Sheesh. This post has been stuck forgotten in draft for awhile.
It was silly of me to approach the book as a a bit of a sci-fi mystery. I was looking for clues as to how all of humanity disappeared in Kate’s sentences. They are not in there. I did my best not to skim, even fixating on specific sentences, only to have her modify or negate its meaning in a later sentence. This might seem like a typical challenge of an unreliable narrator, but with the book’s structure, it was walking a razor’s edge. It seems that it would have been worthwhile to read with a notebook to jot down the evolution of her assertions, as juggling all of the tangles of her thoughts became a little tough for me. I’m not as well versed in art history, and philosophy as i should be, so when Kate confused biographical details of various people, I missed some of the connections that Markson was making.
A couple of you might remember that a few years ago, i tackled Gaddis’ The Recognitions. I never finished it. Wittgenstein’s Mistress mentions Gaddis and The Recognitions a number of times. It seems that i’ll be reading it before i tackle Wittgenstein’s Mistress again.
Not so oddly, it was easy to identify with Kate. My memory is just as idiosyncratically human as her own (which might not be a good thing, as some reviews insist that she is insane,) and my body of knowledge is under constant revision. As the conscious mind plunges along into the future, it strains to map out of the past, discerning repeating patterns or inventing them. Again, it sucks that my familiarity with art history is as weak as it is, as a lot of the weight of the statements were lost. Having her wander through the emptied cities of Europe (and North America,) looting bookstores and museums, being the last person to curate the accumulation of wealth of Western civilization, struggling to make it mean something for her, yet it is no more than the message that she scrawls out in the beaches to no one.
Yep. Good fun.