Alla inlägg den 25 maj 2011

Av debbyhanxu debbyhanxu - 25 maj 2011 03:54

Next day, with the courage you find you have when there is nothing more to lose, she got in touch with C. Morris Schrift, and inquired after his mysteri­ous client. "He decided to attend the auction in person," was all Schrift would tell her. "You might run into him there." She might. The auction was duly held, on a Sunday afternoon, in perhaps the oldest building in San Narciso, dating from before World War II. Oedipa arrived a few minutes early, alone, and in a cold lobby of gleaming redwood floorboards and the smell of wax and paper, she met Genghis Cohen, who looked genuinely embar­rassed. "Please don't call it a conflict of interests," he drawled earnestly. "There were some lovely Mozam­bique triangles I couldn't quite resist. May I ask if you've come to bid, Miz Maas." "No," said Oedipa, "I'm only being a busybody." "We're in luck. Loren Passerine, the finest auction­eer in the West, will be crying today." "Will be what?" "We say an auctioneer 'cries' a sale," Cohen said. "Your fly is open," whispered Oedipa. She was not sure what she'd do when the bidder revealed him­self. She had only some vague idea about causing a scene violent enough to bring the cops into it and find out that way who the man really was. She stood in a patch of sun, among brilliant rising and falling points of dust, trying to get a little warm, wondering if she'd go through with it. "It's time to start," said Genghis Cohen, offering his arm. The men inside the auction room wore black mohair and had pale, cruel faces. They watched her come in, trying each to conceal his thoughts. Loren Passerine, on his podium, hovered like a puppet-master, his eyes bright, his smile practiced and relentless. He stared at her, smiling, as if saying, I'm surprised you ac­tually came. Oedipa sat alone, toward the back of the room, looking at the napes of necks, trying to guess which one was her target, her enemy, perhaps her proof. An assistant closed the heavy door on the lobby windows and the sun. She heard a lock snap shut; the sound echoed a moment. Passerine spread his arms in a gesture that seemed to belong to the priesthood of some remote culture; perhaps to a descending angel. The auctioneer cleared his throat.

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Oedipa knew them by heart. In the .15 dark green from the 1893 Columbian Exposition Issue ("Co­lumbus Announcing His Discovery"), the faces of three courtiers, receiving the news at the right-hand side of the stamp, had been subtly altered to express un­controllable fright. In the .03 Mothers of America Is­sue, put out on Mother's Day, 1934, the flowers to the lower left of Whistler's Mother had been re­placed by Venus's-flytrap, belladonna, poison sumac and a few others Oedipa had never seen. In the 1947 Postage Stamp Centenary Issue, commemorating the great postal reform that had meant the beginning of the end for private carriers, the head of a Pony Express rider at the lower left was set at a disturbing angle unknown among the living. The deep violet .03 regular issue of 1954 had a faint, menacing smile on the face of the Statue of Liberty. The Brussels Exhibition Issue of 1958 included in its aerial view of the U. S. pavilion at Brussels, and set slightly off from the other tiny fair-goers, the unmistakable silhouette of a horse and rider. There were also the Pony Express stamp Cohen had showed her on her first visit, the Lincoln .04 with "U. S. Potsage," the sinister .08 airmail she'd seen on the tat­tooed sailor's letter in San Francisco. "Well, it's interesting," she said, "if the article's legitimate." "That ought to be easy enough to check out." Bortz gazing straight into her eyes. "Why don't you?" The toothaches got worse, she dreamed of disem­bodied voices from whose malignance there was no appeal, the soft dusk of mirrors out of which something was about to walk, and empty rooms that waited for her. Your gynecologist has no test for what she was pregnant with. One day Cohen called to tell her that the final arrangements had been made to auction off Inverarity's stamp collection. The Tristero "forgeries" were to be sold, as lot 49. "And something rather disturbing, Miz Maas. A new book bidder has appeared on the scene, whom neither I nor any of the firms in the area have heard of before. That hardly ever happens." "A what?" Cohen explained how there were floor bidders, who would attend the auction in person, and book bidders, who would send in their bids by mail. These bids would be entered in a special book by the auction firm, hence the name. There would be, as was customary, no public disclosure of persons for whom "the book" would be bidding. "Then how do you know he's a stranger?" "Word gets around. He's being super-secretive— working through an agent, C. Morris Schrift, a very reputable, good man. Morris was in touch with the auc­tioneers yesterday to tell them his client wanted to ex­amine our forgeries, lot 49, in advance. Normally there's no objection if they know who wants to see the lot, and if he's willing to pay all the postage and insur­ance, and get everything back inside of 24 hours. But Morris got quite mysterious about the whole thing, wouldn't tell his client's name or anything else about him. Except that as far as Morris knew, he was an out­sider. So being a conservative house, naturally, they apologized and said no." "What do you think?" said Oedipa, already know­ing pretty much. "That our mysterious bidder may be from Tris­tero," Cohen said. "And saw the description of the lot in the auction catalogue. And wants to keep evidence that Tristero exists out of unauthorized hands. I wonder what kind of a price they'll offer." Oedipa went back to Echo Courts to drink bour­bon until the sun went down and it was as dark as it would ever get. Then she went out and drove on the freeway for a while with her lights out, to see what would happen. But angels were watching. Shortly after midnight she found herself in a phone booth, in a desolate, unfamiliar, unlit district of San Narciso. She put in a station call to The Greek Way in San Francisco, gave the musical voice that answered a de­scription of the acned, fuzz-headed Inamorato Anony­mous she'd talked to there and waited, inexplicable tears beginning to build up pressure around her eyes. Half a minute of clinking glasses, bursts of laughter, sounds of a juke box. Then he came on. "This is Arnold Snarb," she said, choking up. "I was in the little boys' room," he said. "The men's room was full." She told him, quickly, using up no more than a minute, what she'd learned about The Tristero, what had happened to Hilarius, Mucho, Metzger, Driblette, Fallopian. "So you are," she said, "the only one I have. I don't know your name, don't want to. But I have to know whether they arranged it with you. To run into me by accident, and tell me your story about the post horn. Because it may be a practical joke for you, but it stopped being one for me a few hours ago. I got drunk and went driving on these freeways. Next time I may be more deliberate. For the love of God, human life, whatever you respect, please. Help me." "Arnold," he said. There was a long stretch of bar noise. "It's over," she said, "they've saturated me. From here on I'll only close them out. You're free. Released. You can tell me." "It's too late," he said. "For me?" "For me." Before she could ask what he meant, he'd hung up. She had no more coins. By the time she could get somewhere to break a bill, he'd be gone. She stood between the public booth and the rented car, in the night, her isolation complete, and tried to face to­ward the sea. But she'd lost her bearings. She turned, pivoting on one stacked heel, could find no mountains either. As if there could be no barriers between herself and the rest of the land. San Narciso at that moment lost (the loss pure, instant, spherical, the sound of a stainless orchestral chime held among the stars and struck lightly), gave up its residue of uniqueness for her; became a name again, was assumed back into the American continuity of crust and mantle. Pierce Inverarity was really dead. She walked down a stretch of railroad track next the highway. Spurs ran off here and there into fac­tory property. Pierce may have owned these factories too. But did it matter now if he'd owned all of San Narciso? San Narciso was a name; an incident among our climatic records of dreams and what dreams be­came among our accumulated daylight, a moment's squall-line or tornado's touchdown among the higher, more continental solemnities—storm-systems of group suffering and need, prevailing winds of affluence. There was the true continuity, San Narciso had no bounda­ries. No one knew yet how to draw them. She had dedicated herself, weeks ago, to making sense of what Inverarity had left behind, never suspecting that the legacy was America. Might Oedipa Maas yet be his heiress; had that been in the will, in code, perhaps without Pierce really knowing, having been by then too seized by some headlong expansion of himself, some visit, some lucid instruction? Though she could never again call back any image of the dead man to dress up, pose, talk to and make answer, neither would she lose a new com­passion for the cul-de-sac he'd tried to find a way out of, for the enigma his efforts had created. Though he had never talked business with her, she had known it to be a fraction of him that couldn't come out even, would carry forever beyond any decimal place she might name; her love, such as it had been, remaining incommensurate with his need to possess, to alter the land, to bring new skylines, personal antago­nisms, growth rates into being. "Keep it bouncing," he'd told her once, "that's all the secret, keep it bounc­ing." He must have known, writing the will, facing the spectre, how the bouncing would stop. He might have written the testament only to harass a one-time mistress, so cynically sure of being wiped out he could throw away all hope of anything more. Bitterness could have run that deep in him. She just didn't know. He might himself have discovered The Tristero, and en­crypted that in the will, buying into just enough to be sure she'd find it. Or he might even have tried to sur­vive death, as a paranoia; as a pure conspiracy against someone he loved. Would that breed of perversity prove at last too keen to be stunned even by death, had a plot finally been devised too elaborate for the dark Angel to hold at once, in his humorless vice-president's head, all the possibilities of? Had some­thing slipped through and Inverarity by that much beaten death? Yet she knew, head down, stumbling along over the cinderbed and its old sleepers, there was still that other chance. That it was all true. That Inverarity had only died, nothing else. Suppose, God, there really was a Tristero then and that she had come on it by accident. If San Narciso and the estate were really no different from any other town, any other estate, then by that continuity she might have found The Tristero anywhere in her Republic, through any of a hundred lightly-concealed entranceways, a hundred alienations, if only she'd looked. She stopped a minute between the steel rails, raising her head as if to sniff the air. Becom­ing conscious of the hard, strung presence she stood on —knowing as if maps had been flashed for her on the sky how these tracks ran on into others, others, know­ing they laced, deepened, authenticated the great night around her. If only she'd looked. She remembered now old Pullman cars, left where the money'd run out or the customers vanished, amid green farm flatnesses where clothes hung, smoke lazed out of jointed pipes. Were the squatters there in touch with others, through Tristero; were they helping carry forward that 300 years of the house's disinheritance? Surely they'd forgot­ten by now what it was the Tristero were to have inherited; as perhaps Oedipa one day might have. What was left to inherit? That America coded in Inverarity's testament, whose was that? She thought of other, im­mobilized freight cars, where the kids sat on the floor planking and sang back, happy as fat, whatever came over the mother's pocket radio; of other squatters who stretched canvas for lean-tos behind smiling billboards along all the highways, or slept in junkyards in the stripped shells of wrecked Plymouths, or even, daring, spent the night up some pole in a lineman's tent like caterpillars, swung among a web of telephone wires, living in the very copper rigging and secular miracle of communication, untroubled by the dumb voltages flick­ering their miles, the night long, in the thousands of unheard messages. She remembered drifters she had listened to, Americans speaking their language care­fully, scholarly, as if they were in exile from some­where else invisible yet congruent with the cheered land she lived in; and walkers along the roads at night, zooming in and out of your headlights without looking up, too far from any town to have a real destination. And the voices before and after the dead man's that had phoned at random during the darkest, slowest hours, searching ceaseless among the dial's ten million possibilities for that magical Other who would reveal herself out of the roar of relays, monotone lit­anies of insult, filth, fantasy, love whose brute repeti­tion must someday call into being the trigger for the unnamable act, the recognition, the Word. How many shared Tristero's secret, as well as its exile? What would the probate judge have to say about spreading some kind of a legacy among them all, all those nameless, maybe as a. first installment? Oboy. He'd be on her ass in a microsecond, revoke her letters testamentary, they'd call her names, proclaim her through all Orange County as a redistributionist and pinko, slip the old man from Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus in as administrator de bonis non and so much baby for code, constellations, shadow-legatees. Who knew? Perhaps she'd be hounded some­day as far as joining Tristero itself, if it existed, in its twilight, its aloofness, its waiting. The waiting above all; if not for another set of possibilities to replace those that had conditioned the land to accept any San Narciso among its most tender flesh without a reflex or a cry, then at least, at the very least, waiting for a sym­metry of choices to break down, to go skew. She had heard all about excluded middles; they were bad shit, to be avoided; and how had it ever happened here, with the chances once so good for diversity? For it was now like walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and ones twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, may­be endless. Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be a transcendent meaning, or only the earth. In the songs Miles, Dean, Serge and Leonard sang was either some fraction of the truth's numinous beauty (as Mucho now believed) or only a power spectrum. Tremaine the Swastika Salesman's reprieve from holo­caust was either an injustice, or the absence of a wind; the bones of the GI's at the bottom of Lake In-verarity were there either for a reason that mattered to the world, or for skin divers and cigarette smokers. Ones and zeroes. So did the couples arrange them­selves. At Vesperhaven House either an accommoda­tion reached, in some kind of dignity, with the Angel of Death, or only death and the daily, tedious prepara­tions for it. Another mode of meaning behind the ob­vious, or none. Either Oedipa in the orbiting ecstasy of a true paranoia, or a real Tristero. For there either was some Tristero beyond the appearance of the legacy America, or there was just America and if there was just America then it seemed the only way she could continue, and manage to be at all relevant to it, was as an alien, unfurrowed, assumed full circle into some paranoia.

