Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Identity and Eden in City of Glass, page 127

In the graphic Novel City of Glass, readers follow a man named Quinn as he tries to save a man named Peter from being harmed by his father, who had locked him a pitch black room when he was a child, beat him, and did not allow him to learn language. Now that's just the fun stuff.

Some of the larger issues dealt with in this graphic novel are the role of language, its usage, and how language can literally construct a reality. In these inquiries there is question of something called Edenic language. Now I'm sure some of my peers on here have explained it before me, but I'll give a little run-down of what's going on with it:

The bible claimed God said "Let there be light,", and then there was light. This is because the word "light" and the thing that we call light were the same thing. By saying light, God threw up light. It's called Edenic language because it is said this was to only have existed in Eden, before humans 'fell' and ended up losing this direct connection between the language we use and the things and concepts we use it to refer to.

Now let us get down to Quinn, the sad bastard.

I have placed below a picture of the page I will be referring to in all of this.

(Auster et. all, 2004)


In the first panel Quinn is shown naked, emaciated, bearded on the floor, looking much like a depiction of Adam in the garden of Eden shown earlier in the graphic novel. The second panel, unlike the others before it in the book, is not horizontally or vertically aligned with the ones around it. This is the same for the other panels on this page. They have come apart a little bit. This is also where Quinn begins to find time melted together, claiming in panel there that day and night were “relative” terms and were both essentially the same thing.

The next panel seems to be him in the past, as he is writing his stories, then the next panel shows the grave of “Max Work”, the character he wrote under the nom de plume “William Wilson.” Max Work is also a character that Quinn claimed earlier that he liked to pretend to be, as if Max Work were a better representation of him than he was. This seems to signify the death of his sense of self as Quinn finds less of his previous “reality” to hold onto.

In the seventh panel he reveals that Mookie Wilson, a Mets player, is “really” named William Wilson, the very same name he writes under. He then claims that both the William Wilson that is Mookie Wilson and William Wilson that is Quinn cancel one another out. This signifies the symbolic shift of Quinn from “language” to “Edenic” language, wherein the word and the thing it refers to are the same thing. “William Wilson” is not just a name that refers to a person, but in Edenic language the name “William Wilson” and William Wilson are inseparable, the same thing. If that is true, then that means there can be only one William Wilson, as Edenic language has no double meanings. Because there are two William Wilsons in his reality, and because there can be only one, they must cancel one another out. Both cannot exist, and so neither can exist.

This entire page of panels is where the shift really seems to take place, and where Quinn starts to become this Adam-type character representation. As to whether or not he is actually finding Edenic language, or if he is finding himself lost in the inability to grasp it I do not know. After living as people do, in a world created and understood by language, I wonder if it would be at all possible to comprehend a world where words go beyond mere representation and become the things they refer to. If it is possible, then perhaps Quinn was simply breaking his first reality, sensing the “death” of it and his self, because he had to find the one word, the one name, which became him. He was not William Wilson, and he was not Max Work, and so he had to find “Quinn” or maybe even something else, given that there are other people named Quinn, too. Maybe they all cancel one another out, and so his existence cannot be (at least in his mind) because there can be only one.

I'll be honest, I have no idea what to do with all of this, but I was chewing on all it, so...

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