Archive for October, 2010


Simulating Dialogue

October 28, 2010

I know you’ve been busy the past few weeks…so I decided (like just now–actually it was on my walk home from work) that I’d pick up some of your slack and simulate some dialogue on this blog until you have a chance to post again.   So close your eyes and imagine if you will that you and I are sitting in the same room (in my mental picturing we’re sitting in lawn chairs and the room is completely empty…except a bicycle may or may not be leaning against a wall–but you’re free to change the setting and/or seating technology).

Jon:  So how are you liking the book?

Justin:  The….book.  Hmmm.  Yes.  The book…

Jon:  The Third Policeman

Justin:  I know, I know.  I think its hilarious…especially that part when De Selby is talking about that aspect of life that he’s completely misunderstood.

Jon:  Yeah that’s a gut buster.  How about the turn the plot takes in Chapter 6…things turn positively Kafkaesque.

Justin:  As opposed to negatively Kafkaesque

Jon:  I guess I think Kafkaesque-ness is inherently negative.

Justin:  Have you ever read Kafka?

Jon:  Like the first eight pages of The Trial.  But I don’t think reading the work is prerequisite for understanding the term.

Justin:  It makes for a richer understanding.

Jon:  Regardless–what did you think when the narrator suddenly found himself accused of a crime that he didn’t commit?

Justin: …

Jon:  I wondered if it was a miscarriage of justice to accuse him of a crime that he didn’t commit in that particular instance but that he had committed and gotten away with in the past.  Is it the scales of justice evening up or being thrown even further out of whack?

Justin: Did you know that the Panama Canal opened in 1914?

Jon:  Justin are you reading The Third Policeman?

Justin:  That was two years ahead of its target date!

Jon:  Are you reading a book about the Panama Canal?

Justin:  It’s fascinating.

Jon:  Agreed!  Tell me about the water rising and falling!

End Scene.

Until the Panama Canal ceases to be enthralling,




Revelations About Myself

October 15, 2010

I’m going to detour this blog away from our usual high-level of literary criticism (i.e. “Proust makes my brain achy”) and alter the tenor to one of confession and navel gazing.  It will be as if F.R. Leavis were a cast member of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.  This blog post is dedicated to me.

For as I read on in The Third Policeman I had an epiphany…a rollicking, eye-opening Little Chandler on the bridge epiphany. (I should note that I’m trying to conversationally reference a James Joyce story that I read about ten years ago, so Little Chandler’s epiphany may not have happened on a bridge…but that’s how I remember it, and I’m too lazy to fact check.  You should note that I just conversationally referenced a James Joyce story—quite the intellectual!  It’s like dinner the other night…I was asked “How was your day?”  and I responded “‘riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay.'”).

My epiphany…I’m probably about 75% couch.

That is if you buy into the Policemen’s way of thinking and what’s frightening to me as I progress in this book, is that the policemen  make more and more sense.  I find myself nodding along and then I think to myself “Wait.  Wait!  A bicycle can’t eat food!”  Do you see a connection between the crazy philosophies of De Selby and the skewed world of the policemen?  What did De Selby know?  Or is De Selby just another part of this alternative world..did nothing, in fact, every take place in the reality that we know?

Now I’ve got myself into a tizzy, and right before bed!

Well I should go decompress so I can get a decent night’s rest.  Until next time…

“The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived : she sold lemon platt.”




Blissful Disorientation

October 15, 2010

Your last post left me with a veritable feast for thought.

No! NO! A Smorgasborg, Yes, a veritable smorgasbord of thought. Why I filled up so much on thought-lefse, thought-aebleskiver, and thought-gravet laks, I had no room for any thought lutefisk, and you know how I get without my thought lutefisk:


Anyway, I got over that, but I think you raise an interesting question. Is the narrator dead? In short, I think he could be. He can’t remember his name. He’s communining with dead (Old Mathers). He’s spiritedly (is their any other way) conversing with his own soul. (The ingeniously name, Joe.)

So, it could be.

But honestly, I am really coming to think that trying to make sense of the narrative isn’t worth trouble. I think this might be a prime example of Alfred Hitchcock’s ol’ narrative standby, the maguffin.

I think Flann O’Brien is trying to convince us that this book is about one thing (the narrator’s search for his identity) so that he can sneak up on us with the real story. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that story is at this point, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really need to.

Why worry about what the story is “about” when you can just sit back and enjoy things like this description of De Selby analysis of movies:

“These are the same films which he mentions in Golden Hours (p. 155) as having ‘a strong element of repetitive element’ and as being ‘tedious’.  Apparently, he had examined them patientlypicture by picture and imagined that they would be screened in the same way, failing at the time to grasp the principle of the cinematograph.”


For the time being I will just enjoy the blissful sense of disorientation of not really understanding what’s going on, like watching Mulholland Drive for the first time or trying to figure out why a bunch of animated moppet puppets need a nanny in Muppet Babies. (It just doesn’t make any sense!)

Sometimes its more about the journey and less about the destination.


Spoiler Alert! (Maybe…I’m Not Really Sure What’s Going On)

October 5, 2010

I think with your last post you inadvertently raise an interesting point.  Not the question of whether Orson is Mork’s soul…that’s easily dismissed from  a half-distracted viewing of even a single episode of Mork and Mindy.  Orson is Mork’s boss…to draw an analogy that’s close to your heart think of the Orson-Mork relationship as an Orkian version of Suzanne Somers vis-a-vis George Wyner in that hallmark of feminist sitcomery, She’s The Sheriff.  I think that Orson is a mid-level bureaucrat not very different from Mork’s Earthbound friend, Nelson Flavor.

But it is interesting to think of aliens and souls.  Do they have them?  If they do is the God of this galaxy their god too?  Does a soul automatically mean that there is a God?

Deep stuff Justin…it’s like talking Pam Dawber’s filmography with Emmanuel Levinas.

(On a complete sidenote…according to Conrad Janis’s character on that show was called Fred ‘Fredzo’ McConnell.  When was he ever called Fredzo?!)

Now on to my spoiler…this may ruin an entire reading experience…so you may want to think twice about reading on (I feel a bit like Grover warning about the Monster at the End of the Book…but really (I’m serious) this may completely spoil your enjoyment of upcoming surprises (I mean it)…so be wary (exuding seriousness right now)).

Is the narrator dead?

In all the critical stuff I’ve read about the book it mentions that the book is about death…and this world of the three policeman doesn’t seem very earthbound (cf. talking corpses).  Does everyone but me know that the main character is dead…or is this a suprise that comes later.  Or is he actually alive right now and it will truly be a surprise when he dies later in the book?  If he is dead when did he die…was he dead from the very beginning or did he die somewhere around chapter two?  Or am I completely misinformed and does this book have nothing to do with death…and it’s really just about policemen and bicycles and DeSelby?

I have absolutely no idea what is going on in this book.

Random observation:  Chapter Five opens with a discussion of DeSelby’s mirror contraption and its “diminishing images”…this is echoed later on with MacCruiskeen’s chests.  I have no idea if this is important…I barely understand the words the characters are saying.

Onward ho!