Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maus II

The first thing that struck me about this “survivor’s tale,” to use the label given to the work on the front cover (aside from the unexpectedly beautifully crafted depiction of the characters as animals, of course), was the self-awareness of this text. During various moments of the text, we learn that Spiegelman is writing this tale of his father’s time in Auschwitz, and his time after the concentration camp. Spiegelman also depicts scenes of interviewing his father, adding a level of awareness for the reader that the author is acknowledging his task. Further, there are sections in which Spiegelman is talking with his wife about the difficulty of the venture he is undertaking and in which he discusses with her which animal he should draw to depict her (11-12). And finally, there is a moment where Spiegelman is depicted as a man wearing a mask of a mouse, an acknowledgement on the part of the author that his choice to depict the characters as various animals was a distinct and intentional one (41). So basically, Spiegelman is a man writing about himself as a mouse who knows he is really a man writing about himself as a mouse writing about his father’s time in Auschwitz through interviews with his father.
These various aspects of the text’s awareness of itself are fascinating to me, as most self-aware texts operate on a much more singular plane. The author acknowledges the reader, for example, or the fact that he is writing about his own life. I am struck by the intensity of this work, and how much more potent that must be for Spiegelman. I am wondering how he came to the conclusion to tell this story in this particular form, and especially how he came to include all of the details of, for example, the car ride with his wife or the appointment with the psychiatrist in which he describes the process of writing the book, which is the thing we hold in our hands physically as read about the very process that created it. In our collaboration seminar we have been discussing product vs. process, and I am wondering how this played out in both of these scenarios. Did Spiegelman write his father’s story, and then intertwine the stories of the interviews and the outside moments? How did he decide where to weave into a full narrative, placing us into the camp with his father, and where to maintain the interview setting? As someone who is naturally drawn to these complex issues of the awareness of authors and texts, I found this reading to be one of the most compelling throughout the semester.
            One of the most surprising things I have discovered this semester is that travel can be found and experienced in even the most everyday moments. I have always believed that someone can bring herself out of her comfort zone even while in a place geographically comfortable to her, but thinking about this in the context of travel has made me see this in an entirely new light. I want to work harder to live each day as a traveler, as an explorer, of myself, of the world around me, and of the intersection of those, which is this beautiful life I have been given.

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