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How many…?

Saying I was mildly concerned about Xanther’s rummaging through the grime in that rain storm would be putting it, well, mildly. But that’s just the hypochondriac in me talking.

Yesterday, I commented on ktoney2015’s form and function post highlighting the several instances of pages with deliberately unreadable text: text so small it requires a magnifying glass, or blurry text etc. Immediately after this, I come upon a few pages with painted text that look like rainbows and raindrops. At this point it becomes obvious that the novel is doing something other than inviting reading–at least not in the demotic sense of the word “reading”–although maybe in our broader, critical sense.

At first glance at those pages (478-79; 494-5; 506-7; 514-15), I half expected the characters to be binary. We’re all probably familiar with the trope of constructing visual images out of a bunch of ones and zeros, which become apparent as the image is magnified beyond recognition. I actually almost couldn’t stop myself from viewing the raindrops on p. 514 as zeros–so I guess from that perspective the rain would represent ones? Except, there really is no difference between the zeros and the ones, since the ones (raindrops-in-flight) become the zeros as soon as they hit the ground in a puddle. Then, of course, the circularity of the raindrops and the puddles they carve into the ground is reminiscent of that clock ticking out its seconds up to 5:32

5:33. (Bones Nest chapter)

I guess I never really spend too much time wondering what cryptic things mean. There’s a certain freedom in accepting the solipsism of the text, and I revel in that. An earlier post mentioned how much this novel is meant to be viewed, and not merely read, and I agree with that. It requires that you allow its import to bypass your intellect and mean (signify?), even when you don’t know just what it means. (MacLeish, anyone?) “How many raindrops” is the chapter’s (even the novel‘s) refrain, and to me that “means” how many pages, how many lines, sentences, words, letters, pixels… A lot, and the experience is actually kind of in the deluge of the text, the overwhelming power of it that cannot be contained, counted, arranged in any particular way. Understood.