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VEM (TM) in "AtLoM"

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  • VEM (TM) in "AtLoM"

    As noted here, VEM plays a very small supporting role in establishing the facts of Nufro's involvement with SENDA during the Pinochet days. Also as noted in that thread, my larger interest in VEM is that it appears as well in HoL and OR (whose VEM thread is here) and the possible implication(s) of its recurrence for the way we usually think about interrelationships between novels, the question of extratextuality, etc. Perhaps, though, we can begin a discussion here about VEM's role in this particular story.

    To get the ball rolling, I'll reproduce here most of a post from the HoL thread that is primarily concerned with "AtLoM":
    Originally posted by John B.
    I want to return briefly to something I posted earlier in order to try to both clarify and complicate it:

    Originally posted by John B.
    The mention of VEM on OR's publication pages implies that it bears an extratextual relationship to that book . . . yet, that extratextual world would be one that contains HoL and "AtLoM," within each of which VEM's existence is significant enough to merit (passing) mention.
    Just for grins, I thought I'd Google "Bebblestein and Polinger"--I kinda feel sorry that their work isn't more widely known: it sounds interesting, after all. So, at least as far as our reading of HoL is concerned, footnote #342, a Zampanò footnote, is that mishmash of the real and invented that this book is filled with. And if all we knew of MZD's work was HoL, that would be that, as far as VEM is concerned. VEM exists nowhere but in Zampanò's mind.

    But VEM's appearance in "All the Lights of Midnight" performs a different sort of work. For convenience's sake, I've quoted a lengthier bit of the story:
    What really awaited her then awaits us all even now in Bassil's book, the merest viewing of which will with awful force cast upon Nufro and his work the same shadow Heisenberg's political affiliations cast today. Somehow in the early days of Pinochet's rise to power, Nufro was seduced by a radical political organization known only as SENDA, a self-proclaimed descendant of such groups as the mythic brujeria from the South and the secret society Logia Lautarina, which back in 1818 is said to have ordered the execution of three famed Chilean revolutionaries: Jose Miguel and the Carrera brothers. Confirmed by the VEM™ Corporation, SENDA openly kept council with several members from the Catholic prelature Opus Dei. Most significantly, though, SENDA worked directly with DINA, Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional, the Chilean security force that under Pinochet's authority was responsible for the murder and disappearance of thousands, including eventually Victor Jara, who sang famously in his song La luna siempre es muy linda: "Recuerdo el rostro de mi padre como un hueco en la muralla." (81-82)
    "AtLoM" is a narrative of the life of Salbatore Nufro Orejón, a Chilean musician and speculative physicist who, as the passage above makes clear, becomes involved with some unpleasant types in the wake of Pinochet's ascension to power. Whereas in HoL VEM appears to have no reality even within the novel itself apart from its existence inside Zampanò's fertile imagination, in "AtLoM" it's pressed into service by the narrator(s) to verify a minor but--in the world of the narrative--true fact about SENDA. (The truth of all this for the reader's world is not the issue, just so we're clear.) So, the (very) attentive reader of both these texts would be right in asking, What's going on here? How can it be that some made-up something, recognized by the reader as being made up even within the world of that text, be referred to as fact in the world of another text in no other way connected to the first one? This is Paul Auster territory, as readers of the end of his New York Trilogy can attest.

  • #2
    good attempt

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    • #3
      Not strictly VEM related but connection related.

      I may just be making something up here, but I thought the mention of Los Angeles, Chile was interesting. Los Angeles, California as we know is a/the major setting of both HoL and (many years after AtLoM) TF. This would be not much on its own except for another related duality - that of Venice, Los Angeles, California (place where the cat is found in TF) and Venice, Italy (setting of the comics in TF).

      So, different locations with the same name might be... something. I don't know what.

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