The complexity of the English language, as well as the very concept of communication itself is displayed in the world of Ravicka to a degree that I think gives it a sense of similarity to other novels we have read this semester. This similarity is what I think is a trend we can consider to understand what American fiction may mean as compared to novels from previous and traditional historical decades. For example, at the start of class besides a few well-known authors it was difficult for me to exactly describe an accurate portrayal of what it might mean to be an American author, or what American fiction “was”. I think the novels we have read have a fascination with the placing of the narrator (and thusly the reader) in spaces that, either in artistic yet believably “real” settings or completely made of unconscious quality-words and settings that make “no sense” in their comparison to the real world.What is more important is how to create these spaces in a way that will succeed in maintaining the reader’s attention and sense of place within the story. In general, I think we can say that a large portion of present day American fiction enjoys blurring the lines between the real/unreal and the physical/cerebral worlds.
What most interests me about Renee Gladman’s novels is that they take the reader, and narrator to a point where the character or narrator of the world is still interacting with it and communicating, but the reaction of the world or the world’s inhabitants, as well as the narrators subsequent reactions to those, are written in a form that just “is”, similar to the semi-robotic actions of characters in The Avian Gospels. The characters don’t think they’re feeling somewhat usually, they just feel like it. It’s a relentless “continuance” of events or changes in the narrator and the world itself that suggests a lack of control.
If this is related to the overall theme of what creates a cerebral sense of horror or alienation, then I think it the horror or sci-fi element of the Ravickian novels is to be lost in a world made of words and gestures that you can never hope to achieve full understanding of. While that sentence may seem amusingly similar to the reality of “the real world” itself, I think that the notion of some place where communication will never be fully understood is intimidating to people, who have a natural drive to communicate and express things.
This is why as I have gone along in my readings wondering if Ravicka is perhaps not literally, but figuratively a representation of a place someone may visit when dreaming. The actions, motions and words of people do not convey the meaning besides the meaning itself (which is oft times inscrutable) similar to the way that dreams seem to continue on happening but do not necessarily make direct sense to the dreamer. (Depending on how a person experiences dreams, that said.)
If there is any credence to Ravicka being a type of dreamworld where communication devolves from understandable cultural words and signals into just the communication itself -being- the communication, I think it safe to say that Ravicka could be either a strict and worldly translator’s nightmare, or a culture-blending nomad’s paradise. And further, I would question whether visiting Ravicka would trigger a sense of anxious culture shock at the inability to communicate, or a great relief in the sense we get as readers that any communication is communication, despite it’s apparent inaccessibility.