Av debbyhanxu debbyhanxu - 25 maj 2011 03:52

Did you notice my cousin Renée? Do you think she's having a good time?" Renée had just broken up with her boyfriend, but undeterred by depression had driven up from L.A figuring maybe a party was what she needed. Zoyd remembered her, among the roster of his in-law aunts, uncles, and cousins, as a tall florid girl in a minidress that bore the image, from neck to hemline, of Frank Zappa's face, thus linking her in Zoyd's mind somehow with Mount Rushmore. He smiled, squinting back, like a schoolmarm who still couldn't believe her luck. A breeze had come up and begun to move the leaves of their tree. "Frenesi, do you think that love can save anybody? You do, don't you?" At the time he hadn't learned yet what a stupid question it was. She gazed up at him from just under the brim of the hat. He thought, At least try to remember this, try to keep it someplace secure, just her face now in this light, OK, her eyes quiet like this, her mouth poised to open. . . . Mean or not, he hadn't cried about it for a long time. The years had kept rolling, like the surf he used to ride, high, calm, wild, windless. But increasingly the day, the necessary day, presenting its demands, had claimed him, till there was only one small bitter amusement he refused to let go of. Now and then, when moon, tides, and planetary magnetism were all in tune, he went venturing out, straight up through the third eye in his forehead, into an extraordinary system of transport whereby he could go gliding right to wherever she was, and incompletely unseen, sensed just enough to be troublesome, he then would haunt her, for as long as he could, enjoying every squeezed-out minute. A vice, for sure, and one he had confessed only to a handful of people, including, it may have turned out unwisely, their daughter, Prairie, this very morning. "Oh," sitting over a breakfast of Cap'n Crunch and Diet Pepsi, "you mean you dreamed —" Zoyd shook his head. "I was awake. But out of my body." She gave him a look that he didn't, so early in the day, attend to the full risk of, telling him she trusted him not to be running some cruel put-on. They'd been known not to share a sense of humor on many topics, her mom in particular. "You go there and — what? You perch somewhere and look, you keep flying around, how's it work?" "It's like Mr. Sulu laying in coordinates, only different," Zoyd explained. "Knowin' exactly where you want to go." He nodded, and she felt some unaccustomed bloom of tenderness for this scroungy, usually slow-witted fringe element she'd been assigned, on this planet, for a father. What mattered at the moment was that he knew how to visit Frenesi out in the night, and that could only mean he must feel a need for her as intense as Prairie's own. "Where's it you go, then? Where is she?" "Keep tryin' to find out. Try to read signs, locate landmarks, anything that'll give a clue, but — well the signs are there on street corners and store windows — but I can't read them." "It's some other language?" "Nope, it's in English, but there's something between it and my brain that won't let it through." Prairie made a sound like a game-show buzzer. "I'm sorry Mr. Wheeler. ..." Let down and suspicious, she drifted away again. "Say hi to 'em up on Phantom Creek, OK?" He took a left at the row of mailboxes, went strumming over a cattle guard, parked out by the horse barn, and walked in. RC was over in Blue Lake running chores, but Moonpie was around, looking after Lotus, the baby. The crawdads were in an old Victorian bathtub that doubled as a watering trough. Together Zoyd and Moonpie netted them out and weighed them on a seed, feed, and fertilizer scale, and he wrote her a postdated check he'd still have to scramble, this day already so advanced, to cover. "Somebody at the Nugget the other night," baby on her arm, giving him now a straight, worried look, "askin' about you. RC thought he knew him, but wouldn't tell me anythin'."

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when she got back to Echo Courts, she found Miles, Dean, Serge and Leonard arranged around and on the diving board at the end of the swimming pool with all their instruments, so composed and motionless that some photographer, hidden from Oedipa, might have been shooting them for an album illustration. "What's happening?" said Oedipa. "Your young man," replied Miles, "Metzger, really put it to Serge, our counter-tenor. The lad is crackers with grief." "He's right, missus," said Serge. "I even wrote a song about it, whose arrangement features none other than me, and it goes like this." serge's song What chance has a lonely surfer boy For the love of a surfer chick, With all these Humbert Humbert cats Coming on so big and sick? For me, my baby was a. woman, For him she's just another nymphet; Why did they run around, why did she put me down, And get me so upset? Well, as long as she's gone away-yay, I've had to find somebody new, And the older generation Has taught me what to do— I had a date last night with an eight-year-old, And she's a swinger just like me, So you can find us any night up on the football field, In back of P.S 33 (oh, yeah), And it's as groovy as it can be. "You're trying to tell me something," said Oedipa. They gave it to her then in prose. Metzger and Serge's chick had run off to Nevada, to get married. Serge, on close questioning, admitted the bit about the eight-year-old was so far only imaginary, but that he was hanging diligently around playgrounds and should have some news for them any day. On top of the TV set in her room Metzger had left a note telling her not to worry about the estate, that he'd turned over his execu-torship to somebody at Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, and they should be in touch with her, and it was all squared with the probate court also. No word to recall that Oedipa and Metzger had ever been more than co-executors. Which must mean, thought Oedipa, that that's all we were. She should have felt more classically scorned, but had other things on her mind. First thing after unpacking she was on the horn to Randolph Driblette, the director. After about ten rings an elderly lady answered. "I'm sorry, we've nothing to say." "Well who's this," Oedipa said. Sigh. "This is his mother. There'll be a statement at noon tomorrow. Our lawyer will read it." She hung up. Now what the hell, Oedipa wondered: what had happened to Driblette? She decided to call later. She found Professor Emory Bortz's number in the book and had better luck. A wife named Grace answered, backed by a group of children. "He's pouring a patio," she told Oedipa. "It's a highly organized joke that's been going on since about April. He sits in the sun, drinks beer with students, lobs beer bottles at seagulls. You'd better talk to him before it gets that far. Maxine, why don't you throw that at your brother, he's more mobile than I am. Did you know Emory's done a new edition of Wharfinger? It'll be out——" but the date was obliter­ated by a great crash, maniacal childish laughter, high-pitched squeals. "Oh, God. Have you ever met an in­fanticide? Come on over, it may be your only chance." Oedipa showered, put on a sweater, skirt and sneakers, wrapped her hair in a studentlike twist, went easy on the makeup. Recognizing with a vague sense of dread that it was not a matter of Bortz's response, or Grace's, but of The Trystero's. Driving over she passed by Zapf's Used Books, and was alarmed to find a pile of charred rubble where the bookstore only a week ago had Stood. There was still the smell of burnt leather. She stopped and went into the government surplus outlet next door. The owner in­formed her that Zapf, the damn fool, has set fire to his own store for the insurance. "Any kind of a wind," snarled this worthy, "it would have taken me with it. They only put up this complex here to last five years anyway. But could Zapf wait? Books." You had the feeling that it was only his good upbringing kept him from spitting. "You want to sell something used," he advised Oedipa, "find out what there's a demand for. This season now it's your rifles. Fella was in just this forenoon, bought two hundred for his drill team. I could've sold him two hundred of the swastika arm­bands too, only I was short, dammit." "Government