The Plains MOBI ✓ Paperback

The Plains “I wondered whether all my investigations so far had been mere glances at the deceptive surfaces of plains”Holy moly what was that? Anyone who thinks that with this book heshe is embarking on a literary exploration of the Australian interior the writer's homeland is going to be thoroughly deceived You end up in a surrealistic story with a storyteller fascinated by the uniue character of the Australian interior and its inhabitants for the sake of clarity not the aborigines clearly the white colonizers In particular the storyteller is a filmmaker who plans to shoot a groundbreaking film to uncover the true character of that interior once and for allSo the story seems to start fairly straightforward especially since our filmmaker overwhelms us with all kinds of precise details about his arrival 20 years earlier in a town deep in the interior But instead of descriptions of the plains the narrator mainly focuses on the endless discussions of the plainsmen when they try to express what distinguishes them from others It turns out that these plainsmen are not ordinary people but a motley collection of aristocratic landowners artists architects archivists and so on who are constantly at odds with each other and found their own movements and sometimes even violent conflicts erupt There’s an odd 19th century feel attached to this settingAfter a while you realize that Murnane's plains is actually a fictional space and for lack of a prosaic image for the sake of simplicity I’m going to call that fictional space reality Here Murnane masterfully plays with the different connected and opposite meanings of words like the plains the interior and plain In other words he offers a pastiche of people's intense but ultimately fruitless attempts to grasp the core reality around them by unfolding a thousand possible imaginations It's a typical postmodernist viewpoint Our filmmaker storyteller endlessly zooms in on the different views on the plains in a rather high pitched intellectual style He uses very sophisticated sentences that you often have to reread two or three times to understand just a little bit of what it is about although the real meaning does not seem so important Here’s a – rather simple example “Anyone surrounded from childhood by an abundance of level land must dream alternately of exploring two landscapes — one continually visible but never accessible and the other always invisible even though one crossed and recrossed it daily ” It's the succession of lots of sentences like this one that also makes this story into a 'plains' of its own where sense and meaning are lost in the endless variation of wordsAnother feature this thin book contains a striking number of scenes in which the narrator or others observe things from behind glass the plains itself or the wife of a landowner who is reading in the library and in turn stares out through a glass window Incumbent light from the plains of course but sometimes also simply the reflection on the wine glasses is repeatedly cited as an important situation element Windows and glass here function as a kind of deforming membrane through which we necessarily have to look at things but can never grasp them With all this the importance of the momentary the uniueness of the moment of time and the hyper subjective of each experience of perception is emphasized and therefore also the fleeting intangible and unreachable nature of reality Another postmodernist stanceI can imagine that reading this review you get a slightly confused feeling Well that is exactly the experience you have as a reader of Murnane's booklet both during the read and afterwards You wonder what exactly it was you read and what its message was and even after you finished it you aren't sure It is plainfully masterful how Murnane gets us out of balance in that way and confronts us with a reality that ultimately is unfathomable I can understand that for a lot of people this is a rather upsetting and unsatisfying reading experience but is is a succinct one if you're open for it rating 35 stars A man can know his place and yet never try to reach itPlains Plains everywhereTo admire the beauty to love the words to enjoy the journey to respect a talent and to retain the hope of finding a rare visual on the endless stage of nature is what one can aim for after reading a book like this With every alternate sentence I encountered a sublime combination of bewildering revelation and an unremitting mystery that is usually found in the divine creations of the cosmos but what is seemingly impossible to define by others is possibly achieved by Murnane here Dreams are given the form of ambitions ambitions have perpetuated the revival of myths and myths have further carried the task of being an invincible mediator between past and future that yields not transparent but translucent negatives when exposed to the twilight of present An ownership of interpretations is claimed somewhere while a willful renunciation of one’s history is reciting its own fable A hazy view on celluloid It’s all one glorious chaos but I’m not complaining Everything is unconventional with these Plains except that Man and that Woman She would surely have read I thought at least one of those accounts of a man and woman