explosion of thoughts, of memories, like a holiday fireworks display. And yet, it is bad manners, and poor style, to ramble on in such a stream of consciousness.
If I am to respond properly, then I must pick and choose sparks from
that expanding sphere of fire or, I suppose embers is a better word for
them by the time they fall into my grasp, for they have cooled down a bit, and reorganize them into some respectable, linear, thematic sequence, or syllogism (of the A implies B, B implies C, Aristotelian variety, train of thought, line of reasoning). ----
In Mexico City, they somehow wandered into an exhibition of paintings by the beautiful Spanish exile Remedios Varo: in the central painting of a triptych, titled "Bordando el Manto Terrestre," were a number of frail girls
with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in this tapestry, and the tapestry was the world. Oedipa, perverse, had stood in front of the painting and cried. No one had noticed; she wore dark green bubble shades. For a moment she'd wondered if the seal around her sockets were tight enough to allow the tears simply to go on and fill up the entire lens space and never dry. She could carry the sadness of the moment with her that way forever, see the world refracted through those tears, those specific tears, as if indices as yet unfound varied in important ways from cry to cry. She had looked down at her feet and known, then, because of a painting, that what she stood on had only been woven together a couple thousand miles away in her own tower, was only by accident known as Mexico, and so Pierce had taken her away from nothing, there'd been no escape. What did she so desire escape from? Such a captive maiden, having plenty of time to think, soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental: that what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited on her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or
marry a disk jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?
-- Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49, end of Chapter 1