2002: A Palindrome Story: Criticism

Palindromic Criticism
Oulipian Criticism
Plot Summaries: 1, 2, 3

Palindromic Criticism:

Now Bob sees Otto's sad nadir, sign I: Reno forever of one ring is rid and ass Otto sees Bob won!

-Will Thomas

Saga on moody doom? No, a gas!

-Ross (Essay Assessor) Eckler

are you geniuses? then, so long, it's my time this time. my, it's long. so then, geniuses you are!

-Rene Rowland

Oulipian Criticism:

2002 is not only a marvel of ingenuity: it is also funny, sexy, and full of surprises.

-Harry Mathews

20:02 20/02 2002

Notons que lors des précédents triples (10:01 10/01 1010 et 11:11 11/11 1111) nos systèmes de numération des temps ne s'étaient pas encore imposés : ils sont donc passés inaperçus. Notons aussi qu'il y aura bien encore un triple au cours de ce millénaire et ce sera 21:12 21/12 2112 (mais nous ne serons pas tous là pour le célébrer) et après il n'y en aura plus jamais ! ! ! Notons enfin que notre triple s'est déjà produit à l'Orient et va encore se produire à l'Occident.

Attention ! le record du monde du palindrome littéraire, détenu par Georges Perec (environ 1500 mots) depuis 1973 vient d'être battu par Nick Montfort et William Gillespie : un palindrome en 2002 mots. On peut l'admirer à http://spinelessbooks.com

& alii

-Paul Braffort et al

Plot summaries: 1, 2, 3

Plot Summary 1

2002 chronicles a year of ire and ugly din. The story's focus is Bob and his relationship with Babs, who works at a cafe near Bob's garret. Bob's tedious information technology job and his solitary study of Zukofsky are calmer, at least, than the lunch-hour rush Babs and her co-worker Anna must endure —along with the advances of Otto, a surly customer whose malevolence Babs must eventually confront in a shattering sequence of events that cannot be undone.

Bob rockets through experiences of body and mind, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of Babs (for whom he has long pined) during a year filled with reversals and reflections.


Plot Summary 2


INTRODUCTION TO BOB. A character not especially remarkable.

EXTERIOR. DARK STREET. IN AN EMPTY, IDLING AUTOMOBILE, A CASSETTE TAPE IS PLAYING A REFERENCE TONE ON AUTOREVERSE. The windshield wipers occasionally flick rivulets of drizzle from the windshield. In Bob's desk drawer are cassette tapes he made privately for some obscure purpose.

BOB's MEMORY OF HIS FATHER DYING. The remainder of Bob's life appears compressed, and he always returns to the same solitary garret. Do not get audited as I have done.


BOB'S MEMORY: a car accident.

TAROT ARTE CAFE: AM radio. Clatter of cutlery and crockery. Babs and Anna have an intimate conversation. Otto always shows up early, drinks, and becomes abusive.

PALINDROME BEER: Red Ice Cider, Regal Lager

WORK: Bob does some computer programming.

LUNCH: Tarot Arte Cafe. Bob, speechless, tries to order a bagel from Babs. But he changes his mind and has a salad, indecisive.


MEDITATION: Bob spends the afternoon thinking about Zukovsky, At home, he has a contemplative martini, only to discover that someone has sabotaged his drink by adding lime juice.

PORN: Bob has a nap and watches some zoo animal pornography. His apartment is small and sparsely furnished.

TAROT ARTE CAFE: Back at the Tarot Arte, Bob asks Babs out. She says yes. That afternoon he is distracted at work.


DEFECATION: Bob has digestive trouble.

EXILE: Otto continues to drink and be abusive at the Tarot Arte. Babs slaps Otto. Otto leaves the premises.

MURDER: That night, outside, Otto attempts to rob Babs. She shoots him. Anna is a witness. Bob starts to lose focus, mentally. He rigs a car bomb, then he takes scissors and cuts up his wardrobe.

DENOUEMENT: Bob listens to a cassette he made of himself reciting a poem, and drives home.


Plot Summary 3

2002 requires that stories be told, ones that sit alongside the contemplations of those from the time of the Romans, ones that are not pastoral poems. We call the subversive muse, and rig things up. Hey, boast a story to us!

Bob (Flow, year!) is a great guy ... not! He's the theme, ancillary as he seems. No cute babe for him? Bob's splashed by cab driving by ...

Bob is seen: He's speaking to a tape recorder, babbling about how he saw Babs and how he wonders if he's worthy of her. He marks the tape and sleeps.

Hero and everyman Bob lives in 2002, which isn't science-fictional. Bob cries at his father's grave, walks to a poorly-lit alley, and ascends to his garret just as dawn is breaking.

Bob is raving, nude, in his room. He reads a bit of a book which doesn't make sense.

The poem '2002' is written, about Bob. (Coffeehouse worker Babs wakes up.) Nonsense? (It'd be better if Bob did something useful.) Bob fights a battle on the Internet, wonders if he can get some drugs, dreams of being run over and of meeting Babs's parents.

Otto sees Anna and Babs getting ready for the lunchtime rush at their coffeehouse and cafe, the Tarot Arte. The two talk about how they get shafted on tips.

Unpleasant Otto, always looking around, chugs a beer. No computers there -- just doom and drinking, here the same as in the antipodes.

