Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: crawhi30 (Page 1 of 2)

Week Ten Journal Entry

An Un-reading of My Work

 

Every moment consumes a life

Swells, bursts, recedes

Resides in every mind and wraps all matter

In its dissolving rind

 

The small things that you do

Indicate the ebbing tides of drifting instances

They pass forever and return

Somehow

 

Often seen as chance or fate,

Patterns are left open between those

Afraid to call each other strangers

 

-And there it is

Your gesture which recalls

A million moments I misplaced

Somewhere between yesterday and…

 

And what does my posture say?

My body has a memory for things left behind as well,

Moments stacked on moments left in moments beside themselves

 

I resist this cultivation of repetition,

Still heedlessly igniting a wordless oral history

Most likely drowned out by my immediate preoccupations

 

There’s clarity and there is disorientation

In the moments of myself I see in you

Part fraction, mid artifaction

A trace that speaks of more than it can say

Whitman Craig Screenplay

 

Screenplay

Scene One

Characters: Todd and Stacy [Brother and Sister]

[Dusk in a car with Todd driving and Stacy in the passengers seat.]

Stacy: They served these disgusting lunch-ables type things on the plane, with crackers and like… flubby cheese.

Todd: I’m saying I like the cheese! (Subject to change)

Stacy: What’s that from?

Todd: I don’t know…

            Stacy: It’s so strange.

            Todd: Being back?

            Stacy: Yeah, I never expect how nostalgic it is coming back.

            Todd: How longs it been since you were last here?

            Stacy: It was back when Mom and Dad were moving out.

            Todd: So like 2 years-ish.

            Stacy: Yeah but that was a pretty quick visit. I haven’t really hung out here since high school.

            Todd: Well now you’re gonna hang out here a lot.

            Stacy: Yeah…

            [uncomfortable silence]

            Todd: So what are you gonna be doing? [he blurts out suddenly]

            Stacy: I’m not entirely sure yet, but I’ve already put in some job applications so I can get my shit back together and get out of your hair as soon as possible. [this sounds rehearsed]

Todd: Don’t worry about it, it’s not a big inconvenience or anything or whatever.

[Another awkward pause. Stacy squints out the window into the darkening night]

Stacy: Is that the old high school?

Todd: Oh shit

            Stacy: Are you driving to the old house?

            Todd: Nope, damn it, give me a second. [Todd pulls into a driveway to turn around]

            Stacy: We could drive by the house while we’re in the neighborhood.

            Todd: How ‘bout not. Besides, it’s too late to go creeping on people.

            Stacy: I’m tired from the flight anyway. But what’s your problem with the old house? [she teases]

            Todd: I didn’t say I had one.

            Stacy: First you accidently drive us to the old house and now you’re avoiding it.

            Todd: I’m not avoiding anything. [poorly trying to change the subject] Any-who… remember that sign? [or any other random thing]

            Stacy: Oh yeah I always loved that sign [sarcastically]

[Cut to Stacy laying in a makeshift bed on the couch. Just before falling asleep, Stacy realizes she is watching the film French Kiss, Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline sit in a dinner car on a train passing through green fields that remind her of home]

Meg: I’m saying I like the cheese.

 

 

Scene Two:

[Todd wakes up in his bed and hears Stacy in the kitchen washing dishes. She’s talking to someone.]

            Stacy: I don’t know, I think he might still be sleeping.

            [Dragging himself out of bed Todd shuffles to the kitchen]

            Stacy: [She’s on the phone] I just didn’t have the stomach to edit anymore of those click baiting articles, that’s all they care about is views, so I quit… Yeah I feel really good about my prospects with these applications I’m working on, there’s this publishing company- [see’s Todd] Hey I left you some breakfast. [back into the phone] Yeah he’s up.

            [Todd Start grabs a piece of bacon.]

Stacy: Yeah just one second. [she holds the phone out to Todd] Mom wants to talk to you.

            Todd: I just woke up! [he irritably whispers and takes phone] Hey mom! [A bit too peppy] I don’t work today… Yeah well with work and the book I’ve been really busy… It’s going really well, you know, slow but steady… Hey where are you guys at right now?… Spain?… Hey dad… Sick of the boat yet? [Todd laughs a bit too generously.] Alright well I’ll talk to you guys later… ok… love ya… bye.

            [Todd hangs up with a sigh]

Stacy: You make it seem so arduous.

Todd: It’s too early.

Stacy: So what are you doing today?

