Saturday, 3 September 2016

A Detail


If you want to create the feeling of a place or a time then the best way to start is by the close observation of some detail. How was it made? My spell checker predicted madeleine and that was prescient. One could write a novel being led into a plot by such predictions. Stately plumage of Mulligan about to be shorn. Downy gossamer of ancients swept up by the barber's son shifts on the floor as the door opens. 'Oh' was all he had time to say.

What I mean is that a detail can be not just a portal but also the Aleph or the single point from which all other points in the universe are visible. Borges has written about it. It is also the Colridgean protophenomenon, the one fact that is worth a thousand and that first makes those facts. Is S.T.C. suggesting that an experience demarcates itself and becomes a Platonic form for all other subsequent ones. The detail then can be formal, a particular that creates the universal but then somehow that initial event is forgotten and only the formal remains.

If I came to the bed where you lay sick and in fever,
I would not come with little tight-fisted flowers
But with the white heron's plume that lay in the forest
Till it was cooler than sleep.

(from Bk.Six: John Brown's Body by Stephen Vincent Benet)

No comments: