Living in Between-ness: A Dilemma or A Possibility

在文檔中 威斯坦·休·奧登的《焦慮年代》中的空間實踐 - 政大學術集成 (頁 88-95)

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A rich bore” (CP 477). The ordinary man has his public reputation but he cannot live well. He needs to take medicine to regain his energy and to fall asleep. He is addicted to medicine. He feels depressed about the world and distains himself as a “rich bore”

in a ridiculous age. The community is only a simulacrum like a mirage. The ordinary man is forced to cope with problems in the society. It seems that this society makes everyone competent; however, it gives nothing but the chaos. Malin marks that “. . . When he recollects his / Designed life, the presented pomp is / A case of chaos, a constituted / Famine of effect” (CP 477). This life is “designed” and this fame is not so worth praising. The totalitarianism designs the tabulations for the ordinary man to apply. What the ordinary man needs to do is to follow the plan. Nevertheless, the repetitive pattern brings not the satisfaction but the famine in the society.

The physical appearance and the mental condition are split. The totalitarianism attempts to pursue a united community but it brings the mental repression for the residents. Malin indicates that the ordinary man is wounded by the very strategic system: “. . . his brain cells keep / Their hectic still, but his heart transfixed / By the ice-splinter of an ingrown tear, / Comatose in her cave, cares little / What the senses say” (CP 477). The ordinary man works hard and pays much attention to his career but his mental life is drooping. His reputation grows but his heart is “transfixed” and is numb about his sense. This numbness hurts and tears the mind. Hence, the ordinary man becomes delicate.

In The Age of Anxiety, Auden depicts the totalitarian strategy as a fallacy and a failure. The ordinary man is always suffering from this policy, especially the mental distress. He has various responsibilities to fulfill; therefore, he cannot escape or relieve from his pressure but keeps looking for more possibilities in daily life.

4.3 Living in Between-ness: A Dilemma or A Possibility

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It is almost impossible to free one’s responsibilities from the community or abandon the duties to leave alone. In The Age of Anxiety, the four characters are always struggling with the authority. Auden does not give any solutions to solve the problems but he offers some ways that can resist the totalitarianism. The unity of the totalitarianism is only an illusion. There is a gap between the exteriority and the interiority. The strong manipulates the strategy to dominate and classify space while the weak uses the tactic to transform space. De Certeau demonstrates that the strategy is for the strong while the tactic is for the weak.

The totalitarianism constructs a panoptic blueprint that can tabulate space through the visibility. The residents are under the surveillance of the invisible force.

One of the possibilities to resist the force is story. Through narrating the stories, the ordinary man can create another space. Story, according to de Certeau, “moves away from the ‘real’— or rather it pretends to escape present circumstances” (79). Story has the potentiality to rebel against the totalitarianism. It does not overthrow the policy but finds ways to direct its own operations. Stories are unique and distinct as de Certeau implies that “stories are becoming private and sink into the secluded places in neighborhoods, families, or individuals” (108). Story splits the unity by its

individuality. It collects all the differences and makes distinctions.

Story deciphers the totalitarianism through its uniqueness. Story has three features that operate variously. First of all, story is “fragmented;” it contains

“heterogeneity” that is outside the social milieu. Second, story is “miniaturized”

which is made by the individual stories that make space multiple. Third, story is

“polyvalent” which mixes “many micro-stories” together to transform the current circumstance (sic) (de Certeau 125). In short, story is diverse and contains the possibilities to alter the fixed system.

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In Rosetta’s imagination, she gives a story that shows how ambitious a person might be and this vanity brings merely the emptiness. The public appearance and the inner longing keeps struggling from time to time. Rosetta fantasizes her future vision that she expects she has a mansion17 one day. She depicts a mansion which is on the headland, and where she can see the ocean through her long window. There will be a

“corkscrew staircase / From a green gate in the garden wall / Descended the cliff” (CP 468) and this staircase is the entrance to her beach. The magnificent imagination presents a perfect vision in the future but it is only an appearance. As the unknown narrator has mentioned that Rosetta makes a lot of money but she has the horror of being poor. Story is “the permanent repression” (de Certeau 17). Being poor is Rosetta’s repression, and being rich turns out to be her mask to complement her unconfident past. Story stays in the middle. The exterior environment influences one’s mental reaction. Therefore, Rosetta creates a story that connects the outside and the inside world. The between-ness can compensate for the lack and defense the trauma deepening further. Story is another space as de Certeau implies that story creates

“another space, which coexists with that of an experience deprived of illusions” (17).

