The Scared, the Profane, and the Similarity

The bombardment scene in The Forbidden Zone enraged me. Like actually enraged. I wanted to post about it prior to class but felt I needed to collect my thoughts and rein in my disgust before ranting all over our blog. Thanks to Morgan’s confidence-inducing and accepting-of-my-crazy pep talk, I’m throwing caution to the wind (or rather, blowing it out the this ticking time bomb I call a brain).

Mary Borden disgusted me. The narrator watched the bombardment happen and did nothing. Of course, they detailed the scene (a sick thing to do if you ask me), but they didn’t warn anyone though they saw the planes. They didn’t help of the people though they saw them running. They didn’t do anything but watch. I refuse to believe that a stunned demeanor makes up for these actions.

Transitioning to an aerial view of the destruction disgusted me even further. Never in my life have I had such a visceral and actual real physical reaction to a text. I’m talking my hands got sweaty, my face got hot, and I threw the book across the room. Okay, okay, I didn’t actually–books are sacred things, mind you–but I wanted to. I really really wanted to. The telling of the story from above gave the narrator God-like power over the destruction. And if not merely over the destruction, it gave the narrator the power to avoid it. It equated the dichotomy of power and destruction with that of the sacred and the profane.

Giving the narrator that power almost seemed like a religious stab. As though anyone believing in a God or willing to exonerate their God from allowing such a thing to happen had transitioned themselves from the sacred to the profane. Borden almost flips the meaning on the two words.

Power = proof of sacredness and sacred = profane

In class we discussed how there might not be any real evidence of religious suggestions so far in the book. I disagree. I think Borden is making clear and direct accusations regarding religion.

260 thoughts on “The Scared, the Profane, and the Similarity

  1. This is the angry post I was waiting for, Jordan! I feel like this is basically like what we talked about in our group today and I get what you are saying. You are so able to have these feelings regardless of what others think. I am super glad that I was able to help you feel comfortable taking to the blog about this! I see it from both sides, what you are saying and also the inevitability of this event. After what we talked about in class, how Borden is taking on the perspective of the enemy and the real Borden is down on the ground trying to help people, I don’t hate it AS much as I did. But also, this is the reality of the war. Is it gross that it is now in a book for forever and there is nothing that can be done about it, yes. Is it sad that no one did anything to try to warn people or save them, yes. But it goes with the reality of what was happening during this time. I don’t think there was much that could be done to save these people, a warning might not of changed things, but then again I might have.

  2. Wow, this reading is extremely interesting to me. I didn’t read it this way at all!

    I think just because we were positioned with the planes, with the overhead view it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to assume that the narrator is standing doing nothing in this scene. To me it seemed more like she was including herself as the ants, and this view we had was from another party, an imagined viewpoint. Projecting Borden as the author or a narrator we expect to act heroically in this moment seems unfair to what we’ve been given so far in this book, to the unique and striking ways Borden plays with POV and language. I mean, we don’t even really have a clear narrator in this text. The point of view changes, even the style of the stories change, some read more like children’s stories, some read like a tour, some like a firsthand account. I mean, at some points we have ourselves positioned with inanimate things even though we’ve been told this is a factual account, whether it’s the house that speaks, or the landscape itself!

    I read the indifference of the language you were disgusted by, the description of people as ants has to do with the technology of war itself, and how war makes the individual feel small, unimportant, insectoid, inhuman. I think it is an extremely powerful, evocative, and effective scene in the text.

    Your comment on it relating to a critique on religion or a God is definitely something I want to think more about (and I think Dr. Scanlon said there’s more about it later in the text perhaps?). It makes me think about other modernist texts (this text screams modernist to me!) which also comment on the existence of a God in face of the terror of WWI.

    What do other people think about this??? You got me thinking!

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