The Starvation for the Acknowledgement in Adam Hasslet’s ‘Notes to My Biographer’
It is a well-known fact that the nature of the human being is a completely undiscovered area. The story Notes To my Biographer by Adam Haslett proves this fundamental postulate of psychology. Skillfully, this outstanding United States fiction writer with global acknowledgement contrived to convey the transformations that happens with the old inventor during his life. The main idea of the novel is that when the endeavors and efforts of a human being are not rewarded, or at least acknowledged accordingly, this individual is likely to fall into delirium and continue his fruitless struggle against the merciless society, as it happened to the narrator of the story, the old inventor and the father of the homosexual, young, promising broker agent. These revolutionaries are irreconcilables foes of the traditional values of the community, and they, always unsuccessfully and hopelessly continue their campaign against the society, aspiring to prove their greatness, ingenuity and brilliance. Undisputedly, it is a good feature of the character. However, the price of their aspirations and endeavors are always the well-being and happiness of their relatives and close friends, as it happened with the son of the main character of the story, Graham, who was brought up without mother’s care, because she died prematurely and without his dad’s support and supervision, because his dead turned out to be a zealous and fanatic inventor, obsessed with anything but his inventions.
The first impression created by the main character of the story is normal ,and nothing in the first lines of the story purports that the eloquent narrator seriously suffers from the mental disorder and some sort of incurable mania that causes problems to his surroundings. The old man is merely irritated by the loose of all moral values by his grandchildren and their peers. The youth is no longer willing to listen to the stories about the war, the conquest of space and about the United States in general. On the contrary, their bookshelves are hurried with stories about stars. Realizing, that his values are no longer appreciated by the upcoming progenies, the old man admits that he is ‘glad to be gone’.
However having proceeded with the reading it becomes more and more evident that the main characters is in a desperate need of a serious psychological examination. Firstly, he has virtually stolen the car that belonged to his relative and he hardly believes that the car will be returned. Then, he addresses several notes to his biographer – a deed that is not peculiar even for the greatest people, like the presidents, the war veterans and other outstanding personalities. It is a well-established fact that a work of the biographer begins when the object has already passed away. In other words it is the prerogative of the society to decide whether the person who has committed something outstanding really deserves been recorded by his own biographer. In our case the main character of the story has himself decided that all his exploits will be recorded by the biographer, that is why he permanently leaves notes for his future biographer, explaining either the details of his new inventions or their progressiveness and innovative nature.
The second reason, indicating that the main character of the story became a lunatic is his deeds. He is fervently and dedicatedly obsessed with the idea that he is in fact one of the greatest inventors of the entire human civilization and he deliberately highlights and elevates the nature of his inventions. This man was fired by Kodak for his ‘pointing out to the flaws’ of the output of the company. I assume that it is natural and understandable that a simple engineer, with an ordinary Ph.D. from an ordinary University cannot improve the manufacturing process of such an industrial giant substantially. He was dismissed allegedly for his incompetence, while the main character considered his dismissal wrongful and unjustified.
The repercussions of the lack of public acknowledgement are mostly reflected by the author in the relationship between the narrator and his son Graham. Graham assumed that his father was dead, because scientific explorations diverted him from his family for four long years. And he finally appeared before his son, the narrator behaves excessively oddly. He is not stupefied by the fact that his son is of untraditional sexual orientation, although and ordinary daddy must be shocked and outrages. He simply admits this fact and does not argue it. However having invited his son to the restaurant, he does not ask his son about his problems and emotions. He merely ridicules Graham’s profession, who is a brokerage agent, which is known to be among the most prestigious and well-paid professions in the United States of America. Moreover, he does not ask his son about the reasons, which compelled him to transform to a homosexual person. The only thing he is interested in is his invention – the bicycle with a perpetual engine. The narrator envisions ‘a line of bicycles’ and teams of lawyers and engineers. Then, the dad starts to offer his son illogical things: he offers Graham to quit his job and to join his ill promising venture. The culmination of the scene is when the dad rents a room for $ 600 for a day to ‘conceal industrial secrets’ and a weeping Graham, who confesses that he has ever ‘wanted a father’.
Overall, it is evident that the author wanted to convey a very important message to both the society and the individuals which compose this society. Obviously, he advocates the idea that each person, however talented and ingenious he may consider himself, has its own limits. When these limits are transcended, nothing positive can happen and can be expected.