F&LILV Question #24 - Symbolism

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F&LILV Question #24 - Symbolism

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:53 am

What other uses of symbolism do you see in F&LILV?
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Unread postby Endora » Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:39 pm

I've had a lot of trouble finding an answer to this one, Liz.

One thing that I've always thought about is the sense of place in a book. I think the landscape the author chooses says a lot about what he is trying to express. Here we've got a journey, a common theme, between two places seen as part of the American Dream, LA and LV. Both places are symbolic in a way, of consumption, LV for greed, to be sure. Neither are really seen as honest places. The space in between the two is the desert, a place where there is nothing, and the idea of nothing is fearful, there is a need to get through it fast at all costs. Dangerous things happen there...think of what they could have done to the hitch-hiker, or the reference to Manson.

Again, I'm trying to get my ideas together here.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 29, 2005 12:50 pm

Hannah wrote: I agree with those who've drawn the conclusion that the Wave is like the transition into the 70's from the 60's. I think this could identify with what HST is saying with the "right eyes"(I think the eyes are a metaphor in this speech). This could mean that the eyes he's speaking of could be the eyes of someone who's gone through the sixties and seventies, the eyes of someone who's pure and limitless.


Hannah posted this over on the Wave thread but I thought it fit in very nicely here as well! :cool:
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Unread postby DeppLovesBananahs » Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:09 pm

Endora wrote:I've had a lot of trouble finding an answer to this one, Liz.

One thing that I've always thought about is the sense of place in a book. I think the landscape the author chooses says a lot about what he is trying to express. Here we've got a journey, a common theme, between two places seen as part of the American Dream, LA and LV. Both places are symbolic in a way, of consumption, LV for greed, to be sure. Neither are really seen as honest places. The space in between the two is the desert, a place where there is nothing, and the idea of nothing is fearful, there is a need to get through it fast at all costs. Dangerous things happen there...think of what they could have done to the hitch-hiker, or the reference to Manson.

Again, I'm trying to get my ideas together here.


I think you're right, he obviously had a lot he wanted to symbolize in this book. He had many points to come across, and I think the Wave Speech sort of brings many of those points together. Like you said, the common theme is that the American Dream centralizes the whole symbol of the times that Hunter was writing about, HST brings that idea into the book.

Good Job getting your ideas together, Endora. :cool:

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Unread postby JD101 » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:07 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Hannah wrote: I agree with those who've drawn the conclusion that the Wave is like the transition into the 70's from the 60's. I think this could identify with what HST is saying with the "right eyes"(I think the eyes are a metaphor in this speech). This could mean that the eyes he's speaking of could be the eyes of someone who's gone through the sixties and seventies, the eyes of someone who's pure and limitless.


Hannah posted this over on the Wave thread but I thought it fit in very nicely here as well! :cool:


I always thought the "right eyes" in that speech meant 'eyes that wish to see'. In other words you could see the mark if you were open to the truth.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:24 pm

Endora wrote:I've had a lot of trouble finding an answer to this one, Liz.

One thing that I've always thought about is the sense of place in a book. I think the landscape the author chooses says a lot about what he is trying to express. Here we've got a journey, a common theme, between two places seen as part of the American Dream, LA and LV. Both places are symbolic in a way, of consumption, LV for greed, to be sure. Neither are really seen as honest places. The space in between the two is the desert, a place where there is nothing, and the idea of nothing is fearful, there is a need to get through it fast at all costs. Dangerous things happen there...think of what they could have done to the hitch-hiker, or the reference to Manson.

Again, I'm trying to get my ideas together here.


Endora, I know I'm obsessed, but your description of the landscape reminded me of The Great Gatsby again--the Valley of Ashes to be exact, which SRT brought up in the Fitz & HST thread. We know that Hunter was inspired heavily by Fitzgerald's novel specifically while writing F&LILV, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch. This quote from the book reminds me of the landscape of the desert. Also, LA (or West) reminds me of West Egg and Las Vegas East Egg. It could also be vice verse depending on how you look at it.

"About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight. But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground."
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Unread postby suec » Thu Sep 29, 2005 5:06 pm

Well, you've inspired me now. I hadn't thought about it until I read this thread, but it reminds me of The Waste Land, not least because of the reference to a handful of dust in the poem and the myth about the prophetess Sybil, for whom life became quite wretched. As many years of life as grains of sand in her hand, but her youth, and happiness, were lost. It seems to me that there might be a link there, with what has been lost in the book. I also think there might be a connection with the reference to those with eyes to see, which is what a prophet has, really. Then there is the issue of quality of life in the poem - or lack of it, without meaning.

Another thing that interests me is the use of news articles and programmes, where there are the references to Vietnam. I think that must be significant. They are just there in the background, quite muted really. Then there is the article about the man who had taken an overdose of animal tranquilizer and pulled out his eyeballs without feeling any pain. His eyes were bothering him and he could not read. So under the influence of drugs he pulled them out without feeling pain. I think that is extremely symbolic of the pain of having the eyes to see, and the medication of the drugs. It links very effectively with the epigraph.

