"And perhaps it is only through self-immolation of such a nature that we living beings can offer to you the entire truth of ourselves within the reasonable boundaries of a book."
- Tennessee Williams, Memoirs
* * *
by Greg Baysans
* * *
A last connection to Rimbaud must be mentioned. After completing and posting a satisfactory (but still being tinkered with) version of this project, I checked out E-bay for any books by Cendrars (as mentioned in there somewhere). At the same time, I looked casually to see if there was a copy of "Total Eclipse" available, the film version of Rimbaud and Verlaine's stormy relationship. There was a copy with a bid of a dollar, I bid a half dollar more. And "won" the item.
Jim and I watched it the afternoon it arrived. I sent an e-mail that night to the seller and thanked him again. He sent me back an e-mail telling me this story:
Since you are a "student" of poetry and Rimbaud, I'd like to share a personal story with you. When I was in my early 20's, I was obsessed with Arthur Rimbaud's poetry. I was also traveling to Paris 3-4 times a year and would go to my favorite cafe in Paris and sit reading his work daily. This went on every time I was in Paris for a period of 4 years. One day I decided to find out where Rimbaud had an "apartment" and I found that it was directly above the spot where I had been sitting and reading his poetry. Coincidence? I am not sure. Nonetheless, a good story.
Likewise, I got a more-than-endearing e-mail from the previous owner of Sutter's Gold which I consider my "first E-bay purchase." I plan to print it out and keep it with the book. I love knowing that before me, the book had but one owner for over seventy years.
I'd mentioned my disappointment at not having a title page in the book but "this is not a complaint. I am very pleased with my purchase."
What a coincidence: I too was disappointed and pleased. I had hoped for a higher closing price, but very pleased that it had found such a good home. My father gave me the book (to the best of my memory) when I was about fourteen or fifteen and I am now over 80.
I would have gladly given you the book if we were acquainted; but E-Bay is fun and while I am still in reasonably good health I hope to find good homes for many of my treasured posessions.
I have a country newspaper that was printed entirely in rhyme. The owner/editor did this entirely by herself. It was in such bad shape when I found it that I laminated it to keep it together. I may put this on E-Bay, If I do I'll let you know.
Greg Baysans, March 21, 2003
(P.S. The "next project" I refer to once or twice can be found at "http://members.tripod.com/~poetx/story/a001.html".)
June 3, 2003, addenda:
background tune: "The Music and the Mirror" from "A Chorus Line." Music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, © 1975, 1998 Sony Music International, Inc.
"Give me a job and you instantly get me involved. Give me a job and the rest of the problem is solved...."
It was about a month ago that I turned this, my "e-novel" into the proposed, ever-changing "Calvino's book in Borges's library."
The first "half," the part written by Edward Lacie, has now been fractured and, like the part written by Luke Edwards, is still being constantly rewritten, touched up, sometimes frivolously, other times seriously.
About the fracturing of the "Harar" half: the links at the bottom of the pages are different from the links at the top of the pages which say "next episode." Also, "previous episode" will often lead to another version of the page previously read.
This especially becomes so after the 18th or 19th episode (there are four versions of the 19th episode to be found by variously "searching" different versions of the 20th episode's "previous" episode). The "e-novel" has allowed for the merging of mathematics with literature.
Make that mathematics....and chance theory! Depending on which "next episode" is chosen, different "endings" (to the first "half" anyway) are reached: there is an ending in which "Greg Baysans" escapes and another in which he "commits suicide." In another, "Jim Post" kills both "Baysans" and "Edward Lacie" but another ending has Jim Post claiming to have invented the character of "Edward Lacie" but not Baysans, who Jim Post claims to have never met but saw read once in San Francisco in the 80s.
All of those "endings" point the way to "Taken to the Twin Peaks of Harar," Lucas's "half." I could do the same fracturing to that half, but I intentionally have not. Enough is enough to be constanting tweaking here and there as is.
Today, for the first time since devising it, I flipped a switch in "Harar" and I don't even know what a reader who follows only the bottom "next episode" will find as an "ending."
To quote a favorite movie, "Moonstruck," the grandfather who rarely speaks, sitting at the breakfast table, says, "I'm confused."
How is it I've referenced so many favorite books and authors and have omitted Tom Robbins? Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates gets its title from Rimbaud, according to the text. ("Alas, Maestra was not the type to be charmed more than once or twice by a line from Rimbaud [.]" p. 122, Omnia, Glasgow paperback edition, No Exit Press, © 2000 by Tom Robbins.)
The line, from the second section of "A Season in Hell," "Bad Blood," is translated by Paul Schmidt as, "Women nurse these ferocious invalids come back from the tropics." (p. 195, Rimbaud, Complete Works, Harper Colophon paperback, © 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1975 by Paul Schmidt.)
Contact me, let me know you've finished reading "Harar/Taken":
- click here