I’ve just finished Chapter 1 of “Fall” and before I go any further I’d like to remark how eerily similar Dodge’s waking dialog and his internal morning routine is to my own. Is this place one we all visit, or do Stephenson and I have something in common? Did you get the same impression after reading that chapter, or am I making this all up?
What goes on in the first few moments of consciousness, comprising the rickety bridge between the dream state and full awakening is so vividly described that I am filled with foreboding with what is in store for Dodge–and for myself.
The dream state differs from our waking reality in that it does not seem to mesh with the objective (real?) world, but that is also a subjective assessment, isn’t it? What both states of consciousness have in common is frantic activity, an avalanche of information processing that seems unsustainable for any length of time, but which seems to continue even when we are sound asleep. How do we survive this torrent of activity that seems to go on uninterrupted? Now that I’m retired, and less concerned with the day-to-day strategy and tactics of daily life, I have become increasingly aware of the “Din”, as Dodge refers to its social analogue. It scares me, how long can we control this geyser before it overwhelms us? Its madness, lying just below the surface, threatening to break out at any time. And it is madness, I can recognize it. I know now what it is to be mad, not because I am mad myself, but because I can see how easy it would be to succumb to it.
I am reading another book simultaneously with Fall, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz; Mordecai Richler’s classic about a young man who is not introspective, not self-examining, who lets his internal Din control him without his even being aware of it.
I think both these novels are going to be about schizophrenia.