December 1, 2018

Invisible fruit that I've encountered in the last few days, reading 2 of my favorite writers.

This is from Jonathan Franzen's novel "The Corrections" (2001):
His body was what she’d always wanted. It was the rest of him that was the problem. She was unhappy before she went to visit him, unhappy while she sat beside him, and unhappy for hours afterward. He’d entered a phase of deep randomness. Enid might arrive and find him sunk deeply in a funk, his chin on his chest and a cookie-sized drool spot on his pants leg. Or he might be chatting amiably with a stroke victim or a potted plant. He might be unpeeling the invisible piece of fruit that occupied his attention hour after hour. He might be sleeping. Whatever he was doing, though, he wasn’t making sense.
This is from "Barn Burning" — published in 1992 in The New Yorker (and adapted in the current movie "Burning") — by Haruki Murakami:
Young women these days are all studying something or other. But she didn't seem the type who'd be serious about perfecting a skill.

Then she showed me the Tangerine Peeling.... On her left was a bowl piled high with tangerines, on her right, a bowl for the peels. At least that was the idea — actually there wasn't anything there at all. She'd take the imaginary tangerine in her hand, slowly peel it, put one section in her mouth, and spit out the seeds. When she finished one tangerine, she'd wrap up all the seeds in the peel and deposit it in the bowl to her right. She repeated these movements over and over again. When you try to put it in words, it doesn't sound like anything special. But if you see it with your own eyes for ten or twenty minutes... gradually the sense of reality is sucked right out of everything around you....

"It's easy. Has nothing to do with talent. What you do isn't make yourself believe there are tangerines there. You forget that the tangerines are not there. That's all."
 I find chance repetition like this satisfying. I forget that any reason for it is not there.

19 comments:

steve uhr said...

This morning I got the menu for Capitol Lakes retirement apts in Madison. Thursday's desert is Fruits of the Forest Pie. Not invisible but mysterious.

tcrosse said...

Invisible fruits call to mind the ghost of Liberace.

Earnest Prole said...

Synchronicity

Greg Hlatky said...

A sense of weary indifference comes when hearing the names Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace or Bob Dylan.

Joe said...

Are these entries in comedically shitty writing?

rehajm said...

If you have anosmia and you encounter invisible fruit, does it have an odor?

EDH said...

These authors both owe it all to Harvey and...

Carrie the Canary in Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo (1952).

Cuckoo on a Choo Choo has been dubbed one of the most original and unique shorts in the Stooge canon. However, fans and critics alike generally regard it as the worst Stooge comedy made.

The plot is borrowed from two popular films of the period. The idea of a stolen railroad car is a parody of A Streetcar Named Desire, while the imaginary animal friend parodies the film Harvey (Victoria Horne starred in Harvey). The theme of a woman's unwillingness to marry until her sister can be found in a willing husband-to-be alludes to Kiss Me, Kate, a Cole Porter musical based on the Bard's play, which also had a 1953 MGM film adaptation.

This reportedly was one of Larry Fine's favorite shorts to watch repeatedly during his last years in the Motion Picture House. It is one of the only Stooge shorts in which he plays a different character than usual: tougher, more domineering, and speaking in a gravelly, mumbly voice in a broad parody of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.


Joe said...
Are these entries in comedically shitty writing?

That's why, even as a Stooge fan, I put it in the same category as Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo.

Ann Althouse said...

"Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo"

I am the walrus.

Fernandistein said...

Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo

We need the eggs.

Darrell said...

The Bomb was meant to go off and these people were not meant to survive.
Same with all the WaPo and NYT columnists and pundits writing the pieces today.

Darrell said...

I've stopped using my time machine because of shit like this. True story.

anti-de Sitter space said...

"I forget that any reason for it is not there."

There is a reason that these things were written and you read them. What you meant to write is that you forget that the things you identify as having reason have reason the same as the things you don't identify as having reason. POV is tricky.

Ralph L said...

"Barn Burning" is also a Faulkner short story. Wonder which one will still be read in ten years?

Ann Althouse said...

"What you meant to write..."

Write your own blog. See how that goes.

Phidippus said...

What a wild and crazy guy that Haruki Murakami is. Magical realism, Japanese style.

The gaijin mind reels.

Actually I like his work, in small doses, though he might have jumped the fuka there.

anti-de Sitter space said...

"See how that goes."

It would be complete shit.

There is a zero percent chance of anything else.

So why run the experiment?

FullMoon said...

AA once said:See, whatever happens can be said to have happened for the reason you've already reasoned is the reason for whatever happens to have happened.


"There is a reason that these things were written and you read them. What you meant to write is that you forget that the things you identify as having reason have reason the same as the things you don't identify as having reason. POV is tricky."

Kirk Parker said...

Gack and more gack, Althouse.

You probably like The Maytrees too. Me? After forcing myself to finish it--being unable to look away from the car-crash, I went and found my copy of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and burned it.

Kirk Parker said...

Never again!

(Ok, I might have made it part about burning the author's first book)