Friday, March 12, 2010

Addie Bundren's Pesky Neighbor Alvin

One of my smart students was talking about how Addie in AS I LAY DYING "kills her husband by repeating his name." Here's Faulkner: "He did not know that he was dead, then. Sometimes I would lie by him in the dark, hearing the land that was now of my blood and flesh, and I would think: Anse. Why Anse. Why are you Anse. I would think about his name until after a while I could see the word as a shape, a vessel, and I would watch him liquefy and flow into it like cold molasses flowing out of the darkness into the vessel, until the jar stood full and motionless: a significant shape profoundly without life like an empty door frame; and then I would find I had forgotten the name of the jar." Well, that reminded me of a Little Lulu story by John Stanley. It's collected in THE TOON TREASURY OF CLASSIC CHILDREN'S COMICS, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, if you want to read it. Little Lulu's pesky neighbor Alvin notes that "'Foot' is a funny word!" His observation instigates a panel in which Little Lulu says, "Foot... Foot... Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot... If you say it over and over again, it doesn't mean foot anymore." Alvin replies, "'Foot' is a funny word for a foot." In the next panel, Little Lulu says, "Foot! Foot! Foot! Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot!" Alvin says, "Foot! Foot! Foot! Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot!" And that's just on page 2 of a relentlessly escalating five-page story. Hey, look, I found someone else "blogging" about the same Little Lulu story! And the wonderful panels he reproduced will now cause me to break my "random picture rule" - designed to save my computer from blowing up - for the eighth time in a row.