Friday, May 7, 2010

In Which Words Tend To Fail: Asterios Polyp

I'm sure that no resemblance comes by chance,
And so the fact that Mr. Polyp's head
Looks like a cutting tool at ev'ry glance
Means much in Mazzucchelli's book. I've read
Much on its central problem, which results
When too much intellect goes uncombined
With character to balance it. Adults
Oft fail if this is paid too little mind.
And this book's world demands attention paid
To subtleties of line and form and yes,
Of character. Each person is portrayed
Much more by drawing style than one might guess.
What's said does help the story to unfold,
But what is not -- that's how the story's told.


  1. I think Mazzucchelli thinks there is something inherently lacking character in intellectual categorising of the world, not necessarily specific to Asterios but to his field of study.

    Anyway he would not be alone in this as this as a lot of followers of Deconstruction and post-modernism seem to believe the same; although I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the philosophical *leaders* of Deconstruction believe this. Then again the views of the leaders of Deconstruction are sophisticated unto irrelevance, so not much point in discussing those.

    Not sure I agree with either deconstructivists or Mazzuchelli that seeing parts rather than the whole is inherently AsteriosPolyppy in its disregard. But it's an amazing 'object lesson' (a phrase you can only see ironically after reading Polyp) in how the badly intellect can waylay when applied to the wrong things.

  2. The "structural" drawing of Polyp that kept cropping up, along with his halberd-shaped head, was one of the most imaginative ways of conveying his character I've ever seen. That coupled with Hana's so often appearing in red was really striking and drove home how very different they are.

    He used his head where he oughtn't to have, to divide the world into bogus dichotomies that even he didn't really need, and finally learned that maybe this isn't the best way to approach human situations. What a marvelous, marvelous book. I can never thank you enough, Laroquod, for bringing it to my attention.

    Still chortling over "object lesson" btw.


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