Man in the Dark – Paul Auster

»There’s no single reality, Corporal. There are many realities. There’s no single world. There are many worlds, and they all run parallel to one another, worlds and anti-worlds, and each world is dreamed or imagined or written by someone in another world. Each world is the creation of mind.«

The medium fabricates realities within of reality, in this way producing a doubling of reality, which Luhmann has described as a “transcendental illusion”. Maintaining the illusion can only be accomplished if its veracity is not questioned. “Man in the Dark” (2009) by Paul Auster takes on an essential questioning. Fearlessly looking into America’s most recent traumas, such as a dim sense of reality after September 11th or, the schizophrenic feeling of being at war without experiencing war in its own territory, “Man in the Dark” proves to be a very interesting book. In it Auster masters a reflection on his own country and country men together with his own individual responsibility as a writer, in a self-reflexive act which joins both social and individual responsibility.

Not undeliberately, his protagonist is a 72 year-old literary critic. Confined to his wheel chair, August Brill lives with his daughter, who was left five years ago by her husband, and his granddaughter, whose boyfriend was brutally murdered in Iraque, in a house full of grief. To cope with life he religiously watches films throughout the night together with his granddaughter, who hopes that new images may replace the infernal ones in her head of her boyfriends’ execution. In other occasions Brill makes up stories of a parallel world in which the Twin Towers still stand, the war on Iraque has never happened but America is plunged into a secession war as different states claim independence. A creation of Brill’s mind, this world will haunt him and someone will be sent out to kill him. In literary terms this enterprise “character seeks to kill author” sets a very interesting self-reflexive mechanism in motion, just the same way the hypothetical worlds rehearsed in “Man in the Dark” constituts a therapeutic mechanism for America to deal with its own recent History and responsibility.

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