Monday, April 8, 2013

Grimwauld Place

Speaking of mazes, I am stuck in the maze known as the Harry Potter video game in a mansion called Grimwauld place. I have yet to be able to move onto the next adventure of Harry Potter since I keep running into obstacles and secret passageways in this place. In each room there seems to be danger, all traps set up so that people would not stay there. It is hard to navigate or know how to move around these obstacles, and death seems to be my only option for many of them. Each time I try and move through the elaborate maze.

Thinking of Mazes makes me think of video games as mazes, for the most part you are being led through them blindly. You can get lost along the way, there are many twists and turns and not knowing what is around the next corner. One can get lost in them, not knowing what to do next, or not being able to play well enough to be able to find a way out. One can also get lost in them in sense that one can be so distracted playing them that they lose all sense of time and what else is going on the world and just keep playing and playing for hours without doing anything else.

Mazes are also sometimes impossible to get out of without the help of others. When following a narrative in a video game sometimes it is hard to be able to make it through without dying without some sort of cheat sheet. Or someone who has played the game before helping them through the maze that is a video game. In Harry Potter I know the story and I am still having trouble. The narrative follows the story from the book, but my challenges that I have to follow are different, and some of the things I have to go through are not completely familiar to me, making this all more of a maze.

For some part of the maze is also learning the language and how to use the controller of a video game. Sometimes it is hard to get the hang of how to navigate around on the screen using something that is in your hands, or knowing how to press certain buttons in order to cast certain spells or to throw certain potions at people, or become invisible. It seems that each time I play I forget everything I had established before, so it becomes all the more confusing. 

Being Stuck in a Maze

Harry Potter is not going well, we are still stuck in Grimwauld place, trying to see if there are still more traps that we can fall into in the house, or pixies that are going to attack us. It is like being lost in a maze, we have made it into the house, but in order to stay there and call it a safe haven, I have to go around and make sure the house is safe and protecting everyone from things that may pop out of no where and attack us. And while I keep dying and this does not seem like a possibility, it reminds me greatly of Monk Hall.

Monk Hall in Quaker City is a huge house/castle/mansion that is full of trap doors, secret doors, many stairways that seem to lead somewhere yet no where. "- it is easy enough for a stranger-that's you my boy-to find his way in, but it would puzzle him like the devil to find his way out. That is without assistance." (page 53). In Lippard's writing it is not only the characters that get lost in Monk hall, but also us as readers, since we descend into the Maze that is Quaker City and get lost trying to find characters as well as the story line and how they are all connected. We jump around to different parts in the story, characters dye, woman are seduced, and it all seems like a scary nightmare that we cannot escape, although we entered quite easily.

Many aspects of Monk hall also seem to not make sense, there is a tower room, false trap doors that one could down and dye, and secret doors. "He opened two folding leaves of a false book-case near the centre of the wall opposite the door, and a small fire-place neatly white washed and free from the ashes or the remains of any former fire, became visible" (page 115). there are secret compartments for everything in this house, and it is hard to even get a grasp for the building and how it is designed. It must be a tall building for there is a tower room, and yet the monks of monk hall descend down to their meetings, and they all take place below ground, it is a giant maze.

Mazes are scary, one seems to panic if they cannot find their way out, much like the girls when they tried to escape and seemed to go in circles. They can also allow for someone to lead you and be in control, if they seem to know the way even if you don't. This book allows us to be lead through a series of events by Lippard, through his version of Philadelphia, he is our only way out of the maze of Monk Hall and Quaker City. 


I believe Quaker City is a grand Manipulation. We as readers are being manipulated in the very way we read. The characters and plots that we are following is constantly switching and changing over time, leaving us not knowing what is coming next and making it hard to follow the story as a whole. While reading this book it was hard to understand if all the characters we were following would ever come together.

This book is also presented as a way to create reform in Philadelphia for all the crime and horrible activities that are taking place in the underworld. And while it does bring these crimes to light, it just seems to me that we are being manipulated to think it is about that, so we read it, but really all we get out of this book is fear, superstition and sensation of being drawn into another world. The horrible events that are described hardly seem to not condone the murder and seduction of these people and woman, they seem to let us see them, and wander why we find this book enjoyable to read.

Lippard uses our fascination with horror, and events so terrible that one cannot look away to hold our attention. We as readers do not want to see and hear these horrible actions, but we cannot seem to not read them and crave more. After Devil bug kills Luke he stand over him, "He drew an old - fashioned spanish knife from the breast of his coarse garment as he spoke. The blade, long, pointed and glittering, flew open with the touch of the spring. Stooping over the form of the insensible Luke, he applied the knife to his unbarred throat, and with a wild grimace distorting his features he moved it gently along the skin." (page 367). It is at one of these moments that it seems gruesome and awful, but alas one must not look away to see what will come next.

I also believe that Ravoni is a great way to see the use of manipulation. He is all powerful man, who is able to raise the dead to life, and he uses this power over others. People are scared of him, and yet they follow him and listen to everything he says. "In order to acquire an influence over the minds of men, which shall be irresistable and eternal, I will appeal to the principle rooted deep in every human heart. I will evoke the love of Mystery! I will awe and terrify by Miracles and Pageants and Shadows!" says Ravoni (page 425). I believe that is exactly what Lippard has done with this book. 

Imagination Running Away with you

Often times my imagination gets the better of me, while reading a book, or watching a movie I suddenly cannot sit alone in my room with the lights off, or run from the bathroom and launch onto my bed for fear that something is following me but if I can get to my bed I may be safe. I know this is irrational, I know that there is nothing in my townhouse that is lurking in dark corners, or around campus at night, but it doesn't make me feel more safe. I find myself often having to stop myself from thinking, take a few breaths, and realize that the movement I saw, was my scarf moving, or a hanging on my wall, or a brach swaying in the wind, and not any sort of demon at all.

The book Quaker City is all about this imagination running away, the villains, and sorcerers, and death all lurking in the dark, the nightmare becoming real. It is in reading a book like this that the sensation of fear, and superstition of what may be lurking around corners becomes real. Once you really let yourself become immersed in the book do you realize that your imagination takes it and runs. The city of Philadelphia takes on a whole new persona, and the furniture and familiar rooms of a place, are no longer comforting or familiar, they are lurking.

Even the characters are not something to be trusted or understood, "The truth is, there were two Lorrimers in one. There was a careless, dashing, handsome fellow ho could kill a basket of champagne with any body. . .And then there was the tall, handsome man, with a thoughtful countenance, and a keep, dark hazel eye, who would sit down by the side of an innocent woman, and whisper in her ear." (page 89). One part of Lorrimer is good and friendly and another aspect of him is seducing woman and appearing in dark shadows, our imagination can just run away with the possibilities of what he is capable of.

It seems as if nothing can be trusted, "One, from the old State House clock, one. There is a wild music in the sound of that old bell. It rings like the voice of a warning spirit, when heard in the silence of the night." (page 346). It is hard to see if this book is so scary and enticing to readers because the clocks and characters here are part of something that is always changing and seems to be evil. Or maybe it is just the characters imaginations running away themselves and us as readers are getting swept up in the whole captivating story letting it take on another quality of fear and suspense.