24 August 2011

More Jean Rhys

This summer, I read Jean Rhys' novel Good Morning, Midnight. Toward the end of the book, there is a strange (in that it is apropos of nothing and, stylistically, incongruous with the rest of the text) dream passage. I think Matthea Harvey's poem, "Machine for Jean Rhys," (previously posted) alludes to this moment:
But I know quite well that all this is hallucination, imagination. Venus is dead; Apollo is dead; even Jesus is dead.

All that is left in the world is an enormous machine, made of white steel. It has innumerable flexible arms, made of steel. Long, thin arms. At the end of each arm is an eye, the eyelashes stiff with mascara. When I look more closely I see that only some of the arms have these eyes--others have lights. The arms that carry the eyes and the arms that carry the lights are all extraordinarily flexible and very beautiful. But the grey sky, which is the background, terrifies me...And the arms wave to an accompaniment of music and of song. Like this: "Hotcha--hotcha--hotcha..." And I know the music; I can sing the song... (187)
A bizarre and wonderful passage from a great book; and, it would seem, the above excerpt also contextualizes Harvey's opening lines "It’s all lit up with handfuls / & eyefuls & it doesn’t want you" opening lines a bit more.

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