Panoramaisland's Reviews > Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
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Asterios Polyp is an amazing mechanism of a story, a beautiful machine for putting on display the dialogue between Enlightenment and Romantic thinking: Duality and Nonduality brought together to form a duality, but a duality which turns nondual as the two elements interact.

This is one of those stories in which absolutely everything - every character, every color, every font, every stylistic choice - appears to be on some level a blatant storytelling device, a cog in the machine. The whole machine is so smooth and slick, and the core story is so simple and old, that the book itself ends up being like Asterios himself: it weighs duality-nonduality, apparently evenly, and then ends up heavy weighted on the side of duality - but by implication. Then again, it may well turn out on second reading that there's a whole bunch of nonduality lurking in the background (or rather, getting covered up), like Asterios' (ex-)wife Hana - in which case this thing is not just metafiction but HELLAmeta.

And believe me, I WILL be reading this again.

The story? It ain't so original. The device which the story serves? The ideas aren't new, but OH SHIT the device is new.

My comics artist brain is going to be dissecting this for the next couple weeks at least.

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