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Michael Ondaatje's 'Approaching Through Slaughter'

Michael Ondaatje, the first Canadian writer to gain the exclusive Booker Award in 1992, is celebrated as a modern day literary treasure. In his works he makes an attempt a re-evaluation of record by focusing on relations between the margins and the centre, the personal and the public. Therefore his works easily lend themselves to post-modern and post-colonial approaches to literature. In addition, Ondaatje's distinctive appeal is that of an experimental specialist and stylish expert in creating sensuous and sensual effects. Ondaatje draws greatly from his personal connection with being at the intersection of cultures, which enables him to attempt a special review of reality. Born in Sri Lanka, the ex - Ceylon, of Indian/Dutch ancestry, he visited school in Britain, and then moved to Canada. His multicultural origins and upbringing in multicultural population has provided him with a special information into diverse positions and views. Known as one of the world's primary writers, Ondaatje's artistry and looks has influenced an entire generation of authors and viewers. Although most widely known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film, and shows a enthusiasm for defying classic forms. From the memoir of his youth, Operating In The Family, to his Governor-General's Award-winning publication of poetry, There's a Trick Using a Knife I'm Learning To Do (1979), to his typical novel, The British Patient (1992), Michael Ondaatje casts a spell over his viewers. His works are seen as a a bleakly evocative narrative and minimalist dialogue, blending documentary and fictional accounts of real heroes. The present paper attempts to track and examine Ondaatje's explorations of id as retrieved from record and recollection. The focus is on Approaching Through Slaughter, where Ondaatje recreates the neglected storyline of Billy Bolden, changing it with such ingenuity that this occupies the space between history and memory, simple fact and imagination. The novel explores the styles of alienation and infidelity that so often lead an individual to self-destruction, a typical element of the present day lifestyle.

First printed in 1976, the book Approaching Through Slaughter is a fictionalized version of the life of the New Orleans jazz pioneer Pal Bolden. Charles "Buddy" Bolden (September 6, 1877 - November 4, 1931) was an BLACK musician. He's regarded an integral figure in the development of a fresh Orleans design of rag-time music which later came to be known as jazz. The novel covers the previous calendar months of Bolden's sanity in 1907 when his music becomes more radical and his tendencies more erratic. Ondaatje's concern however is less with the actual life account of Bolden as with the world of the time, where, as he says, "There was no recorded backgroundHistory was slow"(2, 3). The novel portrays this historical number in a manner that attracts on his actual life, but as Cynthia F. Wong succinctly points out, Ondaatje " blurs the universal distinctions between poetry and prose, factual verisimilitude and imaginary reconstruction" (289) in order to explore the novel's central theme. The book comprises of some events strung together as snap pictures demanding from visitors to assume and get the home of Bolden from them.

Ondaatje artistically and magnificently narrates the story of the protagonist Buddy Bolden's descent into his own hell. A blues musician, Bolden was unsurpassed in his time as his work influenced the music of several later decades. Yet, in his time he struggled to transcend life's miseries even while he frequently lapsed into despair, loneliness, and subsequently, madness. In such a novel, Ondaatje details the issue of infidelity with gossamer efficiency and provides new dimensions and understanding to it. He boosts pathos to such poetic levels that his genius complements get back of the fantastic Greeks and will not falter when compared with biggest Bard of Elizabethan time- Shakespeare. You will find no kings, no queens and no princes. There is certainly nothing halo about the mega character. Neither there are gods nor ghosts to steer the hero. However, there is certainly intelligence of the bloodstream feeling on the wild hair tips and a outdoors passion that courses. The milieu depicted in the book is lewd and lascivious. As he writes, "By the finish of Nineteenth century, the Storyville area of New Orleans possessed some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. "(3) Nonetheless it had only 1 man who performed the cornet like Pal Bolden - he who slice hair by trip to N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor, and during the night played out jazz, unleashing an remarkable wildness and interest in crowded rooms.

