Agapé Agape by William Gaddis

Obviously Benjamin, and he is also namechecked. But also Beckett in the way the slowly fading mind meanders within the broken body. Beckett and Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän by Max Frisch. But then also somehow Babyficker by Urs Allemann, because, and obviously, both concern a first-person narrator in a bed exploring an obsession in a kind of fugue (state) where themes are repeated to the point of becoming leitmotifs. But then, in the way Gaddis’ narrator “hallucinates,” begins to flip or meld the standard “what is outside of me is reality / what I think is not,” there is also Pynchon, there is Doc Sportello never quite sure if his connections are justified or simply an effect of the drug (in the case of Agapé, prednisone). And if there is Inherent Vice, there is, and again, Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night. Just look at all these white men. What there is not, and what was then surprising about a book initially conceived as a history of the player piano (but which quickly, and at the end of Gaddis’ life, became a meditation on art vs. mechanization (and here we are back at Benjamin)), is that there is no Conlon Nancarrow. And because there is no Conlon Nancarrow, the composer who put the human back into the player piano by attacking the thing from the other end, he is thus placed here: Gaddis_AgapeAgape