Todd: Not much [he sits next to the folded blankets on the sofa, goes to turn on the TV]

Stacy: Can you help me move a mattress? Mom said that there is an extra one from the move that we can pick up in storage.

Todd: Sure.

Stacy: So I’d brought some extra dishes, where do the mugs go?

Todd: Above the sink I guess.

Stacy: Well I think they’d go better over with the other cups

Todd: Your call, it’s your place too now.

Stacy: Okay I’m going to get dressed and then we can go to the storage unit.

Todd: alright just a second

[Cut to darkness, a storage door lifts and light is cast on common familial junk in boxes and bundles. There is the mattress and an assortment of odd relics like neglected toys and other sentimental objects]

Scene 3

[Stacy and Todd are carrying a mattress up the stairs to their apartment. They set it down for a second as Stacy checks her pockets]

Stacy: Damn, I forgot my keys. Can you get the door?

Todd: What?

Stacy: The doors locked

Todd: Why would it be locked?

Stacy: Because I locked it.

Todd: I don’t usually lock the door.

Stacy: Well that’s idiotic.

Todd: You were the one who locked the door and forgot your keys.

Stacy: So you don’t have your keys?

Todd: I’ll go get the landlord.

[Todd rushes down the stairs and runs off. To kill time Stacy pops open a box full of odds and ends and rummages through them. Then she gets a call]

Stacy: Hello?… This is she… Okay… Thank you. [She hangs up with a grimace]

[Todd comes running back up the stairs.]

Todd: They’re on their way.

Stacy: [he holds up a raggedy old bear from the box like a puppet and says in a goblin voice] Hello!

Todd: Come on when did you grab that?

Stacy: Don’t you remember Mr. oatmeal?

Todd: Yeah he just gets more unsettling with time.

Stacy: Be careful, he’ll hear you. You use to love this thing.

Todd: Whatever.

Stacy: I think I’ll put him in the living room. [teasing]

Todd: Can’t wait.

Stacy: What I can’t wait for is to watch these! [she holds up home movie video tapes]

Todd: Do it sometime while I’m at work.

 

Scene 4:

[Todd sits in the living room looking at a blinking cursor on a blank word document]

Stacy: [from the kitchen] I’m making French toast for dinner.

Todd: Sweet, I’ll do the dishes.

Stacy: Hey have you talked to mom and dad recently

Todd: No why?

Stacy: No reason, they’re just missing you.

Todd: How was your day?

Stacy: Really good! Went and did that job interview and it went really well.

Todd: Awesome.

Stacy: How about you?

Todd: Oh you know, the usual glories of Pet-Co. A lady thought some box of bones were complimentary.

Stacy: Why do you work there if you hate it so much?

Todd: We can’t all quit our jobs, someone has to pay for the apartment.

[Stacy comes in with the food]

Todd: Sorry that was douchie. [He shuts his laptop] I just don’t have any other options.

Stacy: You could always go back to school.

Todd: How? [He grows suspicious]

Stacy: Well you know mom and dad would probably help you out.

Todd: What did you tell them?

Whitman Craig: More Weird Dreams Yay!

Last night I dreamed that I woke up in a shack made of dark grey wood. Pale daylight came in through the cracks in the boards and I went outside to discover that I was in a forest glen covered in wet moss and surrounded by looming trees. Everything was still, in the way the morning after a terrible storm is still, and sheep stood scattered through the grassier parts of the glen. But why did each of them hold one leg close to their coats as though it were broken? My only neighbor in the neighbor in the neighborhood, in the only other shack around, came out and began to tend to a little brown sheep with a back leg at an odd angle. We may have exchanged words; I wasn’t listening.

Thanks Winter’s Bone… at least the dream felt the way I imagined Winter’s Bone to be. Maybe it’s all this creative literature that I have been exposed to over the quarter but my dreams have gotten more vivid and strange. Maybe they are anxiety Dreams but they have an odd way of comforting me in the morning.

I wish I could capture the mood of these dreams and distill them into the imagery that I want for my film. The script at least exists, the good and the bad parts, it has a life of it’s own that dictates how I develop it. But I am still at a loss about what images will pervade the back of my character’s thoughts and projected onto their surroundings. The script is really half a story, the yet-to-be images its ghostly other half. If only I could (Oh how I am getting carried away by fantasies) give these characters images that both unsubtle and comfort them the way these dreams affect me.

