Lilburninbean's Reviews > The Three Paradoxes

The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier
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Mar 10, 08

Read in March, 2008

Definitely not as good as Mother Come Home. Here’s what interested me: I like the way PH weaves between five different narratives (childhood sketches in blue ink; present-day visit with parents; red/orange pixilated memories of childhood; retro-brown flashback of neighbourhood child’s accident; “antique” pages of cartoon depictions of Zeno, Parmenides, and Socrates in Athens). Though rather simple, I also think the act of drawing as a strategy for defeating childhood demons could have been interesting. The problem is that it seemed too simple, too neat, and too superficial.

I understand why PH recounts the racial slurs and anti-queer comments the school children around him were constantly making; it seems he’s wrestling with the ways in which his peers saw and interacted in their social worlds. But I don’t fully understand the panel where his child-self calls the “wise guy” “bitch tits” before beating him. As a reader, I might speculate that this sexist language is one of the many troubling forms of speech he had learned among his peers, but without serious and detailed recursive attention to his own behaviour/language/actions/desires, Paul doesn’t clearly take ownership for the shitty ways he came to act in his albeit child-perceived world.

A similar case could be made for the response that Socrates gave to Zeno—calling him a “retard.” While Parmenides recoils at this comment, it’s entirely unclear if he’s recoiling on account of its discriminatory effect or because it’s such an “insult” to his lover, Zeno. I don’t get it. In my mind, “retard” (in the derogatory sense that it’s so frequently used by the masses) remains one of those terms that is deeply complicated yet so very foundationally inconsiderate and discriminatory. But I digress.

I think there’s a huge a gap in this book; I would have liked PH to explore and reflect upon the disparities between his child and adult selves, their learned behaviours and ideas about their surroundings, and to be less ambiguous about how/if these selves are reconcilable in any way. After all, there are so many interesting threads of Zeno’s paradox theories in his self-exploration—time, distance, motion. Also, I have to admit the dialogue read as hyper-performed at times; the conversations try too hard, which interrupted my engagement with the story.

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