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Backbone and Lannan Comparison

Update: @georgelazenby had a similar idea today! You can check out tracked changes of all the differences over at 454 W 23rd St New York, NY 10011—2157.

 

Previously: With the publication of The Pale King excerpt 'Backbone' in the New Yorker I thought I'd go back to DFW's Lannan reading and look at some of the additions and/or changes.

Substantial Additions: 

-An additional couple of paragraphs early on about Dr Kathy beginning "Thus was Dr. Kathy[...]".
-A paragraph about the boy's treatment at school, "At his elementary school, where his behaviour was exemplary[...]".
-A new paragraph about Bavarian mystic Therese Neumann (supporting the passage about the Bengali holy man which itself has been moved further along in the text from the Lannan reading) beginning, "Four separate
licensed, bonded physicians[...]".
-Two paragraphs about human pain, "Studies of human algesia[...]".
-And a substantial section that makes up the final third of the piece about the boy's father, his maxims and his affairs.

There are also numerous little additions and changes but a couple that
stood out to me:

Lannan: The boy’s smile, which appeared by now constant because of the
circumlabial hypertrophy's effects on the circumoral musculature,
looked unusual also—both rigid and overbroad, and somehow, in one
Social Studies teacher's evaluative phrase, "age inappropriate."

New Yorker: The boy’s smile, which appeared by now constant because of
the effect of circumlabial hypertrophy on the circumoral musculature,
looked unusual also—rigid and overbroad and seeming, in one
custodian’s evaluative phrase, “like nothing in this round world.”


and

Lannan: Nor was it ever established precisely why this boy decided to
devote himself to the goal of being able to press his lips to every
square inch of his own body. It is not clear even that he conceived of
the objective as an achievement in the conventional sense. He did not
read Ripley and had never heard of the McWhorters. Certainly it was no
kind of stunt, nor any sort of self-evection; this is verified. The
boy had no conscious wish to 'transcend' anything. If someone had
asked him, the boy would have said only that he’d decided he wanted to
press his lips to every last square micrometre of his own individual
body. He would not have been able to say more than this. Conceits or
conceptions of his own physical “inaccessibility” to himself (as we
are all of us inaccessible to ourselves and can, for example, press
our lips to parts of one another which we cannot begin even to
approach, lip wise, on ourselves) or of the boy's complete
determination apparently to pierce that veil of inaccessibility—to be
in some idiosyncratic way self-contained and -sufficient, fully
available to himself - these were beyond the range of his
consciousness. He was only a child.

New Yorker: Nor was it ever established precisely why this boy had
devoted himself to the goal of being able to press his lips to every
square inch of his own body. It is not clear even that he conceived of
the goal as an “achievement” in any conventional sense. Unlike his
father, he did not read Ripley and had never heard of the
McWhirters—certainly it was no kind of stunt. Nor any sort of
self-evection; this is verified—the boy had no conscious wish to
“transcend” anything. If someone had asked him, the boy would have
said only that he’d decided he wanted to press his lips to every last
micrometre of his own individual body. He would not have been able to
say more than this. Insights into or conceptions of his own physical
“inaccessibility” to himself (as we are all of us self-inaccessible
and can, for example, touch parts of one another in ways that we could
not even dream of touching our own bodies) or of his complete
determination, apparently, to pierce that veil of inaccessibility—to
be, in some childish way, self-contained and -sufficient—these were
beyond his conscious awareness. He was, after all, just a little boy. 

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 13:59