I think that the very brief clip I made of fleeting projected images has the quality of what I want, vibrant yet warped, unobtrusive and striking. These images just need content. And on that point I think I’m falling victim to thinking about product before process. They represent subjective view-points anyway, let them be disjointed.

 

Whitman Craig: Thinking about Art and Fear

Its strange how much more optimistic you can feel sometimes when the sun comes back from hiatus, although I guess its no great biological mystery. I can probably thank this new found energy for my project to vitamin D, that and the coffee bender I’m on right now. Chemical effects aside, I think Art and Fear has noticeably changed my outlook on my project, despite the fact that the book had a knack for making me self-consciously feel like a complete cliché on every page as I have probably had every fear the book addresses.

One of the greater challenges for me, not just of this quarter but probably since forever, is to not get ahead of myself and worry too much about what the artwork means and to let myself trust the process more. Trusting process I think lies at the heart of Art and Fear. The fears that are discussed in the book all relate to the ways in which artists lose faith in process and the book really only presents one compelling reason to keep faith in process, that nothing will happen if you don’t keep faith.

Pervading the entire book is a seemingly disheartening view that most artwork is meaningless and no one cares whether or not you make art. This seems to be an important first step in removing one’s ego from the issue of making art. To shift the focus from achievement to process, “ask your work what it needs, not what you need.” And this is actually quite freeing, in the sense that making art is never the last word on your worth as an artist. But the book is speaking to people who are compelled to make art, which ultimately makes such realizations only partly effective in separating the process from the artist’s desires. The book says as much: “vision is always ahead of execution – and it should be.” This paradox is not directly addressed perhaps to avoid unending existential tangents.

The same question arises when Art and Fear argues that artists and audiences have different concerns, that of process and product respectively. At the same time the book criticizes postmodern art for not engaging more with the world outside of its community. In fact the book goes as far as to argue that good art is only made in relationship to its contemporary environment. Audience certainly plays a key role in what it means to be contemporary. For all of the unresolved tension that the book steers clear of, I have new faith in my project by taking genuine interest in where it might lead me astray.

Another Dream

After falling asleep again at 7:00am I dreamed of walking with two little girls along a street, in a nice looking town, lined in large old houses with tidy yards. From the looks of things it was spring, because the grass was lush, most trees had barely produced a bud, and there were blossoms. Suddenly I see a man hanging from a tree in someone’s front yard. The proper authorities already seem to be present and looking into it, so I quickly take the girls back in the direction we came from. As we turn away I realize there is more than one body hanging in the yard on this beautiful morning and they all have black bags over their heads as if executed. In our calm but brisk retreat the smallest girl chants to herself, “we are to young to se that.” We come across another house with a beautifully unkempt garden, over-run with mud and moss and pink blossoms. Cutting through this yard we find, to my dismay, another faceless body swinging amidst the falling petals.

Nothing to do but to hurry forward.

Then we come across two unconscious bodies, a man and a woman, on the covered porch of the house. I tell the 4 or so children to wait… have they been multiplying? I climb the paint chipped steps to check the bodies’ pulses and then the dream decides to play a trick on me, the unconscious bodies snap awake with electrical whirring sounds. Somehow I know that they are robots, despite their fleshy appearance, and I tell the kids to run. I try to lead the robots away by dashing around the house and up a gravel alley. The man is hot on my heels but where’s the woman? I wake up.

Is this a nightmare? I guess so. But what stays with me is the vivid fidelity of a quiet town bursting with the liveliness of spring. I only remember the invading insertions of horror as if I saw them out of the corner of my eye.

Whitman: Oscar Wao, a wondrous life?

It’s probably because its 1:00am, with my usual defenses down, that I am struck with such hope and sadness after finishing The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao. I hesitate to say that the ending was profound, or rather endings (Tolkien would be proud). Though I hesitate to call anything profound nowadays. But the ending has struck such a chord within me, that I find my exhausted self not wanting to sleep. Once Oscar died I found myself wondering, despite the refreshingly honest tone of the book, if any of Oscar’s life could be considered wondrous. But the book kept one last trick up its sleeve by withholding Oscar’s letter until the end.

            It’s almost cheesy but Oscar’s new found appreciation for life “The Beauty!” re-contextualizes the martyrdom of his death for me. Looking at the pen-ultimate ending, in the quote Oscar picked from Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan says “Nothing ends, Adrian, nothing ever ends.” For all the nihilistic connotations this line has, with the fate of the curse and the futility of choices, there is also a relativistic view of existence. Without ends, lengths of time are irrelevant which is what Ybon reminds Oscar when he shares how he waited “so god damn long” to get laid. She says to call the wait life. Oscar found wonder in his life outside of fantasy, in the intimate moments he shared with Ybon. It seems to Oscar that all his suffering doesn’t matter in the end, he died for his own happiness, which is more than Yunior can claim, saying to himself at his most indulgent low, “You win Oscar, you win.”

