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393 pages, Paperback
First published August 29, 2019
“Normal is unreal people, mostly rich unreal people, having sex with rappers and basketball players and thinking of their unreal family as a real-world brand, like Pepsi or Drano or Ford. Zap. News channels. Normal is guns and the normal America that really wants to be great again. “Then there’s another normal if your skin color is the wrong color and another if you’re educated and another if you think education is brainwashing and there’s an America that believes in vaccines for kids and another that says that’s a con trick and everything one normal believes is a lie to another normal and they’re all on TV depending where you look, so, yeah, it’s confusing.”
There are people who need to impose a shape upon the shapelessness of life.And so, a Quichotte upon a Sam DuChamp, a Sancho over a Marcel DuChamp, a Human Trampoline over a Sister (DuChamp) – well, fictional characters to mirror the real characters including the author who is penning ‘Quichotte’. That’s right. A book within a book. A journey within a journey.
Beyond that, there’s only madness, aka getting religion. I have no intention of going crazy or getting religion.In immensely rapturous and hubbub tones, Quichotte and Sancho epitomized the generational shifts and filial urgency without the melodrama. In near opposite fashion, Sam DuChamp’s discovery of his son and his penance towards his sister was filtered across monochromatic chapters that befit a lost, egoistic man in his late 50s.
… detachment is the key to survival. Obsession destroys the possessed.
Life had become a series of vanishing photographs, posted every day, gone the next. One had no story any more. Character, narrative, history, were all dead. Only the flat caricature of the instant remained and that was what one was judged by.And almost like a tribute to his penmanship, akin to his’ to the great Cervantes, I read him at airports and flights, at beaches and hotel rooms, in different cities and time periods, in chaotic and serene joints. And must I say, Sir Rushdie was, clearly, one helluva helmsman.
He talked about wanting to take on the destructive, mind-numbing junk culture of his time just as Cervantes had gone to war with the junk culture of his own age. He said he was trying to write about impossible, obsessional love, father-son relationships, sibling quarrels and, yes, unforgivable things: about Indian immigration, racism towards them, crooks among them; about cyber-spies, science fiction, the intertwining of fictional and “real” realities, the death of the author, the end of the world. He told her he wanted to incorporate elements of the parodic, and of satire and pastiche …. And it’s about opioid addiction, too he added.
“I now find myself about halfway through the first book of Don Quixote, in the terrific Edith Grossman translation. This is proving to be a more complicated encounter. On the one hand, the characters of Quixote and Sancho Panza are as beautifully realised as I remember them, and the idea of a man determinedly seeing the world according to his own vision, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, feels strikingly contemporary. On the other hand, how many more times are the Knight of the Dolorous Countenance and Sancho going to get beaten up and left in pain in various roadside ditches? The “greatest novel ever written” – I voted for it myself once – turns out to be just a little bit repetitive.”
“There once lived, at a series of temporary addresses across the United States of America, a travelling man of Indian origins, advancing years, and retreating mental powers, who on account of his love for mindless television … has suffered a peculiar form of brain damage as a result”
“As a consequence of his near total preoccupation with the material offered up to him … he feel victim to that increasingly prevalent psychological disorder in which the boundary between truth and lies became smudged and indistinct ….. and began to think of himself as a natural citizen (and potential inhabitant) of that imaginary world beyond the screen”
“maybe they said something about our growing dehumanization, about how as a species, we, or some of us, might be losing our moral compass and becoming, simultaneously, creatures out of a barbaric, pre-human, long-toothed past, and also monsters tormenting the human present.”
He told the young man about the mastodons, and his indebtedness to Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. “So many great writers have guided me along the way” he said, and mentioned, further, Cervantes and Arthur C Clarke. “Is that okay to do” asked “That kind of borrowing?”. He had replied by quoting Newton, who said he had been able to see further because he was standing on the shoulders of giants. Son looked doubtful “Yeah but Newton would up discovering gravity” he said, unkindly “You haven’t got anywhere close to that”
“I think it’s legitimate for a work of art made in the present time to say, we are being crippled by the culture we have made, by its popular elements above all …. And by stupidity and ignorance and bigotry”
He devoured morning shows, daytime shows, late-night talk shows, soaps, situation comedies, Lifetime Movies, hospital dramas, police series, vampire and zombie serials, the dramas of housewives from Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and New York, the romances and quarrels of hotel-fortune princesses and self-styled shahs, the cavortings of individuals made famous by happy nudities, the fifteen minutes of fame accorded to young persons with large social media followings on account of their plastic-surgery acquisition of a third breast or their post-rib-removal figures that mimicked the impossible shape of the Mattel company’s Barbie doll, or even, more simply, their ability to catch giant carp in picturesque settings while wearing only the tiniest of string bikinis; as well as singing competitions, cooking competitions, competitions for business propositions, competitions for business apprenticeships, competitions between remote-controlled monster vehicles, fashion competitions, competitions for the affections of both bachelors and bachelorettes, baseball games, basketball games, football games, wrestling bouts, kickboxing bouts, extreme sports programming and, of course, beauty contests.
Systems of thought, and their antitheses as well, are merely codifications of what we think we know. When we begin to abandon them, we open ourselves to the immensity of the universe, and therefore also to immense possibilities, including the possibility of the impossible.
He talked about wanting to take on the destructive, mind-numbing junk culture of his time just as Cervantes had gone to war with the junk culture of his own age. He said he was trying also to write about impossible, obsessional love, father-son relationships, sibling quarrels, and yes, unforgiveable things; about Indian immigrants, racism towards them, crooks among them; about cyber-spies, science fiction, the intertwining of fictional and 'real' realities, the death of the author, the end of the world. He told her he wanted to incorporate elements of the parodic, and of satire and pastiche.
Nothing very ambitious, then, she said.
And it's about opioid addition, too, he added.
she prepared…as if Casanova himself were about to enter her boudoir. She bathed, she shaved, she perfumed herself, she used lotion that her skin might not be ashy, she wove a single braid into her hair and let the rest flow down over her shoulders…By laughing, we keep from crying, even though Rushdie is on to something when he says, “These days the only way to experience joy was through chemistry.”