Sunday, 14 May 2017

Falsely Intelligent Summaries

...I am averse to falsely intelligent summaries, such as seem to be prevalent nowadays, and prefer long moments of reverie and speculation, which seem to me more conducive to satisfactory conclusions.
Altered States, ch. 1

They are, I realise, those falsely intelligent summaries, what I must avoid here. Let me trust instead to speculation and reverie, to indirections that might perhaps find directions out.

In any event, I often think I have little choice. How I envy those who can put together regular, cogent, recognisable (I'm trying to avoid the word 'normal') reviews and summaries of books they've read. I'm given, rather, to the power of impressions. At one time I would write essays, long essays, dissertations. Not now.

My initial impressions of Altered States: a ghost story; and a Sebaldian quest story:
...I lingered, a substantial English ghost, haunting the woman in the German hat ... I felt that this person on the platform might hold the key to the mystery, might in some extraordinary way enlighten me as to where Sarah might be, for although I tended to see her everywhere I had not yet laid eyes on her in ways that might be construed as physical, verifiable... (Ibid.) 
I had nothing to go on apart from two addresses on a piece of squared paper: the pencil was faded and the paper limp from much folding. One address, the one in Paris, I already knew about; the other, in the rue des Bains, in Geneva, is almost certainly unreliable. (Ibid.)
But I am persuaded of neither interpretation. Brookner as M. R. James? Brookner as W. G. Sebald? No. She'll only ever be herself. One must beware not only of falsely intelligent summaries but also of Brookner's many traps.

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