The world that Ondaatje portrays is inhabited by people living at the margins of world; pimps, whores, barber, musicians playing in pubs, etc. Through such a portrayal, he recreates the enjoyable world of jazz, as he describes how whores lay down naked on the level amidst a making of wild, noisy and attractive music- sensuous and ardent in the background. There is absolutely no talk of morality or other guidelines governing 'civilized population'. Ondaatje can take us to the places where there are over 100 prostitutes from "pre-puberty with their seventies" (2). Music players are barbers. It really is a dead group where money is the most living thing. They may be neither Titans nor battle wrecks or winners, but blacks pulsating with vigor, durability, love and promiscuity. Ondaatje thus provides presence to people who have always been deprived from occupying the historical space.

The book is explicitly about Bolden's id as indicated in his music, but implicitly, it is approximately his identity as a dark-colored man whose musical insistence on freedom is thwarted by worsening racism in New Orleans at the start of the twentieth century. Yet as Ondaatje observes, many interpreted Bolden's subsequent "crack-up as a morality tale of a ability that debauched itself. But his life at the moment had an excellent and correct balance to it" (7). Ondaatje portrays Bolden, an American of African ancestry as a tragic musician, a guy whose musical genius isolates him from friends and family and eventually causes his insanity. The black-white racial issue however will not become the focus of the novel. Rather set up like jazz music, the novel reveals a fragmented, multi-voiced, episodic narrative that draws even an unwilling reader into its enthusiasm.

In this typical world, Ondaatje occupies the issue of infidelity. There are no accusations, no cold revenge, no plotting, no cursing, no murdering; but silent struggling- an ache in the soul-a sublimation and pouring from the center in the art i. e. music. As Ondaatje portrays, the cruelties of exterior world pervade the personal one too. Shakespeare's Hamlet could rightly aver, "Frailty- thy name is woman". But here men and women are frail. Why so? Not an easy question to answer. Within an unjust world where in fact the primary have difficulties is that of survival, 100 % pure bonds of love are impossible to forge. Infidelity has remained curse of all ages, civilizations and tribes. Wounds and woes of infidelity lead to intolerable pain that becomes quite difficult to express. Why one comes in bondage, why seeks solace in this bondage, one does not realize. Why man and woman desire to break this bondage? Perhaps no one can ever illustrate. Buddy has found that Tom Pickett is having an affair along with his common-law partner, Nora Bass. Pickett can be an extremely attractive pimp in the town of New Orleans. Bolden's partner, Nora, was officially part of Pickett's business efforts. After Pickett features about his romantic relationship with Nora, Bolden questions the steadiness of his construction of Nora, "If Nora had been with Pickett. Had really been with Pickett as he said. Got jumped off Bolden's dick and sat for around 30 minutes later on Tom Pickett's mouth area on Canal Avenue. Then your certainties he loathed and needed were liquid at the root" (75). What emerges in the novel thus is the murky world at the very "rag and bone shop" of society where liquor and sex replace pain and love, and music exudes ineffably from the fabric of blasted lives. Bolden's musical improvement is differentiated from that of his contemporaries and followers as clear and even transcendental, specifically at the main point where he becomes irretrievably crazy. But why such a skilled and natural spirited man should linger on in the mental asylum for everyone his life and expire anonymous. Herein is placed the real ache of novel and its own genuine pathos. Buddy is neither wiped out or murdered nor crucified but is slaughtered on the altar of infidelity.

