Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Post for Mary Valle.

Image: Cerith Wyn Evans, Mobius Strip, 1997

The charming, always apt, insightful Mary Valle blogs with images and words over at my sometimes home KillingtheBuddha, and for some reason I've yet to fully identify, came to mind as I rode the subway back from Manhattan the other day. I was reading Leland De La Durantaye's review of John Banville's new novel The Infinities in the latest Bookforum (the article is not yet online.)

Here's the last paragraph that made me wonder what Mary Valle would do with it:

Hitherto, "the infinities" seemed to refer to two things: an unlimited plurality of universes, and the gods who fashioned them. Although the term makes no mathematical sense, it has a metaphysical meaning with which the book ends. Marcus Aurelius famously invoked "the two infinities," the one preceding our birth and the one following our death. As the emperor wrote, those infinities are of far less interest than what lies between them. Abstractions may reveal any manner of a thing beyond this world, but they are not what most matters to us, for the simple reason that they are not life. This is the essence of Hermes's (and thus Banville's) last message, and the reason the tale ends with a revolution in mortal affais at once momentous and perfectly ordinary.

Emphasis mine.

Mary's (and I call her Mary, I admit, without any license of personal familiarity) words and poems are in turn charming, pithy, topical and pointed. They are alive (are life) but never presume an ascribed definition of what lies beyond. She acknowledges an "unlimited plurality of universes" without the need to define them all, to count them up. And what can committed seekers do but put alpha and omega in parentheses? It is this tangible work - the continuous seeking without expectation of finding - that reluctant believers do; the reward is "infinities" that refuse to reside under our thumb.

The Wyn Evans image above accompanies the Bookforum review.

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