The Thing Itself

Anwar’s chapters are particularly enlightening throughout. More than Xanther, he is my guide for navigating the terrain of this novel. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that he perceives the world in a way that is most relative to me. The way he processes the world around him, and then at the end of the book they way that he internalizes this process to sort through his own thoughts, made me more confident than ever that he was the best tour guide through what I think of as Xanther’s world.

One of his thoughts, I believe, sums up the main question of the text, “What happens to a metaphor when it ceases to become a metaphor, but the thing itself…” (720)?

This leads me to a lot of other questions:

What does it mean for Anwar to make these connections? What does it mean that he witnessed the resurrection of the kitten? What does it mean that he is the only one awake for the kitten’s escape from its reinforced box into Xanther’s bed? What does this mean for the narcons? What does this mean for the Orb?

In the other narratives, we see that certain characters have an affinity for certain animals: Astair and Luther love dogs, Tian Li, Isandorno, and Xanther have a fondness for cats, we hear at some point that Xanther’s old psychologist had an affinity for horses…and so on. We can think of the animals associated with these characters as familiars of a sort, but that brings me to my next question.

What animal is linked with Anwar? It’s probably in the text somewhere, but I must have missed it.


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2 responses to “The Thing Itself”

  1. mwilson83 says :

    Hi Melinda! I really liked your post “The Thing Itself.” It’s always interesting to see someone else’s views. I found myself asking questions similar to the ones you asked in this post. I had an added thought, however, to your last question about which animal might be linked to Anwar. I went back through to see if I could figure it out myself, but I did not find anything to help answer that question. Then, I thought, well maybe he does not have a specific animal like all the rest. It would be a little strange for him not to have one, but maybe that is the point? I could be thinking completely off-track here, and I may have over-analyzed or maybe not analyzed enough. What are your thoughts? Do you think maybe he actually is not linked to a specific animal, and that that fact alone is symbolic of his character or something else in the text? I think this would be a great discussion to have.

    • melindaborchers says :

      Hi M! Thanks for the response. I think his lack of familiar may be linked to the connection that he has to the others who have been viewing the Orb. It seems that in viewing the orb or gaining too much knowledge Anwar and Bobby and Cas are kept from actually establishing a connection with animals. Instead their familiars may be electronic? What do you think?

      If we’re talking about the symbolic implications for his character, it is possible that he has to create connections instead of letting them happen–he doesn’t feel an affinity with any particular animal because his primary focus is the care and maintenance of a digital world?

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