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Will they screw each other? – 2666 Diaries, I

2666 Diaries, I

The Part about the Critics

Yes. It’s literally a diary. Wait. I’d rather call it a reading journal. It’s one of the things I resolved to maintain this year. If I can’t quit smoking or oversleeping, maybe I can do this. And never mind the handwriting. It sucks, and I have the temerity to flaunt it under the mercy of stray graphologists. I can use a pricey notebook for my reading journal, but it wouldn’t change my handwriting.

And if you are trying to decipher the code, let me just correct myself. The Perrier that you might have read on that page is really Pelletier. Now enough of this and let’s proceed with the real diary.

Notes: These are originally posted on a discussion thread at GoodReads-TFG. I am currently reading this with the bloggers of The Misanthropologist and Kikay Reader, and our bookish friends Emir and Doc Ranee. Their inputs, although copy-pasted from their original sources, have minor translations and edits. Also, there are spoilers! And please don’t expect to understand the novel’s entirety based on these ramblings. It’s fundamentally a logbook not intended to make light out of things for the would-be reader.

Day 1:

My preconceived notions: tough, a mental exercise, prepare to get bored. But really, this is fun. No need to prepare yourself. Or maybe I’ve been well prepared by the previous book that I read?

The narrative is very engaging. I was laughing at some parts, particularly the part where Pelletier and Espinoza are having a phone conversation about Norton (happiness used once, love used twice, Liz mentioned umpteenth times, etc.). By the way, Pelletier, Espinoza, Norton, and Morini are our literary critics here. They are the foremost scholars of Archimboldi, an elusive writer. The first three are tangled in a ménage à trois, the last is being a vegetable.

One of the commentaries on my edition says that this is a book about books. Yes it is, and the first book that I am reminded of is Byatt’s Possession. Note the parallelisms below:

Benno von Archimboldi = Randolph Henry Ash/Christabel LaMotte
Pelletier, Espinoza, Norton, Morini = Maud, Roland

And yes, we love the literary critic’s life! Literary talk until our brains bleed of letters. But really, it is too ideal a life. Probably such a life is sustainable if you are in a nice country, say Italy or France or UK or even Spain.

But the Philippines?

Day 2:

There’s one line dedicated to Salman Rushdie. My heart swooned when Pelletier and Espinoza kicked that Pakistani for Rushdie despite their belief that he isn’t that good. Which comes to me as a coincidence because Midnight’s Children is the most recent book that I finished.

And then there’s all this talk about the world being a coincidence. I am not sure if I want to agree because it makes me feel like a machine if I put that in my head. Like there are strings pulling me to lead me wherever it is I am supposed to go. I don’t like that. I want to think that I can perform my purpose without the necessity of the strings.

And I’ve been waiting forever for that threesome! I admit that it’s the thing that I am looking forward to the most, aside from the unraveling of the mysteries of Archimboldi. I know I am being pervy, but what can I do? Pelletier-Norton-Espinoza is one of the most intriguing relationships I’ve read about.

Day 3:

I tried rereading some parts that Amalfitano, a minor Archimboldian, was saying about regarding the Mexican intellectual. It’s just futile. It doesn’t make sense. And then Norton said, I don’t understand a thing that you said. Which is funny because I attempted to make sense of something that is supposed to be nonsense. Or it could be that there really is some vague form of sense in the prattle Amalfitano delivered.

I don’t know, but I also find it funny that Espinoza, after his visits to Rebeca, finds Pelletier reading. That is a pattern of maybe 3-4 cycles: Espinoza and Rebeca’s budding romance, Pelletier’s reading habits, and Norton’s email.

The email’s content shouldn’t be surprising but I still found myself surprised. I just thought Morini was being fatherly. Tsk tsk, I missed the subtle hints of Morini’s love for Norton.

“Coincidence isn’t a luxury, it’s the flip side of fate, and something else besides,” said Johns.

“What else?” asked Morini.

