A Drifter

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 12 Apr 2010 01:28

Position: 54 57.97 S 069 01.65 W
At anchor Caleta Sonia
Wind: Light and variable
Weather: Overcast occasional drizzle
Days run: 12 nm

Written this morning:

I am up early again, waiting for the latest weather fax to come in and for the sun to rise, I see a slither of moon breaking through a thin layer of cloud. The morning is very still.

I finished reading “Dead Souls” a couple of days ago. I have to say I was a disappointed, the writing was not as good as I had expected. The description that all subsequent Russian writers had come from the tail of Gogol’s greatcoat perhaps set the bar impossibly high. The novel was a lot funnier than the title suggests, not at all morbid, and the hero Chichikov, while not a moral person could hardly be described as all that bad either. Gogol’s writing was at times very good, especially when he fell to describing the countryside of his Russia, which he clearly loved, but I can hardy compare it to the intense genius of Dostoevsky psychological characterisations. But whoever the critic was who made the comment was clearly referring to Gogol‘s book “The Greatcoat”, so perhaps I should suspend further judgment until I have read this book, goodness knows where I might find a copy. I may have to get Mary to send me a Red Cross package to Pto Montt.

Started reading another piece of literary criticism by Harold Bloom and I am afraid he has lost me this time. The last book I read of his, “The Book of J”, I nearly threw down in disgust after the first chapter as it seems to me he draws rather too long a bow on many of his presumptions. To suggest that the book of J was written by a princess in the court of Solomon who was a contemporary of the author of “Samuel” is based on incredibly flimsy evidence from what I can work out, just Bloom’s instinct is what it boils down to. Nonetheless I persisted with this book, and the new translation of J (not by Bloom) was extremely interesting. Bloom’s subsequent analysis was also very informative and thought provoking, even if at times annoying. But this book, “Ruin the Sacred Truths“, just gets too hyperbolic, continuing with some outrageous claims, though he borders on a being great scholar of the Old Testament (as a Jew he might object to this title), and, quite frankly, I just cannot understand some of his sentences. While I obviously do not share Bloom’s command of the English language and am not in his league as far literature is concerned, I like to think I am no dummy either, no matter what BC says. Try these couple of sentences on for size: “Virgil, a most accommodating poet, reads to me as an ancestor of our nightmare discontents, our nostalgias, and our fitful hopes for what yet might be. [fair enough so far - just.] All the Virgils perhaps fit that ancestry, not only Dante’s Virgil and Tennyson’s Virgil but our most persuasive contemporary Virgils: … most recently, Wendell Clausen’s Alexandrian Virgil, daringly extending the modernist poetics of Callimachus into a precluded mode of poetry, and so achieving a true epic of belatedness.” OK, so Bloom is in a different league from me, I don’t know half of the people he mentions, but what on earth is he talking about when he says “a precluded mode of poetry“, and “an epic of belatedness”? and just how many Virgils are we up to at this point in literary history. Andf can anyone tell me what transumption or metaleptic means? They certainly are not in any dictionary I have on board.  What a convoluted and incestuous subject literature can be.  Oh well, should I press on I ask myself, or should I perhaps try reading something a little less turgid.

Regardless, the sun is almost up, the weather fax is due, a tiny breeze ripples the cove, and there is much to do before we can get underway. Time to press on in a world less metaphysical.

And now at anchor:

It has proven to be a real drifter today with very little wind, I even resorted to the motor on a couple of occasions. (Just heard a strange noise outside and went on deck to investigate - a seal. Sure is dark out there.) Nonetheless I redressed this offence to  a small extent at least by sailing to anchor here in Caleta Sonia, though drifting to anchor would be a more accurate description. As I approached the bay the Chilean Armada called me on VHF asking me for my intentions - they have one Navy person and his family stationed right next to this Caleta, I could hear their generator running as I approached the anchorage. They sure seem to have a pretty good idea of my whereabouts.

Once at anchor I rowed ashore to the nearby stream and filled up a couple of water containers from the icy cold mountain water. I like to keep my water tanks topped up as much as possible while in these remote regions, makes life a little simpler not worrying about running out of water in the middle of nowhere.

And back to metaphysical matters, I have pressed on with Harold Bloom during the day, reading while standing behind the wheel for most of it, the wind being too light and variable for the wind vane to have any hope of holding a course for more than a few minutes. I am very ambivalent about Bloom’s style of criticism, it seems so egoistic (and I worry he is a bad influence on my writing style), and putting Auerbach down didn’t win me over either.   I think Auer Bach’s “Mimesis” is brilliant. Nonetheless each time I read something by Bloom he has me adding many, many books to my reading list. Life is just too short I am afraid. And no matter how much you like literature, it isn’t life itself, which statement causes me to pause and wonder at my own meaning.  Which leads me to say that Bloom does have an interesting insight into Shakespeare’s characters, he suggests that Shakespeare has his characters contemplate what they say themselves and in the process they change. He reckons this never happened in any previous writing, and that western man, you and I think differently about ourselves because of this.  As Bloom puts it, Shakespeare 'contains all of us'.  I am not convinced yet but nonetheless find much of it interesting stuff.  I think I shall have to read “Othello, the Moor of Venice” next.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

The skipper is a very strange fish you know, (that is, to use a Blooming _expression_, a trope by the way, if the skipper really were a fish, well I needn’t elucidate any further … ). I thought of holding him to blackmail but I don’t think it would do me any good, after all he is not a fish and the likelihood of any fish landing in my food bowl any time soon seems extremely remote, so I will just go ahead and share my obsevations - and in any event I would probably have to spill the beans regardless, I am an honourable cat but the fact is honour with cats is something of an oxymoron. So where was I, oh yes the skipper is a strange fish. Today while sleeping on the V-berth I heard a very strange sound rising above the noise of the beast that lives below the floorboards (he has been quite active today). I half opened one eye and what did I see, but there standing behind that circular wheel thing out on the patio - I mean cockpit - was the skipper doing some very strange movements, I think you might call it dancing, and making very strange noises, I think the skipper might call it singing, but I am sure you would agree with me if you heard it, it was definitely far removed from the melodic. The skipper is undoubtedly very thoughtful of others in only attempting these complete failures at harmony in the most remote of locations thus sparing anyone the pain of hearing him - but what about me?

Thankfully all is quiet now, the heater is on, only hard tack in the food bowl again, but maybe tomorrow. Until then … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.