Chapter VI Analysis: Animals
Main themes: Animals and perception of reality
-Quote from the book The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. More full version of the quote here. Ernest Becker had a theory about death “Becker came to believe that a person’s character is essentially formed around the process of denying his own mortality, that this denial is necessary for the person to function in the world, and that this character-armor prevents genuine self-knowledge. Much of the evil in the world, he believed, was a consequence of this need to deny death.” source This lead to another psychological field Terror Management Theory.
-cant find the source for the second quote but its interesting in that it talks about how man hasn’t instincts as how to orient one self in a world where hes aware of his own death as an inevitability because it reminds me of a bit from the terror management theory about how world views and cultures are made to help orient a person to how they’re supposed to act with the knowledge that they’re going to die. (ie most animals are unaware of their own morality and thus have no reason to fear it much less deal with it)
What’s more interesting to the over all theme of the book and the house’s dynamic floor plan is Norberg-Schulz’s theory of architecture and phenomenology particularly the idea of genius loci where he believes that the construction of a place, one should consider the spirit of the place or how it will be presented to the inhabitants based on use (ie taking considerations of floor plan, materials, textures, colours, beyond pure pragmatism). Source
-take note how genius loci is almost a western equivalent of Fung Shui
-note that both animals are male but have female names (Malory and Hillary)
-Need to keep note of what happens with the animals. The dog has been left mentally scared in some manor that makes him weary of strangers and the cat disappears with no mention made of the event. Its interesting that no further mention is made of the cats disappearance just as the dog pays no heed to the missing presence of the cat, neither does the family (or Zampano for that matter).
-Not much to be said for the meat of the chapter, but I will take this place to postulate why the house’s more mysterious dimensions won’t support the pets: the idea of genius loci and Norberg-Schulz theory on architecture and Fung Shui and all things that play into and support these religious beliefs and psychological theories are all human made concepts made for the human psyche. A cat nor dog hasn’t the capacity to measure (at as far as they’ve shown us yet, maybe dogs are secret psychologists and cats brilliant architects, I won’t rule out the idea since we have no way of communicating such ideas with them given the language barrier, but I’m not holding my breath either since elephants, dolphins, and some birds are the only known species to have self awareness and none of which show the capacity for theory of mind.) area, volume, and conflicting dimensions. Therefore, the hallway in the living
room dumps them out into the back yard just as it “should” (according to the “5 ½ minute hallway”).
Footnote 79: Selwyn is a very odd name to be sure but it’s interesting to note that it breaks down to “Sel” (house/castle) and “wyn” (friend) which then roughly means “Friend in the house.” source
However I really can’t find anything for Hyrkas other than “Erik Hyraks” (could be a writer friend of MZD’s maybe. God knows this book is full of obscure references.)
Footnote 80: I believe it was Freud who said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” So it will be me to say “Sometime it’s hard to see a porch when you’re not expecting it.”
Footnote 81: I found this book “The Black Echo” which the premise is about a dective who finds one of his Nam war buddies dead and has to hunt his killer down a maze of dark sewers and fight enemies with in his own apartment.
Jonny’s Story (footnote 82 pages 76-79)
-FUN FACT TIME: The phrase “go out on a limb” comes from the idea of going out on a limb of a tree to reach a fruit. The idea was to risk “life and limb” for a greater reward. The phrase was first used in 1895 Steubenville Daily Herald October: “We can carry the legislature like hanging out a washing. The heft [main part] of the fight will be in Hamilton country. If we get the 14 votes of Hamilton we’ve got ’em out on a limb. All we’ve got to do then is shake it or saw it off.” source
-”…great black sail of rods and cones…” referring to the cones and rods on the retina that help interpret colour and depth source
-”kilkenny-disappear” is a reference to a limerick about two cats from Kilkenny, it goes like this:
There once were two cats of Kilkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
So they fought and they hit
And they scratched and they bit
Till (excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails)
Instead of two cats there weren’t any!
“ – Where Have I Moved? What Have I Muttered? Who Have I Met? – “ Might be obvious to others but it took me a second or third look to catch this (look at the first letter of every question: WHIM? WHIM? WHIM?”
the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” seems to have a colourful yet slightly gross (least the most probable source according to the author) history/origin. However one particularly interesting but unsupported origin is that Odin was the god of storms and his animal was wolves and that Witches would take the form of their familiar (a cat) and ride the wind (I guess this theory was proposed before Witches perfected broom aviation technology). source
-note on Therefore symbol (∴) was first used in 1659 by John Rahn in a German algebra text book. source
-Rahn was also the first to use the obelus symbol (the division symbol ÷) source
-(in reference to the unexplained claw marks found near zapano’s body)”…four of them, six or seven inches long and half and inch deep…” reminds me that there was 4 dead bolt locks placed on the hallway door, each with a different colour key.
-”…awe-full…” the etymology of awe turns up “dread mixed with veneration” from the Biblical reference to the supreme being but awful (source) (comes from the etymology of awe-ful which then turns up “worthy of respect or fear” source) as to why he wrote it a “awe-full” instead of (at least the more proper) “awe-ful” or the more modern “awful” isn’t known. Best guess is it’s an additional clue to readers to research etymology of some words for deeper meaning (first obvious one being Jonny’s mention of Zampano’s “snaking etymologies” in the introduction).
-“Where I Left Death” = “WILD”
-”…another place I’m here to avoid…” using this book and drugs and the like to escape memory of his step father.
-”…though not on Franklin & Whitley…” intersection in Whitley Heights, Hollywood, Los Angles, CA
- How to Avoid the Fear of Death – Defining my Worldview: Part 1 (vividhope.com)
- Bookstore cat’s epilogue a happy ending (sfgate.com)
- How to Avoid the Fear of Death – Defining my Worldview: Part 2 – Politics (vividhope.com)
- Genius Loci (theshadedblades.wordpress.com)