O or – – –
Line 11: “Cimmerian dark”
There’s a lot going on in this paragraph, particularly in the choice for this unusual adjective.
First the obvious:
-reference to Homer’s Odyssey of the “mythical people” who lived in the land on the edge of the earth where all is dark and foggy, on the fringes of the underworld and Hades realm. In real life they were a very interesting nomadic people; a society of warriors they established them selves between the black sea and the Caucasus. They would later be come to be known as the Gimirri in Georgian. The modern Gregorian word for “hero” actually derives from Gimirri to now be expressed as “gmiri” which comes from “Cimmerians who settled down in the area after their conquest.” source
Now for the more interesting and (in my opinion, revealing) bit:
-this adjective derives from the mythological creature the Cimmera, she was a lioness with a goats head protruding from her back and a snake for a tail. She was one of the off spring of the monstrous couple in Greek mythology, Typhon and Echidna (it should also be noted that these are the same parents of the Sphinx, who is mentioned in footnote 38 in chapter 4 page 34): the king and queen of monsters respectively. These two produced some nasty beasts in Greek mythology but that’s another story. What interested me was that these two were titians sprung from Gaia and Tartarus which is where things get interesting. Tartarus is one of the primordial deities in Greek mythology who was both a place and a force. As a place Tartarus that started out as a pace where souls would go to be judged after death before entering the underworld but turned into a hellish prison of palpable darkness where many of Greek mythology’s greatest villains would be condemned to. The location of Tartaurs was said to “be as far from hades as heaven is from the sky”. Tartaurs reminds me of the labyrinth, filled with trapped demons of unspeakable horror. Rhadamanthus, Aeacus, and Minos were said to be souls who voluntarily went to Tartaurs after their deaths to act as judges of the dead. (Minos will be mentioned in chapter nine, footnote “K” [the real symbol is a Celtic rune that I’m not able to find at the moment but it looks like a “k”] and continues to page 111, but we’ll get there soon enough) This reminds me of the exploration team composed of Jed, Wax, and Holloway. I don’t have enough analysis to say who is who yet.
In this footnote the “publisher” IE Delaware: Tame An Essay Publications, lead me to the essay “How To Tame A Wild Tongue” (summary and pdf can be found here. The link for the pdf is the second link at the bottom. It’s the “wolfweb” one. there are other copies floating around but I particularly like this one because it had some footnotes explaining some of the references and bilingual passages) which is essentially about Gloria Anzaldua‘s feelings on growing up in the American south west being of Mexican decent in the 1920’s ish (at the moment I cannot find how old she is, but this essay was published in 1987 and she mentions having her PhD which I’m guessing would safely place her around 45 at the time of the publishing of this essay) and how the school system and the Anglo culture has repressed and disempowered her native tongue of Chicano /a and how the language has evolved through racial tensions of WWII, physical separation, and cultural shifts over the years. It’s clear she’s very passionate about her mother tongue and how she uses it to express her self.
This speak of language and repression reminds me of the narrative of this chapter in relation to the rest of the book. In the essay Anzaldua expresses how despite repression and punishment she’s found ways to keep her language, and by extension her identity, alive which reminds me of Navy and Karen’s conflict over his career (which being a photographer, documenting life is how he expresses him self, it’s his language, his identity) and so when they move he compromises by making this documentary but despite the compromise, there’s an element missing from his expression which is passion and danger and adventure. The book begins relatively “tamed” but as the chapters progress in complexity we begin to see Navadison’s language emerge via the chapters format warping around the action and focus of the scenes. The house also reacts to this building tension in the manifestation of the hallway. Both of these elements grow in depth and complexity to a breaking point in which they fully manifest them selves and begin to transform into something bigger than just the tensions of a couple who has communication issues. Just as Anzaldua explains in her essay where tensions between Spanish speaking minorities and American marines came to a head via the Zoot Suit riots which signals a permanent and irrevocable shift we see a major shift happen in this chapter that manifests in navadison going in there to rescue the explorers, inciting conflict of interests among him and Karen, and also manifesting in the dramatic visual expression of the chapter’s format. What it ends up manifesting in is a complex language telling this story via narrative, visual formating, hidden codes and references through footnotes.
Additional, most of the action of this essay takes place in the LA area which is where Jonny, Zampano and company live.
Footnote 112: Faber and Faber is a real publishing company which T.S. Elliot previously worked for which supports my hunch that one of the format inspirations for HoL was T.S. Elliot’s The Wasteland which uses extensive footnotes and references.
Footnote 113: Bismark North Dakota was inhabited by the Mandan tribe. Their language has elements of sound symbolism, IE “A /s/ sound often denotes smallness/less intensity, /f/ denotes medium-ness, and /x/ denotes largeness/greater intensity.” [source] (a more through explanation of sound symbolism can be found here). This struck me as interesting and is particularly relevant to footnote 117 pages 99-100 where Jonny goes on a rant about the word “fuck” and how it’s sound is fitting and satisfying to its meaning/use.
- All About Greek Myths (costumesupercenter.com)
- Hades (slideshare.net)
- To Tartarus, the furthest limits of the earth and sea? (agwallace.wordpress.com)
- Examining Flowers’ Influence in Mythology (proflowers.com)