‘The Aarspeth Imbroglio’ by Nicholas Rombes
|January 18, 2013|
Procession, Irving Norman, 1957
It’s true that I worked for them during the second purge. It’s not my intention to excuse what I’ve done, though God knows my crimes, if crimes is even the proper word, are far less grievous than those committed by others, the ones now called patriots. As for those maimed by our activities, they will have to speak, if they are still capable of speaking, for themselves. I’m responsible for my actions, and my actions alone. I’ve been promised immunity. But from what? And by whom? I don’t even know who my captors are, only that they have instructed me to commit to writing a true and faithful account of my role in the second purge.
I suppose I should start with the Aarspeth case. Upon first glance, the file seemed typical, Aarspeth having taken certain actions which, in the eyes of the Messiah Detectives, deemed him suspect and unreliable. I was to follow him, trace his communications, and take all due and proper precautionary action should I deem him about to divulge information that would force the agency to reveal, in the process of recovering that information, its existence. For it was true that at this point the agency was still a shadow operation, whose power derived not from visible action but rather from, as they claimed in white paper after white paper, strategic abstinence.
Like I said, there was, upon first reading, nothing atypical about the Aarspeth file. As customary, it was delivered beneath my door during the night. As usual, stamped in blue ink with a time code indicating precisely when it should be opened. A little heftier than previous envelopes, perhaps, which only whetted my curiosity, even as I felt a noose tightening around my neck, invisible, its rope threading out through my window, down the street, into the sewers, and up again though the vents into the offices of the Messiah Detective Agency where, tied to a heavy iron handle emerging from the floor (much like I imagine an old train switch lever might look) it awaits the yank that will snap my neck.
But all this is speculation. About the rope, the noose. The facts are much less melodramatic. I opened the file at the time indicated by the time code, and began to read.
Inherent Vice’s Two Directions
The jokes certainly strike one as sophomoric and the latter one as clichéd, further below Pynchon’s intelligence than one would like to think he would stoop, at least in print. Discounting them and moving on, or throwing the book across the room as Parker half implies we should do, however, would be to lose sight of “that high magic to low puns”.
Auden, Larkin and Love
I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb” contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Plato, Our Comrade?
Not surprisingly, there have already been critics of Badiou’s translation. The first is that his translation breaks the formal rules of translation to such a degree that the original meaning of the text has lost its significance. But this critique is inadequate at face value because Badiou’s hyper-translation is forthright in its intention of taking Plato’s concepts and modifying them into his own lexicon.
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