“One thing I tried to do while writing Blind Spot was translate the text into an imaginary French, since I can’t actually speak French, as if the text were actually the voiceover to a French New Wave film.”
though not quite with the immediately accessible vocabulary of a philip glass composition, harold abramowitz takes similar risk with a modular, repeating structure in his latest book BLIND SPOT. the result is a very very beautiful and meditative work, the experience of which i thought of as like watching the haunting and mesmerizing sway of tree branches in a summer wind… the thing that can be grating or even mockable about philip glass’s music is also what makes it elsewhere revolutionary, i.e. its foundation on modular phasings and accretions, which can verge on boring repetitiveness but which also on special occasion, after toying with dull sugariness, suddenly transcends to find deep emotion.
along with abramowitz’s artful use of repetitions, recursions and phasings, there is also throughout an elusiveness — a blind spot — which the reader seems to have a different vantage of than the protagonist and which houses some violence, trauma, or crime. the book begins with a section called HOTEL that tweaks the bygone europa tropes of hotel life as appearing in such disparate sourcetexts as thomas mann or norman lock or marie redonnet or wes anderson. a guest, perhaps an undercover agent of some kind, consorts with a general, has a bad car accident where he hits some form of beast, is on vacation. similarly the second section, FUNERAL, involves a cemetery, a missed rendezvous or two, an explosion… with a few elements like these, abramowitz builds a space full of both movement and stasis, one that is anguishingly incomplete and with a feeling of entrapment and yet also one that achieves a very sublime and melancholic beauty. BLIND SPOT takes a great risk and by it becomes an innovative and ravishingly elegant triumph.
a story told twenty-eight times (once each for all the days of february), harold abramowitz’s project of memoir as only one memory infinitely repeating and retold is interesting… but even more interesting, more mysterious — and certainly constructing a delicate and beautiful linguistic hermitage — are each chapter’s introductory flourishes of direct address. these seem to situate the text’s ambitions but end up just dancing (which could amount to the same thing) and demonstrate a rare control somewhat reminiscent of blanchot. here are a few examples:
And it is high time I made myself more clear. Forgive me for having been, thus far, obscure. In fact, I did not mean to lie. In fact, I meant to do the opposite. I mean always to tell the truth. It’s just that your line of questioning has been excellent and has allowed me an opportunity to reflect on the past, to remember that there are many different ways of viewing the past. Indeed, I have come to realize, yet again, that certain principles need constant restating in order to be understood. For instance, in violation of the law. Or how certain acts of indecency were, at first, construed. Hence, the page turns. The story continues. If even only in outline. Why, the mere mention of it causes me to shudder. But if one carefully studies the footnotes. And every word was an act, or rather, a movement towards persuasion. Rather put together, don’t you think? But let me put it to you still more clearly… (p. 36)
And the question quickly came to haunt him. The color of his umbrella against the sky. Or, its outline, so to speak. Or even a potion, or a serum, or some other kind of cure. In fact, a fixation on creating something perfect. A perfect day. The memory of which was just out of reach. It was spring and it was raining. The mockingbird sang. A beautiful day, nonetheless. There was an electricity in the air that reminded him of the time before the war. Flags and banners. The platform. Trucks in the streets with loudspeakers. He had managed to get everything he’d wanted then. And there was a buzz in the air. One question remained, however. And things were very different from that point on… (p. 70).
Eventually every mystery is solved. But without narration. And without a specific voice to guide the reader. However, without noise, without air and sound, there is no one left. No one. Eventually he was able to repeat everything he knew. And every irrelevancy was recorded. And the point was that between irrelevancies various truths could be discovered. The mystery would be solved. He had to get back to his house at some point… (p. 76).