who met only once and accepted that so much was promised to them by the decorous looks and words they exchanged that they should not meet again The imagination at work here is astonishing and incredibly astonishing is the truth that is uietly nestled in the spaces penetrated by some incisive reflections Talks of irreversible destinies of possible relationships belonging to a parallel world and love? How lovely everything is in this book but I can be wrong or uite simply I’m wrong Everything I have stated is a mere summation of my imaginary one sided conversation with the writer who didn’t utter a single word but gave a modest smile in return to my gushing praises for his work But I promise to meet you again Mr Murnane and hopefully I'll post an interesting dialogue next time That scene is the only scene as I recall the poem Two hundred stanzas on a woman seen from a distance An informative link ‘ They saw the world itself as one in an endless series of plains’There is a basic human instinct to look for meaning in life to open the door of reality in hopes to find of an elaborate clockwork beneath it all which we can investigate in an attempt at comprehension This uest for meaning tends to be a journey trod through metaphysical landscapes so than a shoulder to the wheel making Art a valuable avenue for an abstract expedition into the heart of reality If any of our art and philosophical probings have given us a finite answer to life’s greatest mysteries is up for debate but it must be said that one of art’s greatest assets is the finding and beautiful ways to ask the uestions Gerald Murnane’s The Plains does just this by chronicling the journey of a filmmaker who has aims to look ‘ for anything in the landscape that seemed to hint at some elaborate meaning behind appearances’ as he travels deep into the plains of Australia The plains elusive ‘ vistas of vistas’ seem to endlessly flow into one another on an eternal path towards the center of Australia While the story of this slim novel is simple—the unnamed narrator arrives in town with a fistfull of research to woo a patron into funding an aesthetic endeavour to unlock mysteries of the plains in new ways and his subseuent years there—there is a lush landscape of ideas as vast and mysterious as the plains themselves to explore The novel is never bogged down by the philosophical meanderings and is eminently engaging and satisfying like water from the canteen of a desert traveler The Plains is an extravagant and multi interpretable toybox of ideas framed as a parable on the uest for meaning through art and all its aspects while our place in the world when it’s structure is viewed through the abstract all of which is orchestrated through a brilliant prose style which marches far and wide like a heroine or hero on an epic journey‘ I recall clearly a succession of days when the flat land around me seemed and a place that only I could interpret’There is a Spanish term Vacilando which doesn’t exactly translate into English but encompasses the idea of a trip made for the purpose of the journey and not the destination The Plains is that sort of novel concerning itself with the attempts to reach a new understanding of the reality of the plains rather than a successful breakthrough and solution Not much happens plot wise beyond the lengthy and full of suspenseful screw turning scene of landowners sitting around ‘ the labyrinths of saloon bar’ to hear out the envisioned endeavours men have planned in order to analyze the life of the inner plains The scene is gripping in the way one waits and waits and waits for weeks to hear word if their poem or story or what have you has been accepted or declined for publication Much of the first act isn’t spent on pushing the ball of story forward but stepping back and world building an elaborate history or artistic struggles and arguments that seem to play out in dramatic and occasionally violent action the way philosophical schools of thought would refute one another while simultaneously capturing their own ideas What is eminently thrilling is the way artistic opinions are made large like sporting adversaries in a way that envisions art as a life or death like matter of importance It would seem the inner plainsman have a long history or interpretation of the plains around them and the horizon they can chase but never catch and these varying interpretations are as polarizing as politics ‘ How did I expect to find so easily what so many others had never found – a visible euivalent of the plains as though they were mere surfaces reflecting sunlight?’Flash forward to the present where the war of plains interpretation is but settling dust Now a new wave of visionaries wishes to interpret the plains anew Murnane offers mostly comical but thought provoking artistic voyages such as an orchestra with each instrument played uietly and at great enough spatial distance from the other instrument so that the listener must wander the room of musicians hearing only one instrument at a time—and hardly so—to ‘ draw attention to the impossibility of comprehending even such an obvious property of a plain as the sound that came from it’ In fact much of the novel focuses on impossibility and unattainability We have art that reaches but cannot grasp and aloof