Monday, November 13, 2006

War Of Time by Alejo Carpentier

War of Time by Alejo Carpenteir, is the first book in months that I have finished. In the meantime I have been getting fat, looking for a new job, dealing with complicated doctor's instructions, arguing with my father about politics and beginning several chapters of my epic dealing with an African Goddess. I will tell no more.

I loved War of Time. It is a collection of short story that plays with time and narrative underneath the cover of larger epics such as Ulysses, Noah's Arch, pilgrimages and voyages to the New World. As usual, soldiers, saints and sailors litter the stories with minutia that Homer, Virgil or the chroniclers of Columbus simply forgot. Carpentier is the master of creating endearing reflections of the everyday making specific points in time exotic instead of places. I liked the love scene of Penelope best and thought that the short story "Journey to the Source" was just a simple exercise, a beautifully one at that, but the unconsummated love of Ulysses and Penelope in "Like the Night" triumphed, in my opinion, what many consider to be his best work in Journey. Night's reasons, its truthfulness of a man and woman bare in bed, the failure of making love because of drink, a visit to a whorehourse or inner inertia combined into an embarrassing honesty that I don't normally read. Man-honest-truth is something that I like and wish I could read more of as I get older. While studying in undergrad and grad school, most of my professors were women and they just took for granted that I was reading or had read the male centered cannon. If I admit that I read Norman Mailer or Philip Roth back then I was usually stoned by the politically correct warriors. But that is old salt in an old wound. I am not so much upset about it, as I am always amazed when I read about the relationship between a man and a woman from a male perspective in literature and can identify with that failure. Miscommunication of the body is worse than words.

So in that vein, D.H. Lawrence is next on my list of completions. I am reading Women in Love. I started Lady Chatterley's Lover in the German translation but that book is not with me.


I woke up this morning thinking about my friend Moa. He sent me a letter asking when I am coming back to Cologne. I miss Moa, we sung together in the tenor section of the Brazilian choir. I miss singing in the gospel choir too. But there is more to that and Moa and the gospel choir. He sent me the letter on the first day of carnival, November 11th. Hmmmmmmm.

I mention it because I have been sitting through the madness of a certain hip-hop magazine's reshuffling wondering about my writing and getting it on the page. But, I guess I am done with it. All the promises that many in my generation thought we were going to have fulfilled has not been and will not be. We are a decade out, the legacy is now established and what is done is done.

I also woke up hearing the groundbreaking of the King Memorial. Well, he should be deified. Oprah and Obama (they should run in 2006) were speaking, and Andrew Young was crying. While riding in the car with my father to the bank on on to the pharmacy to pick up my insulin, I sawthat we are more a like than I thought. He doesn't feel like he belongs with the party's march or procession of people claiming that a certain emancipation is done and fixed. He wants to play the game, even if he is a Democratic voting Black Republican this time around. I am the same. I am not really following the party lines, I got pushed out the game for being different too, I just prefer to play down on the Lower Eastside for now, and across the pond later. But, there is something I have to figure out in my hand about the pary line that lines up with Harlem, Black Studies departments and the destruction of New Orleans and the family and friends I have there.

I am rambling, I know. But I will flesh it out somehow.


Joan said...

Dear blogger,
I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog as stumbled upon it by accidence. I was instructed to write an essay about Carpentier's "Like the Night" and I was struck by your wrong interpretation of the love scene. Carpentier jumps in his book from time and culture: from the Trojan War through WOI or WOII. It is true that the opening and closing chapters are in the setting of Iliad's Trojan war, however the second and third chapter are about the Spanish and French crusades and the fourth about some country of the Allied forces. Thus the lover is not Penelope (it would not be possible anyway, since the perspective is from the unnamed soldier and Penelope was the wife of...Odysseus), but another anonymous woman who is willing to offer her viriginty to soldiers who are about to depart for the battlefield.
Don't take my comment to serious..I'm just a college girl finding your blog interesting and in need of purging the overload of literary analyzing on you. Sorry and Thanks!

Littlemilk said...

Thanks Jo-An.

I have been running around so much that I have not had time to even think about my blog.

I will have to re-read the chapter. And don't worry, I did not take your observation to seriously.

I am most appreciative.