August 11, 2006 Invisible
Invisible. As a teen, I used to feel invisible. I would imagine that I slipped on the magic ring and walk around the store unseen. People would pass me by, but never really look at me. The fact that no one really met my gaze or said hi to me made it easy to feel transparent.
The Lord of the Rings is probably where I got the idea for my magic ring. I had not yet heard of Gyges or Herodotus. Still, that myth was very influential on my life. It is very much connected to the literature and the relationships that shaped me.
This past week I re-read Fall of a Sparrow by Robert Helenga. I first picked it up in 1998. It really moved me, so much so that I emailed Helenga to tell him so. I’m not sure why I connected to his book so strongly. In any case, it provided a framework for my story “Lume.” Fall of a Sparrow deals with loss and grief. In the novel a Classics Professor deals with the loss of his daughter Carolyn. She is a casualty of a terrorist bomb. In my story Bridget kills herself. In both stories Italy plays a large part, as the role of the grieving sister.
And although I saw a bit of Ethan in the Professor, I didn’t realize why or just how connected they were. It wasn’t until after I read the novel Fall of a Sparrow that I found out that Ethan taught the Odyssey. It was a year after I read it that I discovered the role Gyges in Ethan’s English Patient paper. The Ring of Gyges was the Symbol that Ethan picked out of Ondaatje’s The English Patient to explain Katherine and The English Patient’s relationship. Would he have ever guessed that I would use the analogy for what happened (or didn’t happen) between us? It is as if the subtext existed before the text. The archetype was just waiting to find its modern incarnation in us. Like most things modern, the drama was all internal and psychological.
That comes back to my argument about Alias. This week I began my paper “A Spy in the House of Metaphors: The Metaphysics of Alias.” I’m trying to organize my thoughts and do research. I found some very interesting tidbits. The first one was the J.J. Abrams, the show’s creator, shares my birthday. He was born June 27, 1966. Ten years later I came along. How cool is that?
I was re-reading my Alias: Declassified book and discovered that Wuthering Heights was on Sydney Bristow’s bookshelf in season one. It seemed like that book was mentioned for a particular reason. Sure enough, Wuthering Heights has been interpreted as a metaphysical novel. There are some parallels between Wuthering Heights and Alias. Not to mention the mention of the Odyssey in Lost and Bad Twin!
What could it all mean? I suppose it could mean nothing. According to my friend, a TV show is just a TV show and a Book is just a Book. She doesn’t see a need to interpret and analyze everything to death. Her life is more literal than symbolic or abstract.
It is a burden to be intelligent. My creative and inquiring mind is constantly going! Even when I am not in school, I feel the need to feed my hunger for knowledge. I write papers that are not assigned and I research all sorts of topics. If I am not busy finding patterns in seemingly random things then I am bored and depressed. If I don’t create I don’t feel alive. If I don’t write I don’t exist. Language is my life. Symbols are my soul.
Too bad that these attributes are not considered attractive. Intelligence is not valued. As a society we tend to place more importance on material wealth and athletic prowess than a sharp mind. Everything is dumbed down for mass consumption. Anything or anyone that is different than the norm is suspect. This means that bookworms like myself are outcasts.
It is not difficult to see why someone like myself would rather be invisible than painfully put on trial. Of course, when no one hears your voice or reaches out to you, being invisible becomes a curse. Instead of feeling important, I felt irrelevant. I felt powerless, but I used my imagination to turn the feeling around. If I was going to be invisible then I might as well use it to my advantage. I became a Spy in the House of Love! But instead of being the liar, I played the role of the lie detector. I used my reasoning skill to see through other people’s lies, to figure out the truth. No one could truly see me, but I saw them. Understanding became my power. I used my power for compassion instead of control.