Wednesday, August 9, 2017

the last book I ever read (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira, excerpt seven)

from An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira:

For his recovery, though miraculous, was far from complete. He had hoisted himself out of the deep pit of death with the vigor of a titan, but the ascent had taken its toll. Leaving aside the state of his face for the moment, the exposed nerve, which had caused the unbearable suffering of the first days, had been encapsulated, but although this meant the end of the acute phase, the nerve ending had reconnected, more or less at random, to a node in the frontal lobe, from which it emitted prodigious migraines. They came on suddenly, several times a day; everything went flat, then began to fold like a screen. The sensation grew and grew, overpowering him; he began to cry out in pain and often fell over. There was a high-pitched squealing in his ears. He would never have imagined that his nervous system could produce so much pain; it was a revelation of what his body could do. He had to take massive doses of morphine and the attacks left him fragile, as if perched on stilts, his hands and feet very far away. Little by little he began to reconstruct the accident, and was able to tell Krause about it. The horse had survived, and was still useful; in fact, it was the one he usually chose to ride. He renamed it Flash. Sitting on its back he thought he could feel the ebbing rush of the universal plasma. Far from holding a grudge against the horse, he had grown fond of it. They were fellow survivors of electricity. As the analgesic took effect, he resumed his drawing: he did not have to learn again, for he had lost none of his skill. It was another proof of art’s indifference; his life might have been broken in two, but painting was still the “bridge of dreams.” He was not like his ancestor, who had to start over with his left hand. If only he had been so lucky! What bilateral symmetry could he resort to, when the nerve was pricking at the very center of his being?

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