mimi's verbs

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« on: April 26, 2013, 04:41:41 pm »
Quote from: sologdin
wherein the kindly reader attempts to determine why mimara perspectives are written in present tense.

the controlling theoretical concept--
Quote
IX   

My wing is ready for flight,   
I would like to turn back.
If I stayed timeless time, 
I would have little luck. 
 
Mein Flügel ist zum Schwung bereit,
ich kehrte gern zurück,
denn blieb ich auch lebendige Zeit,
ich hätte wenig Glück.
 
Gerherd Scholem,
‘Gruss vom Angelus’   

  A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.   
 
(benjamin, w.  "Theses on the Philosophy of History," IX) (emphasis added). 

(FWIW, here's the klee angelus novushttp://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/LO28906_AngelusNovus.jpg.  it's weimar expressionism, so WTF, aye?)

the relevant textual evidence--
Quote
She is inclined to see history as degeneration.  Years ago, not long after her mother brought her to the Andiamine Heights, an earthquake struck Momemn, not severe, but violent enough to crack walls and to set arms and ornaments toppling.  There had been a mural in particular, the Osto-Didian, the eunuchs called it, depicting the First Holy War battling about Shimeh, with all the combatants cramped shield to shield, sword to sword, like dolls bound into sheaves.  Where other murals had been webbed with fractures, this one seemed to have been pounded by hammers.  Whole sections had sloughed away, exposing darker, deeper images:  naked men across the backs of bulls.  In shallow sockets here and there even this layer had given out, especially near the centre, where her stepfather had once hung out of proportion in the sky.  There, after dabbing away the white powder with her fingertips, she saw a young man's mosaic face, black hair high in the wind, child-wide eyes fixed upon some obscured foe.

That, she understood, was history:  the piling on of ages like plaster and paint, each image a shroud across the others, the light of presence retreating, from the Nonmen to the Five Tribes to the New Empire, coming at last to a little girl in the embrace of hard-handed men.

To the daughter who dined with her Empress mother, listening to the tick of enamel tapping gold, watching the older woman's eyes wander lines of sorrow, remorse thick enough to spit.

To the woman who raged beneath a wizard's tower.

To now.

She is inclined to see history as degeneration, and what greater proof did she need, now that they walked beneath the mural of mannish strife, now that they touched the glass of first things?

Cil-Aujas.  Great and dead, a mosaic exposed.  What was human paint compared to this?
(IV.16 at 364) (emphasis added).

application of the controlling theoretical concept to the textual evidence of the case--
there are several readings here:

a ) mimi is benjamin's angel of history, as she sees no chain of events, but one single catastrophe--but, unlike benjamin's description, she misunderstands what she sees, reading the pile of wreckage as spenglerian degeneration, rather than enlightened progress.

b ) mimi is benjamin's angel of history, as she sees no chain of events, but a single catastrophe--and, like benjamins's description, she understands the nasty irony arising out of claims to progress when the entire world is destroyed.

c ) mimi is not benjamin's angel of history, but is rather an anti-angel of history or an angel of anti-history, truly seeing the unfolding of history as a single catastrophe, but understanding it in a way that inverts, parodies, or refutes benjamin's conception, whether ironic or not:  degeneration rather than progress.  instead of a marxist conception of history unfolding progressively, we get a fundamentally ovidian conception of history rotting away:

Quote
First sprung the age of gold. Unforc'd by laws
 Strict rectitude and faith, spontaneous then
 Mankind inspir'd. No judge vindictive frown'd;
 Unknown alike were punishment and fear:
 No strict decrees on brazen plates were seen;
 Nor suppliant crowd, with trembling limbs low bent,
 Before their judges bow'd. Unknown was law,
 Yet safe were all.

[...]

