Thursday, October 7, 2010

Imitation Practice: Model 2

Imitation Practice: Model 2

Passage 2, “The other evening I had to dine out alone, and stopping in on my way at the bookstore, bought a little eighteenth-century edition of Persius, with notes and a translation.  The editor and translator was a man named William Drummond, who had also been a member of Parliament.  The attractive duodecimo was bound in green morocco and stamped in gold, and, inside the cover, had gray marbled paper with green and yellow runnings.  There was a medallion of Aulus Persius Flaccus, with crisp metallic curls on the title-page, and the whole volume, with the edge of its pages gold on all three sides and its well-spaced and small clear type, had the aspect of a little casket in which something precious was kept.  I went to an Italian restaurant and, while I was waiting for the antipasto, I began to read the preface.  In offering to the public,”  it ran, “a new English version of Persius, my object has never been….

By Edmund Wilson, “A Preface to Perseus”


    The other evening we celebrated Danielle’s birthday, and for the occasion, Akua took the liberty of cooking up a large amount of groundnut soup and banku, and we were all invited.  The soup was a mess of red oil and fish chunks, those were the first things I noticed.  The size of the bowl was next with its cracking ridge, and, the yellow stained plastic, which had a sand paper like texture that made my arm hair stand.  Then I saw the bobbing eyeballs, with their stoic glazed gaze bouncing against the banku blob, and the whole scene, with the floating bones and curdling consistency enveloping my fingers, caused an eruption in my stomach that burbled up into my mouth, with an sour acidic flavor mingled with the familiarity of this mornings breakfast.  I clamped my eyes shut and, biting my lip in a frantic effort to suffocate the gag, forced it back down.  I coughed to cover my disgust, stuck my hand back in, took another mouthful, and swallowed without chewing, scarffed without tasting. 


    The other day I tried to find a library, and dropping in on the local secondary school, the one on the boarder of town with the crumbling walls and broken windows, decided to give in to my craving.  The librarian introduced himself with an impossibly long name, and it turns out he was also the gardener.  His desk was situated in front of a yellowing paper with a list of library rules, and, had no particular order, and when there was no one in, which was more often than not, he had an emergency pillow stowed indiscreetly in the corner behind his machete.  After I walked in I took the liberty of browsing the bare shelves, with the sparse collections of outdated history books, and the complete classroom set, second hand or some donation no doubt judging by the water damage, of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  I took an African title off of the shelf and, noting the dedication to the children of Ghana, began to browse through the contents.  I read, “To cut the nails of that panther….” And felt sorry that no one here understood their own metaphor. 


    The other night I was doing my writing outside, and despite the threat of flesh eating invisible bugs, stayed out there for most of the evening, with my pen held limp in my hand.  The page was a glowering blank white, and, the numbers of lines were daunting and seemed to do summersaults in my mind.  There was a smear of spoiled ink, which had mixed with my oily bug spray, both stealing insane amounts of dye from my book cover and the mold colored writing printed on the plastic of the water sashe, which made me wish my unsorted thoughts could transfer with that much ease and convenience.  I dropped my hopeless pen and, while I rubbed my aching temples, began to accept that some stories are just neutral.  In perfect honesty I had no feelings on the day, and to assign them in would be a necessary lie. 

Substituting Metaphors:

    There was a medallion of Aulus Persius Flaccus, with crisp metallic curls on the title-page, and the whole volume, with the edge of its pages gold on all three sides and its clear type, faintly resembled what would be the artistic representation of the sound of the Stradivarius, captured from mid air. 

Imitation by Understatement:

    I picked up a version of Persius by William Drummond on my way to dinner.  It was a pretty little book, with a non-original introduction, customary to your typical translated edition.

Imitation by Abbreviation:

    This antique edition of Persius was bound in green and embedded with rich gold, elaborate trim. 

Imitation by Question:

    But in my solitude I purchased it.  Why was the cover so lush to me?  The pretty little trim to inviting, intoxicating?  There was nothing notably different about this antiquated version of Perius, but why do I read on?  “My object has never been….”

    I’ve decided it is a lot easier to do these if I have a subject, my own idea, on hand before I read the content of the model.  Just to mix things up, I tried my banku experience again with this new set of clothes, and that added a different dimension and tone, allowing for different details to seep through.  This one was a lot more difficult to keep up with.  The commas are tricky to wield, but if done right I like the effect.  To keep it straight, I found it helpful to break up the sentences and look at them one by one before I put them back together again.  It is easier to see the bigger picture, and it might be something I implement in the future to break down some of these authors’ styles. 

No comments:

Post a Comment