so now i am Back, trying to finish rousseau, and digging into writer-friends’ brains for ways to fine-tune the omni pov that is in most of the book . . . some months ago i had stuck this quote up here, part of my little collage of pictures and sayings and whatnot:
Only the evil man lives alone. – Diderot
so last night i found it again, in rousseau. except that he put it in his confessions because he thought it was a personal dig at him, natch. ( i am in old, paranoid rousseau now. it’s getting a little wearying.)
but he does expand on his upset, pointing out hermits and thinkers who have withdrawn from the world, how when diderot writes “alone” he really means “not-paris”. i grew up in new york, so this rung a chord: i still know people for whom the world ends at either river, for whom moving to brooklyn is just “too far away”.
and it made me think, again, about the importance of connection in the novel. how it has turned out thus far, with no conscious planning, that it is the solitary characters who are twisted and mad, the engines of violence. an instictive decision? writing is a solitary act, after all, and downright violent much of the time . . .
it relates too to the pov question, how one close third just didn’t work for this, though i have written that way for much of my life. too narrow, and without the complicated, greater context of europe in this time. i was always presented with rousseau the great thinker, rousseau the champion of equality; i never knew of rousseau the rapist, rousseau the purchaser of 12-year-old girls. current categories and understandings imposed on the past, to be sure; but that is part of the dynamic here, that what we would see as depraved was the norm for many, and not just a noble elite either. hard to convey in 100,000 words or less, much less one character’s head. perhaps it is not that the evil man lives alone, only that the solitary man is much more clearly perceived as evil, that once you are acting among many, like or against them, any such judgment becomes complicated?