Monday, November 17, 2008


Never have I cried so often. These blogs; this book; this paper has changed me as a person. I have reconsidered what literature is and what its function in my life is; I have reconsidered analysis of both fiction and reality, and I have wept and wept and wept through the whole thing.The crying began when I was reading the novel: the unfair reality of the tragdeies, the sickening truths coursed through me like revitalizing venom. It made me feel traumatized...and both too full and too hungry. I read it several more times, and the sheer intricacy of the blasted book frustrated me. I could not possibly discuss the depths of it in less than a thesis paper. I did eventually resolve all that and just talked about what I could, in both explication and apologia, and I felt satisfied given the constraints. I had written them and edited them, and the bulk of the real work was behind me. I didn’t cry for a little while.
The next crying came when my computer ate both my Apologia and my Explication. It happened on the day it was due. I hadn't posted them yet: foolishly waiting so that I might edit them on my familiar word-proccessor. When I opened both the files and blank pages glowered back at me I cried for an hour. I missed English class re-typing out the fucking things. Though I am still a little bit upset, I'm glad it happened, all of it. It wasn't nice or easy or encouraging but it was an experience. And an experience I will remember for a very, very long time.

Explication Bibliography

Findley, Timothy. Not Wanted on the Voayge. Penguin Books, 1984.

Storr, Anthony. The Integrity of the Personality. Pelican Books, 1964.

Wikipedia, "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations." 20 September 2008. 1 Nov 2008


Not Wanted on the Voyage is the perfect example of Polti’s first dramatic situation: supplication: when the ones in power should not be in power. Noah and Yahweh are undoubtedly representative of just that. They are bland, isolated, and crazy. It struck me as intriguing that this concept of supplication exists in fiction and history, and transcends the ages. Why does this happen? What is it about being in power that would drive people to such bizarre, and identical behaviors? Dr. Anthony Storr, a 20th century psychiatrist, provides a most intriguing response to this question. He states that the disintegration of the personality is inevitable when an individual is isolated. The personality can only function in a situation where comparison, mature dependence and authentic relationships exist. Accepting that as true, Noah and Yahweh are text-book illustrations of the isolated personality.
In his book, The Integrity of the Personality, Dr. Storr asserts:
" a relative concept. We can enumerate the various traits of personality which a man exhibits. We can say that he is decided, or gentle, or rapacious; that he is unfeeling, or stupid, or judicious; but out epithets have no meaning in isolation, just as black has no meaning without white. If by personality we mean a ‘distinctive personal character’ we are obliged to recognize that we can only conceive of such an entity in terms of contrasting it with other distinctive personal characters. I believe the same to be true of the total entity of the personality... The more isolated a man is, the less he is an independent personality, and the less does he exhibit those qualities which distinguish one man from another."
Dr. Storr goes on to list the repercussions of "a loss of personal identity". Among them are "the repetitive sameness of paranoid delusions...." and "the inability to make any contact". And what situation is more likely to isolate an individual than that of power? Consider how much time alone Caligula, Stalin, Yahweh and Noah spent. Consider how easily they lost sight of who they were and what they were, and how delusional, detached, and depraved they became. In Not Wanted on the Voyage, Yahweh has lost the ability to make contact, and Noah has succumb to the repetitive delusion of constantly being under attack.
Yahweh cannot hold interest, or truly engage in conversation when we meet Him in the book. He has been alone too long:
"‘Only Rabbi Akiva emerged intact from that journey beneath the trees. Only he, who knew not to reach out with his hands; who knew not to dwell upon the word; who knew not to fall upon the ground and eat-only he– only he...’ Yahweh’s voice trailed off into silence"
There are numerous other occasions during which Yahweh betrays not only His inability to socialize but also His lack of any actual personality. The reader can only really say that He seems old and senile after meeting this character. Yahweh is not someone who ought to be in power, and He is a schizotypal personality.
Noah suffers from paranoid delusions concerning being attacked by pirates. He was initially a self-righteous egomaniac, but now reveals no personal qualities of any kind.
""It’s a man," he said, quieter now.
"Yes, yes," said Hannah– taking his elbow to guide him– leading him towards the Castle. "It probably is a man. You’re right."
"Another boarding party"
"Yes. Yes."
"But we won again– didn’t we."
"Yes. We won. Again. Now you must go to bed.""
Noah and Yahweh function both as tragic characters but also important life lessons. Their schizophrenia is contrasted with Lucifer and Mrs. Noyes’ sanity to convey the ultimate importance of friendship, support and love. Isolation is (rightfully) portrayed as the fast-lane to madness; blandness; delusions; loneliness. Not Wanted on the Voyage functions as a moral story in this sense, leaving us treasuring our relationships with each other as the most precious of all things.

Apologia Bibliography

Cunningham, Kelsey. "Comment on First Journal Response", 2008

Findley, Timothy. Not Wanted on the Voyage. Penguin Books, 1984.