surplus swastikas?" Oedipa said. "Hell no." He gave her an insider's wink. "Got this little factory down outside of San Diego," he told her, "got a dozen of your niggers, say, they can sure turn them old armbands out. You'd be amazed how that little number's selling. I took some space in a couple of the girlie magazines, and I had to hire two extra nig­gers last week just to take care of the mail." "What's your name?" Oedipa said. "Winthrop Tremaine," replied the spirited entre­preneur, "Winner, for short. Listen, now we're getting up an arrangement with one of the big ready-to-wear outfits in L.A to see how SS uniforms go for the fall. We're working it in with the back-to-school campaign, lot of 37 longs, you know, teenage kid sizes. Next season we may go all the way and get out a modified version for the ladies. How would that strike you?" "I'll let you know," Oedipa said. "I'll keep you in mind." She left, wondering if she should've called him something, or tried to hit him with any of a dozen surplus, heavy, blunt objects in easy reach. There had been no witnesses. Why hadn't she? You're chicken, she told herself, snapping her seat belt. This is America, you live in it, you let it happen. Let it unfurl. She drove savagely along the freeway, hunting for Volkswagens. By the time she'd pulled into Bortz's subdivision, a riparian settlement in the style of Fangoso Lagoons, she was only shaking and a little nauseous in the stomach. She was greeted by a small fat girl with some blue substance smeared all over her face. "Hi," said Oedipa, "you must be Maxine." "Maxine's in bed. She threw one of Daddy's beer bottles at Charles and it went through the window and Mama spanked her good. If she was mine I'd drown her." "Never thought of doing it that way," said Grace Bortz, materializing from the dim living room. "Come on in." With a wet washcloth she started to clean off her child's face. "How did you manage to get away from yours today?" "I don't have any," said Oedipa, following her into the kitchen. Grace looked surprised. "There's a certain harassed style," she said, "you get to recognize. I thought only kids caused it. I guess not." Emory Bortz lay half in a hammock, surrounded by three graduate students, two male, one female, all sodden with drink, and an astounding accumulation of empty beer bottles. Oedipa located a full one and seated herself on the grass. "I would like to find out," she presently plunged, "something about the historical Wharfinger. Not so much the verbal one." "The historical Shakespeare," growled one of the grad students through a full beard, uncapping another bottle. "The historical Marx. The historical Jesus." "He's right," shrugged Bortz, "they're dead. What's left?" "Words." "Pick some words," said Bortz. "Them, we can talk about." " 'No hallowed skein of stars can ward, I trow,'" quoted Oedipa, " 'Who's once been set his tryst with Trystero.' Courier's Tragedy, Act IV, Scene 8." Bortz blinked at her. "And how," he said, "did you get into the Vatican library?" Oedipa showed him the paperback with the line in it. Bortz, squinting at the page, groped for another beer. "My God," he announced, "I've been pirated, me and Wharfinger, we've been Bowdlerized in reverse or some­thing." He flipped to the front, to see who'd re-edited his edition of Wharfinger. "Ashamed to sign it. Damn. I'll have to write the publishers. K. da Chingado and Company? You ever heard of them? New York." He looked at the sun through a page or two. "Offset." Brought his nose close to the text. "Misprints. Gah. Corrupt." He dropped the book on the grass and looked at it with loathing. "How did they get into the Vatican, then?" "What's in the Vatican?" asked Oedipa. "A pornographic Courier's Tragedy. I didn't get to see it till '61, or I would've given it a note in my old edition." "What I saw out at the Tank Theatre wasn't pornographic?" "Randy Driblette's production? No, I thought it was typically virtuous." He looked sadly past her to­ward a stretch of sky. "He was a peculiarly moral man. He felt hardly any responsibility toward the word, really; but to the invisible field surrounding the play, its spirit, he was always intensely faithful. If anyone could have called up for you that historical Wharfinger you want, it'd've been Randy. Nobody else I ever knew was so close to the author, to the microcosm of that play as it must have surrounded Wharfinger's liv­ing mind." "But you're using the past tense," Oedipa said, her heart pounding, remembering the old lady on the phone. "Hadn't you heard?" They all looked at her. Death glided by, shadowless, among the empties on the grass. "Randy walked into the Pacific two nights ago," the girl told her finally. Her eyes had been red all along. "In his Gennaro suit. He's dead, and this is a wake." "I tried to call him this morning," was all Oedipa could think of to say. "It was right after they struck the set of The Courier's Tragedy," Bortz said. Even a month ago, Oedipa's next question would have been, "Why?" But now she kept a silence, waiting, as if to be illuminated. They are stripping from me, she said subvocally— feeling like a fluttering curtain in a very high window, moving up to then out over the abyss—they are strip­ping away, one by one, my men. My shrink, pursued by Israelis, has gone mad; my husband, on LSD, gropes like a child further and further into the rooms and endless rooms of the elaborate candy house of himself and away, hopelessly away, from what has passed, I was hoping forever, for love; my one extra-marital fella has eloped with a depraved 15-year-old; my best guide back to the Trystero has taken a Brody. Where am I? "I'm sorry," Bortz had also said, watching her. Oedipa stayed with it. "Did he use only that," pointing to the paperback, "for his script?" "No." Frowning. "He used the hardcover, my edition." "But the night you saw the play." Too much sunlight shone on the bottles, silent all around them. "How did he end the fourth act? What were his lines, Driblette's, Gennaro's, when they're all standing around at the lake, after the miracle?" " 'He that we last as Thurn and Taxis knew,'" recited Bortz, " 'Now recks no lord but the stiletto's Thorn,/And Tacit lies the gold once-knotted horn.' " "Right," agreed the grad students, "yeah." "That's all? What about the rest? The other cou­plet?" "In the text I go along with personally," said Bortz, "that other couplet has the last line suppressed. The book in the Vatican is only an obscene parody. The ending 'Who once has crossed the lusts of Angelo' was put in by the printer of the 1687 Quarto. The 'White-chapel' version is corrupt. So Randy did the best thing —left the doubtful part out altogether." "But the night I was there," said Oedipa, "Driblette did use the Vatican lines, he said the word Trystero." Bortz's face stayed neutral. "It was up to him. He was both director and actor, right?" "But would it be just," she gestured in circles with her hands, "just some whim? To use another couple lines like that, without telling anybody?" "Randy," recalled the third grad student, a stocky kid with hornrims, "what was bugging him inside, usu­ally, somehow or other, would have to come outside, on stage. He might have looked at a lot of versions, to develop a feel for the spirit of the play, not necessarily the words, and that's how he came across your paper­back there, with the variation in it." "Then," Oedipa concluded, "something must have happened in his personal life, something must have changed for him drastically that night, and that's what made him put the lines in." "Maybe," said Bortz, "maybe not. You think a man's mind is a pool table?" "I hope not." "Come in and see some dirty pictures," Bortz invited, rolling off the hammock. They left the students drinking beer. "Illicit microfilms of the illustrations in that Vatican edition. Smuggled out in '61. Grace and I were there on a grant." They entered a combination workroom and study. Far away in the house children screamed, a vacuum whined. Bortz drew shades, riffled through a box of slides, selected a handful, switched on a projector and aimed it at a wall. The illustrations were woodcuts, executed with that crude haste to see the finished product that marks the amateur. True pornography is given us by vastly patient professionals.