The function of story is not to annihilate but to coexist with the possibilities.

Rosetta depicts a magnificent mansion but she does not gain any sense of freedom or belonging. What matters to Rosetta is not seeing but not being seen. A secret place is her longing. She says that

. . . safe in my purse

I kept the key to the closet where A sliding panel concealed the lift, Known to none . . .

17 Herbert Greenberg argues that the house for Rosetta symbolizes the sense of “station and security”

(“The Failure of Caliban and Ariel” 159).

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84 . . . Private and perfect; thence, putting forth Alone in my launch through a low tunnel Out to the ocean, while all others slept, Smiling and singing I sailed till dawn, Happy, hatless. (CP 468)

The secret place makes her feel free and independent. She can relieve the care from others. “Hatless” might indicate the titles in the work place or any responsibilities in the society. In the secret place, Rosetta might relieve from the pressure of the certain burdens temporarily. This is the place that she feels happy and perfect without any disturbances. In Rosetta’s fantasy, first of all, she imagines a magnificent mansion as a gateway that might avoid her sense of being poor; however, she creates another story that pushes her to escape from the burden of the splendid imagination.

In her stories, Rosetta is constantly creating something and then escaping from it once more. She oscillates between her fantasy and the reality; at the same time, her fantasy also vacillates between her imagination and her horror. She creates a story that allows her to escape from the reality but she cannot avoid her fantasy since this

imagination is only the duplication of the appearance. De Certeau once suggests that

“[t]his space [story] protects the weapons of the weak against the reality of the established order. It also hides them from the social categories which ‘make history’

because they dominate it” (23); nevertheless, Rosetta does not escape from the horror in her story. The grand mansion is merely the representation of America, which is so vast but desolate.

Story functions as a frontier or a bridge that remains “between a (legitimate) space and its (alien) exteriority” (de Certeau 126). When the two fields interact, they

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create a “region” that invents the interactions and the movements. There will be many regions within the interaction. Therefore, story multiplies the region. Like a bridge, story is “created by contacts” (de Certeau 127). Story cannot happen without the exterior stimulations. It occurs in the moment of contact. It hardly can be alone itself.

Story will be taken place by the exterior stimulations. When the four characters hear the news from the radio, they provide their own opinions to illustrate it. Some offer their experiences and some present their imaginations about war. Malin’s and Emble’s experiences have already discussed in the chapter three; therefore, they will not be examined here. Quant offers his imagination about the war. He goes through the war which he has never experienced. He states that “All war’s woes I can well imagine” (CP 456). The cruelty of war makes people numb. He laments that

Apathetic to all this. Thousands lie in Ruins by roads, irrational in woods, Insensitive upon snow-bound plains, Or littered lifeless along low coasts . . . . . . With bloated bodies, beached among groynes, Male no longer, unmotivated. (CP 456)

Although sitting in the bar, Quant brings the war scenes into the present moment via his imagination. The war is waged again through the narration. Story collects the trajectories. The news report is designed and manipulated by the authority. A piece of story resists the unity of the totalitarianism. A story is similar to the idea of

synecdoche that uses “a word in a sense which is part of another meaning of the same word,” such as a sail representing a ship, and “replaces totalities by fragments” (de Certeau 101). Every story is a fragmentation that invents the diversity. Quant’s

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narration about the war makes the disturbance out of the coherent appearance.

