Imaginary Footnotes, No. 1 | D. H. Lawrence, Mucho Atmosphere

Everyone is always referencing everyone. Who knows where our thoughts and ideas truly originate.

I finished reading Deep South last week, by Paul Theroux. When I was in Israel I read a number of books on the Jews and the history of Israel in the past and present, local research becoming a sort of way to love the places I’m in. I figure when you really love people you get to know their stories. So that’s a habit I aim to keep.

This week I am reading The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. Wow. I’ve noticed atmosphere in writing before. But not like this, not in a while. I was telling a friend about it today. The first time I heard of atmosphere had to have been from C. S. Lewis. He was talking about what he valued most in good writing: the atmosphere, which, to me, means the overall feeling one gets when reading whatever it is one is reading.

Anyway, The Rainbow has mucho atmosphere. My gosh. It reminded me of the first time I felt a very potent atmosphere. I was reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Murakami. I often tell my friends: “I could smell the grass.” I really could. The pasta. The cafes. The visceral event in the desert places of Manchuria.

One of the things that I happened to do while reading Wind-up Bird was to listen to Radiohead’s In Rainbows. It was somehow a perfect pairing. I don’t even remember why I chose to do it. I don’t usually listen to music while reading books. But the lyrics were ambient enough to not be distracting; the music was ambient enough to stay in the background, like movie soundtrack—a film score. I read an interview about Murakami’s writing of the book later. He said that he wrote a large part of it while listening to In Rainbows. Hah! I thought. Interesting how that happens.

But today, this morning, I was reading The Rainbow. Laughing at a few things. Enjoying the misty morning English forest-town atmosphere; and I came across a line at the end of a page that made me think of something else I had seen that I’ve been meaning to read:

“The swift, unseen threshing of the night upon him silenced him and he was overcome. He turned away indoors, humbly. There was the infinite world, eternal, unchanging, as well as the world of life.”

—D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow