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The Cross-eyed Impostor and the Croupier Arctophile : The librarian who corrected his strabismus: The librarian who corrected his strabismus

By Deane, J. Greg

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Reproduction Date: 8/12/2021

Title: The Cross-eyed Impostor and the Croupier Arctophile : The librarian who corrected his strabismus: The librarian who corrected his strabismus  
Author: Deane, J. Greg
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Drama and Literature
Collections: Literature, Authors Community
Historic
Publication Date:
2021
Publisher: Gutenberg
Member Page: Greg Deane

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Deane, J. G. (2021). The Cross-eyed Impostor and the Croupier Arctophile : The librarian who corrected his strabismus. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.cc/


Description
It is my great pleasure, and Greater Privilege to introduce this Brilliant new work, The cross-eyed impostor: The librarian who corrected his strabismus, by the literary genius J. Greg Deane, an author whom only a madman could not admire and strive to emulate, though of course true emulation of such greatness is only an impossible dream for the vast majority of mortals. Mr. Deane's new work is a sequel to his earlier work, A gondolier of dogmatic fallacies, a hilarious yet erudite examination of moral turpitude behind masks of virtue, and an atmosphere of meretricious self-seeking. In the earlier work the protagonist, Gregorio Agitalancia bears the same name as his descendant who admires his ancestor from three centuries before him. The later Gregorio reveres the cowardice of his forerunner, which he regarded as prudent good sense, but is not brave enough to follow in his cowardly footsteps. Much as he recognises the greater virtue there is in the ignominy of the poltroon he occasionally allows himself to be seduced by the transitory glory of bravado, even heroic chivalry. Of course, he has the wisdom to know the true glory and heroism of cowardice, he is obliged to despise himself for his surrender to worldly concepts of fortitude. He commits acts of dangerous heroism, even without compulsion, and undergoes agonies voluntarily for the sake of love, something his more renowned ancestor never had to do, as the most revered poltroon in the whole Italian peninsula. He was inundated with a surfeit of lovers, which brought complications that he only survived through pusillanimity. His descendant and namesake comes to despise his mother, Giustina, for her brutality under the mask of piety, but he does not cease to pity her or show her compassion. The gondolier of the 17th century was abandoned by his mother before he could learn to despise her, but being abandoned from an early age he was not burdened with a resentment that he stewed into a self-devouring canker. He was never burdened to earn the regard and respect of a parent who despised him from the moment she saw he was odd. Hence, unlike his descendant, he was free to become a coward. In some ways, the latter Gregorio Agitalancia is like Dostoevsky's Idiot, Prince Mishkin, in that anyone could deceive him and he would forgive anyone who did deceive him. He does not allow the bitterness that colours his memories and which often makes him diffidence to lose hope in the future or to accept people he meets at face value. He is aware that he is an impostor but he is too trusting to think others hide behind masks of their own. But in time he comes to see that life is a very sad piece of buffoonery, because we have the need to fool ourselves continuously by the spontaneous creation of a reality which, from time to time, reveals itself to be vain and illusory. His readiness to forgive his deceivers, however, does not lead him to expect forgiveness from others when he becomes an impostor. This paradox is all the more marked when he undergoes a painful operation in part to mask his identity. His anxiety over a false identity evinces a double standard in his conscience, where he holds himself to a higher standard than those who despise him. But Gregorio is unlike Mishkin because no one feared him. Mishkin is not a credible invention because he is feared even though he is despised. On the few occasions when Gregorio shows that he should be feared, he is not despised but held in awe. Being held in awe, though,is as awful for the protagonist as it is for those he awes. At one point he regrets what he has given up, reflecting that "He should never have broken out of his place in Predappio where he had a place to work where he could feel puny and ridiculous; a building he called home, where he knew he was not wanted; some relations who despised him and had no respect for the power in his meekness; a lack of purpose that cancelled any need for action or decision. Yes, in Predappio he had everything he needed. He was a fool to give it up. Freedom carried far too many obligations, and even the burden of guilt from whom one has been liberated. The emancipation of one life or one group resulted in an increased burden on those who had lost their power. He saw he could never make the right decisions that freedom required." The contemporary Gregorio Agitalancia did not despise cowardice. He had great reverence for it, but he is a much more isolated being. He does not have others to hide behind. He is obliged to wear a brave mask, to even behave as if he were stalwart. His obligatory hypocrisy shames him because he cannot live honestly as a craven spirit. His body, and his social connections with the living, cause him to seek release from his physical bonds, to annihilate himself in a spiritual kenosis. Gregorio finds depletion and fulfilment everywhere he wanders, as the reader sees in an imaginary dialogue: "I love your novels. A little mawkish but such happy endings. It is you way to serve humanity. Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks. In your way you help them preserve their morals. You have saved many who could have easily become fallen women." “Mawkishness is the essence of my genius, combined with sardonic cynicism. It may surprise you to know that I regard a lost woman as superior to one who is not lost. A lost woman has achieved an emptying of smug pride, a kenosis that opens her to redemption.” “With that outlook, with your grasp of paradox, you could be a doorman. Doors alternate in opposition to themselves, forever opening and closing. Doormen are always opening and closing doors but rarely entering them. Would you like a position?” “Similar to librarians who are always opening and closing books, but rarely reading them. It seems that wherever I turn I am in one position or another.” He is overwhelmed by a sense of futility and marginalisation, a sense of not being. He is unlike his ancestor who never loses orientation and meaning, his own being finding coherence through his unabashed self-glorification as a coward and a poetic genius. The contemporary Gregorio has no claims to distinction but instead finds himself thrust into a position of librarian for the Partito Nazionale Fascista, only because of a shallow friendship with Benito Mussolini, having some knowledge of decimals but uncertain how such knowledge applies in libraries. However, Gregorio has no real friends among the living. To perform any genuine attachments he must empty his mortal self of his soul, to achieve a kenosis of his earthly being. At the same time, any spirit who would commune with him finds herself in a desperate struggle to pour herself into a physical being, to suffer mundane agonies and enjoy its ecstasies, ecstasies that include the miasma of gehennan gaudium. There is a constant paradoxical dilemma where one member of a physical-spiritual dyad is never able to form a full enosis with the other. On the other hand nihilism is not an entirely negative or morose concept that leaves behind a void or abyss without values, rendering this world meaningless. Gregorio, and the ghost, Goldilocks, who grudgingly loves him find elements of redemption through the partial immolation of themselves. Their redemption can never be absolute because they can never completely annihilate their natures,The spiritual is always in the physical and the physical is always in the spiritual. Nihilism as such is not an absolute demonising danger; rather, it is the failure to adequately engage it that constitutes the pro-nihilising threat. Apart from Gregorio and Goldilocks none of the other characters completely annihilates an aspect of himself; none of them becomes completely good or completely evil. The one character who ends in the eighth circle of the Inferno excites compassion, because his punishment is total though his capacity for sin and evil is limited. One might expect that Goldilocks would annihilate herself to atone for wrongs done to a family of bears, but her tragedy is her inability to achieve kenosis with any living, material being because she is a completely spiritual being who can only yearn for material consummation. She can never atone to the bears for the liberties she took with their porridge and furniture. For these reasons Mr Deane pays scant attention to her quandary regarding the three bears, while the bears themselves do not make even cameo appearances in the novel. If Goldilocks hopes to make amends to the bears she will have todo so in some other inspired work of fiction. Though Gregorio is the most self-conscious character in Mr. Deane's magnificent opus, he does not knowingly or purposely strive for kenosis or even annihilation. He accepts that he is of no consequence, a man who doesn't matter; in this way he is like anyone else, he is an everyman. However, few of us are humble enough to accept we do not matter, that in this way each of us is an everyman. Even when he plans suicide he only intends to destroy his identity but not his person. His person still has use for him but his identity is only a vain assertion of meaningless individuality. The kenosis of one's identity is liberation from something that is already empty. Gregorio's original pessimism may remind the reader of the tensive state of Nietzsche's nihilism, which on the one hand lacks a firm ground of higher values, and on the other, exhibits a recurring tendency to return to these values, Initially Gregorio hopes to obliterate the past and his previous identity when he discovers that he is presumed dead by suicide. But the same needs for connection, affection and belonging persists. There is a suggestion that he aspires to be part of the Italian Futurist movements, to be part of a machine age where there is no need for personality, that he can exist as a solitary vagabond. But the appetite for connection with humanity remains. He may achieve kenosis through enosis, through caritas and eros, but to do so under another man's name, one who had already been dead for many years, proves to be an insuperable obstacle. Only the ghostly Goldilocks who has assumed a fanciful, fictive name, and other hovering spirits,can accept Gregorio's assumed identity. Though the ghosts he knows are hardly divine, his union with them, though it must be barren, is the closest he can come to divine kenosis. But when the Archangel Gabriel makes God's Annunciation to Goldilocks, Gregorio is doomed to fall back on his own mortal, human nature.

