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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wilson Harris and the experimental novel Sealy, I. Allan 1982

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WILSON HARRIS AND THE EXPERIMENTAL NOVEL by ALLAN SEALY B.A. (Hons.) U n i v e r s i t y of D e l h i , 1971 B.A. (Hons.) Western Michigan U n i v e r s i t y , 1972 M.A. Western Michigan U n i v e r s i t y , 1974 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the re q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA February, 1982 0 A l l a n Sealy, 1982 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. It i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date , f 9 & 2 -i i . Abstract Wilson Harris i s the author of fourteen novels and two books of shorter f i c t i o n . His work, c r y p t i c and yet urgent, checks the widespread b e l i e f that experimental w r i t i n g today i s condemned to parody and s e l f -r e f e r e n t i a l performance. Located at the crossroads of numerous c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s , A f r i c a n , Amerindian, and European, h i s novels evolve a complex language well suited to the a r t i c u l a t i o n of marginal needs i n an increasingly polarized world. The novels are d i f f i c u l t , and to examine the grounds of t h e i r d i f f i c u l t y , I rehearse at the outset a general theory of experiment in f i c t i o n , before reviewing .Harris's own remarks on the subject, gleaned from h i s c r i t i c a l essays. Harris's d i s t o r t i o n s appear f i r s t at the l e v e l of the l i n e ; the oddity of h i s s t y l e , and' i t s attendant vexations, are the subject of my next chapter, "Experiment and Language." Here I consider the techniques and uses of s t y l i s t i c f r a c t u r e and surreal montage, showing how Harris undoes the t r a d i t i o n a l concept of r h e t o r i c by working an amalgam of the extraordinary and the commonplace. The r h e t o r i c of unrhetoric has i t s s t r u c t u r a l equivalent i n an unmaking of na r r a t i v e sequence and causation. "Experiment and Narrative" examines the devices by which these s e c u r i t i e s are f o i l e d , time by space, presence by absence. "Experiment and the I n d i v i d u a l " considers the fate of character i n f i c t i o n s set at the ragged edges of the modern world. Harris refuses the holographic i l l u s i o n of conventional i d e n t i t y , depicting instead those i n d i v i d u a l s whose resources are so slender as to have become i n v i s i b l e . F i n a l l y , "Experiment and Tradition"attempts to show how the dispossessed begin to f i n d a v o i c e i n the experimental language of a w r i t e r whose very o b s c u r i t y allows him to perplex the ideology of c i v i l d i s c o u r s e . H a r r i s has developed a s t y l e which i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e but not mimetic; h i s marginal discourse adds a new dimension to the "blank s l a t e " of the avantgarde. i v . Table of Contents Page Ab s t r a c t i i I n t r o d u c t i o n 1 I. Experiment. i ) On Experiment 4 i i ) H a r r i s on Experiment 19 I I . Experiment and Language 33 I I I . Experiment and N a r r a t i v e 71 IV. Experiment and the I n d i v i d u a l 110 V. Experiment and T r a d i t i o n 148 Conclusion 181 Notes 190 B i b l i o g r a p h y 213 Ab b r e v i a t i o n s 226 1. I n t r o d u c t i o n The case of Wilson H a r r i s i s a c o n t r a d i c t o r y one. That a w r i t e r of h i s genius should have to wait h i s due i n an age when l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m i s nowhere i n short supply, i s the l e a s t of the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s that I propose to explore i n the pages that f o l l o w . Some of h i s o b s c u r i t y r e f l e c t s the d i s t r i b u t i o n of other kinds of power than l i t e r a r y power i n the world of l e t t e r s , but a p o r t i o n i s of h i s own making, and i t i s t h i s c o n t r a d i c t i o n which I w i l l c h i e f l y address. H a r r i s i s a d i f f i c u l t n o v e l i s t , and h i s work wants c a r e f u l reading. The d i f f i c u l t y i s not g r a t u i t o u s ; i t has a purpose, and to discover that purpose i s a task as rewarding as i t i s s u f f i c i e n t . My p o l i c y w i l l not be to s i m p l i f y , but to map, from v a r i o u s angles, the grounds of H a r r i s ' s d i f f i c u l t y . To do t h i s , I must c l e a r away at the outset c e r t a i n misconceptions which hedge about the author. H a r r i s i s f i r s t a n o v e l i s t and only then any of the other things he has been taken to be, whether mystic or shaman, anthroposophist or mytho-grapher, poet or psychodramatist. That he could come to be so v a r i o u s l y construed, speaks an enigma i n the man and h i s work, but i t i s a l s o the product of a taxonomic impulse i n l i t e r a r y s t u d i e s which begins by plunging the man i n t o a bath marked "Guyanese" or "West In d i a n " or "Caribbean," and thereby s h i f t s the reader's i n t e r e s t from what the n o v e l i s t w r i t e s to what he represents. Once t h i s elementary displacement (but one of Archimidean p r o p o r t i o n s f o r the novels) has been e f f e c t e d , the c r i t i c may dart unabashed i n t o the s t r e e t p r o c l a i m i n g h i s d i s c o v e r y of the r e a l H a r r i s , who w i l l u s u a l l y prove a n a t i o n a l myth-maker, a r e g i o n a l voodooist, an e x o t i c geomancer, or e l s e a chimera formed of these p a r t s . Lost i n the 2. press of claimants i s u s u a l l y H a r r i s the experimental n o v e l i s t , and i t i s he who i s the object of my study. Theodore Wilson H a r r i s was born on 24 March, 1921, i n New Amsterdam, B r i t i s h Guiana (now the independent r e p u b l i c of Guyana). He was educated at Queen's Co l l e g e , Georgetown, and t r a i n e d as a land surveyor, i n which p r o f e s s i o n he advanced to the o f f i c e of Senior Surveyor. During the 1940s and e a r l y 1950s, he traversed the i n t e r i o r of Guyana on v a r i o u s mapping e x p e d i t i o n s , developing an intimacy w i t h the landscape that would f e a t u r e so prominently i n h i s work, i n c l u d i n g h i s short s t o r i e s and poems which began to appear at the time. His knowledge of the many faces of the land (a knowledge most Guyanese l a c k , l i v i n g as they do along the coast) H a r r i s took w i t h him to B r i t a i n when he emigrated there i n 1959. A year l a t e r , h i s f i r s t n o v e l , Palace of the Peacock, appeared. Since then, he has l i v e d i n London, producing a steady flow of f i c t i o n published by the house of Faber and Faber. His fourteenth and most recent novel i s The Tree of  the Sun (1978). A book of c r i t i c a l essays, The Womb of Space, w i l l mark h i s North American debut, and a new n o v e l , The Angel at the Gate, i s due i n 1982. I t would be i d l e to deny that H a r r i s ' s novels are scored by t h e i r author's o r i g i n s , and that the s e n s i b i l i t y which informs them, e s p e c i a l l y i n the period p r i o r to 1970, i s a West Indian one. The reader who i s u n f a m i l i a r w i t h the West Indies or w i t h i t s l i t e r a t u r e , w i l l f i n d a b r i e f l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y of the region i n my f i n a l chapter, but since the account given there i s scant and moreover that of an o u t s i d e r , he would be b e t t e r advised to go to Michael G i l k e s ' s Wilson H a r r i s and the Caribbean N o v e l , 1 or to any of the small but growing number of West Indian l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i e s w r i t t e n or e d i t e d by v a r i o u s hands. To some degree, then, a formal approach i s enjoined on an o u t s i d e r , who i s b e t t e r q u a l i f i e d to t r e a t the novels as novels than to judge t h e i r t r u t h to a l i f e he has not known. This i s no e s p e c i a l misfortune, since the most a r r e s t i n g f e a t u r e of H a r r i s ' s novels i s not t h e i r s e t t i n g but t h e i r experimental s u r f a c e , an assumption which has determined the course of my t h e s i s from i t s t i t l e onward. I have chosen i n what f o l l o w s to preserve an overarching chronology w i t h respect to the p u b l i c a t i o n of the novels, w h i l e b r i n g i n g to bear at d i f f e r e n t stages a schematic c r o s s - s e c t i o n of concerns ranging from s t y l e and s t r u c t u r e to i n d i v i d u a l character and s o c i a l h i s t o r y . In t h i s way, a sense of the progress of H a r r i s ' s work i s combined w i t h successive i n q u i r i e s i n t o a v a r i e t y of experimental modes. So "Experiment and Language, "Experiment and N a r r a t i v e , " "Experiment and the I n d i v i d u a l , " and "Experiment and T r a d i t i o n " s t r a d d l e s e q u e n t i a l stages of H a r r i s ' s canon, covering i n each case novels most appropriate to the moment's i n q u i r y . Such an approach w i l l mean that c e r t a i n aspects of c e r t a i n novels get short s h r i f t , but I have p r e f e r r e d t h i s method to the a l t e r n a t i v e and greater s i n of examining every one of the novels four times over. At the same time, i n order to compare developments of technique, I have i n each chapter introduced a r e l e v a n t novel from outside the period under c o n s i -d e r a t i o n , an i n t r u s i o n a l t o g e t h e r i n keeping w i t h H a r r i s ' s own d i s r u p t i v e p r a c t i c e . 4. I. Experiment i ) On Experiment Two decades a f t e r the p u b l i c a t i o n of Palace of the Peacock, Wilson H a r r i s stands i n the f r o n t rank of contemporary experimental n o v e l i s t s . During the years since that beginning, he has worked h i s l i t e r a r y s k i l l s w i t h an independence that has won him admiration even as i t has caused h i s p a r t i a l e c l i p s e . U n w i l l i n g to couple experiment w i t h prudence, he has f o r f e i t e d a wide readership, but then out of h i s p a t i e n t p r a c t i c e has come a new w r i t i n g that could not have been won without t h i s r i s k . C e r t a i n l y , prudence i s not the most evident q u a l i t y of the f i r s t paragraphs of h i s f i r s t n o vel: A horseman appeared on the road coming at a breakneck s t r i d e . A shot rang out suddenly, near and f a r as i f the wind had been st r e t c h e d and t o r n and had s t a r t e d c o i l i n g and running i n an i n s t a n t . The horseman s t i f f e n e d w i t h a d e v i l ' s s m i l e , and the horse reared, g r i n n i n g f i e n d i s h l y and snapping at the r e i n s . The horseman gave a bow to heaven l i k e a hanging man to h i s executioner, and r o l l e d from h i s saddle to the ground. The shot had p u l l e d me up and s t i f l e d my own heart i n heaven. I s t a r t e d walking suddenly and approached the man on the ground. His h a i r l a y on h i s forehead. Someone was watching us from the trees and bushes that c l u s t e r e d the s i d e of the road. Watching me as I bent down and looked at the man whose open eyes stared at the sky through h i s long hanging h a i r . The sun b l i n d e d and r u l e d my l i v i n g s i g h t but the dead man's eye remained open and o b s t i n a t e and c l e a r . Here i s no conventional entry i n t o the sublunary world of f i c t i o n any more than i t i s a safe beginning to a novel. Yet i t s very a b o l i t i o n of s e c u r i t y , i t s t e a s i n g a m b i g u i t i e s , and i t s u n s e t t l i n g syntax, l i n k i t w i t h a t r a d i t i o n of experiment which renders i t i n t e l l i g i b l e . This " t r a d i t i o n of experiment" i s not so improbable a beast as might f i r s t appear. The contradiction lodged i n i t s heart i s both the motor force and the m o r t a l i t y of a l l avantgardism: the new needs what i t despises i n the old. "Modernity," says Paul de Man, "which i s fundamentally a f a l l i n g away from l i t e r a t u r e and a r e j e c t i o n of h i s t o r y also acts as the p r i n c i p l e that gives l i t e r a t u r e duration and h i s t o r i c a l existence."''" The new, moreover, not only needs the old; i t becomes the old. No sooner does the c r i t i c discover and anatomize modernism than he i s compelled to create a space marked "postmodernism." Whereupon one gains the uneasy l i b e r t y to drive a "post" before what the world had taken to be contemporary, or else to create a new word whose hoary fate i s sealed i n i t s conception. The novel i s a singular v i c t i m of t h i s passion: embarrassed by i t s generic name, which w i l l draw such unseemly advances as "New New Novel," i t prefers to go abroad disguised as " f i c t i o n . " In i t s track we f i n d innumerable tokens of the old anxiety: metafiction, k a t a f i c t i o n , p a r a f i c t i o n , 2 s u r f i c t i o n , s u p e r f i c t i o n , even postcontemporary f i c t i o n . There i s , then, no esp e c i a l urgency for the reader of Harris to j o i n the fray, and c e r t a i n l y no excuse for him to swell the progress of i t s bloodied nominalism. "Postmodernism" w i l l serve most purposes quite s a t i s f a c t o r i l y , since there i s t o l e r a b l y common consent as to what and when modernism was, and f o r the innovative impulse I w i l l be content with "experiment" and i t s d e r i v a t i v e s . Since, however, a rea c t i o n to experiment i n the novel i s now underway, i t i s worth pausing to measure Harris's achievements i n that mode before a springtide of neo-conservative pro-nouncements engulfs them. Reaction i s perhaps too strong a word to describe the present impatience with formal innovation, since the movement, for a l l i t s r e v i v a l i s t i n t e n s i t i e s , lacks conviction and wears an a i r of having been 6. w i t h us before. Among c r i t i c s , i t may be no more than a motion of censure hatched to outwit the t h e o r e t i c i a n s of the avantgarde, and i n s o f a r as i t s n o v e l i s t s seek to unmask the po s t u r i n g that much experimental w r i t i n g has become, i t i s i n f a c t j u s t i f i e d . There are, however, the usu a l i n d i c a t i o n s that the movement would p r e f e r to oust form a l t o g e t h e r and create a new orthodoxy of noble content. I t i s true that experimentalism had created an orthodoxy of i t s own (and i t w i l l be one of my c h i e f concerns to d i s t i n g u i s h the work of Wilson H a r r i s from that orthodoxy) by enshrining formal i n n o v a t i o n i n a sanctum which fewer and fewer could penetrate. Inasmuch as i t d i d , i t was i t s e l f a r e a c t i o n , or the l a t e phase of a r e a c t i o n , to conventional r e a l i s m . There i s no surer s i g n of t h i s than that even i t s mannered flamboyancies had d e c l i n e d i n t o a kind of i l l - M a n n e r i s m , .a A f e b r i l e mimicry of innovat i o n condemned to rehearse forever i t s r e p e r t o r y of one t r i c k . I t would be a mistake, however to assume that because, f a i r l y e a r l y i n the spree, John 3 Barth declared a l l f i c t i o n a l forms exhausted, t h i s was i n f a c t the case. Nor need one devalue the achievement of a Borges (whom Barth was concerned to honour i n h i s a r t i c l e ) i n order to suggest that even at t h i s stage experimental w r i t i n g had come to be boxed r a t h e r too r e a d i l y i n t o the parodic mode. At any r a t e , ever since that time, c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g has dwelt on t h i s aspect of experimentalism, i t s d e s i r e to parody eve r y t h i n g , i n c l u d i n g i t s e l f . The self - c o n s c i o u s n e s s which such a d e s i r e must e n t a i l i s a c c o r d i n g l y transformed from the a e s t h e t i c s i n i t was under the o l d d i s p e n s a t i o n , i n t o a muscular v i r t u e , f o r as Richard P o i r i e r pointed out i n h i s e x c e l l e n t book on t h i s f i c t i o n , " L i f e i n l i t e r a t u r e i s e x h i b i t e d by the a c t s of performance that make i t i n t e r e s t i n g , not by the act s of 4 r e n d i t i o n that make i t r e a l . " 7. One might, nonetheless, ask whether t h i s energetic parodying was ever q u i t e so f a r removed from a heavy-lidded a e s t h e t i c i s m as i t l i k e d to imagine. There i s , a f t e r a l l , something c l o s e about the a i r i n a novel whose charac-t e r s are f o r e v e r announcing that they are aware of t h e i r f i c t i o n a l i t y , whose m u l t i p l e n a r r a t o r s look d i r e c t l y at the reader and f o r c e him to c a l l the f i c t i o n a l b l u f f . Moreover, the n o v e l i s t whose e n t i r e c o n s t r u c t i s an elaborate hoax wants a reader who w i l l not only a l l o w but connive i n h i s own d i s c o m f i t u r e . Which i s to say, the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s author begets, by c l o s e inbreeding, the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s reader. Extreme s o p h i s t i c a t i o n i n the one w i l l t o l e r a t e no d u l l a r d r y i n the other: you cannot c a l l i n question a l l the forms of yesterday nor advance brav e l y i n t o tomorrow's w i t h a s u l l e n or l a g g a r d l y audience. And where the parody of others once demanded a p a r t i c u l a r o u t s i d e knowledge, the parody of oneself and one's audience c r i e s out f o r a c o t e r i e . Now there might be no end to these steamy i n t i m a c i e s but f o r the s t r i c t l i m i t s which l i t e r a r y i n v o l u t i o n must confront. The parody of a parody undoes i t s e l f ; even l e s s credence can be given the parody which begins to take i t s e l f s e r i o u s l y . I t w i l l be remembered t h a t , very e a r l y i n the h i s t o r y of the E n g l i s h n o v e l , when F i e l d i n g began to do j u s t that i n Shamela, he w i s e l y abandoned h i s p r o j e c t and got on w i t h Joseph Andrews i n s t e a d . Contemporary p a r o d i s t s and s e l f -p a r o d i s t s have ignored t h i s precedent to t h e i r own c o s t . There i s none of t h i s s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s i n H a r r i s . His novels are not about other novels, and when they are about themselves they are not c l o y i n g l y so. At the same time, they are unmistakably experimental i n t h e i r technique, bearing a c e r t a i n (and confusing) resemblance to another strand of a v a n t g a r d i s t f i c t i o n , one which has been c a l l e d apocalyptic."' Where p a r o d i s t s f i n d cause f o r despair and the d a r k l y comic, apocalypts 8. see grounds f o r hope and c h a o t i c c e l e b r a t i o n . Antonin Artaud spoke f o r the mode when he declared: "The highest a r t i s that which b r i n g s us nearest chaos." Whether t h e i r conjectures are founded on transcendental notions or not, apocalypts make no secret of t h e i r energetic engagement w i t h the unknown. I t i s sometimes suggested that t h e i r w r i t i n g , d e s p i t e i t s energy (or because of i t ) i s untroubled, that they have not heard the bad news about the death of meaning, the death of God, the death of man, death i t s e l f . Yet, such a charge i s w i t h greater j u s t i c e brought against paro-d i s t s , whose mocking laughter must always hover on the b r i n k of angst but never q u i t e go over or e l s e the charade i s s p o i l t . A more t e l l i n g c r i t i q u e of the l i t e r a t u r e of i n s p i r e d madness, Eros unbound, mysticism, and the v a r i o u s c u l t s of p o e t i c dementia, i s that which demonstrates how e a s i l y these forms of p r o t e s t and a s p i r a t i o n can be contained. The p o i n t has been o f t e n made, as i n Gerald G r a f f ' s a r t i c l e , "The Myth of the Post-modernist Breakthrough," where i t assumes a s p e c i a l trenchancy.^ Graff goes on to p r e d i c t an i d e n t i c a l f a t e f o r p a r o d i s t s , but, being k i n d l y disposed towards "Western r a t i o n a l humanism," he tends to p r e f e r t h e i r sombre s t r a t e g y , i f only because of t h e i r honest bafflement before a r e a l i t y emptied of meaning. The s u s p i c i o n that the v i s i o n a r y company tend to cheat a l i t t l e d i e s hard. I am not disposed to plead e i t h e r cause, though I w i l l suggest that l i t e r a r y experiment goes more r e a d i l y w i t h s e r e n d i p i t y than w i t h suasion. Harris's i s i n any case a s p e c i f i c experimentalism, n e i t h e r parodic nor a p o c a l y p t i c . In order to s i t u a t e what might be c a l l e d h i s symbolic experimentation, I would l i k e to r e t u r n to the question of experiment i n the a b s t r a c t to s i f t c e r t a i n elementary words i n i t s p o e t i c s , words such as "symbolism," " r e a l i s m , " and "experiment" i t s e l f , s i n c e they are 9. each s u s c e p t i b l e to d i v e r s e and not always d e f e n s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . I t has been customary i n the c r i t i c i s m of f i c t i o n to speak of r e a l i s m and experimentalism as a n t i t h e t i c a l c a t e g o r i e s . The r e a l i s t w r i t e r , i t i s s a i d , copies the world, and the experimental w r i t e r d i s t o r t s i t . Now t h i s may be a s a t i s f a c t o r y account of the case, and even where i t i s not, l i t t l e i s to be gained by c a l l i n g i n question words which have i n t h e i r commonly accepted usages served admirably to s u s t a i n a v a l u a b l e i f yet unresolved debate. I do not propose, t h e r e f o r e , anything so d r a s t i c as a s c u t t l i n g of t h i s terminology. I w i l l , however, suggest that there are c e r t a i n a m b i g u i t i e s , c o n t r a d i c t i o n s even, which have come to lodge i n these words, and which, perhaps because of t h e i r c o n t r a d i c t o r y nature, can be coaxed i n t o e x t r a o r d i n a r y meanings. Before the heyday of the r e a l i s t - f o r m a l i s t debate, the p a i r to r e a l i s m was not experiment but symbolism. That symbolism has f a l l e n out of favour, that there i s today no f l o u r i s h i n g school of sym b o l i s t s , r e f l e c t s our growing impatience w i t h e x a l t e d given meanings, whether personal or t r a d i t i o n a l , and perhaps a l s o our contempt f o r the conjurings of i n t e r e s t e d commentators. I t i s not, however, the method of meaning but a f a i t h i n i t s immanence that I am concerned w i t h , and i n t h i s r e s p e c t , as has o f t e n been pointed out, the symbolist movement was not a r e a c t i o n to but a c o n t i n u a t i o n of romanticism. Realism, on the other hand, was committed from the s t a r t to a simple documentation of r e a l i t y , to the recording of meanings but not to the di s c o v e r y or i m p o s i t i o n of transcendent meaning. Ac c o r d i n g l y , i t d e a l t w i t h a v a i l a b l e s i g n i f i c a t i o n s u n t i l that pass i n December 1910, when immanent meaning was found to be hollow. Realism's commitment to documentation now re q u i r e d i t to record meaninglessness (or e l s e to continue an a n a c h r o n i s t i c r e f l e c t i o n of nineteenth century meanings, which l a s t i t has c o n t r i v e d to do w i t h great success to t h i s day), and by t h i s token, much modern experimentalism can be shown to be r e a l i s t i c . The French New Novel i s a case i n p o i n t . I t s chosisme, i t s d e s i r e to record without romancing or r o m a n t i c i z i n g , to describe objects without bestowing on them the t e l e o l o g y of human metaphor, c o n s t i t u t e s nothing l e s s than r e a l i s m , only, the terms of the r e a l are now r e v i s e d . A l l that the New Novel r e j e c t e d i n the o l d r e a l i s m were i t s s u b j e c t i v e , p s y c h o l o g i c a l elements, and t h i s i n a b i d to ensure that i t s d e s c r i p t i o n not appear to be an imposed one (as f a r as t h i s was p o s s i b l e — w h i c h i s not very f a r , and which i s why the whole e n t e r p r i s e has f a l l e n f o u l of a c e r t a i n v u l g a r and healthy s c e p t i c i s m ) . Even taken on i t s own terms, as an attempt at s t r i c t placement of the observable world without the p r o j e c t i o n of any human emotions, t h i s act i s a mimetic one and so f a l l s w i t h i n the province of r e a l i s m , however newly d e f i n e d . And as with chosisme, so w i t h the parodic mode we have glanced a t , since the l a t t e r e i t h e r r e p o r t s on the a b s u r d i t y of the r e a l or enacts that a b s u r d i t y ad i n f i n i t u m . The p o i n t of t h i s excursus i s , as I have suggested, that r e a l i s m and experiment are not i n v a r i a b l y and e a s i l y the a n t i t h e t i c a l c a t e g o r i e s they are taken to be, sin c e the one represents a view and the other an a c t i o n . I t i s a poin t worth making, because when we come upon the symbolic experimentation of a w r i t e r l i k e H a r r i s , which an attempt to challenge the mimetic view of the world, we might be tempted i n t o an opposite funda-mentalism, d e c l a r i n g symbolic w r i t e r s the only e x p e r i m e n t a l i s t s . And the c o r o l l a r y of t h i s b e l i e f would be that the ruck of e x p e r i m e n t a l i s t s are p r o d u c i n g ' r e a l i s t t e x t s , w h i l e a great many r e a l i s t w r i t e r s are i n f a c t symbolists s i n c e they continue to t r a f f i c i n meaning. In f a c t a l l I am suggesting i s that the a c t i o n of experimentalism can have as i t s object e q u a l l y a r e a l i s t or a symbolist view of t h i n g s . I do not wish to defend the value that i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y attached to symbols and symbolism. That t h e i r powers have been both rhapsodized and berated i s a matter more to do w i t h the h a b i t s of i n t e r p r e t e r s than w i t h the performance of w r i t e r s . I have summoned them up simply to c l a r i f y the concept of experiment, and to d i s t i n g u i s h H a r r i s ' s symbolic p e r s p e c t i v e from h i s experimental p r a c t i c e . Nevertheless, the r e t u r n to meaning— a meaning no longer deemed immanent i n things but one created by an i n d i v i d u a l i n h i s sensuous mediation w i t h the w o r l d — i s a minimal r e q u i r e -ment f o r those engaged i n the w r i t i n g and reading of t e x t s , not to speak of other p u r s u i t s . In a p l u r a l i s t u n i v e r s e , symbolic experimentalism might be f a i r l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d as the naive counterpart of a sentimental avantgardism committed to the c e l e b r a t i o n of meaninglessness. But i f the parodic v e r s i o n of the r e a l were i t s e l f subverted, one might begin to speak of a symbolic r e a l i s m . Here i s that "new form of ' c l a s s i c a l ' animation r a t h e r than 'romantic' escape or s e l f - d e l u s i o n " H a r r i s foreshadows. This r e a l i s m i s not the subject of experimental a c t i o n but i t s o b j e c t . I t i s the product of that e x p l o r a t o r y impulse i n the a r t s and sciences of which i n t u r n H a r r i s ' s marginal f i c t i o n i s an exemplar. The r e j e c t i o n of the parodic " r e a l , " then, does not imply an i n e l u c t a b l e r e t u r n to nineteenth century r e a l i s m , and the symbolic experimentation of w r i t e r s such as H a r r i s p o i n t s a way out of t h i s f a l s e impasse. I t i s here that we may r e l i n q u i s h any p r o v i s i o n a l sense l e n t these elementary words. There i s another, graver problem w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l r e a l i s m . I t has to do w i t h c e r t a i n r i p p l e s i n the face of the r e a l which vex the conven-t i o n a l category of r e a l i t y and the customary manner of i t s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . An a e s t h e t i c s of t h i s disturbance would have to consider the modernist 12. p r a c t i c e of rupture as more than simply a r e f l e c t i o n i n i t s t u r n of the growing complexity of modern l i f e . I t would a l s o need to show that the r e a l i s t e n t e r p r i s e i s no securer than that modernist p r a c t i c e , f o r a l l that the former appeals to common sense. Such a system does e x i s t , f o r there has grown up beside experimentalism an a n t i - o r g a n i c i s t p o e t i c s of considerable i n f l u e n c e and explanatory power. I am t h i n k i n g of the a e s t h e t i c s of f r a c t u r e which draws on the M a r x i s t theory of ideology. I f r e a l i s m seeks to show the world as i t i s , i t s task i s immediately complicated by the f a c t that the world i s not a v a i l a b l e f o r t r a n s c r i p t i o n i n i t s e l f but only as an ensemble of p r e v a i l i n g ideas about i t , that i s , 9 as "ideology." Realism confronts, then, not the world, but a p i c t u r e of the world. Nor i s the p i c t u r e a complete one, f o r ideology i s always a s e l e c t i v e account of the r e a l , a r e a l destined to elude t h i s and every other form of r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . Ideology resembles, or perhaps dissembles, the r e a l by r e f l e c t i n g only those of i t s features that are consonant w i t h the m a t e r i a l i n t e r e s t s of the power e l i t e (whether of c l a s s , gender, or race) i n a p a r t i c u l a r economic and s o c i a l formation. This sense of ideology as an e n t i r e mode of production's r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of i t s e l f , i s c l e a r l y not the common c o n s t r u c t i o n put upon the word, that of any system of ideas p e c u l i a r to an a r t i c u l a t e group. So f a r from being the w i l l e d f o r m u l a t i o n of a d o c t r i n e , i t i s i n f a c t an i n v o l u n t a r y r e p r o d u c t i o n i n the realm of ideas, of the d i s p o s i t i o n of s o c i a l f o r c e s i n the m a t e r i a l world. Ideology, then, i s not to be confused w i t h dogma, though i t s e l a b o r a t i o n i s a form of dogmatism. I t s f i x i t y i s nevertheless amenable to manipulation i n the i n t e r e s t of c o n t r o l , even as i t i s to d i s t o r t i o n f o r the purpose of r e s i s t a n c e , and t h i s d i s t o r t i o n of the supposedly r e a l r e t u r n s us to the i s s u e of experimentalism i n the a r t s . I f ideology i s i t s e l f a k i n d of r e a l i s m , a f u n c t i o n a l reproduction of the r e a l , then f i c t i o n a l r e a l i s m i s a mimeticism twice removed. Looked at i n t h i s l i g h t , r e a l i s m i s not simply a p r e f e r r e d manner of d e s c r i p t i o n but an o b l i g i n g r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n of a r e i f i e d or u n r e a l r e a l i t y : the more f a i t h f u l that r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , the more specious i t i s l i k e l y to be. And s i n c e the s t y l e of t h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n i s i n s e p a r a b l e from i t s i d e a s , i t s knowledge, i t copies along w i t h the shape of that world, i t s r u l i n g p r e j u d i c e s . Committed to r e a l i s m , the s t e r n e s t c r i t i q u e of s o c i e t y comes to be couched i n terms that are already chosen f o r i t and t h e r e f o r e denatured, and i t i s compromised not d e s p i t e i t s r e a l i s t i c exposures but because of them. Thus i t has become a commonplace of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m that a work may be more e f f e c t i v e through i t s s i l e n c e s , the gaps i n i t s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , than i n the d e t a i l s i t c a r e f u l l y reproduces. I t f o l l o w s that a work which e x p e r i -mentally de-forms the world s t r a y s no f u r t h e r from the r e a l than one which simply, or not so simply, r e f l e c t s i t ; i n f a c t , i t s d i s t o r t i o n s , f o r a l l t h e i r seeming u n r e a l i t y , may t e l l us more (or more that i s u s e f u l ) about a c o n t r a d i c t o r y world. I t i s not long s i n c e , i n l i b e r a l as w e l l as M a r x i s t theory, t h i s view was a s o r t of heresy. In the eyes of both a Lubbock and a Lukacs, i f f o r d i f f e r e n t reasons, those novels were most s u c c e s s f u l which seemed of a piece w i t h r e a l i t y . With Lubbock, the motive f o r t h i s requirement was an a e s t h e t i c one: that a n o v e l r e c o n s t i t u t e i t s world without a u t h o r i a l r e f r a c t i o n ; f o r Lukacs, the c o n s i d e r a t i o n s were s o c i a l : that a novel a c c u r a t e l y embody the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of the s o c i e t y which i t s t r i v e s to r e p r e s e n t . ^ I n e v i t a b l y , then, content was to take precedence over form, and q u i t e as i n e v i t a b l y the r e a c t i o n to t h i s p r i n c i p l e would take on a f o r m a l i s t c o l o u r , one which i t i s only now beginning to l o s e . I t i s 14. f i t t i n g that Lukacs's i n s i s t e n c e on the c o r r e c t d e p i c t i o n of human a l i e n a t i o n should be met by Brecht's experiments w i t h an " a l i e n a t i o n e f f e c t , " a l a r g e l y formal gesture. For, as Brecht, h i m s e l f no f o r m a l i s t , pointed out, r e a l i s m and a n t i - r e a l i s m are e q u a l l y formal, that i s , "on paper." For t h i s very reason, t h e i r p o l i t i c i z i n g "does not i n v o l v e undoing techniques, but developing them. That the t e c h n i c a l i t y of n o v e l i s t i c experiment came at l a s t to construct a monad i s part of the f u r t h e r adventures of a f o r m a l i s t d i a l e c t i c , and need not d e t a i n us here. Of greater i n t e r e s t i s the process by which i a "bourgeois bohemianism," . i t s e l f . . . "The Ideology of the Modern," could be transformed i n t o an a n t i - d d e o l o g i c a l charm. This r e v o l u t i o n may be traced i n the passage from a conception of the l i t e r a r y work as an embodi-ment of c o n t r a d i c t i o n s to that of the work as i t s e l f c o n t r a d i c t o r y . Where the r e a l i s t n o v e l sought to p u r i f y i t s e l f of i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s , the modernist novel and i t s successors r e v e l l e d i n formal c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . In t h i s , l i t e r a r y experimentalism has commonly t r a c e d i t s l i n e a g e to V i c t o r Shklovsky, whose twin dictums of "making strange" and " l a y i n g bare" may 12 serve as mottoes of the mode. By these p r i n c i p l e s a novel was not simply to " d e f a m i l i a r i z e " i t s subject but to r e v e a l at the same time the workings of that d e f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n . So where a t r a d i t i o n a l n o v e l i s t might, having already r e s o l v e d any i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s i n h i s book, seek to erase s c r u p u l o u s l y a l l marks of labour from i t s s u r f a c e , the experimental n o v e l i s t would not only generate c o n t r a d i c t i o n s w i t h i n h i s n o v e l , but put the generative mechanism on d i s p l a y . The f i r s t of these impulses has been described 13 as the commodification of the l i t e r a r y product: every e f f o r t the author makes to render h i s work b e l i e v a b l e ensures i t s ready consumption along w i t h the i d e o l o g i c a l " r e a l i t y " i t embodies. The second impulse i s , a c c o r d i n g l y , a r e f u s a l of commodification, and the notorious " d i f f i c u l t y " of modernist and postmodernist works, which i s an instance of making strange even as t h e i r s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s i s a way of l a y i n g bare, ensures that ideology does not go down e a s i l y . Indeed, a great p o r t i o n of the charge of o b s c u r i t y that has been brought against H a r r i s may be l a i d at the door of t h i s t e x t u a l n e gation, a r e f u t a t i o n of the given by a d e n i a l of i t s terms. "Demonic, t e r r i b l e and negative: t h i s i s the Modern Muse," wrote 14 L e s l i e F i e d l e r . And from Jung's d e s c r i p t i o n of Ulysses as "sheer negation to Marcuse's n o t i o n of the "Great R e f u s a l , " c r i t i c s have seen i n modernist a r t a c o n t r a d i c t i o n . Now, t h i s p erception has i t s e l f been roundly c r i t i -c i z e d f o r i t s wish to place l i t e r a t u r e i n a s h e l t e r outside ideology where i t s c r i t i c a l resources remain f r e e from contamination. The c r i t i c i s m i s a j u s t one w i t h i n i t s l i m i t s ; l i t e r a r y works do not transcend ideology: they give i t shape, a l l o w i n g i t to be read. But i t i s a l s o worth asking whether an a l l too esemplastic conception of ideology i s not i t s e l f s u s c e p t i b l e to rupture, whether one might not speak of p e r i p h e r i e s to ideology. In the f i r s t p l a c e , a symbolic experimentation such as H a r r i s ' s operates on the edge of consciousness as w e l l as on the f r i n g e of p r e d i c t a -b i l i t y : i t s deformations are wrought as much by random j u x t a p o s i t i o n as by a u t h o r i a l n e c e s s i t y . In the second, ide o l o g y , w h i l e encompassing s p e c i f i c orders of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , i s not yet g l o b a l . I t may be s a i d to have margins where one mode of production meets another and where i t i s more r e a d i l y breached than at i t s centres. This i s where H a r r i s ' s novels are l o c a t e d : here i s a n o v e l i s t from a former colony w r i t i n g at the m e t r o p o l i t a n centre works which do not s p r i n g wholly from the ideology of e i t h e r of the worlds they s t r a d d l e . The very m a r g i n a l i t y of these works serves to warp the i d e o l o g i e s of both c o l o n i z e r and c o l o n i z e d when they concur, f o r i n s t a n c e , i n producing a " h i s t o r y l e s s " West Indian past. Out of t h i s supposed barrenness, H a r r i s i s able to develop a m i n i m a l i s t e x p e r i -ment which i s r a t h e r more convincing than the endless s e l f - p a r o d y of much Northern postmodernism. While H a r r i s c e r t a i n l y i n h a b i t s a European l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n , which might i n c l u d e C o n t i n e n t a l symbolists and B r i t i s h romantics and modernists, he shapes t h i s t r a d i t i o n to h i s own needs, and w h i l e he i s i n e v i t a b l y l e d i n t o i d e o l o g i c a l r e s o l u t i o n s of r e a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n s , h i s own c o n t r a d i c t o r y works mix the t r a d i t i o n s of a l i e n c u l t u r e s w i t h r e s u l t s that i l l u m i n e as o f t e n as they m y s t i f y . This r a i s e s once more the question of d i f f i c u l t y , which I have suggested i s a species of working c o n t r a d i c t i o n . To describe i t so i s to e l u c i d a t e d i f f i c u l t y , not the d i f f i c u l t ; the task of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n remains. I t i s an i d l e pretence which declares that c r i t i c i s m deals not w i t h meaning but w i t h the production of meaning; the one, i n f a c t , derives from the other. The conceptual d i v i s i o n i s a u s e f u l one, however, f o r i f the c r i t i c can d i s c o v e r i n the mechanism of the book a method which l i n k s the production to the product, h i s task of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s f a c i l i t a t e d . In t h i s , H a r r i s ' s n o v e l s , f a r from being the r i d d l e s they are commonly taken to be, go a long way to meeting the c r i t i c . For c o n t r a d i c t i o n i s at the heart of H a r r i s ' s w r i t i n g : i t obtains i n the shape and movement of h i s t y p i c a l sentence; i t i s generated by h i s s w i f t and u n p r e d i c t a b l e conjunc-t i o n of d i s p a r a t e elements, by the b r i s k s h u t t l e of h i s n a r r a t i v e , and by the masking and unmasking of h i s c h a r a c t e r s ; i t i s , f i n a l l y , the s t u f f of the l a r g e r r e b u t t a l of r e a l i s m which h i s e n t i r e oeuvre represents. In f a c t , the c r i t i c concerned w i t h H a r r i s ' s experimentalism could h a r d l y do other than f i r s t come to terms w i t h the most s i g n i f i c a n t f e a t u r e of the prose and the ideas that prose experimentally advances. I have sought, then, to di s c o v e r i n H a r r i s ' s s t y l e a general p r i n c i p l e f o r the i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of h i s novels. Since I have taken t h i s p r i n c i p l e to be c o n t r a -d i c t i o n , i t w i l l be necessary i n the chapters which f o l l o w to elaborate a grammar of d i s s e n t by which these t e x t s may be parsed. C o n t r a d i c t i o n i s i n the f i r s t place a saying no. I t i s true that s i l e n c e w i l l pronounce q u i t e as eloquent a negat i v e , but then s i l e n c e , despite the a b s u r d i s t experiment, i s not a l i t e r a r y form. Besides, i t in v o l v e s a c e r t a i n s o l i p s i s t i c r e t r e a t , and c o n t r a d i c t i o n i s a l s o a form of advance. So, i t i s necessary to go beyond t h i s elementary l e v e l of c o n t r a d i c t i o n , to which an odour of the querulous c l i n g s , and enter at once i n t o the realm of the p o l y s y l l a b i c , i n t o l i t e r a r y c o n s t r u c t i o n s which r e t u r n a more complex negative. I do not wish to imply that a s u c c e s s f u l experimentation must employ c o n t r a d i c t i o n , o r , even more r e d u c t i v e l y , that the more c o n t r a d i c t o r y a nov e l the greater i t s v a l u e . What I am suggesting, i s that the t e x t u r e of H a r r i s ' s l i t e r a r y m a t e r i a l agrees w i t h the a c t i o n of a l a r g e r d i a l e c t i c . I t i s a concept to which H a r r i s h i m s e l f makes e x p l i c i t recourse, so the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s I w i l l t r e a t a r i s e out of h i s c r i t i c i s m as w e l l as h i s novels. I choose c o n t r a -d i c t i o n not because H a r r i s ' s t e x t i l l u s t r a t e s the concept or advances i t s theory, but because the concept serves to e l u c i d a t e much that i s otherwise obscure i n H a r r i s . I wish to give the word " c o n t r a d i c t i o n " an i d i o s y n c r a t i c scope which w i l l not always agree w i t h the t r a d i t i o n of negative d i a l e c t i c s from which i t s p r i n g s . When I de a l w i t h H a r r i s ' s s t y l e , I w i l l take r h e t o r i c a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n to be s u f f i c i e n t l y capacious to admit the v a r i e t i e s of p a r a t a x i s which he employs. In c o n s i d e r i n g H a r r i s ' s n a r r a t i v e , I w i l l put an even more strenuous c o n s t r u c t i o n on the word, seeing i t s presence i n the movement between s t a t e s of dream and waking, death and l i f e , oppression and r e s i s t a n c e , r u i n and o r i g i n . I t i s there a l s o i n the antinomies e s t a b l i s h e d between the v a r i o u s stages of journeying by which H a r r i s enacts the d i a l o g i c h i s t o r y of the peoples he d e s c r i b e s . So, too, i n the chapters on character and on community, I w i l l examine H a r r i s ' s e x p e r i -mental treatment of the i n d i v i d u a l and s o c i e t y , both i n and out of the Caribbean, through c o n t r a d i c t i o n s which may have no name or f u n c t i o n i n the t h e o r i e s which contemporary r e c e i v e d wisdom has devised f o r the study of marginal c u l t u r e s . One of my c h i e f claims f o r H a r r i s ' s importance w i l l r e s t upon h i s development of a unique v o i c e by which he a r t i c u l a t e s the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of a d i v i d e d world by making small or e l s e subversive recourse to t r a d i t i o n s which have been r e s p o n s i b l e f o r that d i v i s i o n . Having once developed t h i s v o i c e , H a r r i s begins, i n h i s more recent n o v e l s , to t u r n i t upon a l i e n landscapes to produce a new and r i c h resonance. I w i l l argue that he has been able to do t h i s only through h i s commitment to experimentation and despite the d i f f i c u l t i e s that commitment has n e c e s s a r i l y generated. I f H a r r i s i s d i f f i c u l t , i t i s because he has found simple reportage wanting; i f he i s obscure, i t i s because the l u c i d i t y which other w r i t e r s have brought to bear on the problems he confronts has been unequal to the task of addressing the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of m a r g i n a l i t y . I f c o n t r a d i c t i o n generates d i f f i c u l t y , i t a l s o generates meaning. This i s why—and not only because he deals i n s y m b o l s — I have chosen to speak of H a r r i s ' s "symbolic" experimentation. I f I have laboured the i s s u e of c o n t r a d i c t i o n i t i s because the paradoxes which r e s i d e i n that theory bear a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n to H a r r i s ' s own t h e o r i e s of experiment i n f i c t i o n . I speak a d v i s e d l y of h i s t h e o r i e s , s i n c e he has nowhere advanced a_ s y n o p t i c a l p o e t i c s of the genre, having chosen, as w i t h h i s n o v e l s , to show himse l f by degrees. I t i s to these t h e o r i e s that we may now t u r n , bearing i n mind that although t h e i r sources are statements H a r r i s has made i n c r i t i c a l essays, addresses and i n t e r v i e w s , they form only the s c a f f o l d i n g of the novels. The present chapter, t h e r e f o r e , i s a p r e p a r a t i o n f o r those which f o l l o w , chapters i n which t h i s s c a f f o l d i n g w i l l be assumed to have been dismantled but not f o r g o t t e n . This i s perhaps a p e r i l o u s assumption, because H a r r i s has developed over the years an i d i o s y n c r a t i c vocabulary of d e s c r i p t i o n and a n a l y s i s , a vocabulary i t s e l f r e s p o n s i b l e on occasion f o r a l l e g a t i o n s of o b s c u r i t y . In f a c t , the reader armed w i t h patience and memory w i l l f i n d that i t s c o n s t r u c t i o n admirably serves H a r r i s ' s purpose of b r i n g i n g to l i g h t resources concealed w i t h i n the f o l d s of conventional d i s c o u r s e . i i ) H a r r i s on Experiment An e a r l y essay, "Art and C r i t i c i s m , " w i l l serve to introduce H a r r i s ' s 16 fragmentary a e s t h e t i c . Published i n 1951 i n the Guyanese j o u r n a l , K yk-over-al, i t i s a s l i g h t piece of some f i v e pages, but c o n t a i n i n g as i t does the seeds of ideas H a r r i s was to develop l a t e r i n more substan-t i a l essays, i t may be taken as a k i n d of exemplar. The essay begins by r e c a l l i n g a "very important c o n t r i b u t i o n to c r i t i c i s m of a r t " made by Engels and l a t e r r e a f f i r m e d by Georg .Lukacs. 