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of clockwork men

Looking back at the road

“The dozen or so greatest songs from the later career of Bob Dylan comprise — in their surreal, profoundly-worn desertedness — a visceral mapping of the gut dislocation that marks Aftermath.”

“At the very heart of the moment of Aftermath lies an awareness that the story is done. This moment.. ..prefigures a world incapable of change, a world no longer storyable.”

Storyable, and the ramifications of that notion no longer being applicable, are very much on my mind today. Where does the world go when it cannot any longer be told? What makes it such, and why can’t it be told any longer? I’m thinking of the end of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, for example, which in its closing sentences suggests that the story the author has told has absolutely come to an end:

“Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again.”

There is more to the world McCarthy has written about, there is more to the story of the boy and his father. But we will not hear it. That’s Aftermath, that’s the realisation that it has been told and we must go away now and deal with it.

Like I said, on my mind. Because story is what we do, and it’s at the heart of our experience. If that isn’t possible, for whatever reason (Aftermath’s actualising is an absolute, crushing realisation that what was seen earlier (this is in the context of John Clute’s four-stage model for horror, which is where the two quotes that open this post arise from) is now manifest and that there is no going back. Coming home from the trenches. Witnessing the killing fields) then we have nothing, and we have to live with that.

It’s an awful notion, which is why it’s interesting today.


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