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permanent link: the procedure - harry mulischthe procedure - harry mulisch

"Hello, my name is Harry Mulisch and I know absolutely everything. I'm a veritable fountainhead of knowledge, and I will make sure that you know it, for I will bury you under esoteric and deep and amazingly difficult information at every opportunity.

For instance, in this book of mine, my next-to-latest, I tackle (amongst several other learned subjects): kaballah (v. hip), the origins of life (v. cool) and the implications of our progression towards understanding the origins of said life (v. moral & intellectual). The Golem and all that. Ancient theme, but v. hip: Michael Chabon does it too.

Into the bargain, I'm also a man of culture: I've been to Berkeley and Venice and Prague (and, of course, I know Rome and Amsterdam like my back pocket), and I'm not afraid to give you that convincingly genuine, that unmistakably echt detail that will make you nod your head and say: 'Yes, Harry does know what he is talking about.'

Then there's that endearingly Hitchcockian habit of mine of putting myself into each of my stories, only mildly disguised, but oh-so-recognizable for anyone who's in the know. This time 'round I'm a distinguished Latvian art critic (whose function in the plot is a mystery). His dachshund is the dead giveaway. Just for laughs, I decided to visit my well-known ongoing brush with the Nobel Prize on the protagonist in this book, not on the Latvian.

My only regret is that I still find it difficult (nay, impossible) to portray convincing human beings. There, I said it. Cardboard cut-outs, the lot of them. The only one who's got a bit of spark in him is the old rabbi in Prague, for God's sake, and why he's in the book is a mystery to me too. I tried my best: a dead child, absent mother, Mars & Venus-type things between lovers, lost semi-siblings, female orgasm (though I may have gone a bit overboard there). In short, I put in lots of Feeling. Then why do these dumb buggers insist on remaining such agonizingly flat non-humans? Grumble!

I do know a lot of stuff, though. And I may get that Nobel Prize yet!"

13-03-2002

permanent link: the procedure - harry mulisch