Monday, June 1, 2015


My favorite reading from this quarter was Axolotl by Julio Cortazar. I just love the tone with which it was written, setting an eerie sort of suspense with its imagery and ambiguous word choices. It was a reading that actually gave me goosebumps, especially when the pronouns for the axolotls turned from 'they' to 'I'. The anthropomorphic descriptions of the axolotls somehow made them seem even more alien, rather than more familiar, and contributed hugely to the somewhat unsettling tone. The fact that you're never quite sure whether the man truly is transforming or is actually as unbalanced as he mentions a guard thinking he is brings out some of the most interesting aspects of having an unreliable narrator.

The blurred line between species was effective in the story-telling, and in making a statement (intended or not) on human exceptionalism. Like Vanita Seth implied in her piece ("Difference"), this story makes one consider the man-made nature of the construct of species. With the mysterious ending, implying that the man was now both human and axolotl, and though perhaps more spiritual than social, the idea of arbitrariness in differentiating species shines through.

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