Av debbyhanxu debbyhanxu - 25 maj 2011 03:50

a voice asked behind her, up the stairs. "The sailor?" "He has a tattoo on his hand." "Can you bring him up OK? That's him." She turned and saw an even older man, shorter, wearing a tall Homburg hat and smiling at them. "I'd help you but I got a little arthritis." "Does he have to come up?" she said. "Up there?" "Where else, lady?" She didn't know. She let go of him for a moment, reluctant as if he were her own child, and he looked up at her. "Come on," she said. He reached out the tat­tooed hand and she took that, and that was how they went the rest of the way up that flight, and then the two more: hand in hand, very slowly for the man with arthritis. "He disappeared last night," he told her. "Said he was going looking for his old lady. It's a thing he does, off and on." They entered a warren of rooms and corri­dors, lit by lo-watt bulbs, separated by beaverboard partitions. The old man followed them stiffly. At last he said, "Here." In the little room were another suit, a couple of religious tracts, a rug, a chair. A picture of a saint, changing well-water to oil for Jerusalem's Easter lamps. Another bulb, dead. The bed. The mattress, waiting. She ran through then a scene she might play. She might find the landlord of this place, and bring him to court, and buy the sailor a new suit at Roos/Atkins, and shirt, and shoes, and give him the bus fare to Fresno after all. But with a sigh he had released her hand, while she was so lost in the fantasy that she hadn't felt it go away, as if he'd known the best moment to let go. "Just mail the letter," he said, "the stamp is on it." She looked and saw the familiar carmine 8^ airmail, with a jet flying by the Capitol dome. But at the top of the dome stood a tiny figure in deep black, with its arms outstretched. Oedipa wasn't sure what exactly was sup­posed to be on top of the Capitol, but knew it wasn't anything like that. "Please," the sailor said. "Go on now. You don't want to stay here." She looked in her purse, found a ten and a single, gave him the ten. "I'll spend it on booze," he said. "Remember your friends," said the arthritic, watching the ten. "Bitch," said the sailor. "Why didn't you wait till he was gone?" Oedipa watched him make adjustments so he'd fit easier against the mattress. That stuffed memory. Regis-terA . . . "Give me a cigarette, Ramirez," the sailor said. "I know you got one." Would it be today? "Ramirez," she cried. The arthritic looked around on his rusty neck. "He's going to die," she said. "Who isn't?" said Ramirez. She remembered John Nefastis, talking about his Machine, and massive destructions of information. So when this mattress flared up around the sailor, in his Viking's funeral: the stored, coded years of uselessness, early death, self-harrowing, the sure decay of hope, the set of all men who had slept on it, whatever their lives had been, would truly cease to be, forever, when the mattress burned. She stared at it in wonder. It was as if she had just discovered the irreversible process. It as­tonished her to think that so much could be lost, even the quantity of hallucination belonging just to the sailor that the world would bear no further trace of. She knew, because she had held him, that he suffered DT's. Behind the initials was a metaphor, a delirium tremens, a trembling unfurrowing of the mind's plowshare. The saint whose water can light lamps, the clairvoyant whose lapse in recall is the breath of God, the true paranoid for whom all is organized in spheres joyful or threatening about the central pulse of himself, the dreamer whose puns probe ancient fetid shafts and tunnels of truth all act in the same special relevance to the word, or whatever it is the word is there, buffering, to protect us from. The act of metaphor then was a 7 thrust at truth and a lie, depending where you were: inside, safe, or outside, lost. Oedipa did not know where she was. Trembling, unfurrowed, she slipped sidewise, screeching back across grooves of years, to hear again the earnest, high voice of her second or third collegiate love Ray Glozing bitching among "uhs" and the synco­pated tonguing of a cavity, about his freshman calculus; "dt," God help this old tattooed man, meant also a time differential, a vanishingly small instant in which change had to be confronted at last for what it was, where it could no longer disguise itself as something innocuous like an average rate; where velocity dwelled in the projectile though the projectile be frozen in midflight, where death dwelled in the cell though the cell be looked in on at its most quick. She knew that the sailor had seen worlds no other man had seen if only because there was that high magic to low puns, be­cause DT's must give access to dt's of spectra beyond the known sun, music made purely of Antarctic loneli­ness and fright. But nothing she knew of would pre­serve them, or him. She gave him goodbye, walked downstairs and then on, in the direction he'd told her. For an hour she prowled among the sunless, concrete underpinnings of the freeway, finding drunks, bums, pedestrians, pederasts, hookers, walking psychotic, no secret mailbox. But at last in the shadows she did come on a can with a swinging trapezoidal top, the kind you throw trash in: old and green, nearly four feet high. On the swinging part were hand-painted the initials W.A.S.T.E She had to look closely to see the periods between the letters.