1^ Before we are served the c o n t r i b u t i o n , H a r r i s , i n a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c and i l l u s t r a t i v e gesture, has already dug i n h i s h e e l s . The c o n t r i b u t i o n , he reminds us, "reacts w i t h p o e t i c j u s t i c e on many of the t h e o r i e s of Luk&cs h i m s e l f " (p. 7). Then he proceeds once more: the c o n t r i b u t i o n " i s that c r e a t i v e work may, and o f t e n does, have e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t meanings to what the author hopes, and may be the exact opposite of h i s s u b j e c t i v e i d e a l i s m or the mechanical i d e a l i s m of h i s time." Nevertheless, beside these i d e a l i s m s , "an o b j e c t i v e process e x i s t s , a se c r e t form or t r a d i t i o n , which y i e l d s i t s e l f , f r a g -m e n t a r i l y perhaps, but d e c i s i v e l y as time goes on." Already the H a r r i s i a n hermetic caveat has come to be i n s c r i b e d i n the m a t e r i a l , not i n o p p o s i t i o n to that m a t e r i a l i s m , but r a t h e r as a reminder that the o b j e c t i v e i s not to be taken as only the outward. A "new a r c h i t e c t u r e " (p. 8) i s needed, H a r r i s maintains, to supplant the p i t i f u l c l a s s i c a l order of t h i n g s ; between human passion and the given order and m o r a l i t y , a great g u l f i s f i x e d . Marxism and e x i s t e n -t i a l i s m are attempts to bridge t h i s g u l f , "the f i r s t concerning i t s e l f w i t h mechanical n e c e s s i t y , the second w i t h s u b j e c t i v e f a t e , " but the i d e n t i t y they seek, that o b j e c t i v e process, c o n s t a n t l y eludes them. For t h i s process i s i n f a c t a d i s r u p t i o n of the pure l y " s u b j e c t i v e " and the purel y "mechanical": i t e x i s t s i n the space where t h e i r separate forces meet, " i n the a s s o c i a t i o n of l i f e and environment" (p. 9 ) . This asso-c i a t i o n i s a "deep process immensely a l t e r i n g or breaking the shape of t h i n g s . . . " f o r , the impact of the human mind and body on the hard w o r l d , i n c o n s t r u c t i n g something and des t r o y i n g something has a u n i t y or combination that i s both s e c r e t and p l a i n , immaterial and m a t e r i a l , showing f o r t h the power of pas s i o n , the l i m i t s and order of being. There f o l l o w s a g l a n c i n g treatment of American poetry, chosen because of i t s " n a t u r a l daring beyond the s t a t i s t i c a l r e c t i t u d e of exhausted or bl o o d l e s s passions" (pp. 9-10), at the s t a r t of which H a r r i s i s once more detained. He i s reminded of a school of West Indian a r t which i d e a l i z e s the sun. This he f i n d s c u r i o u s , "an American a t t i t u d e , American i d e a l i s m . " The surveyor i n him responds: I have l i v e d f o r long periods i n savannahs so much exposed to heat and f i r e , t hat the sun has become an a d v e r s a r y — o n e of two a n t a g o n i s t i c p r i n c i p l e s - — n i g h t and day—and only an assoc-i a t i o n of these two p r i n c i p l e s provides r e l e a s e ; What i s needed, H a r r i s contends, i s an " a r c h i t e c t u r e of r e l e a s e , " and i n the American poets he has chosen, he f i n d s "an overwhelming or d e a l without r e l e a s e . " He concludes that although t h i s poetry i s "one of the a r t s where America has c o n s c i o u s l y and unconsciously h e l d a m i r r o r to the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of s o c i e t y and the i n d i v i d u a l , " i t i s s t i l l "burdened by the c o n t i n u a t i o n of c l a s s i c a l i d e a l i s m s " (p. 12). I t has not l e a r n t the p r i n c i p l e s of the new a r c h i t e c t u r e , one of which i s that " l i f e i n i t s e s s e n t i a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n i s a r t : i t i s the deep unconscious humour of c a r n i v a l . " The reader who f i n d s t h i s b r i e f essay burdened, through some c r i t i c a l e q u i valent of Engels's wisdom, by a c o n t i n u a t i o n of romantic i d e a l i s m s , i s b a r k i n g up the wrong t r e e . For, what i s of i n t e r e s t here i s not a r e s i d u a l n o s t a l g i a f o r meaning at the heart of things but the p o s i t i n g : . of an o b j e c t i v e i d e n t i t y i n the i n t e r e s t s of heterogeneity. This otherness d e f l a t e s the t o t a l i t i e s of the " s u b j e c t i v e " as w e l l as the "mechanical," even as i t s a e s t h e t i c extension denies the value of endless o b l a t i o n s at the s h r i n e of the whole, or e l s e repeated testimonies to the o r d e a l of s o c i e t y ' s c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . The new a r c h i t e c t u r e i s not one which mimes the given or " c l a s s i c a l " order of thi n g s or e l s e parodies the hollowness of that order, but one which experimentally d i s r u p t s that order through constant reminders of i t s inherent f r i a b i l i t y . Only by t h i s assumption does H a r r i s speak of an emerging c l a s s i c i s m , one w i t h i t s roots i n a c a r n i v a l which does m i s c h i e f to solemn order. Not the overt but the underground c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of l i f e are the model of t h i s a r t . H a r r i s ' s metaphor i s a t e l l i n g one: the new a r c h i t e c t u r e which would b r i n g the forms that are bound i n a p r i n c i p l e of s u b j e c t i o n , genuinely i n t o the l i g h t of day, without c r u e l s u f f e r i n g , must f i n d t r u l y that the sun has no s t a t i o n a r y hold over i t s subjects l i k e a fe d u a l l o r d over h i s s e r f s (p. 10). The language of these statements i s n e c e s s a r i l y p r i v a t e , but i t c l o t h e s i n t u rn a d e s i r e to make i t s workings p u b l i c . "Each one of us, I b e l i e v e , " says H a r r i s i n a gesture of l a y i n g bare, "has to expose h i s personal method, to challenge the o r i g i n a l i t y of other minds" (FR p. 14). H a r r i s ' s own o r i g i n a l i t y begins w i t h the assumption of o r i g i n a l i t y i n others; to r e t u r n t h i s courtesy might seem incumbent on us. Moreover, to take h i s e x p e r i -mentalism f o r granted i s to avoid rehearsing the customary d i s t i n c t i o n s between the o l d and the "new" n o v e l , d i s t i n c t i o n s which are hardly p e c u l i a r to H a r r i s , and to concentrate on the more important task of d i s c r i m i n a t i n g between the conventional new and H a r r i s ' s own work. Nevertheless, i t must 18 be s a i d that H a r r i s ' s b a t t l e w i t h the "demon of r e a l i s m " amounts to something of an obsession, i f c l e a r l y not a possession. I f H a r r i s and h i s e a r l y i n t e r p r e t e r s tended to harp on t h i s anti-mimetic theme, they were r i g h t to do so i n a c r i t i c a l (and B r i t i s h ) c l i m a t e l a r g e l y h o s t i l e 19 to formal experimentation. For my part I have wished, i n a chapter on experiment, to i s o l a t e a s u f f i c i e n t though not necessary c o n t r a d i c t i o n to symbolism upon which H a r r i s ' s own t h e o r i e s might r e a c t . H a r r i s ' s c l a s s i c statement of h i s p o s i t i o n i s h i s l e c t u r e , " T r a d i t i o n and the West Indian Novel," d e l i v e r e d before the London West Indian 20 Students' Union i n 1964. In t h i s remarkable address, to which I w i l l r e t u r n more than once i n the chapters which f o l l o w , he d i s t i n g u i s h e s the "novel of persuasion" from the "epic and r e v o l u t i o n a r y n o v e l of a s s o c i a t i o n s , and sees the former as r e s t i n g "on grounds of apparent common sense" and a c e r t a i n c o n s o l i d a t i n g " s e l e c t i o n of items, manners, uniform conv e r s a t i o n , 23. h i s t o r i c a l s i t u a t i o n s , e t c . " (p. 29). This s e l e c t i o n i s j u s t i f i a b l e i n the nineteenth century n o v e l , where i t c o i n c i d e s w i t h " s t a t e s of s o c i e t y which were i n v o l v e d i n c o n s o l i d a t i n g t h e i r c l a s s and other vested i n t e r e s t s , " but to the pale l i t e r a r y successors of that novel H a r r i s seeks to counterpose 21 a " n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n of depth" (p. 31). The c o n s o l i d a t i n g d r i v e wants f o r i t s l i t e r a r y r e c o n s t i t u t i o n a r e f l e c t i v e t i s s u e which the n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n of "landscape-in-depth" r e j e c t s . R e f l e c t i o n , says H a r r i s i n another p l a c e , " i s b u i l t i n t o a passive order of the imagination which possesses i t s own marvels of e x a c t i t u d e though to r e i f y i t a b s o l u t e l y i s to submit to a s t r a i t j a c k e t of t r a d i t i o n . . . " (RV p. 15). The n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n w i l l not make t h i s mistake, and once again H a r r i s c i t e s Luk£cs, who p o i n t s out that a simple a f f i r m a t i o n of c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n i s not enough. And he says a renewal of the c l a s s i c a l form can only come by r e p u d i a t i n g much i n the h i s t o r i c a l apparatus of the novel or as he puts i t i n Hegel's words ' i n the form of a negation of a negation' (TW p. 42). H a r r i s ' s own negation i s h i s experimentation (a matter i n which he i s more c o n s i s t e n t than LukScs), and he takes h i s f e l l o w w r i t e r s to task f o r t h e i r formal t i m i d i t y : i t i s one of the i r o n i c things w i t h West Indians of my generation that they may conceive of themselves i n the most r a d i c a l p o l i t i c a l l i g h t but t h e i r approach to a r t and l i t e r a t u r e i s one which c o n s o l i d a t e s the most conven-t i o n a l and documentary techniques i n the novel. In f a c t many of the great V i c t o r i a n s — R u s k i n , Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dickens i n Bleak House, f o r example, where a strange k i n s h i p emerges w i t h the symbolism of both Poe and K a f k a — are r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s who make the p r o t e s t a t i o n s of many a contemporary r a d i c a l look l i k e a sham and a pose. The f a c t i s — e v e n when s i n c e r e l y h e l d p o l i t i c a l r a d i c a l i s m i s merely a f a s h i o n a b l e a t t i t u d e unless i t i s accompanied by profound i n s i g h t s i n t o the experimental nature of the a r t s and the sciences (p. 46). So H a r r i s f i n d s that the work of a w r i t e r l i k e V.S. Naipaul "serves u l t i m a t e l y to c o n s o l i d a t e one's preconceptions of humanity, the comedy of pathos and the pathos of comedy," thus remaining "a persuasion of s i n g u l a r and p a t h e t i c enlightenment r a t h e r than a t r a g i c c e n t r a l i t y or a c a p a c i t y f o r p l u r a l forms of a profound i d e n t i t y " (p. 40). In a recent i n t e r v i e w , he a s c r i b e s t h i s to Naipaul's i r o n i c detachment: Naipaul i t would seem to me i s a b r i l l i a n t w r i t e r whose p o s i t i o n i s that of a s p e c t a t o r . I don't sense i n h i s work a profound immersion i n the elements he des c r i b e s . Thus h i s work seems to me to conform much more to a k i n d of b r i l l i a n t j o u r n a l i s m . And towards the end of the same i n t e r v i e w , he remarks that very many novels which c l a i m to be r e a l i s t f a s t e n on catastrophe, they see only t h a t . They're pu r e l y s p e c t a t o r i a l n o v e l s , and they simply i n s p e c t the catastrophe and they have no sense of the l i f e running through i t , or of the regenerative seed that can come out of i t (WH p. 29). When he turns to George Lamming, H a r r i s i s again d i s s a t i s f i e d , though he recognizes Lamming's own growing impatience w i t h conventional forms. These forms are a k i n d of tyranny, but one which the e a r l y Lamming has chosen: i n terms of the r u l i n g framework he accepts, the i n d i v i d u a l -i t y of character, the d i s t i n c t i o n s of st a t u s and p r i v i l e g e which mark one i n d i v i d u a l from another, must be maintained. This i s the k i n d of r e a l i s m , the r e a l i s m of c l a s s e s and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s . . . the n o v e l , i n i t s orthodox mould, demands (TW p. 38). More r e c e n t l y , i n the same i n t e r v i e w from which I have j u s t quoted, H a r r i s f i n d s that Lamming q u i t e c l e a r l y . . . i s not content w i t h the shape of the n o v e l , the E n g l i s h shape of the nov e l . And thus you see v a r i o u s t h r u s t s and perspectives coming i n which would suggest that the s o r t of d i s i n t e g r a t i o n s which occur i n the novel are themselves the th r e s h o l d f o r something e l s e (WH p. 23). This "something e l s e " i s the l i t e r a r y f i g u r a t i o n , through "apparent gaps, a n g u l a r i t i e s , turbulences, o p a c i t i e s " (CP p. 143), of that p r i n c i p l e of heterogeneity, that o b j e c t i v e i d e n t i t y at the i n t e r s e c t i o n of the s u b j e c t i v e and the mechanical, whose exi s t e n c e the H a r r i s i a n n o v e l c e l e b r a t e s . Since the d i s i n t e g r a t i o n s H a r r i s speaks of do not c o n s t i t u t e t h i s otherness so much as form i t s p r e c o n d i t i o n , the l a r g e r claims of formalism c o l l a p s e . For i f simple r e a l i s m w i l l not wash, mere "extravagance of p a t t e r n " washes perhaps too r e a d i l y . I t i s here that we begin to see H a r r i s d i s c r i m i n a t e among experimentalisms. In the same way as r e a l i s m the s t y l e e n t a i l s r e a l i s m the p o s i t i v i s t world view, experimentalism the a c t i o n must modify i t s object by p e r c e i v i n g i t anew i n and through i t s e x p l o r a t i o n . Without t h i s always fragmentary production of i t s "knowledge," experimentation can s l i p a l l too e a s i l y i n t o the parodic mode, which, anti-mimetic as i t may w e l l be, "represents" a c e r t a i n v i c a r i o u s n e s s whose q u a l i t y i s caught by H a r r i s when, quoting d e f t l y , he suggests that "the p r a c t i t i o n e r s of the a r t of the absurd...may themselves merely ' s t i f f e n i n a rented room'" (B p. 26). Parodic experimentalism, f o r a l l i t s sombre—or e l s e f r i v o l o u s — s t r a t e g i e s of disavowal, becomes an escape route which may w e l l prove the best of two worlds and permit a s k i l f u l s h o r t c i r c u i t i n g of a r e a l c r i s i s or c o n f r o n t a t i o n i n depth. The a r t i n short not of a l i e n a t i o n as i t i s p o p u l a r l y c a l l e d but of i n s u l a t i o n (UC p. 44). To t h i s pretence, even the ambiguous c i v i l i t i e s of r e a l i s m are p r e f e r a b l e , and i n f a c t H a r r i s ' s c r i t i c i s m shows him q u i t e as a p p r e c i a t i v e of r e a l i s t i c n o v e l s , so long as t h e i r mimeticism i s not the product of an obssessive i r o n i c detachment, as he i s of t h e i r anti-mimetic counter-p a r t s . So, h i s t a s t e i n f i c t i o n runs to n o v e l i s t s as w i d e l y removed as a measured P a t r i c k White and a "problematic" Amos Tutuola, w i t h a d i v e r s i t y of experimental w r i t e r s i n between, from L a t i n American magic r e a l i s t s such as Marquez, Carpentier and A s t u r i a s , to French or E n g l i s h new n o v e l i s t s such as Claude Simon and B.S. Johnson. In none of these w r i t e r s i s e i t h e r the conservation or the d i s r u p t i o n of form canonized. For H a r r i s , then a w i l f u l f r a c t u r i n g of language i s not experiment enough; i t must consort w i t h "a c e r t a i n e x p l o s i o n of a s u b j e c t i v e order of experience...which u n s e t t l e s to an extent the s t a b l e or o b j e c t i v e i l l u s i o n of the world..." (SM p. 68). His r e j e c t i o n of both f o r m a l i s t and r e a l i s t e x c l u s i v i t i e s i s e x p l i c i t : the breakthrough of the 'experimental' w r i t e r . . . w i l l i n s t i n c t i v e l y d i v e s t i t s e l f not only of ' i n t e l l e c t u a l pastime' or ' s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e ' but of every k i n d of e x c l u s i v e and one-sided c o n s o l i d a t i o n , though i n t h i s element of freedom there may w e l l be i n t r u s i o n s of o b s c u r i t y l i k e c o n s t r u c t i v e but hidden agents i n a d i s ^ mantling process (SM p. 66). The o b s c u r i t y H a r r i s a l l o w s , i n h i s theory as i n h i s p r a c t i c e , now comes to show i t s f e t t l e . I t i s a p r o d u c t i v e , not a perverse, d i s t o r t i o n of language which f i g u r a t i v e l y deploys the experience of the unconscious against the given order of t h i n g s whose outer armour i s a given order of language. N e i t h e r order i s sacrosanct: t h i s was Nietzsche's p o i n t 23 when he s c o f f e d that we have l o s t God but s t i l l b e l i e v e i n grammar. I f H a r r i s ' s o b s c u r i t y i s not perverse, n e i t h e r are h i s c l a r i t i e s portentous. The symbolic dissonance which i d e n t i f i e s h i s score i s a reminder that what these symbols do matters more than what they t r a d i -t i o n a l l y mean. So f a r from conveying one s w i f t l y to a realm of unchanging meaning, they serve, by t h e i r s u r r e a l yokings and unyokings, to budge o l d meanings and s u b s t i t u t e experimental ones. Confronted w i t h an ideology of barrenness, symbolic experimentation demonstrates through i t s c o n t r a d i c t o r y techniques that p s y c h o l o g i c a l and c u l t u r a l d i s i n t e g r a t -i o n do not s i g n i f y an end to meaning. H a r r i s o f f e r s an example: I could i l l u s t r a t e t h i s best by r e f e r r i n g to a novel by Juan R u l f o c a l l e d Pedro Paramo i n which you do have a world that i s c o l l a p s i n g , d i s i n t e g r a t i n g , but what i s strange about that novel i s that the l i f e of the psyche i s so intense that i t moves through that s h e l l of a w o r l d — i n other words the stubborn s t r u c t u r e i s cloven. And the psyche t h e r e f o r e moves so that even though the world that has been depicted remains bleak, there i s a curious power there, a wildness that witnesses to the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of l i f e , , and the whole s t r u c t u r e of the f i c t i o n i s t h e r e f o r e q u i t e d i f f e r e n t (WH p. 23). Instead of c e a s e l e s s l y lamenting, or d r i l y s a t i r i z i n g , the oppression and the barrenness of the Caribbean past and present, and the havoc these have wrought on the i n d i v i d u a l consciousness, one must " c r e a t i v e l y descend i n t o the d i s o r d e r of i t , s u f f e r c r e a t i v e l y the d i s o r d e r of i t " (UC p. 44). A resource the experimental n o v e l i s t shares w i t h the i n a r t i c u l a t e i n d i v i d u a l i n the face of the ideology of h i s t o r y l e s s n e s s i s that c a r n i v a l undercurrent to d e v a s t a t i o n which we heard H a r r i s speak of e a r l i e r . Against the "homogeneous comedy"—or indeed the homogeneous tragedy, the "monolith of c o n q u e s t " — o f the given, an order l e n t credence by the " s o - c a l l e d l u c i d and documentary t a c t i c of the t y r a n t or demagogue" (NP p. 146), are discharged "clowns of broken r e a l i s m " (BC p. 45). What i s more, such a disturbance can erupt even w i t h i n the r e a l i s t novel (and here we see the demon l a i d ) : because language i t s e l f . . . c a r r i e s an i n v e r s e f a c t o r , an unsuspected r e v o l u t i o n a r y pressure which stands i n i n v e r s e p r o p o r t i o n to obsessive c e n t r a l i t y (obsessive animism): thus one may f i n d oneself p i c k i n g up i n f i c t i o n — a t the heart of sovereign r e a l i s m i t s e l f — a d e c e n t r a l i z i n g , d e - e s c a l a t i n g t a b u l a rasa i r o n y as the s e r i a l p l a y , the s e r i a l d e a t h s / s e r i a l r e b i r t h s of a c h i l d (the h a l f god, h a l f monster i n ourselves) (FP pp. 9-10). This i s H a r r i s ' s r i d d l i n g expression of h i s d e n i a l of pure or organic i d e n t i t y to the i n d i v i d u a l or to h i s t o r y , a d e n i a l which subverts not only the l i b e r a l or c l a s s i c a l conception of e i t h e r of these e n t i t i e s but a l s o t h e i r romantic v e r s i o n s , v e s t i g e s of which may seem to rec u r i n h i s own work. We begin to grasp h i s meaning when he declares t h a t "an uncon-scious p o l i t i c a l i r o n y i s i n the process of being born w i t h i n the t e l l i n g s i l e n c e s of the f a m i l y of the Word" (RV p. 19). The r i t u a l syntax (and r i t u a l i s one of H a r r i s ' s synonyms f o r a s p e c t r a l r e a l i s m , a spurious r e a l i t y ) of absolute power i s being f i g u r a t i v e l y undone, the grammar of h a b i t u a l p e r c e p t i o n going the way of God. The new grammar i s not an escape from h i s t o r y , though i t i s a d e n i a l of the numb, wholly conditioned s u b j e c t , which i s an escape i n t o h i s t o r y . The calamitous past and i t s debris are a v a i l a b l e as hollow forms. They e x i s t , says H a r r i s , i n a v o i d and t h e r e f o r e one needs to p a r t i c i p a t e i n i t . . . w i t h an a r t of f i c t i o n , an imaginative f l u i d i t y that i s as c l o s e as one can p o s s i b l y come to e x i s t i n g now, w i t h immed-i a c y , i n a form that has already been broken i n the past (PL p. 3 ) . The broken r e a l i s m of H a r r i s ' s f i c t i o n i s the a e s t h e t i c equivalent of continuous h i s t o r i c a l rupture; i t i s an attempt to capture the s t y l e of h i s t o r y by approaching and yet scrambling i t s c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . I t i s i n t h i s extreme r e a l i s a t i o n of the c o n t r a d i c t o r y and sometimes t e r r i f y i n g p r o p e r t i e s of consciousness that one begins to enter a phenomenal t r a d i t i o n which...may a f f e c t our approaches to the media of p a i n t i n g , a r c h i t e c t u r e , and s c u l p t u r e as w e l l as l i t e r a t u r e (PL p. 1). Moreover, once one recognizes the c o n t r a d i c t o r y "substance" of r e a l i t y , one begins to v i s u a l i s e , n e g a t i v e l y as i t were, heterogeneous forms of s o c i a l as w e l l as l i t e r a r y a s s o c i a t i o n , "one s t a r t s to concede, and enter upon those a l t e r n a t i v e r e a l i t i e s ('phenomenal legacy') which may lead to a new s c a l e or i l l u m i n a t i o n of the meaning of 'community'" (PL p. 3). Realism, w r i t e s H a r r i s , l i v e s by " s i m p l i f i c a t i o n s of experience." I t s converse form, a s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l experimentalism, and e s p e c i a l l y the theory of that form, stand i n constant danger of e r r i n g on the other s i d e . The e x t r a o r d i n a r y s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s of the one and the h i g h l y t h e o r e t i c a l a n t i - e m p i r i c i s m of the other are fraught w i t h the p e r i l of a l l d e s a n c t i f i c a t i o n : they r e i f y themselves i n t o a new s u f f i c i e n c y , a s u b s t i -t u t e v i r t u a l i t y . So, the l i t e r a t u r e desirous of re-forming r e a l i s m and the theory designed to c r i t i c i z e r e i f i c a t i o n become i n t h e i r t u rn a s i n g l e f o r m a l i s t e f f i g y by something l i k e that " t a c t i c of fascism which battens on f e a r of c o n t r a s t s " (NP p. 144). Against t h i s u n i f o r m i t y there endures the heterogeneity of experience, and not l e a s t the " l i v e d otherness" of c u l t u r a l l y d i s s i m i l a r experience. Of t h i s experience, H a r r i s ' s "landscape i s a model, j u s t as h i s "imagination" i s a metaphor not of a r e t u r n to some romantic c a p i t a l i z a t i o n of the Subject but of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience of that landscape. H a r r i s ' s experimentalism r e s i d e s i n h i s readiness to j o i n the one to the other. The s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l e x p e r i m e n t a l i s t w i l l court and at length c a p i -t u l a t e to theory; examples of t h i s melancholy f a t e abound. H a r r i s has had the good sense to s k i r t the t h e o r e t i c snare; indeed, i t i s e x h i l a r a t i n to f i n d i n h i s f i c t i o n d i s c o v e r i e s or at l e a s t assumptions which t h e o r i s t s d i d not come upon f o r themselves u n t i l another season. His advances are the product of a great experimental v i r t u e , namely, r i s k : the experimental n o v e l i s t i s u n a f r a i d of saying the wrong t h i n g . In t h i s he i s an example to the c r i t i c who l i v e s i n constant t e r r o r of f a l l i n g v i c t i m to the very c u t t i n g edge he so keenly hones. No contemporary c r i t i c would a l l o w h i m s e l f to speak i n these " n o s t a l g i c " tones: One could t h i n k of the i n s t i n c t of a b i r d , a b i r d that f l i e s w i t h uncanny o r i e n t a t i o n from one area of the world to another. On a higher l e v e l you begin to see an element of f a i t h , and f a i t h can mutate at a higher l e v e l i n t o what one c a l l s r i s k . These are a l l i r r a t i o n a l formations. But once one can sense that one's reason and one's l o g i c have t h e i r roots i n such l a y e r s of i r r a t i o n a l i t y , one i s c o n s t a n t l y aware that the g i f t s of nature are g i f t s which one must accept, and which one must p r i z e . One must have the f a i t h 30. to accept what one i s given i n the midst of a world that may seem shattered and dangerous. And those g i f t s a l l the time r e l a t e to the continu i n g act of c r e a t i o n , which goes through the obstacles that surround us (WH p. 25). I t i s p r e c i s e l y H a r r i s ' s w i l l i n g n e s s to take r i s k s that i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r h i s a s t o n i s h i n g power as a n o v e l i s t . The c r i t i c ' s p r e s c r i p t i o n s , then, are a k i n d of i m p o s i t i o n , and one which the experimental w r i t e r p r o p e r l y r e s e n t s , i f he i s l i s t e n i n g at a l l . Here l i e s the paradox of w r i t i n g about such f i c t i o n : f o r even when one describes r a t h e r than p r e s c r i b i n g , one i s s e t t i n g up expectat-i o n s , and the experimental novel l i v e s by u p s e t t i n g e x p e c t a t i o n s . More hopeless s t i l l i s p r o s c r i p t i o n . When B.S. Johnson declared p a s s i o n a t e l y that " t e l l i n g s t o r i e s i s t e l l i n g l i e s , " and set up t r u t h over against 24 f i c t i o n , he was c a l l i n g d e s p i t e himself f o r a neo-realism, that i s , the c o u p l i n g of an experimental technique w i t h a f a c t i c i t y that takes the r e a l , or v e r i f i a b l e " t r u t h , " on i t s own terms. More than t h i s , he would have d i s q u a l i f i e d those f i c t i o n s which might i n c l u d e s t o r i e s as part of t h e i r experimental stategy from i n c l u s i o n i n the novel canon, whose very concept he was at pains to sp i k e . To al l o w s t o r y - t e l l i n g i s not to embrace u n c r i t i c a l l y a l l the i m p l i c a t i o n s of F o r s t e r ' s c e l e b r a t e d "oh dear, yes," but simply to r e f r a i n from s e t t i n g boundaries to w r i t i n g . Such s t o r i e s do f i g u r e i n H a r r i s ' s novels; to speak c l a s s i c a l l y , there i s ^ the i m i t a t i o n of an a c t i o n , though i t s u n i t i e s are seve r e l y v i o l a t e d . Experiment i s by i t s nature a breaking of r u l e s , and Johnson's own novels are f i n e examples of t h i s r e c a l c i t r a n c e . I t i s now n e a r l y ten years s i n c e Johnson published h i s short l i s t of n o v e l i s t s — i n c l u d i n g Harris—whom he saw as mattering on the B r i t i s h scene. While i t i s dangerous to make d i s c r i m i n a t i o n s w i t h i n d i s c r i m i n a t -i o n s , one may hazard the opi n i o n that w h i l e the recent work of many of these w r i t e r s r e v e a l s an en v i a b l e amplitude, few of them have experimented w i t h H a r r i s ' s l i n g u i s t i c d a r i n g , and c e r t a i n l y none has evolved so o r i g i n a l and s t r i k i n g a s t y l e . I w i l l t u rn to an examination of t h i s s t y l e i n the f o l l o w i n g chapter; f o r the present i t remains to scotch a non s e q u i t u r . Formalism may w e l l have overreached i t s e l f : the p a r o d i s t has become a k i n d of p l a t i t u d i n a r i a n , and d e f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n has become so f a m i l i a r ( i f not p l a i n ) that Pound's o l d cry of "Make i t New" has met i t s echo i n 25 John Gardner's "Postmodernism means New! Improved!" To the extent that Gardner's moral r e a c t i o n i s a reproof d e l i v e r e d to the i n t r a n s i t i v e , monadic avantgarde, i t i s j u s t i f i e d . But t h i s should give no handle to contemporary t r a d i t i o n a l i s t s who wish to dodge a l l experiment and malinger amid the a r t s of a V i c t o r i a n f i c t i o n which served i t s own pe r i o d without : anachronism. The c a l l f o r a r e t u r n to e s t a b l i s h e d values i s r a r e l y d i s i n t e r e s t e d , and i t r i n g s loudest i n high p l a c e s : What i s 'Modernism'? The barbarous L a t i n word modernus (from modo, ' j u s t now') occurs f i r s t i n the s i x t h century.... In a r t we a l l know what 'Modernism' means. I t p r i d e s i t s e l f on a r e p u d i a t i o n of a l l t r a d i t i o n s and a l l accepted canons of beauty, and shows an a f f i n i t y both w i t h the naive a r t i s t i c attempts of savages, and w i t h the newest p r o l e t a r i a n i s m i n R ussia. A modernist p a i n t e r w i l l cover h i s canvas w i t h zigzags or dep i c t a woman w i t h green hair...These phenomena are c l e a r l y p a t h o l o g i c a l . . . . How e a s i l y our contemporaries a l l o w themselves to be brow-beaten by t h i s puppyism!.... I have not read Ulysses or any of the works of D.H. Lawrence, so I must not speak of them; but there are others who seem to take a pleasure i n t e a r i n g away a l l v e i l s . I confess that I copied the bishop whom I r e f e r r e d to j u s t now, and threw my copy of one of them i n t o the A d r i a t i c . . . I f the matter were not so t r a g i c , one might smile at the not i o n that the most deeply-rooted r a c i a l h a b i t s — r e l i g i o n , p r i v a t e ownership, the f a m i l y and p a t r i o t i s m — c a n be uprooted i n one generation by a gang of r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s . R u s s i a , i f I am not mistaken, has been through the f e v e r , and i s coming out i n t o something more l i k e her o l d s e l f . I have no doubt that cubism and f u t u r i s m and most of vers l i b r e w i l l soon pass i n t o limbo.2° The v o i c e i s that of the Very Reverend W.R. Inge, d e l i v e r i n g h i s p r e s i -d e n t i a l address before the E n g l i s h A s s o c i a t i o n i n 1937. I t i s easy to smile at past v e x a t i o n s ; i f those who i n v e i g h against postmodernism today are l e s s s h r i l l , i t i s because a c e r t a i n s o p h i s t i c a t i o n i n matters of newness prevents them, and indeed permits yet another c a l l f o r a r e t u r n to " r e a l i s t i c " meaning. As I have argued, the c u l t u r a l and c r i t i c a l e v o l u t i o n of these words has rendered them adaptable, so that a l i t t l e bending w i l l a l l o w " r e a l i s m " versus "experiment" to s i g n i f y an o p p o s i t i o n between meaning and unmeaning, and to obscure the f a c t that the p u r s u i t of meaning i s i n t i m a t e l y bound up w i t h experiment. H a r r i s has spoken of the k i n d of w r i t e r who "sets out again and again across a c e r t a i n t e r r i t o r y of p r i m o r d i a l but broken r e c o l l e c t i o n i n search of a community or species of f i c t i o n whose ex i s t e n c e he begins to d i s c e r n " (TW p. 48). We may see i n t h i s metaphor tra c e s of H a r r i s ' s experience as a surveyor during the years he spent mapping parts of the i n t e r i o r of Guyana, but i t i s p r i m a r i l y the statement of a n o v e l i s t ' s f a i t h , f o r a l l novels worth the name are e x p l o r a t i o n s . I I . Experiment and Language The reader who takes up one of H a r r i s ' s novels f o r the f i r s t time w i l l not go f a r before being s t r u c k by a c e r t a i n p e c u l i a r i t y i n the shape of the sentences. I t i s t h i s p e c u l i a r i t y and i t s attendant complications which I wish to examine here. So, i f I speak of "Experiment and Language," i t i s not because I propose elsewhere to consider H a r r i s ' s experiments i n any other medium. I t i s simply that I w i l l t r e a t here the lower reaches of the f i c t i o n , those narrower orders of i t s w r i t i n g which are part of, but do not i n themselves c o n s t i t u t e , form. I might e q u a l l y have spoken of "Experiment and S t y l e , " but s t y l e i s a vexed i s s u e . 1 There i s b e t t e r agreement about the nature of language; besides, H a r r i s has some i n t e r e s t i n g t h i n g s to say of i t and very l i t t l e except rudeness f o r " s t y l e . " " L i t e r a r y s t y l e " even today evokes w r i t i n g w i t h a " f i n i s h , " i n more than one sense of the word. The t r a d i t i o n a l complaint against s t y l e f i n d s the l u s t r e of i t s surface a d i s t r a c t i o n from the meaning beneath, the manner from the matter. The p r o p o s i t i o n s of contemporary semiology have s i l e n c e d t h i s p a r t i c u l a r grievance by c a l l i n g i n t o question the d i s t i n c t i o n 2 between form and content, though i n p r a c t i c e the couple l i v e h a p p i l y on. The other sense of " f i n i s h , " that of completeness, meets a l i k e o b j e c t i o n . The l i t e r a r y t e x t , so f a r from being s u f f i c i e n t unto i t s e l f i s , a f t e r a l l (and t h i s i s not an i n s i g h t which wanted s e m i o t i c s ) 3 an i n e r t q u a n t i t y r e q u i r i n g a reader f o r i t s r e a l i s a t i o n . E x i s t i n g as a v i r t u a l i t y , i t must be produced anew each time. So, although s t y l e would seem to be v i n d i c a t e d by the judgement that there i s nothing but s t y l e , i t s popular reading i s one that cannot seem to a d j u s t to the incompleteness of "language" without a l o s s of face. I f , however, we can b r i n g ourselves to see s t y l e as the production of language i n the same way that reading i s a production of the t e x t , we have no reason to abandon the concept on such t r i v i a l grounds. For i f w r i t i n g i s a m a t e r i a l p r a c t i c e , then to confront s t y l e i s to confront the p h y s i c a l i t y of language. I t i s part of the l e s s o n that we l e a r n from t h i s encounter that the a c t i o n of language may be q u i t e as i n t r i g u i n g as i t s meaning, and indeed ij3 the meaning. Read c o r r e c t l y , s t y l e i s the p r o f i l e of language i n a c t i o n , and the e f f e c t s of t h i s a c t i o n need be no l e s s s i g n i f i c a n t than i t s motives. These are some f a c e t s of H a r r i s ' s language that I w i l l examine: the work of h i s works. Such an approach has i t s l i m i t a t i o n s , and i t may be that our present a b s o r p t i o n i n the mechanism of meaning r e f l e c t s a r e v u l s i o n against an endless supply of commodities, not excluding l i t e r a r y commodities, and an a r c h a i c longing to grasp once more the 4 f u n c t i o n i n g of t h i n g s . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the how of a work and i t s what or why, then, w i l l not here be one of s u b o r d i n a t i o n or e x c l u s i o n : i t i s a poor wisdom which knows the clockwork but cannot t e l l the time. But t h i s r e a l i s a t i o n i n no way diminishes the p e r i l s of a p u r e l y e x p l i c a t o r y approach which e i t h e r advances e m p i r i c a l l y or, e n t e r t a i n i n g l o f t i e r s c i e n t i f i c ambitions, hopes to f a s h i o n a Casaubonish Key by which a d i f f i c u l t s t y l e may be opened and a l l p e r p l e x i t i e s resolved To proceed so, by e f f u s i o n s or by g r i d s , i s i n a sense to betray the t e x t . To render i t i n t o e x p o s i t o r y prose by a n t i c i p a t i n g i t s p a t t e r n s r e s t o r i n g i t s rhythms to n o r m a l i t y , t a k i n g stock of i t s s u r p r i s e s , i n s h o r t , n a t u r a l i s i n g i t , i s to n u l l i f y i t s challenge to our h a b i t s of reading. I f , instead of thus t r a n s l a t i n g the s t y l e , we learn i t s language, we may extend our s t y l e of knowing as well as our knowledge of s t y l e , for Harris's s y n t a c t i c a l strategies are often also h e u r i s t i c ones. Further, by refusing to transpose h i s t o n a l i t i e s into a simpler key, we respect the o r i g i n a l by never seeming to excuse what we would explain. We also secure our apprehension of the text i n the mode of the text's apprehension of the world. In Harris's f i c t i o n s , t h i s knowledge i s one of strange and sometimes savage complexity; to tame i t would be to do i t harm. In the f i r s t place, i t i s not, or not p r i n c i p a l l y , a question of grammatical complexity. Unlike the Proustian sentence, which i s endlessly p r o l i f e r a t e d but always accessible, Harris's sentences are usu a l l y "simple" and yet semantically d i f f i c u l t . Theirs i s a state which w i l l sometimes approach that fourth and l a s t type of d i f f i c u l t y which George Steiner has distinguished,^ where "the contract of ultimate or preponderant i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y between poet and reader, between text and meaning" i s breached. This d i f f i c u l t y i s evident i n a great deal of modernist and postmodernist w r i t i n g , though i t s seductions are neither u n i v e r s a l l y entertained nor altogether new. Besieged by such d i f f i c u l t y , "we bear witness," says Steiner, "to the precarious p o s s i b i l i t y of existence i n an 'open' space of c o l l i s i o n s , or momentary fusions between word and re f e r e n t . " In t h i s f r a g i l e moment, one may f i n d pleasure of another order and duration, but no les s r e a l than that which the Proustian sentence y i e l d s . There may be pleasure i n d i f f i c u l t y ; more often there i s displeasure. We do not as a r u l e r e l i s h bafflement, although i f t h i s i s true there i s an element of masochism i n our remorseless and conspicuous consumption of much postmodern l i t e r a t u r e . C e r t a i n l y , there i s no v i r t u e i n d i f f i c u l t y . To admire H a r r i s because he i s d i f f i c u l t would be a s i n g u l a r piece of c h i l d i s h n e s s , but to r e v i l e him because he i s d i f f i c u l t i s no m a t u r i t y . Unreserved p r a i s e may w e l l have given r e a c t i o n a cause: the c r i t i c who professes to be unmoved by such devotion i s always at hand w i t h a trump card of unspeakable s i m p l i c i t y , and such contests are i n v a r i a b l y d u l l . On one of h i s e a r l i e s t appearances i n p r i n t , H a r r i s was reproached f o r i n h a b i t i n g "a wordy metaphysical world of h i s own making."'7 We s h a l l have to examine the j u s t i c e of t h i s charge (and there i s some) to see whether part of i t s impatience does not d e r i v e from a f a i l u r e to grasp the s t r a t e g i e s of H a r r i s ' s prose. In f a c t , d i f f i c u l t y i s simply a t a c t i c a l weapon i n H a r r i s ' s work; i t s deployment represents a k i n d of mining of the f i c t i o n a l t e r r a i n . Nor i s t h i s deployment u n r e l e n t i n g , f o r the decorum of a c o n t r a d i c t o r y s t y l e i s p r e c i s e l y i t s r e f u s a l of the wholly obscure along w i t h the u t t e r l y p l a i n . I t i s no coincidence that the informing p r i n c i p l e of H a r r i s ' s "new a r c h i t e c t u r e " i s asymmetry, a p r i n c i p l e whose contours appear f i r s t a t the l e v e l of the l i n e . The decorum of asymmetry g i s a curious paradox, but not one without precedence. I t ends, as we s h a l l see, by undoing the very concept of decorum. In a review of H a r r i s ' s n o v e l , Companions of the Day and Night, the B r i t i s h poet, M a r t i n Seymour-Smith, has made a c r i s p assessment of the 9 novelist!'s s t y l e . "There i s , " he s t a t e s simply, "no r h e t o r i c . " The i m p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s l a c o n i c judgement are immense and i t s f u n c t i o n p i v o t a l . With one stroke i t l a y s bare the workings of H a r r i s ' s experimen-t a l i s m and d i s t i n g u i s h e s h i s p r a c t i c e from that w r i t i n g which p r a c t i s e s e i t h e r on the reader or on i t s e l f . Yet, as a judgement i t must immediately q u a l i f i e d . S t r i c t l y , the only novel which i s u n r h e t o r i c a l i s the a l e a t o r y one which comes to i t s reader loose-leaved i n a box, and even there one i s hostage to the page. A l l w r i t i n g , even the most formless, shows a minimum of a u t h o r i a l c o n t r o l , and we would do w e l l to guard against immaculate conceptions of l i t e r a r y s t y l e . H a r r i s ' s novels have, of course, a r h e t o r i -c a l q u o t i e n t , to the degree that any work may be s a i d to have a design, that i s , a shape and purpose. I t i s when shape bows to purpose that a novel becomes u n e q u i v o c a l l y r h e t o r i c a l . For i t i s then that the author's sel f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s becomes acute and e v e n t u a l l y coy. And s i n c e the knowing s e l f i s here wholly i n c o n t r o l , r h e t o r i c a l experimentation i s s c a r c e l y experimentation at a l l . I t knows i t s e f f e c t s before they are caused, or, to put i t another way, i t i s c e r t a i n of the causes of i t s e f f e c t s . By " r h e t o r i c , " t h e r e f o r e , I intend an excessive designing i n the use of language, a meaning which Seymour-Smith doubtless had i n mind. Where t h i s designing i s e i t h e r s e v e r e l y reduced or d e l i b e r a t e l y thwarted, i t becomes p o s s i b l e to speak of a r h e t o r i c of u n r h e t o r i c , a w r i t i n g that i s worked and yet unwrought. "^ I t i s true that w r i t i n g represents a d e c i s i v e a c t i o n , that s t y l e i s , i n Susan Sontag's words, "the signature of the a r t i s t ' s w i l l . " " ' " 1 Even so, there i s room f o r an unconsciousness i n the c r e a t i v e use of language which does not a d v e r t i s e i t s e l f as auto-matic handwriting. As Sontag goes on to remark, t h i s a r b i t r a r i n e s s dogs the c r i t i c who i n s i s t s that a work of a r t could not have been other than i t i s : "every a r t i s t , when i t comes to h i s own work, remembering the r o l e of chance, f a t i g u e , e x t e r n a l d i s t r a c t i o n s , knows what the c r i t i c says to be a l i e . . . " (p. 33). To t h i s company of men from P o r l o c k one might add randomness and happenstance, i f no longer d i v i n e a f f l a t u s . H a r r i s himself i n s i s t s on the i n t u i t i v e as e x i s t i n g alongside the conscious: My approaches to such a residue of experience [as we a l l share] — I cannot overemphasise t h i s — a r e not i n t e l l e c t u a l , but r a t h e r p a r t of a hard and continuous w r e s t l i n g w i t h i n the medium of my own work, a process more a k i n to something a c t i v e and unpre-d i c t a b l e r a t h e r than planned and t h e o r e t i c a l (PL pp. 1-2).12 Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , when H a r r i s does mention r h e t o r i c , i t i s u s u a l l y coupled w i t h a p e j o r a t i v e : "nightmare r h e t o r i c " (FJ p. 41), " r h e t o r i c and s t e r i l i t y " (SL p. 206), " r u i n and r h e t o r i c " (AO p. 124). In a d e c l a r a t i v e mood he w i l l p i n h i s f a i t h on "an a r t of the imagination based on concen-t r a t i o n and i n t u i t i o n r a t h e r than formula or r h e t o r i c " (MT p. 39). This co n c e n t r a t i o n must be recognized, f o r i t i s easy to misread H a r r i s ' s r e f u s a l of r h e t o r i c as an excuse f o r ca r e l e s s n e s s . Among the conscious ways i n which t r a d i t i o n a l r h e t o r i c i s f l o u t e d are the obvious admission of 13 inelegance or the d e l i b e r a t e use of c l i c h e , not to speak of those spontaneous i r r e l e v a n c i e s which appear from time to time and whose f u n c t i o n we s h a l l examine i n due course. F i n a l l y , there i s the notorious opacity of the language, i t s ambiguities ranged i n the f a r t h e r reaches of Empson's schema, but s e r v i n g to complicate r a t h e r than to m y s t i f y . For t h i s reason, complexity i s perhaps a b e t t e r word than the o b s c u r i t y sometimes imputed to H a r r i s , s i n c e i t w i l l admit of an urge to communicate, i f not always i n the language of the t r i b e . Language, H a r r i s seems to say, already has i t s own r h e t o r i c besides and other than the "persuasions" of the author's a u t h o r i t y . But the laws of t h i s r h e t o r i c are of a v o l a t i l e nature, t h e i r r u l e a kind of m i s r u l e because the concept of language i s one which c o n t i n u a l l y transforms inner and outer formal c a t e g o r i e s of experience, e a r l i e r and r e p r e s e n t a t i v e modes of speech i t s e l f , the s t i l l l i f e r e s i d e n t i n p a i n t i n g and s c u l p t u r e as such, even music which one ceases to ' h e a r ' — t h e peculiar: - r e a l i t y of language provides a medium to see i n consciousness the ' f r e e ' motion and to hear w i t h consciousness the ' s i l e n t ' f l o o d of sound by a continuous inward r e v i s i o n a r y and momentous l o g i c of potent e x p l o s i v e images evoked i n the mind (TW p. 32). We may now observe t h i s language at work i n H a r r i s ' s f i r s t n o v e l , Palace of the Peacock (1960). The novel i s a v a r i a t i o n on the quest f o r E l Dorado, i t s p r i n c i p a l s a crew of dead men, the motley p i c k i n g s of race and time. Captain to t h i s crew i s a rancher of " t e r r i b l e stamping" energy, the horseman of that opening fragment w i t h which we saw H a r r i s begin h i s n o v e l i s t i c career. Deserted by h i s Amerindian workers and shot by the m i s t r e s s he c r u e l l y used, h i s ghost now leads an e x p e d i t i o n u p r i v e r i n p u r s u i t of the f u g i t i v e f o l k . But the woman, M a r i e l l a , has become an enigma, both a place and a people, and p r e s s i n g beyond the M i s s i o n , the crew l e a r n some t r u t h s about the nature of d e s i r e and power before r e l i v i n g t h e i r former deaths. I m p e r i l l e d by rocks and r a p i d s , and musing on t h e i r sundry obsessions, the men come f i n a l l y to a w a t e r f a l l which overhangs t h e i r graves on Sorrow H i l l . Mounting ladders set i n the face of the c l i f f , they climb past windows which open onto a b e a t i f i c v i s i o n . They have reached the Palace of the Peacock, Then they f a l l to deaths which no longer matter, f o r a l l are caught up i n the music of the peacock's dance. This i s the "dreaming s k e l e t o n " of the s t o r y t o l d by Donne's broth e r , who stands w i t h i n him and r e l i v e s the e n t i r e e x p e d i t i o n as he pores over the map of the savannahs. His r o l l - c a l l of the men as they set out i s a good example of H a r r i s ' s supple and yet q u i c k s i l v e r prose: The crew swarmed l i k e u p r i g h t s p i d e r s , half-naked, scrambling under a burden of cargo they were c a r r y i n g ashore. F i r s t I picked and counted the d a S i l v a twins of Sorrow H i l l , t h i n , long-legged, f a i r - s k i n n e d , of Portuguese e x t r a c t i o n . Then I spotted o l d Schomburgh, a l s o of Sorrow H i l l , a g i l e and s w i f t as a monkey f o r a l l h i s seasoned years. Donne p r i z e d Schom-burgh as a bowman, the best i n a l l the world h i s epitaph boasted and read. There was V i g i l a n c e , b l a c k - h a i r e d , Indian, s p a r k l i n g and shrewd of eye, reading the r i v e r ' s mysterious book. V i g i l a n c e had recommended C a r r o l l , h i s c o u s i n , a t h i c k - s e t young Negro boy g i f t e d w i t h h i s paddle as i f i t were a v i o l i n and a sword together i n paradise. My eye f e l l on Cameron, b r i c k - r e d face, slow f e e t , f a s t e r than a snake i n the f o r e s t w i t h h i s hands; and Jennings, the mechanic, young solemn-featured, carved out of s t i l l wood i t seemed, sweating the s t i l l dew of h i s t e a r s , c u r s i n g and reproving h i s w h i r l i n g engine and toy i n the u n e a r t h l y t e r r i f y i n g g r i p i n the water. Last I counted Wishrop, a s s i s t a n t bowman and captain's understudy (PP pp. 22-23). When they have l i f t e d t h e i r c r a f t out of the water, the crew arm themselves w i t h prospecting knives to cut a l i n e of portage through the f o r e s t . A w i l d v i s i o n a r y prospect. The sun glowed upon a mass of v e g e t a t i o n that swarmed i n c r e v i c e s of rocky nature u n t i l the stone y i e l d e d and turned a green spongy carpet out of which emerged enormous trunks and trees from the hidden dark earth beneath and beyond the sun. The s o l i d w a l l of t r e e s was f i l l e d w i t h ancient blocks of shadow and w i t h gleaming hinges of l i g h t . Wind r u s t l e d the l e a f y c u r t a i n s through which masks of l i v i n g beard dangled as low as the water and the sun. My l i v i n g eye was stunned by i n v e r s i o n s of the b r i l l i a n c y and the gloom of the f o r e s t i n a deception and hollow and socket (p. 26). Already the reader w i l l have become aware of the c o n t r a d i c t o r y , o s c i l l a t i n g q u a l i t y of t h i s prose: i t s frequent recourse to a n t i t h e s i s (Schomburgh's age yet h i s monkey's a g i l i t y , Cameron's slow f e e t yet h i s snaking hands, Jennings, carved out of s t i l l wood, reproving h i s w h i r l i n g engine); i t s Metaphysical c o u p l i n g s , as w i t h C a r r o l l ' s paddle or Jenning's "engine and toy"; i t s s t a r t l i n g i n v e r s i o n s of darkness and l i g h t , bulk and c a v i t y , up and down. The topography of the language shapes by "hinge" and "mask," 14 those deceptions of landscape and human presence the dreamer senses. With equal d i s d a i n , i t s t a c t i l e and v i s u a l p r o d i g a l i t y ( n o t i c e the r e c u r r -ence of "swarmed" and "swarming" i n the two passages) gives and takes away. For a l l t h e i r c l a r i t y , the images t h i s poet-turned-novelist"'""' deploys do not f u n c t i o n to c o n s o l i d a t e or r e f l e c t or even to represent, f o r each e x i s t s by v i r t u e of that to which i t i s j o i n e d . The poet H a r r i s had explained i t i n t h i s way: "We might juxtapose 'heaven' w i t h 'roots' or 'jungles'—TROPIC OF HEAVEN...to b r i n g i n t o sharp focus the disturbance created by opposing c o n d i t i o n s " (FR p. 15). And many years l a t e r , the n o v e l i s t r e t a i n e d t h i s c o n v i c t i o n : the convolutions of image, whether c l e a r or grotesque, are r e l a t e d as d i v e r s e rooms, c a p a c i t i e s expanding or c o n t r a c t i n g w i t h i n one f i e l d of consciousness. To p r i s e these images apart i s i n f a c t to l o s e the d i a l e c t i c a l f i e l d i n which they stand or move (WS p. 55). The e f f e c t of these laminations of image i s a d e n s i t y that one o r d i n a r i l y 16 a s s o c i a t e s w i t h concrete poetry, but i t s f u n c t i o n goes beyond what Shklovsky c a l l e d "making the stone stony." To say t h i s i s not to shrug away the experience of Shklovsky's (or indeed Dr. Johnson's) stone i n the name of a n t i - e m p i r i c i s m , but to preserve a c e r t a i n s k e p t i c i s m about the formal completeness of the world. The compaction H a r r i s repeatedly invokes i s a k i n d of searching out of the " p e c u l i a r gaps or holes i n the s o l i d m a t e r i a l " " ^ c o n s i s t e n t w i t h a " f i c t i o n of i m p l o s i o n " (WS p. 49). And s i n c e there i s no way by which the resources discovered there can be described except by analogy w i t h the images that are cast up out of the 18 unconscious, the w r i t e r seeks to capture these p r i o r to t h e i r domesti-c a t i o n by r h e t o r i c . What iss u e s from t h i s " e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c v o i d of place and time" (SI p. 38), i s a prose of n e i t h e r absences nor o b j e c t s but of objects i n motion. Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , t h e i r s t a t e i s expressed i n the language of mysticism: "The sun r o l l e d i n the grasses waving i n the wind and grew on the s o l i t a r y t r e e " (p. 144). Even when the prose i s s t i l l , i t s s t i l l n e s s i s charged w i t h an energy which d e r i v e s from i t s adjacencies. The image i s no longer simply the r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of something i n the world but of a space surrounding that t h i n g and of the r e l a t i o n s h i p of that t h i n g to another. Seeking, as so o f t e n , to e x p l a i n t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i n l o c a l terms, H a r r i s a l i g h t s on the Arawak zemi or i c o n , which he takes to designate p e r s p e c t i v e s e c l i p s e d by the d e b r i s of conventional West Indian " h i s t o r y " and ideology. Seen i n 19 t h i s l i g h t , the zemi comes to challenge the category of simple i d e n t i t y and to "image" a network of r e l a t i o n s h i p s about that seeming s u f f i c i e n c y . The r e s u l t i s a prose of continuous f l u x which seeks to convey not so much the shape as the process of a nature whose constant i s change. This becomes p a r t i c u l a r l y n o t i c e a b l e when the pace of H a r r i s ' s prose a c c e l e r a t e s In the f o l l o w i n g passage, the crew d r i v e on above M a r i e l l a , having found i t deserted except f o r an ancient Arawak woman they press i n t o s e r v i c e as a guide. Her race was a v a n i s h i n g one overpowered by the fantasy of a C a t h o l i c as w e l l as a P r o t e s t a n t i n v a s i o n . This cross she had f o r g i v e n and f o r g o t t e n i n an e a r l i e r dream of d i s t a n t c e n t u r i e s and a r e t u r n i n g to the S i b e r i a n unconscious p i l g r i m a g e i n the s t r a i t s where l i f e had possessed and abandoned at the same time the apprehension of a f a c i l e beginning and ending. An unearthly p o i n t l e s s n e s s was her true manner, an a l l - i n c l u s i v e manner that s t i l l c o n t r i v e d to b e — a s a duck sheds water from i t s w i n g s — t h e negation of every t h r e a t of conquest and of f e a r — e v e r y shade of p e r s e c u t i o n wherein was drawn and mingled the pursuer and pursued a l i k e , separate and yet one and the same person. I t was a v a n i s h i n g and yet a s t a r t i n g race i n which long e t e r n a l malice and w r i n k l e d s e l f - d e f e n c e and the c r u e l p u r s u i t of t h e . f o l k were tu r n i n g i n t o u n i v e r s a l p r o t e c t i o n and i n t u i t i o n and that harmonious rounded m i r a c l e of s p i r i t which the world of appearances had never t r u l y known. Before the sun was much higher we were i n the g r i p of the s t r a i t s of memory. The sudden dreaming f u r y of the stream was naught e l s e but the ancient s p i t of a l l f l y i n g i n s o lence i n the v o i c e l e s s and t e r r i b l e h u m i l i t y of the f o l k . Tiny embroideries resembling the handwork on the Arawak woman's k e r c h i e f and the w r i n k l e s on her brow turned to i n c r e d i b l e and f a s t breakers of foam. Her crumpled bosom and r i v e r grew a g i t a t e d w i t h d e s i r e , b o t t l i n g and shaking every f e a r and i n h i b i t a t i o n and outcry. The r u f f l e s i n the water were her dress r o l l i n g and r i s i n g to embrace the crew. This sudden .insolence of s o u l rose and'caught them from the powder of her eyes and the age of her smile and the dust i n her h a i r a l l f l o w i n g back upon them w i t h s i l e n t streaming majesty and abnormal youth and i n a wave of freedom and str e n g t h . The crew were transformed by the awesome spe c t a c l e of a v o i c e l e s s soundless motion, the purest appearance of v i s i o n i n the chaos of emotional sense. Earthquake and v o l c a n i c water appeared to s e i z e them and stop t h e i r ears dashing the s c a l e s only from t h e i r eyes. They saw the naked unequivocal f l o w i n g p e r i l and beauty and s o u l of the pursuer and the pursued a l l together, and they knew they' would p e r i s h i f they dreamed to t u r n back (pp. 72-73). Here we begin to see H a r r i s ' s prose enact the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i t seeks;,to convey. F i r s t , i t roundly declares c o n q u i s t a d o r i a l adventures, o l d and new, a " f a n t a s y . " Then i t s e t s up a s e r i e s of paradoxes: an apprehension "possessed and abandoned"; pursuer and pursued as "separate and yet one and the same person"; a race "vanishing and yet s t a r t i n g . " Having c a l l e d i n t o question time ("beginning and end") and space ("the world of appearances") and absorbed both of these i n an "unearthly p o i n t l e s s n e s s " and " a l l - i n c l u s i v e manner" born of the Arawak woman's dream memory of the Amerindians' f i r s t coming, the w r i t i n g proceeds to demonstrate the s t r a t e g i e s of t h i s p r oductive remembering. Immediately the boat i s swept i n t o "the s t r a i t s of memory," o u t l i n e s begin to l o s e t h e i r v a l u e . An i m a g e — t h a t of a h a n d k e r c h i e f — i s r e c a l l e d from the past ( i t and i t s a s s o c i a t i o n s have f i g u r e d i n the two previous pages), and " s p i t , " "handwork," "embroideries," "crumpled," " r u f f l e s , " "powder," and "dust" are threaded at random i n t o the prose u n t i l r i v e r and woman are i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e . In t h i s way, not only does the flow of the language match that of the r i v e r (the crew have entered the War O f f i c e r a p i d s ) , i t c o n s t i t u t e s the mnemonic l e s s o n which i s "the negation of every t h r e a t of conquest and f e a r . " Once again, the language of mysticism i s put to work against the r i t u a l p e rception of absolute d e s p o l i a t i o n . I t r e c a l l s H a r r i s ' s l a n d s c a p e - i n - d e p t h — t h e shock of great r a p i d s and complex landscapes and f o r e s t s — p l a y i n g through memory to confirm p e r s p e c t i v e s of i m p e r i l l e d community and c r e a t i v i t y reach-ing back i n t o the Pre-Columbian mists of time (NP p. 149) and warns against simple documentary readings of h i s t o r y : conquest, we remember, was a "berserk and c a n n i b a l r e a l i s m " (NP p. 148). The image takes i t s p l a c e , then, w i t h i n a grammar of disturbance. I t s deployment i n t h i s way i s the r u l e , not the exception: i n each of H a r r i s ' s novels there i s t h i s constant and u n p r e d i c t a b l e s u r f a c i n g of fragments from another context, so that the reader's a t t e n t i o n i s wrenched 20 backwards and forwards through the t e x t . C l e a r l y a r h e t o r i c of s o r t s i s at. work here, but i f the s c a t t e r i n g of the image i s not a c c i d e n t a l , n e i t h e r i s i t a c o n t r o l l e d a f f a i r , and i t s haphazard nature serves to d i s o r d e r the uniform ideology of absolute power. In seeding h i s e a r l y novels w i t h Jungian symbols of transformation, H a r r i s i s again r h e t o r i c a l , t h i s time i n a more d e l i b e r a t e way, but 21 f a s c i n a t i n g as the tracing;.o.f these symbols may w e l l be, one must not a l l o w the e x e g e t i c a l impulse to obscure t h e i r t e x t u a l f u n c t i o n . I t i s t r u e that M a r t i n C a r t e r , the Guyanese poet, wrote of H a r r i s that " i n h i s work no r i v e r i s simply a r i v e r , no t r e e merely a tree...Everything i s a 22 symbol," but once these r i v e r s and t r e e s have been t a l l i e d w i t h t h e i r i n e f f a b l e s i g n i f i e d s , i t i s s t i l l a task to elaborate a theory of t h e i r a c t i o n i n the novels. Nor would t h i s work be divorced from meaning; i t would, i n f a c t , d e s c r i b e the mechanism of meaning, though perhaps i n ways which might modify our conception of the s i g n i f i e d . The v ery concept of "symbol" might take on a r a t h e r d i f f e r e n t complexion i n the West Indian context from that i t o r d i n a r i l y wears i f we see i n i t not a s t a b l e e i d o l o n of p l e n i t u d e but a strategem of c a r n i v a l deception and u n p r e d i c t a b l e i n g e n u i t y . At the c l o s e of one of h i s essays, H a r r i s introduces what could be the germ of such an a e s t h e t i c i n a curious passage lodged between two parables: 'What man i s there of you, whom i f h i s son ask bread, w i l l g i ve him a stone? Or i f he ask a f i s h , w i l l he give him a serpent?' The e l u s i v e question of man's nature, man's inhumanity to man, remains unsolved, symbolic of f l e s h as w e l l as of stone. The d i v i s i o n between man and man i s the momentous c o n c e i t , the t r a g i c c o n c e i t , the tragi-comic c o n c e i t which provides l i f e blood to the th e a t r e . We are h e a v i l y indebted to t h i s i n v i s i b l e , world-wide c a p i t a l f o r a magical economics— the knife-edge of humanity on which we bargain s t i l l . In The Black Jacobins, by C.L.R. James, a sla v e i s accused of s t e a l i n g a pigeon. He denies i t . The pigeon i s discovered hidden i n h i s s h i r t . 'Well, w e l l , look at that pigeon. I t  takes my s h i r t f o r a nest.' Through the s h i r t of another, a master can f e e l the potatoes which he denies he has s t o l e n . They are not potatoes, he says, they are stones. He i s undressed and the potatoes f a l l to the ground. 'Eh! master.  The d e v i l i s wicked. Put stones, and look, you f i n d potatoes' (B pp. 26-27). By t h i s view, the r e f e r e n t of a symbol i s n e i t h e r absent nor brimming w i t h meaning: i t i s o f t e n simply obvious. What i s of i n t e r e s t i s the r e l a t i o n between i t s bald r e a l i t y and the magical, but e q u a l l y r e a l , l i n e of s h i f t s and ploys which t r a c e s i t . I t i s no a c c i d e n t , then,that when H a r r i s speaks of the epic stratagems a v a i l a b l e to Caribbean a r t i s t s , he invokes the t r i c k s t e r f i g u r e , Anancy: the r i s e of the poet or a r t i s t i n c u r s a gamble of the s o u l which i s symbolised i n the West Indian t r i c k s t e r (the spider of anancy c o n f i g u r a t i o n ) . I t i s t h i s element of t r i c k s t e r d o m that creates an i n d i v i d u a l and personal r i s k a b s o l u t e l y f o r e i g n to the conventional s a n c t i o n of an Old T r i b a l World: a r i s k which i d e n t i f i e s him (the a r t i s t ) w i t h the submerged a u t h o r i t y of dispossessed peoples but r e q u i r e s of him, i n the same token, a l c h e m i c a l resources to conceal, as w e l l as el a b o r a t e , a f a r - r e a c h i n g order of the imagination which, being suspect, could draw down upon him a crushing burden of censorship i n economic or p o l i t i c a l terms. He stands t h e r e f o r e at the heart of the l i e of community and the t r u t h of community (HFM p. 17). The symbol, which preserved u n s u l l i e d i t s c a p a c i t y to s i g n i f y a s t a b l e and s i n g l e meaning, i s now contaminated by the paradox of l i e s i n t r u t h and t r u t h i n l i e s , so that i t s f u n c t i o n may q u i t e as r e a d i l y 23 be to d e f l e c t as to conceal. And since i t s d e f l e c t i o n s may be a s s i s t e d by the immediate presence of others, i t i s the concatenation of these, the c l a s h of symbols, as i t were, which commands our a t t e n t i o n and works on the subconscious, that i s , i s read, before we can reach f o r our 24 d i c t i o n a r i e s of hermetic wisdom. Consider t h i s passage which occurs i n the f i n a l pages of Palace of  the Peacock: I saw the tre e i n the d i s t a n c e wave i t s arms and walk when I looked at i t through the s p i r i t u a l eye of the s o u l . F i r s t i t shed i t s leaves sudden and s w i f t as i f the gust of the wind that blew had ripped i t almost bare. The bark and wood turned to l i g h t n i n g f l e s h and the sun which had been suspended from i t s head r i p p l e d and broke i n t o s t a r s that stood where the shattered leaves had been i n the l i v i n g wake of the storm. The enormous s t a r r y dress i t now wore spread i t s e l f a l l around i n t o a f u l l m a j e s t i c gown from which emerged the i n t i m a t e column of a neck, face and hands, and t w i n k l i n g f e e t . The s t a r s became peacock's eyes, and the great tree of f l e s h and blood s w i r l e d i n t o another stream that sparkled w i t h d i v i n e feathers where the neck and the hands and the f e e t had been n a i l e d (p. 146). The t r e e here would seem to bear out Ca r t e r ' s c l a i m : i t i s more than a t r e e . The n a i l e d hands and f e e t make that p l a i n , and indeed one might, i f i n c l i n e d , f i n d other s i g n i f i c a n c e s i n the passage which do not appear w i t h i n the t e x t . But s u r e l y the most zealous of d i v i n e r s and the most spartan of b i n a r i s t s might be persuaded that the w r i t i n g i s i n the f i r s t 25 place pleasurable? To begin at once to hunt f o r nodules of wisdom cunningly sown i n the furrows of the t e x t i s to seek examples of i t s c r a f t r a t h e r than i t s craftsmanship. This i s not to ignore the f a c t that one i n e v i t a b l y b r i n g s to a book systems of knowledge that are e x t r i n s i c to i t , or even to f o r g e t that there are l i m i t s ( u s u a l l y of world enough and time) to one's ra p t u r e . I t i s simply to r e q u i r e that we attend f i r s t to the w r i t i n g , upon which we discover that a good measure of our d e l i g h t s prings from those metamorphoses which the language undergoes before our eyes, from i t s c o l l i s i o n s , d i s i n t e g r a t i o n s and remakings, i n short from i t s surfaces r a t h e r than from i t s depths. This a c t i o n i s even more g r a p h i c a l l y rendered by the next two para-graphs . C a r r o l l was w h i s t l i n g . A solemn and b e a u t i f u l c r y — u n l i k e a w h i s t l e I r e f l e c t e d — d e e p e r and mature. Nevertheless h i s l i p s were framed to w h i s t l e and I could only e x p l a i n the d i f f e r e n c e by assuming the sound from h i s l i p s was changed when i t s t r u c k the window and issued i n t o the world. I t was an organ c r y almost and yet q u i t e d i f f e r e n t I r e f l e c t e d again. I t seemed to break and mend i t s e l f a l ways—tremulous, f o r l o r n , d i s t a n t , triumphant, the echo of sound so pure and o u t l i n e d i n space i t broke again i n t o a mass of music. The dark notes rose everywhere, so dark, so sombre, they broke i n t o a f o u n t a i n — l i g h t as the r a i n b o w — s p a r k l i n g and immaterial as i n v i s i b l e sources and echoes. The savannahs grew l o n e l y as the sea and broke again i n t o a wave and f o r e s t . T a l l t r e e s w i t h b l a c k marching boots and f e e t were c l a d i n the spurs and sharp wings of a b u t t e r f l y . They fle w and vanished i n the sky w i t h a sound that was t e r r i b l e and wonderful; i t was s o r r o w f u l and i t was m y s t i c a l (pp. 147-48). Here again, our pleasure i n the language deri v e s i n l a r g e p a r t from the 26 "dance of words," from i t s h a r l e q u i n o p p o s i t i o n s which enact that "deep unconscious humour of c a r n i v a l " (AC p. 12) we saw the e a r l y H a r r i s foreshadow. The passage has a t t r a c t e d , and j u s t l y , a good d e a l of 27 commentary, so I w i l l have l i t t l e to say of i t except to repeat that there i s enough o c c u r r i n g at the phenomenal l e v e l to render deep soundings u n p r o f i t a b l e . More important, i t i s p r e c i s e l y t h i s s u p e r f i c i a l i t y which s h i e l d s us from o v e r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n or m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ; and here we see that our a t t e n t i o n to the language c o n s t i t u t e s the meaning of the passage as w e l l as that of the n o v e l . For i f we examine what Gerald Moore has 28 c a l l e d i t s " d i s s o l v i n g s t y l e " i n i t s own r i g h t , we are prevented from a t t r i b u t i n g a t e l e o l o g y to what i s i n f a c t a technique. The f u n c t i o n of the c o n t r a d i c t o r y images and indeed of a l l the s h i f t s and changes of the prose i s to operate w i t h i n and e s t a b l i s h the conventions of a l a r g e r form, so that we read i t not as mysticism but as a m y s t i c a l n o v e l . This might seem a s c h o l a s t i c q u i d d i t y , but a great many of H a r r i s ' s readers have indeed taken Palace of the Peacock as a piece of naked 29 mysticism, and what i s more, f e l t moved to apologise f o r t h i s aspect 30 of the novel. I f i n s t e a d , we begin by assuming that the novel's m y s t i -cism i s a l i n g u i s t i c means of o r g a n i s i n g i t s a s s a u l t on s e t t l e d conceptions of the nature of power, we cannot mistake what i s a convention f o r the trappings of a transcendental S i g n i f i e d . To d e c l a r e that i n the l a t e r novels H a r r i s w i l l not come by h i s v i s i o n of e c s t a t i c u n i t y q u i t e so e a s i l y , i s to undervalue the primary q u a l i t y of t h i s n o v e l : i t s e x t r a -o r d i n a r y w r i t i n g . I t i s e x a c t l y because of i t s untrammelled use of the m y s t i c a l mode that Palace of the Peacock i s a b e t t e r novel than any of the others i n the s o - c a l l e d Guyana Quartet. To f i n d the mysticism of the novel on the one hand embarrassing, and on the -'other e l e v a t i n g , i s to d i s c o v e r e i t h e r too l i t t l e or too much. H a r r i s i s , of course, not w r i t i n g a theosophical t r a c t : by reading h i s work as such, whether u n c h a r i t a b l y (as quackery) or w i t h devotion (as a r e p a i r manual f o r the broken i n d i v i d u a l or the wasted country) we miss i t s primary i n t e n t , which i s a l i t e r a r y one. The manuscript of Palace  of the Peacock was, a f t e r a l l , sent to Faber and Faber, not to the Rudolf S t e i n e r S o c i e t y . I f H a r r i s ' s e x p l i c i t warnings against f a i t h i n hidden 31 f o r c e s were not s u f f i c i e n t , the vigorous tugs of h i s language would s u f f i c e to d i s t r a c t the reader from the charms of the Absolute. One of the lessons we l e a r n i n the course of our reading i s that the s i g n i f i e d e x i s t s p r e c i s e l y as an unmaker of a b s o l u t e s , p o i n t i n g s t r a t e g i c a l l y back to the c o n t r a d i c t o r y surface of the t e x t . 32 The novel i s , then, not so much an abacus of symbols as an a l l e g o r y of the nature of power and d e s i r e i n the world. This theme i s present from the s t a r t i n the shooting of the dream horseman, f o r no sooner does the dreamer awake ( s t r i c t l y , he dreams he awakes), than he remembers having once been rocked by "the o l d e s t u n c e r t a i n t y and d e s i r e i n the world, the d e s i r e to govern or be governed, r u l e or be r u l e d f o r ever" (p. 14). Immediately, there i s a knock on the door and the dream horseman e n t e r s , greeted as "gaoler and r u l e r . " This i s Donne, who, even as he governs h i s brother's imagination, dominates h i s m i s t r e s s M a r i e l l a ' s body: as she bends to feed the chickens, he looks at her "as at a l a r g e r and e q u a l l y senseless c r e a t u r e whom he governed and r u l e d l i k e a f o w l " (p. 15). At the c l o s e of the f i r s t chapter, we hear him counsel h i s brother i n the l o r e of power: 'Rule the land,' he s a i d , 'while you s t i l l have the ghost of a chance. And you r u l e the world. Look at the sun.' His dead eye b l i n d e d mine. 'Look at the sun,' he c r i e d i n a stamping t e r r i b l e v o i c e (p. 19). The scene i s now set f o r a c o u n t e r v a i l i n g f o r c e which, i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h the f i r s t , w i l l f u r n i s h that " a r c h i t e c t u r e of r e l e a s e " we saw H a r r i s foreshadow i n h i s homily on the f e u d a l o v e r l o r d s h i p of the sun. Nor are we kept w a i t i n g , f o r Chapter Two opens w i t h the u n r o l l i n g of a dream map that i s both "an a c t u a l stage," and an a l l e g o r i c a l one: " I saw t h i s kingdom of man turned i n t o a colony and battleground of s p i r i t , a p r i c e l e s s tempting jewel I dreamed I possessed" (p. 20). This d u a l i t y gives H a r r i s a purchase, a "necessary stone and f o o t i n g , " of which he makes splendid concrete use i n the course of h i s s w i r l i n g m y s t i c a l c u r r e n t of prose. From t h i s p o i n t on, dream works i t s way towards v i s i o n as each member of the crew d i s c o v e r s f o r himself what the dreamer at one pass s t r u g g l e s to express, that "nothing e x i s t e d to f o o l and t e r r o r i z e anybody unless one chose to imagine one was bewitched and a f o o l a l l one's l i f e " (p. 96). The l i e u t e n a n t of power i s f e a r , a f e a r which b l i n d s one to resources which become v i s i b l e only when t h i s apprehension i s turned i n s i d e out i n t o a knowledge which l i b e r a t e s one from f e a r and ther e f o r e from power. C e r t a i n of death, even the most abject of the dispossessed l e a r n that " f e a r i s nothing but a dream" (p. 59). This i s the substance of the Arawak woman's "inso l e n c e of s o u l , " and once the sca l e s are dashed from the crew's eyes, they are "on the threshold of the f o l k . " Under the guidance now of V i g i l a n c e , the Indian i n t h e i r midst, the men are brought to .their journey's end and to the r e a l i s a t i o n that not t h e i r obsessions but the e x t i n c t i o n of d e s i r e , not t h e i r scheming l i v e s but "death and nothingness" (p. 130) are t h e i r support. The same d e s i r e that Donne had turned i n t o "a compulsive design and a b l i n d engine of war" (p. 150), i s now transformed i n t o the outspread fan of the peacock. Wi t h i n the m y s t i c a l convention of the n a r r a t i v e , the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of power and powerlessness are re s o l v e d i n a u n i v e r s a l dance to the music of the peacock, a dance i n which pursued and pursuer are no longer d i s -t i n g u i s h a b l e , s i n c e both stand f i r m l y i n the palace, " f r e e from the chains of i l l u s i o n we had made without..." (p. 151). Such r e s o l u t i o n s can be subjected to the c r i t i q u e of any mysticism, but to mount t h i s c r i t i q u e here would be to evince an unfortunate l i t e r a l - m i n d e d n e s s . I t i s obvious that the p o l a r i z a t i o n s of c o n f l i c t are here d i s s o l v e d only because they come to be immersed i n a plenum whose boundaries are not boundaries at a l l . The v i t a l i s t conception of the whole ensures that a l l antagonisms are defused, a l l opposites i n t e r p e n e t r a t e . But read on i t s own terms, the a l l e g o r y presents a c o n s i s t e n t i f unconventional c r i t i q u e of power and not simply another t e x t f o r d e c o n s t r u c t i o n . To designate the argument of the novel as, say, "fea r i s the only s u b j e c t i o n , " or "power i s an i l l u s i o n , " i s not to have f i n a l l y d i s t i l l e d a content from i t s s p i r i t e d extravagance of words. Otherwise one could argue that t h i s message might e q u a l l y have been clothed i n a. form which showed, r e a l i s t i c a l l y and by the cumulation of d e t a i l , the sorrows of young M a r i e l l a and the botched tyranny of a rancher, Donne. Yet there i s no guarantee t h a t , had t h i s been managed, the meaning would have remained the same: the message of Palace of the Peacock i s inseparable from i t s form, and the d i s m a n t l i n g of power i s conducted as much by the language as through i t . I f power seeks above a l l t hings s t a b i l i t y to ensure i t s dominance, t h i s i s the one e s t a t e which the "melting essence" of the language withholds from i t . W i t h i n the conventions of the novel's mysticism, the undoing of power must take the form of the undoing of every " m a t e r i a l hoax" (p. 83). This then i s the f u n c t i o n of a sentence such as the f o l l o w i n g : The fowls of the a i r danced and wheeled on i n v i s i b l e l i n e s that s t r e t c h e d taut between the ages of l i g h t and snapped every now and then i n t o l i g h t n i n g executions of dreaming men when each i n s t a n t ghost r e p a i r e d the wires again i n the form of an i n q u i s i t i v e hanging eye and b i r d (p. 108). The " i n v e r s e stream" and " i n v e r s e c r a f t " which the dreamer speaks of might e q u a l l y apply to the language and a r t which produce r i v e r and boat. And even as the language, l i k e C a r r o l l ' s c r y , seems "to break and mend i t s e l f always," so the s t r u c t u r e of the novel w i t h i t s "mixed f u t u r i s t i c order of memory and event" (p. 53), m i l i t a t e s against the l i n e a r order of a h i s t o r y which seems to r a t i f y d i s p o s s e s s i o n by i t s p l a c i d r e f l e c t i o n of the past. The present i s , l i k e w i s e , amenable to m i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n by documentary renderings. At the c l o s e of the book e n t i t l e d "The Second Death," one of the d a S i l v a twins who had dropped out of s i g h t , reappears. His presence had been not so much f o r g o t t e n as obscured by the prose, and now we see why. His bones were s p l i n t e r s and p o i n t s V i g i l a n c e saw and h i s f l e s h was newspaper, drab, wet u n t i l the l i n e s and markings had run f a n t a s t i c a l l y together. His h a i r stood f l a t on h i s brow l i k e i n k . He nodded p r e c a r i o u s l y and one marvelled how he preserved h i s appearance without d i s i n t e g r a t i n g i n t o soggy lumps and patches when the wind blew and rocked the pins of h i s bones a l i t t l e . He shook h i s head again but not a word blew from h i s l i p s . D a S i l v a s t a r e d . at the a p p a r i t i o n h i s brother presented as a man would s t a r e at a r e p o r t e r who had returned from the grave w i t h no news whatsoever of a l i v i n g r e t u r n (pp. 122-23). In the terms of the a l l e g o r y , not death's s t i n g but absolute death, s l a v i s h l y rendered, i s the u l t i m a t e v i c t o r y of power. The a p p a r i t i o n , t h e r e f o r e , p l a y s a dual r o l e : as an a l l e g o r i c a l v e c t o r , the d a S i l v a twin i s a poor r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of h i s a b s o l u t i s t ideology; as a newspaper man, h i s s o r r y c o n d i t i o n mutely t e s t i f i e s to the power of the s u r r e a l to 34 confound r e a l i s t i c reportage. Both the ideology and i t s mode of pro-j e c t i o n are r e f u t e d by the only means a n o v e l i s t has to make such r e f u t a t -i o n s : the a l l e g o r y puts absolute power i n t o doubt even as the language puts r e a l i s m i n t o d i s a r r a y . The d i s l o c a t i o n of Harrises language i s i t s most evident f e a t u r e , and now we r e a l i s e i t i s not the product of whimsy. To be sure, the fragmen-t a t i o n i s n e i t h e r unique nor e s p e c i a l l y r a d i c a l : aside from the more common typ o g r a p h i c a l v a r i a t i o n s , there are none of the s p l i t t e x t s , f r a c t u r e d columns, s c a t t e r e d words, blank or s o l i d or f e n e s t r a t e d pages, v a n i s h i n g m a r g i n a l i a , or any of the numerous v i s u a l i r r u p t i o n s which have been the stock i n trade of the p l a y f u l n o v e l i s t since Sterne or the dedicated f o r m a l i s t s i n c e f u t u r i s m . At most, the l a t e r novels admit one or two r a t h e r schematized diagrams, which are n e i t h e r l u d i c nor earnest but simply f o r l o r n . They do, however, continue w i t h i n t h e i r graphic parameters those op p o s i t i o n s whose presence i n the body of the t e x t takes the shape of imaged c o n t r a d i c t i o n s : p h y s i c a l t a r g e t s are set over against mental t a r g e t s , s o l u b l e uniform against i n s o l u b l e d e i t y , tone against non-tone, f o s s i l w a l l s of time punctured by c a n n i b a l bone f l u t e . Always the d i s t i n c t i o n between.apparent and r e a l , always the suggestion of untapped energies. The cumulative e f f e c t of these antinomies i s not that of a Ye a t s i a n cosmogony but simply a sense of the f r a g i l i t y of the recei v e d t e x t of the world. I f what we take to be r e a l i t y i s indeed such a t e x t , a s t y l e of r e p r e s e n t a t i o n as much as an ontology, then a language which d i s t o r t s t h i s s t y l e i s some short way advanced towards f i g u r i n g an a l t e r n a t i v e r e a l i t y . This i s the substance of H a r r i s ' s "mimetic crash or crack or bone," h i s "breaking down things i n order to sense a v i s i o n through t h i n g s " (KK p. 52) In one of h i s Amerindian t a l e s , "Yurokon," we f i n d t h i s passage: Break the land. Break the sea. Break the savannah. Break the f o r e s t . Break the twig. Break the bough. The un w r i t t e n symphony of the wind, unwritten spark of the wind, made him b a r k — a sudden bark. [The Carib boy, Yurokon's, uncle] stared a t the b r i s t l i n g dog of the f i r e , f i r e break, f i r e bark, d e l i c a c y , magic; he smacked h i s l i p s and the ro a s t of Yurokon's bark subsided i n t o the s i l e n t bay of conscience l i k e an i n v o c a t i o n at the heart of the f e a s t : man's best enemy or f r i e n d . Was i t the immortal dog of war and peace that sang i n the break of the f i r e , shadowy t a i l or bone? (SR p. 69). H a r r i s glosses the piece i n t h i s way: The .'breaking of the land, sea, savannah e t c ' i s an inner perception or a n t i c i p a t i o n of cleavage i n the persona of conquest—mimetic crash or crack or bone of a n a t i v e / u n i v e r s a l symphony w i t h i n which image and imagelessness are orches t r a t e d i n t o a metaphor which i m p l i e s that the very ruined w a l l s of time may provide an aperture or organ.or f l u t e through which the theme of community i s r e s t a t e d as a ca p a c i t y to s u s t a i n inner and outer overlapping p e r s p e c t i v e s . Thus 'the breaking of the sea, l a n d , e t c ' i n the Yurokon symphony stands i n parenthesis to C a r r o l l ' s crew and the 'cloudy s c a l e of incenstuous c r u e l t y which tumbled from t h e i r eye' (NP p. 150). The shock troops of t h i s a c t i o n are H a r r i s ' s images, but the breakage goes beyond t h i s atomic, sensory l e v e l to that of the l i n e . Hence the tropes of r e v e r s a l and overturning omnipresent i n the H a r r i s i a n grapholect. Next i n the Guyana Quartet, The Far Journey of Oudin (1961) opens so: The s t a r s shone f a i n t i n the stream on the windy night and they penetrated a f l y i n g cloud. The l i g h t s s h i n i n g f a r across the r i v e r were u n c e r t a i n and d i s t a n t , c l o s e to the ground and one w i t h glimmering heaven. The shape of a cow loomed on the opposite bank, so enormous i t b l o t t e d out the l i g h t s and i n v i s i b l e windows of the f a r s c a t t e r e d settlements: i t loomed l i k e a cloud, shapeless and massive i n the dreaming f a i n t l i g h t , s l i t h e r i n g down the bank and suddenly i n t o the water, washing the s t a r s away as i t swam across the n i g h t (FJ p. 11). The continuous s h i f t s of p e r s p e c t i v e i n t h i s opening paragraph prepare the reader once more f o r a t a l e of d u p l i c i t y and s e l f - d e c e p t i o n . And indeed, the s t o r y about to u n f o l d i s that of a t r i c k s t e r , Oudin, who becomes the w i l l i n g t o o l of a grasping moneylender, Ram, and p l a y s t h i s r o l e w e l l u n t i l he d i s c o v e r s the v i r t u e of freedom i n r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Awakening to t h i s knowledge, he marries the g i r l he has been set to abduct f o r Ram, o u t w i t t i n g h i s master both now and on the day of h i s death, t h i r t e e n years l a t e r . The g i r l , B e t i , i l l i t e r a t e daughter of one of Ram's scheming v i c t i m s , i s l e f t pregnant, but suspecting a p l o t by which her f u t u r e c h i l d w i l l now become Ram's i n exchange f o r a f r e e -h o l d , she f i n d s the v i t a l scrap of deed paper i n her dead husband's hands and eats i t . To t h i s s t o r y , H a r r i s b r i n g s h i s apparatus of disturbance, r i p p l i n g the surface of t h i n g s i n a way that i s w e l l i l l u s t r a t e d by the passage below. Ram, who i s spying on B e t i , has come upon her washing c l o t h e s at the r i v e r ' s s i d e . He hopes to observe her s e c r e t i n g the scrap of deed paper i n some "empty rum b o t t l e or j u g " ; i n s t e a d he sees only h i m s e l f , waving up and down as he t r o d on the shaking planks, s l i c i n g and waving almost e n d l e s s l y u n t i l the s l i c e s and fragments were drawn together on a loose s a i l i n g thread. He could make out very l i t t l e as he peered i n t o the r i v e r ' s obsession and depth, save that a banner had been u n f u r l e d over the grave of Oudin, one of those waving f l a g s anonymous processions hold over t h e i r head when they c e l e b r a t e a v i c t o r y or r e s o l u t i o n and triumph. A p u b l i c banner and epitaph everyone knows i t i s , and yet a most p r i v a t e symbol of r e b i r t h and death, since the face on the banner represents an absent hero whose s l i d i n g p r o p o r t i o n s are the mask of t i m e l e s s s p i r i t r a t h e r than Ram's fading p e r s o n a l i t y (p. 25). The ''slices and fragments" we are now accustomed t o , but the l a r g e r a n t i -t h e s i s of p u b l i c "and y e t " p r i v a t e sets up a new c o n t r a d i c t i o n , and one which l i e s at the root of the f a b l e . A n t i t h e s i s i s , of course, a r e c u r r i n g f e a t u r e i n the s t y l e of a great many w r i t e r s , not a l l of them modern, yet where o r d i n a r i l y i t represents a l o g i c a l p l a y between conceptual opposites, here i t s " s l i d i n g p r o p o r t i o n s " s t r e s s not a brace of i d e n t i t i e s but the r e l a t i o n which connects them. When, much l a t e r , Ram i s d i s c o u r s i n g l a r g e l y on p o l i t i c s before h i s l a s t v i c t i m , Mohammed, we are expected to remember t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p between p u b l i c and p r i v a t e . ' Korea—a country j u s t l i k e t h i s I would s a y ' — h e waved h i s hand g e n e r o u s l y — ' s p l i t ' i n h a l f , man. What a mix-up f a m i l y s t o r y . God know who i s k i l l i n g who. You i s not the only one i n t h i s new f a m i l y t r o u b l e . And what happening to you i s p r i v a t e , p l a i n AND o r d i n a r y compared to t h a t ' (p. 98). 35 The p o i n t of the analogy and indeed of the e n t i r e parable of Oudin i s that the d i s t i n c t i o n s customarily made between power on a grand scale and that which operates between i n d i v i d u a l s are n u l l : the very cate g o r i e s of p u b l i c and p r i v a t e c o l l a p s e . This i s both a bad and a good t h i n g . On the one hand, i t allows H a r r i s to mock the p u b l i c sphere and to m y s t i f y the sources of s o c i a l power by p e r s o n a l i s i n g them; on the other, i t r a i s e s important i s s u e s of i n d i v i d u a l e x p l o i t a t i o n and r e s i s t a n c e that commonly go unnoticed. An t i t h e s e s of t h i s k i n d f a s t e n on c o n t r a d i c t i o n s not so much i n the body p o l i t i c as i n i t s members. In the same way as the crew of Palace of the  Peacock have the s c a l e s dashed from t h e i r eyes, so the v a r i o u s characters of t h i s novel have t h e i r moments of c r i s i s and self-knowledge. At the end of the n o v e l , a f i s s u r e begins to open i n Ram, "the t h i e f who had s t o l e n from h i m s e l f . " But as he scans "the new b i t t e r wastes of water over which a blue window i n the clouds had opened," he remains a "seemingly s e l f - c o n t a i n e d man," p l o t t i n g to create "an unassailable" appearance." He i s not cured of h i s obsession w i t h "a son who would be the acknowledged c h i l d of h i s l i f e to f i l l the widening blue crack i n heaven l i k e a p i c t u r e " (p. 134-135). Even t h i s mimetic d i s t r a c t i o n w i l l be denied him, f o r the novel has opened w i t h Oudin's death and B e t i ' s e a t i n g of the "covenant." Oudin, we are t o l d , "embarked on t h i s fabulous dying journey" when, t h i r t e e n years before, he " c a n c e l l e d out Ram's command." He f e l t i n a s t u b l i n g i n t u i t i o n of s e l f , that the p a t t e r n of a l i f e t i m e of migrating from province to province was now being s e t , and the coming journey was a c r u c i a l r e h e a r s a l , a r e h e a r s a l that would be repeated once again over t h i r t e e n dreaming years of h i s marriage to B e t i . He foresaw i n the f i r e and smoke of fantasy, the running abduction, and the dim uncomprehending married years that would f o l l o w , ushering i n — o n the midnight morning that he d i e d — t h e f a r journey outward, i n t o the land that was nowhere. This dark, i n t u i t i v e thought-sun was both an opportunity and a stumbling-block (p. 100). By f o l l o w i n g t h i s i n t u i t i o n , Oudin outwits Ram and f r e e s h i m s e l f . This equation of independence w i t h self-knowledge i s c o n s t a n t l y i t e r a t e d through such s t y l i s t i c devices as the oxymora "midnight morning" and "dark, i n t u i t i v e thought-sun" here lodged among l a r g e r a n t i t h e s e s . The l i n k i s even more p l a i n l y conveyed by a H a r r i s i a n d e v i c e , that of m u l t i p l e co n j u n c t i o n . Where once Oudin had been Ram's " l i s t e n e r and s l a v e , " t u r n i n g every " p i l l a r and p r o p r i e t o r " i n t o the money-lender's " l a s t i n g fence and world and market," now he i s i n t e n t on overthrowing "every misconception and i n f e r i o r r e l a t i o n s h i p . " A s t r i n g of "ands" i s no doubt a kind of r h e t o r i c , but only m a r g i n a l l y so. I t i s the rag-and-bone r h e t o r i c of b r i c o l a g e , or making do w i t h 3 6 a v a i l a b l e m a t e r i a l s . "But i s who f a u l t i f the only language we got i s a breaking-up or making-up language?" Mohammed asks. The-.question i s one which West Indian w r i t e r s have voiced i n many and ingenious ways. H a r r i s turns to r i c h account the l a c k i t addresses, d i s d a i n i n g no source and rummaging through every midden he comes upon to piece together the creature we might c a l l h i s crooked s t y l e . His t h i r d n o v e l , The Whole 37 Armour (1962), begins w i t h two epigraphs, one of which, from Hopkins, reads: This Jack, j o k e , poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, Is immortal diamond. And t a k i n g t h i s t e x t to h e a r t , H a r r i s has w r i t t e n a hard and" b r i l l i a n t novel which once more grapples w i t h "the ancient jaguar of death" as i t marauds "on the f r o n t i e r between changing fantasy and the growth of a new settlement" (WA p. 37). Again we begin w i t h a dream, one that fades on a parody of a hut on a s p i t of land that looked u n y i e l d i n g and hard amidst the trenches that had been t o r n and eroded on e i t h e r s i d e , u n t i l they were crowded w i t h a gnarled husk and mask and a twist e d alphabet of timber. Every p r i v a t e n o t i c e and f a b l e and boundary against the sea stood i n the t u r m o i l of the foreshore as i n a graveyard of sculptured h i s t o r y and misadventure (p. 17). Out of the twist e d m a t e r i a l s of t h i s wasteland—Book One i s c a l l e d "Jigsaw B a y " — a new h i s t o r y i s to be pieced together, though i t i s not before a lengthy v i g i l , and one that w i l l probably end i n h i s death, that the hero, C r i s t o , can c l a i m h i s ordeal has remade him. " F i t t e d me together again," he says of the "Garibs" he imagines he met i n h i s f o r t y days and n i g h t s i n the j u n g l e . The son of a Pomeroon whore, C r i s t o i s i n h i d i n g , wrongly suspected of murder. Magda, h i s mother p r e v a i l s on one of her long-time customers, Abram, to hide C r i s t o i n h i s remote hut, but Abram d i e s two months a f t e r t a k i n g the young man i n . While C r i s t o ventures out to r e p o r t t h i s death to h i s mother, a jaguar c a r r i e s away the body, so that when mother and son r e t u r n , a column of crows i s hovering over the remains. B e l i e v i n g t h i s to be C r i s t o ' s second murder, but d r i v e n nonetheless by a d e s i r e to p r o t e c t the son she has scrimped f o r , Magda for c e s him at gunpoint to dress the corpse i n h i s own c l o t h e s . F o r t y days a f t e r the "death" or her son, Magda holds a wake to which the e n t i r e community i s i n v i t e d , i n c l u d i n g the g i r l Sharon, whose f i r s t s u i t o r C r i s t o was b e l i e v e d to have k i l l e d . Sharon comes escorted by her new s u i t o r , M a t t i a s , but he too i s a c c i d e n t a l l y k i l l e d i n a s c u f f l e w i t h her drunken f a t h e r . Meanwhile, Sharon l e a r n s from Magda that C r i s t o i s a l i v e , and some n i g h t s l a t e r she goes to him i n the f o r e s t . The next morning C r i s t o decides that he w i l l g i ve himself up. His o r d e a l has taught him that to f l y from a mistaken j u s t i c e i s to perpetuate a l i e . He knows that i t w i l l go hard by him: the recent rash of v i o l e n c e i n the d i s t r i c t has l e f t the community nervous and ready f o r a scapegoat. At the c l o s e of the n o v e l , he i s observed, and as the p o l i c e net c l o s e s i n on Sharon's house, he dreams of the c h i l d who w i l l s u r v i v e him. I f E t e r n i t y to Season was H a r r i s ' s p o e t i c a l Book of Genesis, and Palace of the Peacock a k i n d of R e v e l a t i o n s , The Whole Armour a s p i r e s , w i t h an audacity that compels admiration, to be the Guyanese New Testament. Even as "every p r i v a t e n o t i c e and f a b l e and boundary" of the o l d covenant i s demolished, we may pass from techniques of breaking to those of j o i n i n g , and observe at work the second part of that question l e f t hanging i n The Far Journey of Oudin: " I s who f a u l t i f the only language we got i s a breaking-up or a making-up language?" An equal p o r t i o n of the "making-up w i l l f a l l to the reader. So, i f the burden of the novel i s that i t i s imperative to recognise a primeval chaos i n the i n d i v i d u a l and to f a b r i c a t e out of t h i s s t a t e a new meaning to community, t h i s process i s c l o s e l y r e p l i c a t e d i n that by which meaning i s produced from the c h a o t i c language of the t e x t . Indeed the stages by which the i d e n t i t y of the c e n t r a l characters i s broken down from a s t r i c t " s e l f - p o s s e s s i o n " i n t o "a strange and blundering excitement and p a r t i c i p a t i o n " (p. 70), might be shown to have t h e i r e q uivalent i n the process by which the reader l e a r n s to r e s i s t the s t r i c t i d e n t i t y of a word or image and to make sense of the f a r - f l u n g network of r e l a t i o n s h i p s between words and images. The yoking together of heterogeneous ideas i s not a device of recent o r i g i n , but where i n the Metaphysical c o n c e i t a l o g i c of d i s t a n t resem-blances, once e s t a b l i s h e d , i s worked out w i t h a p r e c i s i o n that appeals to p a i r e d sequences w i t h i n a universe of i d e n t i t y , i n the s u r r e a l i s t p r a c t i c e of H a r r i s ' s w r i t i n g t h i s machinery i s d i s r u p t e d . In making up " n o t i c e and f a b l e and boundary'," the prose appeals not to p a i r s of resemblances or even to homologies of these ( f o r there i s l i t t l e that the three elements d i r e c t l y share) but to a f o u r t h and absent q u a n t i t y whose o u t l i n e s are formed by a coalescence of the given three. I t i s not so much that the i d e n t i t i e s of the superimposed words are shaken, as that the r e l a t i o n s h i p between them produces, by a transference among metonymies, a new id e a . In the sentence which ends the paragraph d e s c r i b i n g Abram's "parody of a hut," the chimera compounded of p e t r i -f i e d l i m i t s ("boundary") and posted sanctions ("notice") i s one whose i d e n t i t y the subsequent "graveyard of sculptured h i s t o r y " would seem to confirm, were i t not f o r the troublesome " f a b l e . " By i t s very insub-s t a n t i a l i t y i n t h i s s o l i d company, f a b l e r e c a l l s one's a t t e n t i o n from graveyard and misadventure, p u t t i n g t h e i r f i n a l i t y i n doubt, or at l e a s t s e t t i n g up an expectation that they w i l l be overturned. This message i s , i n f a c t , the novel w r i t s m a l l : h i s t o r y i s not a closed chapter, nor i s i t hallowed ground, graven and daunting as i t s authorized v e r s i o n may w e l l be. To be sure, the reader does not s e i z e a l l t h i s i n some b l i s t e r i n g epiphany, or even i n the e l a s t i c moment of h i s t r a v e l l i n g eye; he may 39 w e l l have to stop and go back a short way. I t may even be that h i s reading w i l l not match the one given here (or f o r that matter h i s l a s t or h i s next reading of the same passage) but the process of i t s c o n s t r u c t -i o n w i l l have re q u i r e d him to r e v i s e h i s h a b i t u a l s t r a t e g i e s of reading. This i s a l s o what i s asked of the Pomeroon community, who have, as i t were, put on the wrong armour, r a l l y i n g . . . a l l t h e i r f o r c e s i n t o an incestuous persona and image and a l l i a n c e — t h e very a n t i t h e s i s of t h e i r dark t r u t h and h i s t o r y , w r i t t e n i n the v i o l e n t mixture of races that had bred them as though t h e i r t r u e mother was a wanton on the face of the e a r t h and t h e i r true f a t h e r a vagrant and a rogue.from every continent (p. 4 9 ) . Assembled at the wake, they remain " b l i n d to each other"; they " l o s e each other i n the midst of t h e i r chronic d e n s i t y and i d e n t i t y " (p. 68). I t i s p a l e , u n c e r t a i n M a t t i a s , Sharon's e s c o r t , whose " t e r r i b l e honour" i t i s to be "chosen by the shattered medium of the wake to redeem the r e l i c s of c r i p p l e d p e r s p e c t i v e . " As he stands, on "the threshold of a profound p a r t i c i p a t i o n , " every d i s j o i n t e d p i c t u r e and impression revolved i n h i s m i n d — a s e r i e s of r e v e l a t i o n s , engagements and disengagements, each p a t t e r n appearing the very unstable a n t i t h e s i s of another and undermining even i t s e l f as i t dawned (pp. 7 3 - 7 4 ) . Instead of shrugging o f f the "most t r o u b l i n g question of a l l mankind— the meaning of i n d i v i d u a l innocence and g u i l t , " he remains to r e s o l v e i t over a t r i f l i n g a c c u s a t i o n and f o r f e i t s h i s l i f e . I t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t , as w i t h another young man's tragedy, the emotion generated here i s i n excess of the a c t i o n , but H a r r i s i s t r y i n g to c a r r y o f f two things at one time: to poin t h i s t h e s i s that a closed i d e n t i t y , whether of i n d i v i d u a l or group, i s a f a i l u r e of communal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and to i l l u s t r a t e t h i s need f o r p a r t i c i p a t i o n by w r i t i n g i t out. As he faces Sharon's drunken f a t h e r , M a t t i a s sees a beast he recognizes w i t h a primeval s t a r t from the moment one f i n d s one has crawled out of the ancient egg of the sea i n t o a new b r u t i s h s h e l l and hatching f a m i l y t r e e and camouflage. A l l hunted and hunting sensation was d r a i n i n g from Peet's c r e a t u r e l y face so that i t turned h a l f -woman, half-man, t u r n i n g i n s t a n t l y again on i t s e l f i n order to b i t e i t s e l f . He grabbed a k n i f e and l i f t e d i t h i g h i n the a i r to s t r i k e the nearest v i s i o n a r y one. M a t t i a s caught the r a i s e d arm j u s t i n time, t w i s t i n g the w r i s t and e x t r a c t i n g the k n i f e . The crowd went mad. A l i t t l e harmless blood must s p i l l i n the foreday morning, they began to chant. M a t t i a s t r i e d to push h i s way back. Someone pushed him forward. He f e l l upon Peet who pushed him from him as a b a l l jumps from foo t to hand and hand to f o o t . M a t t i a s bounced forward again and t r i p p e d on the l e g of a c h a i r . He was i n a s t a t e of curio u s i n t o x i c a t i o n . He thought he was f a l l i n g on the i r o n trunk of Abram's tree and he st r e t c h e d h i s hands out to save himself from being t e r r i b l y b r u i s e d , l o s i n g s i g h t of the k n i f e , he s t i l l grasped. A scream bu r s t from h i s l i p s , so c l e a r and d i s c e r n i n g , there was a dead s i l e n c e a l l around. No one t r u s t e d t h e i r eye as i t beheld the d r i p p i n g treasury of blood (p. 94). Having already declared that "Mankind i t s e l f was the t i g e r " (p. 78), the t e x t now creates something of the ju n g l e which i t contends i s to be faced before a community of r e s p o n s i b l e persons can be born. The c l u s t e r of images which f o l l o w s the f i r s t c r a w l i n g does not make s t r i c t sense; a progression of s o r t s i s a l l that can be made out at once, and then perhaps the n o t i o n of each s t a t e encapsulating the next. Any f u t h e r advance i n the reader's understanding of t h i s c l u s t e r w i l l not be a l i n e a r one, and w i l l i n f a c t devolve upon a r e c o g n i t i o n of the u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d nature of the words so brought together. The s e v e r a l elements, which H a r r i s would c a l l a. " c o n s t e l l a t i o n " (SI p. 40), c o n s t i t u t e a k i n d of m u l t i p l e c o n t r a - -d i c t i o n : they remain suspended s y n c h r o n i c a l l y , as i t were i n a s o l u t i o n of consciousness, without any a u t h o r i a l attempt to r e s o l v e or tame them r h e t o r i c a l l y . I f the t e x t works by suggestion, the reader p e r f o r c e f a l l s back from time to time on impressions. This i s why the p e j o r a t i v e " i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c , " wants to be s p a r i n g l y used, f o r i n cases such as t h i s (and, f o r that matter, others where the reader might suppose himself to be proceeding w i t h the a n a l y t i c r i g o u r of a s c i e n t i s t ) our responses occur i n p r e c i s e l y t h i s domain. The job i s a t a x i n g one, and i t i s w i t h a sense of r e l i e f that the reader f i n d s the deceptions of " s h e l l " and " t r e e " and "camouflage" to g i v e onto a more t r a c t a b l e s e r i e s of c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . H a r r i s has himself remarked, i n a preface to the paperback e d i t i o n of The Whole Armour and The Secret Ladder, that the " f a n t a s t i c a t i o n of imagery" i n the f i r s t novel has been "a source of d i f f i c u l t y f o r some readers": I can only say i t i s intended not as an e x o t i c device but as a s u b j e c t i v e a l t e r a t i o n of form i n order to r e l a t e new content or new existences to a r e v i s e d canvas of community (p. 9 ). The f a n t i s t i c a t i o n , then, i s not "surplusage"; moreover i t has i t s 41 own c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n a s t y l e of nothingness. At the end of the n o v e l , C r i s t o dreams i t i s f i v e minutes to the ten o'clock of h i s execution: h i s mind was so empty i t had become a frame f o r the f u t u r e , almost as though he had stopped e x i s t i n g a l r e a d y , i n f a c t no one e x i s t e d , a hundred s e r i a l years had passed, and they were a l l dead fused p o r t r a i t s on the w a l l f