Last night I read Ben Okri’s Astonishing the Gods while I was stood up waiting to Skype with Kelly. He won the Booker prize with The Famished Road, which I have not read, but Astonishing the Gods was delightfully… different. The unnamed narrator sets off from his home after he discovers that he, and all his people, are invisible, in order to discover the secret of visibility. After seven years he arrives at an enchanted island, of which all of its inhabitants are in fact invisible. His exploration of the city is a journey that tests and stretches one’s understanding of creativity and nothingness, a philosophy expounded by color and impossibilities. It is a utopia not unlike Sir Thomas More’s, except incredibly different, beyond the bounds of imagination, more of an ambiguous utopia than Le Guin’s ever was. Because I read it all in one great gulp, I’m sure some of its meaning has been lost to me: even with my imagination, I can only invert my sense of color and walk on air for so long. But with each chapter consisting of only one or two pages, it was easy to race ahead instead of pausing long enough to consider the ponderous paradoxes.
‘And sometimes—very rarely—but sometimes nonetheless, our highest creative arts, our highest playfulness, our self-overcoming, our purest art, our ascending songs, by some mysterious grace transcend so many boundaries and enter so many realms that we occasionally astonish even the gods.’
Today, in my continued denial break, Felicity and I browsed through the DVDs in the library and found several that were Region 1 or Region 0 (meaning that we can play them on our American computers). We watched Knights of the Round Table, which claimed to be based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, and King Arthur, which didn’t. As amusing as it was, Knights of the Round Table was about as based on Malory’s Le Morte as any Arthurian movie is, and I much prefer the latter to the former, even if King Arthur has very little basis in medieval legend. I also found yet another film soundtrack that I would like…
Between movies, I ran over to the chip shop to get fish & chips for dinner. It was amazing to go out without a coat at 7 PM and still have it be bright outside. The chip shop was busy, and a local woman struck up a conversation with me while we waited for our food. Once I established that I was a postgrad, we complained about the undergraduates and holiday makers and exchanged April Fool’s stories. She told me one that the BBC did (she forgot to mention it was in 1957!) about the bumper Spaghetti tree harvest in Switzerland.
March went out like a lamb, and I wish you all a ridiculous April 1st. Have some oranges.