Critical concern with death—admittedly an overdetermined concept in Party Going, which famously begins with the death of a pigeon and is fraught with deathly imagery—is, however, undermined by Green’s later dismissal of symbolism as “essentially a childish, comic, and often ludicrous process of conferring significance on something that has no business meaning anything of the sort” (qtd. in North 89). The refusal of depth has been noted of other Green novels: David Brauner reads in Nothing and Doting (1952) a “profound investment in boredom, banality, and bathos” (186). It is my contention, following from Brauner, that banality, bathos, and boredom rule Party Going, which first creates, and then undoes, affective dread through the experience of fungible language. By using the catchall term things, Green’s narrator and characters defuse the high modernist Eliotian potential of the novel’s plot, replacing it within amore quotidian late modernist spectrum of repetitious banality.
Naomi Milthrope, "Things and Nothings: Henry Green and the Late Modernist Banal," Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 50.1, 2017, p99 (this 1's for you emilye)
This presentist present is by no means uniform or clear-cut, and it is experienced very differently, depending on one’s position in society. On the one hand there is the time of flows and acceleration, and of a valued and valorizing mobility, and on the other what the sociologist Robert Castel calls the “status of casual workers [le précariat],” whose present is languishing before their very eyes, who have no past except in a complicated way (especially in the case of immigrants, exiles, and migrants), and no real future either (the temporality of plans and projects is denied them). Today’s presentism can thus be experienced as emancipation or enclosure: ever greater speed and mobility or living from hand to mouth in a stagnating present. Not to forget a further aspect of our present: that the future is perceived as a threat not a promise. The future is a time of disasters, and ones we have, moreover, brought upon ourselves.
Francois Hartog, Regimes of Historicity (xviii)