Feb 162010

Lucy checking possible fox hole just before Pileated Woodpeckers appeared

Walking Lucy in the woods behind my house on the weekend, I found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, male and female. I’ve seen single males from time to time but never a pair–and in the same tree, the male making that strange clucking sound. This was about 15 seconds after my camera ran out of battery.

I read Witold Gombrowicz’s short story “Lawyer Kraykowski’s Dancer” (from his collection Bacacay). A weedy little semi-invalid (he suffers from epilepsy) tries to jump the ticket line at the opera. A wealthy, handsome lawyer drags him back. The semi-invalid, surprisingly, becomes obsessed with the lawyer. He stalks him, tries to imitate him, even tries to help him bed the married woman he is pursuing. When the lawyer finally manages a clandestine kiss with his sweetie in a secluded park, the narrator has a (very literary) grand mal seizure (the “dance” of the title) and is hospitalized. The lawyer escapes to the country. Deep shades of Dostoevsky and Gogol here. Notes from the Underground and “The Overcoat.” But it also, very interestingly, echoes some of the things René Girard says about the triangulation of desire in Deceit, Desire and the Novel, for example, the idea that the self is created when it identifies with the desire of the other (which is the principle upon which all modern advertising works). What is fascinating about the story is the power it generates from the protagonist’s surprise reaction to being yanked back into line. Instead of feeling anger and resentment, he falls under a kind of spell of obsequious adoration for his persecutor. Shamelessly, he debases himself, courts public humiliation. Very mysterious.


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