Notebook: on Paul Auster’s “Leviathan”


I just read this paragraph in my latest bedside read: Paul Auster’s Leviathan. I think it both summarizes and connects the posts/analyses that we’ve been writing here on That’s Not It. First of all, it talks about sexuality, but maybe not from the perspective that we’ve had on it (in Ryan’s analysis on Stevens), secondly it adresses contradictions as a fundamental part of every social construction, or to use both Auster’s, Pascal’s and Stevens’s terminology: Imagination (which we’ve focused on in various posts). Contradictions that in a sense could be described by the Derridean concept of “aporia” as the factor that both hinders and engenders meaning. Finally the Lacanian concept of “the real” is introduced in it’s last sentence (which I briefly touched upon in my comment to Ryan’s analysis)

“Only Sachs could have informed you that when the film actress Louise Brooks was growing up in a small town in Kansas at the beginning of the century, her next-door playmate was Vivian Vance, the same woman who later starred in the I Love Lucy show. It thrilled him to have discovered this: that the two sides of American womanhood, the vamp and the frump, the libidinous sex-devil and the dowdy housewife, should have started on the same place, on the same dusty street in the middle of America. Sachs loved these ironies, the vast follies and contradictions of history, the way in which facts were constantly turning themselves on their head. By gorging himself on those facts, he was able to read the world as though it were a work of the imagination, turning documented events into literary symbols, tropes that pointed to some dark, complex pattern embedded in the real” – Paul Auster, 1992, Leviathan, New York, Viking Penguin: 26-27

Claes Wrangel


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