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If you take away from our reality the symbolic fictions which regulate it, you lose reality itself.

Slavoj Žižek

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Saturday, March 20th, 2010

🦋 The City of the Immortals

That day, all was revealed to me. The Troglodytes were the Immortals; the stream and its sand-laden waters, the River sought by the rider. As for the city whose renown had spread to the very Ganges, the Immortals had destroyed it almost nine hundred years ago. Out of the shattered remains of the City's ruin they had built on the same spot the incoherent city I had wandered through -- that parody or antithesis of the City which was also a temple to the irrational gods that rule the world and to those gods about whom we know nothing save that they do not resemble man. The founding of this city was the last symbol to which the Immortals had descended; it marks the point at which, esteeming all exertion vain, they resolved to live in thought, in pure speculation. They built that carapace, abandoned it, and went off to make their dwellings in the caves.
I know the parallels are pretty vague; but this portion of "The Immortal" is reminding me of nothing so much as the City of Reality (and Illusions), in The Phantom Tollbooth.

posted evening of March 20th, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about The Aleph

Friday, December 9th, 2005

🦋 Echoes

Bedtime stories for the past week or so have been chapters of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Reading Chapter 11 tonight (in which the children and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver begin their journey to the Stone Table and meet Father Christmas), I realized the narrative is reminding me a lot of The Phantom Tollbooth. It struck me while Father Christmas was giving his presents to the children, that that was like Milo getting his presents from the Mathemagician and Azaz -- and thinking about it, I am sure Juster modeled his book in some respects on Narnia.

I read all of the Narnia books when I was quite young, and possibly had some of them read to me; my memory of them is faint but I do remember liking them. I am reading to Sylvia from a very nice edition that we bought when we visited the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA. A really great discussion of the Narnia books has been taking place over the last few days in the comments to this post on Unfogged.

posted evening of December 9th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about The Chronicles of Narnia

Monday, July 11th, 2005

🦋 Bread and Chocolate

Our reread of The Phantom Tollbooth stalled around Chapter 17, because of the presence of Demons -- ever since about when Milo was in the Forest of Sight, Sylvia has been asking with trepidation, "Are there Demons in this chapter?" most every night, and I would reassure her that there were not any yet. But once we got to Chapter 17, where there are Demons, Sylvia did not want any more. I tried encouraging her a bit to stick it out through the scary part in expectation of a happy ending -- one indeed which she is already acquainted with and had talked about in earlier parts of the book -- but I did not want to lean on her about it.

So, we have moved on to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Yes, we are reading this partially in expectation of the new movie that's coming out -- we watched and enjoyed the Gene Wilder film and are looking forward to the new one.) I'm a little surprised because Sylvia didn't think too much of James and the Giant Peach, which I always thought was pretty similar; I guess the addition of Chocolate makes all the difference. She is crazy about this book.

We have decided to try making chocolate candies as a cooking project while we read this book. I have not made candy for several years, but last time I did they came out pretty well. I think the addition of Sylvia's enthusiasm will be helpful. Also tonight she said she wants to bake Challah bread with me, another thing I have not done for a long time. (Maybe ever? I've made egg breads but I don't know if any of them were specifically challah.) So -- looking forward to the kitchen stuff, I'll let you know how it goes.

posted evening of July 11th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

🦋 Bedtime Stories

Our venture into chapter books continues apace -- two nights ago we finished Winnie-the-Pooh, last night we started Just-So Stories.

posted morning of March 17th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Just-So Stories

Tuesday, March first, 2005

🦋 Bedtime Stories

Tonight we had a double-header of Chapter 19 of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. Sylvia really surprised me while we were reading Chapter 19 (in which Rhyme and Reason return to the kingdom of Wisdom) by remembering who Officer Shrift is -- a character who has not appeared since the first quarter of the book, and then only very briefly. This reinforces to me that she is experiencing the story primarily through the characters, though I'm not sure just what to make of that.

I was glad to read The Red Balloon -- it is one of my favorites and I've suggested it a few times before, this is the first time she took me up on it. It makes a very nice bedtime story, particularly in the cold of winter.

posted evening of March first, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Norton Juster

Monday, February 21st, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- last night and tonight we read Chapter 12, "The Valley of Sound". More synaesthesia in this chapter; it reminded me again a bit of Fantasia, but moreso of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" -- the Soundkeeper struck me as very reminiscent of Willie Wonka, with her cloistered and volatile persona, and the sound laboratory would have fit right into Wonka's factory.

posted evening of February 21st, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Friday, February 18th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- tonight we read Chapter 11, "Dynne and Dischord", or rather we read about half of it and Sylvia fell asleep. Funny that Juster worked in two consecutive "Fantasia" references -- the end of Chapter 10 referred (so think I) to the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor segment of the film, and the beginning of Chapter 11 referred (less arguably) to the The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment.

posted evening of February 18th, 2005: Respond

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- we read Chapter 10 tonight, "The Symphony of Color". It has nice resonances with two other books, "The Philharmonic Gets Dressed", which we read for bedtime story fairly often, and "Zin Zin Zin! A Violin!", which we read less frequently; and with Fantasia, which we watched a few weeks ago -- this last I suspect may have been Juster's source for the chapter, some of his imagery reminded me very strongly of the film.

posted evening of February 17th, 2005: Respond

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth -- we read Chapter 9 tonight -- Sylvia is really enjoying the characters though I'm not sure how much of the plot she is getting. Details which captivate her: the sisters named Rhyme and Reason, which are not proper names like Sylvia or Emily; the dog mistakenly named Tock even though the sound he makes is tick-tick-tick; the box given by King Azaz to Milo, which contains all the words that will ever be used -- this last reminds me a bit of Borges' Library of Babel and I wonder whether Juster had that in mind.

posted evening of February 16th, 2005: Respond

Friday, February 11th, 2005

The Phantom Tollbooth: Tonight we will read Chapter 6, the story of Rhyme and Reason as told by Faintly Macabre. Sylvia is maintaining interest in the story and remembers the characters and situations from day to day.

posted afternoon of February 11th, 2005: Respond

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