grist

 

Saturday, February 28, 2004
As I was reading Hopscotch, I imagined that I would be writing about it for weeks here--quoting passages, drawing out ideas, reflecting on the structure, etc. But as I have moved past it, it has faded rather than risen. It has lost some of its blood and muscle and seemed more like the kind of philosophic presentation that I would have sucked in as a student--it seems more and more like an exercise about life than life itself. Though that is not fair to it--there is great life in it--but it is tipping in memory more in the direction of lifelessness, of a product of its time in its presentation of absurdity. Before it faded completely, however, I wanted to capture some of that life and not damn it forever with my faint praises.

This, for instance, is a wonderful description of Adam at the moment of the Fall:
"He covers his face to protect his vision, what had been his; he preserves in that small manual night the last landscape of his paradise. And he cries (because the gesture is also one that accompanies weeping) when he realizes that it is useless, that the real punishment is the one about to begin: the forgetting of Eden, that is to say, bovine conformity, the cheap and dirty joy of work and sweat of the brow and paid vacations.

That idea in itself is worthy of a novel or two: that the punishment is the forgetting of Eden and the desperation of Adam to hold it back from darkness through darkness--I think of some last trace of light held in the physical space of his eye--the most infinitesimal flash of paradise--could you ever be persuaded to open your eye again? It brings to mind a line which (weak memory) comes from Lawrence, I believe--that there are many lights worse than the darkness.

And with that Hopscotch will return to the shelves, a significantly better great book than memory is currently treating it.



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