Saturday, July 10, 2010

Brodeck’s Report

It's not too often that a book blows my socks clean off, but Brodeck's Report has left me sockless.  It's a profoundly moving and wise book that is beautifully crafted by a skilled wordsmith.  I'll post my review sometime next week, but here are two snippets as samplers.

I am trying to return to those moments, to get as close to them as I can, but what I would really like to do is forget them and run away, far away, on light feet and with a brand-new brain. 

I have the feeling that I am the wrong size for my life.  I mean, I feel that my life is spilling over everywhere, that it was never cut to fit a man like me, that it is full of too many things, too many events, too many moments, too many flaws.  It is my fault, perhaps?  Is it because I do not know how to be a man?  Because I do not know how to sort things, how to take what I need and leave the rest?  Or maybe it is the fault of the century in which I live, which is like a great crater; the excesses of every day flow into it, and it is filled with everything that cuts and flays and crushes and chops.  My head – sometimes I think my head is on the point of exploding, like a heavy shell crammed with gunpowder.

That infamous day, the day after the
Ereignies, was not so long ago.  And yet, it spite of everything, it is slipping through my fingers.  I remember only certain scenes and certain words, very exact and very clear, like the bright lights against a deep black background.  And I also remember my fear, above all my fear, which I have worn like a garment ever since.  I cannot cast it off; in spite all my efforts it has grown tighter and tighter, as if it has shrunk a little more each week. 

* * *

‘What I’d like to do is understand,’ he confided in me one day.  ‘We never understand anything, or if we do, not much.  Men live, in a way, as the blind do, and generally that’s enough for them.  I’d go as far as to say that it’s what they’re looking for: to avoid headaches and dizzy spells, to fill their stomachs, to sleep, to lie between their wives’ thighs when their blood runs too hot, to make war because they’re told to do so, and then to die without knowing what awaits them afterwards, but hoping that something is awaiting them, all the same.  Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved questions, and I’ve loved the paths you must follow to find the answers.  Sometimes, of course, I end up knowing nothing but the path itself, but that’s not so bad; at least I’ve made some progress.’

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