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ATD Question #11 ~ A Transparent Plane

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:49 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Pg. 96 “I got up from the counter and walked away in fear, walking fast down the boardwalk, passing people who seemed strange and ghostly: the world seemed a myth, a transparent plane, and all things upon it were here for only a little while: all of us, Bandini, and Hackmuth and Camilla and Vera, all of us were here for a little while, and then we were somewhere else; we were not alive at all; we approached living, but we never achieved it. We are going to die. Everyone was going to die. Even you, Arturo, even you must die.”


What do these words tell us about Arturo’s character and his actions?

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:26 pm
by Betty Sue
Must say I never did quite get why he felt this way, don't think it was a premonition of the oncoming earthquake. I guess he felt dead in spirit because his conscience was bothering him about committing adultery with Vera. He had felt so proud of his accomplishment, then saw it as a terrible transgression against Vera and God. He is still having trouble getting his actions to live up to the good character he would like to display, the good Christian he would like to be.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:53 pm
by nebraska
It sounds to me as if Arturo was feeling hopeless, like all of life was futile. Life is short, nothing really matters in the end because it is all so temporary. Writing might be a way for him to achieve immortality, but real life was over soon. Maybe he was just plain scared about his tiny place in the scheme of a big world. There was a lot of the time I didn't really understand what he was saying/thinking. :banghead:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:15 pm
by Liz
I think it is all of those things. I think he feels bad for what he’s done and feels like life is futile. He feels his own hopelessness, Vera’s hopelessness. He’s feeling disillusioned with himself, with people, with God.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:51 pm
by gemini
I didn't quite know what to make of this. He does seem to be having thoughts of his mortality. I couldn't make the leap that his problems with sex led him to feelings of dying. He mentions those around him as if they aren't living life to the fullest anymore then he is.
I had this thought about him in previous tidbits, but I think he may be comparing real life with his fantasy life and it doesn't measure up. His wanting to write something memorable has him torn between experiencing a great life that may not be realistic or writing about the more boring everyday version. He seems to have come to the realization that everyone around him is living a normal life with a mixture of good and bad. Reminds me of the title of that movie. Is that all there is? (Maybe its a song.)

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:45 pm
by Parlez
Leave it to me to be totally befuddled by the previous question about Arturo's religion but to get this one completely! :lol:
In a nutshell, I understand this passage to be Arturo's awakening, albeit short-lived (pun), to the realities of life in it's fullest context: temporary, transient, brief, and often off the mark. It seems like a 'transparent plane' to him because he's seen through the guise of permanence and arrived at a larger point of view.* He's discovered that his life (and everyone else's) and everything around him is like a fleeting dream.
I don't see this p.o.v. as being prompted by guilt; in fact, I see it as the first time he's guilt-free! Life is what it is and there's nothing he can or should or is supposed to do about it. It's a scary thought for him, based I think on his upbringing, religious beliefs, ego, etc., but it's really quite liberating in it's own existential way. In any case, this was a passage (one of the few) in which I thought Arturo was on the right track.

* arriving at that larger point of view via sex is one for the outcomes of practicing TANTRA, in the Hindu tradition.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:11 pm
by stroch
I think he just came face to face with reality for the first time. We ARE all going to die, and soon -- life is short, and "Death is Certain."

All of his striving and posturing and angst is wasted energy, and useless. Arturo spends his time banging his head against self-created walls, and for nothing. His anger and frustration is an illusion, a distraction, and a flight from reality.

We are given life under the condition of death, and he finally comes to see this, albeit briefly.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:40 pm
by Liz
Parlez wrote:* arriving at that larger point of view via sex is one for the outcomes of practicing TANTRA, in the Hindu tradition.


That's :interesting:. Besides this larger point of view, what do you all think caused him to arrive at this awakening about our mortality? The earthquake hasn't happened yet? Do you think it was Vera's age, her smell of decay?

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:28 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Parlez, I was thinking a bit along the lines of your train of thought in that it is a sort of "aha" moment for Arturo. Some of his thought processes still seem to be stuck in adolescence and this a grown up moment, if you will.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:27 pm
by nebraska
Wow!!! :bounce: There have been some great answers here!!!! :bounce:

The phrase that keeps running through my mind is "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first." Maybe Arturo was beginning to understand this?

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:30 pm
by Parlez
Liz wrote:
Parlez wrote:* arriving at that larger point of view via sex is one for the outcomes of practicing TANTRA, in the Hindu tradition.


That's :interesting:. Besides this larger point of view, what do you all think caused him to arrive at this awakening about our mortality? The earthquake hasn't happened yet? Do you think it was Vera's age, her smell of decay?

According to the Tantric tradition (my limited knowledge of it anyway) the act of having sex (ie., orgasm, if it's okay to say that word here) can be experienced as a death, especially for the man. If that happened to Arturo, or something close to it, he may have 'awakened' to his own mortality and likewise to a new meaning of life.
I also think Vera's story had a big impact on him. For the first time he was exposed to suffering on a grand scale, with real, physical scars as well as emotional ones. Her background made pain and the looming possibility of death very personal. It had an intimate quality about it, IMO, that required Arturo to step outside his petty little mindset to grasp.

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:16 am
by Liz
Thanks for clarifying that more, Parlez. It makes a difference. :-O I'm still thinking about the whole Vera Rivken experience. I haven't decided what to say about it yet.

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:53 pm
by fansmom
Parlez wrote:According to the Tantric tradition (my limited knowledge of it anyway) the act of having sex (ie., orgasm, if it's okay to say that word here) can be experienced as a death, especially for the man. If that happened to Arturo, or something close to it, he may have 'awakened' to his own mortality and likewise to a new meaning of life.
Since you brought that up, Parlez, I'll just add that "la petite morte"--the little death--is slang for orgasm.

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:20 pm
by suec
It’s a funny ole world, innit? Only the other day, someone told me that in Shakespeare’s time, “die” was also another word for the sexual act. The discussion also reminds me of Rochester’s prologue.

I think death, or awareness of it, pervades the whole book, virtually on every page, assuming that the dust motif is a reference to it. And that is without the actual deaths, and Arturo’s fears of it, for example, with his fear of a heart attack: strange, for one so young. This passage can be coupled with a sister passage, the epiphany where he decides not to send that vicious letter to Sammy, after he has reflected on the “common fate” of all. This particular moment seems to have been triggered partly by consciousness of sin, and fear of the consequences. I think also that the sex itself has been a letdown, not worth the price, once he has walked away and had time to reflect. Because it is really a rite of passage, and something he has been seeking to enrich his life experience, but in order to succeed, he has had to hide in fantasy. Make-belief is not real life.
I also wonder if it isn’t a reference to spiritual death. Without spiritual enlightenment and faith, then arguably, depending on the point of view and personal belief, then there is no real life, and no After Life.

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:01 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
suec, I was wondering if there was a religious overtone to this passage as well. He says, "all of us were here for a little while, then we were somewhere else". He doesn't mention heaven or hell which surprised me.