Back from a superb mini-vacation, during which I did only enough reading to finish the Musil collection. The final section consists of some short essays and stories, a few of which reveal the sparkle of a fantastic smartass. In “Oedipus Endangered,” for example, the author uses the etymological link between “womb” and “lap” (the word is the same for both in German) to speculate that Freud formed his theories on the Oedipus complex around the very historically determined mode of dress that constituted a woman’s lap: “In this sense the basic experiences of psychoanalysis definitely derive from the clothes of the 1870’s and 1880’s and not from ski togs. And if you look at people in bathing suits, where is the womb or lap today?” (325)
|Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.|
Similarly, his thoughts on the either creepy or invisible nature of most monuments (“Monuments”), and what appears to be a sort of I’ve-had-it approach to talk of sports’ uplifting nature (“Art and the Morality of the Crawl”) won’t fail to elicit a sarcastic snigger of agreement here and there. Probably the best piece from this section, though, is “The Blackbird,” which I wouldn’t say is exactly Kafkaesque, but it does provide enough of that enjoyable and thought-inducing “Hnh?” reaction that it could probably be read alongside “A Report to an Academy” or “A Hunger Artist,” just to see what sorts of stylistic and narrative turns pan out.
And now, heading back to the daily grind– and all the reading that helps me face it– I’ll probably have much more of a literary nature to ponder over the coming days. Next up? Either some Anna Kavan or Per Petterson, maybe George Saunders’ latest. In the immediate future, though, dinner.