The news announces the victory only. However, Quant sees the victory as an appearance. He sees the post-traumatic phenomenon in the human civilization. The triumph of war is unworthy of celebration. Quant contemplates that both the nature and the culture are forced to tolerate the human ambition. He mourns that “Earth takes charge of, / Soil accepts for a serious purpose / The jettisoned blood of jokes and dreams, / Making buds from bone, from brains the good / Vague vegetable” (CP 456).

The mute landscape bears the brutalities of the wars and absorbs the pain. The success is built on the sacrifice of lives. In Quant’s imagination, he presents the coexistence of life and death. Life is not merely the nature circle but also the sacrifice of humanity.

The triumph overlaps the death. There is nothing particular to celebrate the triumph of the brutality.

The victory brings the ordinary man not the glory but the numbness. The

ordinary man becomes alienated about the social milieu as Quant says that “survivors play / Cards in kitchens while candles flicker / And in blood-spattered barns bandaged men, / Their poor hands in a panic of need / Groping weakly . . .” (CP 456). The post-war survivors do not gain any pleasures but they become insensible and indifferent. They sit and play the cards in the kitchen and do not care those injuries around them. Seeing this phenomenon, Quant describes it and offers a space for examination. Therefore, story provides a space for the reflection. It depicts more details under the appearance of the unity like a synecdoche, which “makes more dense;

it amplifies the detail and miniaturizes the whole” (de Certeau 101). In Quant’s imagination, the war is not the glory but the ferocity. Story diversifies the artificial victory into the savageness and the cold-bloody.

The totalitarianism celebrates the triumph of the war but the story tells other

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concealed facets. Story reflects the rebellion of the ordinary man. Living in a

community, an individual can reveal the concealments by stories. Therefore, story is the tactic for the ordinary man. De Certeau compares a story to a bridge that “[a]s a transgression of the limit, a disobedience of the law of the place, it represents a departure, an attack on a state, the ambition of a conquering power, or the flight of an exile, in any case, the ‘betrayal’ of an order” (128). These stories provide spaces for the four characters to fight against the totalitarianism. They operate their stories to break up the appearance of unity. Rosetta comprehends that the reality is full of lies and human beings are fooled and controlled by these deceits. She claims that

Lies and lethargies police the world In its periods of peace. What pain taught Is soon forgotten; we celebrate

What ought to happen as if it were done,

Are blinded by our boasts. Then back they come, The fears that we fear. (CP 461)

The stories can reveal other possibilities beneath the façade of triumph, and require the ordinary man to think about the surroundings. From de Certeau’s opinion, he asserts that “[t]he storyteller falls in step with the lively pace of his fables. He follows them in all their turns and detours, thus exercising an art of thinking” (81). Rosetta realizes that the world is decorated by the lies and indicates that human beings are forgetful about the happenings. Through the storytelling, she recognizes how blinded human beings are. Various stories are the trajectories that allow the ordinary man to explore and create more spaces that are outside the totalitarian society. Rosetta rejects the deceits and disobeys the law that is established by the authority. She explains that

“We are warm, our active / Universe is young; yet we shiver” (CP 461). The social

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milieu is constructed by the vanity so that the habitant who lives in the society can find nothing to trust. The ordinary man lives with the fear; as a result, no matter how magnificent and wonderful the world is, the habitant cannot reside freely.

The ordinary man operates his story to discern those hidden facets under the deceptive façade. Malin realizes that the world is decorated by the symbols and these are only the deceptions. He indicates that the ordinary man “finds out / Where his world lies” and the society is a “dual kingdom” that is decorated by “Signs and insignia” (CP 472). The totalitarianism manipulates the visible symbols to construct the creeds and the strategies. However, the visibility cannot allow the ordinary man to perceive the world comprehensibly but opaquely. To overthrow the totalitarianism is almost impossible. The ordinary man is repressed under the supreme control. Living in the middle of the subjection and the rebellion, the ordinary man lingers in

between-ness. Story happens in between-ness since its meaning occurs in the middle of it. The two opposite fields are not always divided into contradictory. Story blurs the separations and creates the regions within the confrontation.

在文檔中 威斯坦·休·奧登的《焦慮年代》中的空間實踐 - 政大學術集成 (頁 88-95)