Random thoughts on subscripts...

So I was browsing the blog and felt like I would try and comment on dragongrrl's note about hoping someone comments about the subscripts. My initial reaction was that they seemed a bit silly. As though Delany was somehow trying to make the novel look more scientific by adding subscripts in like one would add subscripts to variables or chemical equations. I was a bit disappointed by this, but as the story went on I came to understand that use of subscripts was an interesting was to differentiate between the type of relationship a person has with her different occupations. (Also, I couldn't get the subscripts to actually be subscripts, but oh well).

I thought that the use of the subscripts was interesting basically because to me it seemed to imply different levels of connectedness between the person and their occupation. The first level was just what we would think of as a job. The place we go each day to make a living. For Marq, work1 was her job as an Industrial Diplomat, traveling about and getting various jobs completed. When the students are introduced, it is mentioned that two of them have jobs1 as evelmian ethnologists. The relationship between an occupation1 and what we would consider an occupation seemed fairly straightforward.

Then there was Marq's job2. I'm still not totally sure what this was but it came across as something much more intrinsic than her job1 as an Industrial Diplomat. It almost seemed to me as though this was something that Marq had been expected to do for all of her life. My impression of this comes from a part on page 108 when Marq is talking to Alsrod about how she has been trying since childhood to get the statue of Mother Dyeth to turn on. According to Alsrod, Marq was just doing part of her job2. This mention of her job2, as well as other mentions, made me think that this occupation2 related in some way to an understanding of her home and family as well as a passing on of that knowledge. For instance, orientating the new students was considered Marq's job2, rather than job2 and the orientation sessions are referred to as sessions2 (191).

The fact that there was a certain level of occupation that each person had which was more intrinsic than what we would normally consider a job was quite interesting. People seem to have a job2 which they are expected to work towards for their entire lives, perhaps indicating that one's occupation2 and self are more closely connected than what we might normally consider.

There was also a third level of job. Marq mention that her hands are "of a fairly small, somewhat hairy fellow who only uses them for manual labor one job2 out of three" (201). Unfortunately for me I didn't write down any other mentions of this third occupation although I think there was one place where a job3 was referred to. My question about this job3 is; what could be deeper to Marq than her job2? Her job2 already seems to be an essential part of her character and something she has been doing her whole life, so I am curious as to what could be even more a part of her than this.

I noticed this too (obviously, how could you ignore it), and I had pretty much the same opinion originally. The subscripts simply frustrated me, and I thought that they were an attempt at making the book seem more scientific. I actually found myself flipping through the novel trying to find the notes that the numbers corresponded to. Really frustrating stuff.
However, I became a little bit more understanding of them after the introduction of the evelmi and their multiple tongues. Obviously, they have speech habits that are completely incomprehensible to humans, simply because of their numerous tongues. For example, Santine speaks "with one tongue and then another..." (Delany 101). The subscripts seem, to me, a little bit of the same thing as the multiple tongues: we can't really comprehend the subtleties of several tongues, so Delany uses subscripts to give multiple meanings.

Along the same lines, I wonder about the several meanings of employer. If job1 is your external job and job2 is your more intrinsic one, then what is an employer2? Is that possible? It introduces another level of slavery into the novel--can people be ruled at their intrinsic jobs?