Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Empty Copper Sea by John D. MacDonald

I was leaving bloody footprints on
their shiny grey vinyl floor.
I fear the bored among you, those who clicked the wrong link or were betrayed by your search engine into clicking on to what is basically a giant advert for a real-life Evil Corp. but with added sarcasm and poorly framed* literary endeavour, will not stand for any preening or keening about the high regard in which I hold MacDonald as a gifted storyteller but the low regard in which I hold him for his insistence that masculinity, no matter how progressive the thought behind the action, is basically just about physical effort–at work, at play, in perilous situations and in the king-sized bed aboard The Busted Flush, McGee's 53 foot house boat, which he won in a poker game along with the owner's girlfriend and who he ditched at the first opportunity. For Travis McGee does pretty much bed all the attractive women he meets, unless they are actually spitting acid or filleting children. For that sort of exuberance, you can go visit my reviews for A Tan And Sandy Silence, The Long Lavender Look, The Turquoise Lament, Dress Her In Indigo, Darker Than Amber, Bright Orange For The Shroud, and A Deadly Shade Of Gold, but if you do, start wth ...Amber as it's by far the best (as I didn't write it).

No, for once, I will let the book do the talking, as despite reservations and embattled enthusiasms, the one thing you can count on in a John D. MacDonald novel is that something will surprise you, something will ring true, and make you realise that all those crazy mixed-up thoughts that spin around in the drum of your brain are felt by someone else. In this case, and because I'm feeling lonesome as it's Christmas and I'm all alone**, this is what captured my attention. Apologies for the wholesale theft of text, but I'm sure it constitutes less than 10% so up yours, Fair Use!


"Travis, I've mentioned to you the second law of thermodynamics."
"Which is?"
"That all organised systems tend to slide slowly into chaos and disorder. Energy tends to run down. The universe itself heads inevitably towards darkness and stasis."
"Cheering thought."
"Piogogine altered this concept with his idea of dissipative structures." 
I'm sure you're with me on this one. I've never felt so connected by someone else's analysis of the spiral of lonelin–– shit, hang on I'm missing a bit.
"He used the analogy of a walled city and an open city. The walled city, isolated from its surroundings, will run down, decay and die. The open city will have an exchange of material and energy with its surroundings and will become larger and more complex, capable of dissipating energy even as it grows. I have been thinking that it would not warp the analogy too badly to extend it to a single individual."
"The walled person versus the open person?"
"The walled person would decline, fade, decay."
"Meyer, dammit, I have a lot more interchange of material and energy with my environment than most."
Ugh. Always back to that. Never mind, on we press.
"In a physical sense, but you are not decaying in any physical sense..."
"The decay is emotional?" 
 "And you are walled, in an emotional sense... You are getting no emotional feedback."
 "Where do I go looking for some?"
 "That's the catch. You can't. It isn't that mechanical. You merely have to be receptive and hope it comes along."
"Meanwhile, I am being ground down by the second law of thermodynamics?"
"In a sense, yes." 
"Thank you so much." 
Yeah, that sounded a lot better when I was crying into a pint of red wine...

* And poorly executed I might add
** And milking it

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