The sole initial premise that I accept without proof is that I exist. But won’t for very much longer. I believe in mystery.
I am approaching mystery with these thoughts: the noir mystery, pulp fiction, PI stories. The mystery novel has led me to thoughts far beyond the ephemeral questions raised by the plot of any formulaic story. It has led me to float on the mystery of the hidden psychic ocean of—the psychic ocean which is—self-awareness.
Secrecy can emanate from texts of all kinds, once one stops looking at texts as literal transcriptions of anything. When you badly want to know what will or will have happened. A secret is an interface with the hidden (and connected to mystery). An excellent mystery story is a kind of religious text and reading it is a sort of spiritual exercise.
Why do we speak of matters of which we cannot know? Should we? We do. Is it somehow necessary (leaving aside what I consider a secondary issue–whether it’s useful)? Is it inevitable? Or will we gradually stop speaking of it, as though it were a trauma we’d assimilated into the story of our lives and made peace with? A recent trauma such as seeing the ball of earth from space, such as being aware of oneself walking on that ball. Along a cement sidewalk plastered over the ball or across a grassy yard planted in it. This is a miracle beyond anything, being aware of oneself thus. Being there. Being here. Now. Secrecy is itself traumatic; or it is fallout from trauma (when the secrets aren’t trivial). Secrecy is to separate, to exclude, to selectively include. Most of all, it is to preserve for oneself, to have something over which one has authority, an alleviation of terror.
All of this is the secret. Transcending trauma. Form is itself mentality. The first thought–in order to say what is true we must use logic, not revelation. But doesn’t logic end by telling us what revelation more clumsily conveyed? Although revelation dips into waters where logic refuses to go. There are things that one can never know. Is everything that can be said about mystery included in that phrase?
Does that mean this essay is ended?
Some seem to think mystery stories have to do with safeguarding bourgeois privilege. They seem to overlook the fact that a mystery novel is to do with death, with death and murder. Maybe the idea is that bourgeois privilege is equal to being alive. But maybe the rise of mystery stories marked some new stage in the everyday person’s emotion of, consciousness of, death. (And murder?) The end of history is a small affair. A real wingding would be the end of causality. Complete randomness equals complete chaos. Order out of chaos. Isn’t that what we all want? When you want badly to know what will or will have happened.*
*The phrase “what will have happened” comes from a book of that title by Robert Champigny, 1977.
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