Maandag, November 02, 2015

The Beast in the Jungle

Henry James was lief daarvoor om 'n raaisel in die lug te laat hang vir 'n hele boek lank. What Maisie Knew. Net tien bladsye oor en nogsteeds wonder ek wat de *** dit is wat hierdie dogtertjie weet. Maar dis die idee.

Die kroon van hierdie soort ding is daardie grootste van groot horror verhale: The Turn of the Screw. Dis 'n meesterwerk van die mind wat die horror van kindermishandeling wys soos niks wat ek ooit gelees het nie [ maar vermink deur die reeks swak flieks wat daarvan gemaak is ]. Screw hou die vraag oop - tot op die laaste oomblik - wie is die martelaar en wie is die een wat gemartel word?

En dan hierdie verhaal: The Beast in the Jungle. Dis een van daai stories wat eers soos niks voel nie, maar met tyd gegroei en gegroei het.

Die held, John Marcher, is 'n man wat glo dat iets verskrikliks vir hom, iewers in sy lewe voorlê. Hy gebruik hierdie voorbode as 'n verskoning om intimiteit te vermy.

Something or other lay in wait for him, amid the twists and the turns of the months and the years, like a crouching beast in the jungle. It signified little whether the crouching beast were destined to slay him or to be slain. The definite point was the inevitable spring of the creature; and the definite lesson from that was that a man of feeling didn’t cause himself to be accompanied by a lady on a tiger-hunt.

Dit is "hy". "Sy" is May Bartram, 'n vrou wat gefassineer is met Marcher se obsessie en besluit om rond te hang om te sien wat met hom gaan gebeur.

Daar is baie maniere om hierdie situasie te interpreteer - en James, Mr Dubbelsinnig - moedig dit alles aan.

Een manier is dat Marcher met 'n ernstige perversie worstel, iets wat May vir hom help toesmeer. Henry James was gay in 'n era toe hy diep in die kas moes bly. 

You help me to pass for a man like another.

Soos in die Johnny Cash lied The Beast In Me.

'n Ander manier is dat die Beast 'n meganisme van die ego is, 'n manier om kosbaarheid aan die self te gee. Dit is van die eerste oomblik duidelik dat Marcher 'n egomaniak is. Hy kyk na ander mense en dink they indeed had been wondrous for others, while he was but wondrous for himself; which, however, was exactly the cause of his haste to renew the wonder by getting back, as he might put it, into his own presence.

Die Beast is die enigste rede waarom May aangetrokke is tot Marcher - en haar belangstelling veroorsaak die stadige druk dat iets moet gebeur.

Maar ook: haar geloof in hierdie Beast is die enigste rede waarom Marcher vir May in sy lewe verdra. So word hierdie twee verbind deur hierdie gesamentlike illusie. Allerande klein dinge gebeur, en gesamentlik, maar afsonderlik, wonder hulle: is dit die oomblik?

Die storie word vertel in wat in werklikheid net een groot toneel is: na 'n dekade herontmoet Marcher en May. Sy is op sterwe. Dit lyk asof Marcher haar meer en meer vermy het - teleurgesteld met die gewone banaliteit van sy eie lewe.

Gaan jy my verlaat?  vra hy haar. (Wat 'n ego - hy bedoel nie dat sy gaan sterf nie, maar dat sy gaan ophou glo).

Inteendeel sê sy: jy hoef nie meer te wag nie, die Beast is op jou...

Marcher weet nie hoe om hierop te reageer nie - al kan hy sien dat sy verwag dat hy moet verstaan wat sy probeer sê.

Sonder 'n getuie, sterf die Beast uit Marcher se lewe saam met May.

What it presently came to in truth was that poor Marcher waded through his beaten grass, where no life stirred, where no breath sounded, where no evil eye seemed to gleam from a possible lair, very much as if vaguely looking for the Beast, and still more as if missing it. He walked about in an existence that had grown strangely more spacious, and, stopping fitfully in places where the undergrowth of life struck him as closer, asked himself yearningly, wondered secretly, and sorely, if it would have lurked here or there.

Die laaste toneel is Marcher wat by May se graf staan en wonder oor wat sy gesê het: jy hoef nie meer te wag nie, die Beast is op jou...

The beast had lurked indeed, and the beast, at its hour, had sprung; it had sprung in that twilight of the cold April when, pale, ill, wasted, but all beautiful, and perhaps even then recoverable, she had risen from her chair to stand before him and let him imaginably guess. It had sprung as he didn’t guess; it had sprung as she hopelessly turned from him, and the mark, by the time he left her, had fallen where it was to fall. He had justified his fear and achieved his fate; he had failed, with the last exactitude, of all he was to fail of; and a moan now rose to his lips as he remembered she had prayed he mightn’t know.

Die Beast is die idee wat die grootste deel van sy lewe verorber het, sonder liefde en samesyn, totdat dit te laat was. Hy is die Beast.

Terloops, so tien jaar gelede was daar groot nuus toe 'n nuwe, onbekende gedig van die jong Sylvia Plath ontdek is.

Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight
finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard
of, while blasé princesses indict
tilts at terror as downright absurd.
The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,
compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;
and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,
while bored arena crowds for once look eager,
hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes
shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger

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