EJGS Monographs, vol. 3, EJGS 6/2007

Cain and other symmetries
(the early alternatives)

Federica G. Pedriali

o. prefacing the symmetry (starting the loop)

Fiat lux! E gli alluci furono. But the light was cast sideways for some reason. Sideways and away from the subject. So that the subject, though correctly and even rightfully positioned to be the hero of our story, is left riding his horse (his story, his destiny) in the diagonal shadow blocking his morning. It was supposed to be a glorious morning. But man thinks, God laughs. Gli alluci furonofiat lux!

God laughed at the subject. In giving him singleness, he gave two of everything, arm, hand, eye, toe. He gave him trouble, that’s why he laughed, for two of everything do add up to one loss in some subjects. Ours is indeed some subject. He laughs back. He casts back the long shadow reserved for his destiny. Destined to be forever reminded of his lack as imperfect, as divided singleness – single bearer of toes!

Toes speak loudly, unashamedly loudly, in this story. So much so that third party onlookers would rather be shamed by something else. Indeed, nitpicking with God. Could there be anything less useful, or more banal? Invest your symmetry instead. Let it yield more symmetry. Let those toes multiply. You’ll still be a subject alright. But through proliferation there is release – release from the grip of one’s mental content. The message is out. Help is definitely available.

Third party onlookers however just think – as they must. Whereas this worst of subjects, having dared nitpicking (about the Tale: about the creation of Toes), having unreasoned in sardonic, blasphemous laughs (on the claustrophobic enchantment of the self-symmetry of matter), ends up going a lot further than thought. He teaches himself to compete with God, in ungodly closural circles no less – competing for return, not for release: competing to have his say, at least some, since he is indeed some subject. The relentless return on his part (the relentless construction of protest) does mark him out, in the end, from the unbreakable polarity of the psyche. And yet, as subjects go, he has been one and the same all along, legally and rightfully. Nice antinomy – nice flaw either in the mind or in the Narrative.

What of grace, then, the substantive item in our Story? Yes, what of the withdrawal of one’s legitimate allocation of grace? And pushing questions still, given that in this awful Fiction some and certainly one have had to go without – what of the symmetries of right and left, right and wrong, that limited repertoire of alternatives that keeps those spared from laughing busy thinking and yielding? The eternal Flaw may allow higher than average returns of theory, in this case – or rather and more circularly, it may give much jouissance about theorising to some. But to others it brings trial, in endless trials of symmetry, ritual, function, return, for if man thinks and God laughs, it is Cain who does most of the writing in this instance, with equally devastating precision regardless of Text and Scheme of Things – whether grand or local.

Some toes, clearly, should never have come into existence. Depending on how the sentence gets read (there is in fact asymmetry out there, in the study of our subject), there will continue to be, primarily, a dispersive global approach to its monstrous mixture: a satisfying application of Method, to the disadvantage of Story: a fundamental belief in the mythopoeic justice of such move. But for those less graced with the euphoric conviction, more intrigued by the original asymmetry in the original creative intent, evidence of a greed which never really weathered as grief will go on reclaiming areas of text to Execution as Achieved Construction – for having known awfulness of meaning Repetition also knew no extinction in this story.

close the loop (restart the loop)
go to trials of symmetry

Post scriptum

Note written both from the perspective of my early Gadda alternatives (here brought together for the first time, having been extensively reworked and redistributed) and to complement another recent prefatorial symmetry (Pedriali 2007a: 15-16). This time the organising phrase, borrowed from a Jewish proverb (man thinks, God laughs), takes its cue from Gadda’s own «Fiat lux!» E gli alluci furono (Pasticciaccio, RR II 198) – the latter, a tag-incipit-reminder (immediate reminder) of those traces of Cain vs holy symmetries which drive the present collected argument in a departure from received readings of both macro and micro textual events, literature and life stories. Additional iconic focus is provided by images of the hero hoisted on his horse, hoisted on an plinth-platform – hoisted, that is, and raised to such heights as to get framed, in all senses: including framing in a window structure (the case of Gonzalo, in Cognizione, incipit of chapter VI, and of the statue of Can Grande, in Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio Museum – cf. Pedriali 2007a: 141), and framing by the diagonal casting of the original shadow (a diagonal quite (un)like that of God’s election through Grace in Caravaggio’s Conversion of St Matthew).

Published by The Edinburgh Journal of Gadda Studies (EJGS)

ISSN 1476-9859
ISBN 1-904371-13-2

© 2007-2024 by Federica G. Pedriali & EJGS. First published in EJGS (EJGS 6/2007). Cain and other symmetries reworks, retitles and redistributes material previously published in proceedings and journals.

Artwork © 2007-2024 by G. & F. Pedriali. Framed images: the hoisted Can Grande, from 5 different angles, plus 1 internal-interior asymmetry – Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio Museum, Verona (various web sources).

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Dynamically-generated word count for this file is 976 words, the equivalent of 3 pages in print.