Hannibal Rising



THE DOOR TO DR. HANNIBAL LECTER'S memory palace is in the darkness at the
center of his mind and it has a latch that can be found by touch alone.

This curious portal opens on immense and well-lit spaces, early baroque,
and corridors and chambers rivaling in number those of the Topkapi Museum.

Everywhere there are exhibits, well-spaced and lighted, each keyed to
memories that lead to other memories in geometric progression.

Spaces devoted to Hannibal Lecter's earliest years differ from the other
archives in being incomplete. Some are static scenes, fragmentary, like
painted Attic shards held together by blank plaster. Other rooms hold sound
and motion, great snakes wrestling and heaving in the dark and lit in
flashes. Pleas and screaming fill some places on the grounds where Hannibal
himself cannot go. But the corridors do not echo screaming, and there is
music if you like.

The palace is a construction begun early in Hannibal's student life. In his
years of confinement he improved and enlarged his palace, and its riches
sustained him for long periods while warders denied him his books.

Here in the hot darkness of his mind, let us feel together for the latch.
Finding it, let us elect for music in the corridors and, looking neither
left nor right, go to the Hall of the Beginning where the displays are most
f ragmentary .

We will add to them what we have learned elsewhere, in war records and
police records, from interviews and forensics and the mute postures of the
dead. Robert Lecter's letters, recently unearthed, may help us establish
the vital statistics of Hannibal, who altered dates freely to confound the
authorities and his chroniclers. By our efforts we may watch as the beast
within turns from the teat and, working upwind, enters the world.


This is the first thing
I have understood:

Time is the echo of an axe
Within a wood.

Philip Larkin