Getting It

This is Pointless


‘He won’t be there.’

‘I’m still going.’

‘There’s no point: he won’t be there.’

‘You can’t know that.’

‘Are you calling me a liar?’

‘I’m just saying I’m going.  You can’t stop me.’

‘You always do this.  You’re wilful.’

‘Wilful?  Because I’m true to my convictions?’

‘That’s just your definition.’

‘You take my words and apply a tourniquet to them.  The blood supply is cut off and they just die.’

‘That’s simply a bloated metaphor.  A smokescreen.’

‘I see.  I use bloated metaphor.  What did you just do?’

‘That was an apt analogy.  To highlight the truth status of my point.  Besides: a tourniquet (and I don’t concede that’s what I do to your words) saves the threatened limb.’

‘You know that wasn’t my point in the metaphor.’

‘You had no point.’

‘And you say I’m wilful?’

‘Don’t be petty – it’s unbecoming.’

‘I’m still going.’

‘You don’t get it, do you?’

‘That’s what he says.’

‘Maybe you should listen to him, then.’

‘Listen to yourself.  You’re like one of those Escher pictures – apparently logical, but doomed to be impossible.  You’re a two-way mirror.’

‘Now you’re babbling.’

‘You can’t stand the truth.’

‘I can’t stand nonsense.’

‘My truth: your nonsense.’

‘I can’t stand this.  I’m going.’

‘He won’t be there.’

6 thoughts on “Getting It

  1. A touch of Henry Green, and a slightly more energetic bit of Beckett. I had an image of a long-married academic couple, scraping by as adjunct professors at a small college in western Massachusetts. They wear heavy sweaters all winter to keep the heat down low and the husband’s refusal to have the big hole in his darned is a long-simmering point of contention between them. Can’t figure out who “he” is but that just makes it more intriguing! 🙂

    Keep the flash coming!

    • Henry Green: hadn’t thought of that; it’s years since I read him, but I suppose these things percolate. I get the Beckett reference, a touch I guess of Godot (who is ‘he’? Maybe he doesn’t exist.) I like your leap of intuition about Massachusetts, though it’s just a fantasy for me, living in Cornwall as I do. Hadn’t intended posting flash fiction on the blog, but then again, why not…Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Think I got it from the item following. Interesting to compare the discussion below (dialog in a novel) and compare to flash fiction. David Lodge is referring to Green’s viewpoint here:

    From a review of “Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green” by David Lodge (The New York Review of Books).

    “In the terminology of Mikhail Bakhtin, all speech is dialogic in a double sense: an utterance may echo, allude to, anticipate, and engage with many other actual or virtual speech acts besides the one it is ostensibly responding to. Green gives an example almost certainly drawn from his own experience:

    “Supposing a husband and wife live opposite a pub: at nine-thirty any evening when both are at home, he may say, “I think I’ll go over now.” She will probably answer. “Oh,” and there may or may not be a wealth of meaning in that exclamation. And his reply to her will probably be, “Yes.” After twenty years of married life any couple will talk in a kind of telegraphese of their own which is useless to the novelist.”

    As to the “Massachusetts” idea, there’s a whole truckload of theories out there about the way the reader “participates” in the story…I forget the fancy term for it now. I’m a sucker for this stuff! Lodge’s original review is just part of a series of his essays, reprinted in a book called “The Art of Fiction”… I just love that book!

    Enjoy your weekend…

  3. Have you read D. Lodge’s ‘The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy and the Typology of Modern Literature’? Very stimulating and full of insights into how narrative works. Genette’s concept of focalisation partly covers what you say about reader participation. In linguistics there’s the notion of pragmatics: how we make sense of utterances and written texts in context. Hope your weekend is also pleasant.

  4. Just had a couple flashes about the “couple” in your flash fiction above (introduced in my orig. Aug. 2 comment, above) Here’s how they end up! As I mentioned before, my sense of humor is a bit black and twisted……

    Husband and wife, long-married academic couple, scraping by as adjunct professors at a small college in western Massachusetts. They wear heavy sweaters all winter to keep the heat down low, and his refusal to have the hole in his right sleeve fixed is a long-simmering point of contention between them. One night, she notices a fresh piece of yarn dangling from him into his bowl of lentil and split pea soup. She stabs him through the eye with her knitting needle, finishes his soup, and begins to darn. Fifteen hours later, she is led away in cuffs, muttering softly, “The hole….. the hole…. the hole.”

    • Goodness, hadn’t anticipated such a dark turn! Just been listening to A. Dubus III on Michael Silverblatt’s excellent ‘Bookworm’ podcast; MS suggested if he thought the ending to an earlier story of his was too dark, maybe he should do what Dickens did with ‘Great Expectations’ and rewrite it, with a happier outcome. AD seemed quite taken with that thought. It can be productive to consider such things. thanks for taking the time to comment, Maureen.

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