Thoughts on the Comic on page 620-21

Upon reading this comic (concerning “wild thrills” in order to keep an old life feeling young, to put it bluntly), I was reminded of Danielewski’s goal of remediating television, but what of remediating the novel itself?
My first thought concerns the way in which we think of the novel as the “classic” media, the one that has been around for centuries and continues even today. It’s easy to think of it in the same terms as the character in the comic strip, who is seemingly scared of aging or feeling old and goes around seeking new thrills. In the same way, Danielewski seems to think that the novel must be kept alive by showing its potential in qualities that are “new” and “thrilling,” not the same conventional form of writing and printing that has been done over and over.
Concerning the small cube of human flesh, I think of the concept of “lyrical realism,” which has been the focal point of literature for quite some time now (think of The Princess de Cleves, the first psychological novel, up until today, where most best-selling novels seem concern with the “slice of life” motif over any other genre, and even if fantasy plays a part (Twilight, maybe?) it must still be strictly rooted in real-world conventions). Human flesh seems to be what the comic’s character thinks keeps him (or the novel) young: visceral humanity, above all else.
But in the end, what the man finds is a strand of white hair: the exotic thrills have failed to keep it young. Maybe the comic is Danielewski’s way of proclaiming the death of lyrical realism?

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2 responses to “Thoughts on the Comic on page 620-21”

  1. xoebien says :

    hell yeah. Human flesh as visceral humanity. I dig it. So does this mean something for the Narcons? Since they are not made of human life, but still have the desire (or are programmed to) tell a story, write a narrative…
    Maybe the death of lyrical realism is only so much in that humans die and not everything from the past can be kept alive…
    but the computers, although they don’t live and feel in the same way that humans do, they have a longer window of opportunity to record and document life.
    I’m really glad you posted about the comic. I hope more people add on.

  2. Orion O'Neill says :

    In our class, someone suggested that the comic is an allusion to elements of Shapespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” Shylock, the stock-type evil Jew that seeks to exact a pound of flesh from Antonio, is depicted as a character without mercy, humanity, or selfless desires. This comic provokes the viewer to call into question the separation, or lack thereof, between the self and the community (like Shylock as he plays out his role of a Jew in a Christian society). This separation exists in manifold forms. The first page of the comic shows a well-dressed individual that appears larger than the buildings that are apparently not far behind him (his eyes are shadowed by the brim of his hat; the building appears to have a set of eyes with a gaping mouth (and possibly a small [building] child to the right of the mouth). In effect, the comic as a whole seems to outline a man who does not indulge in the luxurious feasting that is seen on the first page of the comic, and who is also walking away from the proposition of eating the cube of human flesh (as seen in the boxed image on the top right hand corner on the second page of the comic). As a result, the male reflects upon himself and his own humanity/mortality, which causes him to despair in his recognition of being closer to death (evoked by his white hair), while others seem to live life with revelry. Since the comic is vague, I believe that it could also be showing something different than what I have explained above. The comic could also be showing that this individual has tried the piece of human flesh, and has been masquerading as an eternally youthful being; The individual inexplicably and inexorably meets with the inevitability of death, which situates the individual in the communal plight of mortality.

    In one of the first parenthetical statements above, I mention the house having facial characteristics. With a stretch of the eye and mind, these characteristics also appear to mimic the mask of the character next to the mirror on the next page. It is interesting to note that while the character is recognizing his death as a living creature, the objects that don’t necessary have life on their own (house,flesh, and masks) provide animacy to the inanimate. I’ll end this post with two quotes that seem to relate what I have discussed. I’d also like to ask a third question of my own.

    “<what happens to a metaphor when it ceases to become a metaphor but the thing itself <>?” (Pg. 720)

    ‘How thoroughly have we consider this house through its eyes?’ Pg. 729

    What is the relationship between the “Hunger” that Anwar uses to describe Paradise Open and the comic {Is there a sense of the predator/prey conflict in mortality itself that is evident in this comic and the novel as a whole?}?

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