- What is the “it” that the Swabian glimpses on p.40?
- “Is Archimboldi an alter-ego of Bolaño’s? Is Bolaño using Archimboldi as a way of self-critizing?”
- “Is it just me or is most of what we’ve read so far (up to page 53) told not as author telling us the story directly but rather the author telling us the story of the characters telling a story? Like, it feels to me that most of what’s happening is coming to the reader second-hand, through the fog of unreliable characters. Canelli, what say you on this?”
- I have no idea. I assumed I completely missed something that would explain it and since I didn’t want to confront my ignorance, I didn’t bother looking back and instead moved on, figuring that if it were important, “it” would show up again. For all I know, “it” is run under my nose, blindingly pervasive. (I’m only up to p.95 as of this writing.) Perhaps it’ll take the entire novel for it to come to light. Unless I’m “it” and the Swabian was looking at me! If so (and it most certainly is not so, but play along) then this is a fun take on the observer and the observed; the writer and his audience; the Swabian confronting his own artifice (besides, he does seem quite the illusionist in terms of his fabricated storytelling). In my own “learned” terms, it’s an interesting parallel to Martin Buber’s I-It and I-Thou relational paradigm. How? It may not be an “it” at all that the Swabian sees. For instance, it may be his own lies; it may be himself; it may be himself as his own lies (could I substitute qua for as? I’ve never understood how qua works). It may be anything, but the point is is that it becomes a thing by virtue of his observing “it.” Buber lamented that this was our default setting; i.e., we objectify everything. Our brains our built to function this way, and language concretizes the instinct (if that’s what is fair to call it). An “it” only becomes a “thou” outside of language in the presence of pure relation. In other words (or more truly, in the absence of words), whatever “it” is that the Swabian witnesses, it is still stuck in the realm of the conceptual and therefore, at least to some extent, “it” is unreal. So when I say I have no idea, perhaps I’m just beyond or before the “it,” in pure relation to its absence, in the utter presence of my fundamental ignorance.
- Every character is Bolaño. Every character is also Fuller when Fuller reads it, and every character is also Canelli when Canelli reads it.
- The entire novel does feel like a strange fog, which is probably why it’s so incredibly enticing. I feel like I’m chasing an impossible-to-catch (maybe because it isn’t there) truth. The Swabian’s elusive “it” is my entire reading experience so far. Like I’m looking directly at something profound but can’t quite make it out. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the ride. Which, now that I’m writing it, sounds like a beautiful analogy for life. Whether or not you discover what “it” is has no effect on your being here. In all likelihood, “it” is beside the point.
Now what’s the point? “It” doesn’t matter.