Purpose – Part Two

In my first post I discussed the how purpose plays various roles within the book/story of The Familiar, especially in regard to the Narcons and the world they have created. Now I want to focus on purpose from outside the book, and to do that I have taken a giant step back from it.

So, my question is: what is the purpose of this piece of work? The most immediate and obvious answer is that it remediates television the same way House of Leaves remediated film. However, I am still unsatisfied with that answer. To get a better answer, I feel I must ask another question: what is the purpose of this remediation?

I recently ran across a quote by Audre Lorde. She said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” The Familiar definitely does present the story (and itself) in a new way to most readers. However, there is nothing “new” about the story itself. I am not going to take the time to indentify all the mythemes in the book or compare the narratives to other works, but I do want to discuss how MZD made his story feel and the purpose behind his choices (I am also not going to rehash all the clever ways this book does make us feel or see things differently).

So, is the purpose of this work to make us see and feel the novel in a different light? If so, it seems to me that the newness, cleverness, and oddity of The Familiar will lose its charm well before the twenty-some-odd volumes are finished. Or, is the purpose of this work to add feeling to the narratives within the story? Very early in the story, I was drawn in by the visual aspect of the scene in which Xanther stresses about the idea of counting all the raindrops in the storm. However, more often I was taken OUT of the story when trying to make connections, interpret the visual aspects of the text, or having to look up things to make the text “make sense.” If the purpose is to add something to the story, I think MZD took everything a bit too far. I enjoy losing myself in a well written story, but in The Familiar I was often just plain lost, sidetracked, or frustrated. Perhaps I am just too lazy to fully enjoy ergodic literature.

(Shawn Atkinson)

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