an imaginary review (9)
In this novel of worldbuilding, a future psychoanalyst recklessly intertwines her own imagination with that of the patient. The patient has failed to construct himself & invites the psychiatrist to extend her own self-constructive efforts on his behalf. The two of them are immediately looped into the construction of a third thing–their relationship–then a fourth & fifth–each one’s perception of this relationship under the shifting terms of the old pre-analysis selves–and so on. Out of the patient’s perception of emptiness & the psychiatrist’s gesture of filling, they make not one but several “worlds”. In the end, has the psychiatrist helped the patient to see, or find, or make himself ? No: but between them they have made several new things, their exploration of which has made several more. This combination of labyrinth & dissipative system fails both of them & everything they have consigned to it reemerges sooner or later in acts of insane violence.
I love it.
Self-awareness begets recursive levels of awareness: “I know that I know that I know myself.” It begs the question of who is the first to know, but that’s immaterial after awhile.
That interminable layering is what sets consciousness apart from everything else. Here, however, those layers become branches and nodes until the questions of another’s awareness become immaterial.
It’s not easy to tie up the interminable. Good on ya!
perhaps you should serious consider a furious move into more comedic fiction, although I’m beginning to wonder if I should go back and reread you with a mind less tied down and given to dark humors
The jokes are some of the best bits!
Hi Mia: that reread might bear its own kind of fruit, it’s true, but I’d think of it of as complementary rather than alternative…
Hi Martin you old goat.
Hi James: When I received this book it was under such heavy embargo that minor reviewers like myself weren’t even allowed to know who had written it. The name would be backfilled into our copy by an editor, on delivery. I would be required to show evidence that I had destroyed the ARC by an accepted secure method. At first I thought I must be reading a lost Richard Powers, written in the mid-80s & for some reason remaining unpublished. But at 120 pages the volume seemed too slim; & the text didn’t, in the end, seem recursive enough. Then I began to count the author’s many uses of the acronym DSC, the initials of worldbuilding psychiatrist Diana Sontag-Cohn, whose name comprises the first three words of the novel. All the central characters share these initials; and in one entire–thankfully short–chapter, every character’s name is made from an anagram of Sontag-Cohn’s. This led to the inevitable recognition that I was holding in my hands an early product of the legendary Dynamical Systems Collective–perhaps their first and only foray into the literary arts! You can imagine my excitement. A tragedy that, in the end, it was never published.