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The rain fell on the just hardened concrete of the runway, on the black-topped asphalt of the taxiways and the hardstands, splashed into the faces of the ground crews crouching in pup tents alongside the places where the homecoming B-29's would park, if they ever did park. It fell on the surrounding white-capped sea. It washed away some of the unfinished roads leading from the airstrip to the air crews' quarters; it flooded already muddy roads and walks in wing and group and squadron establishments along the bluff over the sea; it ruined the previous day's work of the Army Engineers, who were building three-lane asphalt highways to the impressive headquarters of the island commander on Saipan's highest hilltop; and it made a mess of the carefully graded terraces between the closely packed Quonset huts where the administrative business of the island would be carried out weeks later when a fresh invasion force took off from Saipan to invade Iwo Jima. It fell on the cemeteries of the Marine and Army men who had been killed in the battles that won the Marianas from the Japanese.
On the "daemonic compulsiveness" of a writer:
In outline, it eventually boiled down to this: a desperate Barry Loach -- with Mrs. L. not on 25 mg. of daily Ativan and just about camped out in front of the candle-lighting apse of the Loach's parish church -- Loach challenges his brother to let him prove somehow -- risking his own time, Barry's, and maybe safety somehow -- that the basic human character wasn't as unempathetic and necrotic as the brother's present depressed condition was leading him to think. After a few suggestions and rejections of bits too way-out even for Barry Loach's desperation, the brothers finally settle on a, like, experimental challenge. The spiritually despondent brother basically challenges Barry Loach to not shower or change clothes for a while and make himself look homeless and disreputable and louse-ridden and clearly in need of basic human charity, and to stand out in front of the Park Street T-station stemming change, and for Barry Loach to hold out his unclean hand and instead of stemming change simply ask passersby to touch him. Just to touch him. Viz. extend some basic human warmth and contact. And this Barry does. And does. Days go by. His own spiritually upbeat constitution starts taking blows to the solar plexus. It's not clear whether the verminousness of his appearance had that much to do with it; it just turned out that standing there outside the station doors and holding out his hand and asking people to touch him ensured that just about the last thing any passerby in his right mind would want to do was touch him. It's possible that the respectable citizenry with their bookbags and cellulars and dogs with little red sweater-vests thought that sticking one's hand way out and crying 'Touch me, just touch me, please' was some kind of new stem-type argot for "lay some change on me,' because Barry Loach found himself hauling in a rather impressive daily total of $ -- significantly more than he was earning at his work-study job wrapping ankles and sterilizing dental prostheses for Boston College lacrosse players. Citizens found his pitch apparently just touching enough to give him $; but B. Loach's brother -- who often stood there in collarless mufti up against the plastic jam of the T-station's exit, slouched and smirking and idly shuffling a deck of cards in his hands -- was always quick to point out the spastic delicacy with which the patrons dropped change or $ into Barry Loach's hand, these kind of bullwhip-motions or jagged in-and-outs like they were trying to get something hot off a burner, never touching him, and they rarely broke stride or even made eye-contact as they tossed alms B.L's way, much less ever getting their hand anywhere close to contact with B.L's disreputable hand. The brother not unreasonably nixed the accidental contact of one commuter who'd stumbled as he tried to toss a quarter and then let Barry break his fall, not to mention the bipolarly ill bag-lady who got Barry Loach in a headlock and tried to bite his ear off near the end of the third week of the Challenge. Barry L. refused to concede defeat and misanthropy, and the Challenge dragged on week after week, and the older brother got bored eventually and stopped coming and went back to his room and waited for the St. John's Seminary administration to give him his walking papers, and Barry Loach had to take Incompletes in the semester's Training courses, and got canned from his work-study job for not showing up, and he went through weeks and then months of spiritual crisis as passerby after passerby interpreted his appeal for contact as a request for cash and substituted abstract loose change for genuine fleshly contact; and some of the T-station's other disreputable stem-artists became intrigued by Barry's pitch -- to say nothing of his net receipts -- and started themselves to take up the cry of 'Touch me, please, please, someone!,' which of course further compromised Barry Loach's chances of getting some citizen to interpret his request literally and lay hands on him in a compassionate and human way; and Loach's own soul began to sprout little fungal patches of necrotic rot, and his upbeat view of the so-called normal and respectable human race began to undergo dark revision; and when the other scuzzy and shunned stem-artists of the downtown district treated him as a compadre and spoke to him in a collegial way and offered him warming drinks from brown-bagged bottles he felt too disillusioned and coldly alone to be able to refuse, and thus started to fall in with the absolute silt at the very bottom of the metro Boston socio-economic duck-pond. And then what happened with the spiritually infirm older brother and whither he fared and what happened with his