“Something my friend couldn’t grasp, for a reason that’s simple and easy to understand. My friend (if I may still call him that) believed in humanity, and so he also believed in order, in the order of painting and the order of words, since words are what we paint with. He believed in redemption. Deep down he may even have believed in progress. Coincidence, on the other hand, is total freedom, our natural destiny. Coincidence obeys no laws and if it does we don’t know what they are. Coincidence, if you’ll permit me the simile, is like the manifestation of God at every moment on our planet. A senseless God making senseless gestures at his senseless creatures. In that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion. The communion of coincidence and effect and the communion of effect with us.”

Buddy Notes:

…Sometimes I feel like the writer is trying different experimental writing styles. Sometimes it’s stream of consciousness, sometimes it’s very straight-forward. Then he has those paragraphs like the phone conversation between Pelletier and Ezpinoza…

…It’s quite strange that I find this book so fascinating to read. If you think about it, the first part is just random events in the lives of the critics, but there are some passages that just take me by surprise, and I can’t help laughing out loud…

…All the characters introduced are bound to the author Benno von Archimboldi: Pelletier, Morini, Espinoza, Norton. Archimboldi is reclusive and not very well-known, so why are they enamored with him? They drifted to him through their own personal failures and limitations. Archimboldi was a necessity…

…As far as destiny vs. choice goes, I don’t believe in destiny. The paths of our lives depend on the choices we make (random or not) – I don’t think we are “destined” to do anything, and I don’t believe that people are born with a purpose. That’s just things we create to give our lives meaning (aha, the functionalist theory is relevant after all!)…

…But my impression was that the first part laid grounds for questions, not answers, as to what binds us to certain things: identification, love? Note the passage about how elusive Archimboldi is, and with the amorous turn, note how the persons involved were so unsure about themselves. No terra firma for our weary critics yet, the ground is turning, shifting…

…The critics’ quest to know Archimboldi and understand his works vaguely parallels Pelletier and Espinoza’s quest to Norton’s heart. In one scene, a character wonders how well one could know a person’s work, and proceeds to illustrate this by relating her and her friend’s disparate reactions to an artist’s works: she tends to laugh, his friend plunges to abysmal despair. Who really knows/understands the artist then, in this case? Similarly, consider how different Norton deals with Pelletier and Espinoza – reticent in one, uncomfortably chatty with the other. Moreover, consider the importance of presenting the Archimboldian “schools of thought” with their differing interpretations and the personal wars they wage against one another. Questions are more important than answers sometimes…

…True about not being able to know anyone really well. I think even with Archimboldi, they may have mentioned somewhere that though they have analyzed him to pieces, they still don’t really know much about him as a person…

…Personally, I think that Bolaño’s thematic takes on interpretation (critics to Archimboldi’s work, Pelletier and Espinoza to Norton or all of them to Morini, reader to writer, connoisseur to art(ist)) possibly hint on the importance of viewpoints and interpretation. I’m excited to know how this thematic handling is related to the whole of 2666…

…In their case, prior to the sex happening, neither Pelletier or Espinoza expressed their intention or desire to be with Liz. Their attitude towards this would be different if after their first meeting, one of them said he’s interested and the other would say go for it. But then either one will go for it. Somehow, their love triangle (if we could call it that) is more circumstantial than 100% intentional…

…Actually, I think they think love is not easy. Because if it is then their love for Archimboldi would have yielded something. In their eyes, they are at war, since they are fighting to gain access to what they love (more knowledge re: Archimboldi’s life)…

…Can’t remember who said this “We are all destined to be great. It is left up to us to choose to be great.” I agree…

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8 Comments

  1. Nice journal! Is the switch from red to black ink significant? I have a similar post on my blog tab…I noticed that this is harder to do when more than 2 people are involved :P

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    • Nope! It just indicates a different paragraph. To save space. And to make my reading journal a bit readable, hahaha. Thanks!

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  2. Wow! Nice journal, I wish i can to the same. I write …actually scribbles a lot on my power notebook as i call it. A journal is a highly leveled-up version. Keep it up!

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    • We can all do this. Any notebook will do. I used to doodle on steno notebooks, hahaha. I just feel a little inspired knowing that Hemingway, Van Gogh, and other artsy people used to scribble on a Moleskine.

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    • You’re right! I guess that is where everybody started tho… Scribbles, doodle,graphs,stenos,etc…. inspiring indeed!

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