Friday, February 22, 2008
Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1922-2008
"Exhibit X in any detective story gives us, paradoxically, a clear image of this situation. The evidence gathered by the inspectors - an object left at the scene of the crime, a movement captured in a photograph, a sentence overheard by a witness - seem chiefly, at first, to require an explanation, to exist only in relation to their role in a context which overpowers them. And already the theories begin to take shape: the presiding magistrate attempts to establish a logical and necessary link between things; it appears that everything will be resolved in a banal bundle of causes and coincidences...
But the story begins to proliferate in a disturbing way: the witnesses contradict one another, the defendant offers several alibis, new evidence appears that had not been taken into account...And we keep going back to the recorded evidence: the exact position of a piece of furniture, the shape and frequency of a fingerprint, the word scribbled in a message. We have the mounting sense that nothing else is true. Though they may conceal the mystery, or betray it, these elements which make a mockery of systems have only one serious, obvious quality, which is to be there."
-- "A Future for the Novel," in For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction (Grove, 1965), pg. 22-23.