Desperately Seeking… Cynthia (Anyone can Knit)

Desperately Seeking… Cynthia (Anyone can Knit)

It was my “animus prodigious”…like Churchill’s “black dog”…the thing that consumed me, rendered everything I achieved pale by comparison (and, let’s face it:  I’ve been on radio, cable TV–known in two provinces for a skill I will speak of later), and yet, I look at this book I’ve published (to no little acclaim), and all I can think is:  what next?  The gumshoe voyageur must live still within me because what never seems to satisfy me is the thing itself whereas what drives me onward is pursuing the next thing.  No rest at the destination, the achievement itself; there is rest only in striving, reaching for the next thing. In the movie, “Doubt”, the Meryl Streep character says:  “In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God.”  This is ambiguous. I think the writer meant “the prosecution of wrongdoing”, not “the pursuit”.  In Ground Manners, Volpone and Rash “pursue” wrongdoing as if wrongdoing were, in and of itself, a thing to be desired and therefore, chased after.  
In that way, yes, they step away from God:  Volpone in his congenital madness, not ever knowing good from evil, just following the lights he was born with, miscreant that he is.  Volpone “pursues” wrongdoing unawares; in his mind, he pursues, avidly, the gratification of pleasure which, for him, is the ultimate good, independent of the moral:  his pursuit is the truly amoral.  Volpone is like a man with no hands desperately wishing to play piano. He is like the limbless but hopeful snake about to read a how-to book on knitting called, “Anyone Can Knit.”  Rash, on the other hand, has found power, seated himself comfortably within its limitless bounds, and pursues wrongdoing–not because, like Volpone, he knows no better–but just because it pleases him to do so.  Readers have told me they despise Volpone but no one has mentioned Rash, yet Rash, who knows better, is the greater villain of the two.  And I, in writing a discourse which observes the two ends of the misanthropic spectrum, have “prosecuted”, not “pursued” evil, so I believe that I have not “stepped away from God” but have brought him closer–though, in the simplest sense of the Doubt quotation, I have also pursued and laid bare the roots and consequences of horse abuse and slaughter.  I pretend to be a voice for the voiceless. (Yet, as Melville has said, “Silence is the voice of God”…more on my damaged vocal chords later).

As I re-read the book, I notice themes that I didn’t even know were part of the discourse:  wanting, attention, predation.  What Rash wants, what Volpone wants, and what Guyanne learns to want are all vastly different…yet cut from the same human fabric.  So with attention.  Predation is more complex; a bit of a vicious cycle or an exercise in moral morphism.  Sometimes the prey becomes predator; sometimes the predator becomes prey.  It isn’t just a matter of perspective; it’s a matter of who wields the most power at a given time or in a given event.  In any interpersonal situation, either the prey or the predator lies within us, and acts either to protect or to dominate. Long story short:  the tumbling prey/predator dialectic, in a nutshell, is the history of mankind and his relationship to the planet.

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