O'Malley, Martin. "Timothy Findely: "The Wolrd of Tiffiness"." 06 May 2004. 1 Nov 2008


Timothy Findley is absolutely out of his mind. His novel, Not Wanted on the Voyage, is an ingeniously crafted looking-glass into the nature of man, woman and beast. Its thematic depth and stark authenticity keep the reader ever questioning; ever surprised; and ever craving more. This is without a doubt a must-read for all men, women, and beasts.It is a comprehensive cogitation of humanity in all times and places. It is at once tragic, hilarious, touching and base; it is among the greatest works of fiction to grace Canadian literature.
Not Wanted on The Voyage is a re-telling of Noah’s Ark. The story is altered in numerous ways. Yahweh Himself visits Dr. Noah Noyes ("noyer" is french for "drown") and his family in a state of deep despair and senility. A wonderful twist of Mr. Findley’s is that Noah inadvertently gives Yahweh the idea to flood the world. During the course of a magic show, Noah shows Yahweh a trick whereby a penny is placed under a glass and made invisible by pouring water into it. Yahweh demands to see the trick several times and gradually becomes more and more shaken. He makes the connection that by "the sheer application-of disappears....". And the story develops in various twisted and marvelous ways: Yahweh dies, Mrs. Noyes struggles to be human in an inhumane world, Noah goes mad and Lucifer is rendered powerless. But perhaps the most interesting addition of Mr. Findley’s is his imagined interactions of the main characters and their relationships throughout the book.
Dr. Noah Noyes is an arrogant egomaniac with self-righteousness emanating out his every pore. His response to his wife saying "The only principles that matter here are yours!" and " will break Ham’s [their son] heart, if you insist on this." is "Then good...He will break his heart for Yahweh. And about time, too." It is not wholly surprising that he is sick and mad with loneliness by the end of the book.
Mrs. Noyes is an intricate, delicate, and yet strong woman who, squirming under the oppression of her circumstances, attempts to shift her "victim position" throughout the book. She defies Yahweh and His laws, going into the orchard and gorging on apples; she attempts to save a deformed child and bring her aboard the Arc. And in her finale of humanity she attempts to overthrow Noah’s totalitarian state and bring cooperative humanity into their lives. She is a deep, rich and complex character, and a symbol of the struggle to be human.
Mottle is Mrs. Noyes’ one-eyed cat, who narrates much of the story. Mr. Findley’s descriptions of the world from a cat’s perspective are fantastically accurate and detailed. CBC writes:
"Timothy Findley was severely embarrassed one morning when someone found him sniffing rocks and seaweed on a beach in British Columbia. He was searching for authenticity, this time trying to experience what an animal might sense for his novel Not Wanted on the Voyage,"
Mottle, Mrs. Noyes and Lucifer are the consistent voices of the modern Western sensibility, rebellion, humanity and struggle. Dr. Noyes, Hannah, and Yahweh are the voices of archaic and illogical cruelty for the sake of self-satisfaction, and of a gray, dreary and dead world. The situations, relationships and characters present a plethora of interconnected themes throughout the novel.
The themes of patriarchy, rebellion, truth, delusion, abandonment, love, trust, resentment, supplication, perseverance and many, many others all can be found weaving inextricably throughout Mr. Findley’s novel. However, for the purposes of this paper only a handful can be examined. The situation of Mrs. Noyes living in the ancient middle east coupled with the domineering nature of Yahweh and Noah show us the patriarchic nature of life at that time, and of the all-too-often overlooked bias of the bible itself. The situation of Noah isolating himself from family, friend and Father leave him abandoned, mad and resentful; we are reminded of early existential writings; of Stalin and Caligula; and of the terrors of isolation. The relationship between Mrs. Noyes and her husband, and her husband to Hannah, stir all who read on to the solemn revulsion of inauthenticity, lies and self-righteousness. The characters of Yahweh and Lucifer force the reader to rethink their ultimate values, and to see what is truly important.
Not Wanted on the Voyage is a religious experience. Its contributions to fiction as a medium are altogether innumerable. It is impossible to read without one the characters grabbing you; without one of the hundred themes shaking you to your core. It is a study of life and being as it is now, as it has been, and as it will always be. Setting down this tome the reader trembles... and prays for rain.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rough Explication Ideas

I intend to use the theme: Supplication (Polti's first dramtic situation) and apply it to Yaweh and Noah throughout the story.
I'm working on an outline for this but it's coming.

Apologia Outline- Suggestions Please!!!

Thesis: Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage is a comprehensive cogitation of humanity in all times and places. It is at once tragic, hilarious, touching and base; it is among the greatest works of fiction to grace Canadian literature.

I. Introduction
A. Timothy Findely
B. Not Wanted on the Voyage
C. Thematic depth
D. Timelessness
E. Thesis
II. Timothy Findely
A. Biography
B. Other books
C. Not Wanted on the Voayge
III. Not Wanted on the Voyage
A. Brief synopsis
B. Character interactions
C. Interpretive changes to archetypal story
D. World-wide appeal due to thematic depth
IV. Thematic Depth
A. Boundaries of time and place and their adverse affects on behaviour
B. Guardedness and Openess
C. Isolation and the disintegration of the personality
D. Love and humanity as reproachable
E. Society and decorum as the highest value
F. Abandonement of man by God
G. Truths hidden by historical recording
H. Good and Evil as a gray scale and not black or white
I. The timelessness of the themes
V. Timelessness
A. A comprehensive list of other works, throughout time, which have expressed the themes contained within "Not Wanted on the Voyage".
VI. Conclusion
A. The story as unique
B. The story as archetypal
C. The story as timless
D. The story as deep
E. The story as worth reading