So brainsickly of things

A passage to ponder:

That’s what I want to know,” I said. “Now what?” The only way of escaping from that question is not by repeating it but by not allowing it to exist, by not asking it or allowing anyone else to ask it of you. But that’s impossible and perhaps because of that, in order to answer it, you have to invent problems and feel fears and entertain suspicions and think about the abstract future, and think “so brainsickly of things” as Macbeth was told not to do, to see what is not there in order for something to be there, to fear illness or death, abandonment or betrayal, and to dream up threats, if necessary from a third party, even if only by analogy or symbolically and perhaps that is what drives us to read novels and news reports and to go and see films, the search for analogy, for symbolism, the need for recognition rather than cognition. Recounting an event distorts it, recounting facts distorts and twists and almost negates them, everything that one recounts, however true, becomes unreal and approximate, the truth doesn’t depend on things actually existing or happening, but on their remaining hidden or unknown or untold, as soon as they’re related or shown or made manifest, even in a medium that seems real, on television or in the newspapers, in what is called reality or life or even real life, they become part of some analogy or symbolism, and are no longer facts, instead they become mere recognition. The truth never shines forth, as the saying goes, because the only truth is that which is known to no one and which remains untransmitted, that which is not translated into words or images, that which remains concealed and unverified, which is perhaps why we do recount so much or even everything, to make sure that nothing has ever really happened, not once it’s been told.— A Heart So White (Javier Marías)

And don’t forget Lady MacBeth: “My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white.”



While casually reading A Heart So White (Marías) I stumbled on the term “palinschematic.” Marías parenthetically states that figures of art are palinschematic if “the surface or space they inhabit illustrates a complete story.”

Uh, not only did I not understand what Marías was saying but, after a bit of internet research, almost every reference to “palinschematic” led me back to this passage in the book. I have vowed to do further research into this word or concept and I promise not to try to link it in with the wild bunch from Wasilla.

Does anyone have any familiarity with this term that can stir my muddle and help me see?

(Unfortunately, I am reading Marías’s novel on my iPad so I cannot provide a hard page number but I calculate that it is about Page 127.)

Javier Marías

Orhan Pamuk says of Javier Marías that he “should get the Nobel Prize.” I definitely agree but I am a little soft on the recommendation seeing how I wasn’t too pleased when Pamuk won the award. Marías is a writer that should be in every serious reader’s library. Luckily most of his works have been translated into English and we don’t have to struggle through the Spanish (not that reading them in the original Spanish isn’t a great idea, just harder for some readers).

Continue reading “Javier Marías”