o r anyone to recognize and l e a r n whatever they wished they understood (p. 129). Here again, the w r i t i n g produces the r e q u i r e d d i s s o l u t i o n of s e l f : the v i t a l images of that ungoverned chaos M a t t i a s recognized, now give way to "dead fused p o r t r a i t s , " s e r i a l l y interchangeable w i t h i n the empty frame of C r i s t o ' s mind. The s e r i a l deaths of the novel attempt to express t h i s conception of h i s t o r y s t r u c t u r a l l y : they are i n a sense the formal equivalent of the s t y l e of nothingness, d e l i n e a t i n g the space where the hollow subject touches h i s t o r y . C r i s t o ' s r e a l i s a t i o n that "nothing always contained e v e r y t h i n g " i s not a mysticism or the s e l f ' s f i n a l a b s o r p t i o n of the other, but a r e c o g n i t i o n that the two are locked i n a ceaseless exchange of i d e n t i t i e s . The t h i r d epigraph of H a r r i s ' s next novel,The Secret Ladder, reads: I t i s indeed an i n t e g r a t i o n of the movements of the agent w i t h the movements of the Other, so that i n a c t i o n the s e l f and the Other form a u n i t y . MACMURRAY The s e l f i n t h i s f i c t i o n i s that of R u s s e l l Fenwick, a young surveyor; the Other takes the shape of Poseidon, venerable leader of a group of bush negroes, the descendants of runaway slaves s e t t l e d i n the barren r e g i o n Fenwick and h i s party have come to survey. F r i c t i o n between the o u t s i d e r s and the r i v e r people i s not long developing. Word has got about that the survey party i s preparing :the way f o r an i r r i g a t i o n scheme that w i l l drown the catchment of the Canje r i v e r and "everybody's land w i l l duck f o r good". The c o n f l i c t d i v i d e s the team and t r i g g e r s a c r i s i s w i t h i n Fenwick, who f i n d s himself drawn, against the wishes of h i s foreman (a man of power) and h i s storeman (a man of prudence), to sympathise w i t h the r i v e r f o l k and t h e i r ancient c h i e f . Nevertheless, the work must go on, and as i t does, the threatened i n h a b i t a n t s r e s o r t to sabotage. The h a r d l i n e r s i n the survey p a r t y press f o r r e p r i s a l s , e s p e c i a l l y when one of t h e i r number, Chiung, i s attacked at n i g h t . But Fenwick r e s i s t s , and Chiung himself confesses he had t r i e d to cheat the men who s t r u c k him down. Matters come to a head when Poseidon meets an a c c i d e n t a l death, seemingly at the hands of Fenwick's boatman, Bryant, the man who loved him best. In d i s a r r a y , Poseidon's f o l l o w e r s are about to wreak t h e i r revenge, when the two bushmen who b e l i e v e they have k i l l e d Chiung come running with t h e i r t a l e of fear, and cause a general panic. Poseidon's body i s abandoned, but t h i s i s no ignominy, for i t i s the husk of a purpose already served. Compared to the other novels of the Quartet, The Secret Ladder i s a sluggish stream; the rapids of Palace of the Peacock would seem to have debouched onto a sudden p l a i n . This e f f e c t i s p a r t l y that of the physical t e r r a i n which the novel evokes, the f l a t s of the Canje headwaters. The novel i s also the darkest of the four, the greater part of i t s a c t i o n unravelling i n the t w i l i g h t of the jungle or at night. I t i s as i f the underworld so often lurki n g at the fringes of the previous novels were now at l a s t penetrated. The t r a n s i t i o n occurs at the very s t a r t of the novel: a hundred yards from where Fenwick stands by the s t e l l i n g , i n the "exposure and defeat" of the noonday sun, "the jungle turned b l i n d as a shuttered place and the eye learnt to r e l i n q u i s h the neighbouring sun for a tenebrous, almost e l e c t r i c a l gloom" (p. 143, paper edn.). But i f the sensation of s t i l l n e s s and gloom i s conveyed by the landscape and atmosphere of the novel, i t derives also from a modulation i n the shape and pace of Harris's w r i t i n g . And t h i s i n turn i s traceable to the novel's scheme, or rather i t s scheming. Despite i t s r e l a t i v e l y conventional surface, The Secret Ladder i s a highly wrought novel. Certain resemblances l i n k i t with Harris's f i r s t , and round o f f the Quartet: i t s action spans the seven days that Donne's crew journey beyond M a r i e l l a , and Fenwick c a l l s h i s boat Palace of the  Peacock. But where i n the e a r l i e r novel the writing and the design were always one, so that the form was the content, here there are occasions when the two come apart and the content appears to tyrannize the form. "Intent" i s perhaps a more accurate word than "content," for where the design becomes most designing the phrasing s a t i s f i e s l e a s t . The n a r r a t i v e u s u a l l y redresses t h i s imbalance, but whenever i t i s invested w i t h a greater s i g n i f i c a n c e than i t s frame w i l l bear, the novel becomes unf o r -t u n a t e l y r h e t o r i c a l . C u r i o u s l y , i t i s the s i g n i f i c a n c e and not the frame which s u f f e r s , and c h i e f l y i n those passages where a h i g h l y c o n t r i v e d s e r i e s of hermetic connections overpowers the n a r r a t i v e and proceeds to r a r e f y i t . H a r r i s i s himself conscious of t h i s ; danger, one which springs as much from the i n t a n g i b i l i t y of h i s subject as from h i s penchant f o r Jungian symbology. I t i s because h i s theme can so e a s i l y be taken as hackneyed— the need to u n i t e head and h e a r t , science and modes of f e e l i n g — t h a t he chooses i n d i r e c t i o n , and yet t h i s very i n d i r e c t i o n commits him to a p r e c i o s i t y which renders h i s i n t e n t the more palpable. L i k e Chiung, who s t r u g g l e s to t e l l a t r u t h which w i l l i n c r i m i n a t e h i m s e l f , he grows " d e s p a i r i n g l y c r a f t y , the vaguest h i n t of a parable i n h i s f l a t i n s e n s i b l e v o i c e " (p. 234). He i s d r i v e n to a p o l o g i s e : Dead easy to j o i n i n p o i n t i n g a f a c i l e f i n g e r at the mocking portentous l e t t e r s of an age and to acquiesce i n misreading i t s true meaning and s p i r i t (p. 193). Or again, " A l l was an a r t i f i c e of mystery to which one addressed oneself o f t e n w i t h i d l e and p r e t e n t i o u s words" (p. 195). P r o t e s t i n g too much, H a r r i s would seem to condemn h i m s e l f : the seven days of d e c r e a t i o n , the secret ladder, the cross r h a t i s Poseidon's house, the v e s s e l that i s the woman Catalena, these perhaps weigh h e a v i l y on the w r i t e r who has coupled " r h e t o r i c and s t e r i l i t y " (p. 206). But H a r r i s i s not blaming h i s t o o l s ; they are, he i n s i s t s , a l l that i s a v a i l a b l e to him and at the l a s t , expendable. I f we take him at h i s word, we f i n d that the "true meaning and s p i r i t " of the novel do not i n f a c t l i e i n those accoutrements of myth which the contemporary s e n s i b i l i t y f i n d s i m p l a u s i b l e and even fatuous. A good example i s Poseidon him s e l f . On each of h i s appearances, he i s described w i t h an imagery t h a t b e f i t s h i s m y t h i c a l c h a r a c t e r : the " f l a p p i n g ragged f i n s of trousers on h i s l e g s " (p. 155), h i s "ancient f e e t webbed w i t h grass and muck," h i s hands "wreathed i n a fisherman's w r i t h i n g net of cord" (p. 181), but when Bryant declares that the o l d man i s " f r e e r than you and me..." Fenwick r e t o r t s , "look at him, man, he's l i k e a f i s h i n a net." And to himself he c r i e s , Yes, I confess I owe a l l e g i a n c e to him because of h i s c o n d i t i o n , a l l e g i a n c e of an important k i n d , that of conscience, of the r e b i r t h of humanity...But s u r e l y t h i s does not mean I must reduce myself to h i s trapped c o n d i t i o n , become even l e s s human than he, a mere symbol and nothing more... Then, speaking openly again: P l a i n wholesome understanding of h i s t o r y and f a c t s and p o s s i b i l i t i e s i s important, Bryant. Take the unadorned f a c t s of s c i e n c e , the p l a i n economic s t r u c t u r e of s o c i e t y shorn of w o r s h i p f u l emotion, shorn of t h i s f i c t i o n of freedom you c l a i m Poseidon alone possesses. I am glad we can see him as he i s so that we can know what t h i s l i f e i s , the hard business of t h i s l i f e , here and now (do you f o l l o w me?) and indeed we can see—beyond a shadow of d o u b t — t h e n e c e s s i t y f o r human freedom (pp. 182-83). So, at the end, when Poseidon d i e s , Fenwick marvels that the two who have brought the news are i n t e a r s , f o r what has died i s merely the symbol, 42 the god that was: "An angel of polemic and a b s u r d i t y would have shouted f o r j o y " (p. 246). This knowledge, Fenwick immediately r e f l e c t s , i s always " i n s t a n t l y p l a s t e r e d w i t h the slime of s p i r i t u a l parody, the parody of a u n i v e r s a l and uncapturable essence"; p r o p e r l y regarded, the symbolic s t y l e i s a p i s a l l e r which i n v i t e s d i s b e l i e f because i t a d v e r t i s e s a nothingness which makes meaning p o s s i b l e . The symbol, then, i s always an unfortunate parody: i t i s not a s i g n concealing an absence, but a r i c h , even p r o f l i g a t e , excuse f o r a bare p o s s i b i l i t y that cannot be explained i n any s a t i s f a c t o r y way. I t has i t s p u b l i c equivalent i n s o c i e t i e s that are compelled to s t a r t w i t h nothing, or very l i t t l e . The potatoes are there, the pigeon discovered, but the s t o r y i s an i n v e n t i o n ex n i h i l o , snatched out of the a i r and run up, l i k e Abram's parody of a hut, w i t h the m a t e r i a l s to hand. The much-vaunted empty s i g n , the exhaustion of meaning, and so on, assume a new s i g n i f i c a n c e when viewed i n the context of t h i s marginalism: t h e i r emptiness i s cause f o r c e l e b r a t i o n , t h e i r s t o r y - t e l l i n g , t h e i r pretence, even when these i n c l u d e a measure of mimicry, speak an i n v e n t i v e n e s s . They are what make both l i f e and e x i s t e n c e bearable; not any supposed p l e n i t u d e behind t h e i r language, but the work (and the play) of the language i t s e l f i s of i n t e r e s t . One might have wished f o r greater invention or a wider ransacking here, but H a r r i s has not chosen to spurn a ready-made symbolic system. As f o r the s t y l e i n t o which i t i s worked, that i s h i s own, and i n i t s f a b r i c not u n l i k e Poseidon's home: "created e q u a l l y by d e s t i n y and a c c i d e n t . " Musing on i t s "sacred comedy of m a t e r i a l s , " which have been tra n s p l a n t e d from a Roman C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n u p r i v e r , Fenwick asks To what and whose s p i r i t d i d the house belong? Had i t been g r a f t e d from above (unconscious of i t s e l f ) on to the l a n d , or d i d i t possess a s e l f - c o n s c i o u s k i n s h i p and i d e n t i t y beneath? I t had an a i r both f o r e i g n and n a t i v e , i d e a l and p r i m i t i v e , at one and the same time; and yet i t seemed so p r e c a r i o u s l y and a b s o l u t e l y r i g h t , belonging so t r u l y i n t h i s n a t u r a l or unnatural context of landscape, that the thought of an i m p o s i t i o n , of pretentiousness of' a b s u r d i t y i n the l i f e of the crumbling b u i l d i n g , seemed e q u a l l y r i d i c u l o u s and impossible. In f a c t — i f i t had been the g i f t of an imposing high d i v i n i t y — i t bore a c e r t a i n generous conception, economic and s t i l l humane. There were no marks of exclusiveness--rather a s p i r i t of a l l -i n c l u s i v e p r i v a c y , the most welcome a r t i f i c e of humanity. What was at stake here was not the i n e v i t a b l e r u i n of an o l d house, but a p e r c e p t i o n of depth more l a s t i n g than time, the moral p r i v i l e g e and r i g h t of place. This was Poseidon's asylum and home. I t had acquired a s p e c i a l s e a l and p r i v i l e g e , the stamp of a m u l t i p l e t r a d i t i o n and h e r i t a g e (pp. 199-200). This "most s o l i d (though d i s i n t e g r a t i n g ) " house i s the forge and the emblem of H a r r i s ' s c o n t r a d i c t o r y s t y l e , a s t y l e which e f f e c t s what he c a l l s "the p r i m i t i v e j u x t a p o s i t i o n of the unclean" w i t h the c l e a n , of the f a n t a s t i c and the everyday, of ornament and breakage, of r e a l and s u r r e a l . The a l t e r n a t i o n between r e a l i s t i c and symbolic w r i t i n g i n The Secret Ladder i s a case i n p o i n t , and.it i s t h i s which repeatedly rescues passages of metaphysical f l o u n d e r i n g . At the very moment where d i f f i c u l t y would seem to have been enthroned, a t h r u s t of s t a r t l i n g l u c i d i t y w i l l 43 unseat i t . D i a l e c t o f t e n f u n c t i o n s i n t h i s way. In every one of the Guyana novels i t i s put to remarkable use, r e l i e v i n g or i n t e n s i f y i n g , d e f l a t i n g or d i s r u p t i n g , c a r r y i n g the n a r r a t i v e forward or back. The 44 "many a gipsy phrase" which Pater would hay.e.purged from good s t y l e i s e x a c t l y what H a r r i s , who e a r l y approved of "doing v i o l e n c e to Standard E n g l i s h " (SM p. 65), introduces to great e f f e c t . These are, of course, a l l r h e t o r i c a l d e v i c e s , but along w i t h the numerous other c o n t r a d i c t o r y i n t r u s i o n s and s p l i c i n g s , they c o n s t i t u t e an indecorous decorum, a mixture 45 of r h e t o r i c a l r e g i s t e r s which may w e l l offend readers of a p u r i s t kidney, not l e a s t those who p r e f e r t h e i r postmodernism unadulterated w i t h metaphor and meaning. H a r r i s i s e x p l i c i t : The p o i n t I want to make i n regard to the West Indies i s that the p u r s u i t of a strange and s u b t l e g o a l , m e l t i n g pot, c a l l i t what you l i k e , i s the mainstream (though unacknowledged) t r a d i t i o n i n the Americas. And the s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s i s a k i n to the European preoccupation w i t h alchemy, w i t h the growth of experimental s c i e n c e , the poetry of science as w e l l as of e x p l o s i v e nature which i s informed by a s o l u t i o n of images, agnostic h u m i l i t y and e s s e n t i a l beauty, r a t h e r than vested i n t e r e s t i n a f i x e d assumption and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of things (TW pp. 32-33). I f there are moments i n The Secret Ladder when H a r r i s seems to have y i e l d e d to "a f i x e d assumption and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n " o f symbols borrowed a l l together, t h i s f i x i t y i s l e f t behind i n the l a t e r novels. One such, which represents a r e t u r n to Guyana unusual i n the more recent H a r r i s , i s Genesis of the Clowns (1977). The novel bears a c e r t a i n resemblance to The Secret Ladder, concerning as i t does the r e l a t i o n s h i p of a young surveyor to h i s crew, but there the resemblance ends. Lacking the c a r e f u l p l o t of the e a r l i e r n o v e l , i t l a c k s a l s o the t a i l o r e d and l a r g e l y d e r i v a -t i v e set of symbols. Here, the random s p e c u l a t i o n s of surveyor Frank W e l l i n g t o n f i n d t h e i r images i n a f a r more mundane sphere: homunculi and Gorgon's heads g i v e way to (or take t h e i r place among) a paytable, a market s t a l l , a dumpy l e v e l , a surveyor's p o l e . One noonday, W e l l i n g t o n meditates on h i s mechanic's w i f e , Ada. Hope had already eaten and stood l o o k i n g out to the l i n e of the t i d e . He held an umbrella over my dumpy l e v e l to preserve the bubble on. the instrument from s h r i n k i n g e x c e s s i v e l y under the f i r e of the sun. Cummings Day stood beside her w i t h a twelve-foot t a l l s t a f f , b l a c k and red decimal numbers on a white background; he leaned h i s forehead upon i t so that i t possessed him l i k e an elongated mask, a v e r t i c a l p o l e , a science.... 'I wonder,' I thought to myself as broad d a y l i g h t dreamed of M i s t r e s s Ada's naked f l e s h , 'how deeply rooted are we i n a datum l i n e of space to which we remain i n part unconscious w i t h i n the b l a c k / r ed land and the sea's h a r l e q u i n f i r e ' (p. 94). At sunset, a f t e r the day's work, he sees her again i n the crowded v i l l a g e market; then, h i s a t t e n t i o n i s caught by h i s surroundings: The marketplace was crowded. The v o i c e of the sea stood at my back l i k e a rough crowd.on the coast threatening w a l l and defences. The ground i t s e l f moved u n t i l the market swam. Then as I looked away from b l a c k / r e d s t a l l s w i t h h a r l e q u i n meat and f r u i t l i k e a harvest of the sea I was s t r u c k by an absolute p r i n t of s t i l l n e s s i n the vacant evening overhead. The leaves on the t r e e s were extended i n t o the palm of sunset. Not a f e a t h e r , not a f i n moved. A d e n s i t y of creatures seemed bound there i n space as i f the globe i t s e l f had moved to stand on t i p t o e w i t h i n the heterogenous body of f i s h , b i r d , gods, goddesses f o r s a l e a l l r e i n e d to an impulsive root f o r r e d r e s s , undress of f a t e s (pp. 95-96). M i s t r e s s Ada i s indeed a " f e r t i l i t y goddess," but i t i s what the language does r a t h e r than what she represents which matters. By i t s " s o l u t i o n of images," t h i s language produces that f e c u n d i t y of " e x p l o s i v e nature" which H a r r i s invokes. Hence the bounty of the marketplace, the " d e n s i t y of c r e a t u r e s " and t h e i r heterogeneity. In t h i s process, the metaphoring i s as o f t e n that of mute nature as i t i s anthropomorphic. On the one hand, there i s the n e u t r a l t r a n s f e r of category a t t r i b u t e s at work i n the "palm of sunset," or the c o l l a p s e of i d e n t i t i e s by which Day's s t a f f possesses him as mask, pole and s c i e n c e . On the other, there i s the unpredictable recurrence of the decimal benchmarks i n the evening, l i k e spots imprinted on the r e t i n a by the f i e r c e l i g h t of noon, an endless peopling of the landscape by the h a r l e q u i n congress of b l a c k " M i s t r e s s Ada's naked f l e s h " and the " f i r e of the sun." Both courses are p o s s i b l e because the n a r r a t i v e i s n e i t h e r e x c l u s i v e l y n a t u r a l i s t i c nor r e l e n t l e s s l y symbolic, a c o n t r a -d i c t i o n epitomised i n the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of the oblique ("black/red") as a s t y l i s t i c f e a t u r e of the l a t e r H a r r i s . In t h i s way, what might seem to be an overt d e n i a l of r h e t o r i c which admits i t a l l the same by some tradesman's entrance, i s i n f a c t n e i t h e r indulgence nor abstinence. I t i s r a t h e r a kind of c a r n i v a l l i c e n s e , a tumbling i n which the concept of r h e t o r i c comes to be deflowered. I I I . Experiment and N a r r a t i v e I am not a P l a t o n i s t . But I was reminded r e c e n t l y of that most enigmatic work of P l a t o The Timaeus w i t h i n which a S e n i o r i t y of Forms i s propounded as antecedent to the d i v i n e w i l l — a n enigmatic s e n i o r i t y which defeated C h r i s t i a n P l a t o n i s t s i n t h e i r attempt to modify i t i n accordance w i t h t h e i r b a s i c dogma. The cu r i o u s p r i o r i t y of Forms to the mind and w i l l of God i n The Timaeus (regarded as h e r e t i c a l by the Church Fathers) may be i n t e r p r e t e d , no doubt, i n s e v e r a l ways but I would suggest our v i s u a l i z i n g i t . . . a s a p o e t i c warning to look  through the r i t u a l p r o p r i e t o r s of the Universe f o r .a s c a l e of s e l f - d e c e p t i o n i n s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n — a s c a l e that a s s i s t s us to bind h u m i l i t y and c r e a t i v i t y together i n t o an e s s e n t i a l caveat of the imagination (NP p. 150). These cautionary words, which appear at the c l o s e of H a r r i s ' s esaay, "The N a t i v e Phenomenon," can be pressed to serve more than t h e i r immediate purpose. In t h e i r c o ntext, they embody what might p r o p e r l y have been c a l l e d H a r r i s ' s f i r s t p r i n c i p l e were not the d o c t r i n e of primacy i t s e l f i n q uestion. That p r i n c i p l e i s stated f o r t h r i g h t l y both here and e a r l i e r i n the same essay. Taken out of context, as s u r e l y i t begs to be taken, the S e n i o r i t y of Forms performs another task, and t h i s without et y m o l o g i c a l s t r a i n , that of f u r n i s h i n g a formal paradigm of the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e of H a r r i s ' s novels. By such a paradigm, the method of these novels i s . one where the n a r r a t i v e proceeds through a s e r i e s of t e n t a t i v e t h r u s t s i n the v o i d , w i t h m a t e r i a l a s s i s t a n c e from a past which may d e l i m i t but never determine present forms. But i f these present c o n s t r u c t s do not have a s i n g l e and e x c l u s i v e o r i g i n , whether i n the author or i n h i s fund of pa t t e r n s s o c i a l or l i t e r a r y , n e i t h e r are they s u f f i c i e n t i n themselves, being at every stage q u a l i f i e d by one another. In terms of the metaphor, i f not s t r i c t l y of the Timaeus, there i s always an unmaking s t r u c t u r e of otherness, a margin of indeterminacy, a sen i o r form. This i s the sum., of H a r r i s ' s Platonism; i n f i n d i n g more we misread the caveat. We begin w i t h a r e v e r s a l . Where i n the previous chapter we c o n s i -dered the surface of language, here we w i l l examine the innards of the t e x t , those s t r u c t u r e s which run as i t were crosswise to the prose, r e g u l a t i n g i t s advance and guiding i t s d i r e c t i o n . In passing from s t y l e to s t r u c t u r e , we may r e h a b i l i t a t e along the way the concept of r h e t o r i c : not the r h e t o r i c of language but the r h e t o r i c of the t e x t i s now intended by that word, and where we saw H a r r i s f l o u t the one, we now see him f l a u n t the other. We w i l l leave language behind, then, though i t w i l l not be easy or even at a l l times p o s s i b l e , i n order to consider the l a r g e r u n i t s of n o v e l - w r i t i n g , those which have come, s i n c e Wayne Booth, to be c a l l e d 2 the r h e t o r i c of f i c t i o n . I t i s t h i s r h e t o r i c which H a r r i s l a y s bare through a v a r i e t y of asymmetrical devices, i n the i n t e r e s t of that l a r g e r a n t e r i o r i t y whose v i r t u e we have j u s t heard him expound. The r h e t o r i c of f i c t i o n s has, of course, been much di s p l a y e d of l a t e , so much so that a mass r e t u r n to d i s c r e e t n a r r a t i v e "showing" i s d a i l y expected. H a r r i s ' s n a r r a t i v e s t r i v e s f o r n e i t h e r pure mimesis nor pure d i e g e s i s , n e i t h e r f a i t h f u l i m i t a t i o n nor u n d i l u t e d r e c i t a t i o n . His l a y i n g bare of the t e x t ' s r h e t o r i c proceeds not through a brazen " t e l l i n g " but almost i n a d v e r t e n t l y , as i f declamation mattered even l e s s than the s u r r e p t i t i o u s p u l l i n g of s t r i n g s . This inadvertency should not be misread as insouciance: r a t h e r , i t springs from an awareness that absolute s t r u c t u r e can masquerade e q u a l l y as i l l u s i o n and v e r i s i m i l i t u d e or as s e l f -consciousness and performance. At the same time, the novels' a f f i n i t i e s are decidedly modernist, and i t i s by means of a modernist a e s t h e t i c that t h e i r n a r r a t i v e method deserves to be analysed. There i s now no dearth of grammars of n a r r a t i v e by which t e x t s ancient and modern may be parsed. The best known among these draw t h e i r i n s p i r a t -i o n from e a r l i e r f o r m a l i s t morphologies of d i v e r s e c u l t u r a l o b j e c t s from the f o l k t a l e to k i n groups, and seek by c o r o l l a r y to reduce complex l i t e r a r y systems to t h e i r f u n c t i o n a l u n i t s , u n i t s which i n many cases are d i v i s i o n s of apparently i r r e d u c i b l e e n t i t i e s i n the o r i g i n a l . Hence the rococo taxonomies and e n d l e s s l y r a m i f i e d stemmata of much recent 3 n a r r a t i v e a n a l y s i s . Hence a l s o the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of terminologies by which these newly discovered n a r r a t i v e c e l l s are described, terminologies which, however s a l u t a r y t h e i r i n t e n t , by t h e i r sheer m u l t i p l i c i t y begin i n competition and end i n confusion. So we w i l l shut .. anachronies and ani s o c h r o n i e s , o b l i g a t i v e s and o p t a t i v e s , f u n c t i o n s and i n d i c e s i n a box, there to await the Pandoras of another age, and make do w i t h c e r t a i n b a s i c m a t e r i a l s : s t o r y , n a r r a t i v e , and n a r r a t i n g , though f o r the most 4 part we w i l l d eal w i t h the middle item, n a r r a t i v e proper. The d i s t i n c t i o n between s t o r y and n a r r a t i v e i s p l a i n l y put by C h r i s t i a n Metz: "There i s the time of the thi n g t o l d and the time of the n a r r a t i v e (the time of the s i g n i f i e d and the time of the s i g n i f i e r ) . " ' A s t o r y , that i s to say, f o l l o w s a causal sequence such as i t s s i g n i f i e d might i n the r e a l world, w h i l e a n a r r a t i v e guards i t s own order. A n a r r a t i v e , f o r example, may w e l l begin w i t h the execution of i t s hero, but i t i s a r a r e man, be he never so h e r o i c , who begins h i s adventures i n t h i s way. So much i s unremarkable; what Metz goes on to say i s of greater i n t e r e s t . The d u a l i t y between the time of the s t o r y and time of the n a r r a t -i v e , he continues, " i n v i t e s us to invent one time scheme i n terms of another time scheme." Metz i s speaking of f i l m , but e q u a l l y i n f i c t i o n i t i s the t e n s i o n between the two schemes which generates much of the reader's i n t e r e s t i n a novel and indeed makes p l a u s i b l e the category of n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f . F i n a l l y , there i s the time of the n a r r a t i v e u t t e r a n c e , the n a r r a t i n g , a f u r t h e r source of t e n s i o n , f o r now a t h i r d conceptual surface presents i t s e l f , though one whose precarious l i f e , eked out at a bare remove from the n a r r a t i v e , reminds us of the f r a g i l i t y of a l l our f i c t i o n a l c a t e g o r i e s . N a r r a t i v e , l i k e s t o r y , i m p l i e s a succession, but where a s t o r y i s bound to a f i x e d l i n e a r i t y , n a r r a t i v e may do as i t pleases w i t h the a c t i o n i t s i g n i f i e s . I t i s a matter of p r e s e n t a t i o n , and though i t may choose to reproduce a sequence of events, i t may e q u a l l y produce that sequence anew. So where we saw s t y l e produce the surface of an event or gesture i n such a way as to d e f a m i l i a r i s e i t so that i t i s experienced as i f f o r the f i r s t time, we now expect to see n a r r a t i v e produce a sequence of events and gestures i n such a way as to d i s o r d e r them and prevent our being l u l l e d i n t o a secure f o u r - d i m e n s i o n a l i t y . To t h i s end the modern n o v e l i s t has deployed i r r e g u l a r blocks of a c t i o n , s h i f t i n g p e r s p e c t i v e s , m u l t i p l e l e v e l s of n a r r a t i o n , a v a r i a b l e locus of n a r r a t i n g , and so on, a l l of which devices occur as planes whose surface l i e s against the g r a i n of s e q u e n t i a l i t y . Now the u n f o l d i n g of a s t o r y i s o r d i n a r i l y a matter of t i m e — t h e and then of the a c t i o n — b u t time i s not a l l of n a r r a t i v e , s i n c e a c t i o n occurs i n space and t h i s a p p l i e s not only to the realm of the s i g n i f i e d but that of the n a r r a t i n g i t s e l f . A l l of the metaphors we have used h e r e — b l o c k , p e r s p e c t i v e , l e v e l , l o c u s , p l a n e — w i l l be seen to evoke s p a t i a l i t y , and t h i s not because time i s made v i s i b l e by these means alone but because any attempt to examine a m o b i l i t y must stop i t i n i t s t r a c k s or despair of an exact d e s c r i p t i o n . Northrop Frye's o p p o s i t i o n of d l a n o i a or meaning and s i m u l t a n e i t y to mythos or n a r r a t i v e and movement i s u n h e l p f u l here f o r we need a theory which does not put n a r r a t i v e and s i m u l t a n e i t y i n opposite camps. Nor i s the concept of s p a t i a l form an answer, though i t comes c l o s e , f o r the numerous c r i t i c i s m s of a h i s t o r i c i t y which have been brought against i t do have some b a s i s . ^ We are saved the t r o u b l e of l o o k i n g outside f i c t i o n f o r a model by the f a c t that much contemporary f i c t i o n has i t s e l f turned away from the evocation of tempora-l i t y c h a r a c t e r i s e d , f o r example, by stream-of-consciousness w r i t i n g . " I t h i n k , " says W i l l i a m Burroughs, i n a remark which sums up the present g r e a c t i o n , "the f u t u r e of f i c t i o n i s i n space, not time." Space i s indeed the content, or b e t t e r , the subject of H a r r i s ' s f i c t i o n s . I r e j e c t "content" because the word suggests a r e c o g n i z a b l e r e a l i t y worked by some mimetic i l l u s i o n i n t o a formal frame. Quite the opposite i s intended by H a r r i s ' s usage, f o r the s i g n i f i e d space of the novels i s a matter so dense as to always conceal some i n t r a n s i g e n t p e r s p e c t i v e behind i t s e m p i r i c a l surface. We s h a l l see that t h i s i s not a f l i g h t from experience, but f o r the moment we must r e t u r n to the use of t h i s space as a model. The s e n i o r i t y of forms now takes on a f u t h e r s i g n i f i c a n c e , f o r i t becomes an emblem of the way i n which there i s always a s t r u c t u r e of space p o s i t e d around the given. The s t r u c t u r a l p r i n c i p l e of the novels i s one of a n t e r i o r i t y r a t h e r than simple s e q u e n t i a l i t y , an a n t e r i o r i t y to be thought of as s p a t i a l r a t h e r than temporal, beyond r a t h e r than before, i n s h o r t , an a l t e r i t y . This continuous p o s i t i n g of an otherness which unmakes the whole, i s enacted i n the machinery of the novels and i s i n i m i c a l to both s t r u c t u r e and a n t i s t r u c t u r e . Hence H a r r i s ' s warning that we "see through the v a r i o u s dogmatic p r o p r i e t o r s of the globe w i t h i n a p l a y of c o n t r a s t i n g s t r u c t u r e s and a n t i - s t r u c t u r e s " (NP p. 148). The s p a t i a l i t y of the novels, then, i n v i t e s a kind of g e o l o g i c a l c r o s s -s e c t i o n , only t h i s cut must t r a v e r s e more than one plane so as to s a t i s f y the requirements of a n t i - s t r u c t u r e as w e l l as s t r u c t u r e . Where synchronic s t r u c t u r e attempts to c o l l a p s e time i n t o a s i n g l e s u r f a c e , a m u l t i p l i c i t y of planes preserves something of the b e w i l d e r i n g m u l t i - d i m e n s i o n a l i t y of a s t r u c t u r e i n motion. A m u l t i p l e synchrony cannot, i t i s t r u e , be s a i d to have access to " h i s t o r y " but then n e i t h e r does a diachrony, whose s t r u c t u r e s are no more a genuine rendering of time than i t s f i g u r a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s are an a u t h e n t i c rendering of space. We d e a l always, that i s to say, w i t h conventions, j u s t as the l i n e a r i t y of the t e x t i s always w i t h us, and as Gerard Genette remarks, " e a s i e r to deny i n theory 9 than e l i m i n a t e i n f a c t . " To t h i s degree even the most r a d i c a l of experimentalisms are confined by circumstance and dependent on r h e t o r i c , a s t a t e which the post-Boothian reader w i l l recognise but not scorn. I f the l a r g e r u n i t s of n a r r a t i v e are s t r u c t u r a l l y juggled and yet bound by the tyranny of the l i n e , the reader p e r f o r c e experiences them s e q u e n t i a l l y . His next r e s o r t must be to d i s c o v e r how these u n i t s r e act upon each other, whether by reinforcement or by negation, and h i s i n v e s t i -g a t i o n i s advanced i f he r e c a l l s the f u n c t i o n of images i n the H a r r i s i a n t e x t . The image, we remember, was a creature of i n t e r i o r space, the token of e c l i p s e d p e r s p e c t i v e s which i t served to disclose."*"'"1 So conceived, i t was an agent of d e s t a b i l i z a t i o n : "an asymmetrical power of images," H a r r i s wrote, " i s one which cannot be sustained by the conventional n o v e l " (IN p. 142). In the same way as the image reacted w i t h and upon i t s c o n t r a d i c t o r y neighbours, the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r e s of the f i c t i o n c o n t i n u a l l y make and unmake each other i n a discontinuous s e r i a l i t y which d i s r u p t s the i l l u s i o n of a whole present or past and leaves a way open f o r a form to come. As H a r r i s puts i t i n another, and t h i s time h i s t o r i c a l context, the " d i s l o c a t i o n or i n t e r i o r space serves t h e r e f o r e as a c o r r e c t i v e to a uniform cloak or documentary status of i m p e r i a l i s m " (HFM p. 11). We w i l l come to the h i s t o r i c a l use of t h i s mode i n due time; f o r the present the d i s l o c a t i o n must be seen to serve a s t r u c t u r a l (or a n t i - s t r u c t u r a l ) purpose by c o r r e c t i n g the uniform and c o n s o l i d a t i n g a c c r e t i o n s of r e a l i s t i c n a r r a t i v e . The p l a y of forms, that i s , creates the f u t u r e of the t e x t , and t h i s not by a studied and cumulative o r c h e s t r a t i o n of s t r u c t u r e b u i l d i n g upon s t r u c t u r e , but out of a 'vacancy' i n nature w i t h i n which agents appear who are t r a n s l a t e d one by the other and who ( i n a k i n d of s e r i a l i l l u m i n a t i o n — i f ' s e r i a l ' i s the r i g h t word) reappear through each other, i n h a b i t each other, r e f l e c t a burden of n e c e s s i t y , push one another to plunge i n t o the unknown, i n t o the t r a n s l a t a b l e , transmutable l e g a c i e s of h i s t o r y . Their uniqueness l i e s i n t h i s c u r i o u s openness to o r i g i n -a l i t y as w e l l as change... (IN p. 146). :. I t i s ' i n this.jsense that the l i n e a r i t y of n a r r a t i v e i s overcome: s t r u c t u r e s are q u a l i f i e d and even negated by those that surround them, each i n s t a l l m e n t already f o r e s t a l l e d . But might i t be that what was won from l i n e a r i t y has been surrendered to c i r c u l a r i t y ? The Secret Ladder, i t w i l l be r e c a l l e d , ended w i t h the E l i o t i c r e f r a i n : "In our end...our end...our end i s our beginning...beginning...beginning": a r e f r a i n which rounded o f f not only the novel but the t e t r a l o g y which has come to be c a l l e d the Guyana Quartet. Lest the whole too r e a d i l y round upon i t s e l f , H a r r i s ' s next novel,Heartland, extends and asymmetrically breaks the p a t t e r n , as the f i f t h i n a quartet. I t stands i n r e l a t i o n to the preceding novels as a se n i o r form, at times e x p l i c i t l y c a l l i n g i n t o question t h e i r 11 claims to the t r u t h . We must not, however, make too much of t h i s metaphor u n t i l we have seen i t at work. " I t i s easy to make propaganda of i d e a s , " H a r r i s warns. "One may c l a i m a n o v e l i s t i s doing t h i s , doing t h a t , doing the other, when i n f a c t he may not be doing what i s claimed f o r him at a l l w i t h i n the n a r r a t i v e p a t t e r n he uses" (SI p. 45). With t h i s i n mind we may turn to the n a r r a t i v e p a t t e r n of H a r r i s ' s f i f t h n o vel. In a canon of short works, Heartland i s one of the^shorter;: . i t also..'" has one of the smallest c a s t s . Four f i g u r e s make t h e i r appearance on i t s stage (although others are a l l u d e d t o ) : Stevenson, a watchman on a wood grant above a w a t e r f a l l ; K a i s e r , a l o r r y d r i v e r (who looks l i k e both h i s namesakes from The Far Journey of Oudin); a pork-knocker or lone prospector, d a S i l v a (one of the twins from Palace of the Peacock); and an Amerindian woman, Pet r a (who i s the M a r i e l l a of H a r r i s ' s f i r s t n o v e l ) . The f a t e s of these characters are played out on a s i g n i f i c a n t landscape whose power, amounting to dominance, commands the very t i t l e of the novel. Palace of the Peacock had had an indeterminate s e t t i n g , but one perhaps not f a r from that which we are about to enter, w h i l e the three subsequent novels of the Quartet showed r e p r e s e n t a t i v e areas and communities of Guyana: the c e n t r a l croplands, the Pomeroon of the west, and the Canje headwaters i n the east. Heartland i s set at the gateway to the i n t e r i o r ; i n l a t e r novels H a r r i s w i l l penetrate deeper i n t o Guyana, but f o r the present t h i s i s the farthest., i d e n t i f i a b l e p o i n t . I t i s here that "the sl e e p i n g [Cuyuni] r i v e r l o s e s i t s poise and drops l i k e a smoking breath down the face of the Kaieteuran escarpment" (p. 70). This escarpment i s a d i v i d e and a poi n t of departure, j u s t as Kartabo P o i n t , downstream from the f a l l s , marks "the beginnings of a new legendary c o n t i n e n t a l o f f s p r i n g born of 12 many ra c e s " (p. 66). The s t o r y of the novel i s e a s i l y t o l d . Zechariah Stevenson, j n r . , i s i n self-imposed e x i l e from the c i t y f o l l o w i n g a f i n a n c i a l scandal that involved h i s f a t h e r ' s company, h i s m i s t r e s s , M a r i a , and her husband, the company's accountant. Stevenson b a r e l y has time to d i g e s t the news of h i s f a t h e r ' s unexplained death, when the scandal breaks. Stunned, he nonetheless refuses to c r e d i t Maria's involvement i n the f r a u d , and b e l i e v e s she w i l l r e t u r n to him from B r a z i l , where she and her husband have f l e d . Only a f t e r a year i n h i s f o r e s t r e t r e a t does he come to s t r i p himself down to a knowledge of h i s own timorous s e l f - d e c e p t i o n and i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . In t h i s process he i s a s s i s t e d by another pawn of fortune who i s " t r y i n g to f i n d me s e l f - p o r t r a i t " (p. 20), the l o r r y d r i v e r K a i s e r . One morning, K a i s e r , whose job i t i s to b r i n g s u p p l i e s from Lower Kamaria to the depot at Upper Kamaria, leaves some r a t i o n boxes f o r a d a S i l v a , " f u n n i e s t pork-knocking guy i n the world" (p. 16). Stevenson i s s c e p t i c a l when he le a r n s that the boxes are under l o c k and key, but a f t e r d a S i l v a has passed by h i s l a n d i n g , stopping f o r a cup of co f f e e and a mocking sermon, he f i n d s t h a t the pre c a u t i o n was necessary but f u t i l e : the r a t i o n s are gone. Where he had l e f t a note f o r d a S i l v a to f i n d on h i s way back from the depot, d a S i l v a i n turn has l e f t a note at the depot to say that he has gone to rep o r t the t h e f t . Stevenson sets out a f t e r him, f o l l o w i n g the l i n e of portage around the f a l l s . Half way down he n o t i c e s the body of a man lodged i n the depths of a r a v i n e . I t i s d a S i l v a . The t h i e f , i t turns out, was P e t r a , who i s f a r gone i n pregnancy, got w i t h c h i l d i t i s rumoured by d a S i l v a h i m s e l f . D i s c o v e r i n g t h i s , her t r i b e have ejected her and ambushed d a S i l v a . Reaching K a i s e r ' s depot at the foo t of the f a l l s , Stevenson f i n d s P e t r a i n labour and t r i e s to help d e l i v e r her c h i l d . Afterwards, he takes a f i s h i n g l i n e down to the r i v e r ; when he r e t u r n s , mother and c h i l d have vanished. Stung, he sets once more upon a course of r e c r i m i n a t i o n and se l f - e x a m i n a t i o n u n t i l he a r r i v e s at l a s t a t the beginning of understanding. Now he sets out on a road which leads f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r i n t o the i n t e r i o r u n t i l he disappears i n the j u n g l e s of the h e a r t l a n d , l e a v i n g only fragments of l e t t e r s to Maria and three scorched poems. This i s s t o r y of Heartland; by way of passing to i t s n a r r a t i v e , we may note that the predominant a c t i o n of the novel i s a journey, or many journeys, and may be summed up simply as " l o o k i n g f o r . " Indeed at one p o i n t we f i n d Stevenson l o o k i n g f o r d a S i l v a who i s l o o k i n g f o r K a i s e r who i s l o o k i n g f o r s u p p l i e s . Hence t h i s s e r i e s of notes: SHALL TRY TO FOLLOW ANCIENT LINE TO DEPOT. HOPE TO MAKE IT AND BACK BY NOON. DINGHY GONE FROM LANDING (p. 51). SOMEBODY STEAL MY RATIONS. WHO? GONE TO TELL KAISER (p. 55). CLOSED, GONE TO COLLECT SUPPLIES (p. 61). Gone. The word t o l l s through the t a l e u n t i l we can almost p r e d i c t the i s s u e when Stevenson r e t u r n s to K a i s e r ' s house to f i n d P e t r a : gone. F i n a l l y , Stevenson himself vanishes. Doubtless, i n the t h i n l y populated i n t e r i o r such absences are to be expected, and one might f i n d sound reasons f o r them w i t h i n the universe of the s t o r y . But the p a t t e r n of f l i g h t and e x i l e has been set up and r e q u i r e s a c l o s e r s c r u t i n y at the l e v e l of the n a r r a t i v e . Where the s t o r y began i n the c i t y a year and more before the main body of the a c t i o n , the n a r r a t i v e begins and ends i n the f o r e s t . I t s antecedents are not recounted u n t i l one m orning—the f i r s t day of the n a r r a t i v e — Stevenson has paddled downstream from h i s post to the depot at the top of the f a l l s where he meets K a i s e r and l e a r n s that d a S i l v a i s to pass that way. When Kai s e r has gone, Stevenson begins to r e f l e c t on the events 'which l e d him t o " t h i s outpost and a seam i s opened between the present of the n a r r a t i v e , i n d i c a t e d by a s t r i n g of i t a l i c i s e d nows, and and the past of the s t o r y , a n ' ; i t a l i c i s e d then. What i s of i n t e r e s t i s of course not the existence of t h i s o p p o s i t i o n , which few novels exclude, but the frequency of the s h i f t s and the urgency of the d i s t i n c t i o n . C l e a r l y the n a r r a t i v e now i s more important than the s t o r y ' s then, even though the l a t t e r included most of Stevenson's residence i n the f o r e s t : Indeed the choice of the heartland had not been h i s . . . u n t i l now...for what had r e a l l y s t a r t e d i n an accident and the p u r s u i t of mere expediency was only now, today, i n process of confirming i t s e l f i n retrospect as h i s own grave stake and risk...Would he be confronted f i n a l l y by an i m p o s s i b i l i t y of escaping from h i m s e l f , l i v i n g or dead, or would he discover an i d e n t i t y of abandonment which would inform him and some-times lead him l i k e h i s own shadow i n t o the s u b t l e s t r e a l -i z a t i o n of time? (p. 21). "Retrospect" and " r i s k , " " i d e n t i t y " and "time" we w i l l d i s c o v e r to be s i g n a l words, even key words, f o r Stevenson has now been launched upon an e n t e r p r i s e of memory and i d e n t i t y on t h i s f i r s t day. K a i s e r ' s f a r e w e l l was loaded: "Why, beggars and pork-knockers l i k e d a S i l v a ! You need them and they need you l i k e s k i n need bone. Man need man, Mr. Stevenson." K a i s e r ' s eyes opened and f l a r e d and surveyed the f l a g of grass behind which the p a r a d o x i c a l key of a l l substance he guarded was hidden (pp. 20-21). Stevenson's ruminations begin immediately upon the n a r r a t i v e space which f o l l o w s K a i s e r ' s departure, and continue interwoven w i t h the present (set p a r e n t h e t i c a l l y o f f ) u n t i l he i s drawn i n t o the woods f o r a k i n d of i n i t i a t i o n by which the temporal i s given substance. He i s about to reach f o r the key to the depot when he hears "a sharp s p l i n t e r i n g crack l i k e a dry branch underfoot" (p. 29) and springs about. Deciding to i n v e s t i g a t e , he f o l l o w s a f r e s h t r a i l along which K a i s e r has been hunting, and i s l e d by "the mood of the p l a c e " to r e f l e c t on those who have been there before him. Nothing had changed over the c e n t u r i e s . Long before European c o l o n i z e r — P o r t u g u e s e , Spanish, French, Dutch, E n g l i s h — a n d A f r i c a n c o l o n i z e d a r r i v e d and ventured i n t o nameless t r i b u t a r i e s , t h e i r pre-Columbian s p i r i t u a l ancestors had been on the selfsame ground, To l t e c or Peruvian adminis-t r a t o r s or merchants w i t h t h e i r attendants and middlemen. They had apparently f a i l e d i n t h e i r m i s s i o n to catch the u n r e a l i t y of themselves which they encountered i n the rude nomadic t r i b e s they came to rescue and c i v i l i z e , who f l i t t e d l i k e ghosts under a more compulsive baton, born of the s p i r i t of p l a c e , than any human conqueror could devise (p. 30). He imagines the shamanistic r i t e s by which these predecessors sought to discover t h e i r heartland,but r e a l i s e s that to experience t h e i r heights of i n t o x i c a t e d limbs was to s u f f e r as w e l l an acute f a l l i n t o the v o i d . The golden age they wished to f i n d — t h e Palace of the Peacock—may never have e x i s t e d f o r a l l anyone knew. Existence now was what counted. And t h i s e x i s t e n c e was becoming r e a l f o r Stevenson...(p. 31) Brought up short by these r e f l e c t i o n s Stevenson experiences h i s own f a l l i n t o the v o i d : he f i n d s he has l o s t h i s way. A "panic of a s s o c i a t i o n s " g r i p s h i s mind and he s u f f e r s a s e i z u r e i n which h i s body i s contorted "Into every alarming shape, snake and man and beast" and h i s c l o t h e s are "ripped to s c a l e s . " Afterwards, he has the sensation that time has been " r e t r i e v e d . " In d i s c o v e r i n g "existence now" Stevenson has had to brush w i t h the here of t h i n g s ; he must s t i l l t a c k l e the not here before f i n d i n g h i s " i d e n t i t y of abandonment." In order to "catch the u n r e a l i t y " of h i m s e l f , he must discover a v a l i d otherness, even when the l o o k i n g f o r means f i n d i n g nothing: the journey i t s e l f i s a motion away from s e l f - a b s o r p t i o n and nothingness i s p r e c i s e l y the g o a l , or one p o l e , of the quest. This i s the p a t t e r n we have seen the n a r r a t i v e produce by i t s successive "gones, and i n the same way suspense (and even mystery) f u n c t i o n to d i s p l a c e time by w i t h h o l d i n g knowledge of what i s now or next. At the l e v e l of s t o r y or event, the crack of the branch i s probably caused by P e t r a , who i s watching the depot f o r her chance. But t h i s i s concealed (and even r a r e f i e d ) by the n a r r a t i v e : P e t r a i s not introduced u n t i l Book Three, where she i s described as "the muse of the j u n g l e " (p. 62). For the moment, Stevenson i s v i s i t e d only by the " s p i r i t of p l a c e , " and the f o l l o w i n g day at h i s own landing he has "the dark impression of someone walking across the c l e a r i n g " (p. 45). While he dozes, a shadow f a l l s on the j u n g l e and h i s dinghy i s freed from i t s moorings by "an arm of spray." This s t r u c t u r e of displacement a l s o g i v e s form to the c o n s o l a t i o n s which the s t o r y p r o v i d e s , and the f i r s t of these i s s e r i a l i t y . Recognizing now "the genuine human i m p o s s i b i l i t y of breaking through beyond o n e s e l f " (p. 48), Stevenson f e e l s compelled to abandon a l e t t e r he has been w r i t i n g to M aria, motivated, he sees, by a k i n d of s e l f - g r a t i f i c a t i o n . In place of t h i s d e s i r e there comes by degrees a sense of the i n t r i c a t e web of d i s i n t e r e s t e d n e s s which binds him to others: Who was i t that fed one (the anonymous midwife and middleman of the ages) and who the person one helped, i n t u r n , to feed, possessed an answer e q u a l l y i n the s p i r i t of the jung l e as i n the spectre of d i s m a n t l i n g a rose (p. 50). Stevenson's l e t t e r r o t s at the bottom of the dinghy that w i l l now be used by someone he does not know. "Man need man," as K a i s e r s a i d , but i t i s not always c l e a r j u s t whom one i s bound t o , and by what t i e s of debt. The message was d r i v e n home by d a S i l v a : "everybody's death belong to everybody's l i f e " (p. 43), so that innocence and g u i l t become c u r i o u s l y enmeshed. In these circumstances, s a c r i f i c e assumes a c e r t a i n s i g n i f i c a n c e , but a s a c r i f i c e emptied of sentiment and s a t i s f a c t i o n , f o r the web of dependence i s spun upon anonymity. One dies i n another's p l a c e , as the d a S i l v a whose twin k i l l e d Cameron i n Palace of the Peacock, d i s c o v e r s here. When Stevenson f i n d s h i s corpse at the bottom of the r a v i n e , pinned between two boulders, " s t a r i n g , suspended between d r e a d f u l compassion and c u r i o s i t y , half-monkey, half-man," i t i s some moments before he r e a l i s e s that the body i s indeed the pork-knocker's: " I t was d a S i l v a a f t e r a l l who  stood s t a r k and dead ..though so changed i n twenty-four hours he could have  been K a i s e r or Cameron or Stevenson h i m s e l f " (p. 58). But the moment and the mode of d a S i l v a ' s death are not described u n t i l the l a s t quarter of the n o v e l , and then i n an extended parenthesis spanning seven pages (73-79). W i t h i n t h i s loop, the blow i s a r e c u r r i n g one; i n the course of i t s many nows i t t r i g g e r s i n d a S i l v a a r e c o l l e c t i o n of h i s mongrel dog which died the day of h i s own recovery from a deathly f e v e r , " d i g e s t i n g h i s mortal ailment." The n a r r a t i v e ' s f a r - f l u n g network of connections has come to r e f l e c t those correspondences which the s t o r y d e s i r e s f o r i t s f u l f i l m e n t . There i s another plane upon which t h i s web of indebtedness may be traced i n the n a r r a t i v e , and t h i s i s h i n t e d at the primary d i v i s i o n s of the n o v e l , i t s three books, e n t i t l e d "The Watchers," "The Watched," and "Cre a t i o n of the Watch." Pe r s p e c t i v e i s already b u i l t i n t o these headings-,-but we s h a l l see that the problem i s more complicated than the t r i p a r t i t e s t r u c t u r e suggests. Although the poin t of view or " f o c a l i z a t i o n " of the n a r r a t i v e i s l a r g e l y Stevenson's, we have from time to time seen him and the other watchers watched i n t h e i r t u r n . Again, although we have marked a d r i f t towards "pl a c e " i n the n o v e l , i t i s s t i l l w i t h the landscape's surface r a t h e r than i t s depths that we d e a l . This being so, any unmaking of s t r u c t u r e must proceed h o r i z o n t a l l y , d e a l i n g w i t h angles r a t h e r than l e v e l s . And i t i s here that we f i n d the l i m i t e d cast of Heartland begin to widen, f o r i t i s as i f the play of pe r s p e c t i v e s i n t h i s novel were not bound by the four characters at a l l but extended beyond the species to a l l nature. This i s to be expected of a novel set i n a s o l i t u d e of bush, but there are other reasons why we should not too q u i c k l y diagnose a p a t h e t i c f a l l a c y at work. I t i s i n f a c t q u i t e the reverse: the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of p e r s p e c t i v e s suggests a r e a l i t y that i s never to be wholly grasped by an i n d i v i d u a l p e r c e i v i n g s u b j e c t , a r e a l i t y which so f a r from r e f l e c t i n g h i s p e c u l i a r needs, makes i t s own i n s c r u t a b l e demands. So, w h i l e the watchman Stevenson i s asleep, i t i s not an omniscient A n a r r a t o r who s t e a l s away from him to report the t h e f t of the dinghy. The l i n e attached to the bow appeared to s t i f f e n i t s h o l d , r e l u c t a n t l y g i v i n g way i n the end to the p u l l of the frame as an arm of spray mounted and descended, s p r i n k l i n g the passage of a minute spider c r a w l i n g i n the hammock of the v e s s e l ' s i n t e r i o r : i t grew d i f f i c u l t to t e l l where the veined grassroot of one's l i f e commenced and the r o c k i n g c l i f f of i l l u s i o n ended as::the: world, halfstufned, o n . i t s ^ , . . . . . . s i d e e c l i p s i n g the n a t i v e eye of the spider t r a i n e d on the circumstance of space. A swallow darted from loops of a i r and f l e w s t r a i g h t to the boat to a l i g h t on the s t e r n . I t f l e w nervously o f f as the dinghy, which was running backside foremost, s t r u c k a rock. The v e s s e l bounced o f f and t h i s time when the swallow returned, i t chose to f a l l back upon the bow. The animalcule gaze of the b i r d crossed the web the s p i d e r had spun, as though the f r a i l e s t r e f r a c t i o n of v i s i o n occurred, s w i f t as a g l i s t e n i n g bead of water on d i s p e r s i n g and immaterial f a b r i c . I t was a f l e e t i n g coincidence e s t a b l i s h e d out of s p i r a l l i n g v i s i o n a r y moments; i n the s p i d e r ' s t e r r e s t r i a l universe the sky was p r e c a r i o u s l y r e v o l v i n g around the e a r t h , a sky whose s i l k e n broken t e x t u r e one could conceivably have b u i l t ; i n ,the swallow's f l y i n g i n s t i n c t the earth was l e a n i n g upwards condensed out of every shattered cobweb which he l d a running stream together l i k e an i n s t i n c t u a l b a l l one could n e v e r — i n one's w i l d e s t i m a g i n a t i o n — have invented or made....