Monday, August 10, 2009

38) "the mausoleum of all hope and desire"


the literary life 8/10/09

So I'm reading Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury for a lit class through UCLA extension. The novel's writing is beautiful, poetic, and oblique. I love the opening paragraph of part two entitled, "June Second, 1910." Here it is:

"When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excrutiatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly, and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."


Wow. The shadow of the sash. The mausoleum of all hope and desire. This paragraph is rich with poetry. And though the perspective in this quote is not exactly optimistic, I love how the beautiful language still makes the passage inspiring. I love this contradiction of dark tone and poetic diction, the paradox it can contain. Below I've re-written Faulkner's paragraph above with line breaks to think of it in terms of poetry. Let's call this brief wordplay, "No Battle":


NO BATTLE

When the shadow of the sash
appeared on the curtains
it was between seven
and eight oclock
and then I was in time again,
hearing the watch.
It was Grandfather's
and when Father gave it to me
he said I give you
the mausoleum of all hope and desire;
it's rather excrutiatingly apt
that you will use it
to gain the reducto absurdum
of all human experience
which can fit your individual needs
no better than
it fitted his or his father's.

I give it to you
not that you may remember time,
but that you might forget it
now and then
for a moment
and not spend all your breath
trying to conquer it.
Because no battle
is ever won he said.
They are not even fought.
The field only reveals to man
his own folly, and despair,
and victory is an illusion
of philosophers and fools.

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