"He’d gone forward, greeted them with the Malayan gesture of stroking their ginders before placing his right hand on his heart, and put a gift-offering in front of each–a little bag of tea or tobacco. But they didn’t answer, didn’t nod their heads, didn’t touch the gifts.This passage from Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec struck me as a reflection of my own position to the book in my hands. And then later I saw my thoughts voiced more articulately in a Conversational Reading post.
A little later dogs began to bark and the village filled with men, women, and children. the men were armed with spears, but were not threatening. Nobody looked at him, nobody seemed to notice he was there.
Appenzzell spent several days in the village without succeeding in making contact with its laconic inhabitants. He exhausted his small supply to tea and tobacco to no effect; no Kubu–not even a child–ever took a single one of these little bags which the daily storm made useless by each evening. The best he could do was to watch how the Kubus lived and to begin to commit what he saw to writing."
"I think Perec has provided us with an excellent metaphor for the act of reading. We all are like Appenzzell, trying to understand a group of people that proceed with their daily lives right before our eyes, but without acknowledging us in the least."
A reality constructed by words that reflects a corporeal and material existence. That borrows heavily through allusions and the "creative plagiarism" identified by some in our reading group. Borrows from both the reality in which the reader exists and all manner of fictional realities. When I tried to explain all of this to a friend this week, I had to laugh at their response. "It sounds like a Matrix movie."
This book is a playful manipulation of language. Not just the jigsaw puzzle that we have discussed but a myriad of ways in which language may be twisted, pulled, flipped and contorted to create pictures. Where the infinite possibilities of words defies finite representation. Where the last intended union between space and word can result in a "W" facing the impossibility of an "X" space. Where perceived failure is not failure but a desire to conquer that impossibility.
This book has me dreaming the annotator's dream. You know, where I have the time and abilities to solve this joyous puzzle piece by piece by tracking every allusion, creation, fabrication to it's origin. That is to say, not done with this one. Might never be done. Loved it most intensely.