09 August 2010


Not a week goes by when I do not receive a request to become someone’s friend on Facebook. Most times I willingly friend some one (a term I have learned from my daughters is the appropriate description for my decision), and I have over the years acquired a list of friends.

Most of whom I never hear from again. Some of whom I haven’t heard from a first time. Now, I suspect that because I do not use Facebook as my primary means of connection to the larger world (the smaller world being my children who will not friend me but who text more than regularly!), I might be missing some significant interactions. But probably not, since if someone wanted to actually communicate with me they could just as easily find my email address and receive an almost immediate response.

I suppose I could be considered a Luddite, but I cannot understand the appeal of Facebook on which my children (and apparently many, many of my colleagues) spend considerable time. But I do not really care to know when anybody is sitting at any one particular coffee house or at the airport, or is frustrated because something happens in the world to really piss them off. I keep thinking of the Tralfamadorians, who communicate in a particularly telegraphic style. I’ve always found telegraph messages too emotionless. And inadequate to their intent.

Perhaps one day I might find use for this tool, but right now I cannot imagine ever desiring to use Facebook.

In the meantime the weather is overwhelmingly oppressive—there appears to be no air, and whatever air remains does not move. The powers that be (usually weatherpeople) say do not go outside after noon, but I’m wearing this contraption to monitor my heart rhythms (shouldn’t there be a poem in that image?), and so for the next twenty four hours I will not move very much at all.

The news is all bad: I won’t read it today. I’ll continue with Jose Saramago’s novel, All the Names. I think it is significant piece of literature—if anybody out there has read it, would you care to discuss? To my mind (with twenty pages remaining) it is a map of our lives in this world where we all have names. And then somewhere on page 159 and extending for about ten pages or so, the narration shifts from third person (Senhor José) to first person (I), and I am thoroughly intrigued as the reason. It is the scene where Senhor José returns to the ground floor apartment occupied by the old woman who was the unknown woman’s godmother, and who had offered to Senhor José the first clue that sent him off to discover the identity of the unknown woman. In that search Senhor José moves through a life.


Blogger JSG said...

Sir, its endearing to find that you are reading All The Names. I finished it some two weeks ago. Right now I m in a hurry. But I wld love to share my comments on the book. Theres is no link where I cld follow your blog. BUt I vl be bk soon. I want to discuss some points too.
Have a nice reading. Tk care.

14 August, 2010 00:29  
Blogger JSG said...

Hello Alan. Happy Birthday again.
I can share with you being intrigued halfway through the book, exactly where you point, where narration, for some good 5-10 pages, changes gear.

Here is a novel wherein, once again, the novelist so aptly questions our notions of dreams and realities. Once again, Saramago addresses the lone human heart and its ramblings that , I am convinced the author believed, are the true sustenance of human beings.

Really, what interests me in Saramago's fiction, as in All The Names, is the belief to bring what we see and what we do not see; what we believe ourselves to be and what we belive we are not, on the same level of understanding. He never misses that which one can imagine. And thats one reason why we find many words and dialogues carrying the 'would'

I love the way Saramago, quietly but strongly, goes on diminishing the so called constructed demarcations and categories. AN author like him shows us the true potential of words; words which create Names, as well as words which erase names.

And this book, for sure, is once again written from a firm conviction. And sometimes I find it little hard to define this book in words. Any book dealing with both the valid sides of life is a result of sensitive creation.

Have a good day.

17 August, 2010 06:54  

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