vocation never gets resolved in the E.T.A. Loach-story, because now the focus becomes all Loach and how he was close to forgetting -- after all these months of revulsion from citizens and his getting any kind of nurturing or empathetic treatment only from homeless and addicted stem-artists -- what a shower or washing machine or a ligamental manipulation even were, much less career-ambitions or a basically upbeat view of indwelling human goodness, and in fact Barry Loach was dangerously close to disappearing forever into the fringes and dregs of metro Boston street life and spending his whole adult life homeless and louse-ridden and stemming in the Boston Common and drinking out of brown paper bags, when along toward the end of the ninth month of the Challenge, his appeal -- and actually also the appeals of the other dozen or so cynical stem-artists right alongside Loach, all begging for one touch of a human hand and holding their hands out -- when all these appeals were taken literally and responded to with a warm handshake -- which only the more severely intoxicated stemmers didn't recoil from the profferer of, plus Loach -- by E.T.A.'s own Mario Incandenza, who'd been sent dashing out from the Back Bay co-op where his father was filming something that involved actors dressed up as God and the Devil playing poker with Tarot cards for the soul of Cosgrove Watt, using subway tokens as the ante, and Mario's been sent dashing out to get another roll of tokens from the nearest station, which because of a dumpster-fire near the entrance to the Arlington St. station turned out to be Park Street, and Mario, being alone and only fourteen and largely clueless about anti-stem defensive strategies outside T-stations, had had no one worldly or adult along with him there to explain to him why the request of men with outstretched hands for a simple handshake or High Five shouldn't automatically be honored and granted, and Mario had extended his clawlike hand and touched and heartily shaken Loach's own fuliginous hand, which led through a convoluted but kind of heartwarming and faith-reaffirming series to circumstances to B. Loach, even w/o an official B.A., being given and Asst. Trainer's job at E.T.A., a job he was promoted from just months later when the then-Head Trainer suffered the terrible accident that resulted in all locks being taken off E.T.A. saunas' doors and the saunas' maximum temperature being hard-wired down to no more than 50 [degrees] C. (pp. 969-71)
It's quiet for a few moments and then they begin to sing, and once they start it's hard to give it up, so they set up a great train of songs from school and church and wireless, on and on in the dark until they're making them up and starting all over again to change the words and the speed. Quick isn't afraid, and he knows Fish is alright. He lies back with his eyes closed. The whole boat is full of their songs -- they shout them up at the sky until Fish begins to laugh. Quick stops singing. It's dead quiet and Fish is laughing like he's just found a mullet in his shorts. It's a crazy sound, a mad sound, and Quick opens his eyes to see Fish standing up in the middle of the boat with his arms out like he's gliding, like he's a bird sitting in an updraught. The sky, packed with stars, rests just above his head, and when Quick looks over the side he sees the river is full of sky as well. There's stars and swirl an space down there and it's not water anymore -- it doesn't even feel wet. Quick stabs his fingers in. There's nothing there. there's no lights ashore now. No, There's no shore at all, not that he can see. There's only sky out there, above and below, everywhere to be seen. Except for Fish's giggling, there's no sound at all. Quick knows he is dreaming. This is a dream. He feels a turd shunting against his sphincter. He's awake, alright. But it's a dream -- it has to be.
You could have called the gaps that needed to be filled [in Cimabue's Crocifisso] injuries, insults, and wounds to the figure of Christ except for the fact that they were more akin to decapitation, dismemberment, or flaying. The forehead and right side of the face were destroyed. So too was the center of the torso, the breastbone and heart down to the navel; and so too the left-hand side of the rib cage, upward to the armpit. . . . The palms of both hands were destroyed precisely in the places where Christ's real wounds ought to have been.
The intimacy of the whole thing is maximized at home, which of course is where most lobster gets prepared and eaten (although note already the semiconscious euphemism "prepared," which in the case of lobsters really means killing them right there in our kitchens). The basic scenario is that we come in from the store and make our little preparations like getting the kettle filled and boiling, and then we lift the lobsters out of the bag or whatever retail container they come in ... whereupon some uncomfortable things start to happen. However stuporous a lobster is from the trip home, for instance, it tends to come alarmingly to life when placed in boiling water. If you're tilting it from a container into the steaming kettle, the lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container's sides or even to hook its claws over the kettle's rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof. And worse is when the lobster's fully immersed. Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off. Or the creature's claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around. The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming). A blunter way to say this is that the lobster acts as if it's in terrible pain, causing some cooks to leave the kitchen altogether and to take one of those little lightweight plastic oven-timers with them into another room and wait until the whole process is over ("Consider the Lobster," pp. 247-48).