Sunday, 2 August 2009

That moment when the geographies of a novel map perfectly over your real world location - what of that moment? A collision of sorts; a cloud descending; a scalloped atlas laid over a corresponding hand-drawn map. It is a strange convergence.

The two modes of thought, one annexed to the fiction and lost in the imaginings of reading, the other geolocated within the present regardless, are invisible anchors to the everyday. Both are unrecognisable till the point which they spiral into one another. At that moment reading is laid horribly bare as an exercise of selfish intellect and, similarly, presence within the day is exposed as a set of shallow processes - digestion, respiration, consternation - locked into diurnal living.

The moment at which this dawning occurs; the moment at which the sun cuts muted orange into the silvers of a short summer night - what of this moment? Often the trigger is a capitalised letter, a proper noun; that which is called place. It is a rare occurrence but two instances identify themselves immediately for me - Naipaul in Mumbai and Kerouac in Colorado.

Today it was Pynchon writing about Neuk├Âlln, writing of a policeman's truncheon striking the head of a regressed character. For that fractured second the book's words, my illusory wanderings, and the eighth borough of Berlin all came together to announce the ridiculousness of each other. For a moment I was a fleshy mass, entirely detached from my environment, holding an object of pulp and ink. Wherever you are, there you be.

No comments: