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Friday, November 30, 2018

BOLANO 2666 My Reading of the Number

Words Written in Blood should not be read but learnt by HEART.- NIETZSCHE

Everyone reviewing this book bores me. As Bolano has said writing is like being a detective and reading is being a detective.


666 is the MARK of The BEAST.
 And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? - Yeats

Newton's Law of Gravitation came to him about 1666, when he was twenty-four. ...in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention, and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since.

Bolano planned his great masterpiece for awhile before he wrote it.  2666 was being finished up when Bolano was forty-eight, just double Newton's age and 1000 years later as a date. Bolano was dying and died just before finishing it but the book we have is just about exactly the way he indicated it be finished. 

2666 - 1666 = 1000 a nice number eh.

2666 divided by 2 = 1333 a prime number which is nice but not serious. 

A REAL Mathematician writing about REAL mathematics

And this is where I happened to find the Newton quote. IMO this is what Bolano means by being a reading detective. The problem with the date exists in all reviews. So I had stored the problem in my head and here I found my reading without searching. Also on pages 64-65 Hardy compares his essay as trying to do for Mathematics what Bradley did in an incredibly long and complex book, which is one of two reasons I bought the book. Actually the third reason is that I have a "bank account" at my favorite local bookstore BOOKMARX in SpringfieldMO. 

Appearances in Bolano talk are SEMBLANCES about which he has much to say

Bradley was the great influence on T.S. Eliot when he was a philosophy student at Cambridge. Hardy was there also.

The Wasteland

The Cocktail Party
When two people who know they do not understand each other
Breed children whom they do not understand
And who will never understand them.

Can we just say there is no love.

Since Bolano was a poet most of his life and turned to fiction after he was married and to leave an inheritance to his family, we know for sure he knew Eliot the great poet of the twentieth century. So surely Bolano also knew F. H. Bradley as his primary influence and we pick this up in all the inclusions of SEMBLANCES Bolano discusses for us. That is, the world is composed of appearances, of semblances. One tears away the veil of appearance - semblance - and the next layer of appearance appears, and so on.

Exceptional edition I chose because Wyndham Lewis writes an essay on Eliot. He was a great influence on Marshall McLuhan and I have been waiting for the universe to present me with his writing somewhere, sometime, and it appeared so that is how I got to Bradley and was pleased that Hardy revered him also. He has been lost in the folds of philosophy where another Foucauldian wants to dig him out. 

Extra also in this collection and another McLuhan influence I. A. Richards with another wonderful essay to match Lewis's one. This book with a portrait of Eliot.

Not as good IMO but a portrait of Eliot by Wyndham Lewis on the cover.  Peter Ackroyd editor.

So I was just out of this detective play when I started 2666. I have a default in my mind on Foucault and anything else I am wondering about.  I only read Hardy after Bolano for the math part and was astonished. Bolano playing with Newton and himself. One young, one dying young captured by imagination. Is this true? I have no idea but I like it and I bet Bolano would have been charmed.

Bolano likes playing with numbers: 

The book was Rafael Dieste's Testamento geometrico published in 1975. (One copy at Amazon for just under $1000!) Amalfitano will take clothespins, hang it on his clothesline in his backyard to turn it into a Duchamp of his own. It is divided into three parts: On the front flap , the reader was informed that the Testamento geometrico was really three books, "each independent, but functionally correlated by the sweep of the whole," and then it said "this work representing the final distillation of Dieste's reflections and research on Space, the notion of which is involved in any methodical discussion of the fundamentals of Geometry." At that moment, Amalfitano thought he remembered that Rafael Dieste was a poet.

This time the advance he sent Archimboldi was bigger than any previous advance, in fact so large that Martha, the secretary, before mailing the check to Cologne, brought it into Mr. Bubis's office and asked (not once but twice) whether the sum was correct, to which Mr. Bubis answered yes, it was, or it wasn't, what did it matter, a sum, he thought when he was alone again, is always approximate, there is no such thing as a correct sum, only the Nazis and teachers of elementary mathematics believed in correct sums, only sectarians, madmen, tax collectors (God rot them), numerologists who read one's fortune for next to nothing believed in correct sums. Scientists, meanwhile, knew that all numbers were only approximate. Great physicists, great mathematicians,  great chemists, and publishers knew that one was always feeling one's way in the dark.(p. 823)

...Archimboldi told her he was looking for literary publishing houses that were still active. The librarian said she could help. For while she rummaged through some papers and then she made a phone call. When this was done she handed Archimboldi a list of twenty publishing houses, the same as the number of days he'd spent typing his novel, which was surely a good sign. (p. 792)

All the critics and reviewers cite 2666 from this passage in Amulet:

I followed them: I saw them go down Bucareli to Reforma with a spring in their step and then cross Reforma without waiting for the lights to change, their long hair blowing in the excess wind that funnels down Reforma at that hour of the night, turning it into a transparent tube or an elongated lung exhaling the city's imaginary breath. Then we walked down the Avenida Guerrero; they weren't stepping so lightly any more, and I wasn't feeling too enthusiastic either. Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 or in 1968, or 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else. (p.897)

What a sad paradox, thought Amalfitano. Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unknown. ...but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and moral wounds and stench. (p.896)

And then there is the title. That enigmatic number, 2666-a date, really - that functions as a vanishing point around which the different parts of the novel fall into place. Without this vanishing point, the perspective of the whole would be lopsided, incomplete, suspended in nothingness. (p. 896)

The Gravitational Law pulls The Crimes underneath towards the Center of the World. Towards the VOID that can never be filled. 
Toward WOMAN.

You have to listen to women. You should never ignore a woman's fears.(p. 348)

Bolano indicates the existence in the work of a "hidden center," concealed beneath what might be considered the novel's "physical center." There is reason to think that this physical center is the city of Santa Teresa, faithful reflection of Ciudad Juarez, on the Mexican-U.S. border. There the five parts of the novel ultimately converge; there the crimes are committed that comprise its spectacular backdrop (and that are said by one of the novel's characters to contain "the secret of the world"). As for the "hidden center"...might it not represent 2666 itself, the date upon which the whole novel rests? (p.896)

The forgotten cemetery is the forgotten gardens in the last pages where the descendant of Furst Pukler tells Archimboldi his story?