I tend to not enjoy comic books, but Anti-Gone was pretty intriguing. Its confusing nature gave room for full immersion, as I not only had to figure out what was happening, but from whose perspective. The parts of this book that really confused me are: (1) when Lynxa supposedly drowns and (2) the very ending when Spyda and the dog leave the movie theater. In two of the little vertical panels about 4 pages away from the end, we see Spyda calling someone, which I assumed was Lynxa. However, on the next page, we see him eating a sandwich and listening to music. While of course this book is seemingly not suppose to make sense, I am left questioning why Spyda did not go looking for his female companion. Because of this, I decided that the little guy was not the narrator. I believe that there is no narrator, that Lynxa does not exist, and that Spyda is the dreamer. Lynxa could just be a part of this hallucination, which would kind of explain why she disappears and he does not even notice. But then again, many question arise with that interpretation. Ultimately, I truly appreciate how complex and thought-provoking Anti-Gone is, and how it challenges the idea of normativity.
I am currently taking another literature course called Literature of Witness, and in this course, we read a essay by D.G Myers titled “Responsible for Every Single Pain: Holocaust Literature and the Ethics of Interpretation”. In this piece, he touches on one of Emmanuel Levinas’ (French philosopher with Jewish ancestry) famous insights, being: “The other is always already a Thou, because she has a face; she foredooms every effort to reduce her to an It, because objects do not have faces. When I look upon the other’s face, I perceive the presence of something more than a composition of interests, I glimpse a being” (Myers, 1999, p. 274). When discussing what this quotes means, I came to the understanding that the face is more than just a physicality, but it serves as a recognition of a human being. Thus in order to dehumanize an individual, one must destroy the face.
In the Handmaid’s Tale, the handmaids are forced to conceal their faces, look down when they are being spoken to, make minimal eye contact, etc. While this act is supposed to stem from this idea of modesty, I argue that it is a huge act of dehumanization that should not be overlooked. These women are deprived of everything they once knew and loved, and are forced to assimilate into this new, highly problematic and utterly disturbing way of life. They are even deprived of their names. By having their faces hidden, it adds an extra layer of isolation and means to exert control over them, in which they are thus merely seen as objects. And as Levinas said, “objects do not have faces”.
This may be an unpopular opinion , but I did not enjoy Calliope from Nail Gaiman’s The Sandman: Dream Country. My critique of this piece has to do with the plot in general, as I do not see how raping, torturing, and degrading a woman because she is “a muse” has to do with the overall idea of the distortion of reality, and concept of dream versus nightmare. The imagery is very disturbing, especially of Calliope’s distorted body, although (as mentioned in class), there are many panels in which the eyes are intensely focused on, which I find interesting, as the eyes are the windows into the soul. Other than that, it was difficult for me to truly take away the messages that were discussed in class due to my contempt for how problematic I deem the plot and conflict to be.
On the other hand, I absolutely loved reading A Dream of a Thousand Cats. The ideas that things can be dreamed into reality, and that dreams shape the world are really powerful. The part of this story that I found particularly interesting was the idea that revelation is the province of a dream, especially since she was only granted revelation when she also desired justice and wisdom. This is relatable to what people go through in real life, for so often we long for justice when things can wrong, not realizing that seeking justice and wisdom can not fix everything (but most times it is extremely necessary). Sometimes the only thing that can set us free is the truth. And if you need to dream it until it comes true, then so be it.
I only minimally enjoyed this novel, especially after the mysterious occurrences on the island are straightforwardly explained by Morel. I clung to the suspense, which after being shattered left me feeling that the story could have ended. I thus wish the mystery was prolonged, for as intellectuals we would have figured it out. And if not, there is always joy in having ideas left to one’s interpretation. Now, when I think about why I am not a huge fan of this novel (this is not to say that it was horrible, as it is well written and I appreciate the idea of reproducing reality/ creating immorality), I must begin with the narrator. I would argue that he was delusional, but that it is justified. I am sure no reader can say that they would not have acted as he did if you were a fugitive who escaped to an island only to find out that your “safe haven” has been intruded by people who completely ignore your presence. If I was the narrator, I would have gone insane. However, while I do see his actions as justified, I was still highly annoyed at how he embraced the role of the victim, acting as if Faustine’s refusal to acknowledge him was her merely trying to defy him, and feeling that the people’s sole purpose was to capture him. While his curiosity and courage is admirable in the face of such immense fear and confusion, I found myself screaming at him (I tend to be very invested when I read) out of frustration. In addition, the fact that this story had a Déjà vu aspect was interesting, but I did notice that I was reading similar passages over again, and I longed for something new and exciting to emerge. However, the one thing that struck me was when the narrator starts to die (102) after having inserted himself into the eternal recording. This was somewhat foreshadowed in the beginning of the story by the rug merchant (10), and at that moment everything made complete sense to me.
Lastly, the two things that were very interesting to me while reading were the footnotes and the narrator’s final request. At first the footnotes made me feel as though the narrator was unreliable, but now learning about Morel’s invention, and seeing the narrator’s transition before and after he learns that the people are images (he is less frantic and fearful), I started to question the editor’s intentions, and am not fully trusting of these provided notes. But, I do feel that including them in the story was very interesting, as it kept me on my feet and I hoped to find a footnote that would challenge my existing perception. Finally, as for the narrator’s final request in the last paragraph on page 103, he asks if the reader happens to find a way to invent a machine to assemble disjoined presences, that they, “Find Faustine and me, let me enter the heaven of her consciousness” (103). I think his last remark addresses the twelfth question that Professor Serrano raises on the handout, “Does he find immorality with Faustine?” According to his request, I would say that he has found immorality, but it may not have been what he truly desired. As is mentioned in the book, we do not know whether the people can feel or have emotions in the way they did when they were alive, because they are mere images. Thus, the narrator’s request proves that he understands that while he may be able to be with Faustine, the love may not be real or reciprocated, and only until he enters her consciousness will he have a chance at ever being authentically loved by Faustine.
Also a quick question: Who is the person on the front cover? At first I thought it must be Faustine, but after reading about what she looks like, I figured it isn’t her. After seeing another cover of an early version of this book, which was of the island (seems more fitting), I question why this cover was originated, and what it signifies.
Growing up, I’ve always felt that my life was really never my own. There were always interjections made by others on how and who I ought to be. It seemed as though I was placed in a world (without my consent if I may add), simply to appease others while desperately trying to assert myself. I think this is why I love our group project so much, in which we get to create our own virtual reality. No one gets to fully dictate their actual realities, but there is something liberating and exciting in knowing that we have the ability to create a world in the way that we envision it (based on the story we selected), with the freedom to be as creative as we please. I can’t wait to start!
My prompt will be in response to one of the discussions questions we received in class: Is the Wizard of Oz good or bad?
In order to answer this question, one can make a moral judgement justified by the deontological theory (rightness or wrongness can be determined once applying an objective moral principle). In this case, the Wizard can be seen as “bad” due to his deceitful nature and dishonesty (even though his intentions are good). However, categorizing the Wizard of Oz as merely good or bad does not do justice to his character, thus instead of claiming him to be good or bad I argue that he is necessary. Similar to Clarion in Calderón’s Life is a Dream, I believe The Wizard’s purpose is to provide clarity for the Scarecrow, Tin-man, Lion. This can be seen in chapter 15, as the Wizard explains to them that they already possess what they wish to receive, for instance, he says to Lion, “True courage is facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have plenty of” (191). He then must still carry out his promise, and therefore is still necessary in making sure that these characters obtain what they desire (which he does in a way that could be seen as deceitful, but oh well). In Dorothy’s case, he does not necessarily help her, even though his creation of the hot air ballon is for both of them to leave the Land of Oz, it is necessary for him to have left without her. If he hadn’t, she would never have traveled to the Country of the Quadlings and would not have realized that she possessed the power to free herself/ return home all along.
In this post I will be making a comparison between Alice and Dorothy’s perception of home. In both stories, the protagonists enter a new world within their dreams, and as readers we follow them on their individual quest. For Alice, her desire is to become queen, thus she fully immerses herself in the world of the Looking-Glass House and is not eager to return home in the way that Dorothy is. The Wizard of Oz is essentially a story about Dorothy quest’s to get back home. On page 44, the Scarecrow asks Dorothy to describe her country, in which she explains that it is gray and gloomy. The Scarecrow thus questions why she would want to leave the Land of Oz, so beautiful and vibrant, to return to a place that is gray. Her response, “There is no place like home” (44). Although Dorothy does appreciate the beauty of Oz, her desire is to return to her reality. However, Alice’s goal is to escape her reality and enter a new world. Two different characters, one similar situation, two different missions.
I am intrigued by the interactions that Alice has with the different characters she meets throughout the story (regarding they speak and act towards each other). When talking to the other characters she always seems to be very mindful of what she says, with Carroll even going as far as to tell the readers the exact tone in which she uses to address them. However, even in the midst of her efforts to say things in ways that are polite, as to not offend the other characters, they do not seem to reciprocate this affection. I personally do not like the way most of these characters talk to Alice, for I find it to be quite rude at times especially because they are aware that they are addressing a seven-year-old child. I do not necessarily have a question in regards to this, but I just find it very interesting to read the interactions between Alice and the other characters, who tend to speak to her as if she is feebleminded (and with little concern for her feelings). On the other hand, Alice is very focused on making sure she says and does the right things as to not offend anyone.