I believe that our ideas live on beyond our corporeal existence. Our ideas, in effect, are the ideas of those before us, and in this same way, their ideas—our ideas—continue beyond ourselves through their passage to other people, or their dissemination throughout the world by way of various mediums. In The Raw Shark Texts we encounter “Eric Sanderson one” and “Eric Sanderson two” whose ideas live on post-metaphorical death, and eventual literal death. However, Eric’s ideas, memories, feelings, and “self” exist by and by through himself—initially through printed or written text sent to himself by his first self (Eric Sanderson one) and finally as a conceptual self. The survival of his mind—however conceptual and tricky to grasp—is interesting to me because it is contained. While I wouldn’t say that our ideas are diluted as they pass through time to others, they are shared—tiny (non-aggressive), conceptual fish, if you will, that swim back into the stream of a collective human reality, if not consciousness. Eric’s course of, we’ll call it “self-preservation”, raises a question: is reality shared of personal? can people separate their own realities from the collective reality of humanity? All have wondered at one point or another in some form another if the secret truths or memories inside our heads mean anything at all if they’re only known to us– does a tree make a sound if no one is around to hear it, do we matter to the world if we’re heard only by a few? Eric seems to answer the question with his belief that only he and Clio Aames matter—with the conviction that she is all that matters to him, to his existence.
Rather than seeking to leave a mark on the world, Eric ventures not to leave—to create a self-sufficient, eternally existing world, in which his memories and ideas will not be lost and then repeated, but be the only memories and ideas—be everything. He ventures to be, to become “Eric is”. When something is, it is a constant, it is forever; Eric is very aware of everything’s impermanence, “Yesterday’s here is not today’s here”—what appears to be constant, will no longer be constant with the passage of time (we are standing still, but the plates are shifting and the earth is spinning and the earth is orbiting the sun which is hurtling through space at a speed we can’t fathom in a universe that’s constantly expanding etc.). A desire to be, or not to be, strikes a very familiar chord—Hamlet, you say, and hundreds of other literary texts dealing with existentialism? Yes, if you will take that jump, yes. In this sea of originality, conceptual fish, and a million other concepts, Hall’s Eric Sanderson is a techy, 21st century Mersault or Prince Hamlet, without the 21st century cryonics, of course.
I found Hall to be an engaging author with prose so mind-boggling, because it was so mind-compatible—harmonious and in tune with so many feelings and thoughts I’ve felt, yet never attempted to describe. But to say that I’ve felt them, is like waking from a dream and feeling like you’ve had it so many times before, but returning to the thought later in the day and realizing that it was your first time, or it may as well have been since you can’t quite pinpoint another occurrence in your past. But “here’s what’s obvious and wonderful and terrible al at the same time:” the ideas in Hall’s head—the novel in his imagination, may have just become the ideas in my head—familiar because I’ve had similar thoughts, or seen similar lakes, but a purely conceptual stream of him to me. But hey, The Raw Shark Texts, the Rorschach Tests—we see what we want.