6 minutes 45 seconds| This chronicles a personal history of true but dysfunctional love, and of a man for whom travel is terrifying but transformative.
Saugatuck is a charming lakeside tourist town and artist colony. Holbrook is the gateway to The Painted Desert, as well as home of cement dinosaurs and teepees. Devil’s Lake resides near Baraboo. The first two trips were by, any measure, successes, while the third proved challenging and foreshadowed a great sadness to come. This is anticipated, and sounds ominously, in the portion dedicated to the last road trip: Nashville, Tennessee.
The dark fanfare that begins Nashville was written first. The final section of Nashville includes these opening chords played in reverse order with modification. The muted piano phrase that ends Baraboo starkly reappears where the brass section builds and climaxes in Nashville.
Schubert was on my mind while writing the piano score of Saugatuck and Baraboo: a deceptive cadence with the first, and then with an incomplete ending in the second. Nashville, with the fanfare and finale, but not the interlude, is unapologetically Wagnerian in all its major key bombast and minor key doom. The interlude has a title, which is not featured: Pancake Pantry. This is an established eatery in downtown Nashville.
As three compositions are involved here, I list them by their file name: Roadtrips (3/28/17); Dark Fanfare (2/14/17); Nashville (8/19/17).
Book Notes on Icarus Transfigured|
The Eye of the Other: The evil neighbor is Aloysius’ bully, and in a larger sense a personification of “the eye of the other” that intrudes maliciously on his thoughts and desires. The eye of the other is a constant preoccupation in his autistic life, for it looks not only through keyholes, windows, and video cameras, but also down from the sky. It effectively defines his prison. When he engages this look, as with Emma’s eye through a keyhole in Chapter Seventeen, and even later in the same chapter when he cannot find her eyes in a dark room, he is brought face-to-face with what separates his thoughts and intentions from those of others. Aloysius is afflicted with a form of blindness, and his life is an elaborately constructed fortress meant to convince himself and others that he can, if he chooses, see out. However, this charade is fully exposed when he confesses his love for Emma in Chapter Twenty-five, and from the eye-to-eye vantage point of his pillow the reader sees just how blind, vulnerable, and isolated he is. (6/03/08)
The Black Box: The black box appears to hold the answer to every riddle. From a phone machine to a suitcase to a crashed car, it takes many forms throughout the story. When it is first encountered as a black box from a downed airliner in the opening Prologue, we understand something cataclysmic is already in place from the outset of our tale. Indeed, the dark form may very well be “an event” yet to be fully remembered. In its widest context it is Omar’s “balance of memory” that exists outside all space, time, and causation: It is the “Unknowable Thing-in-Itself.”
In the Epilogue section titled The Unknowable Thing-in-Itself, we find our most enigmatic spin on the theme. We are allowed to peek into the black box, and to glimpse (in metaphorical terms) its meaning if not its true contents:
The dollhouse in the cardboard box can be likened to Aloysius’ humanity. Moments later, when the black box reverts back to being a suitcase, it is abandoned altogether as a metaphor; Emma insists they leave it behind. The Unknowable Thing-in-Itself no longer needs symbolic representation at this point in the story, at least not for Emma and Aloysius. This casting off of an outer shell is underscored in the second Epilogue, where the contents of the time capsule are revealed. Here things are not so much demystified as, with the dollhouse and suitcase, seen as leaving-off places. In other words, we are left behind with worldly explanations as Aloysius and Emma disappear against the starry heavens.
However one wants to see it, what has sustained Aloysius throughout our tale is the love he bears for a guiding ideal. This ideal is first loved as an imaginary friend, and then as an imaginary woman, and, finally, as an unseen child in a womb, although this child is, again, only inferred. The ideal effectively becomes an end in itself: something loved on its own unimagined terms: something that, in the closing paragraph (and for lack of a better word), could be called God. (4/07/09)
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