Test
Download document

AUSTER, Paul


The Book Of Illusions
…..

They had invented a syntax of the eye, a grammar of pure kinesis, and except for the costumes and the cars and the quaint furniture in the background, none of it could possibly grow old. It was thought translated into action, human will expressing itself through the human body, and therefore it was for all time. Most silent comedies hardly even bothered to tell stories. They were like poems, like the renderings of dreams, like some intricate choreography of the spirit, and because they were dead, they probably spoke more deeply to us now than they had to the audiences of their time. We watched them across a great chasm of forgetfulness, and the very things that separated them from us were in fact what made them so arresting: their muteness, their absence of color, their fitful, speeded-up rhythms. These were obstacles, and they made viewing difficult for us, but they also relieved the images of the burden of representation. They stood between us and the film, and therefore we no longer had to pretend that we were looking at the real world. The flat screen was the world, and it existed in two dimensions. The third dimension was in our head. There was nothing to stop me from packing my bags and leaving the next day. I was off for the semester, and the next term wouldn't begin until the middle of January. I was free to do what I wanted, free to go wherever my legs wanted to take me, and the fact was that if I needed more time I could keep on going until I was past January, past September, past all the Septembers and Januarys for as long as I wished. Such were the ironies of my absurd and miserable life. The moment Helen and the boys were killed, I had been turned into a rich man. The first bit came from a life insurance policy that Helen and I had been talked into buying not long after I started teaching at Hampton-- for peace of mind, the man said--and because it was attached to the college health plan and didn't cost much, we had been paying in a small amount every month without bothering to think about it. I hadn't even remembered that we owned this insurance when the plane went down, but less than a month later, a man showed up at my house and handed me a check for several hundred thousand dollars. A short time after that, the airline company made a settlement with the families of the victims, and as someone who had lost three people in the crash, I wound up winning the compensation jackpot, the giant booby prize for random death and unforeseen acts of God.

…..

Moon Palace

…..
I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again. I was seventeen years old, and all of a sudden, without the slightest flicker of a doubt, I understood that my life was my own, that it belonged to me and no one else.
…..
It was all a matter of missed connections, bad timing, blundering in the dark. We were always in the right place at the wrong time, always just missing each other, always just a few inches from figuring the whole thing out. That’s what the story boils down to, I think. A series of lost chances. All the pieces were there from the beginning, but no one knew how to put them together.

…..