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This report is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

From a White Notebook (2) Frank Kuppner
A perfect cloudless midnight.
The only surprising thing
the complete absence of stars.

What? How could what explore the state of not being in existence?

– But how extraordinary, Gene – you know? – to survive, for a reasonable while at least, on a complex bit of what I believe is largely molten rock rotating round a star – and at such a ludicrously uncivilised pace too! – pardon me if I haven’t quite grasped the technicalities fully – (but then, who has?) – and, at some time during that eternal process – again, do please pardon these laughable over-simplifications – devoting hour after hour, say, to writing a work of fiction. And perhaps a tediously conventional one at that. (As if it matters!)

– Yes indeed, Jean. Possibly even about the unutterable banality of everyday life. And yet, why pick on mere human prose? For what aspect of existence under such conditions wouldn’t be more or less equally extraordinary? Eh? Swaying mindlessly to and fro under unsimplified water? Quasi-professional-level pot-holing? Sleep? Fluttering exquisitely from branch to branch? Being jailed unfairly – or, contrariwise, for shockingly indecent behaviour? You know? Eh? Working for the freedom of one’s class or country? Emitting venom? Golf? Splitting asexually? Perhaps even changing some trivial object or other into the Absolute Maker of the Universe, time without number, by the use of exactly the right phrasing? Eh? Please say anything.

– Or, indeed, both?

–Yes. (Eh? ...

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