* NOTICE: Mr. Center's Wall is on indefinite hiatus. Got something to say about it? Click HERE and type.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana VI -- chapter 5: OF GOOD FOOD, GHOSTS, and ... STUFF

a vineyard in the Monferrato hill country, Italy
  1. I think we all knew the Mickey Mouse cartoon about Clarabelle and her treasure would come back.  I suppose the number of sources for metaphors on memory and collecting are endless; so why something like Mickey Mouse et alia?  (And how perfectly the comments from Chapter 4 predict this first point as well as the title of the new section!)
  2. "...I could not help tasting one [fig] and venturing to say that that tree always had been bountiful...."  Is Yambo trying out his ability to generate memory, and to what end?
  3. What of the "memory of humanity," and the peaches, the poop, and the grapes?  When I first read this, it took me by surprise, especially when there was a bathroom just inside.  But consider the contrast from Milan to Solara in the first place.  The descent into the vineyard is perhaps but the final steps of this journey to the bottom of the well, back of the cave, to the very beginning and all its metaphoric baggage.  (Aside from all this, I think these few paragraphs are hilarious.)
  4. Borromini
  5. I wonder about Eco's use of "spirit" here: "In order to rediscover lost time, one should have not diarrhea but asthma. Asthma is pneumatic, it is the breath (however labored) of the spirit: it is for the rich, who can afford cork-lined rooms. The poor, in the fields, attend less to spiritual than to bodily functions. [¶]  "And yet I felt not disinherited but content, and I mean truly content, in a way I had not felt since my reawakening."  Is he admitting a level of spirituality or is it separate and/or euphemistic?
  6. The general American population doesn't understand, or fully comprehend, the level at which other cultures (generally not first world, or which were relatively recently and widely impoverished) hold/value their food.  Like a language, it really has to be lived, rather than just studied.  With few exceptions (generally holidays, though school-day lunch periods may also qualify, though not for reason food quality), we eat simply because we need to, and without ceremony.  Our culture is not built around our meals; we come by them too easily.  Also, and at its simplest, it's also directly connected to that very personal issue of defecation from earlier.
  7. A little Carrollian riddle: How is a Yambo like a house cat?
  8. Owls = ghosts, pretty much always by the way, or phantoms more generally and symbolically speaking.
  9. If Paola is acting mother in the tale, this journey away from her and home, more than just a quest, is also a test: can Yambo control his eating, among other things, without mommy breathing down his neck, making this story a sort of coming-of-age (yes, I'm intentionally avoiding the more "correct" literary snob term).  Thoughts (about the question or the contents of the parentheses)?


  1. 1. I think it shows two things. One is that Mickey Mouse would be from when he was a little kid, so it could trigger an early memory. Second, it's not something high culturish that you would read about, so it means that it must be a memory. Granted, that still leaves a lot of possibilities, so if you have anything else, I'd love to hear it.
    2. I think that the end is just that he wants his memory back, right? Also, this probably isn't an allusion, but it reminds me of the fig tree that Jesus curses precisely because it WASN'T bountiful. Again, I think that I always have to be careful reading religious interpretation into books, though.
    3. I was like, "...". But I think that you have captured the parallel well.
    5. Doesn't spirit have etymological roots meaning breath? Is that what he could be going for? I know that "inspired" is "breathed."
    6. I think that this is probably true. Perhaps it's because we don't have a horribly original culinary culture of our own--outside of maybe something like Thanksgiving or **sigh** McDonald's.
    7. The riddle has no answer? :)
    8. Ahh that's true. Didn't make that connection--probably because I read it at like 1am last night.
    9. Would the more "correct" literary snob term be Bildungsroman? :) I favor using the word because it's German. And I think that you're right.

  2. 1. WHEN I WAS IN ITALY (sorry), I was surprised at the proliferation and popularity of Mickey Mouse comic books. They were everywhere. I'd NEVER seen one before in the States, and in Italy they turned into a high percentage of my bathroom reading. So I think it was a convenient source of metaphor, but most importantly, I think it's exactly your first point.
    2. But in this case he seems to be aware of the fabrication. I understand involuntarily "creating" memory, but he seems to be trying it out. I think he might be trying to tempt the mysterious flame--tease it out of the ether, as it were. Because maybe it was a real memory. You never know, right?
    3. Haha!
    5. Borges' "Circular Ruins" (which I included in the list I gave you and Newton) does a better job with this than any example I've ever seen. Melts the poetry-lover in me. Here, though, I don't know if he's aiming for the double, because of the "breath of the spirit." I don't know why, or how, he'd intend the breath of the breath, to be perfectly obtuse and prosaic. Well, as I write: maybe the "breath of inspiration" ??
    6. Our saving grace here is the food traditions of families. In our house, I make pizza every Friday, and I hope to carry it as long as I can, praying that someday our kids will long for to Friday-night pizza when they're off at college. Italy and France and so many other places have that every day for recipes and ingredients and home gardens and people.... It's just so much DEEPER than here. Like we just don't have the depth of history here yet.... The one part of the country where this is definitely NOT the case is the South, where the slaves (very similar to the genesis of Italian food) created the deep traditions.
    7. Ah, the cat! The cat who doesn't fear God, and Yambo (or Eco, anyway) who's an atheist; the cat who is without name, and Yambo who's forgotten his own.
    9. I knew we'd get here, so I didn't bother getting into in the post. :) I'm all about carry-over words, but what's wrong with Coming-of-Age? I actually don't mind bildungsroman all that much, and I'm all for doppelganger (mostly because there's no real English translation) or even ingenue. There's one, though, whose presumptuousness just takes the cake, especially since its primary purpose seems to elevate a level of falsification/plagiarism (that's a little strong, though it gives the idea): roman a clef. Ugh!

  3. 5. Your hang-up is the same that mine was here.
    6. My mom also makes pizza every Friday night.
    9. I think that we get a lot of these from German just because German slams words together instead of using hyphens, making it look more official, in this case, Bildung (development) and Roman (novel). You have to admit that it sounds better, but OTOH, is it worth coming off as extra pretentious/unintelligible to less educated people? Close call.

  4. 9. How do you say portmanteau in German? Really, it's just suitcase, in French, but "literarians" use it to refer to Humpty-Dumpty words; but why should the French get the word for the practice at which German is clearly superior?

    And I think English should get rid of the hyphen. I'm all for the em and en dashes, but let's just jam 'em together! Then we'd have reason to invent little intermediary letter/syllable applications to improve sonority. Could be sweet.

  5. It could. And I don't know what the word is actually.


Be sure to subscribe to the thread to receive discussion updates.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...