Bob types away at work, programming in his text editor. Wham! He finishes a program.

A crowd of office workers surges into the cafe for lunch, keeping Babs busy.

Bob enters himself, looks at a bagel, and finally orders a salad in the air conditioned place. Is this guy getting government assistance? Babs thinks to herself. Does he want this lemon and other stuff?

But Bob's gaze lures Babs, who follows him as he steps down the line. Bob smells a hamburger, mutters some of his thoughts about being a poet, and reads a bit of Zukofsky's long poem A. Dogs howl outside. (Bob's going home again.)

Bob imagines himself a sad old executive, playing golf and drinking a martini, denying that he's older. Bob writes.

Bob sings along to an Abba CD, applauds himself, and says something cryptic out loud.

Bob decides it's time for a nap, here in this room where he went to graduate school. (He's paid his student loans off since then.) With the aid of sexual lubricant and zoo animal pornography -- some of which is set at a hotel, some at a pool -- he reaches his climax.

In the sparse room (where A is visible) Bob sleeps.

Then he's eating, drinking a beer, and surfing the Web.

Bob cries "No!" It's not the month or a single repetition of things, but the whole year that is like a golden zero for Bob.

Bob exchanges his beer bottle for a cola, thinking back to the cafe, where Anna was playing around and dispensing philosophical advice to Babs when things slowed down. Bob goes to the kitchen to look through the tuna cans and kelp, finally peeling a potato. He should ask for a date!

At the cafe, Babs is frustrated, looking at a bat they keep behind the counter for security. But when Bob shyly asks her out, her mood changes and she accepts.

Later, they go out to have dinner. Babs doesn't want dessert. Bob talks about his job and the rut he's in. He's no barista: he sits at a computer terminal and has to deal with stubborn management.

The two must enjoy commiserating, because they end up n bed, Bob on top, Babs encouraging him. Bob wonders about Babs' knowledge of sexual positions -- it's much greater than his!

Afterwards, Bob says "I was ill" -- a car alarm disturbed him. Babs asks if he works on databases. Yes, Bob says. Sassy, Babs replies that this is all computer fog.

Babs, atop Bob, naps a bit. She wakes up and he asks if she wants some port, thinking they have reached a 'red light' in their sexual activities for the evening. But no, the light's green ...

Anna's at work at the cafe.

Alone now, Bob spills a cola and plugs it up with his hand. He can barely see for the light Babs has brought into his year -- ironically. Everyman Bob thinks back to when he put melons in his mother's salad by mistake, raising her ire. Bob's beliefs are repeatedly lost and mourned.

Bob defecates and urinates, getting into it far too much and calling out for a kayak, imagining himself actually in the toilet.

The mystical serpent inside Bob has awakened.

"Hey!" Bob says, psyche damaged. Babs calls a taxi and takes him to the cracker factory. He awakens in a cell, raving.

Bob babbles as Babs tries to soothe him. The year rushes on irregularly. Bob, as if training to be a werewolf, is being sapped. He keeps referring to Babs's leg, then mentions a spice from their first date and his father.

Babs bemoans Bob's fate. Bob is the hero indeed, the deep-down stratum from which this story grows. We continue, learning of 2002. Bob tells Babs not to abuse the werewolf (him). It's noon.

Bob's case doctor has names for his illness. In reply, Bob says that he's a naughty car. He talks about photographing a snake, speaking in a bizarre way.

Otto, the real wolf, drinks a beer at the Tarot Arte. He talks about 1980s politics. Otto is an asshole the size of the Panama canal. He asks Babs if she's an 'Arab.' He says he's only pulling her leg (probably trying to actually pull her leg as he says this) and an anger from the ice age causes Babs to slap him. Otto leaves the bar, angry. Such are some of those who plunk their money down here. Otto's a greedy rat who clings as if to Babs's apron.

After they close up, Anna and Babs walk off through an alley with some Reno graffiti. A thug is spitting, and Anna tells Babs to watch out for a mugger. Babs acts like she's kidding, but when the armada sails and the mugger attacks, Babs kicks his ass, then calls a cab for her and Anna. Anna quietly says "It was Otto!"

Bob thinks of himself as a mistake made by others. Scholars chew on 2002 to try to find the meaning of it. Bob thinks of putting a bomb in a car, remembers his Internet opponents. The muse bemoans Bob. He thinks of leaving, of his (imaginary) evil deeds. Did he shoot someone? When Babs shows up, Bob enters time once more.

Bob imagines cutting off his clothing with scissors as he raves. He rolls under his bed, eats kabobs, and raves some more. 2002 is a year, after all, of almost immortal rats and of new building materials. Bob thinks of Babs again, lovingly.

Bob sleeps, then plays a tape he got from home. It's the same tape he made in the beginning of the story. Bob raves a bit, but something seems to click and the year's pain grinds to a halt.

Everything seems fine. Is Bob a dog, a monster? No, he's on the level, and seems to be well. Bob says that he gives up the madhouse, that he's going home. He hits the gas.

The grim equation of the year: Bob still is in love. We sum up everything that happened: anger, confusion. A year in love is a psychedelic drug named 2002.

2002 the illustrated book

2002 on the web

2002 press




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