“The Three Dots”

The three dots, which appear in the book when characters hear a cry for help, seem to resemble the three dots that appear in an iMessage conversation when the other party is “typing”. Perhaps Danielewski includes these “dots” because when they normally appear, in a text conversation, they represent that someone is communicating (typing), but you are unsure of what they’re saying, just as in the book when we hear a cry but are unsure of what it is or what it means.

if they were these “iMessage dots”, what would this entail? So far, Danielewski has peppered The Familiar with distinct and extremely fresh pop culture nods, but also some references that require a little analysis- like on page 260 when Taymour says “Only if it’s graphic enough to make 50 Shades look like Bella’s wedding night”. Lines like these are less “nods” and more like  “only if you watched it” inside jokes. Another example is page 342 when Talbot mentions Twin Peaks and renames the “Laura Palmer” drink “Bob” (Bob was the name of the demon that kills Laura Palmer on the TV show).

These references, these snippets of the familiar in The Familiar, force us to analyze the text using our own worldview and call attention to the differences between the world of the book and our world- Xanther’s friends use standard text abbreviations on page 197, but the name of the app is spelled out in wingding-like characters, forcing the reader to view them almost as another language which calls attention to the fact that text-speak is essentially a different language.

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One response to ““The Three Dots””

  1. rfsnyde says :

    There are many odd nuances that make this novel different, none more mysterious than the appearance and disappearance of the three dots throughout the story. Most of the characters encounter the dots at some point or another while Xanther encounters multiple. I agree with Griffins description of these dots as something you would see when a friend responds to a text, the buffering or typing screen seems logical. Although to go along with this buffering I believe that the high pitched sound that people would play on their phones to disturb class seems like it would come on as the character takes their thoughts, conversations, actions in a totally different direction as the narcons compute and code these events. Xanther’s enhanced association with the dots leads me to think that she not only encounters these buffers of her own but possibly she is being overloaded with many other characters flip in direction. These dots correlate with her constant yearning to save the cat and her ability to read into the actions and emotions of other characters, this is Danielewski way of reaching the modern audience through our knowledge and experience with buffering screens and computer coding delays. These discrepancies in communication add to the lack of effective translation due to the time lapses that the dots create.

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