Derik Badman's Journal

2020-05-23 13:29

Finished up the last Neveryon book the other day. The last two stories return in different ways to the beginning of the series. "The Game of Time and Pain" returns to Gorgik "the Liberator" who is the protagonist of the first story in the series and plays varying roles both real and imagined throughout. In this story he narrates events from within the timeline of the first story and his return to the location of that event, showing his changed perspective along with his changed position in society. The second tale "The Tale of Rumor and Desire" takes place at various points across the series, telling the story of a bandit and ne'er-do-well who at first seems unconnected to any of the other stories or characters, but then at one point his narrative comes around to intersect with one of the earliest scenes in the first story of the series.

In "The Tale of Gorgik", the first story, which is also reprinted in this volume as the last story, Gorgik, as a youth, before being forced into slavery, is out in the city near his house and sees a young collared slave sitting against a cistern. He is fascinated by the slave and his collar and keeps coming back to look at him, finally, at one point, seeing the slave remove his collar and throw it into the cistern. This scene clearly effects Gorgik's later life, but we learn in "The Tale of Rumor and Desire" that that slave is the bandit, and he was wearing the collar, not because he was a slave, but because he was ostensibly using it to turn tricks with people who would be interested in such a thing. It's another one of the many cases in the series of symbols and interpretation that are turned over.

The book ends with a long afterward by Delany where he discusses many of his influences in particular the various theorists who inspired the work. The usage of semiotics and psychoanalysis is at least minimally obvious to anyone familiar with the topics, though I'm not sure knowing the sources and concepts add to the stories themselves. As Delany's interpretations and evocations of the theories it is probably better to take them as is, than to try to map them to any particular source. I've reread the series more than once now (I think the full series only twice but the earlier volumes perhaps thrice) yet somehow parts of it always come as a surprise. In fact this time through I had no recollection at all of the last story.

This morning I watched Jacques Rivette's Paris Belongs To Us his first full length movie from 1960, which I've never watched before. For Rivette it was short (2:20) and quite engaging throughout. In numerous ways it felt rather noir-ish. A young woman is throughout performing a sort of investigation (and frequently wearing a trenchcoat), looking for a tape recording of music by a man who kills himself, or is perhaps murdered) before the film starts. A few characters are convinced of some kind of vast ranging conspiracy, often seeming quite paranoid, while the protagonist gets involved in their lives and at least at times is convinced of its truth. Like many Rivette films there is also a theatre production going on. The movie is dark and often set in enclosed spaces, small rooms (most of the characters seem to live in single room apartments). The conspiracy theory builds to a fervor at the end, and then, poof, it is extinguished as the characters learn the actual reasons for the two deaths that are a focus of the plot. And in some ways, that is a relief, there is no grand conspiracy, but then also... there are still three deaths (one likely murdered by fascists, one driven to suicide, one shot at the end) that didn't require a conspiracy. In many ways it felt very cynical.