a woman of great drive

I finally started 2666. I’m already getting awfully attached to the Norton character. I loved this, from her introduction,  especially the last sentence:

“Liz Norton, on the other hand, wasn’t what one would ordinarily call a woman of great drive, which is to say that she didn’t draw up long- or medium-term plans and throw herself wholeheartedly into their execution. She had none of the attributes of the ambitious. When she suffered, her pain was clearly visible, and when she was happy, the happiness she felt was contagious. She was incapable of setting herself a goal and striving steadily toward it. At least, no goal was appealing or desirable enough for her to pursue it unreservedly. Used in a personal sense, the phrase “achieve an end” seemed to her a small-minded snare. She preferred the word life, and, on rare occasions, happiness. If volition is bound to social imperatives, as William James believed, and it’s therefore easier to go to war than it is to quit smoking, one could say that Liz Norton was a woman who found it easier to quit smoking than to go to war.”

I think Bolaño is alluding to Principles of Psychology, though I’m only guessing, having only read excerpts from that book (that James came up is somewhat fortuitous, though; I’m planning to begin a series of posts to order some of my recent thinking on spirituality, and James’ description of mysticism is a touchstone there). As to Ms. Norton, there’s a later scene that I also enjoyed, wherein she becomes a blond Amazon warrior, though the occasion is a literary conference at which she rises to fend off a slew of poor interpretations of the work of a made up author named Archimboldi, whom is now being pursued by Norton and her colleagues in some kind of epic literary quest.  It’s a strange and witty novel, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I work through it.

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~ by staticandme on January 12, 2009.

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