It can only be the prejudice of poor exposure. I once took Antonio Carluccio to my favourite Nigerian restaurant in London and he raved at the revelation. But it was too late in his career to champion what might become the next great discovery in international cuisine. The moment now feels right. I was born in Minna [in Nigeria] where my earliest memory is panicking my mother for a whole day, when I was only about a year and a half old, because I headed off across the market and got lost in town.
|Published (Last):||23 August 2006|
|PDF File Size:||15.58 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||11.21 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Their judgment, from the literary angle, is that this utopianism results from cruel treatment the society suffers in the hands of corruption. This paper does a linguistic analysis of Astonishing the Gods, and gives a semantic explanation of what appears as the utopian sense in the novel.
Using componential semantics, this paper observes that Okri joggles, plays on, and consequently truncates meaning propositions in the text. These truncations are reflected in the strange lexical combination within the syntagmatic relations of his expressions. This essay thus concludes that this is the cause of utopianisms in the text.
Keywords: utopianism, semantic truncation; Astonishing the Gods; Componential Theory. Its method of analysis is stylistic and pragmatic- this is because to a reasonable extent this essay relies on contextual knowledge of the real world to make lucid the eccentricities of the world Okri creates. The linguistic tool deployed here is the Componential Theory of meaning. The data are got from a random sample of extracts in the text which are relevant to our analysis.
The componential theory is chosen because its juxtaposition methodology helps make lucid the sense relations in the novel. Componential analysis tests the idea that linguistic categories influence or determine how people view the world; this is called the Whorf hypothesis after the American anthropological linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf, who proposed it. In componential analysis, lexemes that have a common range of meaning constitute a semantic domain.
Such a domain is characterized by the distinctive semantic features components that differentiate individual lexemes in the domain from one another, and also by features shared by all the lexemes in the domain. Such componential analysis points out, for example, that in the domain "seat" in English, the lexemes "chair", "sofa", "loveseat", and "bench" can be distinguished from one another according to how many people are accommodated and whether a back support is included.
At the same all these share the common component, or feature, of meaning "something on which to sit. Within Generative-Transformational Theory, meaning is studied through semantic features where the deep structure of a sentence and the meaning of words used in that structure together represent the total meaning of the sentence features mention the permissible relationship among words.
Consider the sentence: that is a good hope. Literature Review This paper humbly acknowledges the effort of some critics at expanding the knowledge frontiers of the novel. Taking her cue from Kahil Gibran, she upholds that the author "combines dream and desire with myth in his exploration of an imaginary city of the mind as a remedy for human misfortune and wrongdoing" By this she implies that Okri seeks a panacea from within against the corruption of the external world.
To push in her point with specific reference to Astonishing the Gods , she asserts that "What Okri propounds in Astonishing the Gods is freeing the fetters of the past, and visualizing universal justice through careful spiritual and social evolution" Sola Ogunbayo is of the view that Okri deploys myth to give prophetic insight and suggestions that could provide lasting peace to the troubled regions of Africa.
When viewed in mythical terms, these patterns could be predictive of crises, could serve as warnings, or could be suggestive of possible antidotes.
He is of the view that the author uses satire as a tool to convey "his vision to the reader through the creation of characters that he invests with specific symbolic attributes…" 1. Corina Kesler hypothesizes that there is a causal relationship between the conditions of oppression and expression of utopia To this end he concludes that Okri is a master craftsman who juxtaposes his ideologies with the metaphysical features of transcendence and utopianism However, what seems to be missing is that there is no linguistic approach to the text.
This forms a motivation to this essay. It adopts the componential theory of meaning, because it observes that the oddities in the novel reside in the incompatibility of component denotations. An exploration of this angle shows that the author exploits meanings to create a utopian world.
On that note, this essay demonstrates that Okri truncates meaning propositions in Astonishing the Gods to create a utopian world.
For instance, on entering the utopian city, the narrator says that the town was empty, but the unnamed protagonist could feel that there were people all around This is because in the contemporary world, it is impossible for a town to be empty, yet has people around.
But in the world of the novel, this is made possible. Even when the lad observes that he has grown heavier, the guide replies "On our island heavier is lighter" The sense derivable from this combination is untenable in this mundane world except in a state of utopia. On entering the city of the invisible, the lad sees things which metamorphose into wondrous elements. Alarmed and terrified, he begins to ask questions. This buttresses the fact that the world Okri presents in the text is celestial, abstract; a perfect world.
A world that defiles the earthly laws of gravity. Going further, the lad inquires about the people of the city, and the guide replies that "The city sleeps. The inhabitants dream" This distorts the flow along the meaning syntagmatic relation. However, this shows that the author in the text envisages a world where even the non-human elements stones, houses, et cetera.
