Thoughts on the Narcons
I’m aware that the Narcons have possibly been discussed to death here, and for good reason too, they’re really fascinating as a far as the entirety of The Familiar goes. They seem to exist outside of the story itself but still nestled into the material, if only in a very literal way by means of physically residing within the book. Long after I read the TF-Narcon 9 section, it still resonates with me for reasons I can’t really explain. Perhaps I find enjoyment in Meta commentary.
The biggest questions I have about the Narcons is whether they just exist outside the narrative or do they reside outside of the novel altogether, because these are two different things even if they are related. By existing outside of the narrative, they still reside within the novel itself, there to comment and translate and shed light on certain parts of the narrative but never changing the story itself. Though I guess that can be argued that they do this simply by inserting themselves in the middle of the emotional climax of the story. Or do they exist outside of the novel altogether and have the knowledge that they exist in a book. They are programs and seem to be aware that they are programs but how far does their self-awareness extend?
Another thing that caught my attention about the Narcons is that they have their own myth system. They have an idea of ‘older’ Narcons as well as a pre existing rumor that they can communicate with each other even though that shouldn’t be possible, “(Though rumor has it we can sometimes hear each other.) (I can’t.)” (571). A sort of preprogrammed superstition that doesn’t seem like it should exist because how can there be a rumor that involves only one entity? It seems to suggest a sort of culture that the Narcons live within (or perhaps only Narcon 9 does, since the other two Narcons lack the large narrative inclusion that Narcon 9 does). This leads me to believe they exist in a narrative of their own, just one that runs parallel to The Familiar. I’m not sure about this, however, so any additional thoughts on the matter of Narcons having their own myths and legends would be appreciated.
My last thought has something to do with Xanther’s kitten, and one of the first questions I wanted to ask is: is the cat a Narcon? In a very literal sense, it obviously is a narrative construction that Danielewski has come up with, so in that sense it absolutely is a Narcon. But I’m talking more about Narcons as Danielewski has defined them, as meta-like beings the reside over The Familiar. What leads me to believe that the kitten might be some sort of Narcon is that at some point in the novel TF-Narcon 9 mentions that,
“Narcons may even appear as animals. Say a killer whale, boar, hyena, even a markhor, or an owl. This is often the case when personality factors determined to be significant are compressed in order to preserve future rendering of character.” (576)
The cat also nearly sucks the life out of Xanther (though whether this can be taken literally is up for debate) and seems much more powerful in that sense than something that small has any right to be. Xanther is also the only character in the novel that both heard and responded to its call when it was so far away (not to mention a call that echoes through the entire story) and we already know that she is close to actually hearing the Narcons themselves, “Um, like there are these voices that know everything *so close* Like voices that don’t really live and can’t die and have been around forever…” (193). So my thinking is that the cat is definitely a Narcon, I’d like to hear the rest of your thoughts on the matter.
So those are my questions: Do the Narcons exist inside or outside of the material itself? What do we make of the Narcons having their own myth system? And is the cat possibly a Narcon? I apologize if this came out as a rambling mess, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on the matter. It’s really interesting, though, and I’d like to see what you guys think.