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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana XIX -- chapter 18: IT'S A TWISTER!

  1. "I see now that it was Lila who, when I was sixteen, gave me hope that I might forget that night at the Gorge."
  2. Paola is to Sibilla as The Divine Comedy is to the atom bomb.  Ha!
  3. "...in order to be able to move forward we behave as if everything we see is real."
  4. Who/what are: Lila Saba, the First Folio, Clarabelle's Treasure, Queen Loana, Angelo Bear; and what other pivotal character-symbols might there be (given by collective labels is just fine)?
  5. "And at last, great God, I saw. I saw like the apostle, I saw the center of my Aleph from which shone forth not the infinite world, but the jumbled notebook of my memories."
  6. John the Revelator's The Book of Revelation?
  7. What is the value of the various illustrations, aside from their beauty and/or design?
  8. At the end of The Wizard of Oz we get the reunion of Dorothy and the farm hands, but also with the characters of Oz itself, from which she was is just as distanced as she was from her family, and an interesting reunion inasmuch as the family/hands and Ozites are the same people--a kinda body+spirit=soul thing.  Is the end of Mysterious Flame much like Oz?
  9. The acceleration to the end leads to what?  What is the blacking of the sun?
  10. Compare Cyrano and Christian to Paula and Sibilla (either Sibilla/Lila), wherein I believe the crucial connection lay.
  11. What is the arc of the story, and is the conflict(what's the conflict?) resolved?


  1. 4. Lila Saba seems to be some sort of personification of his childhood dreams that he can never realize. The First Folio--to me, this might be the most disappointing part of the book, because it works as a trigger, but I don't think that it's clear WHY it should work as a trigger and why not the discovery of a book in the form of "Cyrano de Bergerac" instead. Clarabelle's Treasure: his memory/Lila? Queen Loana: something of a divine personification of inspiration. Angelo Bear: his innocence/childhood. I would just add one more, and that is Gragnola, who I think is a stand-in for a growing sense of disenchantment/nihilism.
    6. Yes, I think that the parallels are strikingly obvious. The question is why Lilla does not end up descending on a cloud like the Son of Man.
    7. I think that they add to the explosion of images that must have been passing through his head in rapid succession. Also, perhaps they add to the feeling of clarity after the fog has lifted.
    8. It's hard to say because we don't know what happens next.
    9. I looked up the f-word (no, not that one, the one in the text--just can't remember it), and apparently, it's a sort of smog from pollution, which I find interesting because that's not really fog. Fog is natural. The smog is man-made. So this is what his brain really does not want him to see.
    10. Hmm... could you fill in?
    11. The story feels incredibly unresolved, but perhaps that is because I do not understand the arc. In my mind, the arc continues. Now that he realizes that he may never see Lila's face, he can either give up and become despondent, or he can put Paola's face onto the blank slate.

  2. 4. I agree on the First Folio. I wonder if he meant its significant to be implicit, but why not offer a payoff at the end? Maybe he was trying to be "organic," but as we know you can't have coincidence (or true "organism") in a novel. I agree that it would have been much stronger if it had been something like a first edition of "Cyrano de Bergerac."
    6. Your comment on Lila: especially considering the quotation from #1.
    7. It also adds to the "true" feel of the book, I think. And all those images are such an integral part of the book.... Can you imagine if he had to DESCRIBE each of them?
    8. I think we know what happens, and really, I see some pretty significant parallels between Oz and Flame. In both, the protags are swept away into a land of imagination, mystery, and adventure populated by purely fictitious characters as well as fictive iterations of real people. In both they return from their fog, disoriented, and with a new perspective and appreciation for their loved ones. In those finals sentences (and #10), we see that Yambo can accept Paula for who she is, not how she looks or whatever fantasy he wishes she might fulfill.
    9. Hmm. I don't remember the word, but that's a really interesting point. I'll go back and take a look.
    10. Christian and Sibilla are the pretty impossible ones; Cyrano and Paula are the realistic and even more wonderful than fantasy ones. I believe Yambo makes that realization and the blacking of the sun is the opposite of approaching the "light at the end of the tunnel." He returns to reality, likely with the First Folio (but who cares) in hand.
    11. Lila's face can't be seen because it doesn't exist. It never existed. Even if the girl was real, Yambo wasn't in love with HER, he was in love with the fantasy--the mysterious flame--of her. If he saw her face now, well... I don't know. Anyway, he sees her the way Roxanne sees Christian: beautiful and perfect, but gone, and though gone, no more possible than before. Cyrano, however, is there. Just as he sees Roxanne's realization and new-found love for him in the subtle kiss and his final breath, so Yambo, in the final stilt of his comatose fantasy, realizes who Paula really is: Lila, but with a face and a voice and reachable.

    (I've been writing off the cuff--excited as this thing finally seems to be coming together for me. What do you think?)

  3. 11. ARG Now that you write it out that way, it seems obvious. Yes, you're 100% right. I'm kicking myself because usually I try to be a pretty careful reader, but I just missed this. Thanks! It all makes sense now.

  4. I missed it the first time, too. As awesome as it is--because it is awesome--it just makes the First Folio seem a bit superfluous, and it should NEVER be superfluous. I'd love to pick his brain about it.... I think maybe a letter is in order after all!


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