zondag 3 juli 2011

The Peasant of Paris

Louis Aragon's 'Paris Peasant' (1926) is a pioneering effort in urban travel writing that without the historic pedigree of the author as co-founder of the Surrealist Movement would have been long out of print as a curious timepiece by a talented author too young to keep his adolescent vanity in check. The first part is a deep topography of the last days of an arcade before its demolition of the new Paris, the second part is a contrived elegy on nature and gardening and place that combines originality with rapturous unreadability. In spirit the things it comes closest to in my mind is Sinclair's Light out for the Territory.
The whole fauna of human fantasies, their marine vegetation, drifts and luxuriates in the dimly lit zones of human activity, as though plaiting thick tresses of darkness. Here, too, appear the lighthouses of the mind, with their outward resemblance to less pure symbols. The gateway to mystery swings open at the touch of human weakness and we have entered the realms of darkness. One false step, one slurred syllable together reveal a man's thoughts. The disquieting atmospheres of places contains similar locks which cannot be bolted fast against infinity. Wherever the living pursue particularly ambiguous activities, the inanimate may sometimes assume the reflection of their most secret motives: and thus our cities are people with unrecognized sphinxes which will never stop the passing dreamer and ask him mortal questions unless he first projects his meditations, his absence of mind, towards them. 

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Allow me to disgree :)

    "Lights out" is quite an easy book in Sinclair's oevre - and a very inspiring one also.

    This kind of dense prose can be found in Sinclair's "Downriver". Here you sometimes have to "decode" whole pages of metaphors before discovering what the author is talking about. This book compares "well" with Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow".

    BTW - For my collection of "unreadable books" I bought "The purloined letter - Poe, Lacan, Derrida" yesterday - I think I will not be disappointed :)

  2. I read this recently and actually found it quite dull. It's thought of as some kind of seminal text for psychogeographers, but in fact he just seems to spend much of time playing cards in cafes, and rarely seems to walk anywhere!