Samir’s Selection 03/17/2015 (p.m.)

  • tags: writing bookreview KarlOveKnausgaard memory memoir life death biography

    • He refers to a previous marriage, and to “that uncontrollable, unproductive, often degrading, and ultimately destructive space where I lived for so many years.”
    • “I believe the main reason for that is our children, since life with them in the here and now occupies all the space,”
    • And with every passing day the desire grows for the moment when life will reach the top, for the moment when the sluice gates open and life finally moves on. At the same time I see that precisely this repetitiveness, this enclosedness, this unchangingness is necessary, it protects me.
    • “the ambition to write something exceptional one day,”
    • In twenty-five years a third of them would be dead, in fifty years two-thirds, in a hundred all of them. And what would they leave behind, what had their lives been worth?”
    • the hiddenness of death
    • death as a concept, death without a body
    • On the other hand, actual death
    • it was absolutely unreal
    • falling through Knausgaard’s hands “like sand”; elsewhere in the book, the author tells us that falling in love was like being struck by lightning, that he was head over heels in love, that he was as hungry as a wolf. There is, perhaps, something a little gauche in his confessional volubility.
    • Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties, unafraid to appear naïve or awkward. Although his sentences are long and loose, they are not cutely or aimlessly digressive: truth is repeatedly being struck at, not chatted up.
    • “The feeling of inexhaustibility. The feeling of beauty. The feeling of presence.”
    • He has always been unsettled by paintings, but has never found it easy to describe his experience of them—“because what they possessed, the core of their being, was inexhaustibility and what that wrought in me was a kind of desire. I can’t explain it any better than that. A desire to be inside the inexhaustibility.”
    • He wants us to inhabit the ordinariness of life, which is sometimes visionary (the Constable sketch), sometimes banal (the cup of tea, the Old Spice), and sometimes momentous (the death of a parent), but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone.
    • He gives thanks to trees, for existing: “These motionless, foliage-laden, air-bathing beings with their boundless abundance of leaves. . . . For whenever I caught sight of them I was filled with happiness.”
    • plenitude of detail
    • Isn’t this, he asks, the fate of everything we once knew and experienced? All the sounds and smells and tastes reappear, but now nostalgically, “utterly irresistible, as indeed everything you have lost, everything that has gone, always does.” He dwells on some of these lost sensations: the smell of grass “when you are sitting on a soccer field one summer afternoon after training, the long shadows of motionless trees, the screams and laughter of children swimming in the lake on the other side of the road,” the salt in your mouth when you swim, the rocks you climbed as a kid, the taste of a particular energy drink.
    • The sole difference, which is the difference between a child’s reality and an adult’s, was that they were no longer laden with meaning. A pair of Le Coq soccer boots was just a pair of soccer boots. If I felt anything when I held a pair in my hands now it was only a hangover from my childhood, nothing else, nothing in itself. The same with the sea, the same with the rocks, the same with the taste of salt that could fill your summer days to saturation, now it was just salt, end of story. The world was the same, yet it wasn’t, for its meaning had been displaced, and was still being displaced, approaching closer and closer to meaninglessness.
    • Knausgaard’s world is one in which the adventure of the ordinary—the inexhaustibility of the ordinary as a child once experienced it (“the taste of salt that could fill your summer days to saturation”)—is steadily retreating; in which things and objects and sensations are pacing toward meaninglessness. In such a world, the writer’s task is to rescue the adventure from this slow retreat: to bring meaning, color, and life back to the soccer boots and to the grass, and to cranes and trees and airports, and even to Gibson guitars and Roland amplifiers and Ajax.
    • Mourning, for Knausgaard, involves an acceptance that we are all things in the end, and that, like things, even the people we have known and loved and hated will slowly leak away their meaning. Death and life finally unite, married in their ordinariness.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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