The most interesting passage in the book:
“During his studies at the religious school where the children of the leading, most conservative families in Chile … he kept her informed about the world outside. What are you reading at the moment, nino Felipe? Wait until I finish the book and I’ll tell you—it’s about pirates or alternatively: Nothing that would interest you, Juana. It’s about the Phoenicians, who lived many centuries ago and who nobody cares a bit about—I don’t know why the priests teach us such stupid things.” [p.86]
— why are there wars, the displacement of peoples, violence, fascists, communists, the machinations of finance, etc. …
what is behind the curtain— if not the pirates of the caribbean (off-shore banking pirate/raiders located in the american and british isles of the caribbean; the way the financial sector cratered the price of copper, Chile’s main export, to cripple the Allende gov’t) and the phoenician traders that pull the strings of puppets and direct the flows of currency …
[fun trick, say phoenician and venetian quickly one after the other … ]
shit, the other brother was off studying the weather patterns in the caribbean, was he not?
Felipe ended up in the city of London (current phoenician center of power?)…
i wondered why there were references to the freemasonic beliefs of some of the characters … hidden in plain sight, it was ….
Chile, the land of Pablo Neruda and Miguel Serrano …
truthfully, i found serrano’s works far more intriguing than neruda’s …
either way, salvador allende’s chile was crushed …
home is where ?- the heart is …
the main theme was exile; and truthfully, it was a difficult read for me personally – what is home? Saint Petersburg, Florida, I consider home – the place that i have become the man that i am now, for better or for worse.- the deluge of tourists and the well-to-do especially have put many in the area on edge; a feeling of being pushed back and out in a place that is becoming more and more difficult to afford – but is not that the story almost everywhere?
home is certainly not in michigan, a place it is starting to look like i may never return to. i certainly have no desire to see the locales of my youth; and it appears that no one in that state particularly wishes to see me either – it was a rough march that the reality set in that i don’t really want to see any of my immediate family either – not in the present milieu.
up until the last few years, i had a difficult time understanding how families disintegrated – for mine was the sacrifice of individuality for acceptance; negation of discord for the façade of togetherness. an inability to disagree without escalation to the denigration of the other – with such over-reactions lurking everywhere, the anesthetizing power of alcohol reigns supreme, with a healthy dose of visions sold on shows of glee. all walking and talking gingerly around others; gotta remain nice though, right?
It is fitting that the family has such a fierce pride of being “ukrainian”- a made up country stained with misery bent on lashing out the violence used to repress the gaping whole in many a bodies; the hole being where one would look for a heart, a soul, love.
– interestingly, we may not even be ukrainian – whatever that word means, we could just as easily be polish, russian, lemkin rusyn, lithuanian, hungarian, scythian, ruthenian, galician, gypsies, vikings, zaporyzhian cossacks, austrian, jewish … there is no real family history that i can tell; or perhaps it is just lost on me ….
so what is home? what is there to return to? what am i missing, if anything?
the last week i have delved back into the internet, and all i have found is a focus on world events. fear percolating, of inflation, food scarcity [see macron, biden, and this], war; even locally, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed …
exile and ex-communication – most of the ex-communication is upon my own shoulders, i will admit. that said, i had no interest in remaining in the farce of silent expectations and judgements; all the while plastering a disneyfied smile on my face …
there does not seem to be much of an ending to this piece –
what is my vision, that is what i wrestle with – shit, let it go – the tongue has only recently been freed, and subdue it yet again, the mind presents me with the futility of locution; the emptiness of palavating to those desireless of commune.
the missing key of allende’s brilliance; familial force – familiar farce
Thames’ [a.k.a. the river isis] comment really irked me, and i felt deep down he was wrong. personal confession, for a long time i considered myself a francophone as opposed to the british stereotypes (i de-test the fact this is written in english). The comment was along the lines of the modern reading of trauma and dealing with it; the saying was in praise of repression – the classic british stiff upper lip – as if that were a valid approach. It is not, and it is a main theme in A Long Petal of the Sea.
I am reminded of Somewhere to the East there is a Church, Rilke. One of the three Socratic admonitions is Know Thyself [Nothing in Excess, Surety brings Ruin]. When a level of knowing thyself (i.e., working through repressed thoughts and feelings], in conjunction with empathy, and one quickly sees why it is easy to be a holy man on a mountain (a secluded monk as opposed to amongst the laity). The stiff upper lip is bullshit. Many cultures have a saying – face your demons or pass them on to your children (the aforementioned poem, native americans’ totems, jung’s warning for parents to not pass their unrealized dreams unto their children, etc.). When sufficiently self-realized and truly empathic, one can sense the other people’s repressed trauma, and the stiffness accompanying their lives. (interestingly, psycho-somatically this repressed pain has moved over the last century from stomach ulcers to lower back pain, if one were to believe John Sarno.) [also see the Body Keeps the Score; Rolfing?, the release of feelings through yoga – especially opening up the hips, etc.]
