Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

by Daniel Depp

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:16 pm

As promised...

I looked up the name "Perec" just to see what I would find. Do you see any reasons why Danny might have chosen this name or is it just coincidence?

(The information below is from kirjasto.sci.fi. A link to the Wikipedia article is also included.)


Georges Perec (1936-1982)

Image

French novelist, poet, essayist, dramatist, and literary innovator, who gained fame with his formally complex and puzzling works after the nouveau roman had lost its experimentalist freshness. Perec's most famous books include La Disparation (1969, A Void), written without the letter e, and La Vie mode d'emploi (1978, Life: A User's Manual), about the residents of an apartment building.

"It was in the final months of his life that the artist Serge Valene conceived the idea of a painting that would reassemble his entire existence: everything his memory had recorded, all the sensations that had swept over him, all his fantasies, his passions, his hates would be recorded on canvas, a compendium of minute parts of which the sum would be his life." (from Life: A User's Manual)

Georges Perec was born in Paris into a family of Polish Jews. He was the only son of Icek Judko and Cyrla (Schulewicz) Peretz, who had emigrated to France in the 1920 and settled in Belleville, a working class area in Paris. When the war broke out, Perec's father enlisted in the French army and died in 1940 of untended wounds "after being wounded in the abdomen by machine-gun fire or a shell splinter.'' Other members of family, including Perec's mother, were killed in the Nazi concentration camps. Cyrla Peretz was first taken to a camp in Drancy and from there she was probably sent to Auschwitz.

From 1942 Perec was brought up by his paternal aunt Esther and her husband David Bienenfeld, who was a successful pearl trader. In 1945 they formally adopted their nine-year-old foster child. After graduating from a Catholic boarding school, Perec studied history and sociology at the Sorbonne and started to write reviews and essays for the Nouvelle Revue Française and Les Lettres Nouvelles. In 1958-59 Perec served in the army. After discharge, he married Paulette Petras and lived for a few years in Tunis, where his wife worked as a teacher. From 1962 to 1979 Perec was employed as a poorly paid archivist at the Neuropsysiological Research Laboratory attached to the Hôpital Saint-Antoine.

In the late 1960s, Perec started to write in collaboration with his translator Eugen Helmle and the musician Philippe Drogoz a series of radio plays. In the 1970s he became interested in cinema. Perec's first film, co-directed by Bernard Queysanne, was based on his novel Un Homme qui dort. It won the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974. From 1976 Perec made crossword-puzzles for the magazine Le Point. The success of La Vie mode d'emploi enabled Perec to devote himself entirely to writing. In 1981 he was a writer-in-residence at the University of Brisbane. During this period he worked with the unfinished detective novel Cinquante-Trois Jours, but ill health forced him to return from Australia to France. Perec died of cancer at the age of forty-six on March 3, 1982.

"Before, there was nothing or almost nothing; afterwards, there isn't much, a few signs, but which are enough for there to be a top and a bottom, a beginning and an end, right and a left, a recti and a verso." (from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, 1998)

Perec made his debut as a novelist with Les Choses (1965, Things), which won the Prix Renaudot. In 1967 Perec joined the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (OuLiPo), a group of writers and mathematicians founded by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais. OuLiPo became Perec's intellectual home. The group devoted to exploring the creative potentials of formal rules, and specialized in anagrams, palindromes, mathematical word games, and other puzzles. Perec's longest palindrome, a sentence or a word which reads the same both ways, consisted of more than 5,000 words.

Experimenting with the lipogram, a text which one or more letters of the alphabet may not appear, Perec produced La Disparition (1969, A Void, translated by Gilbert Adair), a 200-page detective novel (in some sources 311-page novel), in which the central puzzle deals with the disappearance of the e from the alphabet. (But the letter appears outside the main text.) Perec's translator, Gilbert Adair, managed to replicate the feat in English, although the pioneering work is Ernest Vincent Wright Gads, a novel with over 50000 words, written in English without the letter E. "But the paradox of liberating fetters is not one that will puzzle us, not when we think of the way we all narrow our options in order to expand our horizons in everyday life. Think of the new possibilities you have found in denying yourself, no matter what, the use of the far right lane; in never humming a tune whose lyrics employ "baby" or "girl" or "doncha know"; in going one day at a time without using the P-word (pr*bl*m*t*c)." (James R. Kincaid in The New York Times, March 12, 1995)

Later Perec used all the saved e's from La Disparition in Les Revenentes (1972), which was written without the vowels a, i, o, u, but contained e. Espèces d'espaces (1974) examined spaces around and outside us, from one's bed to the universum. Perec's starting point was how letters, words, and lines fill a blank sheet of paper, forming a kind of space: "before, there was nothing, or almost nothing; afterwards, there isn't much, a few signs, but which are enough for there to be a top and a bottom, a beginning and an end, a right and a left, a recto and a verso."

W ou le souvenir d'enfance (1975, W or the Memory of Childhood) is an exceptional Holocaust narrative, in which chapters of childhood memories alternate with chapters of a fictional story. "I have no memories of childhood," Perec confessed. He compares his isolated memories with photographs, and imagines comforting scenes from his unfulfilled childhood: "As for me, I would have liked to help mother clear the dinner from kitchen table. There would have been a blue, small-checkered oilcloth on the table, and above it, a counterpoise lamp with a shade shaped almost like a plate, made of white porcelain or enameled tin, and a pulley system with pear-shaped weights. Then I'd have fetched my satchel, got out my books and my writing pad and my wooden pencil-box. I'd have put them on the table and done my homework. That's what happened in the books I read at school." The fictional material consists of a story of a false identity and a dystopia set on an island called W, somewhere off Tierra del Fuego. Aryans have created on the island a totalitarian society. It based on a bizarre conception of sports, in which men are separated from women, children from their mothers, and losers receive grisly punishments. In the end the two complementary narratives unite when Perec refers to a book, which describes how sporting competition was developed in concentration camps into a vehicle of destruction.

Life: a user's manual was awarded the prestigious Prix Médicis. It has over 100 interwoven stories which concern the inhabitants of a large Parisian apartment building situated at 11 rue Simon-Crubellier. The structure of the novel is governed by chessboard of ten squares by ten, knight's moves, algorithms, and principles which the author only knows. The building was inspired by a Saul Steinberg drawing of a New York apartment house with its façade removed. One of the characters is Percival Bartlebooth, an English millionaire, who decides to bring artistic and formal control of his life to its outermost limits: he would study watercolor painting with Serge Valene for ten years, then he would travel the world for 20 years and paint pictures of different ports. The watercolors are cut into jigsaw puzzles in Paris. The rest of his life-plan, 20 years, Bartlebooth reassembles the jigsaws, which finally are dipped into a detergent solution until nothing else is left but a blank paper. However, Bartlebooth dies before he has finished all 500 of his jigsaw puzzles. Perec reveals nothing of Bartlebooth's childhood; the final pieces are not put together.


Wikikpedia link:

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
fansmom
Posts: 2059
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Olney, Maryland

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby fansmom » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:51 pm

Wouldn't he have gotten along well with Lewis Carroll.

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3173
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:01 pm

Do you see any reasons why Danny might have chosen this name or is it just coincidence?
Absolutely deliberate. These are last names and any writer, or at very least any editor, is going to take the time to check out each of them if for no other reason than making sure that any ressonances discovered are good ones. So if they are used, they are used with foreknowledge.

I have to admit I am absolutely fascinated by the concept of placing the names of real people into a story. I've compared it already to the playful concealment of wordy Easter eggs but it's also more, in my mind, kind of an intellectual scavenger hunt where we are sent on the trail of various interesting ideas. It's creating a book that stands beyond its physical pages (deliberately, as each of us when we read naturally extend or connect what we read to what we've already read, what we've already experienced) and it's a fitting use of the infinite universe of information that is the internet.

I also see a faint outline of correlation between the names, between the ideas. String together Jacques Tati, Guy DeBord, Georges Perec, and Kazimir Malevich and you've got a collection of artists who practice (or practiced) on the far edges of art. They are playing with ideas, lots of games with patterns, with distilled abstractions I guess.