Then a silver age
 Succeeded; by the golden far excell'd;—
 Itself surpassing far the age of brass.
 The ancient durance of perpetual spring
 He shorten'd, and in seasons four the year
 Divided:—Winter, summer, lessen'd spring,
 And various temper'd autumn first were known.
 Then first the air with parching fervor dry,
 Glow'd hot;—then ice congeal'd by piercing winds
 Hung pendent;—houses then first shelter'd man;
 Houses by caverns form'd, with thick shrubs fenc'd,
 And boughs entwin'd with osiers. Then the grain
 Of Ceres first in lengthen'd furrows lay;
 And oxen groan'd beneath the weighty yoke.
 
Third after these a brazen race succeeds,
 More stern in soul, and more in furious war
 Delighting;—still to wicked deeds averse.
 
The last from stubborn iron took its name;—
 And now rush'd in upon the wretched race
 All impious villainies: Truth, faith, and shame,
 Fled far; while enter'd fraud, and force, and craft,
 And plotting, with detested avarice.
 To winds scarce known the seaman boldly loos'd
 His sails, and ships which long on lofty hills
 Had rested, bounded o'er the unsearch'd waves.
 The cautious measurer now with spacious line
 Mark'd out the land, in common once to all;
 Free as the sun-beams, or the lucid air.
 Nor would the fruits and aliments suffice,
 The rich earth from her surface threw, but deep
 Within her womb they digg'd, and thence display'd,
 Riches, of crimes the prompter, hid far deep
 Close by the Stygian shades.
(ovid, metamorphoses, I at ll. 88-142).

a.d. melville reads that final bit, awesomely, as:

Quote
Nor did earth's rich return od crops and food
Suffice; the bowels of the world were forced
And wealth deep hidden next the gates of Hell
Dug out, the spur of wickedness and sin.

all three readings rely on her present-tense voice, alone in the narrative.  she is most certainly the negation of "the geometry of Nautzera's world":

Quote
there was no present, only the clamor of a harrowing past and threat of a corresponding future.  For Nautzera, the present had receded to a point, had become the precarious fulcrum whereby history leveraged destiny.
(I.2 at 67).

mimara, by contrast, is only the present, wherein the future and the past are superimposed.  benjamin's angel sees progress in wreckage, whereas mimi sees degeneration in viewable murals.  it's an odd inversion.  still, though, my impression is that she sees it truly but reads it falsely:  it is progress, but she understands it through the false consciousness imposed by the setting.  she might accordingly also see truly with the judging eye--but interprets it wrongly, through bogus moral concepts imposed by historical, rather than ontological, necessity.

What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 04:41:50 pm »
Quote from: sciborg2
Interesting...what's the distinction you're making between genuine degeneration and supposed progress? Because Mim does see the Nonmen as damned for their treatment of the prehistoric humans.

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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2013, 04:41:57 pm »
Quote from: sologdin
well, she sees something and reads it as damnation and infers the cause.

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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2013, 04:42:03 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
So I've tried to discern the meaning of her POV's myself and came here, months ago, with a question regarding this. I posted a topic and not much came of it. I found your post a bit cryptic, so correct me if im wrong, but you dindt actually draw any conclusions did you? That was all just info about what Mim could be, or what the first person POV meaning might be, but nothing about what you personally think.

Anyway, does her POV and tense resemble something similar to: WLW Spoliers
(click to show/hide)

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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2013, 04:42:11 pm »
Quote from: Madness
Personally, Wilshire, I think that is exactly the picture Bakker is trying to draw.

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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2013, 04:42:17 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
WLW spoiler
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2013, 04:42:25 pm »
Quote from: Madness
Perhaps, I'm wrong, Wilshire.

(click to show/hide)

I'd also had thoughts that Bakker writes Mimara in the present tense as it makes for intense action sequences - however, I think the man is more subtle than that.

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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 04:42:36 pm »
Quote from: Wilshire
Oh ok well at least we are on the same page. I considered the whole WLW present reflecting on past thing, but decided it went over my head and ignored it :P