(pp. 46-47) The world i s seen here by animate and inanimate a l i k e : by s p i d e r , swallow, even boat and bead J. of water. What s u f f e r s , a c c o r d i n g l y , i s the supremacy of the c o n s t i t u t i n g s u b j e c t , of that c l a s s i c a l i n d i v i d u a l who makes absolute sense of the world, drawing a l l p e r s p e c t i v e s together i n t o a s i n g l e i n t e l l i g i b l e t o t a l i t y . The d i f f i c u l t y of expressing a p r e v a i l i n g otherness i s f e l t by those who have experienced long periods of s o l i t u d e . As he t a l k s to Stevenson, K a i s e r ' s v o i c e grates "with the mournful rhythm the body of a t r e e makes when i t cracks w i t h the wind, seeming to deplore the inadequacy of language i t s e l f " (pp. 16-17). Time and again i n t h i s n ovel ( s u r e l y the l a r g e s t menagerie i n a l l H a r r i s ' s f i c t i o n ) p e r s p e c t i v e w i l l s t r a y from the c h a r a c t e r s to a dog, a r a b b i t , a f i s h , a f l y , a b e e t l e , an ant, a t r e e , a rock. I t i s true that a t e l e o l o g y i s affirmed beneath t h i s "jigsaw of i n t a n g i b l e resources" and man i s effaced only to be r e s t o r e d , but the new meaning which the i n v e n t i o n of i d e n t i t y i m p l i e s , i s achieved not through a u n i t y but a m u l t i p l i c i t y of p e r s p e c t i v e . In f i c t i o n a l terms t h i s means a check upon the p r i v i l e g e d i n s i g h t of the n a r r a t o r who from a p o s i t i o n of s e c u r i t y manipulates i r o n i c d i s t a n c e and p e r s p e c t i v e to c o n s o l i d a t e a standard v e r s i o n of the world. As each p e r s p e c t i v e i s challenged by another, the o l d i r o n y and "absolute rage f o r good" (p. 84) succumbs to a p r i n c i p l e of displacement and what H a r r i s has c a l l e d "a new unconscious p o l i t i c a l i r o n y " (RV p. 19). In t h i s way the order of things i s shaken and i t i s through the c o n t r a s t s b u i l t i n t o the n a r r a t i v e that another order i s f i g u r e d . To extend Metz's d e s c r i p t i o n , n a r r a t i v e i s a matter of i n v e n t i n g not only one time scheme i n terms of 13 another, but as w e l l one s p a t i a l i t y i n place of another... The " e c l i p s e of time" (p. 66) i s b e t t e r i l l u s t r a t e d i f we reduce the n a r r a t i v e to a s k e l e t o n and i t s characters to t h e i r f u n c t i o n s , a device by which the small human cast w i l l be seen to s h r i n k even f u r t h e r , to three. Reduced to t h i s frame, the a c t i o n of the novel f o l l o w s a sequence not u n l i k e that of a f o l k t a l e . In such a schema, the most obvious p a i r s are r e a d i l y c o n f l a t e d ; as the novel repeatedly suggests, P e t r a i s to d a S i l v a as Maria i s to Stevenson. The s i g n i f i c a n t merger, however, i s Stevenson-daSilva, d a S i l v a being Stevenson's other, that n o t - s e l f whose discov e r y i s i n f a c t the hero's m i s s i o n . D a S i l v a says so q u i t e openly: " I t u r n i n g i n t o the ghost of a r e p o r t e r of the one court of conscience a f t e r a l l — c o m p r i s i n g nobody e l s e but the mystery of me (or y o u ) — i n s p i t e of the f c o n t r a d i c t i o n on every crowded conventional body's l i p s . D a S i l v a . D a S i l v a , " he confessed. "Stevenson. Stevenson," he e j a c u l a t e d , g i v i n g Stevenson an i r o n i c a l , almost unholy, look. "Somebody or other always addressing me as a f l e s h -and-barebones s e d u c e r — f u l l of t r i c k s — a n d you f o r the Jeky11-and-Hyde d e v i l i n your name (p. 44). With Stevenson and d a S i l v a become one, Petra's s t r u c t u r a l p o s i t i o n as heroine i s f u r t h e r strengthened, not l e a s t because Maria i s an absent heroine w h i l e P e t r a i s i n d u b i t a b l y and s o l i d l y present. I t i s she who gets the d r i f t i n g l e t t e r from the hero which was cast away before being sent to the absent heroine. The t h i r d i r r e d u c i b l e character i s K a i s e r , who may be described as the absent midwife, f o r although i t i s the hero who i s present at the c r i t i c a l moment, he i s h e l p l e s s , and i t i s i n K a i s e r ' s bed that Petra's i n f a n t i s born. Kaiser, i s ' i n more ways than t h i s the middleman, f o r he i s the go-between of f o l k - t a l e (he d r i v e s a l o r r y between Lower and Upper Kamaria) and moreover the c l a s s i c mentor who guards the "key to a l l substance" and sets the hero upon h i s quest. I t i s he who, as i t were, introduces Stevenson to himself by f i r s t t e l l i n g him of d a S i l v a . This done, he withdraws, and Stevenson undergoes h i s ordea of i n i t i a t i o n (the s e i z u r e ) before s t a r t i n g out on h i s m i s s i o n of f i n d i n g another place. The knowledge he i s l o o k i n g f o r does not come at once (hence the gones, the empty chambers) but h i s encounter w i t h d a S i l v a i s a beginning. His next " o r d e a l " — s o d e s c r i b e d — i s h i s presence at Petra's c h i l d i n g , followed by another disappointment. A sentence midway i n the novel c r y s t a l l i z e d h i s task: I t was the s e l f i s h f e a r of experiencing f e a r , the s e l f i s h l ove of the possession of love one was being summoned to transcend or see through by a b i d i n g to a s t e a d f a s t covenant and r e f u s a l to s h r i n k from the extremity and volume of the demoralizing contact and content of death (p. 48). D a S i l v a and P e t r a have cured him of s e l f i s h f e a r and i n t e r e s t e d l o v e ; now Stevenson must not s h r i n k from h i s l a s t o r d e a l . He sets out upon "the longest crumbling b l a c k road" by which he comes f i n a l l y to merge w i t h the h e a r t l a n d . The t a l e i s not q u i t e t o l d . A p o s t s c r i p t remains, which t e l l s of Stevenson's disappearance and i n c l u d e s the fragments of three poems he l e f t behind. But before we look at these, there remains another vacancy i n the morphology of t h i s n a r r a t i v e . We have encountered i n our schema a hero, a heroine, and a go-between: we have not met a v i l l a i n . He i s of course an absent v i l l a i n , but only because Time cannot p r o p e r l y be counted a character. Time i t i s which evokes i n Stevenson "the g r e a t e s t fe a r of a l l , the f e a r that every elaborate means however v a r i e d and admirable i n encompassing distances i n space, always accomplished the same end i n time" (p. 49). But there i s a way i n which the v i l l a i n can 14 be c o l l a r e d , and to i l l u s t r a t e i t we w i l l e f f e c t a f i n a l merger. We have seen Stevenson disappear i n t o the j u n g l e s , thus meeting h i s match i n time and becoming one w i t h space. S u r v i v i n g him, w i t h her c h i l d , i s "the muse of the j u n g l e , " the " s p i r i t of p l a c e , " P e t r a , who h e r s e l f has pronounced s p a t i a l q u a l i t i e s . When b i g w i t h c h i l d , she was " l i k e a numinous boulder informed by arms and l e g s " (p. 71), and her name i s , a f t e r a l l , P e t r a . L i k e the M a r i e l l a of Palace of the Peacock, she has become both person and place. Together, the dead hero and the s u r v i v i n g heroine come at l a s t to forge an equal a l l i a n c e against time, namely 15 space. Space w i l l assume l a r g e r p r o p o r t i o n s , or a greater d e n s i t y , i n H a r r i s ' s next n o v e l , The Eye of the Scarecrow, but we may pause on our way there to observe that the " e c l i p s e of time" by the " d i s c of p l a c e " (p. 80) i s never t o t a l . Nor i s space a l t o g e t h e r benign, since i t must i n turn be f i s s u r e d . Although the poems which c l o s e Heartland are poems of p l a c e : "Troy," "Behring S t r a i t s , " and "Amazon," they are each a m e d i t a t i o n e q u a l l y on 16 "the c o n t r o v e r s i a l t r e e of time." Taken together, the fragments (damaged by f i r e , and so incomplete) are a k i n d of sunken bridge from Old World to New, and i n t h i s way preserve the p a t t e r n of m i g r a t i o n or journeying of " l o o k i n g f o r " which the main body of the novel set i n motion. I t i s t h i s movement which tr a c e s the i n t e r s e c t i o n of the two dimensions, and as "Hector/hero of time" and Stevenson, hero of space d i s c o v e r , there i s no escaping that nexus: "man must d i e f i r s t to be f r e e " (p. 93). P e t r a responds to the " l o s s e s , r a i d s and d e p r i v a t i o n s " of h i s t o r y w i t h a mute a s s e r t i o n of i d e n t i t y which enables her "to i n c o r p o r a t e the f l i g h t of time  and draw a s s i s t a n c e out of g r a n i t e " (p. 71). Stevenson's more r a t i o c i n a t i v e response i s to elaborate a philosophy of u n i f o r m i t y and d i v e r s i t y which leads him i n t o a d u a l i t y whose consequences we w i l l examine s h o r t l y . Here i t allows him to master or r e g a i n time: he p i c k s up and w i n d s — o r dreams he d o e s — K a i s e r ' s c l o c k , and sets i t going again. I t i s an o l d dream. The Eye of the Scarecrow does not abandon t h i s hope. Endeavouring to " r e t r a c e my own steps i n time" (p. 21), the n a r r a t o r remembers a dream i n which as a boy he saw a b a l l o o n , " h a l f - c a r r i a g e , h a l f - b i r d f l o a t i n g above the housetops" and c a r r y i n g " o f f i c i a l s and d i r e c t o r s of church and s t a t e , by whom I was employed i n an obscure al c h e m i c a l c a p a c i t y " (p. 22). The b a l l o o n comes down next door, and wishing to elude h i s employers, the n a r r a t o r climbs to an u p s t a i r s room furnish e d w i t h " r o y a l l y made beds." Undeceived and s i c k at h e a r t , he sees a door i n the w a l l which he had not noticed e a r l i e r , and enters by i t a secret apartment devoid of every f i l m or integument of a window. Nevertheless however c l o i s t e r e d i t f i r s t a p p e a r e d — i t was f i l l e d w i t h a r u s t - c o l o u r e d l i g h t l i k e ammunition f i r e d from d i s t a n t s t a r s , naked m e t a l l i c r ose, n e i t h e r i r o n nor bronze nor gold: the sleep of an immaterial unsupported element: the armour of the poor, and I knew then how dread and necessary i t was to dream to enter the s t r i k i n g innermost chemistry of l o v e , transcending every proud chamber i n the i n e x o r a b l e b a l l o o n of time (pp. 22-23). There i s much of the H a r r i s i a n p r o j e c t here: the dream i t s e l f , the c o n j u n c t i v e impulse ( " h a l f - c a r r i a g e , h a l f - b i r d " ) , the "obscure" alchemical c a l l i n g , the v i s i o n a r y l i g h t , the mystic l o v e , the hermetic chamber. The l e s s o n i s p l a i n enough: p o l i t i c i a n s and d i v i n e s promise a spurious heaven; t r u t h l i e s a step beyond. But we may take the movement of the dream as an exemplum a l s o of the n a r r a t i v e p a t t e r n of t h i s novel. Where the f l i g h t from time i n Heartland found refuge i n a p l e t h o r a of surface p e r s p e c t i v e s , that i n The Eye of the Scarecrow seeks to penetrate r a t h e r than m u l t i p l y space. In the e a r l i e r n o v e l , the i n t e r i o r was a r e t r e a t , a p l a teau of s e c l u s i o n crossed by a road along which the hero pressed f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r ; the i n t e r i o r , that i s to say, was l a r g e l y e x t e r i o r i n i t s c o n c e p t i o n . 1 ^ The l a t e r novel i s r i d d l e d from s t a r t to f i n i s h w i t h sockets of space and time; i t s i n t e r i o r i s no longer a matter of journeying f a r t h e r , but deeper, tunnel and grave having replaced road and depot. Of a l l H a r r i s ' s novels to date, The Eye of the Scarecrow i s , perhaps f or these reasons, the most impenetrable, the most obscure, meta-phors which w i l l be seen to share a subterranean dimension. I t i s as i f H a r r i s had vowed, f o l l o w i n g Lawrence, to reach "a stratum deeper than... 18 anybody has ever gone, i n a n o v e l " Recognizing the problems which such an endeavour must pose f o r the reader, he added an author's note to the paperback e d i t i o n of the novel, i n which he addressed the issue of d i f f i c u l t y as i t concerned what he c a l l e d "pace and new dimension i n a c e r t a i n kind of imaginative f i c t i o n " (n.p.). The two terms should not automatically be reduced to private time and inner space, but the imaginative h i s t o r y Harris proposes does indeed seek to capture the essence of the one and the substance of the other. Some of the d i f f i c u l t y of t h i s novel stems from the f a c t that what l i t t l e there i s i n the way of a d i s c e r n i b l e story, even one so slender as that of Heartland's emerges i n d i s l o c a t e d fragments at the whim of the narrator. Instead of a p l o t , there are scattered vignettes from the narrator's past, a number of which concern L , h i s f r i e n d from boyhood, whom he l a t e r accompanied on an expedition to a remote mining town. Another pair had already made t h i s nine months' journey to Raven's Head: the narrator's father and h i s f r i e n d and engineering colleague. This f r i e n d was to become the narrator's stepfather a f t e r the r e a l father was executed for murder when the narrator, i t was said, was l e s s than a minute old. The stepfather was i n turn drowned when he returned to Raven's Head to t r y to prove h i s friend's innocence. Now the narrator (who signs himself Idiot Nameless) makes the same journey with L , again an engineer. In the i n t e r i o r , they send for a p r o s t i t u t e named Hebra (but also Raven's Head) and come to quarrel over her. They are involved i n a crash of car or plane i n which both survive but are separated, Nameless being found and cared for by a shepherd. Nine months l a t e r , he wanders out of the jungle j u s t i n time to save L from being executed on a charge of having murdered h i s missing f r i e n d . The story i s further complicated by the d e l i b e r a t e confusion of L _'s and Nameless's i d e n t i t i e s ; moreover, i t transpires that the actual v i c t i m i s Hebra, h e r s e l f much the same woman as she whom Nameless's f a t h e r had s t r a n g l e d . The murder charge, which now inclu d e s Nameless as w e l l , i s dropped only when a pork-knocker, Scarecrow, confesses to the deed. L i k e Palace of the Peacock, The Eye of the Scarecrow i s an account of a journey r e l i v e d . The overt doubling i n the f i r s t n o v e l , by which the names of the two crews match man f o r man, i s not here repeated, f o r the n a r r a t o r ' s f a t h e r and ste p - f a t h e r remain anonymous, but then so do the ch i e f c h a r a c t e r s , w h i l e i t i s c l e a r that Nameless stands f o r h i s f a t h e r w h i l e L stands f o r the f a t h e r ' s f r i e n d . The phrase "parent s c a f f o l d , " which rec u r s i n the t e x t , may thus be read as something of a pun, f o r whi l e Nameless recovers h i s f a t h e r ' s execution, the p r i o r s e r i e s of events not only overhangs but e n c i r c l e s and forms the frame of that which repeats i t . There i s a l s o a resemblance to Heartland. L i k e Nameless, Stevenson 19 embarked on an e x p e d i t i o n i n t o "an i n t e r i o r where one saw oneself turned i n s i d e out" (p. 48), but where Stevenson was l o s t , Nameless l i v e s to repor t back from "the f i n a l s t a t i o n . . . o f ourselves i n time and space" (p. 76). His c l o s i n g communications are dated "Night's Bridge." I t i s a r e p o r t i n g of t h i s k i n d which c o n s t i t u t e s the bulk of the n a r r a t i v e , so that the s t o r y f i l t e r s through o b l i q u e l y and almost by accident. Yet even without t h i s supervention of n a r r a t i v e , the s t o r y would be a d i s j o i n t e d one, a f a c t which suggests that here s t o r y i s of i t s own accord approaching the c o n d i t i o n of n a r r a t i v e , and on n a r r a t i v e ' s terms. In the course of s t o r y ' s becoming n a r r a t i v e , n a r r a t i v e uses the st o r y ' s a c t i o n f o r i t s own r h e t o r i c u n t i l the n a r r a t i n g i t s e l f becomes, i f not the subject of the no v e l , then the enabling process of that s u b j e c t . The novel becomes a me d i t a t i o n on n a r r a t i v e c o n s t r u c t i o n and r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . Having f i n i s h e d an asymmetrical qu a r t e t , f o r the most part f i c t i o n a l , the n o v e l i s t now allows himself to r e f l e c t on h i s f a c t u a l past. Yet the s p e c i a l i n t e n s i t y of t h i s novel i s not wholly to be explained by the n a r r a t i v e " I " and c e r t a i n t h i n l y v e i l e d passages of autobiography. What i s of essence i s l e s s the author's past than the a r t of i t s recapture and, more, the f a c t that what i s l a i d bare i n the s t r u c t u r e of the n a r r a t i v e i s h i s p r i v a t e philosophy and the s t a t e s of i t s e v o l u t i o n , i n f i n e , the growth of a n a r r a t i v e poet's mind. In a p u b l i c l e t t e r e n t i t l e d " K i t h and K i n , " i n which he l a t e r t r e a t e d once more c e r t a i n i n c i d e n t s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h L , H a r r i s spoke of v i s u a l i z -20 ing "one or two c o n t r a d i c t i o n s of memory." This phrase h a p p i l y sums up the method of The Eye of the Scarecrow as w e l l : i f the past sleeps i n disordered memory, i t i s woken i n a language no l e s s c o n t r a d i c t o r y . One mode i n which these c o n t r a d i c t i o n s o r d i n a r i l y appear i s the j o u r n a l , and i t i s as a j o u r n a l that t h i s novel begins. Such a genre wants no p l o t ( u n t i l one a r r i v e s and begins by degrees to manipulate the w r i t i n g ) ; i t i s i n f a c t n o n - f i c t i o n , and i s moreover a way of beginning when the past o f f e r s no other handle. " K i t h and K i n " plunged, as i s so f r e q u e n t l y the case w i t h l e t t e r s , i n t o a s a l u t a t i o n and then at once found i t s e l f i n t r o u b l e : My Dear L , Now that I am embarked on t h i s l e t t e r I f i n d myself involved i n the most curious d i f f i c u l t i e s . Memories that I have c a r r i e d around (and taken f o r granted) since c h i l d -hood suddenly seem more r e t i c e n t , more withdrawn, than ever. And yet i n that r e t i c e n c e p a r a d o x i c a l l y more a c t i v e , w i t h a deep inwardness to r e s i s t or s c r u t i n i z e from t h e i r s i d e any k i n d of f a c i l e p o r t r a i t or summary on my s i d e (p. 1). H a r r i s i s having problems s t a r t i n g , and t h i s not from any l a c k of n a t i v e i n v e n t i o n or t e c h n i c a l s k i l l , but because the past i s to be more than regained; i t i s to be remade i n the moment of i t s d i s c o v e r y , worked out, given shape, q u i t e l i t e r a l l y f a b r i c a t e d . In The Eye of the Scarecrow, the contradictions begin with the organ of inner v i s u a l i z a t i o n i t s e l f : i t i s both "the explosive t r a i n of memory" (p. 21) and the " f r a i l v i s i o n a r y organization of memory—one thing against another" (p. 16). Recognizing that he cannot " r e c a l l — l i k e a ghost returning to the p a s t — t h e i d e n t i c a l map of place," the narrator, who i s perhaps not yet Nameless, finds himself "conferring the curious baptism of l i v i n g imagination upon helpless r e l i c s " (p. 15). To attempt exactitude, he declares, would be to succumb to the dead t i d e of self-indulgent realism. On the other hand, to t r a v e l with the flood of animated wreckage that followed a f t e r , i s a d i f f e r e n t matter, a t r u s t i n g matter i n which I am involved (p. 15). Harris w i l l t r u s t to the contradictions of memory, "one thing against another," and i n order that h i s r h e t o r i c be l a i d bare, he works the poles of past and present into the text. Hence the a l t e r n a t i n g time-scheme: the present of the narrating, 1963-1964, and the rescued presents of the past, 1929, 1932, 1948, those spots i n time which inhabit the ea r l y n a r r a t i v e space of the novel. Once the cross-play of t h i s s e r i e s has been set i n motion, i t gathers momentum and a f i c t i o n generated by c o l l i s i o n s of f a c t takes over the text. Writing elsewhere of an attempt "to fuse the actua l and f i c t i t i o u s within an asymmetrical l o c a t i o n , " Harris remarks that resort must be made to "an art of memory which d i s l o c a t e s , i n some i measure, an idolatrous plane of realism by immersing us i n a peculiar kind of ruined f a b r i c " (IN p. 142). "Ruined f a b r i c , " "animated wreckage," "Is i t that within the rubble of oneself s t i l l l i e s the key?" (p. 27): a l l of these images i l l u s t r a t e the e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y f i s s u r e d form of The Eye of the Scarecrow, marking a seismic a c t i v i t y equalled so far i n Harris's canon only by the "mixed f u t u r i s t i c order" of Palace of the Peacock. With i t s t a l e s of innocence and experience which undermine cause and e f f e c t (as i n an account of the n a r r a t o r ' s pushing L i n t o a canal) and supplant i d e n t i t y w i t h r e l a t i o n (as i n the confusion which f o l l o w s the crash of car or p l a n e ) , the t e x t s e t s out to question the s e q u e n t i a l i t y of time and the s o l i d i t y of space. I t s chosen techniques of rupture and e l l i p s i s are c l o s e to those of f i l m , w i t h i t s jump-cut and montage, but a cinematics which, having combed the "rubbish heap of memory" (p. 56), recognizes that m a t e r i a l s are scarce and shots not to be squandered. Hence an a r t that i s both dense and fragmented, whose b r i c o l e u r i s Nameless h i m s e l f . The Eye of the Scarecrow would seem almost a casebook of that b r i c o l a g e 21 described i n L e v i - S t r a u s s ' s c l a s s i c o p p o s i t i o n of engineer and b r i c o l e u r . The two c e n t r a l characters f i t t h i s mould p r e c i s e l y , the engineer L w i t h a r e p u t a t i o n f o r "sober and matchless good sense, judgement, r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , " w h i l e Nameless i s "the s t r i k i n g , u n p r e d i c t a b l e one" (p. 40). Together they stand on a suspension bridge that i s to one a t e c h n i c a l f e a t and f o r the other "a trapdoor and a poem," and while L d i s c o u r s e s on t e n s i o n and load, Nameless sees "the most f r a g i l e and b e a u t i f u l web against the sky," and i s possessed by the "muse of p l a c e . " L has been commissioned to r e l o c a t e Raven's Head f o r the " f a n t a s t i c gold d e p o s i t s " s a i d to l i e thereabouts; "an astronomical investment, labour, machinery, a new township" hang on h i s success. For Nameless, t h i s i s a s h o e s t r i n g adventure i n t o h i s own obsessions; the t r a i l s to h i s ghost town s t r a d d l e the mnemonic past. A passage from one of H a r r i s ' s e a r l y essays developed t h i s same o p p o s i t i o n of "masses and m a t e r i a l s " to the "bareness of the West Indian world," a bareness whose "symbol i s man, the human person." The West Indian has most s i g n i f i c a n t l y to i n f l u e n c e the a r c h i t e c t u r a l problem of h i s time, s i n c e though he may work p r i n c i p a l l y i n terms of values i n h i s bare world, the e f f e c t s w i l l be f e l t soon or l a t e i n terms of masses and s t r u c t u r a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . Now, i t i s not an easy matter to see the human being today. So many w a l l s f a l l between us and our f e l l o w s . Money, myth, and numerous obsessions. Yet when we look at the human we must be prepared not to overlook these obsessions but to work them i n t o the s t r u c t u r e of art...(FR p. 14). As a poet, H a r r i s was quick to apply h i s p h i l o s o p h i c marginalism, which might have taken many d i r e c t i o n s , to "the s t r u c t u r e of a r t , " and t h i s i s what concerns us here. An a e s t h e t i c s t r u c t u r e based on "masses and m a t e r i a l would be none other than what H a r r i s was l a t e r to c a l l the novel of "persuasion" or " c o n s o l i d a t i o n " (TW p. 29). Such a s t r u c t u r e could not t o l e r a t e rupture and d i s e q u i l i b r i u m , or the r a p i d and i l l o g i c a l leaps of memory which scorn i t s order and mock i t s seamlessness. On the other hand, an a r t of marginal experiment, confronted w i t h sparse but d i v e r s e resources, must employ p r e c i s e l y such techniques, l a y i n g bare t h e i r bareness and f i n d i n g v i r t u e i n t h e i r u n s t r u c t u r a t i o n . The r e s u l t i n g d i f f i c u l t i e s , as H a r r i s warns i n h i s preface, cannot be smoothed over; they have been worked i n t o the n a r r a t i v e w i t h a purpose w h i c h — a t the l e v e l of the l i n e — w e examined i n some d e t a i l i n the chapter on language. In The Eye of the Scarecrow, language now o f f e r s , i n i t s zany patchwork (the image of s t i t c h i n g occurs again and again) a s t r i k i n g p a t t e r n of the l a r g e r n a r r a t i v e counterpoint. Racking h i s memory f o r a p i c t u r e of the o l d shepherd and h i s grandson who found and cared f o r him a f t e r the crash, Nameless wonders: How d i d I c o n t r i v e — i n the v o i d of the mind which seems so long a g o — t o s t i t c h a w i l d apprehension of them together? G l a r i n g touch of c o n c e i t : f a l l a c y . Needless to say i t was they who obscurely measured and needled me when they found me l y i n g on the ground. R u m p e l s t i l t s k i n threads b r i s t l e d l i k e the wisest whiskers. A s t i c h i n time saves nine. Cat's eyes f a b r i c . B a l l o o n s k i n p a t t e r n . Skyscraper t a p e s t r y . The toy cow jumped over the toy moon (p. 79). This passage i s not to be mistaken f o r a stream-of-consciousness rendering of the dazed Nameless's thoughts as he l i e s on the b r i n k of unconsciousness. Or i f i t i s t h a t , i t i s more, f o r i t works i n m i n i a t u r e the s t r u c t u r e of that "epic and r e v o l u t i o n a r y novel of a s s o c i a t i o n s " which H a r r i s opposed to the novel of persuasion. A l l of the m o t i f s sewn i n t o t h i s passage are t r a c e a b l e across v a r y i n g d i s t a n c e s of n a r r a t i v e to elements i n the t e x t ; at the same time, they appear to be generated out of each other, i n a random progression. T h i s , as we have seen, i s the method by which the novel got underway. The b r i c o l e u r ' s a c t i v i t y , L e v i - S t r a u s s holds, w h i l e comprising a " c o n t i n u a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n from the same m a t e r i a l s , " has t h i s d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e that " i t i s always e a r l i e r ends which are c a l l e d upon to p l a y the part of means: the s i g n i f i e d changes i n t o the s i g n i f y i n g and 22 v i c e v e r s a . " The a e s t h e t i c moral of t h i s formula (which L e v i - S t r a u s s d e c l a r e s "could serve as a d e f i n i t i o n of ' b r i c o l a g e ' " ) i s that i n a passage such as H a r r i s ' s s t i t c h e r y above, language i s guiding r a t h e r than i m i t a t i n g consciousness, the images have become s i g n i f i e r s r a t h e r than passive s i g n i f i e d s . In i t s turn,' the passage expresses or s i g n i f i e s 23 the s t r u c t u r e of the novel; the l a r g e r n a r r a t i v e u n i t s , d e b r i s i n t h e i r own way of past experience,are played o f f one against the other: 1928 against 1963 against 1948, even "2048." The "toy cow" fragment, f o r example, gives d i r e c t l y (but not c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y ) onto the subterranean v i s i o n which c o n s t i t u t e s the t u r n i n g point of the novel: "THE FIRST BURNED r IMAGES which returned to me (long before I a c t u a l l y saw the face of grandfather or grandson) were the womb and c a r r i a g e of a dream I had f o r g o t t e n " (p. 79). Inventing as i t goes, language helps memory take on form and d i r e c t i o n . By r e t u r n i n g b r i e f l y to the l e v e l of the sentence, which was our h o r i z o n i n Chapter Two, we have glimpsed the n a r r a t i v e counterpoint w r i t . small. The nar r a t i v e "sentence" i s subject to the same disordering, and for the same purpose, as that of the novel's language, i t s parts of speech juggled, i t s i n f l e x i o n s deflected, i t s syntax unbound. Such procedures, common enough i n modernist f i c t i o n s , disorder not only the time of the story but also the h i s t o r y of the time i n which the events are set. Thus they serve Nameless's express purpose of exercising an "open memory" the better "to escape from the prison of past knowledge" (p. 46). The dream l o g i c of the nar r a t i v e structure i s one more attempt by Harris to disrupt • What i n h i s preface he c a l l s the "nightmare of h i s t o r y , " but unlike Joyce, who wished to wake from the nightmare, Harris wishes to pass to another mode of dreaming. Reviewing i n h i s author's note the events of the f o r t y years covered by the novel, he denies "the claims of h i s t o r i c a l n arrative to be i d e n t i c a l with u n i v e r s a l i t y , " to be at once a general framework of expression bound up with the i n s t i t u t i o n s of the day; to be at the same time a general framework of protest bound up with the i n s t i t u t i o n s of the day (n.p.) It should be clear from t h i s that Harris i s here concerned with h i s t o r y as discourse: not the events themselves but a version, the standard version, of the events i s i n dispute. Hence the vehemence of h i s attack on the received account: "history (as un i v e r s a l given tool) was both c u l p r i t and nightmare." The imaginative h i s t o r y offered i n The Eye of the Scarecrow no more than glances at the public events of the day, but i t s f i r s t foot i n the past i s planted i n 1948, "year of the Guiana S t r i k e . " The s t r i k e i s not sympathetically portrayed: i t a r i s e s out of an "irony and n i h i l i s m of s p i r i t , " and the unity of the workers involves the hideous and l o g i c a l denigration of every person, high and low, i n the horror of a progressive realism which was far more dangerous, because i t seemed p o l i t i c and necessary however aimless and subversive, than the most f e r t i l e incestuous fantasy. I t was the d e v i l ' s abyss b l o c k i n g the way, I dreamt...(p. 18). The i d e o l o g i c a l content of H a r r i s ' s own account i s s p e l t out here. I f ideology i n e v i t a b l y takes the form of n a r r a t i v e , t h i s n a r r a t i v e o b l i g i n g l y gives the i d e o l o g i c a l i t s f i c t i v e nomenclature: " i r o n y " and " r e a l i s m " versus " f a n t a s y " and dream. In the teeth of h i s t o r i c a l r e a l i s m , the n a r r a t o r proposes to f o l l o w the v i c t i m s of the p o l i c e f i r i n g (and perhaps others i n the procession of s t r i k e r s ) to "some f u n e r e a l c e l l a r corresponding to the burning of a l l m a t e r i a l ambition" (p. 21). Then commences the dream of the b a l l o o n and the bedchambers and the genuine "armour of the poor." I t i s to be a quest f o r i n d i v i d u a l s ; spurning the "nightmare account" of the mass, the n a r r a t i v e w i l l represent "the psyche of ord i n a r y men and women," the "pace" of whose l i v e s i s d i s t i n c t from that of h i s t o r y . Herein l i e s the source of that ambition to transcend "every proud chamber i n the i n e x o r a b l e b a l l o o n of time." The p r o j e c t i n v o l v e s , as any t r a n s -cendental " h i s t o r y " must, an e x t r a o r d i n a r y v a l u a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s c a p a c i t y to overcome the contingent (as w i t h the f a m i l y Anthrop, who alone of a l l the tenants i n a shanty a l l e y preserve a c h e e r f u l demeanour and manage to pay t h e i r r e n t ) and e v e n t u a l l y the necessary (as w i t h the enigma of the "poor man's hearse," which v e h i c l e , l a c k i n g the g l a s s sides of conventional mourning c a r r i a g e s , may w e l l be empty, i t s paupers having cheated what i s l a t e r c a l l e d "the l i b e r a l form of death" [p. 93] ). But "pace" i s only one h a l f of the proposed r e v i s i o n a r y h i s t o r y : "new dimension" i s the other. E a r l y i n the novel there i s a r e c o l l e c t i o n of a boyhood v i s i t to the c i t y s e awall. H a r r i s r e t u r n s to t h i s s i t e i n a l e c t u r e given f i v e years a f t e r the n o v e l , w h i l e on the subject of landscape and r e a l i s m . 100. . . . I r e c a l l e d my boyhood (before World War I I broke out) when I o f t e n swam at the Fort on the Georgetown foreshore. I r e f l e c t e d a l s o on an observation I made when I was l a s t i n Georgetown i n 1966: the sea no longer stands where i t used to be and the land has grown i n i t s p l a c e by s i x or seven f e e t . Therefore, i f I were to endow the de f a c t o mound or grave which now e x i s t s on the foreshore w i t h a f i g u r a t i v e meaning beyond the present s t a s i s of r e a l i t y I might see the ghost^ of the past (the ghost of my c h i l d -hood) swimming i n dry land (HFM p. 24). Something of t h i s i m a g i n a t i o n — w h i c h H a r r i s at once recognises as "suspect" — i s necessary f o r an apprehension of the space evoked i n The Eye of the  Scarecrow. And sin c e t h i s space i s one which assumes ever greater r e s p o n s i -b i l i t i e s as H a r r i s ' s w r i t i n g progresses, i t i s worth quoting a passage from another essay that might f u r t h e r c l a r i f y the concept. In a piece r e v e a l i n g i y e n t l t l e d " R e f l e c t i o n and V i s i o n , " H a r r i s puts i t t h i s way: A Take an o b j e c t . A bridge perhaps, a bone, a f l u t e perhaps, a coat, a piece of s c u l p t u r e , a fence, a t r e e , a r i v e r , a c a n a l . Around i t may l i e deepseated r e f l e c t i o n s of a personal and/or h i s t o r i c a l nature. Indeed those r e f l e c t i o n s may be the seed of i n s t i t u t i o n s , the p s y c h o l o g i c a l t e x t u r e , the proud, implacable scars a s o c i e t y wears on i t s back as i n s t i t u t i o n , costume, r i t u a l etc...And as that texture r e i n f o r c e s i t s e l f over generations and c e n t u r i e s i n t o an im p r i n t of sovereign e a r t h . . . i t i s i n e v i t a b l e that a v u l n e r a b l e c e n t r e , an o r i g i n a l f r a i l t y (and a l l t h a t that means as marvellous s u s c e p t i b i l i t y to space and depth) i s wholly masked and f o r g o t t e n (RV p. 16). The depth intended here i s i n the f i r s t p lace not the i l l u s i o n i s m of p e r s p e c t i v e , whether i n p a i n t i n g or i n f i c t i o n , f o r H a r r i s goes on to speak of "'black holes of g r a v i t y ' as an e x t i n c t i o n of l i g h t drawn i n t o p a r a d o x i c a l genesis of suns beyond imagined or imaginable models" (RV p. 17). But i f i t i s not o l d - s t y l e r e a l i s m , n e i t h e r i s i t that r e a c t i v e experimen-t a l i s m which t r e a t s the world as a surface to be swept by a n e u t r a l , t r a v e l l i n g i n t e l l i g e n c e . Rather, i t looks beyond t h i s s p a t i a l i t y of s u p e r f i c e s i n t o a marginal zone of " e c l i p s e d p e r s p e c t i v e s , " that " o r i g i n a l f r a i l t y " which w h i l e e m p i r i c a l l y undemonstrable e x i s t s nonetheless as a 101. p o s i t e d s t a t e of extreme d e n s i t y . The d e n s i t y of the n o v e l , then, i s an attempt to express f o r m a l l y t h i s h y p o t h e t i c a l content. Where e a r l i e r we saw H a r r i s take the image as a k i n d of fragmenting device when juxtaposed w i t h a sharply d i f f e r i n g other, here we see him press l a y e r upon l a y e r of n a r r a t i v e to produce that " d e n s i t y of p l a c e " which, although an e a r l y c o n v i c t i o n , d i d not become the subject of a novel u n t i l The Eye of the Scarecrow. Although on one l e v e l the novel presents the t r a c k i n g of a murderer now dead, at another, f u r t h e r down, i t comes to prosecute the concept "murder" i n a way which d e t e c t i v e f i c t i o n s would consider scandalously i r r e g u l a r . I t i s only a f t e r the crash, when the " d r i v e r " has pie r c e d through these sedimented s t r a t a to a r e c o g n i t i o n of "the realm of depth or p l a c e , " that the "framework of a parent s c a f f o l d " begins to show i t s e l f . Now he enters "a sphere of r e d u c t i o n , " at which zero point i n space, "one f r a i l body of i n s t i n c t " may i m a g i n a t i v e l y communicate w i t h the " i n s t a n t dust of another," Nameless w i t h that other who i s h i s executed f a t h e r . Having now s u f f e r e d 24 "death," he begins to acknowledge and r e c o n s t r u c t the murder he has been so anxious to deny, from a m i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of h i s f a t h e r ' s innocence and g u i l t . The r e c o n s t r u c t i o n i n v o l v e s an account of death which i s as daring as the doing (or being done) to death w i l l be c o n t r o v e r s i a l . A l l of the novel's images and obsessions po i n t t h i s way: the c o f f i n s , graves, tunnels, c r a c k s , holes and f a u l t s . At l a s t , by way of a descent i n t o a JCaf.kaesque v i s i o n whose i m p l i c a t i o n s are that murder i s a pact i n which the p r i n c i p a l s act out an equal s t r u g g l e where absolute c a t e g o r i e s such as l o s s and g a i n , a c t i v e and p a s s i v e , are inadequate, Nameless imagines himself f a c i n g h i s fa t h e r " i n the dense and transparent c e l l of h i s moveable, immoveable, deceptive p r i s o n and person" (p. 91). The instruments of death h i s f a t h e r does not f e a r , but "space he could not yet dream to bear" (p. 93). Having by h i s " a r t of murder" invoked a l i f e i n l i f e l e s s n e s s , a somethingness i n nothingness, he now f i n d s the w a l l s of h i s c e l l c l o s e i n upon him i n t u r n , " i n c h by w a l l , w a l l by f o o t , " u n t i l every conventional d i s t i n c t i o n between volume and surface became i n e x t r i c a b l y c l o s e and u n r e a l . For s i n c e a cube i s subject to f i l l i n g or ho l l o w i n g , i t s u b s i s t s i n p o t e n t i a l d e p l e t i o n or r e p l e t i o n of i t s e l f  ( i t s own paradox of v a i n expansion): but s i n c e the th i n n e s t  f i l m or surface i n t o which i t may u l t i m a t e l y r e s o l v e i s s u s c e p t i b l e to an a b s t r a c t measurement i n depth s t i l l , however unimaginably f r a i l and i n d i s t i n c t , THIS (and no  other) l i v e s i n a tru e body of d e n s i t y which demolishes at one  stroke the t e c h n i c a l , s u b j e c t i v e hollow or v o i d ; but remains, as i t were, t e c h n i c a l l y f u l l s t i l l , a d r i p p i n g mist or sweat  of p r o p o r t i o n , incapable NOW of being dug i n t o or dug out, inner space ( i t s true u n a s s a i l a b l e p o s s e s s i o n ) , i n d e s t r u c t i b l e , f a i n t s c a l e or measure of One universe (pp. 93-94). The u n i t y of v i c t o r and v i c t i m , the " u n i t y of a n c e s t r a l master and s l a v e " (p. 25), could not but s u b s i s t upon t h i s c e n t r a l Oneness. I t i s true that the novel r e s o l u t e l y i n s i s t s upon a d u a l i t y to t h i n g s ; from the moment of the crash, the d r i v e r (who i s himself both Nameless and L ) le a r n s to respect t h i s "strange company—TWO and IT— t h o u g h who i t _ was no one could say: a crumbling scarecrow perhaps" (p. 75). And the p o s t s c r i p t which Nameless attaches to the whole i s a catalogue which o s c i l l a t e s between the q u a l i t i e s of "one" and two." But there i s never-t h e l e s s a tendency f o r t h i s dualism to c o l l a p s e — a s i f by v i r t u e of H a r r i s ' commitment to depth, and i n v i o l a t i o n of the s e n i o r i t y of f o r m s — i n t o a prime Idea, or i n Nameless's language, "the o r i g i n a l Word, the Well of S i l e n c e " (p. 95). This u n i t y H a r r i s i s d r i v e n to confess d e s p i t e h i s deepest m i s t r u s t of f i n a l i t y : " a f t e r addressing every c a u t i o n to oneself against absolutes, there i s an absolute medium of consciousness which we must l e a r n to accept as the language of a r t " (PL p. 5). A r t , that i s to say, makes speak the o r i g i n a l s i l e n c e . 103. In Heartland, the dualism of "two"and 'It" took the shape of a philosophy i n which u n i f o r m i t y and d i v e r s i t y were held i n e q u i l i b r i u m : "The uniform burden of p l a c e was n e i t h e r nearer nor f a r t h e r from the t r u t h of being 25 than the d i v e r s e gambols of s t a t i o n " (p. 87). In The Eye of the Scarecrow, where the p a i r have become " c a p a c i t y " and " d e n s i t y , " there i s an avowed attempt to " f i n d i n nature an innocent array of objects and the ground, as w e l l , of c l a s s i c a l u n i t y f r e e from an a r b i t r a r y i n t e r e s t i n mood or c o l o u r " (p. 96). The "as w e l l " i s s i g n i f i c a n t , f o r Nameless's p r o j e c t seems to be to f i n d r e a l i t y both dead and l i v i n g (the unmaking of murder i s part of t h i s scheme), or to a r r i v e at a p o i n t where the d i s t i n c t i o n between these s t a t e s i s n u l l and, l i t e r a l l y , v o i d . Hence those "numinous boulders" which strew the landscape of both Heartland (p. 71) and The Eye of the Scarecrow (p. 68). Hence a l s o the numerous c o n t r a d i c t o r y s t a t e s i n these and H a r r i s ' s other f i c t i o n s , c o n t r a d i c t i o n s undone by the u n i t y which l i e s at t h e i r heart. I t i s as i f the c o n j u n c t i o which the obscure alchemist d e s i r e d were an i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n of opposites so complete that the marriage bed opened i n t o an " u l t i m a t e grave of s t i l l n e s s " (p. 43). This s t i l l p o i n t i s what H a r r i s has elsewhere c a l l e d the "unnameable cen t r e " (WH p. 24), and what others have c a l l e d the "romantic heart of 2 6 t h i n g s " (Barthes) or simply a "suspect i n t e r i o r i t y " ( R o b b e - G r i l l e t ) . Nameless has already declared h i s "an unproven, even unprovable manifesto" (p. 95), but h i s p o s t s c r i p t s t e a d f a s t l y a s s e r t s that twoness i s "a continuous and miraculous conception of ' l i v i n g ' and 'dead' nature, r e h a b i l i t a t i o n of the l o s t One, the u n r e a l i z e d One, the i n a r t i c u l a t e One" (p. 108). The c r i t i c must not pounce too s w i f t l y on t h i s metaphysics; h i s w i l l not be a "groundless f a l l . " I f there i s a logocentrism here, i t i s one 104. that w i l l be found to have a t a c t i c a l value beyond i t s o r i g i n a l s t i l l n e s s , pointing away from i t s e l f to engagement with the world. The way back to the contingent i s best shown by means of c e r t a i n remarks on language which Nameless includes i n h i s manifesto. "Language," he asserts, "because of i t s untrappable source transforms i n a t e r r i f y i n g and well-nigh unendurable p e r s p e c t i v e — e v e r y subjective block and f i x t u r e of capacity" (p. 96); one sees inwardly by means of language and thus learns to d i s t r u s t the given order of things. But the p l a u s i b l e new language of f l u i d i t y , that "very apparent b i r t h of a 'future' language of p o s s i b i l i t i e s " (p. 97) which imitates the inward state and seems to replace the r h e t o r i c a l order of the old, i s i t s e l f to be dis t r u s t e d and broken down. Only out of t h i s second negation can a poetic language come, one which neither passively records nor a c t i v e l y denies because i t i s "the l i f e b l o o d of seeing and responding without succumbing" (p. 97). The eye of the scarecrow looks both ways. 27 At the l e v e l of the novel's story, authentic being and seeing have required a crumbling of the landscape of w i l l , of that i n v u l n e r a b i l i t y of s e l f which prevents a character from standing i n another's shoes (or space) as Nameless eventually comes to do both with h i s father and with L . It i s by way of t h i s "'negative' i d e n t i t y , s e l f - c o n t r a d i c t i o n , even 'po s i t i v e ' loathing of the 'ground' of ' s p i r i t ' " (p. 101), that one a r r i v e s at.a.new sense of community by which one can sympathize with "the derangement of a l l creatures within h i s t o r y and circumstance" (p. 102) without self-indulgence and with a genuine s o l i d a r i t y because one has i n fac t been another. The n a r r a t i v e consequences of t h i s scarecrow otherness are further testimony to the v i r t u e of i n d i r e c t i o n . Just as settlements l i k e Raven's Head "belonged to those who v o l u n t a r i l y began to relinquish'the r i g h t they 105. deserved to a place i n them" (p. 55), the " o r i g i n a l w e l l of s i l e n c e " i s tapped when one i s , as i t were, not l i s t e n i n g , the Word best read when one i s l o o k i n g the other way. S i m i l a r l y , the forms of the n a r r a t i v e ' s f u t u r e are best f i g u r e d when they are not r i g o r o u s l y determined by the author's w i l l . This i s not, as we s h a l l see, a surrender of the author's a u t h o r i t y , but r a t h e r an openness to the unconscious of language through what Nameless, 28 i n the vocabulary of. romanticism, c a l l s "an Imagination empty of s e l f -determined forms to come, blank frames, i n d w e l l i n g non-resemblance, freedom from past, present, f u t u r e form and formlessness" (p. 98). We have seen how the most f r e e l y a s s o c i a t i n g passage i n the n o v e l , that of the needlework, l e d s t r u c t u r a l l y i n t o the v i s i o n which completed the crumbling of the d r i v e r ' s w i l l . In 'the same way, the n a r r a t o r ' s r e c o v e r i e s of the past and the n a r r a t i v e ' s d i s c o v e r i e s of i t s f u t u r e depend on the c o l l i s i o n s of u n r e l a t e d , even i r r e l e v a n t , s t r u c t u r e s one with an-other. A novel on whose surface such words as "crumbling," "uprooting," and "subduction" f r e q u e n t l y reappear may expect to f i n d i t s n a r r a t i v e sentence shaped by t h e i r corresponding verbs and any r e s i d u a l s e c u r i t i e s of form and d i r e c t i o n i m p e r i l l e d by the v o i d i t f r e e l y invokes. There i s even a suggestion of r e l a t i v i t y to the time-scheme, as i f the n a r r a t i v e met i t s e l f r e t u r n i n g : i n choosing to give h i m s e l f up, the f a t h e r r e t r e a t s from "the assured d i c t a t i o n of the f u t u r e " (p. 95), w h i l e the son, i n t r a c i n g him to h i s c e l l r e t r e a t s from h i s own present, f i n d i n g that he has come " i n t h i s backward, unexpected pregnant way to the goal of my long quest" (p. 91). The novel c l o s e s w i t h a formal embodiment of Nameless's quest f o r "phenomenal space r a t h e r than phenomenal time" (p. 108). I t s f i n a l " d i s p o s s e s s i o n of the s t r a i t - j a c k e t of time" i s a s e r i e s of eleven s e l f -quo'tatioris of v a r y i n g lengths and s t a t i o n s i n time past and f u t u r e e n t i t l e d 106. "THE BLACK ROOMS." Here The Eye of the Scarecrow provides i t s own synchronic s t r u c t u r e the b e t t e r to d i s c l o s e i t s n a r r a t i v e space. The p o s t s c r i p t i s a f i n a l asymmetry. The v o i d i n The Eye of the Scarecrow, then, has a l i t e r a r y as w e l l as a metaphysical dimension: i t serves both as a caveat i n nature and as the empty frame of the novel's d i s c o v e r y of i t s own form. Indeed, p r o p e r l y read, the unnameable centre Is a " s t r u c t u r e " of postponement, where u n i t y i s always i n the f u t u r e or i n some other place w h i l e the now and here of the n a r r a t i v e remain f o r m a l l y broken and o r g a n i c a l l y unredeemed. 