Life Big Read Question Thread 4

From the Operation Paperclip Wikipedia page

From the Operation Paperclip Wikipedia page

This week concurrently with Life A User’s Manual I’ve been reading Beckett’s trilogy starting with Molloy, and I noticed this interesting coincidence of thoughts. They deal with satisfaction, meaning, and hope, items that are certainly of central importance to Perec’s book. My emphasis in both quotes.

From Molloy:

But I do not think even Sisyphus is required to scratch himself, or to groan, or to rejoice, as the fashion is now, always at the same appointed places. And it may even be they are not too particular about the route he takes provided it gets him to his destination safely and on time. And perhaps he things each journey is the first This would keep hope alive, would it not, hellish hope. Whereas to see yourself doing the same thing endlessly over and over again fills you with satisfaction.

From Life:

That was one of the few occasions when two weeks were not long enough to finish a puzzle. Customarily, the alternation of excitement and apathy, of exaltation and despair, of feverish expectancy and fleeting certainties, meant that the puzzle would be completed within the prescribed schedule, moving towards it ineluctable goal, where, when all the problems had been solved, there was in the end only a decent, somewhat pedantic water-colour depicting a seaport. Step by step, in frustration or with enthusiasm, he came to satisfy his urge, but by satisfying it caused it to expire, leaving himself with no recourse but to open a fresh black box. [384]

Thoughts? Arguments? Questions? Give them to us here.

[Incidentally, Molloy is fantastic, far, far better than I might have expected. If you haven’t yet, do not deny yourself the aesthetic pleasure any longer.]

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Sometimes I get the impression that Life A User’s Manual resembles a history. The narrative seems projected by the question, What happened at a particular moment in time ? The narrator, bring the reader along, at times seems like a historian at work. And with so many different characters, I feel compelled to ask, Who knows the truth? Or, Who was it that witnessed a certain public or historical event? Yet, as I read on it is very much the personal worlds of his characters that Perec explores, while the broader social and historical context is consistently relegated to the background. These worlds, which Perec’s characters inhabit, seem to have their own distinct logic, distancing the characters somehow and making them mysterious, almost unknowable: their interests, motivations, obsessions and desires. I think that this emphasis Perec places upon individualized, personal worlds, and the relationship of these worlds to the broader social context, is significant and should become more apparent as we read on. As with a particular piece of a puzzle that only acquires meaning in relation to its general context, the picture of which it is but a part.

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