Tuesday, October 27, 2009

While the women are sleeping by Javier Marias

Grasping for logic

The main character and Alberto each try to apply their logical perspective onto the other person in order to make sense of the situation and of their world. The main character is grasping for logical explanation of why Alberto relentlessly films Ines’s body every day. This leads Alberto to explain that he is trying to capture her last day. Which causes the main character to question his logic that she will be the one to die first as she is apparently in good health and least 30 years younger. Alberto explain his obsession with Ines can not last for ever and so she must be killed. The main character counters the logic of the argument by explaining how this can’t be true because of how unlikely it is that he would share information in which he is a guilty and for which he would be able to alert someone and stop him before Alberto could act. Alberto counter attacks by explaining that they are leaving tomorrow, that the main character will choose to disbelieve him, and that Ines may already be dead, same as it’s possible that his wife who he has left sleeping in her hotel room may have died. The main character calms himself by drawing a parallel between both wives, and reassures himself with the fact that as he knows he is wife is alive and asleep in their room, Ines must be alive and asleep in her room. Then when his wife comes out on the room terrace and call him, he notices that there is no one on Ines’s terrace. This makes him doubt his logic and what he felt certain of just moments ago. Alberto could of killed Ines already.

The passive partner, the child

The main character who hides behind the hat to watch the couple and later who refuses to believe that Alberto may kill Ines can be seen as passive. We cannot imagine that his wife would react the same way if she had heard the story. Then in the end of the story the main character describes Luisa as calling down to him like a mother saying their child’s name, same as he had described Alberto saying Ines’s name twice as mother’s do, earlier on in the story. Ines is the passive one in this couple. She barely moves, barely talks, and seems only preoccupied in preening herself as Albero requires of.


Two couples, one couple watching Alberto and Ines, Alberto watching Ines, Ines watching herself. The main character watching through the fibers of the sun hat and Alberto watching behind the lense of a video camera and Ines investigating her own body through a mirror. The story is about logic and perspective. Ines is so taken in with Alberto’s obsession of her beauty that she cannot see that his feelings are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.Alberto must kill Ines to save her from aging to ensure that his passion for her will not wane. The main character who warns no one that Alberto plans to kill Ines because it refutes what he thinks is logical and thus he refuses believe it. Each character caught so deeply in their own perspective that no one can influence the other enough to save Ines, not even Ines herself.

While the women are sleeping by Javier Marias

Monday, October 19, 2009

Procedure in Plain Air by Jonathan Lethem

Superfluous society becomes immune to the humane condition.

This story comments on access and the superfluous preoccupations of our society. Stevick, the main character, goes to the coffee shop for a caffeine boost not for the taste, nor for the atmosphere which he finds excessive. His moment there is juxtaposed with the other café denizens who are preoccupied with the wifi, their cell phones, the perfectly tuned Ipod, whether the coffee has a soapy after taste, the other denizens in the shop. Stevick sits outside to escape the mind numbing convoluted society inside.

Outside, he witnesses a man being placed into a hole in the ground. Outraged by his being left there with little protection from the rain he stands above him with an umbrella. His values again are being juxtaposed with people concerned over the property value, walking their dogs and just doing their jobs as was the case with the men who inserted him into the hole.

He is later accosted in the street by what he terms a yuppy who is belligerent that his presence is lowering his property value. Fueled by his anger over the situation of the man in the hole and his beliefs he starts fighting. The fight quickly ends as both parties get bored and go back to perspective lives.

The uniform changes everything

Charlotte, his ex-wife, belittles his efforts much as society seems to, that is when they even notice him. The uniform in the bag changes everything for him, he is now part of this enterprise and this strengthens him isolating him for the superfluous judgmental denizens, “Charlotte, like much else, was receding from view.”

The Man in the hole

The man in the hole is also symbol of the purely functional necessity driven lifestyle. At first outraged by the mans condition, he later muses that he himself may one day be placed in a hole. Which makes me think, to each his own obsession. What he once thought of as heinous, he concludes, he is happy to be a part of.

Integration is unavoidable

He is happy to be part of an art installation which shuns the superfluous, the fancy, whimsical the unnecessary. However this installation and the idea of art represents all those things. Integration is unavoidable.

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