Saturday, January 9, 2010

Aimless Reading: The F's, Part 16 (E.M. Forster)

A Passage to India
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Forster, E.M.
A Passage to India

I think I bought this for a course I took in college. My memory is that we never got around to reading it in class. I didn't return the book. Neither did I read it, sad to say. I did see the movie, however, which is pictured on the cover. Ah, someday.

I had a strange dream just before I woke this morning. A friend of mine called me up to tell me that another friend, a youngish poet, was dead. He said "___ is dead!." I didn't understand at first; he repeated it. "___ is dead!." I woke with a start.

I have been reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams lately, which has led me to start trying to instantly trace the connections of the dream to the events of the day before, then to tie those to childhood memories, and finally to try to uncover the wish-fulfillment at the heart of the dream.


Yesterday, another friend wrote to tell me he'd nearly died from a blood-clot in his leg in October. I hadn't heard from him in a while, so it was a bit of a surprise. I assume that the dream-death is also connected to my father's sudden death from a stroke a decade or so ago. (I am also reading the Brothers Karamazov, which must figure in here somewhere).

As to the dead poet, well, I was just talking about him yesterday. I think his death signifies a kind of professional jealousy about some of the attention he's gotten of late. I suppose his dream-death would create an opportunity for me to step into his place, which must be the fulfillment of the wish. Or, maybe he is a stand-in for my father-- I am the oldest, and his sudden death opened up the same 'opportunity.'

Dreams are so petty.

from A Passage to India

A Marabar cave had been horrid as far as Mrs Moore was concerned, for she had nearly fainted in it, and had some difficulty in preventing herself from saying so as soon as she got into the air again. It was natural enough: she had always suffered from faintness, and the cave had become too full, because all their retinue followed them. Crammed with villagers and servants, the circular chamber began to smell. She lost Aziz and Adela in the dark, didn’t know who touched her, couldn’t breathe, and some vile naked thing struck her face and settled on her mouth like a pad. She tried to regain the entrance tunnel, but an influx of villagers swept her back. She hit her head. For an instant she went mad, hitting and gasping like a fanatic. For not only did the crush and stench alarm her; there was also a terrifying echo.

Professor Godbole had never mentioned an echo; it never impressed him, perhaps. There are some exquisite echoes in India; there is the the whisper round the dome at Bijapur; there are the long, solid sentences that voyage through the air at Mandu, and return unbroken to their creator. The echo in a Marabar cave is not like these, it is entirely devoid of distinction. Whatever is said, the same monotonous noise replies, and quivers up and down the walls until it is absorbed into the roof. ‘Boum’ is the sound as far as the human alphabet can express it, or ‘bou-oum’, or ‘ou-boum’ -utterly dull. Hope, politeness, the blowing of a nose, the squeak of a boot, all produce ‘boum’. Even the striking of a match starts a little worm coiling, which is too small to complete a circle, but is eternally watchful. And if several people talk at once an overlapping howling noise begins, echoes generate echoes, and the cave is stuffed with a snake composed of small snakes, which writhe independently.

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