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Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana VIII -- chapter 7: THE MEMORIOUS

  1. Just the first two paragraphs of this chapter already give the impression of the trope of one's life flashing before his eyes.  Obviously there are inherent problems to the application of this metaphor here; the Benjamin Button/Signor Pipino complex, on the other hand, may be more appropriate.  Thoughts?
  2. "Sibilla was now beginning to seem like a distant childhood memory, while everything I was gradually excavating from the fog of my past was becoming my present" (emphasis added).  Explain.
  3. In color, Eco's description of the attic resembles that of Joyce's general description of Dublin (a perhaps likely comparison, considering Eco's admiration for Joyce): brown, in all its variations.  However, this attic is nothing like Dublin.  What is the difference--defined in terms of color, or substance--between the two?
  4. I don't generally associate Eco with poetry, the way I do with other prose writers, like, and especially so, Borges (who wrote a lot of poetry); however, this sentence, "If a cellar prefigures the underworld, an attic promises a rather threadbare paradise, where the dead bodies appear in a pulverulent glow, a vegetal elixir that, in the absence of green, makes you feel you are in a parched tropical forest, an artificial canebreak where you are immersed in a tepid sauna," is gorgeous and poetic.  More, there's a potentially fascinating indication in it, ascribing a sort of natural metaphor (and recalling and defining vast amounts of literature in the process) to the house, or even to architecture in general.
  5. Further to the Dantean "Commedic" (#4) and Button/Pipino themes (#1), justify Eco's use of his brief "womb" analogy, and why, perhaps in Yambo's case, the genetic (is the adjectival form of genesis really genetic?) locus of garret is more appropriate than cellar.
  6. Some great "p" words here: pluvial, pulverulent (and here)
  7. What is the inherent problem with Yambo's belief that Clarabelle's treasure is "certainly there"; or, rather, what's the inherent issue to what we might call The Paradox of Clarabelle's Treasure?
  8. Further information of Clarabelle as a name: Clara (also clara/chiara, Italian, meaning "clear"); belle (also bella, Italian, meaning "beautiful" and related to bene, for good); and Claribel, and Clara.
  9. All three tins' illustrations (two of them: the cocoa "Due Vecchi" ("two old people"), the antacid, "Brioschi" (company name)) have a woman serving a man, and note the ages of the women, where given.  Appropriate?  And, of course, the image-within-an-image....
  10. This paragraph with the repeating images and infinite return/regression, is pretty bleak, hopeless.  If he is indeed at the bottom of the regression, holding the tin, then it should be finite, else there would be no bottom; but in fact, by the physics of reflection and Mobius strips and whatnot, it is infinite, in which case Yambo will never arrive at himself.
  11. "At the instant he knew, he ceased to know."  This recalls, of course, the flashing-before-the-eyes mentioned in #1.
  12. Yambo, the author, is the forebear of our protagonist's nickname, yet it's his our hero's hero, Ciuffettino, with whom our Yambo identifies himself.  (Did you get that?)
  13. If you haven't yet read "Funes, His Memory," By Borges, (here, "Funus, the Memorious," and not my preference for translation, ignorant though I am generally of Spanish), you should do so now.
  14. I'm not going to bother with speculations on the cresch's fountain. 


  1. 1. I'm really surprised that Eco hasn't referenced Benjamin Button, given how many times he continues to suggest basically the exact same thing as in the story.
    2. Well, if you consider him to have been "born again" (which was the gospel lesson in church this Sunday...), then Sibilla really is like one of those early childhood memories that he is eclipsing with all the new material he's learning. He's just rapidly condensing his childhood into a few weeks.
    3. I actually think that they might be more similar than I would have thought at first. Both of them have sort of a spirit of decay, aging, and neglect.
    5. I think that this hits on the sense of being born again, again.
    6. None of which I understood, of course. Count on an Italian to know English better than I do. How demoralizing.
    7. It might not be there? What do you think about it?
    10. You know, I'm glad that you brought this up because this image within an image concept has always fascinated me so much that I started thinking just about it instead of the analogy. I know that it's a weird thing to think about it, but I can't help it.

  2. 1. It's surprised me as well. I didn't think about it when I first read it.
    2. This is exactly what I was thinking. It's almost like he's maturing--running through the stages of development--super fast.
    3, 5. I see the decay, but Dublin has a sense of being so muddy and rotten and overcast. Here, what decay there is is dry, and it's bright an sunny, though neglected. He talks about the wetness of a cellar and how this one is dry. In Commedic terms, I can't help but somewhat associate this place with Paradiso, the main floor, from where no particular development springs, Purgatorio, and we haven't seen or been to the cellar here. Obviously, this isn't a fully realized or fully applicable analogy, but there you go.
    6. I knew pluvial, and I looked up the other one (whatever it was) before I took a second to think about its part, which sort of gave it away. But I wouldn't be too self-conscious since it's Eco.
    7. It seems to me that the treasure will never be where you look; it can only be, and forever, where you don't expect to find it.
    10. Well, Borges fixates on it, too.


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