women the narrator can never reach and even his film which has yet to begin filming ten years later The process of attempts and thought formation are what matter and it seems even the best laid plans often go awry or fail to fruition because what is sought after will forever be beyond our reach like the horizon on the plains We can never fulfill an answer but only ask the uestion in ever uniue and breathtaking ways; the methods and awareness of a uestion to be asked that explores every deep and dark facet is the fascinating story than the release of a climactic conclusion It’s the sort of thing that puts a fire in our guts to go out and forge our own path ‘ The man who travels’ theorizes one of the landowners ‘ begins to fear that he may not find a fitting end to his journey’ We must not fear failure and press on regardless a heroine is made by their journey without which they could never hope to achieve their crowning act‘ We’re disappearing through the dark hole of an eye that we’re not even aware of’While the use of art as an exploratory device beats loudest in the novel’s chest it is just a muscle to bring to life the larger theme of the novel ‘ Every man may be travelling towards the heart of some remote private plain’ says the narrator All of us are traveling inward like the narrator across the seemingly endless Australian plains seeking an understanding of ourself and the world around us The plains mentioned multiple times per page are the chief object here but what stand in they serve in the novel’s parable is widely open to interpretation This multiple interpretative uality of every aspect of the novel is its greatest glory giving a meta fictional flair as the meaning is as elusive as the the meaning behind the uest for meaning is in the book‘ All talk of a nation presupposed the existence of certain influential but rarely seen landscapes’The plains are often compared to mirrors launching a gleefully cyclical thought pattern about how we reflect the world and how the world reflects us There is much emphasis on how different the inner plains are than the outer plains and an investigation if inner Australian constituted a vastly different community and ideology than general Australia ‘ The boundaries of true nations were fixed in the souls of men’ says the narrator asking the reader to consider the abstract ideas that are borders both physically and metaphysically The struggle is not between inner Australia and outer Australia but any individual or idea and the grand wide sweeping scale of existence and transferable to any form of this scenario that the reader chooses to use as a basis of interpretation Murnane has an exuisite prose style that launches into a lengthy and healthy stroll through the linguistic countryside ‘ One of my greatest pleasures as a writer of prose fiction’ says Murnane ‘ has been to discover the endlessly varying shapes that a sentence may take’ This leads us on a wonderful path full of philosophical sightseeing through the examinations on the varying shapes of reality Within the world of The Plains everything is pregnant with the potential for meaning like a clam nearly bursting open might or might not be so from a massive pearl inside Yet we may only be able to posit about the clam because try as we might the clam can never be opened This is not cause for sadness or defeatism but for joy as we can forever theorize and ponder what lies within Art is a road paved in gold towards a destination of meaning that will forever be elusive but we can take endless comfort and satisfaction at the euphoric ‘ vistas of vistas’ we pass along the way55‘ I lifted my own camera to my face and stood with my eye pressed against the lens and my finger poised as if to expose to the film in its dark chamber the darkness that was the only visible sign of whatever I saw beyond myself’ I feel like the most appropriate response to The Plains would be to study it forever re reading it over and over again forsaking all other books while taking copious notes for my ‘review’ which I will never actually write Standing between the towering buildings of Musils two volumes of The Man Without ualities I sat on a stone staircase Having just finished the first volume I yearned for the second I thought of a break not due to boredom but as a matter of pacing refreshment so as to retrieve all the treasures awaiting me in volume two I chose the thinnest novel off my shelves A hundred and ten pages A two day read I had not read Murnane before except for GR Friends M Sarki's and Proustitutes intelligent reviews and updates Nor had I ever heard of MurnaniaThe front cover is a deep blue sky fading to lighter shades of blue into a white haze at the horizon and transitioning into varying shades of a sand brown verging on gold In block print blue lettering was the title The Plains and just below it A Novel and at the bottom right hand corner the author's name It is uite beautiful at first look As I stared at it my eyes slowly mesmerized into loss of perspective I found myself in the haze of the horizon which pushed endlessly on in neither gain or loss Attached to and part of the front cover is an inward flap to place bits of notes to simplify a complexity store pages read since they are already past and this book deals