Thursday, August 15, 2013

Charles Dickens' David Copperfield - Mr. Dick's World of Enchantment and the Internet


 In Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield we meet angelic innocence personified in Mr. Dick. 

When Miss Betsey Trotwood encounters what seems to her to be deep human problems that need to be solved, to Mr. Dick they are but simple events which need simple answers.

When David first arrives at his aunt’s place, Miss Betsey addresses Mr. Dick: 

‘how can you pretend to be wool-gathering, Dick when you are as sharp as a surgeon’s lancet? Now, here you see young David Copperfield, and the question I put to you is, what shall I do with him?’ Of course, this is a momentous occasion for David, a matter of survival—a moral problem.

Under pressure to give a sound answer, Mr. Dick replies, ‘I should—I should wash him!’

In the end Miss Betsy always follows Mr. Dick’s advice because in his humanness Mr. Dick is never wrong: “Mr. Dick sets us all right.”

Yet Miss Betsy, David Copperfield, and others know that Mr. Dick is “mad.” While we sane people tend to see reality as it is or should be, characters like Mr. Dick see the reverse side of it. And who is to say that the reverse side of things is not the real side.

While eccentrics, madmen, and artists retain that child-like virtue of seeing in that elusive magical dimension, most of us lose it. And with that we lose innocence—Eden. Cast out of Eden we are so doomed to an existence in a world corrupted by time and experience and from which can never escape.

My fascination with Mr. Dick is that he is a writer whose life is devoted to writing a Memorial of King Charles, a memorial that he destroys as soon as he writes it, much as Penelope did weaving and unweaving her tapestry. Besides being a writer, Mr. Dick is a man-child who delights in building and flying kites.

One day Mr. Dick invites David to go fly with him his new creation—a seven feet high kite! What caught my attention in this reading is that the kite is covered with the very same manuscript that the innocent soul --Mr. Dick-- has written:
‘There’s plenty of string,’ said Mr. Dick, ‘and when it flies high, it takes the facts a long way. That’s my manner of diffusing ‘em. I don’t know where they may come down. It’s according to circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chance of that.’
In that magical dimension in which Mr. Dick lives, he envisions and foresees that words —which he calls facts— not only live, fly, soar, and travel in space, but that also have consequences which a writer cannot foresee. In Mr. Dick's century in which radio, TV, satellite, the Internet, and other special communication was unknown, only a madman could have foreseen that: that words could travel with the speed of wind, much less at the speed of light.

Indeed, Mr. Dick wasn't so way off in saying that to diffuse his words by wind and circumstance, he had to take his chances. A writer who doesn't have faith that centuries later his writings (words) will not come down on future generations, isn't a true writer.

When we see the reverse side of a carpet, or a leaf, or the negative of a photograph, we think that one side is the right or correct side and the other the obverse.  This may not be so. 

  Perhaps in the 21st Century we are living in a cyber dimension that that French philosopher Braudillard called Simulacra.

The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers

Sentence Openers
Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse

The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers

Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia
Lindsey Vonn

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