If time is relativistic and Oscar’s life is defined by what little happiness he managed to find, then it truly was a brief and wondrous life.

Whitman: Masculine/Feminine (Death and Sex)

 We are greeted with the close up shot of Paul reading poetry aloud. He is cut off by the bell of the opening door. The next shot has flipped a hundred and eighty degrees to reveal a wide shot view of the café, where Paul sits and Madeline is revealed for the first time, closing the door behind her. She could have appeared as an innocuous costumer in the scene if the camera wasn’t framed around the seat she takes and Paul is nearly pushed out of frame. They strike up a conversation across their respective tables about a friend of a friend and Paul’s search for work.

He mentions his military career but replaces his recollection of any past experiences with a manifesto. There is a medium shot of his head switching back and forth between looking at Madeline and his papers on the table; apparently giving an unprompted recitation. He doesn’t mention violence, death, or horror, the subject of his contempt for the military is submission. He says that modern life mirrors the military where there is no longer freedom.

Shouts are heard and the camera cuts a hundred and eighty degrees around again to witness a couple with a child fighting at another table. The wall of Madeline’s booth obscures her reaction, but Paul’s expression is in clear view in the mid-ground and he turns his head, completely distracted by the outburst. The woman attempts to take the child with her as she leaves, moving past Paul into the foreground, but the man takes the child from her and leads the child out the door.            

“The door!” Paul shouts in a similar way that he had reminded another person to close the door moments earlier. The woman runs back to get her bag at the table and then rushes back out the door, it is visible that she is holding a gun just as Paul shouts again “The door!” and the camera moves to the window to see the woman shoot the man dead.

            This scene is emblematic of a pattern in the film of random acts of violence abruptly and loudly announcing itself, like the snapping gunshot over the title cards, abducting attention and, in this case, literally upstaging the first encounter between our romantic leads.

Moments such as these in the film dramatically highlight the indifference of the characters to such violence. Perhaps death is mundane to them now, Paul states that modern life and war are no different, as if life were a dull battlefront itself. It may be that after the man was shot by his lover, that Paul processed what had just happened, realized that his priorities of keeping the draft out were ridiculous, but the camera never allows us to see that. The scene ends with the woman getting one final hit in on the corpse.

            But the main characters of the film show their indifference to death in less sensational parts of the film as well, such as when in scene nine Paul, Elizabeth, and Madeline meet for lunch and overhear two conversations. The first is between the previously mentioned woman who shot the man; a fact that is recognized by our young trio but they only seem casually interested in the fact that she became a prostitute. When the conversation between the woman and her client turns to the holocaust and who is responsible, the young trio ponders how many clients she services a day. The second conversation we overhear is between Bridget Bardot and a gentleman discussing a scene where a man has just been killed by a car and he explains how Bardot should evoke her disbelief.

            These conversations and others like them, seem preoccupied with reconciling with death, with dealing with the aftermath of death. This is a preoccupation that the main characters do not seem to have whatsoever. It isn’t that death is not a reality for them but their concerns are always set on the future: the future of politics, the outcome of their relationships. The scenes are spread out in such a way that we are never given time to process the effects of their choices through reflective exposition. Whenever there is a death in the film, as if the murder or suicide were punctuation, there is a considerable jump in time and we aren’t allowed to see how the characters process it.

Perhaps their generation’s goal as they come into adulthood is to reject the issues of the past, to move foreword. It gives the characters an air of denial but also presents an inexplicit connection between the way they ignore death and pursue sex. Sex and death are often presented side by side within the progression of a scene. Scene five is a single shot that embodies the extreme dichotomies of sex and death that frame Paul’s hopeless pursuit of Madeline’s love.

Madeline is in a hurry to get to work but Paul asks for just five minutes at a nearby restaurant, during that time the camera and Madeline follow Paul around the restaurant looking for the right place to sit, though he may actually being looking for the right words instead. When they sit down for the second time, the camera drifts to two men reading smutty literature aloud, when the camera follows them to their third seat, the camera again drifts to a man professing how he must move on from a woman’s death. Madeline says she has to go and quickly moves to the door, her music abruptly playing non-diegetically, perhaps in her head, can’t you see that we’re just friends? Paul blurts out that he wanted to propose and she reactively says that they will discuss it later, followed by an awkward handshake.