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The dead man, like Maxwell's Demon, was the linking feature in a coincidence. Without him neither she nor Jesus would be exactly here, exactly now. It was enough, a coded warning. What, tonight, was chance? So her eyes did fall presently onto an ancient rolled copy of the anarcho-syndicalist paper Regeneracidn. The date was 1904 and there was no stamp next to the cancellation, only the handstruck image of the post horn. "They arrive," said Arrabal. "Have they been in the mails that long? Has my name been substituted for that of a member who's died? Has it really taken sixty years? Is it a reprint? Idle questions, I am a footsoldier. The higher levels have their reasons." She carried this thought back out into the night with her. Down at the city beach, long after the pizza stands and rides had closed, she walked unmolested through a drifting, dreamy cloud of delinquents in summer-weight gang jackets with the post horn stitched on in thread that looked pure silver in what moonlight there was. They had all been smoking, snuffing or injecting some­thing, and perhaps did not see her at all. Riding among an exhausted busful of Negroes going on to graveyard shifts all over the city, she saw scratched on the back of a seat, shining for her in the brilliant smoky interior, the post horn with the legend DEATH. But unlike WASTE, somebody had troubled to write in, in pencil: don't ever antagonize the horn. Somewhere near Fillmore she found the symbol tacked to the bulletin board of a laundromat, among other scraps of paper offering cheap ironing and baby sitters. If you know what this means, the note said, you know where to find out more. Around her the odor of chlorine bleach rose heavenward, like an incense. Ma­chines chugged and sloshed fiercely. Except for Oedipa the place was deserted, and the fluorescent bulbs seemed to shriek whiteness, to which everything their light touched was dedicated. It was a Negro neighbor­hood. Was The Horn so dedicated? Would it Antago­nize The Horn to ask? Who could she ask? In the buses all night she listened to transistor radios playing songs in the lower stretches of the Top 200, that would never become popular, whose melodies and lyrics would perish as if they had never been sung. A Mexican girl, trying to hear one of these through snarl­ing static from the bus's motor, hummed along as if she would remember it always, tracing post horns and hearts with a fingernail, in the haze of her breath on the window. Out at the airport Oedipa, feeling invisible, eaves­dropped on a poker game whose steady loser entered each loss neat and conscientious in a little balance-book decorated inside with scrawled post horns. "I'm averag­ing a 99.375 percent return, fellas," she heard him say. The others, strangers, looked at him, some blank, some annoyed. "That's averaging it out, over 23 years," he went on, trying a smile. "Always just that little percent on the wrong side of breaking even. Twenty-three years. I'll never get ahead of it. Why don't I quit?" Nobody answering. In one of the latrines was an advertisement by AC-DC, standing for Alameda County Death Cult, along with a box number and post horn. Once a month they were to choose some victim from among the innocent, the virtuous, the socially integrated and well-adjusted, using him sexually, then sacrificing him. Oedipa did not copy the number. Catching a TWA flight to Miami was an unco­ordinated boy who planned to slip at night into aquar­iums and open negotiations with the dolphins, who would succeed man. He was kissing his mother pas­sionately goodbye, using his tongue. "I'll write, ma," he kept saying. "Write by WASTE," she said, "re­member. The government will open it if you use the other. The dolphins will be mad." "I love you, ma," he said. "Love the dolphins," she advised him. "Write by WASTE." So it went. Oedipa played the voyeur and listener. Among her other encounters were a facially-deformed welder, who cherished his ugliness; a child roaming the night who missed the death before birth as certain outcasts do the dear lulling blankness of the commu­nity; a Negro woman with an intricately-marbled scar along the baby-fat of one cheek who kept going through rituals of miscarriage each for a different reason, delib­erately as others might the ritual of birth, dedicated not to continuity but to some kind of interregnum; an ag­ing night-watchman, nibbling at a bar of Ivory Soap, who had trained his virtuoso stomach to accept also lotions, air-fresheners, fabrics, tobaccoes and waxes in a hopeless attempt to assimilate it all, all the promise, productivity, betrayal, ulcers, before it was too late; and even another voyeur, who hung outside one of the city's still-lighted windows, searching for who knew what specific image. Decorating each alienation, each species of withdrawal, as cufflink, decal, aimless doodl­ing, there was somehow always the post horn. She grew so to expect it that perhaps she did not see it quite as often as she later was to remember seeing it. A couple-three times would really have been enough. Or too much. She busrode and walked on into the lightening morning, giving herself up to a fatalism rare for her. Where was the Oedipa who'd driven so bravely up here from San Narciso? That optimistic baby had come on so like the private eye in any long-ago radio drama, be­lieving all you needed was grit, resourcefulness, exemp­tion from hidebound cops' rules, to solve any great mystery. But the private eye sooner or later has to get beat up on. This night's profusion of post horns, this malig­nant, deliberate replication, was their way of beating up. They knew her pressure points, and the ganglia of her optimism, and one by one, pinch by precision pinch, they were immobilizing her. Last night, she might have wondered what under­grounds apart from the couple she knew of communi­cated by WASTE system. By sunrise she could legiti­mately ask what undergrounds didn't. If miracles were, as Jesus Arrabal had postulated years ago on the beach at Mazatlan, intrusions into this world from another, a kiss of cosmic pool balls, then so must be each of the night's post horns. For here were God knew how many citizens, deliberately choosing not to communicate by U. S. Mail. It was not an act of treason, nor possibly even of defiance. But it was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the Republic, from its machinery. Whatever else was being denied them out of hate, indifference to the power of their vote, loopholes, simple ignorance, this withdrawal was their own, un-publicized, private. Since they could not have withdrawn into a vacuum (could they?), there had to exist the separate, silent, unsuspected world. Just before the morning rush hour, she got out of a jitney whose ancient driver ended each day in the red, downtown on Howard Street, began to walk toward the Embarcadero. She knew she looked terrible— knuckles black with eye-liner and mascara from where she'd rubbed, mouth tasting of old booze and coffee. Through an open doorway, on the stair leading up into the disinfectant-smelling twilight of a rooming house she saw an old man huddled, shaking with grief she couldn't hear. Both hands, smoke-white, covered his face. On the back of the left hand she made out the post horn, tattooed in old ink now beginning to blur and spread. Fascinated, she came into the shadows and ascended creaking steps, hesitating on each one. When she was three steps from him the hands flew apart and his wrecked face, and the terror of eyes gloried in burst veins, stopped her. "Can I help?" She was shaking, tired. "My wife's in Fresno," he said. He wore an old double-breasted suit, frayed gray shirt, wide tie, no hat. "I left her. So long ago, I don't remember. Now this is for her." He gave Oedipa a letter that looked like he'd been carrying it around for years. "Drop it in the," and he held up the tattoo and stared into her eyes, "you know. I can't go out there. It's too far now, I had a bad night." "I know," she said. "But I'm new in town. I don't know where it is." "Under the freeway." He waved her on in the direction she'd been going. "Always one. You'll see it." The eyes closed. Cammed each night out of that safe furrow the bulk of this city's waking each sunrise again set virtuously to plowing, what rich soils had he turned, what concentric planets uncovered? What voices over­heard, flinders of luminescent gods glimpsed among the wallpaper's stained foliage, candlestubs lit to rotate in the air over him, prefiguring the cigarette he or a friend must fall asleep someday smoking, thus to end among the flaming, secret salts held all those years by the insatiable stuffing of a mattress that could keep vestiges of every nightmare sweat, helpless overflowing bladder, viciously, tearfully consummated wet dream, like the memory bank to a computer of the lost? She was overcome all at once by a need to touch him, as if she could not believe in him, or would not remember him, without it. Exhausted, hardly knowing what she was doing, she came the last three steps and sat, took the man in her arms, actually held him, gazing out of her smudged eyes down the stairs, back into the morn­ing. She felt wetness against her breast and saw that he was crying again. He hardly breathed but tears came as if being pumped. "I can't help," she whispered, rock­ing him, "I can't help." It was already too many miles to Fresno.

