Thursday, November 29, 2012

From mad and insane to smartly deceptive: the amusing game of reading the “Experimental”

When we set out to answer the initial questions the first day of class, I was sure what to anticipate. Questions like can be mad? Or what does it mean for a novel to be insane or obtain insane/mad qualities. "Mad" and "insane" conveyed a sense of urgency and chaos--I was afraid that I would be frantically trying to force a meaning that could somehow satisfy or answer the ambiguity of these questions and, through this process,  become distracted from the larger claims, ideas, and overall feeling of the text. So, I focused on the feeling of the text and discovered—at least for myself—it isn’t necessarily that the text itself is mad, rather the deceptive structure and repetition of perplexing reading processes that makes us mad, though I’d liked to propose deceptive or fun comparable to this maddening reading experience. Although I did feel rather anxious while reading Crash, I felt the entirely opposite feeling in novels like Never Let Me Go, Molloy. In these novels, while of course trying to make meaning, I almost always found myself transforming my readerly experience into that of a game; hunting for clues and trying to solve, understand my position or relationship to the text before the end; unfortunately, the structure of Molloy and Never Let Me Go directly attacked this desire order, structures, and linear narrative progression/drive. In this way, narrative structure/narrative dive--the way the author or narrator thwarted our perhaps more conventional expectations for a beginning, middle, and an end. I became intrigued how a novel could make us so keen/aware of our positions as readers while also take advantage of our desire for the novel's end as a motivating force behind the mockery. In other words, I grew fascinated by the simultaneous distance and closeness I felt to various characters. For example, I could lose myself forever in the re-reading of Never Let Me Go in hopes I could somehow, this time understand/construct a completely vision or picture of the novel's "atmosphere". It is this very notion of repetition--my impulsive confidence in thinking I am so close to unlocking, uncovering, or discovering some hidden truth and meaning in one of these text that I would characterize as manic. This repetitive mode of mania defamiliarizes the familiar and traps us in a cycle of consistently altering perspectives. I think we see the importance of patterns of perspective in Molloy; I enjoyed the task of having to construct a perception of a seemingly “mad” Molloy first and then close with Moran's seemingly more navigable method of narration. Although frustrating at times, Molloy's backward structure revealed my tendency to constantly make associations in an attempt to make meaning. These revelations are now forcing me to questions the authenticity of my interpretations; is there an original or organic way I read? Or are all my ways of reading --meaning my expectations, rituals, or categorizing-- original or organic? Or am I a product of various narrators, plots, or familiar scenes with characters from other literary world?  Similarly, in Never Let Me Go, I experienced a sense of almost relief when I realized I was responsible for constructing a perception or vision of the book out already deconstructed plot outcome. I guess for me, "experimental" --the mad or insane emotions of a novel--exist within the novel but require our participation to develop, transform, or release. I’ve never before been made so aware of how I read while simultaneously be so involved and lost in a text; it’s like I inhabited both spaces at once—a literal internal existence within the pages of the novel while always checking back-- or perhaps an entire  new space was created resulting from the themes of these clever texts. Instead of making meaning from chaos, I found the most meaningful experiences reading to be chaotic; although the endings of Molloy and Never Let Me Go signaled the end of the novel, I found myself immediately flipping to the beginning to re-read and moments later put the book down in fear I may know more than I initially thought. Back and forth, close and further away—the ebb and flow, pace, and pattern of these texts. A heartbeat of maddening, chaotic, insanity! 

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