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Rock Star's Rainbow Author's Commentary

The following commentary is to help readers better understand my intentions with the work, and offer some guidance with possible interpretations. For voice-over commentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbOO8bPpIO0

Kevin Glavin

on 25 May 2018

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Transcript of Rock Star's Rainbow Author's Commentary

We begin to enter Rook’s secretive world: “1” is the first number (in a Fibonacci sequence) of the gate code to Rook’s “castle.” See p. 11.
First letter of the alphabet—the beginning of communcation—Alpha (the book ends with “o”—as in Omega). Also, the “A” is eponymous with Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, of which there are oblique links to throughout.
Denotes/connotes everything, both good and bad, about this town. A show is about to begin. We are in a place dedicated to movie-making, illusions, and appearances.
“Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it..."

Nathaniel Hawthorne--
American Note-Books (1851)

Guiding Principles


In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history... Instead of narrative method, we may now use the
mythical method
. It is, I seriously believe, a step toward making the modern world possible for art...

"Ulysses, Order, and Myth"--T.S. Eliot, 1923

“My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold
(or The Rainbow)”

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

––William Wordsworth, 1802
Rock Star’s Rainbow
KG’s Commentary
Quick Overview

satire: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn (Merriam Webster)...An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness.

who better to tell it than this tabloid reporter, who has been sued by the protagonist and makes things up? What is the truth?

not a "realistic" novel

KG (Editor) Finds the story on tattered legal pads on plane to Vegas and pieces the fragments together. Likely the work of reporter Aitchkiss Killawathy, who was thrown out of a plane over L.A.

satirizes the story-telling process too—the fall of the omniscient narrator, first appearance crashing to earth while spying atop the celebrity's hedge (page 41, also foreshadows the ending…)

Hollywood Bowl, Beverly Hills, height of celebrity, Rook Heisenberg’s 33rd birthday, unhappy…flashback—dreams of Hula Kentucky, his high school sweetheart, his Dulcinea (Don Quixote), memories of a simple, child-like happiness

email reforges link

she’s in Amsterdam and in trouble

thus starts Rook’s idealistic, quixotic quest

Hula’s being kept as a moll

by S (Svidrigailov—reference to Crime and Punishment), a gangster

all Rook held sacred has been shattered…

finds out they have a daughter named Boudicca

who has been trafficked off to India

with the help of a female bodyguard named Pui-Pui, who is Cantonese, an expert in Shaolin kung fu, specifically of the Choy Lay Fut style. A love triangle develops…

so with P’s help Rook goes to rescue their daughter

his life now has purpose

but he’s also thrown into a situation way beyond his control…dealing with the Mumbai mafia,
and other crises

“Have you noticed that Amsterdam's concentric canals resemble the circles of hell? The middle-class hell, of course, peopled with bad dreams. When one comes from the outside, as one gradually goes through those circles, life — and hence its crimes — becomes denser, darker. Here, we are in the last circle.” (Camus, in relation to his novel "The Fall")
We begin to enter Rook’s secretive world: “1” is the first number (in a Fibonacci sequence) of the gate code to Rook’s “castle.” See p. 11.
First letter of the alphabet—the beginning of communcation—Alpha (the book ends with “o”—as in Omega). Also, the “A” is eponymous with Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, of which there are oblique links to throughout.
Denotes/connotes everything, both good and bad, about this town. A show is about to begin. We are in a place dedicated to movie-making, illusions, and appearances.
Ironic? What does it say about our hero, who considers the Hollywood area home?
Our hero is waiting to be born on the page. Also, waiting to take the stage. Metaphorically, waiting to fulfill his role in this lila. Concordantly, waiting for the universe to be born.
See Old Norse etymology: spreader of dung. Pretty much defines this agent.
Further defines this agent; his surname originates from his ancestral history. Southhampton’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Southampton, England, during the 18th century. The fact that his name is associated with the Titanic—the port from which this tragic ship embarked––is no accident.
All definitions of the word can apply to our protagonist, with varied emphasis, depending upon the scene. For instance, the focus might be upon the paradox between the gregarious public performer and the reclusive rock star who has moated himself within a castle, both literally and metaphorically. Also, as a chess piece in the game of life, he is now put into play. Lastly, there is a connection to the great musician of ancient myth, Orpheus. While Rook is a much lesser "bird," his story is also born of the Muse (see preface); he also goes through hell (an underworld of a different sort) to rescue his love, and his daughter (more connections to Orpheus throughout--Capri/Sirens, charming with his music)...
Allusions to quantum mechanics, quantum entanglement, Schrödinger’s cat, and the uncertainity principle apply.
The state of the universe before something happened.
Allusion to St. Veronica wiping the face of Christ as he carries the cross on his way to Golgotha. Rook's megalomania is sacriligiously apparent here.
Under delusion as a rock god, he believes he can begin the universe upon his capricious command. In a way, he can, as it is up to him when the show starts, or resumes. But what sort of universe has he created?
Again, a reference to Rook’s fascination with conjuring and power.
Is she, and all of Rook’s female fans, the hunters, and he the fox? Or is it the other way around?
Evidence, at this point, of Rook’s deeply jaded and sexist attitude that objectifies women.
While this is a reference to popular culture, it may also be taken from a scientific perspective. That is, according to recent theory, life may have formed on earth when meteorites containing star dust, or complex organic compounds, impacted the planet.
Ancient Aramaic form of abracadabra--"I will create as I speak." Also, written on parchment, worn as an amulet...
Even at this high point in his career, Rook is still chasing his rainbow, upon the rainbow stage, as he listens to the adoration of his fans. How can he get any higher? And why does he feel so low?

Transparent prose,

Pure entertainment?
Mainstream audience?
Or something
more complex?
Literary? Understanding?

