Well, it’s 11pm. The Fenwick Library computers have gone all HAL on me and don’t want me to open blackboard or load the comic in comiXology. And my phone’s about to die. So much for citing specific pages in the text this week. Luckily, I’ve been thinking about my blog post for a few days now, so I’m not completely stranded. (Unless my phone dies anyway. Then I might be stranded.)
What fascinated me about We3 was exactly what forthefairest picked up on: the emphasis on differences between the animals’ minds and human minds. I attributed the more dense, fragmented panels as expressions of this theme. When my understanding got fuzzy- no pun intended- I tried to go with the the flow and wait for a clear picture again. This is a strategy I picked up in Neuromancer while trying to follow Gibson’s more dynamic action scenes. I found it worked a lot better in We3 than if I had tried to force total, immediate clarity. One thing I’m learning this semester is that we have to give authors and artists the benefit of the doubt; they typically have reasons to momentarily suspend our understanding of something.
That said, it wasn’t the art or the pacing that challenged me the most. It was the dialogue. In most of the stories I’ve seen feature talking animals, there’s an element of wish fulfillment or anthropomorphism. We3 is (are?) nothing like that. Instead, we get an approximation of animal attitudes rendered into broken human speech. We once discussed the definition of uncanny in class; this is the most uncanny thing I’ve encountered in our readings.
While creating massive cognitive dissonance and highlighting the differences between my own thoughts and those of the animals, the dialogue also helped me understand the characters better. By shaving off unnecessary grammar and vocabulary, we can see Bandit’s lingering canine imperatives in 1: obey, protect, home, and most of all, the virtue of being “gud.” We can see Tinker’s vestigial feline condescension when 2 says, repeatedly, “1 know 0.” That 2 never says, “1 knows nothing” strikes me as the most clever thing in the book- the perfect meshing of Sassy from Homeward Bound and absurd computer translation of abstract thought. I even giggled every time 3 said “Uh-oh.” (In my mind, I heard the old ICQ sound. Funny how that’s the most human comment any of the animals ever make. I have to agree with forrest– they found ways to write in some humor.)
So, to recap: I need to find better campus computers, my old black phone just ain’t what she used to be, and We3 uses dialogue to simultaneously make readers sympathize with and be disturbed by its namesake characters.