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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Grounded in the text?
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2000 11:17:27 

An excellent post; I was going to defend my position, but you do it
better than I would have.  There are just a couple of amendments I would

William Ansley wrote:
> At 1:42 PM -0800 12/6/00, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:
> >Adam Stephanides wrote:

> >  > If you're referring to the spot on p. 14 of the Harper & Row edition
> >>  ("Ladies, this was not what I wanted"), Weer is referring here not to
> >>  his readers, but to the women at Weer's birthday party, who apparently
> >>  have mentally intruded on his visit to Van Ness.


> >The paragraph in full:
> >
> >       One moment, please. Let me stand and walk to the window;
> >       let me put this broken elm branch -- shaped as though it
> >       were meant to be the antler of a wooden deer, such a deer
> >       as might be found, possibly, under one of the largest
> >       outdoor Christmas trees -- upon the fire. Ladies, this
> >       was not what I wanted. Ladies, I wish to know only if in
> >       my condition I should exercise or remain still; because
> >       if the answer is that I must exercise I will go looking
> >       for my scout knife.


> You say that my interpretation (and Adam's) "involves a level of
> incoherency [on Weer's part] where he simply cannot distinguish
> between the porch and the party." Obviously, I disagree. In my view,
> Weer's mind has just returned from his 5th birthday party back to the
> "present" and he is addressing the people he has just (in effect)
> left, quite as he or I (or perhaps even you) might make a remark to
> someone who has just left the room, even if we are sure he or she
> cannot hear us any longer.

I would analyze it a bit differently.  I think that when Weer's mind is
in the "past" he remains aware of his "present" situation; this is how
he is able to move back and forth at will, here and on p. 12 of H & R
("I stand, holding on to the mantel...").  Conversely, in this
paragraph, although his attention has turned to the "present" situation,
his mind is still simultaneously at the birthday party (and at Van
Ness's office!).  So the "ladies" of the birthday party he is addressing
are present, though
in another compartment of his mind, so to speak.  It's a small point,
but I think it's important to figure out, as best we can, what exactly
is going on in the course of Weer's narration.

In the further interests of exactitude, an even smaller point:
> But, leaving all this aside, I think there is textual evidence that
> Weer is addressing the ladies at his fifth birthday party. On p. 5 we
> see this: "There is a white Pekinese as big as a spaniel at her feet,
> and it snarls when anyone comes too near. (Laugh, ladies, but
> Ming-Sno will bite.)" It is not clear who made this remark (perhaps
> Weer is recalling something his Aunt Olivia said)

Could be, but I don't recall any other instances of Weer echoing another
person's remark without indicating he's doing so; and I don't see any
reason why it shouldn't be an aside by the present-day Weer,
rhetorically addressed to the "ladies."  Of course, this doesn't affect
your argument.


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