Ofelia, before sleeping with Victor (timing?), had a fleeting thought pass through her mind – damn, I want to paint this guy naked with a rifle in his hand [i would suggest his other hand is on his “gun”: ‘this is my rifle, this is my gun; this one’s for shooting, this one’s for fun!’- a childhood singing memory of mine! yikes!]. Ofelia’s dream was to go off to Paris (?) and be an artist. Instead, she followed in her mother’s footsteps, down to the T
[this is why allende included Ofelia on the boat/business trip – to show that Ofelia was being taken to London to really break her spirit, and to show the contrast between a young Ofelia using her sexuality (short dress, kissing the scot, wanting to wear the same jewelry as her mother) – this was why Allende made it a point to focus on Ofelia’s appearance later in the book – Ofelia adopted the same coping strategy as her mother – to eat too much.
Ofelia is presented in stark contrast with Roser – Roser didn’t have parents (an orphan) – so Roser was free to be her-Self; a whole individuated person – holy! The son of man – how Jesus referred to himself (as opposed to being labeled a bastard, as would have been common at that time if Joseph wasn’t the father). This is Allende’s socialist utopia?- regardless, Ofelia let herSelf be drugged rather than separate herself from her family.
– this is usually why women fall short in following the dictates of religion – even if a woman sets out to not be like her mother, the very act of being a mother herself is a limit that hinders devotion to the “higher” ideals of faith to “god”. This is not inherently sexist – most men fail in similar ways. When Jesus returned to his hometown, the nazarenes were ready to throw him off a cliff! See the works of Rene Girard for a better understanding of Jesus true brilliance, the revealing of the scapegoat mechanism that flourished in cultures around the world.
I have digressed – Ofelia marries Matias – a career diplomat (pedantic to the hilt; see the spanish word tramite – the frustratingly slow “process” of going through bureaucratic paperwork that simply must be done; the british joy of queuing! – for a good overview of british colonialism, a good place to start is the subjugation of her own citizens: see Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation on the british enclosure movement in conjunction with the corn laws). Ofelia’s coping strategy was the same as her mothers’ – she ate shitty food in order to anasthetize her feelings – the same way after a break-up people dive into a tub of ice cream – if the body is forced to digest large amounts of fat + carbs, feelings are dissipated the same way alcohol is used to dull feelings.
So it took Ofelia 40 years (+/- ?) to finally get around to painting Victor in bed with a rifle, and why the piece was so large was because it was stifled for so long – the same way her mother plastered the fake diplomatic smile for her husband, is what Ofelia had done. The fact that her daughter ended up with the “folkish” Germans down in the South of Chile (hat tip to Serrano?), and was an orphan just like Roser. Shyite! Ofelia gave her first-born up because she wasn’t strong enough herSelf! So she gave her daughter the orphaned upbringing of Roser, who Ofelia admired and who was with her Victor!
– I totally retract the above bit on women falling short – Ofelia gave up her child, the one she was so stubborn to keep (driving Father Urban crazy!) – damn, Ofelia is the heroine of the story, and it is her suffering and martyrdom for her first born child. [No, not true, see the ending—the contradictions, contraindications, the cognitive dissonances].
And the whole Marcel romantic intrigues! Victor wanted to be with Ofelia – but denied himself that opportunity! So Marcel was dating what was portrayed as the perfect woman for him – the passionate and lively Jamaican while in Colorado! Instead, he is just as loyal, compliant, obedient as his father! He returns to Venezuela, and dates a long line of “Ofelias” – he is dating the woman Victor wanted, but is unable to find because Victor’s women are idealized idols – they are the Virgin ‘Mary’ without ‘Mary’ Magdeline! It is the combining of Florence Nightingale with Frida Kahlo (?) that is necessary (The nurse + roser)!
– and why Victor never made a move for Roser –
Children know, deep down, these things – Marcel was following Victor in that Roser was off-limits to him—the same way the Jamaican was off-limits to Marcel. Argh!- Victor’s bullshit stiff upper lip condemns Marcel to the same fate! Hardy-Har-Har! [Do the Right Thing!]
And Marcel knows this on a certain level, as did Roser – they both plead for Victor to be with Meche, the neighbor full of vitality! Victor’s Jamaican girl, which would unconsciously give permission to Marcel to be with the same ‘realized feminine’; “Marcel saw her [Meche] as an ideal partner” [p.294]
I don’t think I need to expound any farther/further … those that have eyes to see, etc. That scripture also came to mind, where some guy asks Jesus about marrying his dead brother’s wife – asking who gets the wife in heaven? Jesus replied (in my own words/comprehension): you effing moron, why are you bothering with this b.s.? the rules in heaven are different than here in the material/physical realm. marriage is out of the necessity to limit physical urges – i.e., humans wanna have sex, so you discipline those urges to avoid the breaking of the most important commandment – covetousness. I.e., stop thinking with your dick, in heaven you only possess an ethereal body, i.e. spirit.