29 Looking "both ways i n the same blank crude i n s t a n t " (p. 75), the scarecrow represents not a d e n i a l of the world but an "unsleeping s i g n a l " of t h i s u n s t r u c t u r i n g s t r u c t u r e of otherness and i t s f u n c t i o n i n the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of that world through the i n v e n t i v e r e v i s i o n of i t s forms. The f o r c e of t h i s r e v i s i o n i s demonstrated w i t h splendid b r i o i n a l a t e r novel to which The Eye of the Scarecrow i s c l o s e l y r e l a t e d , Black Marsden (1972). Much of the s p i r i t of Black Marsden i s contained i n i t s s u b t i t l e : "a t a b u l a rasa comedy." The novel i s a kind of comic p l a y , and a good deal of the wry wordplay w i t h i n the p l a y i s of the same i m p r o v i s a t i o n a l k i n d as that of the s t r u c t u r e s we have j u s t examined i n the scant l i g h t of The Eye of the Scarecrow. C l i v e Goodrich, winner of the F o o t b a l l Pools and patron of the a r t s , takes i n the vagabond impresario, Doctor Black Marsden and h i s troupe, J e n n i f e r Gorgon, K n i f e and Harp. Making themselves at home, the a c t o r s come and go, rehearsing a p l a y and d i s c u s s i n g the world and i t s contents to a l l hours w i t h t h e i r host. Then one day, Goodrich f i n d s they presume too much and turns them out. There i s no p l o t : the w r i t i n g i n s t r u c t s and e n t e r t a i n s l i k e some impromptu m o r a l i t y p l a y whose a c t o r s invent t h e i r l i n e s as they go u n t i l the f i n a l abrupt c u r t a i n . I t i s the a r t of the blank s l a t e . , L i k e a l l H a r r i s ' s work, Black Marsden i s s t o u t l y , even o b s e s s i v e l y a n t i - r e a l i s t i c . E a r l y i n the p i e c e , Goodrich dreams he sees K n i f e s l a s h 30 Marsden who i s dressed as Deacon Camera; r e l i e f i s i n s t a n t . There f o l l o w s a n a r r a t i v e of continuous s h i f t s and s u r p r i s e s , w i t h a b e w i l d e r i n g " r a i n of p e r s p e c t i v e s " and tense. Once again, there i s a d i a r y , and although i t s form i s not imposed on the n o v e l , i t i s an instrument of d i s c o v e r y . The morning a f t e r h i s dream of the slashed photographer's "wig of c l o t h , " Goodrich's entry i s e n t i t l e d "COMEDY OF FREEDOM" and begins i n a s i n i s t e r v o i d : LEFT HAND: Tunnel/garment. Doodles of i n k . When my doodling tunnel i s b l a c k e s t I move towards a p i n p r i c k of l i g h t at the f a r end which grows b r i g h t e r u n t i l the p i n p r i c k becomes a s k y l i g h t (p. 24). And so on. Relieved of the .necessity to i m i t a t e , Goodrich w r i t e s out of nothing, f e e l i n g h i s way as he progresses. The elements of the world are preserved; what i s changed i s t h e i r order, f o r the d i a r y entry i s the i s s u e of a dream. Goodrich's "deep d i a r y , " as Marsen mockingly c a l l s i t , i s not the only element t h i s novel shares w i t h The Eye of the Scarecrow. The n a r r a t i v e of the e a r l i e r novel began w i t h a r e c o l l e c t i o n of Edinburgh; Black Marsden i s set i n that c i t y . The c o n f l i c t between Nameless and L has some resemblance to that between Marsden and Goodrich, and J e n n i f e r Gorgon, whom host wishes to wrest from guest, has an u g l i n e s s to her beauty even as Hebra had a beauty to her u g l i n e s s . Goodrich hims e l f has a "scarecrow eye" (p. 42), but must l e a r n to use i t , and i t i s as i f he were pushed by Marsden (who i s i n f a c t a " p r o j e c t i o n " [p. 32] of h i s h o s t ) , as L was pushed, i n t o d i s c o v e r i n g h i m s e l f . What then has become of Nameless? L i k e M a r i e l l a , l i k e P e t r a , l i k e Hebra, 108. he has become a place: the desert town of .Namless [ s i c ] , scene of the novel's most b i z a r r e fantasy. In a sustained piece of s u r r e a l w r i t i n g , Goodrich r e c o n s t r u c t s a journey to h i s childhood homeland, now l a i d waste by p o l i t i c a l t u r m o i l and yet f o r that reason "a l a b o r a t o r y of s t a r t l i n g c o n t r a s t s " where an experiment of great consequence might be s u c c e s s f u l l y brought o f f , a "subconscious t h e a t r e or l i b e r a t i o n of men from f a n a t i c a l p u r s u i t s " (p. 83). Goodrich's notes are i n f a c t that " g u e r r i l l a t h e a t r e " : as the c u l t u r a l emissary of a l a r g e r movement, he sets out to undermine both n a t u r a l i s m and the avant-garde, but i s q u i t e w i l l i n g to i r o n i z e h i s own theory of s p a t i a l i t y : one sp r i n g day he stops at Dean Bridge, high above the Water of L e i t h , to ponder the f a t e of those who have l e a p t from there, and i s l o s t i n h i s philosophy of i n t e r f u s e d space when he steps back i n t o the path of a e&r and i s almost k i l l e d . He i s a l s o q u i t e happy to l a y h i s n a r r a t i v e method bare. At the end of the Namless f a n t a s y , there i s an abrupt s h i f t to the f i r s t person, present :-.cohtinuous. I stop w r i t i n g suddenly and c l i p the pages t o g e t h e r — n e a r l y twenty to t h i r t y pages of notes and sketches I have made sin c e J e n n i f e r disappeared s e v e r a l hours ago around a bend i n the B o t a n i c a l Gardens. My notes are c o r r e c t i o n s and r e v i s i o n s of an e a r l y " d i a r y of Namless" i n order to b u i l d a new eye of the Scarecrow or stage of theatre of essences occupied by a phenomenon of p e r s o n a l i t y reaching back i n t o the s l a t e of childhood. Upon that s l a t e C l i v e Goodrich i s a given e x i s t e n c e and other buried traumatic existences as w e l l w r e s t l i n g one w i t h the other to express a caveat or unknown f a c t o r , an i n t u i t i v e f i r e music w i t h i n the hub r i s of assured c h a r a c t e r , assured r i t e s of passage i n t o death or namless town (p. 94). Then he begins again: "My name i s C l i v e Goodrich. Yet a name i s but a cloak and sometimes a strange denuded nameless ' I ' steps f o r t h . " The beginning again i s pa r t of the l a r g e r theatre.: i t marks a new-109. d e c i s i v e n e s s i n Goodrich which w i l l end i n the e v i c t i o n of Marsden and company. S t r u c t u r a l l y , t h i s d e c i s i o n w i l l end a l s o the n o v e l , but the n a r r a t i v e ' s r e t u r n to a k i n d of beginning, and f u r t h e r , to the notes of an e a r l i e r work, i s the mark of a continuous r e v i s i o n and r e i n s e r t i o n of a part of the o l d i n t o the new. This l o g i c of a margin which eludes the 31 c l e a n sweep i s a r e c o g n i t i o n that one does not i n f a c t begin w i t h nothing, but that what i s next to nothing may be of the highest v a l u e . I t l a y s bare once more the s t r u c t u r a l use of that "unknown f a c t o r " or senior form as a p o i n t of departure r a t h e r than a monad or a f i x e d pole i n a dualism. We have already seen H a r r i s adduce West Indian bareness as evidence of the West Indian a r t i s t ' s need to work w i t h the resources at hand, namely man. Now, as Goodrich's t a x i crosses the bleak underworld desert towards Namless, he remarks that "a curious s u b t l e f l e s h i n g ( i f that was the r i g h t word)" (p. 82) has appeared upon the r o c k s , w h i l e K n i f e the d r i v e r t e l l s of the . l i b e r a t i o n movement's hopes. I t i s p o s s i b l e to see 32 t h i s as a romanticism, a w i s h f u l humanizing of nature whose c o r o l l a r y i s that p e t r i f a c t i o n or displacement i n t o space of c e r t a i n c h a r a c t e r s . In f a c t the f l e s h i n g does not l a s t , but w h i l e i t i s there i t serves as a reminder of what H a r r i s sees as h i s primary f i c t i o n a l resouce, the marginal human. As Marsden puts i t i n a drunken apostrophe, "the very desert of human consciousness c r i e s out that t a b u l a r a s a s l a t e i s the theatre of the uhini'tiate"(p. 31). In the c o n t r a d i c t i o n between a t a b u l a rasa that i s the emblem of an i n i t i a t e avant-garde (with i t s clean sweep of the past) and one that invokes a theatre of the u n i n i t i a t e (with i t s e c l i p s e d past and marginal present) r e s i d e s an acute dilemma f o r the experimental n o v e l i s t . I t i s to H a r r i s ' s e x p l o r a t i o n of t h i s marginal consciousness and i t s f i c t i v e embodiments that we w i l l now t u r n . 110. IV. Experiment and the I n d i v i d u a l A convenient place to begin i s w i t h C l i v e Goodrich's second beginning i n Black Marsden: "a name i s but a cloak and sometimes a strange denuded nameless ' I ' steps f o r t h " (p. 94). More than an " I " steps out of Goodrich: Marsden i s part of him, too, and out of Marsden step J e n n i f e r Gorgon, K n i f e (there are three of him), and Harp. And yet the sum of these f i g u r e s , when they are ranked below Goodrich, i s not a u n i t but a c i p h e r . The paradox by which "one" might be both many and none, i s a mark of the p r e v a i l i n g temper, l i t e r a r y and p h i l o s o p h i c a l , which l a b e l s the c l a s s i c l i b e r a l i n d i v i d u a l an e x t i n c t s p e c ies. I t i s t h i s e x t i n c t i o n which the name " C l i v e Goodrich" c l o a k s . The w h i t t l i n g away of the centred l i b e r a l s e l f which began by d i s -carding a creature i n secure possession of a s o u l , was at l a s t to produce a creature possessed only by i t s possessions, notable among these that language of which i t once thought i t s e l f the master. For the b e t t e r part of a century, the d e v o l u t i o n of modernism has r e f l e c t e d , often d e s p a i r i n g l y , an unhappy knowledge that the centre cannot h o l d . Another of i t s l i t e r a r y tags that have passed i n t o common speech i s the hollow man, that c e n t r e l e s s subject which i s the f i r s t lesson of the end of l i b e r a l humanism. As the secure universe of i d e n t i t y has given way to a r e l a t i v i s t u niverse of r e l a t i o n s h i p , the locus of the i n d i v i d u a l — t h a t t e r r i t o r y which once allowed of no d i s p u t e — h a s come to be no more than the crossroads of a l l the t h i n g s he knows, a crossroads l e a d i n g each way to an " i n t e r p e r s o n a l " realm where, i n V i c t o r E h r l i c h ' s words, "the emphasis i s on ' i n t e r ' r a t h e r than 'personal'."'' At the same time, and c o n t r i b u t i n g to t h i s d i s s o l u t i o n , the modern period has l e a r n t from Freud to recognize the turbulence that u n d e r l i e s i d e n t i t y , and has come a c c o r d i n g l y to grant d e s i r e a r o l e of such preeminence t h a t the C a r t e s i a n dictum might be modified to read: " I wish, t h e r e f o r e I am." These two concerns, which are i n f a c t one, are brought together i n the t i t l e of an essay by Jacques Lacan, "The Subversion of the Subject and the D i a l e c t i c of D e s i r e . " I f d e s i r e seeks a s a t i s f a c t i o n so intense A as to tempt e x t i n c t i o n , i t i s both nothingness and another which support the d e s i r i n g i n d i v i d u a l . The case i s not as simple as t h i s , but to put i t so i s to capture both the l a c k i n the subject and the subject's wish to overcome t h i s l a c k . In t h i s he i s aided by that same language which produced h i s i d e n t i t y : the reader should recognize i n the metaphor of the r e t u r n to the inanimate (which Freud attaches to every l i v i n g body) that margin beyond l i f e that language gives to the human being by v i r t u e of the f a c t that he speaks, and which i s p r e c i s e l y that i n which such a being places i n the p o s i t i o n of a s i g n i f i e r , not only those p a r t s of h i s body that are exchangeable, but t h i s body i t s e l f . 2 The i n d i v i d u a l body, then, becomes not an i r r e d u c i b l e essence but a v i r t u a l i t y of language, the c o n d i t i o n of meaning f o r another, but not a meaning i n . . i t s e l f . T his i n s i g h t i s not n e c e s s a r i l y new (or French), but i t i s a modern one, and w h i l e we owe i t s f o r m u l a t i o n to s t r u c t u r a l i s m — b y which the subject i s i n e f f e c t an e f f e c t , or a s t r u c t u r e of a b s e n c e — we may see an e a r l i e r f i g u r a t i o n i n t h i s theorem of V i r g i n i a Woolf's: Hamlet and a Beethoven quartet i s the t r u t h about t h i s v ast mass we c a l l the world. But there i s no Shakespeare; there i s no Beethoven; c e r t a i n l y and emphatically there i s no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the t h i n g i t s e l f . - ^ In t h i s sense, there i s no C l i v e Goodrich; there are h i s v a r i o u s aspects, Marsden, J e n n i f e r Gorgon, K n i f e , Harp, but even when these are co l l a p s e d back i n t o him, a l l that remains i s "a strange denuded nameless 112. ' I ' . " And now we may i n s e r t the sentence which immediately precedes t h i s announcement, where yet another " I " holds up a blank s l a t e . Upon that s l a t e C l i v e Goodrich i s a given e x i s t e n c e and other buried traumatic existences as w e l l w r e s t l i n g one w i t h the other to express a caveat or unknown f a c t o r , an i n t u i t i v e f i r e music w i t h i n the hu b r i s of assured c h a r a c t e r , assured r i t e s of passage i n t o death or .namless town (p. 94). Then . once more: "My name i s C l i v e Goodrich. Yet a name i s but a cloak and sometimes a strange denuded ' I ' steps f o r t h . " We must not l o s e s i g h t of t h i s " I " (there i s something of a pun on Goodrich's "scarecrow eye") f o r i t i s what w i l l d i s t i n g u i s h the H a r r i s i a n i n d i v i d u a l from the Lacanian one, but f o r the moment we may take up that "hubris of assured c h a r a c t e r . " When H a r r i s was s t i l l a poet r a t h e r than a n o v e l i s t , that i s , before h i s work could be sai d to in c o r p o r a t e characters p r o p e r l y (or improperly) so c a l l e d , one of h i s e a r l i e s t and acutest c r i t i c s remarked i n h i s poems 4 a t h r u s t ' i n i m i c a l to the i n d i v i d u a l as we understand the term." The c r i t i c , L.E. Brathwaite, went on to deplore the f a c t that i n the book of poems under c o n s i d e r a t i o n "we f i n d no people we can recognize," and noted that where an E l i o t attempts to f i x the i n d i v i d u a l i n time and space; H a r r i s i s concerned w i t h a concept of time and space i n which the i n d i v i d u a l has l i t t l e p l a c e ; or at best a r a t h e r e q u i v o c a l i d e n t i t y . 5 The time i s now past, though not long gone, when each of these censures might have t r a n s l a t e d at once as a compliment to the experimental w r i t e r , and i t i s e a s i e r f o r t h i s reason to give Brathwaite's c r i t i c i s m the a t t e n t i o n i t deserves. C o r r e c t l y gauging the temper of the poetry, Brathwaite a l s o sensed, i n advance of H a r r i s ' s n o v e l i s t i c career, the fragmentation to come. What he could not have foreseen was the purpose 113. of t h i s fragmentation, a purpose which H a r r i s l a t e r made c l e a r both i n h i s novels and i n v a r i o u s c r i t i c a l and t h e o r e t i c a l essays. In one of h i s e a r l i e s t essays, H a r r i s declared that "the i n d i v i d u a l i s not the s t a r t i n g p o i n t nor the goal of the human world" (RT p. 21), and i n " T r a d i t i o n and the West Indian Novel,'1'where h i s f i c t i o n a l programme i s set out, he s t a t e s f l a t l y : "one i s r e j e c t i n g the sovereign i n d i v i d u a l as such" (TW p. 34). In a s t i l l l a t e r essay, he speaks of "the p h i l o s o p h i c a l hollowness of man," and remarks that w i t h i n every p r i s o n e r of h i s t o r y i s an attachment, i n v o l u n t a r y perhaps but concrete, to the very premises of h i s age. How could i t be otherwise when those premises are a l l he possesses or i s possessed by? (BC pp. 45 and 44) Yet there i s a sense i n which Brathwaite has put h i s f i n g e r u n e r r i n g l y on the nub of the matter, f o r i n the course of a remark on the omnipresence of c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n H a r r i s ' s work, he suggests that t h i s f e a t u r e i s "an expression of u n c e r t a i n t y from the poet h i m s e l f . " I t i s as an i l l u s t r a t i o n of t h i s u n c e r t a i n t y that he addresses H a r r i s ' s treatment of the i n d i v i d u a l . Such a d i v i s i o n indeed e x i s t s i n the n o v e l i s t , but i t i s one which he turns to advantage. While on the one hand H a r r i s has u n f a i l i n g l y and i n c r e a s i n g l y produced i n h i s work " i n d i v i d u a l s " whose masks s h i f t and crumble, whose i d e n t i t y i s always uns t a b l e , on the- other he speaks w i t h equal r e g u l a r i t y of "the c r e a t i v e imagination as a centering process" which may " i n f u s e a d i v e r s e u n i t y of consciousness i n t o every c l o a k or v e h i c l e of memory; thereby s u s t a i n i n g the h i s t o r y of c r i s i s as a l i v i n g process of i n d i v i d u a t i o n r a t h e r than as an expendable and f o r t u i t o u s creed" (UC p. 45). The c o n t r a d i c t i o n — c a p t u r e d here i n "d i v e r s e u n i t y " — is- replaced a l i t t l e l a t e r i n another such ambivalent phrase•which c a l i s up "a c l a s s i c a l / g r o t e s q u e animal of which we know so l i t t l e " (UC p. 47). I t i s as i f both the c l a s s i c a l and the modern i n d i v i d u a l were to be made one f l e s h . W r i t i n g of the o p p o s i t i o n between h i s t o r i c a l l i n e a r i t y and imaginative rupture, H a r r i s observes that " i t takes a p e c u l i a r k i n d of mind...to per c e i v e both s i d e s of the c o i n i n h i s l i f e t i m e , namely the w a l l of p r e j u d i c e and the i n f i n i t e phenomenal resources f o r divergence and d i s c o n t i n u i t y " (HFM p. 26), and perhaps t h i s c a p a c i t y f o r s u s t a i n i n g the dual accounts f o r the c o n t r a d i c t i o n . But on the evidence of the nove themselves, j u s t as we saw a preference f o r the discontinuous over the l i n e a r i n n a r r a t i v e , so we s h a l l f i n d the balance i n favour of the grotesque over the c l a s s i c a l i n character. And t h i s may be f o r no other reason than that i d e a l u n i t y i s destined to elude the most s t a l w a r t o r g a n i c i s t . In t h i s sense, the "discontinuous or dotted l i n e " which H a r r i s proposes f o r the p a t t e r n of h i s t o r y might e q u a l l y t r a c e the i n d i v i dual were not t h i s " i d e n t i t y " one which " c o n s t a n t l y s l i p s from our grasp" (AC p. 8). To t h i s end H a r r i s quotes Yeats: "Man can embody the t r u t h but he cannot know i t , " and coming upon the resurgence of d e s i r e we have not i c e d i n modern w r i t i n g , t h i s maxim assumes a s p e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . These are, of course, p r o p e r l y p h i l o s o p h i c a l i s s u e s , and H a r r i s ' s experimentation t r e a t s them on i t s own terms. Our concern, t h e r e f o r e , must be w i t h the a e s t h e t i c consequences of p l a c i n g " t h i s body i t s e l f " i n the p o s i t i o n of a s i g n i f i e r , and we are shown the f i r s t of these by M i c h e l Foucault. Marking the end of c l a s s i c a l thought, Foucault records the enormous t h r u s t of a freedom, a d e s i r e , or a w i l l p o s i t e d as the metaphysical converse of consciousness. Something l i k e a w i l l or a f o r c e was to a r i s e i n the modern e x p e r i e n c e — c o n s t i t u t i n g i t perhaps, but i n any case i n d i c a t i n g that the C l a s s i c a l age was now over, and w i t h i t the r e i g n of represen-t a t i v e d i s c o u r s e , the dynasty of a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s i g n i f y i n g i t s e l f and g i v i n g v o i c e i n the sequence of i t s words to the order that l a y dormant w i t h i n things.1 115. In l i t e r a t u r e , the age of r e p r e s e n t a t i o n was i n f a c t to o u t l a s t the '. Enlightenment and indeed to come i n t o i t s own i n an age of empiricism; the d e s t r u c t i o n of character begins i n earnest only w i t h that expressionism whose cano n i c a l example i s the Nighttown episode of Joyce's Ulysses. The r e j e c t i o n of the " s t a b l e ego" extends even to a l a r g e l y n a t u r a l i s t i c g Lawrence, but i t i s not u n t i l the nouveau roman that the impulse to c h a r a c t e r i z e works i t s e l f out. "The c h i e f c h a r a c t e r — o n e l e a r n s — i s dishonest. He i s honest," says the bland n a r r a t o r of R o b b e - G r i l l e t ' s 9 Jealousy. More recent experimental f i c t i o n has c a r r i e d t h i s d i s i n t e g r a t i o n much f u r t h e r , and though there have l a t e l y been some moral noises about a r e t u r n to i d e n t i f i a b l e . c h a r a c t e r s , i t w i l l not be easy to put the pieces together again. Of h i s characters i n Palace of the Peacock, H a r r i s has s a i d that he wished to b r i n g them together " i n a c u r i o u s kind of simultaneous sacred self-exposure and rhythm, ra t h e r than i n v e s t i n p o l a r i z e d i d e n t i t i e s " (SI p. 44). Elsewhere, he speaks of Donne, Fenwick and Stevenson as "agents of p e r s o n a l i t y . They are not sovereign p r i n c i p l e s " (KK p. 52). A c c o r d i n g l y , when he comes to t r e a t the novels of others, he i s c r i t i c a l of the c o n s o l i d a t i n g impulse. In Conrad's Heart of Darkness, he sees Marlow d r i v e n to conceal from Kurtz's intended the t r u t h of Kurtz's "malaise of i d e n t i t y , against h i s profoundest, most d i s t u r b i n g i n t u i t i o n of an otherness...the p u l l of l e g a c i e s of p u r i t a n s o l i d a r i t y triumphs and he c o n s o l i d a t e s a f r e s h a hollow p a t t e r n of self-made d e i t y " (FP p. 7). In P a t r i c k White's Voss, he diagnoses a "pathology of c h a r a c t e r " (FP p. 8) which the n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f s u c c e s s f u l l y r e s i s t s : Voss's v e r s i o n of himself i s unexpectedly subverted. And of Naipaul's A House f o r Mr. Biswas, he remarks that the "inner and outer poverty of Naipaul's c h a r a c t e r s — 116. w h i l e achieving at times memorable pathos—never erupts i n t o a r e v o l u t i o n a r y or a l i e n question of s p i r i t , but serves u l t i m a t e l y to c o n s o l i d a t e one's preconception of humanity." Thus we have "a persuasion of s i n g u l a r and p a t h e t i c enlightenment r a t h e r than a t r a g i c c e n t r a l i t y or a c a p a c i t y f o r p l u r a l forms of profound i d e n t i t y " (TW p. 40). These p l u r a l forms of i d e n t i t y i n h a b i t a l l of Harris''s>novels: none of those that I have c o n s i -dered so f a r i s without i t s doubles, and i n l a t e r works l i k e Black Marsden, these doubles become m u l t i p l e s . But j u s t as characters tend to s p l i t o f f from one another, there i s o f t e n a movement i n which t h i s d i r e c t i o n i s reversed and two separate i d e n t i t i e s overlap. Such a s t a t e c h a r a c t e r i z e s Harris's-seventh novel, The Waiting Room (1967). The Waiting Room i s an account f o r the most part of the imaginings of a b l i n d woman, Susan F o r r e s t a l . Susan's opposite number i n t h i s psycho-drama i s i n f a c t not her "other," though he i s the "other man," w i t h whom she once l i v e d r a t h e r than her present husband. He i s , moreover, a v i s i t o r i n memory alone, c a l l e d up out of a past which he and Susan shared before t h e i r e x p l o s i v e s e p a r a t i o n . So, as the Author's Note e x p l a i n s , "he i s sheer phenomenon of s e n s i b i l i t y r a t h e r than i d e n t i c a l character i n the conventional sense" (WR p. 11), and i n t h i s way the w a i t i n g room becomes both Susan's u p s t a i r s r e t r e a t and her very s k u l l which the o l d l o v e r penetrates from time to time. Susan's husband, who does not d i r e c t l y enter the n a r r a t i v e , i s s o l i c i t o u s i n the extreme but unable to touch h i s w i f e i n a v i t a l p a r t ; h i s very p r o t e c t i v e n e s s makes of him a "watchman" where the o l d l o v e r had been a " t h i e f " and r a v i s h e r . The l o v e r , who i s deaf even as Susan i s b l i n d (the husband i s n e i t h e r ) , i s known simply as "he," a t h i r d person whose former crime t r a n s l a t e s at l a s t i n t o a t h e f t of guarded selfhood which undoes the c a t e g o r i e s t h i e f and watchman. In 117. the end, Susan and her husband are k i l l e d i n an e x p l o s i o n which destroys the w a i t i n g room and l a t e r , i n a "delayed b l a s t , " the l o v e r as w e l l . "He," i n the j u n g l e s f a r away, has at l a s t entered the "cave of Susan." The novel i s based on the j o i n t but d i s j o i n t e d d i a r y of the F o r r e s t a l s ( i n t o which "he" has made c e r t a i n i n r o a d s ) , a d i a r y which s u r v i v e s the e x p l o s i o n . Although t h i s e x p l o r a t o r y "logbook" i s " h a l f - o b l i t e r a t e d , " the fragmentation only served "to enhance the e s s e n t i a l composition of the manuscript that i n v o l v e d a c c i d e n t a l d e l e t i o n s or d e l i b e r a t e erasures, r e a p p r a i s a l s , marginal notes, d i s s o c i a t i o n s of l i k e l y m a t e r i a l (as w e l l as a s s o c i a t i o n s of u n l i k e l y m a t e r i a l ) " (p. 10), i n s h o r t , a l l those devices w i t h which we are now f a m i l i a r i n "W.H."'s f i c t i o n . D i v i d i n g chapter f o r chapter i n t o two m i r r o r h a l v e s , the novel i s truncated f o l l o w i n g the chapter, " B l a s t , " so that Book I I , "The Vortex," l a c k s two chapters which might have completed the correspondence w i t h Book I , "The V o i d . " The v o i d we w i l l now recognize as a common f i x t u r e i n H a r r i s ; the v o r t e x i s here a kind of s t i r i n the v o i d , being that point at which the v o i d i s breached, or at any r a t e , reached. In t h e i r p u r s u i t of each other and of e x t i n c t i o n i n t h i s v o i d , Susan and her l o v e r are to some degree helped i n that the one i s u n d i s t r a c t e d by l i g h t and the other undisturbed by sound. To emphasize t h i s f o r t unate d e p r i v a t i o n , H a r r i s has hung as b a c k c l o t h to t h i s drama that p o r t i o n of the myth of Ulysses's f l i g h t from C i r c e which shows the hero bound to the mast as h i s crew row past the s i r e n s , t h e i r ears sealed to the treacherous l u r e of the s i n g i n g . The myth i l l u s t r a t e s once more that paradox of possession i n d i s p o s s e s s i o n which The Eye of the Scarecrow described as "seeing without succumbing." Here, i t i s a v i c t o r y over d e s i r e which i s yet a submission to d e s i r e , an embrace of the d e s t r u c t i o n which nonetheless preserves the i n d i v i d u a l 118. and allows him to hear without succumbing. The novel's f i r s t epigraph, from Keats's l e t t e r of October 1818 to Richard Woodhouse, states the opening premise of t h i s argument: It i s a wretched thing to confess; but i t i s a very truth that not one word I ever u t t e r can be taken for granted as an opinion growing out of my i d e n t i c a l nature—how can i t , when I have no nature? The i n d i v i d u a l has no " i d e n t i c a l nature"—has "no nature" at a l l — a n d yet i t i s p r e c i s e l y t h i s awareness which supports him i n that ambivalent return which was the subject of the Nightingale and Melancholy odes. By no accident has Harris chosen the least romantic of the Romantic poets to point t h i s theme; i n treating the same myth elsewhere he speaks of i t as i l l u s t r a t i n g "a new form of ' c l a s s i c a l ' animation rather than 'romantic' escape or s e l f - d e l u s i o n " (WS p. 53). I t i s t h i s recognition and di s p l a c e -ment of nothingness which gives the i n d i v i d u a l a bare capacity to act while di v e s t i n g h i s s o l i t a r y i d e n t i t y of a l l except those attachments which surround i t s u n r e a l i t y and postpone i t s drive to a n n i h i l a t i o n . In The Waiting Room (which room we have seen i s a kind of enclosing void, an intermediate place) t h i s i s expressed as "the o b l i t e r a t i o n of the bubble of personality i n the ornament of love" (p. 26): the i n d i v i d u a l i s allowed to "know" e x t i n c t i o n , or that c e n t r a l nothingness which personality occludes, while remaining insulated from i t s f i n a l i t y . Yet the purchase of t h i s i n s u l a t i o n i s possible only a f t e r the "hubris of assured character" has been abandoned. We may r e c a l l Zachariah Stevenson of Heartland, r e f l e c t i n g i n the forest on the lesson every conquistador who had been there before him had missed: "They had apparently f a i l e d i n t h e i r mission to catch the u n r e a l i t y of themselves" (p. 30). In the same way, Susan and her lover have been creatures of " i d e a l c o n t r o l " (p. 42), who b u i l t a "curious superstructure of love and p r e s t i g e " (p. 36) 119. about themselves. Only when they begin to demolish t h i s structure and plumb the void i t straddles do they approach the condition described i n the novel's t h i r d epigraph, from E l i o t : "...a moment of exhaustion, of appeasement, of absolution, and of something very near a n n i h i l a t i o n . " When t h i s process i s begun, the "convertible v o i d " of the waiting room turns from a "dock" and "courtroom" i n which Susan arraigns the lover who once.assaulted her, into a "theatre of rehearsal" that i s also an operating theatre. Here, both the assault and the successive eye operations which f a i l e d to save Susan's sight, are rehearsed simul-taneously. On the edge of consciousness, Susan i s also "on an acute threshold of the cavern of r e a l i t y " (p. 45) which i s exactly the u n r e a l i t y of h e r s e l f . No wonder as the seal of l i g h t was torn, the ornamental atmosphere and c u r t a i n rent, that the very t a t t e r s and figments of recollection...preconception...seemed to wave and f l o a t within and above an e s s e n t i a l bareness of conception, g l i m p s e d — f o r the f i r s t i n c r e d i b l e time—but t h i s , too, i n i t s inner conviction and r e a l i t y , was slowly descending into the abstract blaze of s o l i d darkness—immensity of f r a i l d i s t i n c -t i o n . It was t h i s d i s t i n c t i v e n i g h t . . . l i g h t . . . t h e most curious awareness of self-deception, i f self-deception i t was, border-ing as i t did upon the black s a i l of r e a l i t y — w h i c h cast- a dying i l l u m i n a t i o n upon a once f a m i l i a r (now unfamiliar) s e r i e s of landscape carved by the axe of the sea, r o l l i n g marble of ocean, k n i f e - l i n e of the r i v e r s — i o d i n e and grain of earth. Dying wound of i l l u m i n a t i o n and yet the strange thing was that there emerged a f r a i l t y of convertible properties l i k e a healing thread...design...which seemed to endure and outlast every shattered bone or region, stone or age, buried f r o n t i e r or condition (pp. 45-46). Now unconscious, Susan surrenders h e r s e l f as to a "black" p i l o t , weathered masthead, phantom of f l e s h within but beyond the sound of f l e s h , the echo of s e l f - r e g a r d , song of the sirens...One embraced and was held i n turn by t h i s "deaf" mast to which one was t r u l y bound and secured within the elements of d i s t r a c t i o n , paradoxical structure of l i b e r a t i o n , and within c e r t a i n undefinable radius of which—acute coherence and conversion of the s o u l — l a y the 120. choirs of v i s i o n — s h e e r tenacity (even profane c u r i o s i t y ) of the "awakened" eye within the l a t e n t crash and operation of darkness, sheer r e l a t i v e beam, heavy and l i g h t , g ravity as w e l l as i r o n i c weightlessness... Out of t h i s crash of darkness began to emerge one's " l i g h t " c r a f t . . . b i l l o w of the senses: l i g h t n i n g spar... canvas of surf unfurled...in the very teeth...grinding fury, thunder of engines... sea (pp. 47-48). The experience of nothingness ("black s a i l of r e a l i t y , " "'black' p i l o t " ) supports and indeed constitutes Susan inasmuch as she i s a h a l f -knowing, haIf-unknowing survivor. Being of non-being, that i s how t h i s J. as subject comes on the scene, conjugated with the double aporia of a true s u r v i v a l that i s abolished by knowledge of i t s e l f , and by a discourse i n which i t i s death that sustains existence.-^ So Lacan, on the subject's question, "Who am I?" one which he gives an e x c l u s i v e l y grammatico-linguistic answer: f i r s t person singular. The modern cogito's s e l f - i n q u i r y has absorbed philosophers from Descartes to Heidegger and Derrida. Harris treats i t i n passing i n a piece of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m which he c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y enters himself. Approaching the San Dominick i n h i s essay "Benito Cereno," he asks: "Who are the members of i t s crew? Whose value-studded masks do they wear? Who am I? What mask should I wear? "(BC p. 46). These are pertinent questions for an author who, as author, i s not exempt from that f i s s i o n v i s i t e d on h i s f i c t i o n a l i n d i v i d u a l s , and who has declared that "character" i n the novel r e s t s more or le s s on the s e l f -s u f f i c i e n t i n d i v i d u a l — o n elements of persuasion (a refined or l i b e r a l persuasion at best i n the s p i r i t of the philosopher Whitehead) rather than "dialogue" or " d i a l e c t i c " i n the profound and unpredictable sense of person which Martin Buber, for example evokes (TW p. 29). Harris's invoking of Buber i s revealing, for there i s a d i s t i n c t mark of e x i s t e n t i a l phenomenology about h i s i n d i v i d u a l , and i t i s here that h i s hollow person would part company with Lacan's empty subject, for a l l that the void sustains both. Indeed the phrase " p h i l o s o p h i c a l hollowness 121. of man," which occurs i n the essay "Benito Cereno," i s followed by a t e l l i n g parenthesis: "(hollow i n e r t i a yet s p a t i a l ground of hope)." It i s t h i s hope that The Waiting Room sounds, and i t seeks to do so by advancing a claim for "community" which makes further recourse to nothing-ness i n order to create the subject's many others. Susan's eye operation i s " t e c h n i c a l l y s u c c e s s f u l " i n part because she has been the lover's " t r i g g e r , " as i t were operating on him i n her turn: t h e i r s i s a "common step towards ancient s e l f - p o r t r a i t " (p. 32). In order for them to discover t h i s otherness, they must discover the nothingness that l i n k s them. Susan l e t her hand f a l l again with b r u t a l resignation upon the blackened f e t i s h of the log-book. I t seemed to her that " h i s " anatomy parted i n s t a n t l y and ceased to be the b e l l y of c l o t h she s t i l l remembered l y i n g against her f e e t — p i l l o w or d o l l : i n f a c t nothing stood there now but a handful of skinny s a i l i n g pages h a l f - t o r n from t h e i r covers—broken l i n e s which one surmised had been ruled for r i b and bone. Yet even so Susan did not mourn t h e i r (or his) material departure: i f she were to be held g u i l t y and responsible for incapsulating some portion of her log-book into the void i t seemed she had done the r i g h t and true thing, a f t e r a l l , and that t h i s shattered fragment and image would return and grow ultimately to express a genuine faintness of s p i r i t l i k e the r a r e s t body of atmosphere imaginable to confirm those immaterial and c o n f l i c t i n g rumours of r e l a t i o n s h i p between creatures whose bodily s i m i l a r i t y and u n i f o r m i t y — profession or s t a t u s — s e r v e d to d i v i d e (whereas one would have thought i t would have united) them i n t h e i r i n t e r e s t s (pp. 35-36). The chapter which follows "The Operation," "Thing," attempts to v i s u a l i z e that (no)thing which runs through doctor and patient, who are now " i n e x t r i c a b l y involved with the 'dead' choirs of v i s i o n they had i n f l i c t e d upon each other" (p. 52). Accordingly the waiting room i s now once more that f l y i n g v essel which binds and l i b e r a t e s them. As t h e i r "shared skeleton," i t becomes a mast "of love, half-animal, half-human (saddle of earth, car of sky)—mnemonic cloud—'ground' of f l i g h t . . . compass of origins—convergence upon 'concrete' t r a v a i l — f l e s h 122. —THING..." (p. 53). In h i s reading of the Ulysses myth, Harris speaks of the community of i n t e r e s t s on the deck of the ship as betokening a mutual support among di s c r e t e elements (captain, crew, mast, ship) through a displacement of responses from one to another. In t h i s way the waiting room becomes a "waiting room of self-surrender or community" (p. 36). At the end of "The Void," Susan f e e l s that "one was drawn by the skin of the vortex into the other's rent" (p. 54), and i n the same way the novel ends with a r e p e t i t i o n , a kind of anterior r i b taken from i t s own body: *She drew him clo s e r s t i l l within the skin of another incongruous skeleton they shared, f l e s h or wood, swimming i n the glass of t h e i r shop window within and without. Antique display. Waiting room* (pp. 17 and 80). The concert envisaged i n The Waiting Room—Susan and her lover mating and remaking each other, the deaf crew acting for Ulysses, the mast that i s both Ulysses and h i s support, Ulysses hearing where the crew cannot— t r i e s to give consciousness a negative dimension which goes beyond both romantic f a s c i n a t i o n with the death of s e l f and absurdist preoccupation with the anxieties of the e x i s t i n g subject. Such a project must begin with a recognition of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s d e s i r e to appropriate the other, to make the other-in h i s image, for t h i s i s part of the desire that i s to be overcome. Like the representational s e l f , t h i s other i s also a kind of v e r i s i m i l i t u d e , only one projected rather than mimed, a representation of the other as oneself. It i s t h i s order, that of persuasion or c o n t r o l , which comes to be fragmented: hence the "rent" i n the other, the broken image. But beyond t h i s surrender of power there i s an admission of weakness which remains to be made, a weakness which must "confess i t s own broken existence to plumb and v i s u a l i z e i t s true r e l a t i o n s h i p to freedom" (p. 10). A thesis of strength-despite-weakness w i l l come out of t h i s confession, so that one must not top quickly dismiss i t as pragmatically unsound: p r e c i s e l y the completeness (or the realism) of categories such as "weak" and "strong" i s i n question, j u s t as the nature of an i n d i v i d u a l ' (or a group's) capacity to survive i s not explicable i n terms of power alone. S t i l l , there i s a way of showing t h i s r e s i l i e n c e , i f only f r a c t i o n -a l l y , and that i s the f i c t i o n i t s e l f . "Art," Susan's lover pronounces, " i s the phenomenon of freedom....What do I mean by phenomenon? The hole i n the monument, that's what I mean" (p. 66). P l a i n l y , the author f e e l s t h i s t r u t h keenly (since he i s here tempted into speaking i n h i s own v o i c e ) , knowing what John Mepham has c a l l e d the "desire to speak with appropriate i n t e n s i t y about things of which our knowledge i s most 12 uncertain." We must now ask whether t h i s desire finds expression i n a form which f i t s i t s i n t e n s i t y , whether the music the deaf ear hears i s given apt notation. Since what i s to be conveyed does not cohere sensibly, the form cannot be representational; Harris's f i c t i o n i s f o r t h i s reason i n v a r i a b l y fractured. "Appearances cannot be grasped i n t h e i r e n t i r e t y , " the lover continues. "There's always t h i s 'negative' race with or against something...And one can never keep dead i n step" (p. 67). Art, that i s to say, becomes t h i s negative way of showing an ungraspable r e a l i t y , one destined always to elude the sin g l e consciousness. The tableau of Ulysses and the sirens i s for t h i s reason described as "the l i f e of consciousness i n a c i r c u i t of r e l a t i o n s h i p s — a d i a l e c t i c a l meeting ground i n t e r i o r l y v i s u a l i z e d of dance, of music and of images h a l f - s c u l p t u r e , h a l f - p a i n t i n g , " giving r i s e to"marginal f i g u r e s or species of f i c t i o n . . . " (WS p. 53). The c i r c u i t of r e l a t i o n s h i p s , completed by halves and by marginal fi g u r e s , i s best shown j u s t before the end. Susan, who has been t a l k i n g 124. to her husband on the telephone, replaces the receiver and seems to wait for another c a l l . As she l i s t e n s , there i s a crash by which the na r r a t i v e a n t i c i p a t e s the b l a s t that w i l l destroy the antique room and those i n i t . The sea of t r a f f i c i n the street suddenly appeared to r i s e and she f e l t a f a i n t dry wave or shudder s t r i k e the wreck of the room: a blow not unlike the sound of her own f i s t dislodging i t s e l f from i t s shadow pressing into the eye of each f i n g e r - t i p . R o l l i n g "log"-book. Stranded telephone within the dust of memory. Toppling s k u l l , ornamental ear and mouthpiece. H a l f - t r a i l i n g , half-knotted s i g n a l and l i n e . Watchman. THIEF. Nothing moved. It was the strangest discordant f l i g h t of consequences she experienced—agitated body (vacant s t r u c t u r e ) , nerve-end, s t r i n g (bodiless s p l i n t e r ) , tautness of s a i l s t i f f as a comb upon whose giant ;brow nothing moved as i f "nothing" were "something". So obscure t h i s s h i f t or severance was i t seemed l i t t l e more than the p r i c k of an eye-tooth, the pressure of a f i n g e r - n a i l upon the palm of one hand. Nothing s t i l l moved—a f a i n t shadow perhaps against the b a n a l i t y and monument of s o l i p s i s : phantom erection and e j e c t i o n of parts i s s u i n g from the s o l i d tyranny of proportion to swing into new clockwise mouth and head, anti-clockwise defiant trunk and limb (p. 65). Here at l a s t the hole ( i n the "monument of s o l i p s i s " ) i s given shape; here i s that f r a c t i o n a l space, which we saw i n The Eye of the Scarecrow, where one i s able to "be" another. Out of t h i s vortex i n the void the other's c a l l comes: "He addressed her from within h i s new s p i r a l " (p. 66), and i t i s here that the c r y p t i c promise of the Author's Note i s r e a l i z e d : "a f i c t i o n which appears to grasp nothingness runs close to a freedom of r e a l i t y which i s somethingness" (p. 10). If the resort to paradox and apostrophe grate on s e n s i b i l i t i e s accustomed to the bald statement of f a c t , t h i s i s a mark not so much of a momentary opaqueness i n Harris's 13 most minimal f i c t i o n as of the intransigence of the models of f a c t i c i t y i t confronts. Tumatumari (1968), Harris's next and longest novel to date, i s an attempt to externalize the lessons of consciousness we have j u s t been considering. The i n t e r i o r world of The Waiting Room now opens onto a landscape r a t h e r . l i k e that i n Heartland (but a l i t t l e further into Guyana) and the cast comprises people whom, by Brathwaite's early c r i t e r i o n , we can recognize and hope to know. We would, however, be i l l - a d v i s e d to prod t h i s or that character, for Harris has not put away his hollowing t o o l s , wishing as before to undermine the "convention of consciousness— i n s u l a r day or n i g h t — t o v i o l a t e a ghetto of temperament" (p. 79). In order the better to follow h i s project, and consistent with i t s new topography, we w i l l pass from matters; l a r g e l y p h i l o s o p h i c a l to those psychological. The novel i s i n fa c t the record of a crumbling not so much of :the subject as of the subject's mental economy; the heroine, Prudence, suf f e r s a collapse which makes of the novel a "THEATRE OF NERVOUS BREAKDOWN" (p. 123) and a kind of l i b i d i n a l c r i t i q u e of pure reason. Prudence i s thirteen-months-married to the engineer Roi Solman who i s i n charge of a h y d r o e l e c t r i c scheme above the Tumatumari f a l l s . Labour problems with the l o c a l Indians have sent Roi to another part of the country i n search of fresh r e c r u i t s and he leaves Prudence, whose f i r s t c h i l d w i l l die i n infancy, i n the care of t h e i r maid (and h i s mistress) the Amerindian, Rakka. Roi races back when he hears of the death, but i n crossing the r i v e r h i s boat miscarries and he i s swept over the f a l l s and decapitated. When Rakka breaks the news of t h i s fresh tragedy, Prudence s u f f e r s a relapse. Confined to her bedroom, she dreams what i s the opening scene of the novel: coming down to the r i v e r at dawn, she finds the head of her sun king i n the water. The r e s t of the novel i s an evocation of her past, the t h i r t e e n months with Roi and Rakka at Tumatumari, and her Georgetown childhood as one of f i v e children of the celebrated h i s t o r i a n , Henry Tenby. Roi and Tenby have much i n common, chief among t h e i r shared t r a i t s being an apollonian f a i t h to which t h e i r respective professions commit them. That t h i s need not be so, that neither science nor art need be circumscribed by reason, i s part of the novel's th e s i s . Both men therefore s u f f e r a symbolic decapitation, each discovering himself to have been a "clown of realism," the prisoner of a s t r i c t l y r a t i o n a l s e l f . Tumatumari, the name of an actual w a t e r f a l l , means "sleeping rocks." Yet the s i t e i s also for Prudence a "THEATRE OF AROUSAL" (p. 123), an arousal, then, of that which sleeps. Through her "game of the rapids," which she also c a l l s "the game of inner space" (p. 152), Prudence wakens both i n h e r s e l f and r e t r o s p e c t i v e l y i n Roi and Tenbyj. this.other'sleeper, discovering that turbulence which l i e s beneath the smooth face of the r i v e r . An epigraph makes th i s arousal the more p l a i n : The h a l f world i s the world of the shadow wherein the union of nature and society v i o l a t e s and k i l l s the incestuous image. The incestuous image loves i t s own kind, or that which i s made i n i t s image, being thereby v i s i b l y complete and s u f f i c i e n t i n i t s e l f . This image the h a l f w o r l d — t h a t which sleeps below the surface, that which i s other ( i t or id)—overwhelms. The "union of nature and s o c i e t y " has implications we s h a l l come back to; here we must follow the epigraph to i t s conclusion: An enormous mourning camouflage develops around the occasion, an occasion that i s i t s e l f i n deepest correspondence with what i s l o s t and a l i e n and dies to be reborn. Another element has been introduced here, or a correspondence with another the concept not only of what i s buried and submerged but also of what i s a l i e n and removed. Where the f i r s t concerns, as we have seen, the three main characters, the second has i t s f i c t i o n a l embodiment i n rcertain.minor 127. characters of the novel, beginning with Rakka h e r s e l f , and a small band of " l o s t " Indians who are wasting away, but extending as well into the Tenbys, a coloured family who have c e r t a i n skeletons i n t h e i r c l o s e t . Roi's flaw i s of a d i f f e r e n t kind. He does not conceal the f a c t that he i s part Indian, but h i s very admission that he i s an "employer of consciousness ( h a l f - n a t i v e , h a l f - f o r e i g n ) . An i n s i d e r / o u t s i d e r " (p. 52) commits him to a paternal gambit by which he seeks to r i t u a l l y placate, and thereby c o n t r o l , h i s labourers. By t h i s means they become "his 'Indians', h i s ' c h i l d r e n ' , " and Rakka h i s "Mistress in>the cupboard" (p. 47). His strategy i s pursued i n the name of "day-to-day r u l e , " "emancipation— enlightenment," and with a r e s o l u t i o n that makes of him an " e l e c t r i c f i e n d . " Yet he has had h i s warning: f i v e years e a r l i e r , while i n s t a l l i n g an automatic gauge i n a well above the f a l l s , he slipped to a "head-on (bulb of safety within) collision...'When they pulled me up I f e l t l i k e glass. Shining and white. E l e c t r i c i t y to l a s t a l i f e t i m e ' " (p. 25). Later the well was abandoned, but, boarded over, i t s concrete s h e l l was to become Prudence's favourite chair and the rock at i t s bottom the alchemical counterpart of that beneath the f a l l s . Here Prudence s i t s to conjure up the past, so that i t i s both her father's "Chair of History" and a "chair of pride" (which, one might say, goeth before a f a l l s ) . There i s a sense i n which Prudence assumes r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r her husband's death, so that he dies "THROUGH HER (AS IF SHE WOULD SUMMON HIM, PUSH HIM)" (p. 28), ju s t as Nameless pushed L into the canal i n The Eye of the  Scarecrow, turning her love into a d i s i n t e r e s t e d thing. This temper she has learnt from Roi himself, who wishes to implant i n her "not the incestuous mirror of love but the sceptic withdrawal at the heart of nature" (p. 27). In her memory he becomes "no longer a ti s s u e of fear 128. but wires knotted into a c r u c i a l rose which penetrated her" (p. 54). The type of technocratic pride, Roi appears to know his lesson before he has learnt i t : he seems already informed of (and w i l l i n g to discourse on) the s t o i c truth which the Indians of the story come to represent, and t h i s before h i s f a l l . So that i t i s i n Henry Tenby that the narrative achieves a success which the half-autobiographical Roi (with h i s ready insi d e knowledge) does not allow. In speaking of another coloured hero, t h i s time the r e a l l i f e revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, as depicted i n C.L.R. James's Black Jacobins, Harris has remarked that h i s bold r e a l i z a t i o n by the author avoided " f a s c i s t ornament or l i b e r a l s elf-deception," but that the "curious almost unwitting irony of the work" i s that Toussaint "emerges not because he f i t s i n where James wants him to stand, but because he escapes the author's self-determination i n the end" (TW p. 44). Quite the same might be said of the composite appollonian f i g u r e , Roi-Tenby: where Roi seems precast, h i s father-in-law takes shape i n the very instant he loses dimension. Tenby's moment of truth comes at the end of h i s l i f e (though he has had glimpses of i t e a r l i e r ) and i t i s only as a ghost brought back by h i s daughter that he speaks with authority. In h i s dissolved person, we in'-.turn get a 14 glimpse of what might be c a l l e d " h o r r i f i e d consciousness." As he died, Tenby's expression was "so twisted he became a creature cloven i n two, one face beneath emerging from the o l d " (p. 45). He had, of course, been aware of h i s divided l i f e , and at times of c r i s i s reminded h i s wife of h i s "bogus h i s t o r i c a l mask,"but for the most part he had managed a compromise " u n t i l the day of h i s death when something else, the daemon behind the virtuous mask, sprang into view" (p. 46). In Tenby, the two "others" coalesce; both psychological and s o c i a l 1 2 9 . denials merge. The concealment (when distinguished guests are present) of Hugh Skelton, the black son among four white c h i l d r e n , a concealment which Tenby does not authorize but which he countenances, i s of a piece with h i s purging of a l l emotion from h i s wr i t i n g . Thus the d i v i s i o n between h i s published and h i s unpublished work sets up a d u a l i t y of ego and i d , conscious and unconscious. On the one hand, refinement, s t a t i s t i c s , the mask of a public s t y l e : "RADIO SKELETON. Committed to formal documen-tary, s k i n f l i n t essays, h i s t o r i c a l a t t r i b u t i o n s which were bland and persuasive, vested i n t e r e s t " (p. 1 2 9 ) ; on the other, secret d i a r i e s and unpublished plays, whose atmospherics disturb h i s program: "secret wave-length from the f u t u r e — T h e a t r e of Nervous Breakdown—hum of the grotesque" (p. 1 2 9 ) . The stage i s set, then, for a return of the repressed, and i t comes as surely as i t does to that other c l a s s i c a l h i s t o r i a n , the Baron von Aschenbach. The year Hugh Skelton Tenby was born, h i s father wrote h i s essay on the "Population Question." As Prudence s i t s i n her "Chair of the Well," quotations from t h i s essay appear at random i n the body of the narr a t i v e : " 3 , 0 1 0 , 0 0 0 Negroes were transplanted from A f r i c a to the B r i t i s h Colonies from 1680 to 1 8 3 4 . At the time of emancipation but 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 slaves remained to be freed" (p. 9 8 ) . Among East Indians, "at no time were ever more than 33 women brought i n to each hundred men"; the "Chinese of 1853 never saw a sing l e woman of th e i r race u n t i l 1 8 6 0 , " and then there were "about 15 females to every hundred males"; Amerindians suffered "a depletion of 2 0 , 0 0 0 souls during the f i r s t hundred years of Dutch occupation" (pp. 9 7 - 9 8 ) . "But canes were growing" (p. 9 9 l ^ Then Tenby's pen f a l l s from h i s hand into the we l l , and a new h i s t o r y , driven by a l l the desire pent and punished i n those words, comes to be written. It i s a magnificent piece of w r i t i n g : the remainder of the novel shows Harris at work with an i n t e n s i t y and daring sustained at t h i s p i t c h so f a r only i n Palace of the Peacock. The Tenby who has hit h e r t o conscripted h i s "muse" ("I must do nothing so hideous as erect a scandal. Merely report an e r e c t i o n " ) , now finds himself confronted by a "waif of the s t r e e t s " he had met i n the grim post-War Europe of 1919. Married to t h i s new "muse of h i s t o r y , a l i e n f a b r i c — d e g r e e s of fear, fear of the unknown, psyche of a new world" (p. 103), he fi n d s h i s w r i t i n g become un d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , promiscuous i n the very sense of the word. Linked to the primary process, i t records the many faces of anxiety and neurosis, d e s i r e and fear, shaking o f f that control whose order too e a s i l y translates as domination."