November 12, 2010

Nemesis: your personal Waterloo

One of the very first words of Martin Amis' The Information is 'nemeses':

"Women -- and they can be wives, lovers, gaunt muses, fat nurses, obsessions, devourers, exes, nemeses -- (...)".

I checked up that one in the dictionary and found this:

1. something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.
2. an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
3. Classical Mythology: the goddess of divine retribution.
4.  an agent or act of retribution or punishment.

170 pages later, Amis wrote: "Pain and fear were waiting for him, as they waited for everyone. A whole hospice of pain and fear, patiently waiting."
Then back to the dictionary. As a synonym of 'nemesis', it adds something quite funny:

downfall, undoing, ruin, Waterloo.

Nemesis. Waterloo. Invidia. Succumbing to the gods. Femme fatale. Implacable executrix. Sister of the Furies. Daughter of the Night.

Night, right. Back to Amis: "At night, as he prepared to enter the forests of sleep and temptation (...)".

Waterloo, nemesis. Clue words: 'ex' and 'diss'.

I had to think of F making a comparison in a 1970's bar in Bonn some weeks ago: People hardly understand that your ph.d. thesis is like your ex. Both are a 'she'. Never ask, never tell! She is so hard to overcome: you still love her, still you like her, but you started to detest her already, you are tired of her, it's over but she is still present, work in progress, they are in the caves of oblivion, are nightmares that wake you up in the middle of the night, for sure you don't want to go back there. But people hardly get it and they keep asking: 'How's the thesis doing? You got a date already for the defense? What's taking so long, can't you just move on? Say, would you like to meet the sister of the cousin of my wife? The only thing is that she lives in Cardiff, but you know, with Skype and EasyJet...'

Damn it!

Dissertations are like exes, nemeses, your personal Waterloo. I had to think of a stone in an unknown park of San Ángel (payed visit with my ex, hélas), and of a cushion found online, and of Don Alfonso Reyes:

"Vale más la gracia de la imperfección que la perfección sin gracia"

"Finished is better than perfect"

"Se publica para dejar de corregir" (memory quotation)

Upper foto: Nemesis, Roman copy, Louvre


Anonymous said...

"Women -- and they can be wives, lovers, gaunt muses, fat nurses, obsessions, devourers, exes, nemeses -- (...)". - Vergiß nicht die Frauen über 30!

S said...

Frauen über 30! They are cool too!