(urth) memory and Suzanne (offshot of Typhon's nature)

Marc Aramini marcaramini at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 17 14:19:33 PDT 2011

--- On Mon, 10/17/11, Jerry Friedman <jerry_friedman at yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: Jerry Friedman <jerry_friedman at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: (urth) memory and Suzanne (offshot of Typhon's nature)
> To: "The Urth Mailing List" <urth at lists.urth.net>
> Date: Monday, October 17, 2011, 1:47 PM
> >From: Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
> >I don’t agree that the name of the main character in
> Suzanne Delage is significant, or that it is about memory. 
> Sure, the name is apparently that of a minor ?>character
> in Proust, and Wolfe is known to like Proust.  But nobody
> has ever, as far as I know, proposed any particular
> connection between the actual Proust >character who bears
> the same name, and the character in Wolfe’s story.  If
> the story was called Mary Macdonald, I would read it exactly
> the same way as I do. 
> ...
> The excerpt from Proust is available at the WolfeWiki
> http://www.wolfewiki.com/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Stories.SuzanneDelage
> and there are more resemblances than the character's
> name.  Whether these resemblances should suggest anything
> about the interpretation of the story is another question.

Fear not, friends!  For when I rewrite Suzanne Delage, line by line, what Wolfe meant merely as flat homage will once again be filled with the full spiritual power of memories unconsciously suppressed, invoking ALL of In Search of Lost Time, not merely a part.  My laborious task is before me, but, like Pierre Menard, I am sure the recreation will be worthwhile.

"It is a revelation to compare Menard’s Don Quixote with Cervantes’. The latter, for example, wrote (part one, chapter nine): 

. . . truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future’s counselor. Written in the seventeenth century, written by the “lay genius” Cervantes, this enumeration is a mere rhetorical praise of history. Menard, on the other hand, writes: 

. . . truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future’s counselor. 

History, the mother of truth: the idea is astounding. Menard, a contemporary of William James, does not define history as an inquiry into reality but as its origin. Historical truth, for him, is not what has happened; it is what we judge to have happened. The final phrases—exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future’s counselor —are brazenly pragmatic. 

The contrast in style is also vivid. The archaic style of Menard—quite foreign, after all—suffers from a certain affectation. Not so that of his forerunner, who handles with ease the current Spanish of his time." [from borges, of course]

For while Wolfe's reference to Delage had little interpretive impact, and his inclusions of quilts were a mere curioustity, Aramini's, conversely, will hinge upon them.  When Wolfe writes of an event so extraordinary it can't be remembered by the very being that experienced it, how the character's mundanity is revealed!  But Aramini, writing the selfsame lines, has captured how extraordinary events WILL escape recollection in his characters.   

{Seriouosly though, there's a reason Wolfe's fiction is so open to these types of theories - he obviously elides a lot of information that at the very least hints at both natural and supernatural resolutions that linger just a bit out of grasp, and I am amazed at how frequently those elisions are quite simply seen as ... intentionally unfillable.}

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