“He stared out the window…for a while enjoying the spacey, empty feeling…then, suddenly…a little shiver went through him. It was Joanna’s face.” (p24-25)
I am stealing a term from The Familiar here, signiconic. We had talked previously about how an element or motif of a story might become both a sign and an icon— that is become both a condensed visual representation and a universal image or representation of a unified visual memory.
We talked in class Tuesday about the posibility the differences in time (“What does time feel like?”) in this novel — both analog time, a sort of deadened or “spacey” emptiness or pause, and digital time, which moves so quickly it seems “spacious, unbounded.” As we labored over his specific moment on page 25 where we see Ethan’s different experiences with each of these types of time, I wondered about what causes the abrupt shift. We get the dramatic satisfaction as readers from seeing that shift, of course (described for us as a “panic”), but that image of Joanna stick with me as a real-life GUI acting as a signicon— graphic being the image or memory, user being the narrator, and interface being the platform of experience (albeit life ultimately) and signicon in that we as a people understand the relevance of these images in our minds, our memories, to who we are.
For Ethan in this particilar moment, it is Joanna’s face. For Roberta in the first chapter, it is Sarah (her boyfriend’s ex that showed up at their doorstep a mess). As we go further into the novel, we find memory entangled on this analog vs. digital experience Ullman’s novel pushes for us. So, I guess what I’m really trying to posit is whether memory, specifically of relationships or hardships in those relationships, plays a role in these abrupt shifts in our narrators’ experiences with analog time and digital time. In this novel, these narrators’ experiences are asking of us the true relevance of identification— with analog experience or digital experience — by blurring the lines here between the digital and the analog.
What is human/analog memory? What is digital memory? How does memory FEEL different in each and for each?