Av debbyhanxu debbyhanxu - 25 maj 2011 03:47

Stanley gave me a kind of rundown." He began then, bewilderingly, to talk about some­thing called entropy. The word bothered him as much as "Trystero" bothered Oedipa. But it was too technical for her. She did gather that there were two distinct kinds of this entropy. One having to do with heat-engines, the other to do with communication. The equation for one, back in the '3o's, had looked very like the equation for the other. It was a coincidence. The two fields were entirely unconnected, except at one point: Maxwell's Demon. As the Demon sat and sorted his molecules into hot and cold, the system was said to lose entropy. But somehow the loss was off­set by the information the Demon gained about what molecules were where. "Communication is the key," cried Nefastis. "The Demon passes his data on to the sensitive, and the sensitive must reply in kind. There are untold billions of molecules in that box. The Demon collects data on each and every one. At some deep psychic level he must get through. The sensitive must receive that staggering set of energies, and feed back something like the same quantity of information. To keep it all cycling. On the secular level all we can see is one piston, hopefully moving. One little movement, against all that massive complex of information, destroyed over and over with each power stroke." "Help," said Oedipa, "you're not reaching me." "Entropy is a figure of speech, then," sighed Nefastis, "a metaphor. It connects the world of thermo-dynamics to the world of information flow. The Ma­chine uses both. The Demon makes the metaphor not only verbally graceful, but also objectively true." "But what," she felt like some kind of a heretic, "if the Demon exists only because the two equations look alike? Because of the metaphor?" Nefastis smiled; impenetrable, calm, a believer. "He existed for Clerk Maxwell long before the days of the metaphor." But had Clerk Maxwell been such a fanatic about his Demon's reality? She looked at the picture on the outside of the box. Clerk Maxwell was in profile and would not meet her eyes. The forehead was round and smooth, and there was a curious bump at the back of his head, covered by curling hair. His visible eye seemed mild and noncommittal, but Oedipa wondered what hangups, crises, spookings in the middle of the night might be developed from the shadowed subtleties of his mouth, hidden under a full beard. "Watch the picture," said Nefastis, "and concen­trate on a cylinder. Don't worry. If you're a sensitive you'll know which one. Leave your mind open, recep­tive to the Demon's message. I'll be back." He returned to his TV set, which was now showing cartoons. Oedipa sat through two Yogi Bears, one Magilla Gorilla and a Peter Potamus, staring at Clerk Maxwell's enigmatic profile, waiting for the Demon to communicate. Are you there, little fellow, Oedipa asked the Demon, or is Nefastis putting me on. Unless a piston moved, she'd never know. Clerk Maxwell's hands were cropped out of the photograph. He might have been holding a book. He gazed away, into some vista of Victorian England whose light had been lost forever. Oedipa's anxiety grew. It seemed, behind the beard, he'd begun, ever so faintly, to smile. Something in his eyes, certainly, had changed . . . And there. At the top edge of what she could see: hadn't the right-hand piston moved, a fraction? She couldn't look directly, the instructions were to keep her eyes on Clerk Maxwell. Minutes passed, pistons re­mained frozen in place. High-pitched, comic voices issued from the TV set. She had seen only a retinal twitch, a misfired nerve cell. Did the true sensitive see more? In her colon now she was afraid, growing more so, that nothing would happen. Why worry, she wor­ried; Nefastis is a nut, forget it, a sincere nut. The true sensitive is the one that can share in the man's hallu­cinations, that's all. How wonderful they might be to share. For fif­teen minutes more she tried; repeating, if you are there, whatever you are, show yourself to me, I need you, show yourself. But nothing happened. "I'm sorry," she called in, surprisingly about to cry with frustration, her voice breaking, "It's no use." Nefastis came to her and put an arm around her shoulders. "It's OK," he said. "Please don't cry. Come on in on the couch. The news will be on any minute. We can do it there." "It?" said Oedipa. "Do it? What?" "Have sexual intercourse," replied Nefastis. "Maybe there'll be something about China tonight. I like to do it while they talk about Viet Nam, but China is best of all. You think about all those Chinese. Teeming. That profusion of life. It makes it sexier, right?" "Gah," Oedipa screamed, and fled, Nefastis snap­ping his fingers through the dark rooms behind her in a hippy-dippy, oh-go-ahead-then-chick fashion he had doubtless learned from watching the TV also. "Say hello to old Stanley," he called as she pattered down the steps into the street, flung a babushka over her license plate and screeched away down Telegraph. She drove more or less automatically until a swift boy in a Mustang, perhaps unable to contain the new sense of virility his auto gave him, nearly killed her and she realized that she was on the freeway, heading irreversi­bly for the Bay Bridge. It was the middle of rush hour. Oedipa was appalled at the spectacle, having thought such traffic only possible in Los Angeles, places like that. Looking down at San Francisco a few minutes later from the high point of the bridge's arc, she saw smog. Haze, she corrected herself, is what it is, haze. How can they have smog in San Francisco? Smog, according to the folklore, did not begin till farther south. It had to be the angle of the sun. Amid the exhaust, sweat, glare and ill-humor of a summer evening on an American freeway, Oedipa Maas pondered her Trystero problem. All the silence of San Narciso—the calm surface of the motel pool, the con­templative contours of residential streets like rakings in the sand of a Japanese garden—had not allowed her to think as leisurely as this freeway madness. For John Nefastis (to take a recent example) two kinds of entropy, thermodynamic and informational, happened, say by coincidence, to look alike, when you wrote them down as equations. Yet he had made his mere coincidence respectable, with the help of Max­well's Demon. Now here was Oedipa, faced with a metaphor of God knew how many parts; more than two, anyway. With coincidences blossoming these days wherever she looked, she had nothing but a sound, a word, Trystero, a to hold them together. She knew a few things about it: it had opposed the Thurn and Taxis postal system in Europe; its symbol was a muted post horn; sometime before 1853 it had appeared in America and fought the Pony Express and Wells, Fargo, either as outlaws in black, or disguised as Indians; and it survived today, in California, serving as a channel of communication for those of unorthodox sexual persuasion, inventors who believed in the reality of Maxwell's Demon, possibly her own husband, Mucho Maas (but she'd thrown Mucho's letter long away, there was no way for Genghis Cohen to check the stamp, so if she wanted to find out for sure she'd have to ask Mucho himself). Either Trystero did exist, in its own right, or it was being presumed, perhaps fantasied by Oedipa, so hung up on and interpenetrated with the dead man's estate. Here in San Francisco, away from all tangible assets of that estate, there might still be a chance of getting the whole thing to go away and disintegrate quietly. She had only to drift tonight, at random, and watch nothing happen, to be convinced it was purely nervous, a little something for her shrink to fix. She got off the freeway at North Beach, drove around, parked finally in a steep side-street among warehouses. Then walked along Broadway, into the first crowds of evening.

