Here We Are Alone Again. It’s All so Sad, so Slow…
Here we are alone again. It’s all so sad, so slow…
The great myth of the conspiracy theorist, besides that he is a lunatic, which is fifty-fifty, the same as in any given population group, is that he somehow needs the company of the conspiracy, that it comforts him in a perverse sort of way. The truth is that anyone on the assassination conspiracy continuum is likely to be tremendously lonely, for he has been abandoned by truth itself. Compared to losing one’s faith in, say, God, this is a more difficult blow to bear—for it is, indeed, a blow. Imagine rather than losing faith in God, God turned his back on you. This is how the unsolved assassination is felt by a man like Todd Fullmer or anyone who lends the event his time. And this is probably why the Slovenes appear to be rather complacent about Kramberger’s assassination. What could have been the seminal controversial event in a young country’s history instead has become an acknowledged yet unimportant assassination and cover-up that typically the Slovene is not obsessed with. Any number of speculatories can be made, such as the Slovene as Balkan man simply takes such business in stride, or the Slovene as neighbor to Austrian keeps it all inside, drinks too much, then commits suicide. But more likely the apparent individual Slovene reaction is a combination of not being all that eager to allow an event so early in its history as an independent nation to spoil things and the stronger impulse to guard against the loneliness one feels when truth denies us its company. Reading through the Fullmer archives, we come to know a man who is Americo-centric about assassinations, yet increasingly self-aware. To read his articles and not quickly grasp his faith that America is the home of the great assassinations, that for instance the Kennedy assassination is the most important of all time, the most interesting, the most historic, would be impossible. Yet, in his last few years, usually between the lines, sometimes in a stray line or two, he seems to display an understanding that he is in effect imprisoned by his Americo-centrism. His editor, who asked not to be named even though his name can be found easily in the most obvious ways, said that in one of his last conversations with Fullmer that the reporter expressed his mystification at the relatively slight impact the Kramberger assassination seemed to have made on Slovene life, which he said was at first a great disappointment to him, but was gradually becoming a slippery theme. ‘It’s as if the man simply wasn’t important enough to give a shit about’, he told his editor, ‘yet in my head I know he was flesh and blood like JFK and in my gut I believe he mattered as much, and maybe even more…I just don’t get it.’
At this point, if you were impatient and this was not a novel, we could answer any of your questions with absolute clarity and accuracy. We could even tell you who killed Ivan Kramberger and why. We could tell you what color underwear the assassin is sporting at this very second, what aftershave (hint). However, the cavils are obfuscating vermin. And though we don’t know why—well, we do, but have to write as if we don’t—but the omniscient narrator has lost a great deal of stature over the centuries. How this came about has nothing to do with any misbehavior on the part of the omniscient narrator, rather springs from the lie woven into the very fabric of his subject combined with the lack of patience of the reader, which is just another way of saying that there are limitations to the form. The Hindu explanation of the lie is commonly summarized in the term maya, which is a word that almost everyone familiar with it misunderstands for reasons and in such a way that is easily understood if one properly understands the term maya. Not to get carried away, but to proceed with such rapidity that a turnabout is possible rather than an about-face, what we are talking about are nama and rupa, name and form, which is to say that which must be in order for us to speak of name and form, yet which disguise the truth that is unity—the calm terrain beneath the ocean of chaos, one might say. There are two possible, honest omniscient narratives. One is the strictly factual account of events, which in the case of our novel about Kramberger could be limited to as little as one page. The other is the infinite novel, the Funes the Memorious version. No thought or act would be left out, yet so many would be included that to end the novel, to omit but one thought, but one distant, apparently insignificant incident that had even the slightest bearing on the subject—say, the way the sun set on the evening of August 23, 1991, when Kramberger stopped playing with his monkey on the promenade in Koper to watch the Adriatic eat fire—would be to render the entire book a sham. Interestingly, this leads the omniscient narrator of today into a sort of complicity with the assassins, all of us relying on what may or may not be called the willing suspension of disbelief.
One more point in this regard, and that’s all. Given that our intention is to refuse the mantle of absolute omniscience, we find it best to leave, to the extent possible, Slovene speculations about the assassination to some mundane interviewer of the future, or end times, for knowing in each case in which way they are imbalanced, and who isn’t imbalanced?, we would face the predicament of whether or not to expose their misconceptions, deceptions, misunderstandings, odd oral tradition folk versions, simplistic guesses, and even nearly perfect diagnoses.
Editor’s note: I started The Collidescope so that I could give a home to work that is true to itself rather than diluted by the artless concerns of marketing and audience pandering. The aesthetic of the journal reflects my own tastes, of course: writing that tinkers with the mechanics of language, that itemizes etymology, orchestrates melody, writing that is logistically illogical and acts as the ouija board of voiceless dreams. Rick Harsch’s writing embodies all this and more. I never thought that I’d be serializing an amazing novel from an amazing author. I’m both honored and excited. So dear readers, be sure to bookmark The Collidescope and check back every Sunday for new installments of Kramberger with Monkey: A Comedy of Assassination by Rick Harsch.
Let’s start by rewriting the goddamn author bio: Rick Harsch is 60 years old. He was run down and mauled by the literary scene in the late 1990s, his Driftless Trilogy coming out like three gusts from a pistol preceding a flag that says BANG. The pistol is plastic. The flag is tissue. He moved to Slovenia in 2001, 9 days after the attacks on NY and D.C., an innocent man about to find out that condition stretched all the way to naïve. He wrote a lot, but only last year was his fiction welcomed in the US again, with Voices After Evelyn and Skulls of Istria. Everybody says they are great. Not many people have bought them. This year he is getting two books published by River Boat Books, his magnum (finally a magnum) opus, if it is, called The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas, and a travel/sports book called Walk Like a Duck: a Season of Little League Baseball in Italy.
The book being serialized here by the young overmuscled writer George Salis is called Kramberger with Monkey. If you see fit, you can read these short chapters and see how a writer handles extreme adversity, as my fictional mouthpieces keep getting knocked off as the book goes along. It’s especially inconvenient when a death forces me into the second person. I’m used to being fourth. If you have time, please write and tell us whether or not you think the book should be bloodier.