When Bolden fits Robin Brewitt, Ondaatje observes that he "practically fainted" (27); he manages to lose control of his senses, and, perhaps in more affectionate terms, his heart and soul. The early levels of Bolden's marriage with Robin are proclaimed clearly by a continuing loss of control or, more effectively, by the increased loss of the total amount that characterized his life with Nora. Robin seems to represent another 'other' for Bolden - a second chance, as it was, for his creating a kind of truth for himself. It is stated regularly that even though Bolden has numerous women throwing themselves at him, he truly adores Nora. However, after Bolden operates from New Orleans, he discovers himself without Nora. As Ondaatje portrays, Bolden does not really love Robin. Robin is his electric outlet. She blurs into Nora- and Nora is not his. He's completely alienated and devastated- without everything- including his kith and kin. Only a slow and anonymous fatality is his destiny- a future of each modern man. The story is told in many fragments and many voices: Real accounts of Bolden's life and shows, oral record, lists of songs, biographical facts, narrative, dialogue, interior monologues, psychiatric accounts, items of poetry and lyrics, the author's own tone of voice by which Ondaatje weaves some brilliantly improvised 'pieces'. You will discover blues, there are the hymns, there exists rhythm, there exists free jazz, there is melody, soul, feeling, wild hostility with records flung away in pain and harm and it all creates an atmosphere, an environment. New Orleans' whores, pimps, drugs, booze, clarinets and cornets, jazz and jazzmen, dispatch builders and photographers and love and lunacy.

Buddy also breaks the limitations of love; he sacrifices his better half and children in order to pursue something more with Robin. Inside the Parade on fifth morning, Buddy provides his last performance. Inside the Liberty-Iberville concert, during the performance, Bolden is fascinated with a dancing young lady who uses the rhythms and dances to his music intoxicatingly. Bolden's self applied is totally immersed into music, so much that he even forgets the audience. The mounting anxiety between Bolden and the girl is shown in the prose of the passage as run-on sentences break into fragments and then continue steadily to the climactic point of Bolden's complete immersion into music: Actually, the following passing reads much such as a metaphor for the work of love-making. Bolden's love life is uncovered when he represents the beautiful dancer as a culmination of his lovers. Then with the beautiful dancer at the parade who pushes him to help expand limits resulting in his destruction: "All my body moves to my throat and I accelerate again and she rates of speed tired again, a river of sweat to her what her brain and hair back again bending back to me, all the desire in me is cramp and hard, cocaine on my dick, exterior, for my heart reaches my throat hitting slow pure notes in to the shimmy dance of victory. . . feel the blood vessels that is real progress getting fresh energy in its suitcase, it comes up flooding past my center in a mad parade, it is approaching through my teeth, it is in to the cornet, god can't stop god can't stop it can't stop mid-air the red power coming up can't take it off from my mouth area, no intake gasp, so profound blooming it up god I cannot choke it the music still pouring in a roughness I've never hit, watch it pay attention it hear it, can't see I CAN'T SEE. Air floating through the blood to the lady red reaching the blind location I can feel others turning, the silence of the masses, can't see" (131-32).

Thus the tool and the gamer become one. Diffusing himself, alternatively melting himself, blowing out himself through the cornet, his body, nerves, veins, sperms and aches of the heart find release. The whole arena is so built; the pitch of the music is increased to such sublimity that every person is purged of his / her sin. The pathos of the jazz changes lyrics into hymns. The dancing girl is apparently a nymph and Friend becomes the mystic piper. The appearance of a dancing woman who reminds him of both Nora and Robin produces his latent insanity, which is manifested in a stroke that he suffers while participating in his cornet. Bolden spends the rest of his life in an asylum in close by Jackson, returning to New Orleans only for burial in 1931. It is devastating to view him confined, are affected abuse and steadily put on madness.

Jon Saklofske identifies that Ondaatje rescues Friend Bolden from historical obscurity by elevating and complicating the musician's generally forgotten record with a self-conscious and generally imaginary synthesis of recollection and creativity. The liberties Ondaatje takes in Arriving Through Slaughter with his subject to accomplish that re-presentation and the possession of the portrait that results, exposes this type of authorial activity as a problematic appropriation. Being a collector, Ondaatje becomes the dog owner and an essential part of this transformed and personal image of Bolden. Further, Saklofske rightly argues that Ondaatje preserves Bolden's occurrence, actively confronts historical exclusivity, and interrupts his own authority over his subject matter. Although his connections with actual historical figures diminishes with successive books, Ondaatje's personal encounter with the impersonal machine of record continues, asserting itself consistently as a successful strategy against destructiveness or authoritative exclusion.

