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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana XVI -- chapter 15: IN THE WAKE OF GOD ISSUING FROM THE MACHINE

  1. "Maybe I am not dead. If I were, I would feel no worldly passions, no love for my parents or anxiety about the bombings. To die is to remove oneself from the cycle of life and from the beating of one’s heart."  Was he dead and now lives?  Maybe (and this is just me being optimistic, because we still have to gain some additional connection to or by the First Folio) his resurgence--even resurrection--is truly a gift from God, who has emerged from the strange machinations of Yambo's (and Eco's, I think) dirge.
  2. By the context of the book, the machine of it, a great shock was required to bring Yambo back from ... whatever you want to call it.  What else, and anything less Deus ex Machina-like than the Folio, could have done it?
  3. Am I projecting my own beliefs onto the text, or do Yambo's ruminations (consider the evidence of the soul versus that of the encephalogram) have the true whiff of one wrestling with himself over a religious belief and/or awakening?  It was said, after all, in the last chapter that the boy Yambo was religious.
  4. I may not be able to adequately articulate this:  Yambo, before the stroke, was selfish and even dismissive of (1) his past and (2) his loved ones.  Except for the subconscious (maybe that's too kind a word for it) ambition to find his Lila, he was entirely and selfishly only about his immediate "now."  "...may I be granted the gift of fierce selfishness. I live with myself and for myself, and I can remember that which, after my first incident, I had forgotten."  Has the amnesia just been a literal manifestation of what he'd been doing by his negligence as an adult all along, anyway?  Only now after the discovery of the Folio and now powerless within this new fog, everything internal, does he long for his wife and daughters, for a firm grip of and power over the memory and application of his past?
  5. (Angelo Bear and his life and death bear a shocking similarity to Toy Story 3.  Just saying.)
  6. "It is clear now, in the coma’s silence, that I understand better all that has happened to me. Is this the illumination others achieve when they come to the brink, at which point, like Martin Eden, they understand everything, but as they know, they cease to know? I, who am not yet on the brink, have an advantage over those who die. I understand, I know, and I even remember (now) that I know. Does that make me one of the lucky?"


  1. 1. I think that the death to living connection is right. Is it God? I don't know. Maybe he'd like it to be, but maybe it's just Shakespeare/literature.
    2. Discovering his grandfather's skeleton sitting in his office chair? I don't know. It's hard to say. There were a lot of things that he experienced that I thought might have done it, but I think we still have to wait to see why Shakespeare in particular.
    3. Maybe a bit of both? A religious element is possible. I just don't know. It's really hard because if one of us were to have this experience, we'd believe it a religious one, but we don't have Yambo's/Eco's background.
    4. Yeah, I agree with that, and I think that you articulated it fine.
    5. LOL True. Also, do you think the bear's a symbol of his childhood? Torn away and finally rudely burned to shreds?
    6. It depends. An examined life can be more rewarding, or horrible based upon what the examination reveals. Ignorance isn't always bliss, but if all you remember is wartime Italy and affairs, it may be better than the alternative.

  2. 1-3. You know, when we first started this, I talked about Eco not writing autobiographically. Certainly true of his other books, even further from the truth than I've suspected since with this one. I wonder if he indeed wrestles a bit with his spirituality or if he attributes it all to his coincidence and personal history and the subconscious. By the way, finding grandpa in the chair I think would have done it. :) Regardless, certainly the Folio would have been a huge shock and apparently adequate. I have to believe (because I just don't remember) there's a really good reason why is MUST BE THAT.
    5. Yes, and almost every individual thinks his brutal separation from childhood is the worst, most severe, and nearly everyone exaggerates--or, well, conflates--the event that did it and the relative darkness that follows. Certainly it's one of, if not THE, more important events in a person's life, but, for my part, I'm glad it wasn't a world war that did it for me.
    6. Yes.

  3. The more that I read this, and I'm always skeptical of when I do this because I know that I haven't read a ton of books, the more I'm convinced that this is Eco's response to "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". What comforts me is that we know that he loved Joyce, but I can never tell if I'm making connections that aren't there. And if it is a response, then there has to be somewhat of a religious undercurrent--because "Portrait" is rich in religious struggle, even if it ultimately rejects/lukewarmly accepts it. But I mean, whether it's religious or not, he's rediscovering all the battles that one has to fight growing up. You start out blindly accepting beliefs about everything, and then all of a sudden, the god falls, and you have to learn what you really believe all over again. And then if you're Yambo, you have to do it ANOTHER time.

  4. And it's this extra "re"-discovery that I think makes room for your connection. I haven't read "Portrait," but the theme of religious struggle makes a lot of sense, considering what we've seen thus far in "Dubliners."

    I've always been impressed with the religious struggle and life's requirement of all its citizens to make these decisions. No matter what kind of family one grows up in (deist, atheist, agnostic, or whatever), there are religious beliefs that are firstly, by the child, readily accepted and then, as you say, the god (or anti-god or lack of god...) and something must take its place; it's a void that cannot be left empty--impossible; you can't choose to simply ignore the options and not presume one of them. Unfortunately, or so I think, so many take their beliefs for granted for SO long and late into their lives. Mormons intent on serving a mission (as I did) are required to formulate and solidify their own beliefs, yet I was and yet am consistently astounded how many simply stand on their parents' shoulders. I've had family members and friends who, without their own (as we call it) testimony, show up to their missions and THEN experience the fall of God. The pressures make it really difficult to rebuild and rebuild fast enough. Many make it, some do not. While I find it sad when they leave the Church (again, as we call it from within our microcosm), I think it's sadder that it happens in such a context, as, for some reason, those who were once Mormon and then leave tend to become bitter and outspoken. Regardless of the old or new, well, pedestal, the rebuilding phase is always pivotal to a person's life. Always. It requires will and belief and independence, often study and always choices (easy or hard, depending). The required re-rediscovery for Yambo is spectacular, I think. Not his choice (whatever it is or will be), but that it exists, and that it exists and an entirely new, green opportunity/requirement.


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