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This report is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Dolphins and Cigarettes Vahni Capildeo
We bought tickets for ‘Sex in the Afternoon’. Do hold your breath…

Looking out the window at pine trees, rooftops and the foothill of a mountain range, then looking into the spotted mirror adjacent to the window and seeing that view as not the same but as deeper and mercurially transfigured, was an early childhood experiment. Its rules derived from an extended simile in a children’s book by a now carped-at author. It does not matter that the looker is indoors. What matters is that the looker is a point of revolving focus between the reachable external refreshed by mystery, and its mysteriously refreshing yet intangible counterpart.

This and similar experiments, or experiences, incite scepticism in me – not about the need for a literature that reflects yet departs from its immediate environment, but about whether it is necessarily oppressive to read an English children’s book in a recently independent ex-colony, or whether readers of, say, Commonwealth poets in England must be subject to the conscientious not-done-the-homework nervousness reviewers sometimes express. The larger movement of mind between book, mirror and window did not incite desire for the snow-capped setting of the story. It opened, summoned, and embraced observation and re-visioning.

We began travelling. ‘Sex in the Afternoon’ would occur in a building edged by a river…

Primary imaginative shifts can be arrived at via manifold recessive framing; and, as with the combination of chromosomal material in the newly fertilized egg, simplified in textbooks to an arithmetical 23 + 23 but truly an intertwining ...


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