December 31, 2013
[click to enlarge]
Doctor Gargoyle placed the end of the stethoscope in the middle of his forehead. He wanted, after a busy morning that brought many grave anxieties, to hear himself think. At first there was nothing to hear. Then there was a clicking sound like an old-time film projector.
Where had he heard that sound before?
I finished your book and what an amazing experience! As I was reading it, I was reminded especially of Emerson’s famous saying, “The ancestor of every action is a thought,” as I think Stephen, as a character, is like a man that time forgot, an optimist trying to survive in a dying world where thought, and its cousin common sense, seems to have flown out the window. Like Joyce and Dante, you understand that epics are often told in the quotidian, and I think A Listening Thing is a fine example of the spiritual epic, in much the same vein as St. Augustine’s Confessions or Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis. We are what life makes us (no matter how hard we beat against the current, the stuff of life always wins), and I think Stephen’s “conversion,” his acceptance of himself and the multitudes he contains, allows him to move past the day-to-day-drudgery of material concerns and give voice to the poet within. And for a writer, that’s what it’s all about.