Deep Rivers

People often complain about this novel that they do not understand it because the characters suffer and express pain. Then the music rises and the mountains come into view; they feel exalted and feel the world to be pure and beautiful.

The deep rivers to which the title alludes represent and lead toward the non-Western, non-alienated world underlying the modern reality in which the characters also live. That is one explanation. It is also the case that the narrator-hero is in a bad situation and yet keeps a purer self which comes alive and take wing in the moments it can.

And these moments are fleeting. They correspond to a deeper and truer reality but it is not the reality in which the character’s social being is allowed to live.


7 thoughts on “Deep Rivers

  1. People often complain about this novel that they do not understand it because the characters suffer and express pain.

    They don’t understand the meaning of pain in the context — or what is it that they do not understand?

    When I was trying to understand the difference between the consciousness of those around me (moderners) and my own, I found that one of the keys was their different responses to pleasure and pain. For instance, a small amount of pleasure was overrated whereas any amount of pain was to be avoided. So a modern person could easily be bribed to suppress their grievances in the workplace, if they got as little as five dollars extra, every week. Also, they wouldn’t stand up for themselves in the long term if it involved short-term pain.

  2. They think the characters are unhappy individuals; they do not realize their pain is political. (Nobody has ever said to me that these characters need Prozac, but I will not be surprised if someone does.)

    They do not understand why the entry into the non-Western world makes the characters feel so happy.

  3. I’m looking at the Amazon review and thinking about buying the book. I do wish I read Spanish better, but the review says the translation is good. Do you think it is?

  4. Yes. It is not like reading it in Spanish but it is well done! I really like this book.


    More on people not relating: they do not understand how the characters are barely hanging on … trying to stay sane … and what an especially deep impact the beauty of the natural world has on them in that circumstance.

    There is that, and then there is that all of the non-Western world is so opaque and meaningless to Westerners. I do not understand it either, but I can at least see that it is there.

  5. what I have noticed about westerners is that they notice the overt relationships that occur at a social level. They are very attuned to the propriety of social interactions, but they miss the level of how the social intersects with the natural environment itself. They are amazingly blind to this — and therefore see so little.

    This seeing so little is what I consider to be a feature of their neo-colonial arrogance. If they want to “liberate” a country, then they reduce it conceptually to its social relations in really crude and elementary forms. For instance, they consider that they have “liberated” Zimbabwe when the violence is black on black violence, rather than white on black violence. Yet they also “liberated” me from my relationship to the land — and hence from my truer identity. But this is not seen as being a problem at all, because of the crude solution that has been implemented through global pressure, so that socially the same coloured skins are contained together in the same country.

  6. Yes. And this is a comment worth thinking about for Research Reasons too long winded to go into here … or at least now, I’ve got to work them out.

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