The field of immanence that is such a key narrative element in Seiobo is at a further remove: it lends to the text a continually shifting directionality. There are continual displacements both horizontally and vertically: horizontally, as it were, across our “flat” globe, and also between the tripartite vertical division of space, as I mentioned before. The displacements across time make me think of a memorable sentence of Czesław Miłosz, describing pre-war Lithuania in his memoir Native Realm (trans. Catherine S. Leach): “Practically every person I met was different, not because of his own special self, but as a representative of some group, class, or nation. One lived in the twentieth century, another in the nineteenth, a third in the fourteenth.” Miłosz ascribes this extreme temporal synchronicity to the “lack of form” of the Eastern European, who is always “governed by a sudden ebb or flow of inner chaos”: “Form is achieved in stable societies,” he writes. (Of course, the question of which societies could be designated as “stable” today is another question altogether.) In effect, Seiobo There Below lays all of these differing epochs on one plane—the plane of eternal disassociation from the Divine (and we, the reader, are even further displaced in time and space from these resurrected worlds). Perhaps this is yet another aesthetic manifestation of “the end of time”—all the times converging at once, in utter chaos—through which nonetheless Krasznahorkai’s long tentacle-like sentences continue to wind.
Here’s an interview with Ottilie Mulzet, who has translated the next László Krasznahorkai book to appear in English, Seiobo There Below. [via The Quarterly Conversation]