I need to go away and do some more thinking now. Very tough questions!
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 29, 2005 5:11 pm

suec wrote: I need to go away and do some more thinking now. Very tough questions!_________________

But very good answers! :bounce:
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:03 pm

This quote strikes me, "A week in Vegas is like stumbling into a Time Warp, a regression to the late fifties."

In some way I cannot help but think that the city of Vegas itself is symbolic of the powers that be in the late '60s. There was something happening all around, but then there's a whole large group of people who don't see it and don't get it. So, in essence, they don't move forward. Change happens and they aren't a part of it.

I'm having a hard time putting this thought fully together. Sorry. This is an especially tough question.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:15 pm

QueenofKings wrote:This quote strikes me, "A week in Vegas is like stumbling into a Time Warp, a regression to the late fifties."

In some way I cannot help but think that the city of Vegas itself is symbolic of the powers that be in the late '60s. There was something happening all around, but then there's a whole large group of people who don't see it and don't get it. So, in essence, they don't move forward. Change happens and they aren't a part of it.

I'm having a hard time putting this thought fully together. Sorry. This is an especially tough question.


:cool: I do see what you mean QofK and I think you are right on the money...so to speak.
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Unread postby shame_about_rasins » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:22 pm

QueenofKings wrote:This quote strikes me, "A week in Vegas is like stumbling into a Time Warp, a regression to the late fifties."

In some way I cannot help but think that the city of Vegas itself is symbolic of the powers that be in the late '60s. There was something happening all around, but then there's a whole large group of people who don't see it and don't get it. So, in essence, they don't move forward. Change happens and they aren't a part of it.

I'm having a hard time putting this thought fully together. Sorry. This is an especially tough question.

I like that quote, so if vegas is simbolic of a place that has not progressed?(is that right?) then is Vegas as whole symbolising a greater picture, perhaps all of America or other countries in simillar situations??
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:27 pm

These symbols aren't nearly as mythic as the desert, but the Shark and the Whale are certainly a living breathing characters in both the book and movie. A shark of course is dangerous, stealthy, fast, sleek and lethal which accounts for the freewheeling confidence of our boys during the Mint assignment. The shark escapes unscathed… is this meant to be symbolic of the optimistic side of the "long fine flash" of the 60s?

Then of course there is the Whale. A whale is a smart but slow moving, bloated creature who was headed for extinction in the early 70’s. The Whale of course gets battered beyond recognition without having any of the fun…. The death of the American Dream?
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Unread postby Raven » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:28 pm

not having the book handy and feeling like #$#%, I cannot add my 2 cents about much symbolism in the book. But I will ask a question.

What do you think the red convertible symbolized?

and I will add at the top of my head, that Hunter could have said he stayed at any casino/hotel, but Circus Circus? Not sure you have to stretch to far to figure out that one.

ok I am going back to bed.

later

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Unread postby Raven » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:29 pm

dharma_bum wrote:These symbols aren't nearly as mythic as the desert, but the Shark and the Whale are certainly a living breathing characters in both the book and movie. A shark of course is dangerous, stealthy, fast, sleek and lethal which accounts for the freewheeling confidence of our boys during the Mint assignment. The shark escapes unscathed… is this meant to be symbolic of the optimistic side of the "long fine flash" of the 60s?

Then of course there is the Whale. A whale is a smart but slow moving, bloated creature who was headed for extinction in the early 70’s. The Whale of course gets battered beyond recognition without having any of the fun…. The death of the American Dream?


wow DB! we were having a similar thought here.

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Unread postby Still-Rather-Timid » Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:34 pm

Liz wrote:
Endora wrote:I've had a lot of trouble finding an answer to this one, Liz.

One thing that I've always thought about is the sense of place in a book. I think the landscape the author chooses says a lot about what he is trying to express. Here we've got a journey, a common theme, between two places seen as part of the American Dream, LA and LV. Both places are symbolic in a way, of consumption, LV for greed, to be sure. Neither are really seen as honest places. The space in between the two is the desert, a place where there is nothing, and the idea of nothing is fearful, there is a need to get through it fast at all costs. Dangerous things happen there...think of what they could have done to the hitch-hiker, or the reference to Manson.

Again, I'm trying to get my ideas together here.


Endora, I know I'm obsessed, but your description of the landscape reminded me of The Great Gatsby again--the Valley of Ashes to be exact, which SRT brought up in the Fitz & HST thread. We know that Hunter was inspired heavily by Fitzgerald's novel specifically while writing F&LILV, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch. This quote from the book reminds me of the landscape of the desert. Also, LA (or West) reminds me of West Egg and Las Vegas East Egg. It could also be vice verse depending on how you look at it.

"About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight. But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground."


I've even been seeing a vague similarity between the enormous eyes of Eckleburg and the opportunity that "for just 99 cents your likeness will appear, two-hundred feet tall, on a screen above downtown Las Vegas" (p. 47). So I guess for a few moments anyone can have the God's-eye view of Eckleburg, brooding over the wasteland.

I've been so busy at school this week that I haven't had time to post, but I'm catching up on what everyone's written, and will add my two cents here and there. I miss this place!
Last edited by Still-Rather-Timid on Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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