Saturday, March 31, 2007


Political space has its neutral ground. But does Time? is there such a thing as the neutral hour? one that goes neither forward nor back? Is that too much to hope? -- Pynchon

The pressings of the week have kept my writing quite limited and actual reading somewhat circumscribed. The push has been through the Ackroyd which is quite the mess, much like Sante’s Low Life, but such constitutes its rich appeal. The anecdote concerning Green, Berry, and Hill which serves as neat epigram to Magnolia is explored in the crime section. the fact that the road was named Primrose Hill at the time of the robbery and homicide doesn’t diminish the coincidence. It is a shame that Ackroyd doesn’t cite Gravity’s Rainbow, as I feel that Pynchon’s description of the organic posture of the city and its occult stirrings would appear to irreplaceable to the project of London: The Biography. Nevertheless Ackroyd should be commended for mining some delicious sources and constructing this baroque if rickety tower. For instance, nearly forgotten dramatist Nathaniel Lee is quoted in the “A Little Drink or Two” section with this confession of drunken outrage, “They said I was mad: and I said they were mad: damn them, they outvoted me.” He was interred briefly at Bedlam and then released.

There is surprisingly little of Wilde in the narrative, Lamb, Dickens and Orwell tend to predominate, limiting in my estimation the ballad of London to a materialistic survey. He does cite the observations of Mallerme and Dostoevsky but curtails any ruminations tantamount to the haunted aspects of St. Petersburg, for instance. Ackroyd does versify in a similar vein: “[w]hen the city was described as pagan, it was partly because no one living among such urban suffering could have much faith in a god who allowed cities such as London to flourish.”


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