Note: I started writing this months and months ago, and it's not done yet, but I don't have anything else to share today, so here it is.
Three words and a phrase I've pondered of late are revolution, to come to pass, redact, and confound:
Revolution because it's a thing, plus the way you get to the thing (revolution itself only occurs from a revolution, or turning-around, of thought).
To come to pass because it's both to come and to come about.
Redact because it's both to put in writing and to obscure or remove text from a document prior to publication or release. (Has anyone referred to the past eight years as the Redactive Presidency? Dibs.)
And confound because it means everything from mixed up to damned, and its archaic def. is to bring to ruination.
Heavy stuff. What are these words called, anyway? They're not exactly oxymorons, are they? (rhetorical question)
I want to know their rhetorical classification, because it is this rhetorical classification as well as the examples' individual meanings that weave through my three favorite books, all of which I was lucky enough to read this year: The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, Infinite Jest, and Finnegans Wake by my boyfriend, James Joyce.
In all of these works, everything has happened, and yet everything has yet to happen. People must turn and be met by others who themselves are turning, before revolution can happen. Everything's written down, but often reads like soft-focus through a Vaseline-smeared lens (that sounds dirty but I don't mean it to). They're topsy-turvy ideas (and definitions behind the words that symbolize the ideas), and yet what makes better story than opposites attracting? Better drama than A and Z locked in a room?
To that dramatic end, each book's characters also share their occupation of intimate physical spaces: dorm rooms, hospital rooms, halfway-house common areas, all the way into the golden (?) lobes of one's own mind.
(Perhaps part of my frustration (ed note: frustration being yet another definition of confound) with Gravity's Rainbow was the vastness of the roaming involved. Too vast for Slothrop's own good. GR embodies the “to come to pass” ideal, though.)
Minimalization is something that, my three favorites all share, even the one that's more than a thousand pages, with 70+
pages of footnotes.
And yet it makes my heart swell to read, as I read in my new issue of American Theatre magazine, that Beckett's Waiting for Godot is being staged in the front yard of a house flooded out by Hurricane Katrina.