Monday, April 6, 2009

Take Two: An Imaginary Life

After reading everyone’s interpretations of Malouf, I felt like writing a second blog because I realized there are a lot of things I hadn’t really been thinking about while reading the first time.

For example I was reading Christina’s blog entry, and at the beginning of it she said how she thought the plot seemed “circumstantially bound”, and then realized that she was reading the times instead of the eternities. I think I was doing the same thing to some degree unconsciously. Like I thought about the deeper lessons and connections between nature and man as eternal and of absolute truth, but I found myself considering too much Ovid’s situation. I was thinking for some reason, that the fact of his exile is what led him to this metamorphosis. And I know that it was his true destiny, and he accepted it as that, and everything fit into place as it should, blah blah. But it made me wonder if something that extreme must happen to warrant that kind of a transformation? But then considering Metamorphosis, something dramatic always has to happen for some transformation to take place. Because why would someone change, unless some circumstance prompted it? And then that’s where I started! I just look at it as like, even though Ovid’s exile was the “beginning”, the final transformation was one of eternity.

Along those same lines (same lines being my overly literal interpretation of the text at times), I realized I wasn’t looking at the feral Child as much more than exactly that. I realize that he represents a transition mechanism, the embodiment of nature in a human, etc. But I wasn’t looking at him as a symbol so much as an actual being. What I mean to say, is that the contrast between his human qualities and other-earthly qualities, if you will, makes it a bit confusing for me to interpret his character. One minute he is an elusive mystical being, basking naked in the winter’s night, and imitating animal calls…and the next he is like a regular child trying to learn from Ovid, bundling up in the cold, and fishing in the stream for supper. I understand that Ovid’s treatment of the Child serves as a representation between civilization and nature and it’s effects. But the point is that it’s hard for me to see the Child as solely a symbol when he has such humanly qualities at times. I don’t know, because then again, it might not be important how much of a symbol the Child truly is, because his role is what is symbolic, and this story is about Ovid after all. I’m just talking myself through these I guess!

The third thing I was thinking about was transformation as adaption. Is Ovid’s transformation begot of destiny, or is it a natural adaption to his “circumstances” and the truths of life to which man must recess in order to become whole? You could probably argue that his destiny and regression are one in the same, so then is it destiny that requires him to adapt to what surrounds him and what truths he is uncovering? Is adaption even the right word? The stories in Metamorphosis just made me think about why a certain transformation would occur (why that specific thing) and what exactly that transformation is. For example, Niobe turns into a weeping stone after all her children are killed. Is that an adaption to her situation? Did the fierceness of her sorrow require something other than her human body to house itself—something more permanent and appropriate of such deep despair? There is a possibility that I am thinking about the purpose of these transformations too hard, for I’m sure there is no universal purpose, and Ovid is more interested in the emotional upheaval and gore anyway. But I just thought the parallel between destiny and purpose was an interesting one.

Oh and lastly, I’m still just not quite sure what the title An Imaginary Life means. But other than that, I have no more thoughts on the subject☺

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