Volume 2 consumed me in July before the Art of the Novella reading frenzy that was August. And I should have captured my thoughts at the time because now they exist in a distant form on a lime green index card dominated by the words "fear," "Rosa Klebb," "cleanliness," and "menstruation." My thoughts rotate around the way protagonist Deza's character is framed by his boss Tupra's words about fear.
'Fear is the greatest force that exists as long as you can adapt to it and feel at home and live on good terms with it and not waste energy battling to ward it off. Because you can never entirely win that battle; even in moments of apparent victory, you're already anticipating its return, you live under constant threat, and then you become paralysed, and fear immediately takes advantage of that. If on the other hand, you accept fear (that is, if you adjust to it, if you get used to it being there), that gives you incomparable strength and you can take advantage of that strength and use it. Its possibilities are infinite, far greater than those inherent in hatred, ambition, unconditionality, love, the desire for revenge; they're all unknown quantities. Take someone in whom fear has taken deep roots, in whom fear remains active, an everyday kind of fear that has been incorporated into normal life, that person will be capable of truly superhuman exploits. Mothers with small children know this, or most do. As does anyone who's been in a war. But you haven't, have you, Jack? You've been lucky. But that also means that your education will be forever incomplete. They should send mothers into battle with their children nearby, within sight, to hand, because mothers carry their fear with them, it's a permanent fixture; there could be no fiercer combatants.'
And the way that early conversation is recalled at novel's end after an unexpected indulgence into controlled and manipulative violence. How fear is instilled, provoked, and power and advantage rendered. How alien this all seems to Deza at the same time he easily comprehends the reasoning and possibile truth behind it. How so freakin' alone this man is. That even someone as casually reprehensible and misanthropic as Tupra is more connected to those around him.
Deza's alienation is nowhere more evident to me than in his musings about women from the mildly obsessive thoughts about Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love and her suspect personal hygiene habits to his thrice repeated references to menstrual fluid leaking to the floor to the details with which he describes the physical characteristics of all women he encounters. Thinking of fear again. Of how he both fears the unknown elements of women that originate in their physicality as he obviously admires them. How does one enjoy the broader company of women within the restraints of social mores whether those revolve around marriage or work relationships or any number of other encounters?
So I am reading slowly through Volume 3 looking for more in this line, and finding everything and nothing. I'll explain later. What I do find is that I have this intense infatuation with Deza. Not of the variety where you crave a connection but of the variety where you crave a few additional moments within close proximity so that you can imagine what that connection might look like. Where the possibility is more appealing than the reality. Another type of fear where engagement is averted. And allows for the same distant observations for which Deza has such talent. This is addictive stuff.