Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-4

Kit Traverse is at Yale. His roommate is Scarsdale Vibe's son Colfax (he also has a third son, Cragmont, who has yet to appear in the narrative). Colfax is feckless; good at sports but not that bright. The two of them seem to get along well, however. Scarsdale wants to make Kit his heir, but Kit refuses on the grounds--so he says--that he would be unnable to manage all that wealth.

Colfax invites Kit up to the family "cottage," which turns out to be a large, ominous mansion which is clearly haunted in some way, although the Vibes do not like to talk about it.

Scarsdale's wife Edwarda show up. She doesn't spend much time with her husband; she lives in a townhouse in Greenwich Village, across from that of Scarsdale's brother, R. Wilshire Vibe. She has gotten involved in theater, and there are endless bohemian kinds of parties going on at her place.

Kit is accosted in the stables by cousin Dittany Vibe. She wants Kit to spank her, with which notion he eagerly complies.

Fleetwood Vibe is sullen about a racist little ditty about Africans composed by R. Wilshire for a show of his. He talks to Kit about the concept of "home," and this segues into his experiences in Africa.

We're not one hundred percent sure why he was there in the first place, but he met a Zionist agent named Yitzhak Zilberfeld who is travelling the world searching for a place that would work as a Jewish homeland. They get into feverish conversations about homelands vs. homelessness. One night: elephants charging. Yitzhak is completely freaked out, but Fleetwood tells him that the best thing to do is stand them down rather than run away, if one wishes to avoid the trampling and the goring and the whatnot. Yitzhak apparently takes this advice, and gives Fleetwood financial advice in return. Mainly, that South Africa is where it's at, getting-richwise.

Fleetwood ultimately takes him up on this. This South African stuff is strongly reminiscent of the chapter in V. about the German atrocities against the native Hereros. Anyway, he's in South Africa for a while, sort of getting by. An incident that becomes well-known and which haunts him: he catches a native stealing a diamond, and gives him a choice between shooting him or letting him step into a half-mile mineshaft. The native takes the latter. As this gets around, everyone starts hating him. And that's when he decides that the Etienne expedition would be a good idea. "There would be no gold, no diamonds, no women, no dream-inducing smoke, no coolies or blacks, though possibly the odd Eskimo. And the purity, the geometry, the cold" (170).



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