Thursday, November 6, 2014

t zero

A protean character named Qfwfq -- previously introduced to readers in Cosmicomics -- reappears in many of the stories here.

The book is divided into three sections.  The stories in the first are surreal, while those in the second address the reader directly with rambling, playful, convoluted discourses about identity, love, and cellular reproduction.  

The last section, which is the one I enjoyed most, approaches stories like problems in physics.

Part One – More of Qfwfq

The Soft Moon
Mucus-like biological matter drips from the approaching Moon and covers the Earth. When the Moon recedes it takes with it pieces of glass and steel captured from Earth.

The Origin of Birds
The sudden appearance of birds on Earth is described in comic-book form, and Qfwfq marries Queen Or after travelling to the Land of the Birds in the following fashion:

The frame is empty. I arrive. I spread paste on the upper right-hand corner. I sit down in the lower left-hand corner. A bird enters, flying, from the left, at the top. As he leaves the frame, his tail becomes stuck. He keeps flying and pulls after him the whole frame stuck to his tail, with me sitting at the bottom, allowing my self to be carried along.

The sudden formation of crystals -- "an invasion of angled blossoming" -- creates a rift between Qfwfq and his wife Vug, who appreciate them differently.

Blood, Sea
Swimming through a primeval sea/driving with another couple in a Volkswagen, Qfwfq and Zilphia fall to "fertilizing with a will" to outcompete the other couple with "me-sardines" and "Zilphia-sardines."

Part Two – Priscilla


Qfwfq, in love with Priscilla, remembers his life as a cell in the grip of reproductive forces.

To tell you properly the way things proceeded I must remind you of how I was made, a mass of protoplasm like a kind of pulpy dumpling with a nucleus in the middle. Now I'm not just trying to make myself sound interesting, but I must say that in that nucleus I led a very intense life.

"Characters are multicellular organisms." In this case, camels.

Reproduction and the desire to remain eternal is a battle that spills onto the printed page.

Part Three – t zero

t zero
A hunter with a notched arrow faces a leaping lion. "In a second I'll know if the arrow's trajectory and the lion's will or will not coincide at a point X crossed both by L and by A at the same second tx."

The Chase
A man is pursued by another man in heavy traffic. As he tries to plot his escape and anticipate the countermoves of his pursuer, it becomes unclear who is chasing whom.

The Night Driver
The narrator, who lives in A, quarrels on the telephone with his girlfriend Y, who lives in B. On being told she is going to call his rival Z, the narrator repents and jumps in his car to see Y in order to patch things up. On the way he tries to anticipate possible outcomes:

it would be terrible if I were to run to Y jealous of Z and if Y were running to me, repentant, avoiding Z, while Z hasn’t remotely though of stirring from his house.

The Count of Monte Cristo
Edmund Dantes is imprisoned (in a cell, of course) in an Escher-like Castle d’If. At one point a hole appears in the ceiling, and another inmate, the Abbe Faria, emerges and walks across the walls like a fly. Eventually Faria burrows into the study of Alexandre Dumas.