– which brings up another tangent – other christian faiths, i.e. orthodox and byzantine rite catholics allow the priests to be married and have children (and if burning girls was accurate, as does the anglican church?), although for the byzantine catholics the priest must get married before taking the vows of being a priest (after seminary, before fatherhood?) … although the catholic admonition, decided in 400 b.c.?, was likely out of the church’s greed (money for the vatican as opposed to inheritance for the priest’s family)?
But wait! Victor buys the b.s. story of Ingrid/Ofelia, and the myths of what a home and familial obligations, and repressed trauma, and Ingrid now trapped in the german family’s b.s. of not fully accepting Ingrid as adopted …
There is also the coming together of the Fascism of the Spanish Civil War – aided by Hitler, and the Socialism of Republic of Spain – communists, anarchists … yikes, what an ending! Victor found it hard to recognize his grandchildren as his descendents [p.301]. – different race, supporters of pinochet, bite our tongues … and so it continues … “… they both had a tendency toward melancholy, which he kept at bay by plunging into work, and she with antidepressants and by sheltering in the unshakable haven of her family.” [p.310].
What does a home, exile mean—if not from our-Selves, first and foremost? the kingdom of heaven is within you …
Why this book is so effing irritating: read page 312 – it is the cognitive dissonance of the characters and the author that drive one mad [well, at the least, it frustrates me!] The characters sense that making an inventory of one’s life is important, but always approach it half-ass. And the lies they tell themselves! So full of shit, but the stories help excuse the betrayals of them-Selves! [the path that worked for me is radical honesty, but exile and ex-communication are likely to follow … see above / the sea above / drowning]
magical realism is allende’s bread and butter
i would perhaps suggest radical honesty as a foundation, with poetic myth built on top thereof, but who am i?
04.04.2022 : Oh, I see … the novel was about love vs. duty/obligations (politics, country, family, religion) – damn, roser was fine to take care of marcel on her own. i missed the strength of roser, and the b.s. of victor – he wasn’t the rock – it was roser. roser was the one that initiated the “true” relationship, 20 years hence.- had victor and ofelia ran off, like she wanted – off to cuba, or some other place to be together – H-H-H – it was victor who was being “practical” = as an excuse to be weak! victor feared that ofelia was shallow! H-H-H … and by the way, once they became situated in Chile, here’s a question i had:
was it possible for victor and roser to get an annulment? if they never consummated the marriage, and it was done for political convenience, i assume it was an option – although, i suppose deportation might follow?- i.e. falsifying the visa entry documents? not sure …
it thus circles back to the different tracks; feminine is the strength of relationships, the bonds that keep families, tribes, organs of power (organizations, nations, economies) together (to gather); as opposed to ideals that can give a higher purpose, congruency between means and ends, a longer perspective, and the difference between survival at all costs and …
and there it is again, those moral quandaries that befall us all, at one point or another.
I can see why the novel was so frustrating – Allende was trying to answer the question of what is home, and thus exile from it;
in the end, she gave victor another diversion; but that trauma of never realizing the inner desires have been passed on to the next generation – both he and Ingrid (the orphaned daughter raised by ze germans) suffered from the same inner hell;
the kingdom of heaven is inside you, but alas, so is the torture of hell –
and life itself turns into purgatory through passivity/procrastination …
Victoria Nulund: Allende’s long petal of the sea tie in: victoria nulund: daughter of Sherwin Bernard Nuland (born Shepsel Ber Nudelman), December 8, 1930 – March 3, 2014 – who blames his depression on his upbringing (exiled parents) and miserable first marriage – leading to electroshock therapy (narrowly avoiding a lobotomy). What was the stage of his upbringing?: his parents were immigrant Ukrainian Jews – who had to flee Odessa because of the 1905 pogrom.
if ya don’t know victoria nulund:
want more info. on the coup of 2014? why ukraine is in the position it is?
the pogroms, i would assume, are in the same vein as the holocaust, especially to the nudelmans/nulands – and many jewish exiles of soyuz; even if that means supporting the ukrainian nazis for vengeance – to burn the whole place to the ground …
don’t believe the lies, the latest being bucha …
by the way, this war has very little to do with ukraine, semitism/zionism, russia/putin, etc. in particular …
to avoid ending on the depressing …
thank you to the book + bottle book club; it really opened up, ahem, some vistas …
“The only thing that is required, is that when confronted with the choice between what is easy and what is right, we choose what is right.” –coronacircus.com