27 March 2013

"Jurgen" and Limbo

That my life here in Virginia can be reduced to a 5"-by-10"-by-8" storage unit and a small sedan is, on reflection, rather humbling. I'm moving out of the house I've been renting with three other young women while I was pushing through grad school and had no life and few cares about my living situation, and into a storage unit. I mean my furniture is in the storage unit, and a lot of other assorted things, while I am going to be renting a room from a nearby family friend.

I'm buying time, entering a limbo stage of life. I am not sure what I am going to be doing next, where I am going to be living. I would like to get my own place. In the meantime, I am here in Limbo.

I wish I had my copy of Dante's Divine Comedy. Thinking about Limbo has me thinking about the old classics, and their heaven/hell fascination. This may also be because while packing and moving the pieces of my life, I have been listening to Jurgen by James Branch Cabell on the iPod. It was part of Audible's section "Neil Gaiman Presents," which are books chosen and produced by Neil Gaiman. I must say Mr. Gaiman has impeccable taste, and I bought the book with little else to recommend it. While returning from a friend's Welcome Spring party one evening recently (where we appear to have welcomed spring incorrectly as the clouds dropped enormous damp flakes of snow the following day) I listened to Jurgen* travel from Hell, where he married and set up home with a vampire and lectured Grandfather Satan on the appropriate behavior of a democratic leader in wartime, to Heaven, where he argued with The God Of His Grandmother and made a strangely conflicting discovery.
*pronounced "Yurgen"

I still have a little ways to go to complete the story, but it seems to me that Jurgen, who thinks himself a monstrous clever fellow and always treats the ladies in a manner that seems to him to be right, may be living a life whose default is a Limbo. His wife, Dame Lisa...no, not the vampire! Jurgen marries in nearly every "realm" that he passes through on his search to "do the manly thing" and rescue -- not Lisa! but Lisa's abductor, poor fellow. At any rate, Jurgen's wife does not understand him. And it turns out that none of his wives understand him. And everywhere he goes, people are forever saying that their husband or their wife does not understand them.

I admit I'm still working on figuring this story out. And I suspect that Mr. James Branch Cabell may well have been much cleverer than I, so perhaps I well never figure out exactly what means what. At any rate, I am enjoying the puzzle and doing some thinking about -- what else? -- the meaning of life.