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message 1: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (last edited Sep 28, 2012 10:02AM) (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments This chapter was also published as Ship Rock: A Place, a chapbook from Ewert, Concord, NH (1980).


message 2: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments There will certainly be those chapters with which one can do without. I'm impressed that you found one chapter which is "repetitive and murky" without condemning the entire book as being such. ; ) The repetition with variation, or at least my impression was that there is always variation, is the prose technique that impresses me most about W&M. But I can see clearly that it might get to be too much at times. This is also that chapter which was published separately as a chap book in 1980.

I know very little about NYC so for that most part I was building my own city. But it's true, McElroy's fiction is always/usually very tightly bound to NYC. What sticks in my head the clearest location-wise, more than NYC, is the mythology which takes place in the Western US.


message 3: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I'm trying to bookmark the eBook according to how you organized this, Nathan. I'm a bit confused. Maybe when the book comes in the mail next week, I'll get a clearer idea of the markers.


message 4: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments If I put in the search your discussion title, such as "Ship Rock", it helps me to find your markers.


message 5: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Aloha wrote: "If I put in the search your discussion title, such as "Ship Rock", it helps me to find your markers."

It'll make more sense when you receive the hard copy because e-books make no sense. But my divisions are his chapter divisions. Since they are not numbered, I used their respective page numbers to make organization easier.


message 6: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Nathan, I'm wondering why you put Ship Rock at the beginning of the discussion when it comes after Between Us: A Breather at the Beginning.


message 7: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I'm looking at the pages and the order of your discussions. I don't get it. It's all over the place. I'm sorry if you explained the reason somewhere else.


message 8: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Actually, it goes backwards from A Breather Toward the End.


message 9: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Aloha wrote: "Actually, it goes backwards from A Breather Toward the End."

That's goodread's fault. Go to this page:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_...
and you can sort by column header. On the main group page, the topic with the most recent comment goes to the top. I added the initial zeros so that the "topics" column would sort properly. But those numbers *are* page numbers for our convenience.


message 10: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments That makes more sense. I thought that's another thing to turn our brain to mush. Maybe we're supposed to do a yoga pose while reading this, too. Thanks, Nathan.


message 11: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (last edited Sep 27, 2012 09:22AM) (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Aloha wrote: "That makes more sense. I thought that's another thing to turn our brain to mush. Maybe we're supposed to do a yoga pose while reading this, too. Thanks, Nathan."

de nada. The yoga won't be required. But I believe that if you read it in lotus position those Breather sections will make more sense.


message 12: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I've been reading books while upside down, but the lotus position is enlightening. :o)


message 13: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Jonathan, you've been doing a bang up job summarizing. And now pictures! Thank you.

I've been selfish in my reading. I'm getting into the flow and story of this new material. I'll join in when I'm done with the book.


message 14: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I'm getting into the book as a story. To me, it is mostly about Jim Mayn, his memories, his impressions, the people around him, mostly balanced by Grace. Jim and Grace are the libration points, with other points of influence. I love Margaret's story about the far eastern princess and the Navajo prince. I'm getting into what her story is about. Very interesting. I'm seeing it more from the human point of view, starting with Jim and his mental state.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 06, 2012 06:37PM) (new)

After seeing obfuscation's comment a while back I was prepared to not like this chapter, but it was one of my favourites so far. I loved the section about the rock itself being a place, more three-dimensional than any other place, or something along those lines. McElroy's insistence on describing the rock and its mythic qualities seems to give more substance and weight to the mythological stuff that's been floating around in BETWEEN US: A BREATHER STILL AT THE BEGINNING and before.


message 16: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Sean wrote: "McElroy's insistence on describing the rock and its mythic qualities seems to give more substance and weight to the mythological stuff that's been floating around BETWEEN US: A BREATHER STILL AT THE BEGINNING and before. "

The mythological stuff is great; the contrast between Ship-Rock-for-geologists and Ship-Rock-for-Navajo. One is curious about how much of the mythology is McElroy and how much of the mythology is aboriginal. Aloha? Not just in regard to Ship Rock, but also in regard to the East Far Eastern Princess, Choor, and the full-blown Navajo and Ojibway material. [there may even be a curious parallel regarding the mythologization of landscape between W&M and Finnegans Wake.]


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm waiting (and I have just under 1000 pages to go, so) for some clarification w/r/t the link between all the mythology and the events and characters of the book. Besides the stories of Jim's grandmother, they so far seem a little disparate, but I'm assuming things will become clearer.


message 18: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Sean wrote: "they so far seem a little disparate, but I'm assuming things will become clearer. "

I'm curious to find out if you'll be satisfied. Whether or not it gets clearer, you'll certainly get a lot more of it. But it does, it will. I just met two of my favorite minor characters who are a part of that setting.


message 19: by Aloha (last edited Nov 06, 2012 06:41PM) (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Regarding the Aboriginal dreaming, Nathan, the essence of McElroy's idea is from the Dreaming, in which your true essence is in the dreaming, birthed to this physical earth, then go back to the dreaming. Once you get to the end with the clues of the two into one, then you'll see what I'm talking about. So it is significant that Mayn does not dream while others dream for him.

