Man-in-the-Holocene

if you need to feel something - playlist

draw your swords - angus and julia stone
dust to dust - the civil wars
high horses - the swell season
holocene - bon iver
landfill - daughter
little lion man - mumford and sons
poison and wine - the civil wars
all the wild horses - ray lamontagne
dreams - fleetwood mac
words - gregory alan isakov
follow you down to the red oak tree - james vincent mcmorrow
slow it down - the lumineers
down in the valley - the head and the heart
colors - amos lee and norah jones
anymore - ethan thompson

I bought Max Frisch’s Man in the Holocene when I lived in Florida, but I put off reading it until now. I first heard of this book from a list of books put together by Donald Barthelme for his students and provided by Kevin Moffett in his article “Donald Barthelme’s Syllabus.” I spent a lot of time looking at that list, and I bought several of the books, although looking over the list again now, few of them ever became favorites of mine. 

I was reminded of Man in the Holocene recently by a blog I found called “Climate Change and Contemporary Fiction (a blog whose title carries more promise than it delivers). That blog calls this book the first climate change novel. And also terribly funny.

It does begin so: "It should be possible to build a pagoda of crispbread." 

But that, for me, is the best part. 

Man in the Holocene is interesting because it has some features of a personal tumblr: A hundred pages of mixed up confessions and thoughts and oddities and memories. Along with some reblogs: clippings from reference books and drawings of dinosaurs. These are  compiled by a man who is stuck in his house during a prolonged period of rain, with books and crispbread alone to entertain him. 

But Tumblr does what this book does in a more fun way and so this book feels dated. Selah.

But Man in the Holocene does remind me that sometimes the rains do come and wash away everything from the surface. 

“Man in the Holocene” by Max Frisch

A stunning tour de force, Man in the Holocene constructs a powerful vision of our place in the world by combining the banality of an aging man’s lonely inner life and the objective facts he finds in the books of his isolated home. As a rainstorm rages outside, Max Frisch’s protagonist, Geiser, watches the mountain landscape crumble beneath landslides and flooding, and speculates that the town will be wiped out by the collapse of a section of the mountain. Seeking refuge from the storm in town, he makes his way through a difficult and dangerous mountain pass, only to abandon his original plan and return home. A compelling meditation by one of Frisch’s most original characters, Man in the Holocene charts Geiser’s desperate attempt to find his place in history and in the confusing and fragile world outside his window. The story of a man on the brink of mental and physical extinction.

What is there to think about?

–EB : AE = AE : AB

–the Bible and the fresco of the Virgin Mary do not prove that God will continue to exist once human beings, who cannot accept the idea of a creation without a creator, have ceased to exist; the Bible was written by human beings.

–the Alps are the result of folding.

–ants live in colonies.

–the arch was invented by the Romans.

–if the Arctic ice were to melt, New York would be under water, as would Europe, except for the Alps.

–many chestnut trees are cankered.

–only human beings can recognize catastrophes, provided they survive them; Nature recognizes no catastrophes.

–man emerged in the Holocene.

—  Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene