Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

miércoles, enero 19, 2011

Man In The Holocene

Today's interminable snow reminds of Max Frisch's brilliant short novel, Man In The Holocene (Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän)(1979).

This summary gives the idea:

The aged Mr. Geiser is bored in his Tessin house during torrential rains. He is so bored that he tries to make a pagoda out of crispbread and categorizes thunders (into rolling thunders, banging thunders etc.). His sole companion is his cat.

Rumors report a landslide, cutting off the valley. Fearing a large slide that would bury the village and man’s knowledge, Geiser reads in his encyclopedia, the Bible, and history books. At first he makes notes and attaches them to the walls; later he cuts paragraphs from the books and tapes them instead, noting sadly that the front sides of the encyclopedia’s pages are visible, but the back sides unfortunately are dissected and destroyed.

Despite the weather, he wanders outdoors. While wandering, he notes his physical limits, and the limits of man’s knowledge and importance.

He notes man's insignificance and meaninglessness (man's appearance in the Holocene era is a very recent event in evolutionary terms).. The old man is exposed to the cycle of life and his mortality.

Geiser has to admit that „der Mensch bleibt ein Laie“ (his man stays a rookie). He slowly loses his memory. He wonders if memory was necessary – "the rocks do not need my memory or not". Towards the end, Geiser suffers cerebral apoplexy that attacks his memory.

I too must be losing my memory. I thought the initial problem in the book, the cause of the protagonist's isolation, was snow and not rain. Snow like today's snow. Isolation like today's isolation. The snow continues here.

Etiquetas: , , ,