Oh, hence the book begins with the birthing scene, a nod back to the birthing of the essence in Aboriginal dreaming.


message 20: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Sean wrote: "I'm waiting (and I have just under 1000 pages to go, so) for some clarification w/r/t the link between all the mythology and the events and characters of the book. Besides the stories of Jim's gran..."

One clue to watch for is the framing of the mythological stories--who is telling to whom. It is not always the case that Grandmother Margaret is telling Jim the stories. Jim and others also tell the stories and even add to them. The stories themselves, at times, are the relations (angels) between people. And then, what about the interrogators?


message 21: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Aloha wrote: "Regarding the Aboriginal dreaming, Nathan, the essence of McElroy's idea is from the Dreaming, in which your true essence is in the dreaming, birthed to this physical earth, then go back to the dre..."

I'm not sure I'm ready to ride that train yet. But I look forward to the fleshed out model in your review. It sounds like a more idealist interpretation than what I'm prepared to accept. It's the angels (who are without without matter) that are becoming human, not visa versa. But, but, but. . . .


message 22: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Too much repetition of "essence". Trying to multitask.


message 23: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Aloha wrote: "Too much repetition of "essence". Trying to multitask."

A tricky, loaded word, indeed. ; )

No, seriously, I'm patiently awaiting the review. I don't think you owe these threads anything much until such is completed, assuming that the review is your priority.


message 24: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments The first reading was to see the forest. I figured that while I'm reviewing the chapters for the trees, I might as well write a summary for each chapter. It's as much for me as for the threads. I'll get back to you regarding the Dreaming and the angels as soon as I have it clearer in my head.


message 25: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments The interrogators are still a mystery to me. Sometimes it's a man, other times a woman. Lots for me to look at in detail.


message 26: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Aloha wrote: "Regarding the Aboriginal dreaming, Nathan, the essence of McElroy's idea is from the Dreaming, in which your true essence is in the dreaming, birthed to this physical earth, then go b..."

Nathan, I refreshed my memory regarding Aboriginal Dreaming and it does correlate with the idea of the angels becoming human. Before birth, they exist as spirits in the Dreaming. Upon becoming human, they are taught the lores and songs (as in Margaret telling Jim her stories) so that they can act with respect to the laws of the Dreaming, just as Margaret's tales help Jim to find his potential. The Dreaming incorporates a vast relationship between all things, so that fits in with the importance of relations and libration points. I've reviewed all the parts about angels, and I don't see anything that would not correlate with the Dreaming. Why would angels wanting to become human not go with this? The angels becoming human is more or less spiritual custodials of the relationship balance, which is similar to the Dreamtime idea of the human starting as spirits but birthed into the world as custodials of the land. There's some animism in the book, too, as McElroy placed Angelic influence in a lot of things.


message 27: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Jonathan's deleted posts ::

#14-----
Mayn is reporting on the Four Corners Power Plant and the nearby mine, outside Farmington, New Mexico. He learns about the gasification process, questions where the power goes from the plant, where the money came from to build it, how the Navajo benefit from the plant, do they get jobs from it, and do the jobs pay top dollar? While reporting, he is distracted by the presence in the distance of Ship Rock. It distracts him, attracts him, for it 'gave no answers'.

[photo of Ship Rock]

The night after his visit to the plant/mine, Mayn drinks with two engineers wearing stetsons. He is woken up by an environmentalist's phone call, a woman pleading with him to tell the 'whole ecological story'. He sleepily thinks he is dismissing her, but communicates to her that she is to meet him at the formation, Ship Rock, that's been drawing him in. He is a little hungover, but the 'memory of coffee' is ahead.

He drives to Ship Rock, and the majority of the chapter contains his thoughts as he stands two miles from Ship Rock ('you give a monster space') and experiences it 'usefully alone'. How can we understand Ship Rock? Through various Navajo myths about it? Through measurement? Through knowledge of how it formed? Through art (the painting in the hotel)? Through photography (Mayn first saw Ship Rock in a friend's book, photographed from an aerial view in black and white)? Can we experience how it looks from one side, while still holding onto how it looks from another? This chapter reminds me of Moby-dick, the sections about the various ways we can talk of The Whale without comprehending it. Though the chapter doesn't seem to be emphasizing human limits so much as the world's grandeur, and the sheer amount of ways to describe it or not.

The environmentalist comes across the desert with an Indian engineer friend to meet Mayn at his car. Also of note, is a sentence on the last page referring to a 'famous kidnapped South American economist being handed over'.

---

Q

What do you make of Mayn being referred to several times as the 'hypothetical man'?

---

'well this rock has possibilities!'


#16----
You're welcome. You have hardly been selfish! Your encouragement and your sharing of your own story have helped me and likely others along my/our way. I simply can't get into the flow of the story and read it like you are. The book just isn't seductive in the way that Infinite Jest for example is to me. Which is not to say I don't love W&M. It is thus far one of my favorite reading experiences. But I have to read it the way I'm reading it, slowly, pen in hand, time to digest, and a space to organize it, to re-tell it to myself as Mayn does Margaret's stories. I think I'll continue with the pictures. They break up the text nicely. And just, damn, look at Ship Rock.


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