A couple of post-ers have favorably noted the lyricism of the concluding paragraph of "All the Lights of Midnight," and I have to agree--so much so, that I'd like to quote the last sentence in its entirety and suggest that we should pay attention to it as providing insight into a central theme, maybe even a central argument, of the story.
Here's the sentence, with apologies in advance for the missing accents etc.:
The first time I read this, I thought of the concluding lines of Wallace Stevens' great poem, "The Idea of Order at Key West." The entire text is here, and if you go there you'll see that the poem's central image is that of a woman who is singing as she walks along a beach at sunset and, for the speaker and his companion, it is her song that sings that moment--indeed, that world--into existence. Her song is not ABOUT that place; it IS that place. The specific lines I was reminded of follow:Just a different path, a different way, where for perhaps for a moment you and I might be free to imagine, if only fleetingly, scenes of alternate possibilities: quantum theory deprived of one of its most breathtaking discoveries, undone on the corner of Los Pescadores and Covarrubias, where in spite of that treacherous clan clan a different choice is made, her lip unbroken, his cheek unstained, the two of them fleeing for wholly other places, perhaps south to Isla de Chiloe in search of the ghost ship Caleuche or west to Te Pito te Henua to eat oranges and swim above the black reefs, or even cast over the Andes, as far as Peninsula Valdes, where they might linger now, forever in the shadowmatter of their dreams, Francisca with color in her hair and slender chains of gold upon her ankle, Nufro beside her, ears red from the wind, unpainted guitar on his knee, while beneath his fingertips the notes of strange coastal moans bind all the lights of midnight with the powerful prophecy of a song. (84)
I hope you can see the similarity here: that Nufro's song, like the woman's singing and the speaker's gazing through the rigging at the night sky in Stevens' poem, likewise is a symptom of that blessed rage for order. Music, in other words, isn't metaphysics--it is a kind of physics.Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.
Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
I have more to say on this but no time, just now, to develop it adequately. But for now I'll just note that Nufro's order to Francisca, when he joins SENDA, to paint the strings of his guitar "solid to the frets" is a telling image in this story filled with song and which impels its readers at every turn to hear, to listen.