The House of Nordquist in a World of Fire and Ice
This is the third of my posts since you subscribed to these thoughts about The House of Nordquist, the last of the novels of the Eroica Trilogy.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
As I promised in my last, the subject here is fire and ice. In Frost’s memorable poem the poet speculates about two forms of worldwide destruction, both engineered by human passion—desire (fire), hate (ice). The poem was published a century ago. But how fresh it seems—the climate heating up, fires burning across California; the prospect of nuclear holocaust and nuclear winter, which we thought we had put behind us, now possible again; the universe, composed mostly of anti-matter, dispersing over unimaginable expanses of space-time, disintegrating.
Apocalyptic fire and ice are central images in The House of Nordquist. In much religious literature fiery wars mark the End-time—Christian, Hindu, Islamic and others. But I believe that apocalyptic ice is more terrifying than fiery destruction. Intense fire is horrifying, but it is not unfamiliar. There is no absolute temperature. But there is an absolute zero—complete entropy, everything reduced to inert cosmic dust. Universal negation, nullity. No one has ever experienced it. But it is the object of the perverse quest of Gunnar Nordquist, Erik’s mad father, a quest re-enacted for Paul Albright, Erik’s mesmerized acolyte.
A question haunts me. That Erik’s aim is apocalyptic is obvious. But what form of End-time does he imagine he will bring about with his demonic musical creation? What can we tell by watching him, by watching the relationships of others with him?
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