*"^ ROOM NUMBER 1924. Brothel, of Masks. I t was long past midnight. Prudence discerned him (her father) far beneath strapped i n h i s space ship. No longer half-man, half-horse but half-man, half-mask. Half-man, half-woman. Business was poor on the mountain of souls. A l l he had been able to squeeze out of the b i t c h who ran the establishment was a cursed j o b — l o o k e d l i k e a c r i p p l e . Underweight. Undernourished. Sometimes there was a shortage of f a b r i c . One and the same. One had to bear with i t . Limbs of straw. Bed of stone. Postwar years. P o s t - r i o t days. The whole land mourned and  awaited the return of the Hero—the coming of a god—long since  consigned to rot and waste—womb of s i l e n c e . The space ship heaved—casket and hearse—stood on i t s t a i l l i k e a dog at a post—lamp-post—epitaph: half-mask or woman rose into view sprinkled by immensity—a patient yet inexhaustible c r e a t u r e — goddess of urine and s t a r l i g h t — b r u i s e d by her father's f i s t s — black and blue. Conception of Hugh Skelton—Skeleton i n the  Cupboard 1924 Born 1938 Prudence shivered. Unholy brother and treaty of s e n s i b i l i t y . Shove him underground. The whole  land mourned for the b i r t h of s a c r i f i c e . Wailing women under the s t a r s , the moon and the sun. Sprinkled by immensity. Shove him underground. It was a strange wild outcry—hoarse and f a n t a s t i c within the throat of the waif of the s t r e e t s . Waif of the docks and s t r e e t s . Waterfall of prophecy. Bath. SHIP OF THE WAIF. Within t h i s s p r i n k l e — h e r father's quest of loathing and des i r e , treaty of s e n s i b i l i t y — o n e saw the shoal of h i s t o r y — t h e remoulding of every vessel into the Matriarch of Obsession. Bury him s i x feet underground. He had abused her, bruised her for centuries. Sometimes f i f t y i n a sing l e night. Now i t was as i f she saw him ripening in t o one black man. Many men subsumed i n the Phallus. Which must now therefore serve her, s a t i s f y a l l the appetites i t had created, scenes—scores of m i l l i o n s . I t was her t u r n — the turn of a l l the women he had raped to l o r d i t over him. To p u s h - p u l l - d r i v e . .. (pp. 100-101). When the old taboos have been v i o l a t e d and fear of the other overcome, the s p e l l of sameness i s broken. U n t i l then, (one can only whisper with the breath of the wind)—archangel of the future, sculpture of earth-shaking compassion and immunity to fear upon which dogs of ivory are chained whose masks of s o l i p s i s no longer confine u s — i v o r y tower of poverty, ivory tower of wealth, ivory tower of race, ivory tower of...Their name i s Legion. A long way to go before t h e i r b i t e can be endured: sink into the ground—give teeth to conscience?:-borie to conscience, blood to conscience...." "Prick to conscience." "Yes. Pr i c k to conscience. In the meantime...." "In the meantime what?" the waif of the docks and stre e t s asked. "We must l i v e with FACE LIFT..." he laughed with a groan and a bark. "Jack History," the waif of the streets c r i e d . "What an enormous face l i f t . Enormous joke. There's a p r i c k f or you." (pp. 104-105). The "Population Question" has taken on quite another colour, and to emphasize the matter of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , the narr a t i v e presents a picture of Hugh Skelton shot i n the stre e t s of Georgetown i n the Budget Riots of 1962: "Message for Hugh Skelton. This b u l l e t f i r e d by your father's  r i c h k i t h and k i n — a l l races of endeavour—white+brown+black"(p• 120). Here again i s that "nightmare of h i s t o r y " we saw Nameless invoke i n The Eye of the Scarecrow, and only now i s that unkept promise, to trace some v i c t i m of p o l i c e f i r i n g , f u l f i l l e d . The purpose of t h i s exercise? "Dream therapy—shock therapy... Resurrect the past i n order to see through the present" (p. 126). So, when Prudence begins to learn the rules of t h i s historico-psychotherapy, she sees an eye open i n the w e l l , the mark of that other or " I T " which gives the l i e to the ego's representations, being "a h a i r l i n e or crack within the Obsessional Mask of an Age" (p. 114). For the i n d i v i d u a l , Harris's p r e s c r i p t i o n i s f i r s t a kind of descent into "oneself" which recognizes the hollowness of t h i s s e l f . Seated i n h i s Chair of History, Prudence's father c r i e s out to her: "Close your eyes. Tight. What do you see?" "I see nothing. Just a few strokes...dots...spread out l i k e a map... shapes i n a bottomless pool..." "Nothing," he agreed....One day you may learn to look back at t h i s dwindling moment (soul's straw) and wonder... whether there was anybody there but an abstraction of y o u r s e l f " (p. 123). But, eyes open, Tenby demands a further recognition, one which Roi, who i s " i n pursuit of and pursued by 'contradictions'," a n t i c i p a t e s : "a digestion of contrary elements" which might lead to that " c l a s s i c a l / grotesque" s e l f Harris p o s i t s . This motion passes at l a s t into the primal state of the i n d i v i d u a l unconscious, "the Dark, black amoral dark" (p. 134) where there i s no negation. This i s , as Harris recognizes, treacherous, even forbidden ground, but p r e c i s e l y because i t i s forbidden i t i s to be v i o l a t e d . Its s o c i a l and natural equivalent i s more troubling: an "underlying sardonic f l u x " to things, where the contradictions of h i s t o r y seem dissolved or at l e a s t held i n suspension. Here then i s the "union of nature and s o c i e t y " foreshadowed i n the novel's second epigraph, one which f i n d s i t s philosophic expression i n a r e v i v a l of that " d i s c r e d i t e d manifesto—red-in-tooth-and-claw evolutionary materialism' (p. 141). Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , the Indians of the novel come to embody the v i r t u e of stoicism."'"'7 Stoicism i s an i n d i v i d u a l a f f a i r ; the " c o l l e c t i v e " Brathwaite saw i n the poems turns out to be something nearer a c o l l e c t i v e unconscious, which supports rather than undermines the i n d i v i d u a l . But the sense (and even a doctrine) of "community" i s strong i n Harris's work, and the q u a l i t i e s of compassion and love, which carry h i s philosophy beyond a s o c i a l Darwinism, are the l e a s t private of responses. We do not, then, f i n d the c l a s s i c a l i n d i v i d u a l restored; what suf f e r s i s that i n d i v i d u a l ' s r e c o g n i z a b i l i t y (which we w i l l remember to have been Brathwaite's c r i t e r i o n ) , f or from the s t a r t Harris has i n s i s t e d on confronting "the unrecognizable features of the human heart" (FJO p. 79), those which astonish Tenby at the end of h i s l i f e . The n a t u r a l i z i n g of society and the i n d i v i d u a l (a motion consistent with the displacement of time into space, or h i s t o r y into nature, which we noticed i n the l a s t chapter) i s only ha l f the programme, and though i t 18 sometimes verges on what might be c a l l e d Gnostalgia, i t i s not auto-m a t i c a l l y a reactionary impulse. Nor are the reasons for t h i s exploration of "neglected areas within ourselves" (SI p. 41) to be roundly diagnosed as a p r o j e c t i o n into n a r r a t i v e of personal contradictions (Brathwaite's " d i v i s i o n i n the poet," or indeed Roi's "extremes—extremity of loathing and d e s i r e " [p. 92]) and the matter l e f t there. "One must not read too much into the night of things," the lover declares i n The Waiting Room, and while a psychoanalytic response to t h i s d e n i a l might be to begin i n v e s t i g a t i n g here and at once, I would suggest that we read H a r r i s ' s engagement with darkness and void (which go by many names, from "inner space" to a Jungian "objective psyche") as a f i g u r a t i v e attempt to keep open and a l i v e a contradictory other which w i l l not succumb to the homo-genizing advances of the same. The nature of community, as Harris conceives i t , i s p r i m a r i l y hetero-geneous: hence h i s r e i t e r a t i o n of the need to l i v e with contraries (as d i s t i n c t , f o r example, from "the t o t a l i t a r i a n basis of community—the t a c t i c of fascism which battens on fear of contrasts" [NP p. 144]). 134. In turn, t h i s i s where i n d i v i d u a l i t y finds a precarious raison d'etre: the very fragmentation of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s wholeness, i n a "theatre of nervous breakdown," for example, becomes a model of a larger s o c i a l process. Her c h i l d and husband dead, Prudence finds h e r s e l f "searching for a concen-t r a t i o n or l o c a t i o n of loss to serve as the medium out of which a new i l l u m i n a t i o n of f e e l i n g could emerge" (p. 17). And i t i s j u s t the same with the " l o s t Indians of the Sun" i n Tumatumari, or the wasting Amerindian remnant of Guyana, who here as everywhere i n Harris's novels p e r s i s t as what Roi, i n a "voice from the underground,." c a l l s "the conscience of our age...In t h i s part of the world anyway...our precious scarecrow brood" (p. 35). The "necessary v i o l a t i o n " of cultures then, so f a r from complacently r e i n s t a t i n g natural s e l e c t i o n , requires that the other be part of the heterogeneous community and yet for t h i s reason r e t a i n i t s a l i e n aspect. The "breakdown" v i o l a t e s that preservation (or reserv-ation) i n t a c t which marks the persistence of power, whether at the l e v e l of society (where Indians become "Indians") or of the i n d i v i d u a l (where love turns out to be protection of the other for oneself).. In each of these cases, the "character" of the other i s determined by the representor, who thereby becomes the representative. Hence the deceit of recognizable "representation," of i d e n t i t y i t s e l f , and hence the experimental d i s t o r t i o n of the mimetic mode. The "fear of the stranger" within and without, the "incestuous barricade of f a m i l i e s " (p. 71), i s a r e j e c t i o n of the contradictory other by a f i x i n g of i t s i d e n t i t y . But what i f that other (not to speak of oneself) were without i d e n t i t y , were so weak or reduced as to be nothing? This i s j u s t how Tenby's new muse appears before him when he returns to the Brothel of Masks, and understandably he has trouble recognizing or placing her: YES SIR GOD FATHER OF LOVE—she had been there a l l along (his l o s t waif of the streets) disguised as nothing, a mere b u t t o n — t h e r e f o r e impregnable: h a i r l i n e or crack i n the obsessional mask of an a g e — f l i c k of transparency which cloaked h i s sight (p. 119). The nothingness of the i n d i v i d u a l has assumed a new dimension, and to match i t , h i s t o r y i s imaged as a "bottomless pool" (out of which the waif emerges), receptacle of dregs and r e f u s e , a l l those discarded scraps which, as we saw from h i s patchwork s t y l e i n "Experiment and Language," i t i s Harris's desire to rescue. For the i n d i v i d u a l t h i s s i g n i f i e s both "the s p l i n t e r i n g of p e r f e c t i o n i s t assumptions... f a l l of Eldorado, f a l l of the c l i f f of f a i t h " and, a f t e r the f a l l , a source of "new engines or structures of the psyche" (p. 153), put together a f t e r a fashion we w i l l examine i n Harris's next novel, Ascent to Omai. Supporting the new h i s t o r y , i s that f a m i l i a r d i v i s i o n i n the Guyana novels between i n e r t i a and v i t a l i t y as figured by coast and i n t e r i o r . In Ascent to Omai (1970), t h i s psychogeography i s l o c a l i z e d . The i n t e r i o r now becomes Omai chasm, an abyss into which the C h r i s t - l i k e hero, V i c t o r , 19 peers from time to time during h i s s o l i t a r y climb up the h i l l of Omai. Invoked i n various c o n t e x t s — t h e chasm in V i c t o r ' s side, the chasm between a p r o s t i t u t e ' s t h i g h s — t h i s deep romantic chasm becomes an unashamed image of the i r r a t i o n a l , a use which i s s p e c i f i e d i n the second of the novel's two epigraphs. Since "adventure" and "science" have led over many centuries to the denigration of humanity, robot law, unfeeling yoke, there i s no ground of a l t e r n a t i v e s but to recover the "dangerous" chasm, the "forbidden" ascent and seek a new dimension of f e e l i n g — a new oath of humanity. The quotation marks which set off "dangerous" and "forbidden" i n t h i s passage should d i s s i p a t e both the notion that t h i s i s an innocent or unwary return to d i s c r e d i t e d emotions and the old fear that that way 136. l i e s a kind of p o l i t i c a l madness we had better shun. Harris i s e n t i r e l y aware of the r i s k he takes, and i t i s along that face where hi s t o r y over-hangs legend and f a c t i c i t y f e e l i n g , that he has chosen to cut hi s f i c t i o n a l d e f i l e . From noon to sunset, s i x hours, V i c t o r climbs i n search of h i s father Adam's mining claim on the h i l l . Struck by a f a l l i n g stone, b i t t e n by 20 a tarantula, he presses on u n t i l he catches the g l i n t of l i g h t o f f f i r s t an aeroplane i n the sky and then the wreckage of one on the ground. Here he discovers the s i t e of h i s pork-knocker father's claim: "here Adam had f i r s t come and s e t t l e d with a woman upon h i s release from prison" (pp. 47-48). He crawls into the burnt and now overgrown s h e l l of the crashed plane, h i s head almost touching the ground l i k e one of those limbo dancers he remembers from h i s childhood, "dancing under a hori z o n t a l pole through what seemed the keyhole of space" (p. 48). In t h i s f l u i d zone of " a g i l i t y and r i g i d i t y , v e r t i c a l pole, h o r i z o n t a l couch, wheel and spin, limbo a i r c r a f t , " he begins to reassemble h i s past and to write, through an imagined judge who went down with the plane, a "novel h i s t o r y " of h i s father's past as w e l l . Adam had been a dancer and pork-knocker who, upon the death of h i s wife, became "stone drunk, crazed by g r i e f , and had returned to h i s o r i g i n a l c r a f t , welding" (p. 30). Poorly paid, he squandered his l i t t l e money on women he brought home, while the boy V i c t o r would "hide beneath the p e t t i c o a t of h i s ancient mother and keep h i s eyes glued through i t s misty f a b r i c upon the l i v i n g copulation of the dead" (pp. 30-31). At ten, V i c t o r won a scholarship to the best day school i n the land, and there proved himself "a child-prodigy, monster." After c l a s s , he would amuse himself by l y i n g i n wait outside the foundry with a mirror i n h i s 137. hand to t r a in the sun on h i s father's face, so that Adam would brush " f u r i o u s l y , i r r i t a b l y — a t spider or bread." One day h i s father did not appear. A s t r i k e had begun, one that was to l a s t s i x months and end only with Adam, driven to desperation, burning down f i r s t the factory and then hi s own house. On hearing the sentence passed—seven years' hard labour — V i c t o r had run away from home and school, leaving only rumours behind him. Now, f o r t y years l a t e r , he journeys to Omai and there imagines a r e t r i a l of the past by the same judge who had sentenced Adam. Sensing that the plane i s to crash, the judge has nevertheless boarded the a i r c r a f t , and i t i s h i s gnomic s c r i b b l e s , t h i r t y thousand feet above ground, which constitute the bulk of the novel. In a c l e v e r l y orchestrated ending, the crash of the plane and the burning of Adam's house merge i n the l a s t f l a r e of day, so that V i c t o r looks up at l a s t to find h i s long-lost father who had set f i r e to the one f i g h t i n g the blaze i n the other. By the end, the hero has come to be "Victor/Adam," a composite f i g u r e whose new authority springs from having reached that c l a s s i c psychoanalytic s t a t i o n , the confronting of the dead father, a r i t u a l we saw enacted i n The Eye of the Scarecrow as w e l l . It i s also a recognition of the death i n oneself of those numerous d i s c r e t e past persons whose apparently seamless contiguity makes up that uniform "character" i n whose proper name one masquerades. In Ascent to Omai, the death of these "old and new persona-l i t i e s " (TW p. 28), i s the "game of the stone." Looking back on h i s childhood game of tossing pebbles into a canal, V i c t o r inscribes on each of the concentric horizons of h i s l i f e a separate epitaph. This r e a l i z a t -ion that "he was to die again and again" (p. 92) i s the "drama of puberty" by which the boy V i c t o r frees himself f i r s t from mother (the housecoat retreat) and then from father (the welder's mask) u n t i l he assumes 138. r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r h i s own creation. But there are wider implications to the judge's b e l i e f that "that small boy could be, i n f a c t , the author of himself" (p. 79). V i c t o r ' s coming to terms with catastrophe and los s i n i t i a t e s as well a philosophy of persistence i n the face of devastation: inoculated by f i r e , insulated from f i r e , he began with the charcoal of memory—epitaphs and s t a g e s — t o adumbrate, from an unconscious/subconscious struggle with fate, a deeper and more far-reaching proccesional note of l i b e r a t i o n (p. 109). The subconscious now touches upon the conscious i n a manner which Harris w i l l endow with both u n i v e r s a l and s o c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , through a p h i l o -sophy so intensely held that f or V i c t o r i t "bordered upon a r e l i g i o u s conviction" (p. 18). The question i s t h i s : sentence having been passed in the very entrenched nature of things, wherein lay the p o s s i b i l i t y of parole, genuine parole, true parole from the whole f o r l o r n prison-house of adventure, claim of Adam, backside of the moon, OH MY? (p. 51) The answer i s of course not on Omai, but i n Omai chasm. And t h i s chasm i s now conceived as a limbo zone i n both man and nature which allows for a kind of redress i n a world of necessity. The " s a n c t i f i c a t i o n of space" (p. 89), which i n the i n d i v i d u a l becomes a " s a n c t i f i c a t i o n of vacancy" (p. 34), i s a gesture I traced at some length i n the l a s t chapter. By i t , the chasm i s a repository "elsewhere" of what H a r r i s has c a l l e d a "sacred otherness/darkness" (BC p. 52), which i s a resource (rather than a source, or origin) i n times of catastrophe. Reduced to u t t e r inconse-quence, the i n d i v i d u a l finds h i s element i n the very n u l l i t y of h i s circumstances, and f a b r i c a t e s a more c r e d i b l e s e l f than any wrought from an o r i g i n a l plenitude. He has, a f t e r a l l , nothing to l o s e . In the p i t t e d landscape of Omai, t h i s i r o n i c discovery of something i n nothing i s expressed by "glimmers of sun...like e l e c t r i c l i g h t stored i n the ruined body of the bush" (p. 49). This explains the play (some might say, t r i c k ) of mirrors i n Ascent to Omai: a play by which some of the randomness i n the heap of broken images (glass, t i n , wing-tip) that i s the world, i s given s i g n i f i c a n c e . Coincidence, that i s to say, becomes the novel's many angles of incidence ( i n mirror, aeroplane, welder's a r c l i g h t , surgeon 1 lamp) by which l i g h t i s trained and i d e n t i t y salvaged from r e l a t i o n s h i p . Hence, too, the prominence, i n t h i s and many another Harris novel, of the pork-knocker. For the pork-knocker i s , as I have suggested, that b r i c o l e u r whose a c t i v i t y endows random objects with a conjunctive s i g n i f i -cance beyond (and often despite) t h e i r o r i g i n a l purpose or purposelessness. So Adam, the f i r s t pork-knocker, who upon h i s release from prison must st a r t with nothing, goes to work on the wreckage of the aeroplane. He had salvaged a piece of t i n for a headboard or witness to h i s claim since t h i s had to be erected, according to law, to ensure h i s prospecting r i g h t s . I t was now a l l overgrown with fern V i c t o r saw l i k e tarantula, masked f a b r i c or a i r c r a f t on which had been inscribed—MINING CLAIM TAKEN BY ONE ADAM, MANNA OF SPACE, THIS CENTURY OF GHOSTS, TWENTIETH CENTURY. (It was the habit of porknockers to chri s t e n t h e i r claims with i d i o -s yncratic r e l i s h compounded nevertheless of curious irony and compassion) (p. 48). The salvaging pork-knocker i s an image of Harr i s ' s own symbolic experimentation, an experimentation which snatches meaning from the jaws of the void, even at the pr i c e of a c e r t a i n romancing. The n o v e l i s t i s , of course, a l i v e to t h i s r i s k ; h i s i s no innocent symbolism. Here he allows an Adam imprisoned i n and by things to view a more believable world: A roof, a f t e r a l l , which had been sti t c h e d with planks, convicts' muscle, was nothing but a roof (he reasoned); a stone, a f t e r a l l , which had been quarried and broken, convicts' lungs, nothing but a stone; a tree a f t e r a l l , which had been twisted and bent, convicts' fantasy, nothing but a tree; f l e s h , a f t e r a l l , which have been furred and torn, convicts' cat, nothing but f l e s h . Nerveless i d e n t i t y . 140. It was a l l so l u c i d , so abstract, drained of s u p e r s t i t i o n (cinematic menu, euthanasia of the absurd, consuming appetite of the dead) that he dreamt he had emancipated the "object"—overthrown the seal of pain....(p. 41) The implication i s that V i c t o r w i l l discover meaning i n t h i s world, a meaning discoverable i n i t s lapsarian pain. But t h i s u n i v e r s a l s i g n i f i -cance i s only part of the p i c t u r e , for i f i t confronts a consensus of mean-inglessness, i t s s o c i a l equivalent, the salvage of meaning by the "ruined porknocker," must contend with a consensus of weakness—that v i s i o n of absolute d e s p o l i a t i o n which we saw i n the received version of the l o s t Indians of Tumatumari. In fact V i c t o r , whatever h i s un i v e r s a l meaning, i s there to redress what Ha r r i s has elsewhere c a l l e d " v ictim s t a s i s " (KK p. 46), that reproduction of the victim's p r o s t r a t i o n which i s i t s e l f 21 a form of v i c t i m i z a t i o n . So, even as he re j e c t s the "sovereign i n d i -v i d u a l , " Harris i s w i l l i n g to speak, f o r example, of the " i n d i v i d u a l A f r i c a n slave," i n order to disrupt p r e c i s e l y such a mimesis of slavery. Let us look at the i n d i v i d u a l A f r i c a n slave. I say i n d i v i d u a l d e l i b e r a t e l y though t h i s i s obviously an absurd l a b e l to apply to the persons of slaves i n t h e i r binding h i s t o r i c a l context. But since t h e i r a r r i v a l i n the Americas bred a new and p a i n f u l obscure i s o l a t i o n (which i s d i f f i c u l t to penetrate i n any other terms but a free conceptual imaginat-ion) one may perhaps dream to v i s u a l i z e the s u f f e r i n g and o r i g i n a l grassroots of i n d i v i d u a l i t y . . . H e (the problematic slave) found himself s p i r i t u a l l y alone since he worked side by side with others who spoke d i f f e r e n t d i a l e c t s . The creat i v e human c o n s o l a t i o n — i f one dwells upon i t meaning-f u l l y t o d a y — l i e s i n the search for a kind of inward dialogue and space when one i s deprived of a ready conversational tongue and hackneyed comfortable approach. When therefore one speaks of an i n a r t i c u l a t e body of men, confined on some h i s t o r i c a l plane, as possessing the grass-roots of Western i n d i v i d u a l i t y one i s c r e a t i v e l y r e j e c t i n g , as i f i t were an i l l u s i o n , every given, t o t a l and s e l f -s u f f i c i e n t s i t u a t i o n and dwelling within a capacity for mental and unpredictable pain which the human person endured then or endures- now'in or f o r any time, .or' place., .To develop the point further i t i s clear that one i s r e j e c t i n g the sovereign i n d i v i d u a l as such. For i n spite of h i s emancipation he consolidates every advance by conditioning himself to function s o l e l y within h i s contemporary s i t u a t i o n more or less as the slave appears bound s t i l l upon h i s h i s t o r i c a l and archaic plane. It i s i n t h i s "closed" sense that freedom becomes a progressive i l l u s i o n and i t i s within the open capacity of the person—as d i s t i n c t from the persuasive refinements of any s o c i a l o r d e r — w i t h i n the su f f e r i n g and enduring capacity of the obscure person (which capacity one shares with both " c o l l e c t i v e " slave and "separate" i n d i v i d u a l i n the past and i n the future) that a, scale emerges and continues i n d e f i n i t e l y to emerge which makes i t possible for one (whoever.that one may be, today or tomorrow) to measure and abolish each given s i t u a t i o n (pp. 33-34). I have quoted at length from the important essay, " T r a d i t i o n and the West Indian Novel," because t h i s passage explains i n a remarkable way the recurrence i n Harris's f i c t i o n of the "obscure person," of "the i r r e l e v a n t disabled of mankind, the i r r e l e v a n t dead, the i r r e l e v a n t beaten, the i r r e l e v a n t b l i n d " (IN p. 140) . Recognizing that there i s no weakness so c r i p p l i n g as that chosen for the weak, Har r i s i s concerned to go beyond "given" weakness. His symbolic experimentation does t h i s by presenting (rather than re-presenting) those whose r e s i d u a l resources (of choice, endurance, courage, compassion) have been defined out of existence, those so marginal as to have become i n v i s i b l e . Hence the "negative body" of a drowned s a i l o r i n one of the novel's poems (perhaps the same S a i l o r who gives the boy V i c t o r a lesson at the end); hence again, the " s a n c t i f i c a t i o n of vacancy": " p i t i l e s s divorce from o r i g i n s as well as p i t i f u l v a c a n c y — a l i e n and reconstructive s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n " (p. 57). In the course of another essay, Harris quotes f i r s t Anthony Burgess and then Georg Lukdcs on the novel hero; then he remarks: From my point of view, weak person and middle-of-the-road hero are of d i s t i n c t i n t e r e s t because i t i s here, I believe, at t h i s l o c a t i o n of uncertainty that a breakthrough from the consolidat-ion of the fashionable absurd (the self-mockery of the contemporary European novel) may well l i e (IN p. 144). 142. I n t e r e s t i n g l y , H a r r i s now extends his c r i t i q u e of consolidated "character" from the nineteenth century r e a l i s t novel to the twentieth century absurdist novel. In the face of the i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d middle-of-the-road hero, he confesses, "I must speak of a 'middle-of-the-road' hole within my Iconic landscape." He then i l l u s t r a t e s his case: The Ibo of Nigeria are a t e r r i f y i n g example of the engulfment which can suddenly overtake a people within a trauma of help-l e s s n e s s — e x t e r n a l conquest, i n t e r n a l c o l l a p s e . There i s reason to believe that the e a r l i e s t forms of t r a g i c art were born out of a necessity to compensate such losses within the human psyche. With the mutilation and decline of the conquered t r i b e a new shaman or a r t i s t struggles to emerge who finds himself moving along the knife-edge of change. He has been, as i t were, c r o s s - f e r t i l i z e d by v i c t o r and victim...(p. 145). In Ascent to Omai, we see the hole r e a l i z e d , for the judge wishes to present" the unique density and transparency of h i s v i c t i m ( s p e c t r a l character and dust)" (p. 85). I t i s even more gr a p h i c a l l y rendered i n the opening scene of the novel, where we f i n d V i ctor pursuing Adam— "lacuna of the watershed" (p. 24)—up Omai h i l l . The ruined f i g u r e resumed i t s f l i g h t on the h i l l l i k e someone f a l l i n g up a ladder, looking back a l l the while. It seemed to V i c t o r that the s l a t e of h i s head cracked s t i l l f arther around h i s eyes leaving a blank space a l l of a sudden where his features had been; and t h i s implosive c h a r a c t e r i s t i c began i n turn to eat downwards into h i s shoulders and to his middle l i k e a gigantic c o l l a p s i n g globule, p o r t r a i t of r a i n and chalk. There remained only h i s stalwart legs l i k e trees walking up the h i l l , ragged trousers of leaves. But blue rather than green, blue leaves within a f o r e s t of cloud (pp. 15-16). Here we see foreshadowed that tabula rasa of Black Marsden. The void of a hollow "character," "blank cheque of compassion" (p. 85), i s the experimental novel's answer to the photographic i d e n t i t y of t r a d i t i o n a l 22 l i t e r a r y p o r t r a i t u r e . Where the l a t t e r i s posed or composed—or at any rate, c o m p o s i t e — i t s other i s i n perpetual danger of f a l l i n g i n on 143. i t s e l f , inhabiting as i t does that "borderline t e r r i t o r y " whose f i c t i o n a l space i s for Harris the reverse of secure r h e t o r i c : Omai i s the other, or "backside of the moon." Technically, the crumbling character i s made of materials not unl i k e those we f i n d i n Adam's poem, " F e t i s h , " which the prosecuting counsel i n h i s r e t r i a l describes as "a kind of rubbish heap of images...compounded of bunk— the blasted bunk of civilizations...Reminds me personally of c e r t a i n p r i m i t i v e borderline areas i n the Tropics. Bunk of shattered sculpture, carcases of the motor car, mast-heads and stranded skins or s a i l s on the r i v e r f r o n t (pp. 71-72). Where he has meant to expose the weakness of the defendant's case, prose-cuting counsel has, a l l unwittingly, stumbled on i t s strength. As defence counsel points out,this d e t r i t u s i s "a new experimental source of wealth" (p. 72), f o r i t i s a reminder that the t i d i n e s s of assured i d e n t i t y , i n rh e t o r i c or i n the world, i s purchased at a p r i c e . S a i l o r puts i t another way to V i c t o r : " s e c u r i t y , i n our age, i s merely the bauble of dispossession, a toy of the manufacturers of unfreedom..." while Raven, who s i t s on the 23 judge's shoulder and "traces with the claw of memory," continues for him: "...of slavery i n which we are unwittingly immersed: whereas we should be profoundly c r i t i c a l , c r e a t i v e l y a c t i v e . . . " (p. 113). The experimental bricolage of character refuses the ornamental solace of i d e n t i t y and i n doing so renders l e s s believable the i d e o l o g i c a l backcloth of t h i s p o r t r a i t . Here, then, i s that "ruthless c r i t i c i s m of everything that e x i s t s , " which 24 the young Marx proposed, and curiously the c r i t i c i s m of everything i s made with nothing, or what i s next to nothing. The debris of h i s t o r y and the debris of language are not so p i t i a b l e a f t e r a l l . I cannot here invoke Marx without r e c a l l i n g that Harris's novel includes i n i t s blanket repudiation of security the revolutionary project 144. as w e l l . And now i t might be said that the novel's enshrining of the unconscious as a priv a t e r e t r e a t and "higher" court of appeal (for both the boy V i c t o r and the adult Adam) i s a s o c i a l l y regressive act when i t proposes t h i s refuge as a substitute f o r the transformation of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s . Yet the resurr e c t i o n of a marginal selfhood (that scarecrow 25 eye or I) i s not an altogether a h i s t o r i c a l move. In the f i r s t place, as we saw i n The Waiting Room, the value discovered i n the i n d i v i d u a l i s disclosed i n h i s r e l a t i o n to another, and even, as we saw i n Tumatumari, to another's l o s s . Both these motions depict not sec u r i t y (or what defence counsel c a l l s "a c e r t a i n i l l u s i o n — s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t i l l u s i o n of character" [p. 108]) but i n s e c u r i t y , on which broken s l a t e i s scr i b b l e d the barest o u t l i n e of a s e l f . This invention i s what H a r r i s , i n his address, "The In t e r i o r of the Novel," described as "a 'presence' within an 'absence'" (IN p. 147). And to t h i s r u l e , the author himself (that now equally defunct category) i s not exempt. Even as a "character" i s pieced together of a great v a r i e t y of elements, so, too, the author i s the complex ghost of h i s own landscape of h i s t o r y or work. To put i t another way, h i s poem or novel i s subsistence of memory. In the f i n a l a n alysis the r e a l i t y of h i s existence as agent or clown—as a unity of strange powers-—turns upon f a i t h , f a i t h i n the powers and resources of the human person at many l e v e l s of f e e l i n g , t r a n s l a t i o n , and inquiry to invoke a "presence" within an "absence" (IN p. 147). The "landscape of h i s t o r y or work," then, i s not something apart from but rather a part of the marginal s e l f . The judge, who refuses "to impose a f a l s e coherency upon material one had to digest—perhaps a l l one's l i f e , " describes the task of t h i s marginalism as "a true groping equation i n art or language to the fundaments of existence through h i s t o r y or the void which was native to h i s t o r y " (p. 123). Here i s no conjuring away of unpleasant conditions, nor yet a culture of poverty; rather, i t i s a c a p a b i l i t y which begins to discover i t s strength i n l o s s . At the bottom 145. of the sea, V i c t o r asks S a i l o r how the dispossessed welder, Adam, can possibly sign himself "king of creation." VICTOR: But he's masked, S a i l o r , he's gloved and masked i n my sketch. I t ' s l i k e a faceless thing without name or reason. How can he write anything at a l l ? SAILOR: It seems i n c r e d i b l e , I know, you've put him at a considerable disadvantage, but you see the most i n c r e d i b l e of i n c r e d i b l e things has happened to the king of c r e a t i o n — h e ' s dispossessed and he's learnt the arts of dispossession. You must l e t t h i s sink into your head, V i c t o r , i f you want to help him to be f r e e . For therethrough—through his dispossession he i s enabled to enter into the innermost secret locks and prisons and chains of exiled/imprisoned mankind. He knows what slavery i s about—from the i n s i d e , see? He dances through the backdoor, as i t were, anywhere and everywhere: the sea, the watershed/chasm/jungle of Omai....Call i t by any u n i v e r s a l name. This i s h i s innermost theme and function, the celebration of freedom through knowing unfreedom. One has to seek i t d i f f e r e n t l y i n each age. I t always comes from outside/in since whether you see i t or not i t ' s already i n s i d e / o u t — d i s p o s s e s s e d . VICTOR: Charcoal? SAILOR: C a l l i t charcoal i f you wish, V i c t o r . Charcoal signature (p. 110-111). This i s e i t h e r a pretty story ( i n which case dispossession i s dispossession and that i s a l l there i s to i t ) or else the "advance guard v i s i o n of maturity" i t proclaims i t s e l f to be ( i n which case the dispossessed have no f i x e d i d e n t i t y whose "character" i s determined by the dispossessor). In f a c t , no v i s i o n can wholly escape that ideology which determines a l l readings of the world whether of dispossession or of marginal capacity and community. Very l i k e l y , we see here at once a romance and the repudiation of an assured realism' whose postromantic s e c u r i t y i s i t s e l f a mirage. But i f that i s so, the romance has the v i r t u e of disrupting, even as i t r a r e f i e s , a process which realism completes, even as i t r a t i f i e s , S a i l o r ' s fable i s as much a lesson of d i s t r u s t i n appearances as of f a i t h i n the i n d i v i d u a l ' s powers. In h i s e a r l i e s t novel, Harris spoke of "the l i m i t e d way a man grasped r e a l i t y " (PP p. 92), and t h i s confession 146. together with h i s reminder that s e c u r i t y whether of society or of s e l f i s a kind of hubris, should d i s p e l the notion that a new i d o l has replaced the old. What h i s marginalism does intend, i s an assessment of that precarious network whose enabling space i s what one c a l l s "oneself" or "another." I t i s also a reminder that t h i s s e l f remains a present locus of a r t i c u l a t i o n , that ideas, words, i n t e l l i g e n c e s , do not i n v a r i a b l y , as 26 the phrase goes, " i n s c r i b e themselves"; they are i n s c r i b e d . The i n d i v i -dual does speak, even i f h i s language i s a heap of broken images. At the same time, the "Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond" with which Harris epigraphed The Whole Armour, i s l e s s a creature of s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y than of an i n s u f f i c i e n c y that achieves a bare or v i r t u a l existence. He i s that protean figure who occurs again and again i n the novels, discovering h i s freedom i n a capacity to survive at the margin, a creature whose turbid past and unstable present so d i s t r e s s l i b e r a l 27 and Marxist orthodoxies a l i k e that he i s e i t h e r dismissed as a picaroon or classed as lumpen because he refuses a l l the customary categories. Not f o r nothing does Harris c a l l Victor/Adam's route "ANANCY TRAIL" (p. 23), f o r Anancy i s the A f r i c a n f o l k t a l e type of the t r i c k s t e r who scrapes through the most unpromising of contretemps. The t r i c k s t e r may also be recognized as a psychoanalytic f i g u r e for the eruption of the other i n oneself, and i n i t s unpredictable disordering of the text i t i s the l i t e r a r y manifestation of that anarchic desire I noted at the s t a r t . In speaking of "Experiment and the I n d i v i d u a l , " I have intended by " i n d i v i d u a l " t h i s marginal persistence, the occurrence of the s e l f i n h i s t o r y and of h i s t o r y i n the s e l f . I t i s because both these things are apprehended only as discourse that the experimental treatment of each becomes possi b l e . In the novels following Ascent to Omai, Harris's work begins to straddle a v a r i e t y of c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s and develop a s t y l e which r e g i s t e r s t h i s m u l t i p l i c i t y . The marginal i n d i v i d u a l , moving at the rim of these heterogeneous f i e l d s , may be seen as the p a r t i c u l a r but s h i f t i n g r e a l i z a t i o n of that s t y l e , a s t y l e which at a more general l e v e l of discourse i s the s t y l e of h i s t o r y . 148. V. Experiment and T r a d i t i o n The paradox of the old i n the new i s one we faced at the outset. It i s now time to show how the new i n Harris engages with the old i n hi s m i l i e u and leaves there i t s mark. And since the mark of experiment may be said not simply to i d e n t i f y t r a d i t i o n but to modify i t as w e l l , we may speak, no l e s s paradoxically, of the weight of experiment and the thrust of t r a d i t i o n even as we measure the impact of the future upon the past. Within the confines of the l i t e r a r y work, t h i s impact constitutes n a r r a t i v e ; outside the work, i t i s a matter of h i s t o r y . When, therefore, I couple experiment with t r a d i t i o n , i t i s not for f a i l i n g to respect the domain of h i s t o r y but simply to avoid a too r i g i d demarcation of i t s l i m i t s , one that might for instance banish l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y i n the i n t e r e s t s of h i s t o r y "proper." Besides, where one may l e g i t i m a t e l y conceive of the opposition "experiment versus t r a d i t i o n , " the opposition "experiment versus h i s t o r y " i s s t r i c t l y meaningless, unless one has i n mind a very simple version of the past. The outlines of the Caribbean past are well known, or e a s i l y a ccessible, and I do not propose to review them here. European expansion, the A f r i c a n slave trade, Asian indenture, Amerindian marginalization: the r o l e of these forces i n producing today's p l u r a l s o c i e t i e s i n the region has been well documented by two generations of r e v i s i o n i s t h i s t o r i a n s . Further, post-war and post-independence scholars have sought to re-examine the basis of t h e i r p r o f e s s i o n a l assumptions by evolving a historiography native to the region and suited to i t s progressing c u l t u r a l c r e o l i z a t i o n . Harris has himself 2 devoted an important ser i e s of lectures to enunciating the need for a West Indian philosophy of West Indian h i s t o r y , one " c o r r e l a t i v e to the ar t s of the imagination" (HFM p. 25). For my own part, and consistent with t h i s f e l t need, I w i l l be concerned (and then b r i e f l y ) with the region's l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y , by way of s i t u a t i n g Harris himself and prepar for a consideration of what I take to be h i s s i g n a l achievement. If West Indian h i s t o r y i s characterized by slavery and indenture, 3 i t s e a rly l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y , l i k e that of many another colony, was one of mimicry. Bound to Europe by t h e i r language, writers took t h e i r l i t e r a r y conventions, and sometimes even t h e i r subjects, unquestioningly from the metropolis. But a revu l s i o n against a l i e n modes was i n e v i t a b l e and was to go beyond a disenchantment with the Old World to the very roots of European c i v i l i z a t i o n i t s e l f . Walt Whitman's cry, quoted by the young Ha r r i s , "Come, Muse, migrate from Greece and Ionia/Cross out please those immensely overpaid accounts" (RT p. 21), would f i n d i t s v i t u p e r a t i v e conclusion i n Aime Cesaire's "Europe/pompous name for 4 excrement." The reaction of the English-speaking Caribbean was less blunt, but the great outpouring of West Indian l i t e r a r y work over the past quarter century has shown a decided independence of s p i r i t . Nor i s t h i s s p i r i t any less pronounced i n writers who have chosen e x i l e — often i n the old metropolitan c e n t r e s — h a v i n g found t h e i r own s o c i e t i e s flawed by a larger mimicry, one which deprives them of a l i v e l i h o o d or at le a s t a ready audience.