Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Congress of the Animals

Readers of the “Frank” stories know that The Unifactor is in control of everything that happens to the characters that abide there, and that however extreme the experiences they undergo may be, in the end nothing really changes. That goes for treble for Frank himself, who is kept in a state of total ineducability by the unseen forces of that haunted realm. And so the quest

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    Jan Philipzig

    Perfection. But fun. And romantic, too.

    Eddie Watkins

    Jun 30, 2011

    rated it
    really liked it

    Shelves:
    manga-comics

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    Mythopoeic. This term must be used when discussing Jim Woodring’s work. Behind the intensely subjective vision and surrealistic extravagances is a heraclitean bedrock of received and created myths. Take Congress of the Animals. What we have here is nothing less than a cosmological creation tale told from a macro- and microcosmic viewpoint. It can be read as the history of a person (more than likely autobiographically Woodringian) and the history of us all (or at least those of us op

    Mythopoeic. This term must be used when discussing Jim Woodring’s work. Behind the intensely subjective vision and surrealistic extravagances is a heraclitean bedrock of received and created myths. Take Congress of the Animals. What we have here is nothing less than a cosmological creation tale told from a macro- and microcosmic viewpoint. It can be read as the history of a person (more than likely autobiographically Woodringian) and the history of us all (or at least those of us open to the mythopoeic). As it is cosmological rather than cosmogonical it begins with the world already in place, enjoying perhaps a thoughtless and story-free Golden Age, Pupshaw scampering about our shins, and then proceeds to tell the tale of what happens when strife enters the world, and with it self-awareness.

    Anyone interested in Woodring should know that for years, beginning in childhood, he suffered from hallucinations wherein ominous and threatening shapes and beings divebombed his brain. The stubbornly haunting lineaments of these shapes and beings are clearly represented in his later work. He/she should also know that success did not come easy for him, that he had to work a number of unsavory jobs before making it with his pen. These bare facts are useful to know when reading Congress of the Animals as within it these facts are mythopoeicized.

    In the beginning a rather capricious and gloating deity is floating about in his balloon popping bon-bons when he inadvertently blocks the rays of a sun tanning satan figure – (check the page (one of my favorites here) that directly correlates the deity with satan, both self-satisfactorily reclining with arms behind head). This conjunction of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (in quotes because there are no absolutes in Woodringland) issues in the destruction of Frank’s (the loveably sappy, and ethically erratic, main character) world; the destruction facilitated by a Pandora’s croquet set jettisoned by the deity as his balloon threatens to plummet.

    And so a series of crazy adventures ensue, which as I said are roughly autobiographical, including a stint hauling garbage, but which also chronicle the gradual (and fragile) awakening to awareness of any human to himself and to his place in the world.

    These adventures include: the earth opening up and swallowing his house, an underwater journey where the deity maliciously and gleefully destroys an ancient treasure, the discovery of a large Frank-like monument (which becomes the object of his quest),depictions of the now earthbound deity creating further mischievous disturbances in Frank’s life, with Frank one moment subjected to his will and at another moment free of it and laughing at the disabled deity; the deity having lost a leg and an eye in a no doubt freak accident. Frank, you see, is something of a will-o’-the-wisp, with a continuously fluctuating character, which of course makes him all the more real and affecting.

    During the course of his adventures he also descends into what can only be termed a psychic hell, where men with hollowed out faces intentionally subject him to horrors and hallucinations, from which Frank emerges with a peculiar twisted-up organ protruding from his navel. He pokes this back in and then goes on his way, no doubt a fundamentally changed creature.

    Nearly all of the allegorical/symbolical details of the tale are fairly clear to me, which at least on a first read I found vaguely disappointing; but then on further reads the innate power of these details over-rode my logical understanding of them and I found a new satisfaction. Though the meaning/significance of one particular detail still eludes me. At one point Frank ends up literally underground and is enlisted to help an assortment of creatures tug on ropes that drop into a blind hole. With Frank’s help a horrifying though impassive creature with multiple faces in the round emerges, only to fall back into the hall drawing all the creatures but Frank with it. On the back cover Woodring provides a key of sorts to the book, and this particular scene is described as “The sudden appearance of the agency which makes one feel at home in the earth.” Immediately after this adventure Frank does seem to have more self-control, and he does immediately enter a large Frank-like structure unimpeded, wherein he meets his future wife. So the multi-faced creature does appear to have been the agent of some kind of awakening, but it’s so horrific looking! and it did seemingly draw a number of creatures to their deaths, so… what I take from it is that in Woodringland to ‘feel at home in the earth’ is a decidedly mixed blessing.

    Have the mythopoeic characteristics of this particularly work been well enough elucidated? I hope they have at least been suggested, and far from exhausted, as I hope only to inspire others to check out Woodringland (aka The Unifactor) for themselves.
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    Keith

    Jun 25, 2014

    rated it
    it was amazing

    WHY ARE THESE BOOKS SO GREAT IT HURTS ME