Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Images Speak

After reading what some other people have posted, I am interested in how Speigelman’s use of images is connected to the idea of writing, and perhaps more specifically to writing down an oral tradition. We have scene the concept of writing down oral tradition before, particularly in Tales of the Tikongs. As in Maus II, the written records of these stories were destroyed. In Tikongs, they became toilet paper; here, they are destroyed after the writer’s death. In Maus II, the “text” of the story has disappeared; what’s left are the images: they are images of Spiegelman’s father’s family and friends from Poland. Like the images his son creates in the graphic novel, the images of memory are separated and fragmented. This element is also reflected in the Speigelman’s narrative style, which shifts seamlessly between the past and present as one of the fragmented images returns to the surface as a result of being triggered by some other experience. The images Spiegelman’s father shows to his son are all of faces. Each face communicates a story to those who view it. The story is not in words or even tattoos but through the experience and interaction of that person with the “other.” Oral tradition nature requires it to be concerned more with emotive content than with precise language. Spiegelman’s work follows suit: rather than a work of textual sophistication, the faces and the images convey an emotion to the reader that text never could.
One might also consider why Maus II is subtitled “A Survivor’s Tale” and what connection this may have to orality. Spiegelman’s father didn’t ever write down his story of survival; it was passed to his son orally. He then transformed it into an extremely emotional work of text and graphics. By putting it into a form of writing, Spiegelman has ensured that the “survivor’s tale” will survive and that it’s most important element – its emotion content – will continue to be told to successive generations in a language that is not restricted to one particular culture or location.

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