~* Other writers have from time to time sought to return to the land of t h e i r ancestors (the Barbadian, Edward Brathwaite to Ghana, the Trinidadian, V.S. Naipaul to India) but have either veered into a second e x i l e or returned home. S t i l l others, l i k e 150. the St. Lucian poet, Derek Walcott, have remained i n the Caribbean and sought to come to terms with the hybrid t r a d i t i o n s of an Old World grafted onto a New. In h i s polemical essay, "The Muse of History," Walcott invokes the awe of "Adamic, elemental man" at the newness of a world without ruins, and berates the nostalgia of those who look to Europe: "what they are i n awe of i s not t r a d i t i o n , which i s a l e r t , a l i v e , simultaneous, but of h i s t o r y , and the same i s true of the new magnifiers of A f r i c a . " Yet Walcott's i s no simple r e j e c t i o n of the Old World (and h i s poetry i s p l a i n evidence of t h i s ) , recognizing perhaps the p e r i l s of a New World mysticism,' 7 and a c e r t a i n absurdity i n the idea of the old and the new. It i s here that we must begin to s i t u a t e H a r r i s , f or l i k e Walcott a hybrid, he has repeatedly warned against the f o l l y of shutting out any of the numerous r a c i a l and c u l t u r a l s t r a i n s which have gone into the making of the Caribbean. Be i t never so marginal there i s always a remnant which serves to epitomise the uncounted other, g the always-another-exploited. The Amerindians of Guyana are such a remnant, and Harris's own part-Amerindian o r i g i n s may be one reasOn for h i s reminder, i n the t r i o of poems, "Troy," "Behring S t r a i t s , " and "Amazon," of the other route by which Old and New Worlds were bridged. Elsewhere, he has challenged the notion of so-called "complete" l i t e r a t u r e s , 9 the product of supposedly homogeneous cultures, and i n a recent a r t i c l e on Conrad's Heart of Darkness, he remarks that "the l i b e r a l homogeneity of a culture becomes the ready-made cornerstone upon which to construct an order of conquest" (FH p. 88). Conrad's novel, he argues, throws in t o r e l i e f ( i n ways the author himself may not have suspected) the homogenizing imperatives of Europe, imperatives that underwrote the 151. s t a b l e novel from Conrad i n h e r i t e d . H a r r i s ' s own novels f u n c t i o n i n much the same way as Heart of Darkness, d i s r u p t i n g r a t h e r than perpetuating the i l l u s i o n of completeness and r e c a l l i n g to the reader the p l u r a l i t y of c u l t u r e s which have gone i n t o the making of the r e g i o n . I t i s not t r a d i t i o n as such which i s the object of experimental d i s t o r t i o n ; l i k e Walcott, H a r r i s can speak of i t as " i n h e r e n t l y a c t i v e at a l l times" (TW p. 46). Rather, i t i s c l o s e d , s e l f - r e g a r d i n g t r a d i t i o n which wants r i f l i n g . On a v i s i t to Guyana i n 1966, H a r r i s wrote i n the Georgetown j o u r n a l , New World, of the need f o r an e x p l o r a t o r y t r a d i t i o n that w i l l seek to r e l a t e d i s p a r a t e bodies not only i n a p a r t i c u l a r s o c i e t y such as t h i s but throughout a world c i v i l i s a t i o n that i s f a s t being c o n d i t -ioned by r i g i d emplacements and t r a g i c c o n f r o n t a t i o n s (IS p. 19). The asymmetrical r o l e of marginal communities i n a world of closed s o c i e t i e s i s s t i l l so obscure, he confesses, that i n our time i t remains a " c r i s i s of i n d i v i d u a l s e n s i b i l i t y , " v i s i b l e i n the " a l i e n f u n c t i o n of the imaginative a r t i s t . " What might seem an apology f o r the a l i e n a t e d or s e l f - e x i l e d a r t i s t i s i n f a c t a c a l l f o r s h i f t from u n i f i e d s t r u c t u r e s to heterogeneous ones, a t r a n s i t i o n which c h a r a c t e r i z e s the passage from pure s u b j e c t i v i t y to the s e l f - a s - h i s t o r i c a l - p r o c e s s . I t i s here that experiment-and-the-individual gives way to experiment-and-tradition: l i t e r a r y experiment i s no longer the f r i v o l o u s or s o l i p s i s t i c a c t i v i t y i t i s sometimes taken to be (or indeed may become when reduced to s e l f -parody) but r a t h e r the i n i d i v i d u a l a r t i s t ' s s e i z u r e of (or indeed, by) communal forms as he s t r u g g l e s to give v o i c e to h i s p e c u l i a r experience of the landscape he i n h a b i t s and the h i s t o r y that i n h a b i t s him. The a r t i c u l a t i o n of t h i s i n t e r f a c e suggests that experiment i s not a d e n i a l of t r a d i t i o n but an engagement w i t h i t . "There are two kinds of r e l a t i o n s h i p to the past," w r i t e s H a r r i s , 152. — o n e which derives from the past, and one which i s profound dialogue with the past (one which asks impertinent questions of the past). The nature of t r a d i t i o n i s , i n some degree, a ceaseless question about the nature of e x p l o i t a t i o n , s e l f -e x p l o i t a t i o n , as well as the e x p l o i t a t i o n of others, the e x p l o i t a t i o n of one culture by another (SI p. 45). The v i s i o n of t h i s statement i s of a t r a d i t i o n which i s i t s e l f experimental, or which contains within i t the code of experiment, a "curious h a l f -b l i n d groping" towards change. In t h i s l i g h t , t r a d i t i o n i s as much a questioner of experiment as the experimental writer i s an impertinent questioner of t r a d i t i o n . The question, that of the nature of e x p l o i t a t -ion, i s one which a society b u i l t on genocide, slavery and indenture w i l l r e a d i l y understand, but i t i s not a matter of public e x p l o i t a t i o n alone, and t h i s i s why t h e . i n d i v i d u a l a r t i s t i s as well equipped as the h i s t o r i a n to i n t e r p r e t the forms of t r a d i t i o n . I t i s also why Harris makes small d i s t i n c t i o n between s o c i a l and l i t e r a r y forms, a l a t i t u d e which serves him w e l l i n developing h i s pec u l i a r s t y l e of h i s t o r y . In Ascent to Omai (1970), the judge whose "novel h i s t o r y " eventually encompasses Victor/Adam's t a l e , describes t r a d i t i o n as a "sieve," the proper converse of that unbroken l i n e a r i t y which stems from "a desire to conscript time i t s e l f into a materal commodity" (AO p, 84). Notwith-standing the judge's lament, which extends to our obsession with "time as comma and period," there i s , following t h i s novel, the sense of a break i n Harris's f i c t i o n a l canon. The judge himself has spent a quantity of sighs — n o fewer than seven—over the obtuseness of p h i l i s -t i n e s , and de c l a r e d — a g a i n , more than o n c e — t h a t t h i s w i l l be h i s l a s t novel. Following the p u b l i c a t i o n of Ascent to Omai, Harris turned h i s attention to two c o l l e c t i o n s of Amerindian s t o r i e s , The Sleepers of  Roraima: A Carib T r i l o g y (1970), and The Age of the Rainmakers (1971). In hindsight, these c o l l e c t i o n s appear both as the f u l f i l m e n t of that 153. Amerindian promise held out i n so many of Harris's novels, and as a kind of t r a n s i t i o n to what might be c a l l e d , following a convention i n Heidegger scholarship, Harris I I . The break i s not an epistemological one (such as that which i s said to divide the young Marx from the old) or even a s t y l i s t i c one (such as that between Ulysses and Finnegans Wake); what changes^ is p r i n c i p a l l y the s e t t i n g of the l a t e r novels, which are for the most part cast abroad. It i s as i f Harris I, having pressed ever deeper into Guyana, can go ho further than Mt. Roraima (the s e t t i n g of Conan Doyle's The Lost World and the goal of Carpentier's The Lost Steps) and produces at l a s t , a Scottish novel. But Black Marsden i s neither Scottish nor West Indian; i t i s an amalgam of these t r a d i t i o n s worked by a writer whom we have heard deny the v a l i d i t y of "complete" literatures-; I t i s only f i t t i n g , then, that we broach the subject of Harris and t r a d i t i o n j u s t when the n o v e l i s t appears to have sold h i s b i r t h r i g h t f or a mess of porridge. In an address c a l l e d "The Making of T r a d i t i o n , " Harris t a l k s of the " d i s t i n c t i o n s of eye and texture which a 'native' writer brings to a 'foreign' lanscape," and declares h i s wish "to h i g h l i g h t the curious residues of a c t i v e t r a d i t i o n one brings with oneself from one landscape to another," because, he says, h i s p e c u l i a r background a f f e c t s him as a matter of great urgency. So that when I came to write Black Marsden which i s set i n Edinburgh, Scotland, the sense of concealed layers of t r a d i t i o n affected me; threads of Gaelic, Scottish memories (that r e l a t e d i n part to my own grandfather with h i s Presbyterian and American Indian connections i n B r i t i s h Guiana), Catholic and Protestant legacies, were very important to me within so-called r e a l i s t i c character and a necessity to immerse oneself i n and to unravel hypnotic persuasions became an enormous and subtle cue, a kind of magical r e a l i t y , that bore upon new v i s u a l i s a t i o n s and r e l a t i o n s between Northern C e l t i c and Southern pre-Columbian poles of consciousness, between apparently incompatible bodies and cultures (MT p. 34). 154. By t h i s confession, one comes to see t r a d i t i o n as a structure which i s known only by i t s d i f f e r e n c e from another, a structure that knows i t s e l f only when exotic incursions begin to break i t down. T r a d i t i o n "embodies mutation of stereotypes and i s therefore susceptible to a making or a remaking" (MT p. 34); i t i s secure only when at r i s k , of value only when breached. This i s the substance of the f i r s t story of The Sleepers of Roraima, a t a l e i n which a Carib boy, Couvade, repeatedly asks impertinent questions of t r i b a l t r a d i t i o n embodied i n h i s grandfather. I t i s a cautionary t a l e of disobedience and punishment, but curiously, those who break the l a w — Couvade's mother and father, who eat taboo food when they should be f a s t i n g — a r e shown to have imparted a necessary knowledge. The break with t r a d i t i o n , which i s of necessity conservative, appears moreover i n a garb c h e e r f u l l y heterodox: Couvade's vanished parents appear to him i n a dream dressed as curious b i r d s . Perhaps some strange owl or guacharo b i r d since they wore sunglasses—American sunglasses ( i n the r i d i c u l o u s way of dreams) Couvade had seen f a l l from the sky In the wake of a passing aeroplane (SR p. 18). In much the same way, Harris speaks of the sea-change undergone by A f r i c a n customs i n t h e i r passage to the West Indies. Where, for instance, A f r i c a n vodun was strongly conservative, i n Ha i t i a n vodun, "there i s an absorption of new elements which breaks the t r i b a l monolith of the past and reassembles an i n t e r - t r i b a l or c r o s s - c u l t u r a l community of f a m i l i e s " (HFM p. 16). Consequently, the recurrence i n Harris's essays of the image of the melting pot must be interpreted guardedly: while a mix of cultures i s indeed intended, the p a r t i c u l a r i t i e s of each are not meant to be subsumed i n a homogeneous product. Harris's use of the i r r a t i o n a l , whether to argue an aesthetic point (as i n the example from H a i t i a n vodun) or indeed i n h i s f i c t i o n (as i n hi s mytlr-making or re-making) has on occasion brought him censure from fellow novelists."'''"' The c r i t i c who sees myths as nothing but tender evasions of h i s t o r y i s l i k e l y to j o i n forces with t h i s opposition, and the present disfavour of mythopoeic w r i t i n g and criticism"'""'' would seem to c l i n c h the case. In f a c t , Harris's l i t e r a r y shamanism i s rather a s t r a t e g i c move than a d r i f t into some gnostic pleroma. If there are 12 moments when h i s project sounds romantic or chimerical, we may put them down to the e c c e n t r i c i t y of genius; but more importantly, to the experimental writer's need f o r an a l t e r n a t i v e system to the r u l i n g ideology of the day. So construed, h i s "mysticism" i s l e s s a (bad) f a i t h than an aberrant reference outside the paradigm of received 13 knowledge, not l e a s t that which informs p o s i t i v i s t historiography. By these means mythic or symbolic f i c t i o n serves an unmasking purpose, functioning i n i t s day i n much the same way as did, say, the experimen-t a l realism of a Zola. The i r r a t i o n a l , then, so far from mystifying becomes i t s e l f a demystifier, but one which recognizes that a l l demysti-f i c a t i o n s work by su b s t i t u t i n g another myth. An example of t h i s unmasking may be found i n the context of Harris's review, on the occasion of i t s being translated into English, of the c l a s s i c , New Chronicle of Good Government: An Indian Account of the  Incas and Pre-Incas of Peru, written by F e l i p e Guaman Poma de Ayala. Born at the time of the Spanish Conquest and himself decidedly anti-Inca, the Indian Poma nevertheless sets out, says H a r r i s , "to i n d i c t the Spaniards by immersing them i n t h e i r own contradictions." L i v i n g "within the gateway of an Inca/Spanish world," he i d e a l i z e s the "'utopian' 156. or timeless pre-Inca universe" and r e v i l e s the Incas, but so deeply rooted i s h i s sense of dual v i o l a t i o n that i t i s always "submerged i n h i s n a r r a t i v e " and must cloak i t s e l f i n " h i s t o r i c a l outrage, parenthesis of myth" (FG pp. 120-21). When, therefore, Harris speaks of the need for a philosophy of h i s t o r y to be derived from the f o l k arts of the Caribbean, he recognizes that the sense of v i o l a t i o n , as well as that of compensation, lodged i n these arts i s not to be confused with the p a r t i c u l a r text which r e g i s t e r s i t — w h e t h e r the text be h i s t o r i c a l or mythic. Both myth and h i s t o r y are to be unravelled; neither i s the o r i g i n a l form. The most an enquirer into the past can hope to do i s to capture the lessons embedded i n these vestiges by working out new forms f o r them i n the experimental surface of h i s chosen medium. Harris's Amerindian t a l e s work i n an a l i e n language the legends of a community that suffered the very marginalization that was l a t e r to overtake the larger society i t s e l f : the lesson of h i s parenthetic myth i s no les s 14 pertinent for not being cloaked i n h i s t o r i c a l outrage. It w i l l be the work of another generation to judge the present uses of the i r r a t i o n a l i n a progressively r a t i o n a l ( i f not reasonable) society. In the meantime, West Indian w r i t e r s , conscious of the gap which separates them from the masses, are a l i v e to the f o l l y of paternalism which sta l k s the busy c o l l e c t o r of f o l k l o r e , but equally aware that the t r a d i t i o n a l resources of the people cannot be l i g h t l y dismissed as s u p e r s t i t i o n or mi l l e n n i a l i s m . Walcott on the West Indianization of C h r i s t i a n i t y ("what was captured from the captor was h i s God"), or Brathwaite on Rastafarian 15 culture i n Jamaica, or Roy Heath on the f o l k l o r e of Guyana, provide salutary lessons i n i n t e l l e c t u a l humility before a groundswell which they recognize must be recorded and respected before i t can f u r n i s h the materials of a contemporary a r t . Much the same example has been set by L a t i n American n o v e l i s t s , from Asturias and Carpentier to Garcia Marquez, who have compounded t h e i r s p e c i a l l i t e r a r y forms out of equal parts of the myth and the r e a l i t y of t h e i r world. The l i t e r a r y works which r e s u l t from t h i s fusion are symptoms of a n a r r a t i v e urge which informed the o r i g i n a l f o l k l o r e i t s e l f , an urge to j o i n the archaic to the contemporary, to supply what Walter Reed has 16 c a l l e d the " a u t h o r i t a t i v e story." The timely juncture so effected i s a thing apart from the timelessness so commonly associated with myths, although i n the nature of. experiment, the j o i n i s an i r r e g u l a r , even a r b i t r a r y one. Reed i s writing of romantic narrative whose "language of transformation" he opposes to the modernist p r a c t i c e of d i s j u n c t i o n , of r a d i c a l beginnings and ends, but there i s no reason why the experi-mental f i c t i o n which takes as i t s text an archaic story cannot e f f e c t such a t r a n s i t i o n . What has changed i s the nature of the t r a n s i t i o n ; modernism ruptures not time but a u n i l i n e a r version of time. The West Indian f a i l u r e to discover t h i s new kind of rapport with the past leaves what Harris has c a l l e d an "unresolved c o n s t i t u t i o n , " and the need to resolve that c o n s t i t u t i o n explains h i s long quest for a native aesthetic. It i s also a guiding motive of the Guyana Quartet, which seeks to t e l l the a u t h o r i t a t i v e story of a heterogeneous p e o p l e — a motive shared not only by h i s t o r y and myth but also by that middle item i n Harris's 1970 Guyana le c t u r e : f a b l e . "Fable" i s a word well suited to Harris's customary mode, and i f i t suggests the opposite of a world of f a c t s , t h i s i s decidedly the n o v e l i s t ' f i c t i v e i n t e n t i o n . In "History, Fable and Myth," Harris quotes with approval these sentences from Maurice Merleau-Ponty: 158. The act of the a r t i s t or philosopher i s fre e , but not motiveless. Their freedom...consists i n appropriating a de facto s i t u a t i o n by endowing i t with a f i g u r a t i v e meaning beyond i t s r e a l one (HFM p. 8). Such an appropriation i s nowhere more pointedly shown than i n Harris's use of the myth most commonly associated with the Guianas: the legend of E l Dorado. And here i t may be u s e f u l to compare the treatment of the same myth by another—but quite d i f f e r e n t — W e s t Indian n o v e l i s t , V.S. Naipaul. Naipaul's h i s t o r y , The Loss of E l Dorado, bears i n i t s t i t l e the imprint of i t s author's temper. The f i n d i n g of t h i s h i s t o r y i s that there was no h i s t o r y ; a f t e r the " l o s s , " there remained only " h i s t o r y -lessness." The Loss of E l Dorado.begins with the end of the quest and i s the long, c y n i c a l p o s t s c r i p t to Walter Raleigh's Discovery of the  Large, Rich and B e a u t i f u l Empire of Guiana. As a chronicle, i t s extra-ordinary force owes something to that blend of narrative and h i s t o r y which Naipaul has mastered, and not a l i t t l e to h i s i r o n i c g i f t s . I t i s the record of a simple world corrupted by fantasies of i t s own making, fantasies which i n one way or another stem from the o r i g i n a l New World myth of plenitude. I t t e l l s of "amateurs In adventure," f a n t a s t i c a l schemes, revolutions of "high p r i n c i p l e s , " the constant b l u r r i n g of make-believe and r e a l i t y . The Spanish with t h e i r t i t l e s and paperwork are not the only pretenders; there are those who i n s i s t on seeing the noble Indian where there i s only a decayed moiety sunk i n " a l c o h o l i c ennui"; there are the underground antics of Negro slaves, whose elaborate and costumed midnight revels ("that Negro carte r , an e s p e c i a l l y stupid Negro, was a king at night, with twelve c o u r t i e r s and a uniform of h i s own") end when s o l d i e r s come and search and make the f l a g s and uniforms "useless." The torture of a young g i r l becomes, to the v i c t i m h e r s e l f a f t e r numerous courtroom de s c r i p t i o n s , "an act of r i t u a l , " and the j a i l "a place of myth." It i s as i f "the Spanish waste" l e f t i t s necessary brand on a society condemned to s i m p l i c i t y , casual violence and f u t i l i t y . Nor i s the fantasy confined to l i f e : i t i n f l i t r a t e s l e t t e r s , eyewitness accounts, journals by various hands. Defeated, Raleigh "with poetic e l i s i o n , begins to l i e . " A captain's log, bes ged by wonders, i s "always s t r a i n i n g a f t e r e f f e c t " ; r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s , thwarted, become t h e a t r i c a l , using "borrowed words"; t h e i r p a t r i c i a n leaders become "operatic," using "words that cost nothing." Acting, pretence, humbug, crowd t h i s h i s t o r y ; and always that arch contaminant, fantasy. The governing assumption of Naipaul's work i s that i f men would see c l e a r l y and report honestly (to others, but e s p e c i a l l y to themselves) they might be saved much hardship. Guiding t h i s assumption i s a conviction that beneath the fantasy world i s a secure and accessible r e a l i t y , an o r i g i n a l substance which may be apprehended i n i t s e l f and conveyed i n an objective, u n t h e a t r i c a l discourse. The spare c l a s s i c a l s t y l e which Naipaul has c u l t i v a t e d speaks h i s desire to convey j u s t such a r e a l i t y i n a transparent language. But however f o r c e f u l h i s book, Naipaul f a l l s short of t h i s i n t e n t i o n . A l i t t l e inspection w i l l reveal the o b j e c t i v i t y , the taking no sides, the merely reporting, to have been a posture. I t i s a Briton's account. The Spaniards may have been greedy, i n e f f e c t i v e ; here they are buffoons. "The Spanish waste," "the French absurdity," are props for the staging of a B r i t i s h entry as dramatic as any hero might wish f o r : "one ship a f t e r another: eighteen i n a l l to the Spanish squadron's f i v e . Their movements were economical and p r e c i s e . " Time and again the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of an u n t h e a t r i c a l discourse i s shown by Naipaul's adroit narrative manipulation i n a work that might e a s i l y 160. pass for a novel. Nor i s the author's f a i t h i n a p r i s t i n e text of h i s t o r y better founded than Raleigh's dream of a c r y s t a l mountain. The i r o n i s t ' s t r u s t i n a palpable and immediate knowledge of r e a l i t y , shorn of ideas and p o l i t i c s , a t r u s t which expresses i t s e l f i n a sympathy for men of action (governors on half pay, busy s o l d i e r s ) and an impatience with men of words (pretenders and pamphleteers, either comic or unwittingly baneful), i s at l a s t a fond one. We must now ask why. The a l l u r e of unmediated knowledge i s potent, but i t i s one contem-porary philosophers have taught us to r e s i s t . I t i s now commonly agreed that the study of any object must include r e f l e x i v e l y the s t r a t e g i e s of that study, since these i n v a r i a b l y modify the object i t s e l f as we constitute i t . This i s only to say that i f observation i s always a matter of s e l e c t i o n , d e s c r i p t i o n i s even more apt to impose upon i t s chosen theme. In Naipaul's h i s t o r y , o b j e c t i v i t y quickly becomes a m i r a g e — e s p e c i a l l y i n so layered a n a r r a t i v e — a s the author disposes h i s materials i n the task of c o n s t i -tuting h i s desired object, the r e a l past of Trinidad. Myths of h i s own manufacture (which might amount to no more than h i s choice of two s t o r i e s out of many and h i s ordering of t h e i r subordinate d e t a i l s ) intervene even as he deflates the greater myth, and they do so not for any want of v i g i l a n c e on the h i s t o r i a n ' s part, but because the " r e a l " i s appre-hended only as already enmeshed i n discourse. The concrete past he seeks i s not out there awaiting copy; i t i s the object not of h i s reproduction but of h i s production anew. It i s best to allow that pure mimesis, or objective d e s c r i p t i o n of s o c i a l phenomena must remain an i l l u s i o n , and t h i s allowance made, we may p r o f i t a b l y turn to d i s t i n g u i s h i n g the v a r i e t i e s of mediated descrip-t i o n . Such kinds of discourse might range from h i s t o r i e s of a chronological 161. or else l o g i c a l nature to treatments of myth and fable which prefer an e x t r a - l o g i c a l advance, modes of which Naipaul and Harris are a n t i t h e t i c a l exemplars. The i r o n i c E l Dorado i s not r e a l h i s t o r y cleansed of myth, but a. version of that h i s t o r y , one no nearer the concrete than i s meta-phor i c discourse. Nor, by the same token, should a metaphoric E l Dorado, such as Harris's Palace of the Peacock, be deemed more authentic; over-blown notions of metaphor may well encourage p i e t i s t i c readings of that novel. If metaphor and symbol are thought to convey one beyond language Into a zone of pure meaning, then the opposite f o l l y to Naipaul's " r e a l h i s t o r y " i s reached, namely "pure myth." But i f i t i s recognized that discourse i s always with us, then the proper object of the l i t e r a r y -h i s t o r i c a l quest i s not for an o r i g i n a l state, such as that unviolated world which Naipaul c u r i o u s l y makes of pre-Columbian America, but an appropriate language, a native mode f i t t e d to the West Indian experience past and present. It i s t h i s quest which runs through Palace of the Peacock, so that not only does the m u l t i - r a c i a l crew's journey upriver lead them to the discovery of a nothingness which binds each man to the next, but the mythic event they repeat becomes a v e h i c l e for the creation of a new kind of language. Rather than imposing what Harris has c a l l e d a " f a l s e coherency on material one had to digest—perhaps a l l one's l i f e " (AO p. 123), t h i s language responds to the hollow nature of the expedition. The d i f f e r e n c e between the nothingness Harris finds and the n u l l i t y Naipaul sees may have something to do with the continental s e n s i b i l i t y of the Guyanese and the i n s u l a r s e n s i b i l i t y of the Trinidadian, but the use which each makes of hi's diagnosis i s revealing. Where Naipaul sees a picaroon mentality and an undeveloped sense of community giving the l i e to the New World myth, Harris sees what he has c a l l e d "the open myth of 162. E l Dorado" (TW p. 37), but also "the s p l i n t e r i n g of p e r f e c t i o n i s t assumptions, f a l l of E l Dorado" (T p. 153), as giving hope as well as reason for a community, one expressed i n the novel by c o l l e c t i v e a t t r i b u t i o n s ("their eye," or " t h e i r heart") at moments when the crew are i n great p e r i l . Such d e t a i l s , together with the experimental surface of the whole novel make for an innovative use of t r a d i t i o n i n which both the o r i g i n a l myth and the ethnic r e a l i t y of Guyana are well served. In "T r a d i t i o n and the West Indian Novel," Harris speaks of the problems a writer confronts i n a chapter of h i s t o r y where the sordid i s shot through with the sublime. In fa c t i t would have been very d i f f i c u l t a century ago to present these e x p l o i t s as other than a very material and degrading hunger for wealth spiced by a kind of s e l f -righteous s p i r i t u a l i t y . I t i s d i f f i c u l t enough today within clouds of prejudice and n i h i l i s m ; nevertheless the substance of t h i s adventure, involving men of a l l races, past and present conditions, has begun to acquire a r e s i d u a l pattern of i l l u m i n a t i n g correspondences. E l Dorado, C i t y of Gold, C i t y of God, grotesque, unique coincidence, another window upon the Universe, another drunken boat, another ocean, another r i v e r ; i n terms of the novel the d i s t r i b u t i o n of a f r a i l moment of i l l u m i n -ating adjustments within a long succession and grotesque seri e s of adventures, past and present, capable now of discovering themselves and continuing to discover them-selves so that i n one sense one r e l i v e s and reverses the 'given' conditions of the past, freeing oneself from catastrophic i d o l a t r y and blindness to one's own h i s t o r i c a l and ph i l o s o p h i c a l conceptions and miscon-ceptions which may bind one within a statuesque present or a f a l s e future (TW pp. 35-36). Harris's emphasis here i s i n t e r p r e t i v e rather than d e s c r i p t i v e , concerned with present use rather than past misuse. But there i s more. If the i r o n i c and the metaphoric E l Dorado have an equivalent status as discourse, the one i n the i n d i c a t i v e and the other i n the subjunctive, t h i s does not mean the issue of relevance i s shelved. Eventually we must ask whether c l a s s i c a l p u r i t y and i r o n i c distance are l i t e r a r y q u a l i t i e s suited to the West Indian experience, whether the questions of pluralism and marginality 163. Harris r a i s e s can be addressed by a discourse founded upon these a l i e n t r a d i t i o n s alone. It i s a question I w i l l ask again i n a l i t t l e while. Black Marsden was Harris's f i r s t novel placed at the i n t e r s e c t i o n of t r a d i t i o n s , northern and southern. Harris's next novel, Companions  of the Day and Night (1975) annexes yet another culture to the C e l t i c -Carribbean f r i n g e . I t s story i s set for the most part i n Mexico, and draws upon both ancient and modern t r a d i t i o n s of that land as they bear upon the s e n s i b i l i t y of the ce n t r a l character. He i s that same Idiot Nameless who narrates The Eye of the Scarecrow and i s C l i v e Goodrich's other i n Black Marsden. Both Marsden and Goodrich also enter t h i s f i c t i o n , as bookends, the one having come upon the Fool's diary and papers along with h i s paintings and sculptures, and sent them to the other to shape into a novel. Nameless has long prepared for h i s journey to Mexico, having studied i t s pre- and post-Columbian past, though h i s researches concern what he c a l l s p o s t - C h r i s t i a n s o c i e t i e s . The immediate subject of hi s inquiry i s the fate of a C h r i s t i a n nunnery disbanded, along with a l l such r e l i g i o u s orders, upon the Mexican revolution. The s i s t e r s of t h i s order had f l e d , a l l but one, to various c i t i e s i n Europe and the United States, where Name-less has traced them i n an e f f o r t to learn both of the fate and the lesson of the one who remained. Si s t e r Beatrice had gone underground and while i n hiding i n s t i t u t e d a play, "Christ and the F i r i n g Squad," i n which she, dressed as a man, took the leading part. She was exposed and raped, and while her martyrdom would be completed by the i d o l a t r y of such men as the guide whom Nameless h i r e s , i t i s "her t r i a l of values, her scandal" and "the alarming r o l e played by respectable i d o l s " (p. 45) which i n t e r e s t the I d i o t . In Mexico C i t y , a f i r e - e a t e r introduces him to Si s t e r Beatrice's 164. grand-daughter, the c h i l d of the c h i l d of a rape, who works as an a r t i s t ' s model. Nameless spends a night with her i n h i s Gravity Hotel room, but when he awakes she i s gone. He sets out to follow her along a t r a i l of towns which leads him at l a s t to Teotihuacan. There one night he spies her, but i s detained by a chance argument and loses her again. Not long a f t e r , he succumbs to the " f a l l i n g " sickness that has plagued him a l l h i s l i f e . His body i s found at the base of the pyramid of the sun. The companions of the day and night are d i v i s i o n s of a pre-Columbian calendar whose nine i n t e r v a l s the novel r e f l e c t s . Two "dateless days" at the end of the cycle carry the narrative back a f t e r Nameless's f a l l . He i s i n New York, on h i s way to Mexico, to interview two other s i s t e r s from the disbanded nunnery, s i s t e r s who l i v e with—and are played b y — Marsden's wife. In taking leave of Mrs. Marsden, Nameless asks i f he might be with her " f o r a day, and for a night." Stunned that the man she regarded as the C h r i s t of the l a t e twentieth century should make so naked a proposal, Marsden's wife shuts the door i n h i s face. The novel's epigraph, an extract from a Puerto Rican folksong, runs: San Josey Maria a Belen llegaron Pidieron posada y se l a negaron which might be rendered Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem hied Asked for room and were denied. Rejection and s a c r i f i c e are the burden of t h i s , Harris's most p o l i t i c a l novel, and i t i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that he should emphasize the i n d i v i d u a l ' s r o l e by countering s a c r i f i c e with s e l f - s a c r i f i c e . A passage from an essay written some f i f t e e n years before Companions of the Day and  Night may help construe h i s present meaning. Harris has j u s t f i n i s h e d quoting Yeats's "Man has created death." To t h i s he r e j o i n s : " l i k e a 165. private c o r o l l a r y — b u t above a l l man has created the image of s a c r i f i c e . " Thenhe continues: S a c r i f i c e f or whom and for what? That i s the question. It i s the r i g i d i t y that appals, one that masks every concept of s a c r i f i c e , and may spring from the death-dealing sanction of t r a d i t i o n , yes, but which defeats the very object and mystery of a l l capacity i n the end, i n that i t makes of the spontaneity of l i v i n g s a c r i f i c e something already 'given' (rather than something belonging to unpredictable experience), something which loses i t s 'negative' f i l m or state of p o s s i b i l i t y (B pp. 24-25). T r a d i t i o n and the i n d i v i d u a l are here p l a i n l y at odds ( i n a manner I have followed by separating the two i n t h i s and the previous chapter); Harris sees the p o s i t i v e (or p o s i t i v i s t ) mask of t r a d i t i o n as one which takes the negative edge o f f the i n d i v i d u a l and h i s acts of freedom. The i n d i v i d u a l ' s willingness to die, to confront death f r e e l y , i s already undervalued by a t r a d i t i o n which, i n the contemporary world, has enshrined the meaningless-ness of death, not excluding s e l f - s a c r i f i c e . So i t i s not death which k i l l s , but "the death-dealing sanction of t r a d i t i o n . " And Harris c i t e s the Jamaican, Andrew Salkey's novel,A Quality of Violence, with i t s meaningless death of a c u l t f i g u r e , remarking: "A f a r cry from Saul's Stephen for whom the heavens shower grace" (p. 25). The q u a l i t y of s a c r i f i c e Nameless and Si s t e r Beatrice seek to define i n t h e i r own l i v e s i s one divested equally of heroism and a tainted love. "Each man k i l l s the thing he loves," was Black Marsden's mocking reminder of the seed of s e l f - i n t e r e s t sown i n love, and i t i s j u s t so with the purest i d o l a t r y . S i s t e r Beatrice's s a c r i l e g e — o n e inverted by her grand-daughter, who as both whore and model poses for a statue of the V i r g i n — a n d Nameless's advances to MarsderiFs wife, partake of an i d e n t i c a l iconoclasm. Their unhallowing or hollowing of t r a d i t i o n also casts some l i g h t backward on another c r y p t i c remark of Harris's: one has to v i s u a l i s e Che Guevara,, for example,, as the new tenant of memory within the hollow monument of C o r t e s — t h e new tenant of re v o l u t i o n subsisting upon a devolution or breakdown of h i s t o r i c a l premises which has been the fate of L a t i n America, i n a sense, since the Conquest of Mexico (NP pp. 146-47). The "hollow monument" i s a recurring image i n Har r i s : here i t r e c a l l s bo the f r i a b l e s h e l l of the p a s t — t h a t "already 'given'" against which we heard him r a i l — r a n d a notion of interchangeable subjects whose s a c r i f i c e whether honoured or anonymous i s of equal value. Another, and l i n k e d image of t h i s equivalence i n debt . i s the borrowed cloak or coat, which appeared i n The Secret Ladder and which recurs i n Companions now. I l l and f a i n t , Nameless has stopped by a coffee wagon i n a T e o t i - -huacan square at midnight. He has been following the a r t i s t ' s model but i s now detained by a wayside discussion i n which he does not fare w e l l . Nevertheless, n o t i c i n g h i s state, one of the workers gathered there throws him a coat. "Whose coat...death do I wear?" he wonders, and i s led i n t o a t r a i n of unanswerable questions: Cloaked on a l l sides by the fa s t of the sun, b u l l e t - r i d d e n workman, Unknown Warrior and Workman King—two s i l e n t tongues i n h i s head forever "No,Yes"—one loud command i n h i s heart FIRE...ultimate buried fate...ultimate buried freedom... A l l t h i s encompassed the Fool and r i d d l e d him u n t i l a l l of a sudden he came to himself and remembered what he was here f o r . The woman. He had followed her across the c i t y from Emperor Square through emperor death into t h i s entanglement i n sovereign hero, brute death i n the overcoat of a dead workman whose name had long been forgotten at the heart of an in s u r r e c t i o n . He had been shot when things got 'out of hand.' And the Idiot was imbued afresh by the terror of banal l i p s , banal dialogue with earth as he sank into unwritten reserves, codes, bodies, window dressing, o v e r a l l s , b u l l e t s , f a c t o r i e s . . . ( p p . 66-67). In pondering h i s i n f i n i t e debt to unknowable i n d i v i d u a l s , the Idiot has not i n fac t been d i s t r a c t e d from h i s quest. Each step around the globe for the Fool, subsisted upon unwritten reserves planted i n the death of obscure men and women who were antecedent to the gods. As though the gods were born of antecedent s i l e n c e s , l o s t buried tongues that set up unfathomable n e c e s s i t i e s of unexpressed f e e l i n g upon which the Idiot subsisted—which drew him through them Into unsuspected spaces that c r i e d f o r a language, the language of creation, the language of the deaf, dumb, b l i n d f a l l e n who lay at the bottom of the world (pp. 67-68). What Nameless struggles to shape i s t h i s language; h i s paintings and sculptures, h i s notes and d i a r i e s are an attempt to give voice to the already v o i c e l e s s , to make speak those intangible l i n k s which bind him to them. The obscurity of h i s work catches something of the sil e n c e of the obscure; i t has abandoned the attempt to represent them. "We need to see from within ," the Fool says shamefacedly to the workman who has dismissed him, "the r o l e s played by others i n our name, i n the name of the nameless forgotten dead, the nameless forgotten l i v i n g " (p. 65). The Fool's need i s to discover "an equation between re v o l u t i o n and r e l i g i o n , to face a f i r i n g squad." This had been S i s t e r Beatrice's mission before him, and indeed remains that of today's r a d i c a l clergy and l i b e r a t i o n t h e ologists throughout L a t i n America. In Companions of the,Day and Night the equation reads out as s e l f - s a c r i f i c e . " P o l i t i c s , " says the Fool, " i s the a r t of s a c r i f i c e , " and i f he i n s i s t s on the i n d i v i d u a l ' s example, i t i s not for being unaware of tyranny's i n s a t i a b l e appetite f or victims but because t h i s ultimate readiness i s a discovery of strength i n weakness. There i s , moreover, a s t r a t e g i c value to Nameless's task of giving voice to the v o i c e l e s s , for what Harris elsewhere c a l l s "an addiction to absolute power p o l i t i c s " (CP p. 149), might well serve to complete the process of" marginalization i t claims simply to describe. To view power as a zero-sum game i s "to embalm the fac t of e x p l o i t a t i o n " (HFM p. 28), to accept u t t e r d e s p o l i a t i o n . On the 168. other hand, to accept, as Nameless does, "that to be born was to be broken i n the dream play of h i s t o r y , " i s to learn to bargain from a p o s i t i o n of weakness."'"'7 It i s also to learn to "see through the r i t u a l proprietors of the globe" (NP p. 148) and t h e i r h i s t o r i e s of " t o t a l breakdown or t o t a l catastrophe" (MP p. 30). I t might be said that Harris's v a l u a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l leads him to underestimate the power and the p o l i t i c s of the group, and indeed there i s something wishful about the "element of conscience" he expects to f i n d i n the powerful. Nevertheless, as a measure of commitment— which w i l l always have an i n d i v i d u a l component—and r i s k , such as that of the revolutionary who " l i v e s today i n the shadow of the b u l l e t " (p. 77), the Fool's argument cannot be f a u l t e d . The p i v o t a l opposition i n the novel i s between the Chri s t i a n ' s s e l f - s a c r i f i c e and i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d s a c r i f i c e such as the c r u e l r i t e s once performed on the Aztec pyramid of the sun for the renewal of a c a l e n d r i c a l contract. The f e a r l e s s r i s k of the one compared with a f e a r f u l r i g i d i t y i n the other i s also a present reminder of experiment's answer to t r a d i t i o n . A f a i t h — a n d i t i s t h a t — i n the s t o i c endurance of the d i s i n h e r i t e d requires a long view of p o l i t i c s , longer perhaps than the patience of many. The experimental "remaking/unravelling of t r a d i t i o n " wants also what H a r r i s , i n speaking of Companions of the Day and Night, c a l l s "double v i s i o n " (MT p. 39). And i n the Fool's "glimpsed proportions through nature and h i s t o r y " (p. 13), i t i s possible to see a coming together of the mythic and i r o n i c modes. Goodrich's "Introduction," which t e l l s of the Idiot Nameless C o l l e c t i o n as having evoked i n him a "magic of r e a l i t y , " and Black Marsden',;s concluding l e t t e r , which speaks of Nameless as having been "an i r o n i s t i n the deepest sense, perhaps" (p. 81), both suggest such a union. One purpose of t h i s a l l i a n c e might 169. be to s h o r t - c i r c u i t the ideology of t o t a l loss and i t s mimetic discourse, a charge the novel conducts with much energy. Hence the numerous plays on s o l i d i t y and f r a c t u r e , on black holes and b u l l e t holes and g r a v i t y beyond measure, on the Id i o t ' s own " f a l l i n g " sickness, on the absent V i r g i n — t a c t i c s that w i l l be resumed i n a further ser i e s of canvases by another painter, da S i l v a , whose work frames two of Harris's most recent novels. Da S i l v a da S i l v a ' s Cultivated Wilderness (1977) and i t s sequel, The Tree of the Sun (1978), are separated from each other by a n o v e l l a , Genesis of the Clowns: A Comedy of Light (1977), which was issued bound up with the former. Unlike the da S i l v a novels, which are set i n London, Genesis of the Clowns looks back to Guyana. Yet i t represents, as I showed i n "Experiment and Language," an advance upon the manner of the early novels, displaying a greater freedom from r h e t o r i c a l conventions of sentence and symbol and a temper leavened with a new piebald humour. In fa c t the comic s p i r i t and the harlequin s t y l e , with i t s curious and i n v a r i a b l y far-fetched juxtapositions, are two sides of the one coin. A short novel, Genesis of the Clowns nonetheless encapsulates many of Harris's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c q u a l i t i e s and obsessions: "a l u s t f o r responsi-b i l i t y i n myself and a void of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n nature" (p. 124); a conviction that "each present i l l u m i n a t i o n s h i f t s the debris of the past a l i t t l e " (p. 82); and consequently, the sense of a "need to preserve diametrical opposites i n each unfinished day and age as a capacity to unravel self-deceptions" (p. 128), whether personal or s o c i a l . As a r e s u l t , the contradictory, punning surface of the novels takes on the look of what protagonist Frank Wellington himself c a l l s "a Walt Disney/Confucian c o l l a b o r a t i o n " (p. 135), and h i s enemies ( i n an unintended compliment) c a l l "a marriage between EBONY AND MARX FATHER AND BROTHERS" (p. 144). 170. Something of t h i s f a n t a s t i c a l humour and an even greater measure of c r o s s - c u l t u r a l bricolage marks the canvases of da S i l v a . A painter who i s neither Portuguese, nor B r a z i l i a n , nor Arawak Indian, nor European, nor A f r i c a n , but a l i t t l e of each, he i s married to a Peruvian and l i v e s i n London. In Da S i l v a da S i l v a ' s Cultivated Wilderness, the immense "Anglor-Brazilian mural" on which the a r t i s t i s at work becomes the f a b r i c of the novel and involves him c l o s e l y with the l i v e s of h i s models, the landscape of h i s c i t y and the past of h i s native South America. His "Inca" wife, Jen; the navigator Magellan; the leader of a Guyanese slave r e v o l t , Cuffey; a Peruvian madonna, Manya; a B r i t i s h e a r l : through h i s subjects da S i l v a draws upon a great v a r i e t y of t r a d i t i o n s , blending them with an insp i r e d experimentation. Using montages of place and time, he creates panels of extraordinary density and a l l u s i v e n e s s : Cromwell's helmet above a Caribbean c r i c k e t e r who plays on a f i e l d where the Round-heads held secret t a l k s ; a dry-cleaning machine on the astronauts' t e l e v i s e d moonscape for the s o i l e d coat of a model madonna. I t i s a celebration of a l l that i s out of place i n a time that i s out of j o i n t . The product of t h i s "Ars combinatoria" i s a novel teeming with things, a prodigal canvas of sensuous planes and surfaces which marks a new e x t e r i o r i t y i n Harris's work. As da S i l v a paints h i s way downstairs and out along the s t r e e t , h i s brush i n the sky, a richness of colour and image gathers about hi s advance as i f to s o l i d i f y i t s s p a t i a l i t y . It i s a s o l i d i t y which w i l l be undermined i n the sequel, but for the present i t s sensuousness evokes the theme of c r e a t i v i t y which the author has chosen to address, and which finds i t s narrative climax i n Jen's announcement a f t e r eight years of marriage, that she i s pregnant. Once more we f i n d space triumphant: "the womb of space" (p. 46), "the canvas of space" 171. (p. 54), "the muse of space" (p. 64): the progression i s inescapable. If space i s the " i n f i n i t e c r e d i t o r , " the p r o d i g a l i t y of nature i s to be matched by a spontaneity i n the a r t i s t , one that i s quite removed from the studiedness of t r a d i t i o n (or of pornography, as the boy da S i l v a learned). It i s where t r a d i t i o n s and cultures clash, where a homogeneous t r a d i t i o n ' s composure i s shaken, that spontaneity can unite with p r o d i -g a l i t y , intruding on the pure. P u r i s t n e o l i t h i c revolution. P u r i s t wheel. S a i l . Winged horse. P u r i s t i n d u s t r i a l r e volution. Hydroelectric i v o r i e s or stables. P u r i s t wing. Plane. The spanner of Hercules. The f l i g h t of Quetzalcoatl. The descent of Icarus. There was a.subtle i n t r u s i o n of epic, a subtle mythical code of i m p l i c i t heroism or pathos or t e r r o r , d i f f u s i o n s of influence or s t y l e East to West, West to East, North to South, South to North, that took root i n h i s brush as he painted techniques and frames, g l i t t e r i n g saddles of Chinese dragons from Hong Kong, gunpowder, n e o l i t h i c wheat, pre-Columbian maize, aeroplane saddles, into d i s t i l l a t i o n s of barbarism and modern power p o l i t i c s masquerading as p u r i s t masks of technology across the imprisoned centuries from which the magi-prodigals set out again and again, the star-gazing prodigals, within each tent of ancient or modern commonwealth (p. 73). Out of t h i s fecund chaos emerges that chain of connections we c a l l h i s t o r y . Yet, da S i l v a contends, i t i s for the a r t i s t to challenge the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of those l i n k s by r e c a l l i n g h i s audience to other corres-pondences, by d i s c l o s i n g those r e l a t i o n s which conventional h i s t o r y might have overlooked. His charge i s not to refute h i s t o r y but to correct a uniformity i n i t . Da S i l v a takes t h i s charge s e r i o u s l y : "I s u f f e r my r e c u r r i n g twentieth-century dream of a crash that i s n ' t a crash, a c r i s i s that i s i n t e g r a l to change as the body of the future learns to shed a coat i t wears, a p a i n f u l coat that i t has worn so long i t i s v i r t u a l l y cemented into i t s skin u n t i l they seem one and the same i n v e s t i t u r e of space. "I l i e face down by a sea, by a lake, face up, face sideways. "And truth takes i t s pick of the unravelling of s e l f - p o r t r a i t s of f a t e . "Truth flashes through the Magellan mask,the Cuffey mask, that I wear; a naked spark of truth that l i n g e r s , a glimpsed compassion, an o r i g i n a l unity that runs with conformable i n s t i t u t i o n s but i s other than uniform s t y l e , uniform paint, uniform c o n v i c t i o n " (p. 50). The multitude of b i r t h s and deaths i n t h i s novel, the pattern of death cheated or l i f e cheated, of i n t e r l o c k i n g l i v e s and l i v e s repeated, spins yet again that web of debt which troubled Nameless i n his borrowed coat. Here once more, on the l a s t encounter between da S i l v a and h i s s c a t t e r b r a i n model, madonna, the motif surfaces. In the heart of summer Manya appears i n a heavy black coat, "a walking cloak or avant-garde spectacle of winter" (p. 33); she leaves i n a rage having flung the coat across da S i l v a ' s easel. The experimental a r t i s t ' s need to make i n v i s i b l connections v i s i b l e now begins to assert i t s e l f against the sensuous surface of things. In learning to grapple with the obstinate shapes of s u r v i v a l , with the colour of freedom—a colour obscured by "the long night of h i s t o r y through which the monolith of space flew" (p. 1 3 ) — da S i l v a must develop a technique by which the uniformity of h i s t o r y and t r a d i t i o n may be f i s s u r e d . The Tree of the Sun begins with t h i s project. Let us watch the f i r s t cracks appear i n the monolith. Da S i l v a i s painting the assassinat ion of Montezuma when h i s attention i s caught by "the tree of the sun" outside. Then he resumes work: Da S i l v a turned from the view outside the studio to h i s own gigantic painting, a huge le a f of a canvas that covered one wall of the room, and sought now to trace with a n a i l or a finger an almost imperceptible l i n e of blood that ran along Montezuma's pagan temple, a f a i n t bruise from the glancing blow he had received from the hand of enemy or f r i e n d . 173. The autumn and winter and c r u e l spring of the modern world seemed to c l u s t e r there i n that l i n e , shadow of indeterminacy, stone or arrow, sp l i n t e r e d lacework, remembered dying and l i v i n g cavalry seasons i n the head of sun-king and snow-king (p. 2). The conquistadorial blow which k i l l s Montezuma leaves a subtle bruise: here i t i s the merest h a i r l i n e , but a l i n e of consequence p r e c i s e l y because of i t s iiidetermitiaey'v The,/ images; clustered, about i t preserve t h i s uncertainty: they magnify' arid" prolong the. i n i t i a l shock of "enemy^or friend,1'' by linking" together- u n l i k e l y and even contradictory elements through, paradox and, simple j u x t a p o s i t i o n . Accordingly, t h e i r diverse .materiala and improbable correspondences prepare a ground of. extreme-instability;. so^that the blow which, dispatches- Montezuma at the same time/opens a f i s s u r e "In the " f a c t " of h i s t o t a l reduction or absolute defeat. The crack troops of t h i s assault on the monolith are the a r t i s t ' s images, but they do not pretend to constitute an iconography of the concrete. Far from seeking to be a t h i n g - i n - i t s e l f , the image i s simply an "opening" device. I t c h e e r f u l l y takes up i t s burden of discourse, but with t h i s reservation that i t e x i s t by v i r t u e of the space surrounding i t , and (since t h i s space i s o r d i n a r i l y f i l l e d ) i n r e l a t i o n to i t s fellows. This r e l a t i o n i s both a source of strength and a danger, for a disturbance i n any one region w i l l communicate with a l l the others; a l o c a l f r a i l t y can bring the whole tumbling down. Consequently, da S i l v a ' s mural, so f a r from concealing the w a l l , assiduously traces i t s chinks and crannies: one of i t s recurring images i s the eye of the needle, an a l l u s i o n , we r e c a l l , to the smallest gate i n the wall of the Holy C i t y . In remodelling t h e i r apartment to make room for a studio, da S i l v a and Jen have come across a novel and some l e t t e r s which an e a r l i e r husband and wife of a past generation had written i n concealment from 174. each other and secreted i n a w a l l . Now da S i l v a begins to reconstruct the love of t h i s c h i l d l e s s couple, Francis and J u l i a , with such sympathy that they soon come to dominate his work, and eventually, the novel. Not only do Francis and J u l i a begin to communicate with each other In a way they had been rel u c t a n t to i n l i f e , the characters from Francis's novel also enter the p l o t of the larger work and move on the same plane as da S i l v a and Jen. Such a t h i r d - l e v e l character i s Harlequin. A modern ver s i o n of Montezuma, he i s an i n s u b s t a n t i a l creature, yet f a i l e d warrior that he i s he i s u t t e r l y r e a l i n the antagonists with whom he fought ( s t i l l f i g h t s ) , the uncanny way he puts flesh-and-blood on the most un-promising skeletons, guns, b o t t l e s , houses, shattered monuments, f a l l e n trees, broken f i r e s , drought-ridden waters. They are a l l h i s antagonists drawn up into sublimity of feud from a pool of unconsciousness from immemorial miscarriages and myths (p. 44). The crush of images here p i l e d one upon the other without so much as a connective, compounds a mass that i s both f r a g i l e and combustible ("guns, b o t t l e s " ) . Yet each element represents both the shrapnel of e a r l i e r and the s t u f f of l a t e r explosions: guns and b o t t l e s do play a modest part i n the text, past and to come. In t h i s way, the apparent density of the w r i t i n g e x i s t s paradoxically to draw attention to i t s own b r i t t l e n e s s , and by the same token to a hollowness i n the f a b r i c of conventional h i s t o r y .