Shattered Glass

There is an interesting visual throughout the pages of this book. On the very inside of the pages, extremely close to the spine, we can see a graphic that looks something like shattered glass. It is almost impossible to see.  The shards appear to cascade down the page, as if they have just been broken.  The size of this graphic varies on every page, but it makes an appearance on  most, if not all, of the pages I have examined in some way. I’m not really sure what to make of this, or if there is anything to be made of it, but I’ve been thinking a great deal about Danielewski’s act of remediation of certain media in this novel, so I’d like to think that there could be. When we pick up this book, or any book for that matter, before we begin reading it, it is quite literally closed to us. When they are published, novels’ covers act as a “screen” of sorts, presenting readers, or “viewers,” with a visual that grabs our attention and entertains us through its colorful design. Still this “screen” of a cover separates us from the content inside. It is a concrete entity that begs us to engage with it, to delve into the world it teases us with. If we could not open the book and turn its pages, delving deeper into the world as we progress, that world would be forever lost to us.  But with novels, it is not. Once we open the book, we break through the “screen” of the cover and enter that world. We shatter the glass which separates that world and the one in which we sit reading the novel. Thinking about The Familiar as a remediation of virtual media or television shows, it is almost as if we are transcending the physical paper of the pages and entering the virtual world, or a world that previously been closed to us due to these physical constraints. It is an unknown yet exciting world. There is an old adage that books transport us to new lands, new realities, so why not the virtual one?  In this vein, flipping the pages becomes akin to the act of surfing through the web or scrolling through television channels. This graphic is also another example of the immersive nature of this novel. When we open the novel and enter the world of The Familiar, we become a part of these characters’ lives, even if they are not aware of our presence. We step through the “screen” of the cover and the rain of glass and become a part of something greater with the turn of every page. The presence of this “shattered glass” graphic design on each page is a constant reminder of these ideas. This “shattering of the glass” graphic also demonstrates how it is impossible to passively read this book.  If The Familiar does indeed remediate other forms of media like television and online communication/computing (and I believe that it most certainly does) then this “shattering of the screen that separates us from the media that we use every day” visual could serve as a call to end this passive form of engagement with media technology in which many people take part in this day and age. It also calls back to the title. It makes us question what is “familiar” to us, those ordinary things in our daily lives that we may not ordinarily remark upon, but perhaps, that we should.

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5 responses to “Shattered Glass”

  1. Lauren Craig says :

    This is a really cool idea!

  2. lcthomas says :

    This is a cool idea. The “shattered glass” graphics also remind me of static, like the edges are slightly out of focus for some reason or not “coming across” as clearly. They also remind me of origami, which connects to Shnorhk’s chapters.

  3. ajelias says :

    fold/gutter graphics: Each of the stories seems to have its own “line length” of this graphic imagery that is held consistent to each story–the way each story line is told in a different font. hmm.

  4. rraley says :

    Indeed, a great idea. When we started the discussion here I asked my students not to focus on the ‘crumbs in the margin’ because I wanted to avoid the forest/trees problems but now that we’ve made it through the preview for volume 2, my student Sosi rightly noted that now is the time to look again at the margins. We explored various ideas, among them the idea that they were roughly figurative, even animalistic. A grad student here (Tyler) ran them through reverse OCR to see what could be read (answer: not much). I tend to think we have to wait for the full color edition before we can produce a definitive reading but I do like the direction the “shattered glass” post takes us.

  5. icarlyrose says :

    I noticed the shattered glass look too. At first, I thought that the design could have been related to the way the book was printed because it has not been published yet. I noticed that there wasn’t any of the pattern in the Narcon section. The graphic does look like shattered glass, but I also think that it looks like connection fibers and static. I definitely think that the graphic is representing some form of communication. I love how you related the title. I think you bring up a really great point.

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