Exploration of the Sentence–and How it Means

    From interviews with Gladman and the summary on the back of the book, it seems safe to assume that Event Factory is about sentences and garnering meaning from sentences. I even take the title to be a wry description of a sentence; it is a place where happening and meanings are formed together, an “event factory”. This book is interested in critical theory and how words “mean” what they mean.

   Searching for proof of this in the book, I’ve found several places where the author directly speaks to the difficulty of extracting meaning from a set of words. She often refers to words and sentences metaphorically; she calls them “constructions ” and “structures”. On page 93, she says: “I look at a shape, then look out into the world for the contents to fill it, but the thing I bring back does not fit–it more than not-fits, it destroys the shape altogether,” (emphasis not mine). This reminds me of Lacan’s theory, which is classified as post-structuralist; these theories posit that humanity is so complex and words are so tied to humanity that it is difficult to escape the “structure” of the sentence in order to fully comprehend it (Foucault’s theories about power structures in society and government are post-structuralist, for example). 

   So Gladman is in the post-structuralist camp. Further proof of this can be found in the many places in the novel in which the narrator “communicates” but does not fully understand what is happening. She often guesses what movement might come next, and throws a few “Hello”s in for good measure. She is in the process of trying to understand Ravicka, while immersed in its culture and communication. I think this is exactly the way a post-structuralist would think about approaching a sentence and trying to discover its meaning. The narrator cannot escape the confusing culture around her (referring to the complexities of language and how culture has shaped it and is connected to it), but tries to extract meaning anyway. 


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