June 29, 2008

I am lost.

This paragraph from Paul Auster's Invention of Solitude, describing something he did one day in Amsterdam, reminded me so much of his famed novel, City of Glass. (Actually, I have not read the novel - only the graphic novel adaptation.)

How many of us have been lost and wandered in a new city? How many of us have been inspired to write about it like this!!
He wandered. He walked around in circles. He allowed himself to be lost. Sometimes, he later discovered, he would be only a few feet from his destination, but not knowing where to turn, would then go off in the wrong direction, thereby taking himself farther and farther from where he thought he was going. It occurred to him that perhaps he was wandering in the circles of hell, that the city had been designed as a model of the underworld, based on some classical representation of the place. ........

...And if Amsterdam was hell, and if hell was memory, then he realized that perhaps there was some purpose to his being lost. Cut off from everything that was familiar to him, unable to discover even a single point of reference, he saw that his steps, by taking him nowhere, were taking him nowhere but into himself. He was wandering inside himself, and he was lost. Far more troubling him, this state of being lost became a source of happiness, of exhilaration. He breathed into his very bones. As if on the brink of some previously hidden knowledge, he breathed it into his very bones and said to himself, almost triumphantly: I am lost.
Exhilaration indeed -- from reading Auster!

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