Thursday, May 19, 2011

Raymond Roussel's "Locus Solus"

I read this book some years ago, and to this day I felt I dreamt it. Not meaning it's a Surrealist work - and some argue it is - at least by its nature. But re-reading "Locus Solus" reminds me of the Museum of Jurrastic Technology here in Los Angeles. One goes into the museum not sure how it will turn out in the end, but for sure you are going for a wild intellectual and sensual journey. 

There is no real plot for say, but more of a group of settings where things happen Some are narratives and some are almost visual set pieces. Which explains why Roussel was a major influence on the visual arts of the early 20th Century as well as to poets. His mixture of images within bizarre settings never gets stale. The wealthy scientist Cantarel takes a group on a tour of his estate, and what he has in his collection.... Oh my! 
In many ways the book is about obsessions. About capturing a moment and keeping it is some form or another. And that the author is Raymond Roussel, perhaps one of the great obsessive writers ever. A wealthy man who paid for the publication for this book (as well as his other titles). An author who eventually put together a huge stage show in Paris - and a man who traveled around the world and never left the ocean liner. So the world of his choice are all in his head. And this is what makes his work so great. 
There is logic, but its in a science fiction turn of the century way of looking at the world. And that is another odd aspect to his work is that he is clearly a man from the 19th Century dealing with the 20th Century world. Without a doubt a work of genius, and a book I will re-read again and again.
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