To put it succinctly, Okri envisages a world of peace. The first law of the city calls for semantic probation. It says that "what you think is what becomes real" However the world of the novel violates this natural status quo- it is a world where thought is more real than action. This baffles the rational mind. It is unusual for one not to see the physical things presented before one, expect the fellow is blind.
But that proposition is not given within the context of the text. Hence author and reader share similar frame of mind. This is the reverse of a. It is the nucleus of the absurdity and profundity in the extract. Similarly, the narrator tells us that the silence of the child-guide helps the young lad understand certain things about the city This is also challenging to swallow without raising an eye brow.
This is because one has to be taught, before one can understand, and teaching is usually done by talking. But Okri reverses this order- whereby teaching is done in silence. How then is communication enacted? The paper is aware of the paralinguistic form of communication, but no such thing is given or implied in the text. Furthermore, we are told that "The streets shone in the dark" In a continuous changing clime, the narrator describes the metropolitan, socio-economic, and academic setting of the island.
The description is given below, thus: Suddenly, he saw the city as a vast network of thoughts. Courts were places where people went to study the laws, not places of judgment. The library, which he took to be one building, but which he later discovered was practically the whole city, was a place where people went to record their thoughts, their dreams, their intuitions, their ideas, their memories, and their prophecies.
They also went there to increase the wisdom of the race. Books were not borrowed. Books were composed, and deposited…He was surprised to know, in a flash, without being told, that banks were places where people deposited or withdrew thoughts of well-being, thoughts of wealth, thoughts of serenity.
When people were ill, they went to their banks. When healthy, they went to the hospitals…The doctors and nurses were masters of the art of humour, and they all had to be artists of one kind or another…The concept of money was alien to the city.
The only form of money it had consisted in the quality of thoughts, ideas, and possibilities. With a fine idea a house could be purchased. In the utopian world, it is a centre for contributing, collating, and building up knowledge. However in the invisible city, it is a place for depositing and withdrawing thoughts. The catalyst for this meaning distortion is that the author substitutes money a tangible substance for thought an abstraction. One only goes to the hospital when one is ill. This is absolutely insensible; what business does a healthy fellow have with a hospital?
This also to the rational mind is ridiculous. The Holy Bible says that money answers all things Proverbs…. This implies that money is known in all sectors of life. However in the context of Astonishing the Gods, that tangible tender is a stranger.
Okri says that "a fine thought could purchase a house" 71 , but we know that in reality a fine thought without money cannot even buy a bag of cement. Thus, the propositional oddities in the text prove that the world Okri talks about is impracticable, except in the abstract, imaginative context- a utopian world.
Furthermore, the narrator gives an account of another experience. The young lad stands in the middle of the square where invisible hands brought him a mattress, a jug of water, and a lamp He also knows that it is this light that shines and brightens the environment.
On entering the square, the lad senses the presence of a crowd, yet he sees no one. The square has people going about their normal business, yet it is reported to be as silent as a mortuary. The narrator recounts that "He felt the square to be crowded, and yet he saw no one around" It is semantically impossible for an item square to possess two contradictory features simultaneously. It should be noted that actually the hall is crowded.
This is because not too long, the lad encounters the tall lean youth and its female form. Therefore, if his sense of sight could not detect the crowd, but his sense of feel can, it shows that the author creates a world where the inhabitants are better guided by their abstract senses. This is the definition of utopia- a state where abstraction, imagination, and theory thrive.
After the dove incident , the lad wakes up the next morning to discover that the dove is missing. He goes about looking for it, and the dwarf-like guide tells him he would never find it. Surprised at the pessimism in the tone, he asks: "Why is that? The strangeness of the above expression lies in the slots the two verbs occupy find and look.
Find denotes discovering something after a search has been consciously or unconsciously done.
Ben Okri’s “Astonishing the Gods” (1995)
Their judgment, from the literary angle, is that this utopianism results from cruel treatment the society suffers in the hands of corruption. This paper does a linguistic analysis of Astonishing the Gods, and gives a semantic explanation of what appears as the utopian sense in the novel. Using componential semantics, this paper observes that Okri joggles, plays on, and consequently truncates meaning propositions in the text. These truncations are reflected in the strange lexical combination within the syntagmatic relations of his expressions. This essay thus concludes that this is the cause of utopianisms in the text.
Astonishing the Gods
Fenrigul Real te is like the dirt that miners dig up and carry away. I am a crossroads person, a child of intersection. Light that is dark, mind bending stuff. A thank you to you Mr. May 12, Ireene rated it it was ok. Or am I just off at a tangent here because of reading only a chapter?
Astonishing the Gods by Ben Okri - review
I regret so much I had to rush throught it. Althougt short and, apparently, a sort of fairy tale, I feel like every word is there for a reason. Okri gives us his utopia, as many philosophers has done before. Dec 25, Kala rated it it was amazing What I learned from this book? May 03, Alia Makki rated it it was amazing Thoughts while reading: What is this book? Who is Ben Okri?