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Martine Bellen on Martine Bellen.

June 28, 2010 \pm\30 2:00 pm

The square root of Martine Bellen reviewing Martine Bellen’s 2X2

What is so confusing about mirrors is that they’re oscillating liquid and no matter what our distance from a looking glass, the glass is always half full or empty or is always looking halfway between our bodies and our projections. Here lies the problem with 2X2: the characters are forever changing dimension, sometime larger and then not quite as large as I remembered, younger and then much older—the older one watching the younger, the younger disappearing with the older one’s dad. And then there’s the twin. Does she exist or does Nora suffer from VTS (Vanishing Twin Syndrome)? How does one read reality in an ever-recalibrating world? What’s the resemblance of our dreams to our quotidian existence? So, after starting to read this novella, itself a vanishing literary form, it might not surprise you that I, the writer of the work, asked myself, “wha…?”

To simplify the equation, here’s a fractal of the nutshell of the plot: In the house of watery, oceanic mirrors, Nora runs into and then loses her twin Rona, who’s a famous international spy and student of fractals (fragmented, perfect geometric shapes that in reduced size mirror the whole). The self-similarity of fractals splits and extends throughout the whole of the narrative that calls itself fiction, though I’m not convinced it is. The twin isn’t the only thing that vanishes in this narrative. (Nor are the myths and fairy tales, nor are the neithers, nor are the Ronas, the Noras.) Nora has lost her Chinese stepmother and her father (whose character in some ways resembles Ann Sexton), her cat (who is based on my cat Buddha Bear—the subject of a poem from The Vulnerability of Order), and her husband (ex—2X). A riddle—In the end, who is there?

What’s so confusing about mirrors is that, although their purpose is to see one of ourselves (our many selves), they’re impossible to see through, though they are glass, though they are novel-like, and through them one never sees oneself but another world, one that can be comfortably familiar and uncomfortably precious. Did I mention that water, the first mirror, itself is structured as a fractal? Did I mention what happens to full moons reflected in sidewalk puddles? And the worm in the puddle…and the worm in the moon, and the moon in the worm…

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