Monday, February 10, 2014

Satire By Juxataposition

TriadCity's main organizing metaphor is geographical: the three Thirds, with their contrasting and competing cultures.  Where literary theorists like to speak metaphorically of "textual spaces", ours is in fact literally spatial.  As authors we can play with this.  We can use geography to make satire in ways which I think can be pretty entertaining.  I suppose we can use it to be dead serious, too, but, you know.  Nah.

Think of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Wealth, standing in mirrored symmetry on opposite sides of the River.  The TOL is filled with Kabbalah symbols and playing children; the TOW is infested with an army of intelligent killer spiders.  Juxtaposed in this way, the satire is certainly unsubtle.  Quick quiz for Levi-Straussian Structuralists: what's missing?  Exactly, a Tree of Something-or-Other in the South.  We have an empty place there where a Tree of Knowledge would go.  Will that be filled in one day, or is it intended to remain empty permanently?  I'll let you know.

Other mirrors: Pirate Ship / U Boat; Courts / University; meat-as-corruption / vegetables as growth; Gnosticism / Zoroastrianism.

Three statue gardens.  NorthWest: children's carvings of historical figures whose examples are meaningful to people striving to invent practical structures of self-governance.  They're rebels, leaders of slave revolts: Toussaint L'Ouverture, Spartacus, Jefferson, Marx, Harriet Tubman, Tolstoy, Oscar Romero.  And they're happy: all smiling, some gleefully, as though the future they imagined were upon them here and now and they're able to participate.  The detail of their smiles builds meaning through accumulation.  One might be entertaining; when they're all smiling, something's going on.  South: holograms of famous philanthropists with open palms: Bill and Melinda Gates, Alfred Nobel, Kylie Minogue, Bono.  Yes, I'm trivializing, but, it's satire, yah?  Well-intentioned as they may be, their work is anti-empowering, elitist and undemocratic, in direct contrast to the approaches explored in NorthWest.  NorthEast: living statues, a garden of destitute people paid the U.S. hourly minimum wage to stand stock still for the entertainment of passers-by.  Think of those dancing statues of liberty on street corners holding arrows pointing you to tax preparation offices.  Or the wicked dark humor of Michael Moore's Roger and Me, where unemployed auto workers take temp jobs as living statues at executive lawn parties.

Visitors to TriadCity won't encounter the meanings of these juxtapositions in one or two visits.  They'll have to build a mental map of what and where things are, before this kind of mirroring will become visible.  How often does this happen in reality?  I dunno.  My hope is that TriadCity's details are vibrant and engrossing enough to keep people exploring, and give them faith that there's a big picture to come to understand.


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