Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nagasawa 3

Easy to see the Thomas Mann influence on NW: Narrator Toru visits Naoko, the disturbed girl he's drawn to, at a sanitarium explicitly modeled on the TB clinic in "The Magic Mountain." (Toru is reading the novel during his visit and is scolded for bringing it with him "to a place like this.") As described, the village-style Ami Hostel, with its attractive bungalows, also recalls the B&B concentration camp in "The Prisoner." Leading up to a passage in which Toru and Naoko discuss Nagasawa.

"He sounds like a strange person," said Naoko.

"He is strange," I said.

"But you like him?"

"I'm not sure," I said. "I guess I can't say I like him. Nagasawa is beyond liking or not liking. He doesn't try to be liked. In that sense he's a very honest guy, even stoic. He doesn't try to fool anybody."

"'Stoic,' sleeping with all those girls? Now that is weird," said Naoko, laughing. "How many girls has he slept with?"

"It's probably up to eighty by now," I said. "But in his case, the higher the numbers go, the less each individual act seems to mean. Which is what I think he's trying to accomplish."

"And you call that 'stoic'?"

"For him it is."

Naoko thought about my words for a minute. "I think he's a lot sicker than I am."

"So do I," I said. "But he can put all his warped qualities into a logical system. He's brilliant. If you brought him here, he'd be out in two days. 'Oh, I know all that,' he'd say. 'I understand everything you're doing here.' He's that kind of guy. The kind people respect." (NW 110)
The phrase "putting all your warped qualities into a logical system" has a lot of resonance. It's what many people do now rather than seek truth with actual logic. Also, NTS, many applications to creative endeavors, such as writing novels.


David Chute said...

This post was originally attached to the previous. I moved it up, but not quite fast enough. Tulk left this:

Tulkinghorn said...
As philosophy, bad... But as a creative strategy.... not so bad?

I say: Yes. Hopeless as a way of getting to the truth, useful as a way to construct elaborate artificial systems, alarming that so few people now seem to know the difference. Might tie in with the popularity of pseudo-science.

David Chute said...

The Nagasawa motif has no resolution, unfortunately. He's not Widmerpool. He drifts off into conventionality. His crass behavior of women has an awful payoff, but not for him, and he shrugs it off.