August 13th, 2009

mano negra

Nemo Metis. (74)

Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason.

Athena was young;
She had a golden engine
whose keys were like teeth.

Well, couple this with the War Music poems by Logue & I'm just soaking in PoMo Classicism. The frame device here is that there is a Voynich Manuscript style codex of meaningless symbols, deciphered by the author using an alchemist's gemmetria work. The cryptography is such that, depending on which "keys" you use on the text, a different story is decrypted. Clever, & the narrative lives up to it-- the stories are cunningly wrought of fractals, meta-text, feedback loops, & no small measure of pulling at the heartstrings. The stories range from vignettes to anecdotes, & I can say that none of them disappointed. One (the frame narrative claims it is apocryphal, added on by a latter scribe) claims the Illiad is actually something like a chess manual; the Trojan war a farce, a board, where in instead of bishops & rooks there are Achilli & Hectors. Another, "Athena in Death" really gets in your gutbox-- dying, Athena asks Odysseus for his idea of heaven...which is just the same travels as the Odyssey but this time, without Athena deserting him. Oh! Mason talks about luciferin & luciferase, my favorite biochemical enzyme pathway! The stories are filled with anachronisms, which the author owns as translation choices, or dubious ancient provenance. Chinese myths are mixed in with Greek, monsters are anthropomorphized, memories are put in doubt. Each of the chapters is headed with whichever "key" or "keys" was used to decipher it: Time, Memory, Desire, Revenge, The Gods, The Dead, Departures, Returns, Words, Deception, & Doubles. Alright, oroborus, turn upon yourself & devour: the book is jammed with snake-hands, nooks, & crannies, & Odysseus is the character to explore them...along with grey-eyed Athena & the wide-eyed reader.
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Making the bed means I'm an adult.



You can tell I'm still alive because I never have less than two Wikipedia pages open at a time-- usually the same two pages, for about a month. So far this week has been fine, but lazy. I haven't been to the gym yet once, even. Monday was a furnace in Gotham; you know, growing up in the Wasteland where Summers break 40°C & winters that get cold enough to freeze engine blocks, I ought to be a tougher cookie. No such luck; the mercury gets over 30° & I only want to go from air-conditioned work to air-conditioned home. Monday was meant to be a gym day, but instead I had a burger burrito & called it a wash. Tuesday was another heat-wave attack-day, but I let Danielle & Carla woo me to the Asian pub for drinks & some fusion food. Note to self: never get the Pad Thai. I actually got some California Rolls & Random Tempura, which was a wise choice. Also, a garbage martini, but it was only $3, so. Jenny met us, but only in enough time to say goodbye & split for Park Slope. Back home, watch a documentary, bed. Wedneday was going to be catch-up with the gym...but my train was messed up. Turned my 25 minute commute in an hour & a half. Train signals mis-matched, then stuck (standing up!) in between Union & 9th. Very sad, shopped for food, came home & Jenny & I were puddles of misery & love all over the apartment. Very sad for no particular reason. Tired mostly. Tired isn't the same as sad, you say? I don't know what emotions are, duh! Then I did a vidokhat with Meggy & Chris.
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