Smaller audience,
yet stands the
test of time?

My ancestors hail from the Emerald Isle; my surname can be traced back to a reduced Anglicized form of the Gaelic Ó Gláimhin, from the diminutive glámh, meaning "satirist."
Guiding Principles


Julia Kristeva's ideas (1960s-present) of intertextuality, inspired in part by Bakhtin's idea of the dialogic…
of the author, reader, and various texts interacting with each other
. A book is always in a state of development or dialogue, not "finished." This viewpoint encourages readers to come up with their own possible interpretations in an ongoing search for meaning. In a way, the text goes on to "construct" itself, without an author.

Kristeva says that literature "is constructed of a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another" ("Word, Dialogue and Novel"). In other words, a novel is a

: a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.

(animal skin) was used and reused

for writing (to save money, or to reappropriate a text)

In postmodernism/poststructuralism, palimpsests become a model for the function of writing, and "subvert the concept of the author as the sole originary source of her work, and thus defer the 'meaning' of a work down an endless chain of signification" (The Electronic Labyrinth).

Applying these ideas, leaving
for the reader--cover, preface (the found manuscript is referred to as "dog-eared vellum"), and throughout.
Kristeva later discusses these various interactions further, describing a "horizontal axis connecting the author and reader of a text, and a vertical axis, which connects the text to other texts. Uniting these two axes are shared codes:
every text and every reading depends on prior codes...
every text is from the outset under the jurisdiction of other discourses which impose a universe on it" ("Desire in Language," etc.).

The codes of discourse linking texts to other works is similar to Eliot's ideas in "Tradition and Individual Talent."

The writer and reader need to know these "codes" in order to better appreciate the literature. They spark a wide vista of possible interpretations through connections to past, present, and even future works.
Examples of Palimpsests
Guiding Principles


a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.

Actual ekphrasis (describes or comments on a particular, identifiable work of art)

Notional ekphrasis (imaginary art)

Unassessable ekphrasis (art that did exist, but no longer does)

Emblematic ekphrasis (picture is accompanied by text that serves to connect the two--a
is created)

(From--John Hollander's "The Gazer's Spirit: Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art")

Dürer, Van Gogh
, Waterhouse, others...
Epic of Gilgamesh
Gutenberg Bible
Rainbow Symbol
of God's Promise
The rainbow state in Buddhism
is the highest state before Nirvana,
"where individual desire and consciousness are extinguished...in Hindu philosophy, the seven colors of the rainbow represent the seven chakras...
the rainbow is also sign of diversity and inclusiveness, of hope and of yearning. It is a symbol conveying a message of a new era, of unity and of social change."
Rainbow symbol of Ishtar's Promise

Faced with a universe to create, where does one start?

A truly omniscient narrator is impossible, at least from a human point-of-view.

So why not have that be part of the satire?

Tradition of the "found" manuscript--Don Quixote,
Either/Or, The Scarlet Letter...KG is the editor (guiding

The narrator? Most likely--an entertainment reporter, writing an unapproved exposé of a celebrity for a tabloid. Killed before publication...

Next, the title?
and Modern,
(fairly catchy,
not too long),
Available? (original title,
Rock Star's Holiday,
was taken, thank goodness)

off my name entirely?
too confusing and
impractical, opt for
clear editorial role
Not just searching for his daughter, but also searching for answers to life's questions. Like the Beatles in Rishikesh. A quest. A picaresque. East/West dialogic.
represents the impossibility of fulfilling
certain desires for wealth, happiness, etc.
the Hollywood Bowl--where better to open
the novel than here, at the height of celebrity?
Okay, so Los Angeles makes sense for the setting, but why Amsterdam and India?
Will Rook rescue his sweetheart and daughter? Will they find happiness and meaning as a family? Or, like Orpheus, will he meet with a tragic ending, only
to be immortalized in the stars with his guitar? Connect the dots and find out:)

Guiding Principles


Some of Tolstoy's Techniques

One of Tolstoy’s innovations--
stream of consciousness
, non-conventional approach (impacted modernism later...)

Creation by potential
: allows the work to shape itself (author doesn't know the outcome)

Radical significance and insignificance
What appears charged with meaning may be devoid of it, and vice-versa...Many outcomes are possible, no matter what outcome is realized, some details will turn out to be irrelevant. Parts may seem fragmented and lack unity, as does life...

Polyphony of Character & Incident

In addition to the comparison of the musical idea of polyphony, or orchestration, the polyphonic novel is defined in
's account by “the quality of the relationship between narrator and character, in that the former allows the latter right to the final word - the character's voice is never ultimately submerged by that of the narrator..." (

A character's "unfinalizability"
They are free, even from the author

("Hidden in Plain View," Morson)

Allusion to Hamlet, Act 3, sc. 4. Hamlet's father's ghost appears, right after Hamlet has accidentally killed Polonius, to remind Hamlet of his duty to revenge his foul murder, and to help his mother. Notice that Rook's purpose is not "almost blunted," but "blunted." Here also, we have the intersection of Hamlet with the opening epigraph from Don Quixote. This is intentional, and inspired by Turgenev's famous essay on the subject, comparing the two basic types of people, one idealistic--ready to give his all for what he believes in, persevering even if he looks the fool, and the other an over-thinking, skeptical, egoistic, procrastinating prince, whose melancholia overwhelms him and prohibits him from doing what he should. Also, in this scene, we have proof that Shakespeare did indeed intend Hamlet's delay to be intentional, as the ghost comes to chide his son to act. Rook's delay is intentional as well, and he too must act and decide (subconsciously) if he is a Hamlet-type, or a Don Quixote-type. Rook's problem, however, is postmodern, and at this point in the novel, he doesn't know what his purpose is, or if he even has one.
Isn't this the ultimate philosophical question?
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