Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Universally unique

First, I was pleasantly suprised at how much I ended up enjoying Carson's book. While there are a million different things to say about it, for the sake of not taking up too much blog space, I'll concentrate on a few for now. When I finished, one of the things that struck me most was how relatable, how universal, the story is despite its uniqueness. When it all comes down to it, the story began as a retelling of a myth from an unheard perspective, and it turns into a unique coming-of-age story about a character simply trying to find his place in the world, find his identity and hold onto it, become a "master" (so say the couple references to the gaucho pgs. 80 and 93) of his internal and external environment, both of which he is constantly questioning in a philosophical way. I think Geryon's curiousity about the world and his instinct to want to be able to control it is what makes him a relatable character (despite the fact that he is a red monster with wings =) ).
This is exaclty why I enjoy his hobby of photography. Photography is all about perspectives and angles (p. 65: "Photography is a way of playing with perceptual relationships"); it also has to do with control, which is why I think Geryon likes it. He can stop time (p. 93: "Much truer is the time that strays into photographs and stops.") in a way that conveys his individual interpretation of something, that is then preserved for someone else to look at and make their own individual interpretation- but the photograph began with what he saw. Note Steisichoros' comment in the interview: p. 147, "No I mean everything everyone saw everyone saw because I saw it...I was responsible for everyone's visibility." Part of Geryon's problem along the way is that he often sees the world from his "lens" only, and it takes the input of other characters to help him gain perspective and grow up, learning to appreciate life more and look at it from different ways.
Carson reflects the same kind of idea in her language. In particular, she describes the environment a lot in impossible terms but terms that convey clear moods and feelings and also offer a new perspective. (While I, too, marked a lot of the same favorite lines as you guys, this one here shows what I'm trying to say) On page 70, “Outside the natural world was enjoying a moment of total strength. Wind rushed over the ground like a sea and battered up into the corner of buildings, garbage cans went dashing down the alley after their souls.” It’s not just raining and windy out; garbage cans don’t just blow around- it’s a moment of empowerment and garbage cans have souls. It’s very abstract but at the same time offers a clear meaning (if that makes any sense- it's kind of paradoxical I guess). Other lines I liked that do the same type of thing: p. 44 “a sound of fishhooks scraping the bottom of the world”; p. 60 “Like the terrestrial crust of the earth which is proportionately ten times thinner than an eggshell, the skin of the soul is a miracle of mutual pleasures.”; p. 64 "it was like a handful of autumn.”; p. 84 “Four of the roses were on fire. They stood up straight and pure on the stalk, gripping the dark like prophets and howling colossal intimacies from the back of their fused throats.”; p. 108 “The sound was hot as a color inside”; p. 133 “The sky rushed open before them- bowl of gold where the last moments of sunset were exploding." Much like Geryon's photographs, Carson's descriptions, use of adjectives and similes, convey a thousand words and offer several different interpretations. This sort of multiplicity made the novel even more enjoyable I think.
Sorry, this is way longer than I planned, but the last thing I'll say is I really loved the intellectual/philisophical aspects of the book- the parts that deal with questions of time, space, and distance; questions such as "How does distance look?"; "What is time made of?"; or the conversations/thoughts about: the erotics of doubt and skepticism; "does a man with a harpoon go hungry?"; the limits of form and the importance of how you use it; reality is a sound you have to tune into; etc... I particularly liked this part when Geryon was on the plane to Buenos Aires: p. 80 “Outside a bitten moon rode fast over a tableland of snow. Staring at the vast black and silver nonworld moving and not moving incomprehensibly past the dangling fragment of humans he felt its indifference roar over his brain box.” “A man moves through time. It means nothing except that, like a harpoon, once thrown he will arrive.”

1 comment:

Sara G said...

Maggie, I really like how you touched upon the image and idea of a singular len, the specific sight lines that Geryon was usually early on in the novel. A simple line on page 24, "the eyes terrible holes" reiterate that these same eyes opening you up to different views and angles like in your hobby of photography can be a menacing tool as well. As they are for Geryon his own cage. That is why in 'Rhinestones' he chooses a cage as his favorite weapon. To be completely shut out from full knowledge of the life around you is unjust to the maturation of any human being. How horrible is that.
This is also is why the input of the other characters, the voice and life seen through their eyes are very important to Geryon. Maybe that is why facts a bigger in the dark, it is a place where they can be whole. In the shadow of darkness they can fulfill their total being, whereas in the light and through the specific lens of one eye, they only pick out their own truth and not the totality of a truthful fact. Ah, kind of rambling; but some really great thoughts and quotations.