“to others, these accounts are about (one more) distant land, like (any other ) distant land, without any discernable features in the narrative, (all the same) distant like any other.”
I was surprised by how much The Arrival was able to convey without using any words. Though the format was different, I think it presented the most traditional version of the immigrant narrative. Still, the different visual representation defamiliarized it enough for it to simulate what its like to be in a foreign place. The alien like language and different creatures effectively portrayed what it would be like not to speak the language or identify with the locals.
It was interesting to see the immigrant experience visually. The way he chose to depict the main character’s homeland overtaken by monsters was an apt visual metaphor.I also enjoyed the depiction of the various objects the man accumulates over his journey and what they each represent. Due to its broad narrative, I kept thinking of the different ways The Arrival seemed to be in conversation with some of the works we’ve read in class. These two pages in particular
reminded me of this passage from Dictee: “I have the documents. Documents, proof, evidence, photograph, signature. One day you raise the right hand and you are American. They give you an American passport… Somewhere someone has taken my identity and replaced it with their photograph. The other one. Their signature their seals. Their own image.”
I kept remembering different fragments from Dictee as I was looking through the novel. It was almost as if Cha’s disjointed text was narrating the emotional essence Tan was depicting. I found this a bit ironic too considering so much about Dictee has to do with speech whereas the arrival counts on images and expressions.
“you are going somewhere. You are somewhere. This stillness. You cannot imagine how. Still. So Still All around. Such stillness. It is endless. Spacious without the need for verification of space. Nothing moves. So still. There is no struggle. Its own all its own. No where other. No time other conceivable. Total duration without need for verification of time.”