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though her next move should have been to contact Randolph Driblette again, she decided instead to drive up to Berkeley. She wanted to find out where Richard Wharfinger had got his information about Trystero. Possibly also take a look at how the inventor John Nefastis picked up his mail. As with Mucho when she'd left Kinneret, Metzger did not seem desperate at her going. She debated, driving north, whether to stop off at home on the way to Berkeley or coming back. As it turned out she missed the exit for Kinneret and that solved it. She purred along up the east side of the bay, presently climbed into the Berkeley hills and arrived close to midnight at a sprawling, many-leveled, German-baroque hotel, car­peted in deep green, going in for curved corridors and ornamental chandeliers. A sign in the lobby said wel­come california chapter american deaf-mute assembly. Every light in the place burned, alarmingly bright; a truly ponderable silence occupied the build­ing. A clerk popped up from behind the desk where he'd been sleeping and began making sign language at her. Oedipa considered giving him the finger to see what would happen. But she'd driven straight through, and all at once the fatigue of it had caught up with her. The clerk took her to a room with a reproduction of a Remedios Varo in it, through corridors gently curv­ing as the streets of San Narciso, utterly silent. She fell asleep almost at once, but kept waking from a nightmare about something in the mirror, across from her bed. Nothing specific, only a possibility, nothing she could see. When she finally did settle into sleep, she dreamed that Mucho, her husband, was making love to her on a soft white beach that was not part of any California she knew. When she woke in the morning, she was sitting bolt upright, staring into the mirror at her own exhausted face. She found the Lectern Press in a small office building on Shattuck Avenue. They didn't have Plays of Ford, Webster, Tourneur and Wharfinger on the prem­ises, but did take her check for $12.50, gave her the address of their warehouse in Oakland and a receipt to show the people there. By the time she'd collected the book, it was afternoon. She skimmed through to find the line that had brought her all the way up here. And in the leaf-fractured sunlight, froze. No hallowed skein of stars can ward, I trow, ran the couplet, Who once has crossed the lusts of Angela. "No," she protested aloud. " 'Who's once been set his tryst with Trystero.'" The pencilled note in the paperback had mentioned a variant. But the paperback was supposed to be a straight reprint of the book she now held. Puzzled, she saw that this edition also had a footnote: According only to the Quarto edition (1687). The earlier Folio has a lead inserted where the closing line should have been. D'Amico has suggested that Wharfinger may have made a libellous comparison involving someone at court, and that the later 'restoration' was actually the work of the printer, Inigo Barfstable. The doubt­ful 'Whitechapel' version (c. 1670) has This tryst or odious awry, O Niccolo,' which besides bring­ing in a quite graceless Alexandrine, is difficult to make sense of syntactically, unless we accept the rather unorthodox though persuasive argument of J.-K Sale that the line is really a pun on 'This trystero dies irae . . . .' This, however, it must be pointed out, leaves the line nearly as corrupt as before, owing to no clear meaning for the word trystero, unless it be a pseudo-Italianate variant on triste (= wretched, depraved). But the 'White-chapel' edition, besides being a fragment, abounds in such corrupt and probably spurious lines, as we have mentioned elsewhere, and is hardly to be trusted. Then where, Oedipa wondered, does the paper­back I bought at Zapf's get off with its "Trystero" line? Was there yet another edition, besides the Quarto, Folio, and "Whitechapel" fragment? The editor's preface, signed this time, by one Emory Bortz, professor of English at Cal, mentioned none. She spent nearly an hour more, searching through all the foot­notes, finding nothing. "Dammit," she yelled, started the car and headed for the Berkeley campus, to find Professor Bortz. She should have remembered the date on the book —1957. Another world. The girl in the English office informed Oedipa that Professor Bortz was no longer with the faculty. He was teaching at San Narciso College, San Narciso, California. Of course, Odeipa thought, wry, where else? She copied the address and walked away trying to remem­ber who'd put out the paperback. She couldn't. It was summer, a weekday, and midafternoon; no time for any campus Oedipa knew of to be jumping, yet this one was. She came downslope from Wheeler Hall, through Sather Gate into a plaza teeming with corduroy, denim, bare legs, blonde hair, hornrims, bi­cycle spokes in the sun, bookbags, swaying card tables, long paper petitions dangling to earth, posters for un­decipherable FSM's, YAF's, VDC's, suds in the foun­tain, students in nose-to-nose dialogue. SJie_joiQyjgd^ through it carrying her fat book, attracted, unsure, a stranger, wanting to feel relevant but knowing how much of a search among alternate universes it would take. For she had undergone her own educating at a time of nerves, blandness and retreat among not only her fellow students but also most of the visible structure around and ahead of them, this having been a national reflex to certain pathologies in high places only death had had the power to cure, and this Berkeley was like no somnolent Siwash out of her own past at all, but more akin to those Far Eastern or Latin American universities you read about, those autonomous culture media where the most beloved of folklores may be brought into doubt, cataclysmic of dissents voiced, suicidal of commitments chosen—the sort that bring governments down. But it was English she was hearing as she crossed Bancroft Way among the blonde children and the muttering Hondas and Su-zukis; American English. Where were Secretaries James and Foster and Senator Joseph, those dear daft numina who'd mothered over Oedipa's so temperate youth? In another world. Along another pattern of track, another string of decisions taken, switches closed, the faceless pointsmen who'd thrown them now all trans­ferred, deserted, in stir, fleeing the skip-tracers, out of their skull, on horse, alcoholic, fanatic, under aliases, dead, impossible to find ever again. Among them they had managed to turn the young Oedipa into a rare creature indeed, unfit perhaps for marches and sit-ins, but just a whiz at pursuing strange words in Jacobean texts. She pulled the Impala into a gas station some­where along a gray stretch of Telegraph Avenue and found in a phone book the address of John Nefastis. She then drove to a pseudo-Mexican apartment house, looked for his name among the U. S. mailboxes, as­cended outside steps and walked down a row of draped windows till she found his door. He had a crewcut and the same underage look as Koteks, but wore a shirt on various Polynesian themes and dating from the Truman administration. Introducing herself, she invoked the name of Stan­ley Koteks. "He said you could tell me whether or not I'm a 'sensitive'." Nefastis had been watching on his TV set a bunch of kids dancing some kind of a Watusi. "I like to watch young stuff," he explained. "There's something about a little chick that age." "So does my husband," she said. "I understand." John Nefastis beamed at her, simpatico, and brought out his Machine from a workroom in back. It looked about the way the patent had described it. "You know how this works?"

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