Summary
Though Gregorio is the most self-conscious character in Mr. Deane's magnificent opus, he does not knowingly or purposely strive for kenosis or even annihilation. He accepts that he is of no consequence, a man who doesn't matter; in this way he is like anyone else, he is an everyman. However, few of us are humble enough to accept we do not matter, that in this way each of us is an everyman. Even when he plans suicide he only intends to destroy his identity but not his person. His person still has use for him but his identity is only a vain assertion of meaningless individuality. The kenosis of one's identity is liberation from something that is already empty. Gregorio's original pessimism may remind the reader of the tensive state of Nietzsche's nihilism, which on the one hand lacks a firm ground of higher values, and on the other, exhibits a recurring tendency to return to these values, Initially Gregorio hopes to obliterate the past and his previous identity when he discovers that he is presumed dead by suicide. But the same needs for connection, affection and belonging persists. There is a suggestion that he aspires to be part of the Italian Futurist movements, to be part of a machine age where there is no need for personality, that he can exist as a solitary vagabond. But the appetite for connection with humanity remains. He may achieve kenosis through enosis, through caritas and eros, but to do so under another man's name, one who had already been dead for many years, proves to be an insuperable obstacle. Only the ghostly Goldilocks who has assumed a fanciful, fictive name, and other hovering spirits,can accept Gregorio's assumed identity. Though the ghosts he knows are hardly divine, his union with them, though it must be barren, is the closest he can come to divine kenosis. But when the Archangel Gabriel makes God's Annunciation to Goldilocks, Gregorio is doomed to fall back on his own mortal, human nature.

Excerpt
"Don't take any notice of Copernicus, Charles," said Goldilocks, telepathically. "He is always so pompous. Whenever I ask him about the bear constellations he becomes very moody. For him the only things that matter are planetary orbits." “Most opinions aren't worth hearing, in my opinion,” opined Gregorio. “But I think the dead might have opinions more worthy of attention than do the living. From now on I will certainly be willing to give them a hearing. But I will not listen to them uncritically, Goldilocks.” “A fascinating parallel," said Adriana, without having heard Goldilocks. She was on the point of revealing a depth of insight not even her father, the Marquis, suspected. "Illusions have so much in common with lies and self-deceit. However, our lives, the very essence of our characters, our capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of our belief in the safety of our surroundings about which we like to delude ourselves. None of us is any different to that great coward, Gregorio Agitalancia, who understood that fear is the greatest virtue, the only way that gives a reasonable man reason to hope. Fear of justice is perhaps the greatest obstacle to liberty. Even in Heaven there is no release from fear, no real freedom, no escape from dreading God, the most egocentric despot who ever lived. And unlike the dynasties of other dictators, his looks likely to be everlasting."

Table of Contents
The cross-eyed impostor and the croupier arctophile: 1 Introduction by Dottore Giorgio Luigi P. Decano, Laurea Magistrale Quinquennale, Dottore di Ricerca, Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana 3 Cast of Characters 8 Chapter I: Giustina's cudgel and the death of Vespasian 12 Chapter II: Mr. Frank Pinch 22 Chapter III: The story of Biancaneve and the evil Ophelia, who drowned 27 Chapter IV: Coming of age and joining in wedlock 32 Chapter V: Gregorio meets Signore Catalogatore and is plagued by rats 41 Chapter VI: Gregorio builds a memorial 52 Chapter VII: Train change 63 Chapter VIII: Escape from Predappio 77 Chapter IX: A little foggy 85 Chapter X: A liar does not tell the truth, Charles 99 Chapter XI: Evening, looking at the river 107 Chapter XII: A curious question 116 Chapter XIII: Dancing in the thunder and lightning, and some rain 125 Chapter XIV: To correct a strabismus or not to correct a strabismus 135 Chapter XV: Forty days in the dark 146 Chapter XVI: Preparing the mood 157 Chapter XVII: The feats of Copernicus 170 Chapter XVIII: A matter of honour 178 Chapter XIX: Gregorio's travelling hat 188 Chapter XX: The Marquis returns from Switzerland 191 Chapter XXI: The Caffè dell'eroe immodesto 203 Chapter XXII: Gregorio arrives by bus, with Goldilocks in attendance 214 Chapter XXIII: Goldilocks gains a perspective on Valhalla from Mr. Pinch and other stuff, nonsense and fluff 226 Chapter XXIV: Goldilocks clock is ticking 237 Chapter XXV: Goldilocks is advised to take her chances 246

 
 



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