Topical Guide 13 (Free Sample)
I had the blues in the night, or very early in the morning. I lay in bed fretting about my status as annotator. I had begun to think of myself as “Mark the Annotator,” on the model of “Henry the Navigator,” in my case a sort of navigator of a text, or series of texts. I liked the idea. But lying there in the dark I found myself haunted, or taunted, by this drawing of Odilon Redon’s:
There I am in the foreground, gesticulating, explaining something about the enormous figure outside the window. The metaphorical implications are legion. I’m sure I don’t need to list them for you. What so upset me was the inferiority of my position. I am subordinate. “Mark the Annotator” is secondary to the text—and to the author.
Sigh. Read on, please. Later in the morning my mood, and my self-image, improved, as you will see.
Coincidence; Chance; Fate; Luck
A nice coincidence occurred when I sat down at my desk, after the coffee had brewed. My morning playlist gave me, at random, the Bill Evans Trio (Bill Evans, piano; Eddie Gómez, bass; Eliot Zigmund, drums) playing “The Peacocks,” from the album You Must Believe in Spring.
What am I to make of this coincidence? Was it the kind of coincidence that Professor Avenarius (see Topical Guide 9) would consider a mute coincidence, “without any significance,” or was it what he called a poetic coincidence, “that breathes unexpected significance into an event.” I’m going to call it a poetic coincidence, because the beauty of “The Peacocks” lifted my spirits, and its title prompted new speculation about The Personal History: it made me wonder whether peacocks might be a theme. I’ll be watching for peacocks as we go along. (And I wonder whether that insidious rascal Dudley Beaker might be one. He does strut a bit.)
Annotation, Annotators (continued)
Okay, I’m an annotator. I accept it. I’ll endeavor to be a good one. I won’t be a Charles Kinbote (annotator of John Shade’s poem “Pale Fire”). I will aspire to the excellence of Martin Gardner (annotator of of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass).
And I will try to keep myself out of these remarks. This is not my Topical Autobiography. This is not a substitute for my Topical Autobiography. I’ll accept my position in Redon’s Lumière. After all, I’m not alone there. Someone is beside me, listening to me, apparently interested in what I’m saying, possibly even interested in me.
[more to come on Monday, May 31, 2021]
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