in time meaning or an ornament to distract me? The first page is solid black forbidding or a kind of warningI haven't even begun or have I and already instead of a break I am involved in circuitous thinking and its endless parallels and perils Stepping out onto this inner area of a plains not even being clear when I did or did I cross a line leaving outer Australia The true Australia? and entering the inner Australia with a man who wants to shoot a film of this parched endless area that in its desolation has the possibility of meanings to be discovered I understood the inner flap The pages tucked into the flap already read had no further presence suirreled away It was in Murname's past my past no longer of conseuence What then had conseuence was turning onto the next page the present awaiting soon to though I am a notoriously slow reader be pressed under the flap Yes the first page and I am already figuring out but it is only the first page and no further into Murname's pointing out the loss of time's meanings measurements the meanings sought by the wealthy landowners populating the town our film producer me Mr Murname I am looking for a short break from Musil's towering thoughts See if I put you up on my favorites shelf It ain't gonna happen only to be found in absences between existences and moments this testimony to the miracles or cumbersome weight of the true mysteries laying tantalizing just beyond our reachAs in all great literature form not only coincides with content but forces the reader through the experience of the meaning the content is expressing This is true of The Plains but is secreted away beneath the Walserian Sebaldian elegance of simplicity in its style I uickly gave up the uick read in order to lavish in the words the language This is part of the genius beneath the calm beatific style in the absence of the chaos lies the multiple interpretations indeed the impossibility of any interpretation but one's own and then not to attempt to express it to anyone else Any attempt in words intellectualizing philosophizing creates it own problem which it then tries to solve It is the not trying the bold acceptance that the mysteries are beyond grasp beyond the haze of the horizon in the black dark that is strengthThis book is renowned for being open to multiple interpretations and contradicting its contradictions at times making it a frustrating read My interpretation is that yes it can be at times frustrating but a deliberate part of Murnane's style His point is that there are no interpretations to life reality via any known vehicle we have so far invented Words ideas speculations philosophies religions raise their own synthetic problem which they then offer solutions respond to these solutions then respond endlessly but seemingly intelligently to these responses The solutions are endless due to the original problem not existing in reality reality being the dark expanse beyond humans grasp Reality is only something we have defined therefore is not Therefore is MurnaniaIs Murnania curable? Let's hope not Is this book disturbing? Yes But and I think it is the elouence of his prose and substance of his thinking it was difficult to put down and I eagerly looked forward to picking it up and reading furtherAfter finishing I knew something profound had happened but I didn't know what My soul paced up and down the hallway until it dawned upon me The book both told and showed me that all my attempts at grasping reality through intellectual or spiritual pursuits were fraught with egoism and predictable disappointment Not only have I been absurd but Murnane is saying his work itself might be absurd There may be at least eight counter arguments to my interpretation which could in the end support my interpretation? If I were to know this is true that factually it is found indisputably that Murnane is right I will still continue searching for the dark beyond the plains the mysteries; through thought reading writing Searching is so enjoyable it leads me to further discover myself within the center of myself lies something universal and within something universal “Anyone surrounded from childhood by an abundance of level land must dream alternately of exploring two landscapes – one continually visible but never accessible and the other always invisible even though one crossed and recrossed it daily”Attempting to describe the magnificence of Murnane’s The Plains using language is futile Murnane writes of “bewildering vistas of vistas” His protagonist casts a spooling line attempting to snare meaning; his catch is an illusion that can’t rightly be named “I’m trying to piece together a plain where nothing exists but what artists claim to have seen” he says Does he succeed? Wrong uestionBecause I can’t use words to explain the beauty of this book I will point to another artist for simile Murnane is like Rothko As an observer of either Murnane’s literature or a Rothko’s painting one can’t be told or instructed how to react If an observer looks at a Rothko and thinks “It’s just a bunch of paint on a canvas I could do that” – the wonder of The Plains will remain a mystery But if you’ve ever stared teary eyed at a Rothko have gotten lost in the canvas and found an undiscovered part of your soul in its inky depths then you