. . . but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.

01 February 2010

About Amalfitano

__________, thank you for that thoughtful reply at No. 235 concerning Morini. Somehow, I had missed it when I posted right after it. I adamantly agree with the way you have contrasted him with the other three. I accept everything you say, but I remain concerned that something more than a developing maturity of outlook was happening with him because of that passage. Still, your analysis of the Eurylochus story was spot on, I think.

And __________, I wish to add my thanks to that of __________ for the bit of research on Duchamps. I am sure __________ remembers when I was crazy about the guy, buying books, seeing as many of his things as I could, bending peoples' ears. Still, I was not familiar with this particular escapade. These passages, supplemented by your research, made me feel as if I was revisiting an old friend.

When readers become frustrated with a book, instead of invoking the tired trope of throwing the book against the wall or throwing it across the room, as exemplified by poor Kara at No. 61 and a couple of others here, they can hang the book on the clothesline now.

But about Amalfitano. . .

Whether or not he is going insane—and that voice he hears does not bode well, in my opinion—that Part is chock full of stuff. Too much to discuss, actually. I thought it was a tour de force by Bolaño. It seems clear to me, as others have said, that it is Santa Teresa that is having this effect upon poor Amalfitano. Some things that I did not notice having been mentioned already here. . .

When the voice asked him if his hand was a hand, that tied in so nicely with the painter John's masterpiece discussed in the previous part.

The voice delivers a lecture to Amalfitano on calm at page 208. Calm is the one thing that will never let us down. That looks forward nicely to the issue of calm as it comes up in the Part about Oscar Fate.

The story of crazy Lola and her poet was a light interlude with great humor, though certainly black. The poet now produces only smoke rings. (Who was it in the first Part who also blew smoke rings?) Asylums loom up repeatedly in the book.

The passages concerning the wild young prophet Marco Antonio Guerra are remarkable, also. “Young prophet” is my own phrase.

. . .the human being, broadly speaking, is the closest thing there is to a rat.

Amifitano becomes fascinated with the neighbor's wall that has glass shards embedded along the top. He mentions it three times. Glass shards are mentioned again in Part 3. I liked that because I am fascinated with them, too. I mentioned before I had even started the book that I am inside walls like that right now house sitting.
Of my freedom? thought Amalfitano, surprised, as he sprang to the window and opened it and looked out at the side yard and the wall of the house next door, spiky with glass, and the reflection of the streetlights in the shards of broken bottles, very faint green and brown and orange gleams, as if at this time of night the wall stopped being a barricade and became or played at becoming ornamental, a tiny element in a choreography the basic features of which even the ostensible choreographer, the feudal lord next door, couldn't have identified, features that affected the stability, color, and offensive or defensive nature of his fortification. Or as if there was a vine growing on the wall, Amalfitano thought before he closed the window.

That is a truly bizarre passage in couple respects, but beautiful.

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