UD‘s Christmas thoughts, as she wanders thro’ each charter’d Boston street thinking of the dead (who said – was it Saul Bellow? – that at a certain age every other thought should be of the dead?) — thinking, that is, of people whose efforts to understand themselves and the world are over… UD‘s thoughts are all about the pretty unliftable fog we move in forever. Love Lifted Me goes the great gospel song, and it’s pretty to think so.
Truly pretty are the great stories – our greatest stories – that settle us deeply into the fog, right in the thick heart of the cloud – and let us abide there: John Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” whose drunken-boat drunk, Neddy Merrill, gets his name from Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream. Kafka’s “The Judgement,” whose main character knows nothing of his appalling fate until seconds before he peremptorily carries it out. Kleist’s baffled Marquis of O, or the dreadful demented brothers in “Saint Cecilia, or the Power of Music” – these are characters who struggle to exist at all inside the wall of Kleist’s endless discursive paragraphs. John Marcher’s mind-forg’d frigidity and fear finds itself similarly barely situated within the thick masterful paragraphs of Henry James.