must read this novelNo 8 Mark Rothko The Man in My Mind Who Sits in the Fields of Grass I watch the man in my mind writing with his pencil in his notebook while he sits in the fields of grassGerald Murnane In Far Fields 1995Transgressing the Boundaries Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Plainsmen FictionThis is a beautifully written novella Every sentence has been carefully and lovingly crafted You don't often encounter writing as good as thisOnly it contains within it a hoax view spoileror perhaps two if you include both those perpetrated by the author and the narrator hide spoiler Life is a journey some travel through the plains some – through the books some – trough their dreamsAnd the man who travels begins to fear that he may not find a fitting end to his journey I’ve spent my life trying to see my own place as the end of a journey I never madeThe entire novel The Plains is this sort of a journey By its ultimate futility it reminded me of The Castle by Franz Kafka but tinged in the colours of The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis BorgesThe main character finds himself in a library that resembles a department of the Library of Babel and which is big enough to stay there for the entire life reading books In this library I have come across whole rooms of works speculating freely on the nature of the plainsman Many of the authors inhabit systems of thought that are bizarre bewilderingly unfamiliar perhaps even wilfully removed from common comprehension But no writer I have yet found has tried to describe a plainsman as bound by the vicissitudes of his flesh – and certainly not those misfortunes that afflict each body in the years before the heart can properly sustain itThe nameless protagonist does nothing but waits trying to sieve out the endless nuances of sounds hues emotions patterns and impressions And after the years of toil he understands that beyond all his dreams there is nothing but darknessDo all our travels through life end this way? Can you imagine a film that would capture the inner and outer landscape of a remote region that only exists in the minds of its inhabitants?To have this definite film produced is the upmost aspiration of the narrator of this enigmatic tale when he arrives at the borderless lands of The Plains Twenty years go by and the young filmmaker secluded in the vast library of his patron and obsessed with the idea of revealing a landscape that nobody has ever seen debates against himself whether plainsmen are shaped by the colors sounds and swaying shapes of the plains or whether they are only the bearers of their authentic but intangible essenceMurnane’s allegoric almost oneiric narrative is an ode to that blind spot that keeps alive the mystery of visibility and representation the hazy line between reality and impression The filmmaker fails at his endeavor because he ends up being swallowed by the infinity of his project by the monsters of time or lack of time silence and mute communication by the estrangement from a land that makes an outcast of himself But what if lack of tangible artistic output implies a permanent work in progress that mutates and transforms along with the inner landscapes of the artist? What if the essence of the plains is not what transpires in them but what remains in the silent secret language of their landscape? In the existentialist trip that takes place in the remote lands of the subconscious? In the common ground that reader and artist shape together?Then the filmmaker’s defeat enables the writer’s success and “The Plains” becomes to Murnane what the “Invisible cities” meant to Calvino or the “hydraulic press” to Bohumil Hrabal An ode to aesthetics to beauty crafted through poetry diluted in prose and a malleable universe that each reader will mould accordingly to his particular state of mindTo me Murnane spoke about the exile the artist is sentenced to when he tries to seize the complexity of the cultural and ideological landscape of his time to compose a universal piece that will transcend the barriers of language or any other sort of organized system of representationThe result of such titanic struggle is a peculiar tapestry of philosophical density latent musicality and evocative lyricism that only the reader can unlock when the writer’s vision blends with countless landscapes of thousands of minds choosing the less trodden paths of the deserted plains that lead nowhere or everywhere It’s really up to you the reader who are the real protagonist of every story On their vast estates the landowning families of the plains have preserved a rich and distinctive culture Obsessed with their own habitat and history they hire artisans writers and historians to record in minute detail every aspect of their lives and the nature of their land A young film maker arrives on the plains hoping to make his own contribution to the elaboration of this history In a private library he begins to take notes for a film and chooses the daughter of his patron for a leading roleTwenty years later he begins to tell his haunting story of life on the plains As his story unfolds the novel becomes in the words of Murray Bail 'a mirage of landscape memory love and literature itself'

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