¡Breakthrough in TF-Narcon²⁷!
One of the many puzzles our class at UCSB has been trying to solve is exactly WHO’s behind the countless redactions in the text (see the top of pages 629-634 for examples). This came up once we reached the Narcons chapter and discovered to our dismay that there were redactions made TO a Narcon’s speech, making us suspicious of who was behind these redactions all along. After all, redactions TO a Narcon directly contradict Parameter 1: ‘MetaNarcons Do Not Exist.’ Who, then, or what, could possibly be behind them?
I’m pleased to say I’ve found the answer: it’s TF-Narcon²⁷. Allow me to explain.
TF-Narcon⁹ introduces itself on what would be page 565, and the reader learns all about the ‘Narrative Construct’ and its parameters. Throughout this section another voice interrupts and provides information that TF-Narcon⁹ “can no more see or hear than feel” (566), and we know from the fonts key at the back of the book that the bolded, more dominating font in question belongs to none other than TF-Narcon²⁷. Logically, if the ‘9’ in TF-Narcon⁹ refers to the number of characters in Vol. 1, then the ’27’ in TF-Narcon²⁷ refers to the entire series as a whole, since 27 installments are to be written. TF-Narcon²⁷, then, represents the kind of superset of all other Narcons. That is to say, if TF-Narcon⁹ is meant to oversee Vol. 1 of The Familiar, then TF-Narcon²⁷ is meant to oversee the entire series…
The reason I am convinced that TF-Narcon²⁷ is behind the redactions is relatively straightforward: every time TF-Narcon²⁷ ‘interrupts’ TF-Narcon⁹, the latter is overwhelmed with an inexplicable feeling of “breathlessness,” the very same feeling it gets immediately after the large redaction on what would be page 570.
I’ll break it down better.
On page 565, TF-Narcon²⁷ first interjects this section and right after this paragraph TF-Narcon⁹ suddenly becomes “dizzy” and “off, in a breathless sort of frantic way.” This occurs again, shortly before the end of the section, when TF-Narcon²⁷ interjects a paragraph on the denouement of Xanther’s old therapist Mrs. Goolsend, and again TF-Narcon⁹ states it feels “uneasy.” A couple paragraphs down and “the nausea still isn’t gone,” nor is that same “breathlessness,” suggesting a direct link between this Narcons’ feeling of unease and the interjections of TF-Narcon²⁷. The reason all this is significant is because TF-Narcon⁹ feels the SAME “breathless, frantic thing” on page 571, right after an entire block of text has been censored. Conclusion? The redactions are the doing of TF-Narcon²⁷, the MetaNarcon.
This does, indeed, go directly against Parameter 1, which states clearly that “MetaNarcons Do Not Exist,” but read what TF-Narcon⁹ admits just before stating this parameter: “Everyone has a Narcon. Except me. Or maybe I do, but if so, it is considered an indeterminate form which my programming forbids me even to pursue as a thought experiment.” This is a big clue. We know from before that Narcons are “nothing but numbers. Zeros and ones” (565), essentially a coded program. It is my theory that these parameters simply refer to the programming code of TF-Narcon⁹ and that these paramenters exist to prevent “highly volatile MetaMeta- constructs” (573), and may actually be false. For instance, “neither TF-Narcon⁹ X nor TF-Narcon⁹ knows what happened to Xanther’s former therapist” (575), yet the omniscient TF-Narcon²⁷ proves it knows every detail of her existence, from the therapist’s dying thoughts to the man she would come to marry (576). TF-Narcon²⁷ is, thus, the MetaNarcon of TF-Narcon⁹ and is responsible for every redaction in the novel, from the crossed out names in the “prologue,” for lack of a better word, to the details above the Orb clips from pages 629-34. My theory is that TF-Narcon²⁷, representing the entire series, is blotching out major “spoilers” that the reader needs not know until a later volume. These redactions also give storylines an air of mystery that contributes to the seriality of the The Familiar.
There are a ton of instances where redactions occur in the novel, and there are even more instances of TF-Narcon²⁷ interjecting omniscient details that TF-Narcon⁹ does not have access to, very much like TF-Narcon⁹ adds miscellaneous information within the storylines of Xanther, Astair, and Anwar that they do not have access to. Analyzing these instances and their contexts will no doubt lead to more enlightening findings, metafictional or otherwise. Hope this all made sense!