Wednesday, February 05, 2003


So, I'm doing a presentation tomorrow afternoon on Naguib Mahfouz's The Children of Gebelaawi, and I'm bending my brain around various discussion topics that will prevent me from doing all the talking. My modus operandi during these presentations is typically to read a paper; however, I've recently discovered that most of my writing is far too convoluted for presentations that are intended as introductions. In other words, I decided against the paper this time around. I won't go into the details of the book here, but the theme I'm going to kick around is the "disruption of allegory" -- allegory as disruption, and disrupted allegory. I intend on thinking through this by discussing stories / myths that hold the potential to provoke hope, but also the potential for subjugation. Over several rounds of Westmalle two nights ago, I discussed this with my girlfriend, and, after exempting the religious stories and concepts (q.v., eschatology, the bane of Nietzsche), because they seemed far too obvious, we talked mostly about the myth of statehood (particularly, Israel and her Arab neighbors) and ontology, as well as, after we argued about the names of the two friends in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck's conception of the American Dream, and then, after one too many (a few too many for me) Westmalles, space travel, UFOs, and simulated / artificial intelligence.

I tell you all this simply to ask if you have any other suggestions for such stories / myths? (We didn't mention this one at the time, but what about the various art movements?) If you think the rationale for your story's hope-subjugation potential isn't obvious, or if I'm just too dim to figure it out, explain it to me. I look forward to your comments and emails.