Best known as a sculptor and visual artist, Harry Dodge turned his creativity to writing for his first book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. Despite the title’s reference to the random, Dodge’s focus is more on coincidences, although one could argue that coincidences are more random than preordained. This is certainly the terrain he steps into in the book’s series of dated segments, much like rearranged diary entries blended with philosophical musings.

The sections are not explicitly related to one another, and there is no transition to carry the reader from one to the next. Yet there is something fundamentally natural about the flow from one idea to another. The narrative is not chronological, which is essential to the worldview Dodge explores here.

The titular meteorite serves as one of Dodge’s odd enthusiasms, but not as a significant plot point. He reports on sharing his excitement with strangers he encountered on the street in Houston: “I told them it was coming in the mail. From eBay. That it was expensive. That it was from outer space…I told them my rock was handsome, magnetic, and that it had a deep furrow, one total fold. Like a hand, like a heart. And made of iron straight from a star.”

Dodge’s storytelling is compelling. He draws the reader in with careful attention to detail, goes a few steps down a rabbit hole and then leaps out. In the wrong hands, this could be off-putting, but for Dodge, it is a way of keeping the reader moving along with the hum of his mind. Among Dodge’s overlapping stories are the death of his mother, the death of his father and the occasion of meeting his birth mother. These stories effectively frame his contemplations of consciousness as well as the meaning of life and art. In the threads about what it means to be human, Dodge posits that he is a materialist, believing with some degree of urgency that all beings, and all things that beings do and encounter, are material. This passage comes shortly after his inclusion of a letter he wrote and distributed to friends and loved ones, describing his mother’s death. The letter is striking in its details of listening to her breath, talking with her and then wanting to capture her beauty postmortem, taking dozens of photographs. In Dodge’s worldview, what is lost in death is one’s presence, the thing that is exclusive to that particular arrangement of material.

In another view on materialism and being human, Dodge writes that he would like his art to be his interface with the world, rather than his actual being. He believes his art is more expressive and less troublesome, better able to fulfill the needs of communication. One wonders if other artists do not embrace this same perspective. As a person who considers himself a recluse, Dodge considers the act of encountering people with whom he is not yet acquainted to be “really a stunt.” Yet those encounters, as he recounts his conversations with other artists, are poetic, wildly intellectual and a chance to constantly revisit the refrain of connection that is described as ultimately chemical and cosmic. In Dodge’s universe, the chemical—the ways our brains and bodies jut up against each other—is cosmic. He follows Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of the rhizome, the connections between people and things being so deep and roving that it is impossible to separate one from another. Dodge is perpetually avoiding, inviting and analyzing these collisions of self with other.

Eventually, Dodge returns home from a trip to Houston and finds the meteorite, his first-ever purchase from eBay, in a box on the front porch. Opening and unpacking the box seems precarious—he describes the process in tones of wondrous hesitation, finally saying of the meteorite: “It was buzzing, it was glowing, just smaller than a human head but much heavier. Unbelievably heavy for its size, like it had a different type of gravity that applied to it; an alien gravity might have applied.” He nervously places the meteorite in his studio and notes, “But then things started to happen. Unbelievable things happened.” Life as Dodge describes it is not much different once the meteorite is in his orbit, so the reader is left to decide whether this new object causes any real change.

The overlaps and coincidences are part of Dodge’s cosmology: from the meteorite, the narrative moves to his father’s ashes. He experiences coincidences constantly, and they become circular refrains in the book. In the nonlinear narrative, Dodge reflects on the dementia his father experienced before his death and the insight it offers into so much of the “stuff” Dodge thinks about: how the mind works, the changing meaning of being posthuman and how ideas and objects take shape.

Certainly, there are readers who will be put off by Dodge’s writing because it is unstructured, or because it could be perceived as arrogant and deliberately difficult. My Meteorite calls to mind the urgent flow of On the Road or Let Us Now Praise Famous Men while also offering the fragmentary style of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. Readers who are inclined to reread books they enjoy may find a spot on the nightstand or kitchen counter for Dodge’s luminous prose.

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