Ondaatje says of Pal Bolden's descent into his own hell, unwittingly or self-created, we have no idea, but, along the way generating an even of skill and beauty unsurpassed in the postmodern period. It is a story of despair, madness, loneliness, of the viciousness of life affecting high art, of art attempting to transcend life's miseries, not necessarily successfully, but finally a tale of aching lyricism. Ondaatje's dialect is innovative and appropriate and his strong theme is abundant with widespread implications. Ondaatje uses technique of Repetition based on the title. Double in the e book, Ondaatje includes recommendations to a town north of Baton Rouge called Slaughter, by which Buddy passes twice. The best concrete theme is the thought of the setting as slaughter. The popularity of promiscuity is a significant cause of discord and downfall. Ondaatje includes a explanation of "the mattress whores" who've been kicked out of Storyville for demonstrating evidence of having sexually transmitted diseases. They may be practically rotten. Promiscuity also seems to "rot" Bolden. By the time he has had his gratuitous fun in Storyville, committed Nora, empty Nora, and experienced an affair with an other woman, Bolden has lost his enthusiasm for jazz and is also obsessed with sex. "I desire every female I recall" (99), he says while he is isolated outdoors New Orleans.

Ondaatje thus explores the bond between creative expertise and self-destruction. He however will not make an effort to answer any questions for his readers. He gives the facts, completing where needed, and let us the reader decide what things to think. After Bolden's go back to New Orleans, he's driven into deeper madness than before until he eventually activities a climactic breaking point during a parade. Some say it was the consequence of "seeking to play the devil's music and hymns at exactly the same time. " Others say it was from too many general excesses. Whatever the reason, Ondaatje makes it clear that, for Bolden moving into New Orleans in the early 20th century, the road to anonymity was much more difficult than the street to popularity.

To summarize, Ondaatje endeavors to retrieve the storyline of Friend Bolden which is placed hidden beneath levels of energy. He draws the maximum amount of from background, as from ram, re-mixing facts with fiction, reality with thoughts, even reinventing the self of Bolden by mixing up him with what he terms in the postscript as 'personal bits of friends and fathers. ' Within the book thus, Ondaatje grapples with the intertwined notions of background, memory and identification portraying how memory affects record, to maintain, as also to distort. Identification as such should be retrieved, reinvented and restructured from the obscure and impersonal discourse of record. The novel however leaves that activity to the visitors.

Works Consulted:

Deshaye, Joel. "Parading the Underworld of New Orleans in Ondaatje's Arriving Through Slaughter" North american Overview of Canadian Studies. ( Dec 22, 2008).

Emmerson, Shannon. "Negotiaing the Limitations of Gender: Engineering and Representation of Ladies in the Work of Michael Ondaatje". A Thesis in The Depanment of British Presented in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the amount of Expert of Arts at Concordia College or university. Canada, November 1997.

Ondaatje, Michael. Arriving Through Slaughter. London: Bloomsbury, 2004.

Saklofske, Jon. "The Motif of the Collector and Implications of Historical Appropriation in Ondaatje's Books. " Comparative Ethnical Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing. Western world Lefayette :Purdue Univesity Press, 2005: 73-82.

Vander, Kristin "Approaching Through Slaughter: The Devastation of a Man, " Catapult. Vol. 2, Num. 4:2003

Wong, Cynthia F. "Michael Ondaatje". Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Source Publication. Ed. Emannuel S. Nelson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Zepetnek, Steven T¶t¶sy de. Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing. West Lefayette:Purdue Univesity Press, 2005.

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