TV Programs, Computer Programs, and Book Programs?
Danielewski incorporates many instances of technology and programming into The Familiar. Programming seems to be an reoccurring theme in this novel. The novel mimics television programs, alludes to computer programs, and serves as a program in itself.
What exactly is a program, and what does it do? In my opinion, to program a system is to input information that is executable. Computers have code inputted into their systems that allows them to perform tasks. In the chapter titled, “Square One”, we see instances of computer code inserted into pages. Page 89 shows Anwar’s thoughts appearing as computer code and comments.
The novel mirrors television programs, as well, in many ways. Danielewski incorporates visual aspects that engage the reader, and the introduction to the book was formatted similar to a television show intro. It features various advertisements and movie-like images in the pages prior to the story.
Danielewski places a large emphasis on programs in this book. This made me consider ways in which The Familiar serves as a program in itself. When reading books, we are programmed to read from the front cover to the back cover, from left to right on each page, turning the pages to the left as we go. Immediately, when we start reading The Familiar, we are forced to break this habit. We have to physically interact with the book by turning the book sideways to view the landscape-formatted images. The book deprograms its readers from what we have done all of our lives, and overtime we get used to this strange style. We come to expect the unknown and are not surprised when the author inserts a strangely formatted page of raindrops or an orb outline moving across the page. This acclimation is the process of re-programming us.
We, as readers, are challenged to step out of our familiar ways when reading this novel. Why, then, is the book titled The Familiar? In what other ways does this book serve as a program? Who is being programmed?