characters (1)

This character took the decision to bury his early hopes under the weight of overexpectation & consequent disappointment then repressed the horror of that as quickly as possible. The effect was of stuffing a live part of himself into a box & shutting the lid. Each time he accomplished the manoeuvre there was less of himself to stuff in. The job seemed easier–was easier in some way–yet the amount of effort he had to put into the procedure increased. More energy needed to be redirected each time to make sure he didn’t hear his own calls for help.

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Filed under ghosts, lost & found, notes

7 responses to “characters (1)

  1. Rob

    That’s horrible. Brilliant, but horrible. Or brilliant and horrible.

    I can’t stop reading it.

  2. Rahul

    I find myself wondering which MJH character this might be referring to, but being drawn uncomfortably back to my own life.

    It is indeed horrible but (at one, shallow and yet visceral, level) not as horrible as opening the box and looking into the blank eyes of the the (now) milky, emaciated thing that shrivels in one corner. Hence, of course, the compulsive nature of the process- it’s as superficially rational as every other dysfunction.

    Still, I’d like to read about the horror of opening of the box because, I suppose, I’d like to believe it can be done.

  3. Tim C

    Cheer up. It’s not all bad!

    “In the south, especially in the Mingulay peninsula where the caravans are full of fortune tellers and their greasy tarot cards, a woman will often stunt the growth of their first child so that the lucrative career of dwarf is available to it in later life.”

  4. uzwi

    Hi Tim C. If I was writing that sentence now, I’d cut “greasy” and “lucrative”. Did the original say “her child” ? I can’t think I’d have written “their”.

  5. Tim C

    My mistake. Apologies.

    “This she does by confining it to a black oak box they call the ‘gloottokoma’; and by feeding it discriminately; while with the help of the cards she stares paralysed into an uncertain future.”

    This manages to be pessimistic and prescient and horribly funny – all at the same time – and sums up certain parts of the 1980s for me.

    I cannot wait for Empty Space!

  6. uzwi

    No problem, TimC. Interesting (to me, at any rate) how the bit of text you quote places responsibility on the parent; while, 30 years later, “the character” is described as repeatedly stuffing himself into the gloottokoma.

  7. Tim C

    Yes. It’s definitely an urge to return somewhere…

    In the case of today’s “character” – isn’t he just trying to adapt and make himself more employable?

    When I first read characters (1) I immediately thought of that passage. Theories of confinement – and the manouvres we make within that confinement – are still echoing (brilliantly) through your work.