Trying to make sense of ‘Description of a Struggle’
Still have ten pages left in this 40-page story, but it’s so much and it gets increasingly absurd so I’m just going to try and layout the basic sequence & layers of the story:
- Main Guy at a party, approached by Acquaintance.
- Both men leave the party, it’s past midnight. Acquaintance, previously boisterous and eager to share his exploits, is now quiet and just silently walking.
- They are heading towards the town’s ‘Big Hill’. Main Guy gets anxious and over-thinking about why Acquaintance is silent now… ‘Will he kill me? Is it worth wasting time walking with him? Why am I even here with this guy? Maybe I should run home?”
- They stop by a river, exchange few words, resume walking until Main Guy breaks into a run in a sudden impulse to get away.
- Main Guy falls and hurts his knee, after a while Acquaintance slowly approaches/catches up, few words exchanged. Main Guy stands up and decided to continue the walk to the ‘Big Hill’
Part II: Diversions or Proof That It’s Impossible to Live
i. A Ride
- Main Guy jumps on top of Acquaintance, legs around his neck, and rides him to the Big Hill.
- Acquaintance seems too tired, so Main Guy leaves him at the Hill to the vultures and continues walking.
ii. A Walk
- The Hill is too steep, so Main Guy makes the mountain a little flatter, in fact he transforms the whole landscape to suit his whims.
- Moon is rising (according to Main Guy’s wishes), trees taking shape, Main Guy climbs a tree before he falls asleep.
- Wakes up happy, ‘This is the life, living here, away from everything, I could be happy here’.
iii. The Fat Man
a. An Address to the Landscape
- Main Guy sees meditating Fat Man, a Buddha-like man being carried in a litter by Four Naked Men across the river.
- Fat Man repeats a sort of address to the landscape, praising and also ‘condemning’ it.
- The Four Naked Men can’t carry Fat Man across the river, Fat Man falls over and is carried away by the river.
- Main Guy runs along the river, following Fat Man, but calm Fat Man tells him not to worry, it’s nature’s ‘revenge’ on him.
- Fat Man tells his story to Main Guy.
b. Beginning of a Conversation with the Supplicant
- Fat Man, when young, used to go to this church to see this girl he had a crush on.
- In the church, he sees the Supplicant, this skinny tall guy who makes a ridiculous display out of crying and praying loudly in front of the Altar.
- Young Fat Man wants to accost the Supplicant and find out why he acts like that, but Supplicant keeps getting away.
- One day Young Fat Man manages to get the Supplicant, they go to a corner, a narrow side street to talk.
- Supplicant tries to explain that in a way he does it just for fun, he can’t handle the ‘everyday stuff’, everyday reality people take for granted (he reminds me of Sartre’s nausea, everyday conventions and human behaviour seems surreal, weird to him, so he is constantly trying to break it, by being bizarre, or acting in a way that doesn’t follow the way everyone behaves… something like this, but I start to lose it a bit here trying to understand it).
c. The Supplicant’s Story
- The Supplicant tells the Young Fat Man about a party he was last night.
- He had talked to Dear Fräulein, she, full of contempt for Supplicant, sort of ‘diagnoses’ him, says he is ‘bored by truth’ so he has to always be ridiculous and nonsensical.
- He agrees, and tries to give a bit more context to why he acts like that, but she had already left him a while ago while he kept talking.
- He flutters around the party, supplicating to play the piano because he “is starting to feel happy”. But he doesn’t know how to play the piano and right when he sits on the bench he is carried away, bench and everything, to another corner of the party.
- All the while, everyone is smiling and being amused by his ways, until the Host brings the Supplicant’s clothes, Supplicant take them and leaves.
- Supplicant, outside, is weirded out by the moon and the inanimate reality around him.
- He runs arounds a plaza.
- Meets a Drunk Guy sitting by a fountain.
- Supplicant starts talking to Drunk Guy, asks if he is from Paris, how is Paris? Is it true people dress like this, and act like this, and live like that, oh Paris!
- Drunk Guy burps.
- Burps again, and again.
…. And now I have to finish the last ten pages. But ok, so far it’s
Main Guy & Acquaintance —> Fat Man by the River —> Fat Man’s Story Meeting Supplicant —> Supplicant tells his story…