So yeah, it's deliberate. Puzzle making at it's finest.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:33 pm

I can't imagine writing anything, much less a book, without the letter "e"!

fansmom, I thought the same thing about Lewis Carroll.

With all the other little "easter eggs" Danny drops in the book I'm sure Perec was intentional as well. There is another little connection, I have to find my note on it, but for a time Perec worked in the neurophysiological department of a hospital and, I think it's Spandau, who says something about Perec being wired "neurophsyiologically" or something. That caught my attention too. And Danny's Perec is certainly a puzzle.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3173
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:35 pm

DITHOT wrote: There is another little connection, I have to find my note on it, but for a time Perec worked in the neurophysiological department of a hospital and, I think it's Spandau, who says something about Perec being wired "neurophsyiologically" or something. That caught my attention too.
Yes, that is good. Do you remember where in the book, what scene perhaps?

Also, found Chandler, Anna's driver in LA -- a cute little salute to Raymond (pg 18)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:16 am

fireflydances wrote:
DITHOT wrote: There is another little connection, I have to find my note on it, but for a time Perec worked in the neurophysiological department of a hospital and, I think it's Spandau, who says something about Perec being wired "neurophsyiologically" or something. That caught my attention too.
Yes, that is good. Do you remember where in the book, what scene perhaps?

Also, found Chandler, Anna's driver in LA -- a cute little salute to Raymond (pg 18)

Great catch, firefly! :applause: That one totally went over my head.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
nebraska
Posts: 28226
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:15 pm
Location: near Omaha

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:14 am

Well, once again you ladies are all over my head (at least at the moment, real life has been kind of tough around here lately). I have a hard time knowing what I want to express without being inappropriate, but the photo of this fellow looks sort of like what I thought the fictional Perec looked like except I saw him with very dark straight hair. :fear:

User avatar
Betty Sue
Posts: 1430
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:37 pm

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:57 pm

Yeah, nebraska, that picture's kinda how I pictured Perec, too. My first thought with this question was that Daniel picked the name Perec because of that picture! :freaked:
"I never wanted to be remembered for being a star."

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:21 pm

Me three. When I saw the picture I thought the same thing. :-O
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:43 pm

fireflydances wrote:
DITHOT wrote: There is another little connection, I have to find my note on it, but for a time Perec worked in the neurophysiological department of a hospital and, I think it's Spandau, who says something about Perec being wired "neurophsyiologically" or something. That caught my attention too.
Yes, that is good. Do you remember where in the book, what scene perhaps?

Also, found Chandler, Anna's driver in LA -- a cute little salute to Raymond (pg 18)


Pg. 275 Spandau is chasing Perec

"The big man barked soemthing at the French bodyguard and pushed his way through the crowd after Perec. Just as Perec had known he would. People are so stupid, they're so predictable. Hadn't this been exactly what he'd done in Los Angeles, when he'd chased Perec into that Mexican restaurant? And Hadn't Perec outsmarted him then too? Of course he'd chase Perec. That's what he'd done before in a situation like this, that's now what his brain was wired to do. A neural pathway, I think it's called. I read about it in Wikipedia. The mind wants to follow the path of the things it's done before. Wikipedia, like Google, was wonderful."


That was the first thing I thought when I was looking for a picture of him. I was wondering if anyone else thought the same thing. :lol:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
fireflydances
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 3173
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: under a pile of books
Contact:

Status: Offline

Re: Babylon Nights Question #20 ~ What's in a Name?

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:53 pm

DITHOT quotes Daniel: Of course he'd chase Perec. That's what he'd done before in a situation like this, that's now what his brain was wired to do. A neural pathway, I think it's called. I read about it in Wikipedia. The mind wants to follow the path of the things it's done before. Wikipedia, like Google, was wonderful.


No, wow. I didn't. First thing I found was the wiki piece on Perec because I'd tripped into other 'naming' oddities. So I came at it sideways or backwards. :perplexed: But you're sure right, and finding that piece is the best possible confirmation we ain't totally wacked when it comes to words. :-O (too many w's?)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


Return to “Babylon Nights”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests