In Ancient Greece, the Greek God Apollo was the God of the Sun, healing, music and prophecy. In “The Familiar” Mark Z. Danielewski uses font in a purposeful way to display hidden character traits and character meanings. One character he does this with is Cas. Cas’s font is Apolline, a french name originating from the Greek masculine name Apollo, meaning the sun or God of the sun.
The fact that Cas’s font is referencing Apollo and the sun are siginificant for two reasons. One, the sun is a spherical, orb-like, planetary object that is the center of the our galaxy. It gives life and light to all living beings in our galaxy. Cas’s narrative references an orb that she can see into and gain information from. She and Bobby also get into many situations where there are fires involved because of the technology being used. This fire destroys rather than gives life, like the sun does. The sun could be a reference to both the spherical shape of the orb and the heat and light that these fires cause. Second, Cas is receiving information from the orb and therefore could have special, mythical medium powers. The God Apollo was the God of prophecy because he would gift certain human women with the gift of sight and they would become his oracles. In a sense, Cas has become one of Apollo’s oracles.
In Cas’s chapters there is also reference to other ancient Greek characters like Circe and Artemis, who happens to be Apollo’s sister. I wonder how Cas is connected to Circe, Artemis, Treebeard, Merlin and the other characters. Are they involved in this project as well? Cas’s name is also “The Wizard.” Why do you think it is significant that she be called “The Wizard” instead of something like “Apollo” or “The Oracle”?
In the narrative, characters keep hearing a faint voice described as a baby’s cry or a kitten meowing. This cry has been experienced by all of the characters, but I will elaborate on three of them: Luther, Anwar and Shnorhk. Luther heard a kitten crying, Anwar heard a babies cry, Shnorhk thought it might be a baby bird. It is my belief that this voice, whoever or whatever it is, is reaching out to them, trying to connect or warn them in some way.
I believe that this voice is Cas talking through her orb. She is calling out for help and the voice is being transmitted through the air to those who are receptive to it. Do you think Cas is the voice of these cries? Could it be the narcons, who have been briefly mentioned? If not, who do you think it is?
On another thought, Cas may also have tried to contact the others through the use of media, like spamming the Ibrahaim’s phones and causing a bug in Anwar’s video game. There is also the strange black-ribboned-black-box app that Xanther has on her phone that is a forum where she can share or “parcel” thoughts and pictures with just friends or the whole world. This may be another way Cas tries (has tried?) to connect with Xanther. Are there any other ways Cas may try to contact other characters?
As I have finished the book, it has come to my attention that I now believe that these “voices” are the characters familiars trying to connect with them. The only one who truly heard the voice and responded to it was Xanther, and we now all know that her familiar is in the form of a strange (demonic, evil, and soul-sucking) cat. What form do you think the familiars will take for the other characters? We have heard mention of an owl already. Whose familiar is that?
In the text, we frequently see comments in the font designated for “The Narcons” (for more information on who uses which font, you can find this information in the back of your book approximately pg. 843). These comments are bracketed by the braille letters “N” and “Z”. It is my hypothesis that “The Narcons” are Mark Z. Danielewski playing the part of creator or God. These Narcons (TF-Narcon3, 9 & 27) are giving us clues in the text, translations, and then states that they aren’t our “Google bitch[es],” as the Mandarin and Cantonese characters start showing up frequently in the character jingjing’s chapters, I believe that these inserted comments are the author’s way of communicating signals and clues to his readers without leaving footnotes. As some mentioned in an earlier class this week, the braille letter may in fact be Danielewski’s way of signing his name.
The most important clue that “The Narcons” has left us (or me) so far is found on Page 110, where “The Narcons” point out that the spelling of “catstrophe” may not just be coincidental or the fault of mistranslation or an accent. He points this out with the use of an “!” which leads me to believe that cats will be significant later on in the story (this and the fact that others have many posts about cats).
What do you think? Could “The Narcons” be Mark Z. Danielewski? Or do you think that Mark Z. Danielewski is playing the role of creator by implementing the narcons into the story to create and manipulate the narrative for him? Would Danielewski engage with his audience in such a personal way as to write himself as one of the characters? Or are “The Narcons” something else entirely? If so, who do you think it is?