The concept of perception was really interesting to me in reading Anti-Gone because I have always been interested in the fragmented narratives of the post modern novels that play with concepts like unreliable narration and lack of a linear timeline (History of Love is a perfect example of this). But I had never thought about books being able to take this even more to the extreme– I thought it would become absurd. And in Anti-Gone it does become absurd, but without the negative connotation I had imposed upon this before. Connor Willumsen truly does portray the human consciousness in a more authentic way than I thought possible: his hard-to-follow plot and what we refer to as absurd is a perfect representaiton of the human mind at its most scattered. Being scattered and unable to focus on one thing as portrayed here, is, in my opinion, also a result of the technology around us (in addition to the drugs that main characters consume). Instead of it being a representation of the human mind dipping in and out of consciousness during a day dream, it may be there as we jump from one screen to another, entering into each like we enter the VR worlds as we focus on the ‘world” of our phones then computers then maybe television and the, only maybe, the actual surroundings around us.
The ides of the black dot as an anchor was really interesting to me because when I flipped back through the book it seemed to be the only appearance that was continuous and not as scattered as I mentioned above. I like how it turns into this (weird looking) human eye at some point. I then started thinking about this black dot as maybe a representation of the reader within the comic as it would be like the pupil. Putting the reader within the comic is almost like when the narrator addresses the audience– it is almost a dialogue in which the reader has no agency other than the ability to keep reading. In this way, we are reminded of the danger of being only an observer the virtual worlds– the chaos of this comic goes on as we keep reading but we have no ability to really change it, just as plays will feel within the virtual spaces we are creating.
The use of abnormal paneling/ configuring of the scene boxes was the most powerful thing for me about this story. While I was reading, I thought the 12th page was the most powerful part because of the small panels and how they ran together to make a whole big picture. When you’re reading it feels like you are in a movie, like the scenes of zooming in and out. I’m sure this is normal for a comic book but I haven’t read many so it was cool for me. The footprints that the character leaves behind him were also really profound: they represent both the contact of human skin on the sterile, dystopian environment. The addition of color orange and yellow, which were not introduced in the first part, slowly progresses and then explodes. The lines that radiate off their arms and then explode into the shatters of color. I also really liked the way that the scene at the bottom of the scene is echoed in the top like its stars or something shows that the impact of this act is more than just about the two of them, but radiates into society as well. The way that this idealic, colorful image is shattered by the men shows also how their hope for the future is somewhat shattered by the environment around them. Yet, the color remains as does their hope.
The tension between living in a society free of dangerous possibilities while, on the other hand, lacking individual authority/freedom is one not unique to the Handmaid’s tale. The fear in the decades prior to Atwood’s writing was defined the Cold War. The world described in the THT echoes a community controlled under a strict dictatorial regime: nameless guards keeping you in also keep others out. They keep out not only the influence of surrounding areas but also the potential for violence. While a woman may feel free from the threat of rape when she walks in the streets, she has little of actual freedom. Out government and our Hamilton community are focused on keeping us safe, but the question always comes back to if the loss of freedom is worth it. I think that to move in either direction as a response to this question is to lose. It doesn’t seem possible to be completely safe while also having complete freedom, but Atwood’s illustration of life may be worse.
The mentioning of tourists passing by on the streets was profound for me. It made me think of all the photographs I have seen of oppressed people, of the photograph of the dying Syrian children that I saw this morning. I wonder if the sense of powerlessness that I feel in the face of that is what these tourists would have felt? It is easy to pin them as complacent in the face of such an overt oppression and somehow villains because of this. Either they aren’t, no we are also villains.
Being new to comics, I thought it was really interesting how the shape of the panels themselves is used to create meaning. Obviously, the content within the panels is important but I didn’t think the things around it would be. Specifically, the story we read today in class is really interesting because of the way the color of the gutter space changes in accord with her moods. The three panels on the bottom of the row of the third and fourth pages, which are not as wide show the speed while the next page the bottom row shows stagnant time. The panels that are misshapen and framed by the hieroglyphics are symbolic for the mental overlay that is the memory. This page itself seems representative of what we talk about in our class, but the virtual reality aspect is a memory, not a dream. The splash pages are also really interesting especially in the Midsummer’s Night Dream story because it shows movement and the sandman in the corner is so dark in contrast to the others. The inserted panels are showing tensions with the reality, and they also ask us to question weather our perceptions of reality are correct or not. Had we even noticed the figure in the background of the first page? Most of us has not. It was”real” in the sense that it existed before, but its presence is not real to many of us because we had not noticed it. Memories can be like virtual realities because they are not always in line with the past.
What I found most interesting in today’s class was Neil Gaiman’s discussion about the three most important books in his life. I did an exercise earlier this year where I was asked to illustrate important moments if my intellectual development, and I ended up drawing covers of books. In another video, Gaiman said that when he wrote he did not think he was doing anything super special until he thought about the young kids, college aged, like us) who were reading his comics. Literature, no matter the form, truly is formative, no matter one’s age, but especially in adolescence. The first book that he cited as important to his life was the Chronicles of Narnia. He said that it was not the story itself that changed him, but the style of writing. He said it “looked fun to write it” in an accessible way, almost as if telling a casual story to a friend. I think that we oftentimes overlook the importance of style and focus on content. Content is inarguable vital to the experience of literature, but the way it is received can differ based on the format in which it is presented. this reminds me of a discussion in my cultural linguistics class yesterday. We discussed how words on their own are simply sounds and arbitrary shapes, yet when put together differently mean something, and how the environment in which something is said can change the way the speaker wanted their words to be perceived (The professor said, “If you have ever been in a relationship you know this is true”). I feel like the medium of comics allows the author more control on the way his or her words are perceived by the reader: not completely, but more than simply if the words in the bubbles were typed out on one page.
The integration of the reader in a text, when the narrator breeches the fourth wall, adds a really interesting element to The Invention of Morel becuase it brings it more towards the postmodern ideals. Despite that these ideas became an iconic movement post 1945 Cervantes explores this same thing in Don Quixote in the early 17th century. This novel, too, was coined a perfect novel. The “meta”-ness of these two texts seems as if they would add clarity to the division of real/unreal, but they actually confuse it. In Don Quixote, the narrator speaks to the reader and insists that he has found the manuscript of another man Cide Hamete Bengali and is simply telling his story. The protagonist of this story cannot differentiate between the real and the unreal, for everything he reads he takes as fact. Reading DQ simultaneously to this text has exposed the similarities in that the writer of the diary in The Invention of Morel makes assumptions just like Quixote assumes that all he reads is true. The changing of form from traditional storytelling is also similar within the books in that Quixote reads someone else’s manuscript and the writer in Morel addresses his writing not to himself but to someone other. He likely directs it those who outlive him, pointing to us as we are the ones reading it. The reader plays an active role in both of these books: the writers each address us when it seems as if we will not believe the fantasy occuring in their worlds. Cervantes tells the reader that he is sure we are prudent reader and van differentiate the real from the unreal and uses the word “true” contantaly. Likewise, the writer in Morel seems to know when we start to doubt his existence and brings up the ides of ghosts and dismisses it, which serves to dismiss our doubts and bring us back into the “reality” of the story. Thus, the “reality” in the story is unclear for both the readers of Don Quixote and The Invention of Morel and the reader must choose what to believe as they read. (I have not read the ending of the book quite yet, so this is simply a commentary on the process of reading both books).
I really enjoyed watching The Matrix becuase it gave a different perspective in the midst of reading Oz and Alice. The Matrix seemed for like what I had expected when entering into a class with technology referenced in the title. And while working in the programs we have learned so far, some of the objects in the matrix seem easier to make becuase they are defined by preformed shaper and edges. (Specifically, I think of the octopus looking machines that try to come get them at the end) Oz and Alice especially seemed to me more fluid places. To make a human or a rabbit, for example, straight lines performed in Tinkercad would not do it justice. Although I know there are other programs that could do this well, I thought it was interesting to think about the difference between virtual realities and imaginary realities. We previously have defined the two as the same under the idea of an alternate reality. I would assume that the general connotations of the word virtual would be of technology and machinery, as it was for me, but I am unsure about others. So, for me to make an object that fit inside of Oz it feels weird or unnatural to put something so imagery and childlike into a machine — the computer. But, on the other hand, this also serves to give it life.
Different form the book, the movie spends more time establishing the details of Dorothy’s home life. Dorothy experiences the typical younger kid reaction of trying to run away in response to a situation they dislike. Dorothy experiences thi as she tries to run off with Toto. Yet when she meets the older man and they speak, she changes her mind and tries to return home. I find it interesting that this is the moment when the tornado takes her away. I would have chosen to depict it whirling her away before she decided that she wanted to return and then have the whole experience teach her that she misses home. But she seems to already have flipped this switch after he conversation with the man around the fire. It seems repetitive to me.
Nonetheless, the idea of distance making the heart grow fonder is a consistent theme throughout her experiences in Oz becuase she does all her actions with the goal of going home. The descriptions of Kansas as grey and Oz as wonderfully colorful seems to index the sentiments shown in the movie about wanting to leave. Despite this colofl land, Dorothy is eager to leave and does not choose to interact in it aside from what brings her to her goal. When she crosses the threshold to return to Kansas, the word grey is not present — her only focus is on aunt em and home. This suggests that home and familial relations trump all. A home is not boring if you love the people in it. This is part of the american dream– people came to America for the freedom of living the Puritan lifestyle which values the family, in despite of the challenges of the “uncivilized” land.