Feb 27, 2013

The Traveling Feast Where All the Ants Are Crushed

On my first trip I took my bedroom with me. On the second trip I took half my apartment. At my arrival in 1985 the blast toppled the building I would live in.

I vanished from under the rubble and manifested in 1979 -- me and four city blocks.

Poster for George Pal's The Time Machine (1960)

What if you were forced to travel in time against your will, having no say over your destination or the time of departure? What if someone were pulling your strings -- maybe as an experiment?

Marionettes have been around for a long time. The ancient Egyptians made them. Aristotle compares animal motion to the movements of a string puppet.

Marionettes don't know someone controls them; they lack the necessary biological equipment to think. Likewise, characters in a story won't recognize they're part of a creative fiction. Postmodern authors have explored this notion of who's in control -- I'm thinking of The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spar, specifically. Spark's main character makes seemingly random decisions, but she is in fact drawing attention to herself and trying to send a message about the inevitability of her fate. (I won't spoil the book for you.)

Protagonists meeting their authors:

Agatha Christie inserted herself into Poirot's last tale so she could kill him.
Neo in The Matrix encounters the Architect,* who seems to be a proxy for the Wachowski Brothers.
Lanark meets Alasdair Gray a number of times.
Philip K. Dick meets himself as Horselover Fat in VALIS.

Marionette Girl
by YK Kim

*The Architect: His superior intellect is mostly an informed ability; pay attention to what he says and you will find a ream of hollow statements lurking in his cloudy language. Cod philosophy is cheap. Tergiversation is a ten-dollar word, but the strategy it names can be used for nothing.

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