The “opening quotation” of Narrative 4: The Hanger-On, is supposedly a quote from The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe. But a close look shows that it is not the actual quotation at all, but a bizarrely altered version. The attribution explains the change: Supposedly,this is the “King James Revision” of the story!
God seems to be the narrator, rather than Montressor (the man bricking in Fortunado in the original.) From my reading, this appears to be a depiction of God bricking us in with mortality and taking credit for giving us peace by killing us in the end. I read the “tiers” here as decades; we are supposed to imagine God blithely bricking us from the moment we are born. The victim (us, or Menniss) first notices what’s happening in his fifth decade, at which point he shakes his chains. God listens for a moment, and then goes on bricking. I supposed this means that we first notice we’re mortal in our 50′s. (That has certainly been the case for me.)
It’s a bizarre yet moving burlesque. We see here how beneath his humor Oxadrenals (for this has to be a product of that peculiar mind) is deeply serious.
But is he reliable? Can we trust him? Or would we in fact find greater security in the experienced, parental, aristocratic realpolitik of Soraya and the True Immortals?
I share the dilemma Kate speaks of.
Clearly Oxadrenals is trying to give us what we want. But is it what we need?
On the other hand, can we, in the modern world, allow an elite, no matter how wise, to choose for us and tell us what we can and cannot have? — Stephen