When Madeline and Paul had surveyed each other in the bathroom, she had asked him what the center of his world was and he replied that love was. Paul’s listlessness in scene five reflects how he is trying to place Madeline at the center of his world and she won’t reciprocate. This same tension between death, sex, and Madeline plays out again in the following scene, again in a single take, at the soda fountain outside the dance club. The stakes however are raised, this time Madeline makes her exit early with Elizabeth and rather than overhearing about sex and death Paul is directly confronted by them. A prostitute takes Paul to a photo booth and he denies her on the excuse that he doesn’t have enough money. He then makes a recording in the neighboring booth professing his feelings and concludes that he is a control tower trying to contact her. As Paul wonders into the arcade, Madeline’s song returns. You know darn well my address, but never a letter did I see. His listless wondering in this scene reflects his turmoil in trying to contact her and be heard.

A man pulls a knife on Paul, as the camera follows them out of the arcade, the man suddenly stabs himself and falls into Paul’s arms. This death goes unaddressed as well. We are privy to the immediate reaction of one death, when Paul and Catherine witness a man set himself on fire. Paul only talks about death in the abstract, stating that killing millions makes you a god. Catherine replies that she doesn’t believe in god and then asks if Paul really loves Madeline and their reflection is over. Even then they don’t seem concerned with this horror and move on as quickly as possible; never lingering in the past.

The final death in the film is, of course, Paul’s. This death is skipped entirely and instead we are left with Catherine relaying how he may have died. Madeline’s concern is once again set on the future. She is pregnant, a fear her friends kept reminding Paul of, and now she is faced with the decision to have an abortion or not. Now, like Paul, Madeline is caught between death and sex but in far more literal manifestation and she is caught within that tension. The last line of the film exhibits as much:

“I don’t know” Madeline says in a close up of her emotionally torn face and the film cuts to the concluding title card.

Whitman: Which artist reflects my project?

In many ways, the strategies of Mrs. Dalloway reflect the strategies I am trying to employ in my film. Virginia Woolf seems to effortlessly weave together a multitudinous collection of experiences, memories, and impressions from multiple perspectives. She accomplishes this through employing poetic prose that illustrate the mysterious yet undeniable connection between our subjective thoughts and the physical/visual world. The green dress Clarissa mends reawakens Richard’s contempt for her life style; the pen-knife Richard toys with reminds Clarissa of her annoyance to his oblivious attitude. This is not only done convincingly with each of the book’s central characters but also with people who seem to be there only by happenstance, such when the airplane flies over London and we are privy to the brief musings of a those who see it.

Any detail can ignite within us an emotion or recollection because, as isolated as we may feel from each other’s subjective experience, we all draw understanding from the same universe that produced us all.

I too want to incorporate this polyphonous view in my film. In some ways I have simplified the task and in other ways I have complicated it. Since my script focuses on the shared history of two siblings, the subjective comparison on a shared world is almost literal. However, where Woolf blends emotion and perception with poetic pros, I want to do the same with projected images retrained dailogue, which at the moment feels more opaque (although a certain amount of inaccessibility is permitted if not required).

Where character and visual impression cohabitate so well in Mrs. Dalloway, I’m developing them separately. It will take time before I can start to blend them, which in short means that my project is a fragmented mess at this moment. I remind myself that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and that I should not shackle myself to the high standards of matching the level Woolf’s composition.

I’m still trying to access the multitude of perspective within myself.

Whitman Craig – Close Reading of Sebald

Certain themes and images seem to echo and reference one another often in The Rings of Saturn, but these connections, whether through a shared history or a turn of phrase are all haunted by the possibility of a coincidence. Many of the inferred references I saw could have been missed by Sebald just as easily as by anyone else, and no direct meaning can be taken from such repeated images as shadows, rucksack, dream, herring, hemlock, and others by themselves. The emerging patterns of such loose and vague openings for connection are contingent upon what stays with each reader. But it’s impossible to avoid a frustrating sense of fragile meaning or an eerie sense of incomprehensibility, when such mysterious patterns undeliberately seep into one’s impression of the narrative. This disorienting experience of chance weighs upon the narrator particularly heavily in one instance, where he learns from his friend Michael’s memoirs that they had both, decades apart, befriended the same reclusive professor, Stanley Kerry, when they were each 22 years old respectively. In response to this coincidence the narrator states,

