Monday, 4 February 2008

Richard Cooper 2008



I had very little time to 4qate this year, and the prospect of trying to find a quote (especially one I hadn't already used) from Russell Hoban's huge oeuvre seemed more daunting than ever, so I went back to first principles and tried to think of the main reasons I was initially attracted to his work. These were: a lyrical writing style; a great sense of humour; an ability to make mundane things fascinating; and a refusal to accept the 'limited-reality consensus'. I thought I would try and find a passage that not just represented those but which the average passing stranger might stand a chance of identifying with. With all of this in mind I reached firstly for Kleinzeit: I enjoyed revisiting both the long passages and the one-liners, but somehow it was all a bit too weird to grab the attention of the passer-by. Of course, weirdness is another reason I enjoy Russ's books, and you can divorce hardly any of the best bits within them from a general, all-pervading sense of weirdness. Fighting off a slight sense of futility, then, I remembered this passage - a shining snippet of dialogue between the protagonist Herman Orff and film-maker Gosta Kraken - from The Medusa Frequency, my first and probably still favourite Hoban novel, which met my criteria and also sat well with my intention this year of filming my 4qation for the website.



`What is Luise to you?'
`Lost. Gone. Two years only, then Znrvv! No more Luise. A note on the kitchen table like an unaccompanied cello in a studio with dusty windows.'
`Don't roll the credits over it; just tell me plangently when she left you.'
`Seven years ago with my sound man.'
`What do you suppose she heard in him?'
`Other music.'
`And what did she ever see in you?'
`Flickering images.'
`Of what?'
`It doesn't matter, it's the flickering that gives the excitement. Being is not a steady state but an occulting one: we are all of us a succession of stillnesses blurring into motion with the revolving of the wheel of action, and it is in those spaces of black betwen the pictures that we experience the heart of the mystery in which we are never allowed to rest. The flickering of a film interrupts the intolerable continuity of apparent world; subliminally it gives us those in-between spaces of black that we crave. The eye is hungry for this; eagerly it collaborates with the unwinding strip of celluloid that shows it twenty-four pictures per second, making real by an act of retinal retention the here-and-gone, the continual disappearing in which the lovers kiss, the shots are fired, the horses gallop, rrks?'
`Luise saw all that in you, did she?'
`It isn't only that I make films, I am in myself a big flickerer and women respond to this. I'm so much there/not there/there/not there. Very exciting. It stimulates a woman's natural
holding-on reflex.'
`And yet Luise seems to have let go of you.'
`Nothing is for ever.'

from The Medusa Frequency


As it happened, the video is of me reading the passage, but I didn't film the paper-drop itself as it didn't seem terribly cinematic. This was posted on a notice-board outside a nearby village church hall which always seems to be completely empty (both the hall and the notice-board): it was nice to finally see something on there - a Hoban quote especially.


If you have any problems viewing the video above try going direct to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UyzfwgZiq4

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