Saturday, November 10, 2007

Odd content

A discomforting reading experience is re-reading a favourite novel, one I've already read a few times, only to discover something unexpected, something that fades its aura of formal perfection. Example: Thomas Bernhard's Concrete. On page 67 the narrator Rudolf visits Niederkreut, a veteran Cavalry Officer from the First World War. Soon talk turns to Niederkreut's Will. The old man explains that he intends to leave his fortune to a name chosen at random from the London telephone directory.
I open it at random ... and with my eyes closed, I put the index finger of my right hand at a certain spot. When I opened my eyes I found that the tip of my finger was resting on the name Sarah Slother. I don't know who Sarah Slother is - her address is 128 Knightsbridge.
While the name is only odd and the address plausible (Knightsbridge is a road as well as a district), it appears to me as a false note. Perhaps I should regard it as Reger regards the flaws he seeks in Old Masters in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum: an imperfection necessary to art. But I'd rather it wasn't there. Any other examples?

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