“No matter how often I tell myself that chance happenings of this kind occur far more often than we suspect, since we all move, one after the other, along the same roads mapped out for us by our origins and our hopes, my rational mind is nonetheless unable to lay the ghosts of repetition that haunt me with ever greater frequency.” (pg. 187)

This experience is reproduced within the pros themselves. Through faint allusions and associations, memories of previous discussions in the book can be re-awoken within the mind of the reader, and as the complexity of associations increase the further one reads, the more the ideas and subjects of the book melt into one another like fading memories. The momentum of The Rings of Saturn isn’t forward toward its conclusion but backward looking towards it’s own past.

This alienating experience, of chance associations, is more readily accepted in our dreams than in our waking lives, and in the same chapter where Stanley Kerry is introduced, dreams come to the forefront. The narrator describes that, months after getting terribly lost on Dunwich Heath, he returned there in a dream. Lost and tired once again, the narrator comes upon a pavilion that gives him a view of the maze ahead.

“…a pattern simple in comparison with the tortuous trail I had behind me, but one which I knew in my dream with absolute certainty, represented a cross-section of my brain.” (pg. 173)

Here Sebald barely conceals that this dream is a metaphor for the way he navigates his personal thoughts and perhaps the way he navigates his thoughts on the page, a weary wonderer. The narrator knew with “absolute certainty” that the maze represented his mind. Sebald previously noted the sense of clarity that is imbued in dreams and in this dream, he is granted with inhuman perception. As he continues on the next page,

“Although in my dream I was sitting transfixed with amazement in the Chinese pavilion, I was at the same time out in the open, within a foot of the very edge, and knew how fearful it is to cast one’s eye so low.” (pg.174)

The anecdote that follows this dream similarly feels like losing oneself in a dream, as he recounts his friend Michael’s visit back home to Berlin after the war. There is a transition that doesn’t loudly announce itself when the narrator switches from describing Michaels escape from Berlin in third person, to describing his return in the first person. Without quotations, we are reminded that Michaels first hand account of the experience is being retold to us through the narrator and thus denied any sense of immediacy, even in the recollecting. The story is kept in the past, yet since this first person narration, which for most of the book belongs to the narrator, goes on for several pages unbroken by a single “he said” our minds slip into assuming these are the experiences of the narrator himself. Regardless, adrift where he use to call home, Michael is at a loss for words. As Michael recounts his longing for resolution,

“All that was required was a moment of concentration, piecing together the syllables of the word concealed in the riddle, and everything would again be as it once was. But I could neither make out the word nor bring myself to mount the stairs and ring the bell of our old flat. Instead I left the building with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and walked and walked, aimlessly and without being able to grasp even the simplest thought…” (pg. 178-179)

            Faced with the immense weight of the past, words fail Michael because he wishes of them what language cannot fulfill. Short of being in denial, his encounter with the past is simply and horrifically indefinable. Sebald directly confronts the fallibility of language when he asks whether writing is perceptive or delusional. In response to his own query Sebald writes,

“Perhaps we all lose our sense of reality to the precise degree to which we are engrossed in our own work, and perhaps that is why we see in the increasing complexity of our mental constructs a means for greater understanding, even while intuitively we know that we shall never be able to fathom the imponderables that govern our course through life.” (pg. 181-182)

Though Sebald acknowledges the significance of the endeavor to create knowledge, he concludes that, like so many people and places in this book, it is doomed to ultimately fail. And so many times meaning escapes the reader if they depend upon reason alone, but as Sebald demonstrates in dreams, understanding is not interchangeable with perceiving. Furthermore, perceiving is not equitable to rational ways of seeing. For instance, when the narrator asks his friend Anne to call for a cab, she is reminded, by chance, of a dream she recently had. In the dream the narrator had called a cab for her, which became a limousine and she went for a drive. As the narrator retells it,

“The atmosphere through which the car moved was denser than air, and somewhat resembled streaming currents of deep, silent water. She saw the forest, Anne said, with absolute clarity and in meticulous detail impossible to put into words… I have only an indistinct notion of how beautiful it all was, said Anne, nor can I properly describe now the feeling of being driven in that limousine that appeared to have no one at the wheel.” (pg. 190)

Even through streaming currents of air, Anne describes a heightened sense of clarity, one that is beyond words. It seems that throughout the entire book, Sebald makes the gentle argument that perceiving supersedes meaning, and that clarity comes from being lost.

 

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