Random header image... Refresh for more!

Deconstructing Coraline (Part Three)

If you never read Coraline and don’t want to know one smidgen about the book (I am being careful not to spoil it), don’t read these posts. They are about infertility, but they springboard off the book.

Back in college, my boyfriend-at-the-time (the one who had a heart the size of a rancid sesame seed) and his friends were all passing around a physics book, and I ended up reading it one night too.  I have no memory of what the book was called, but one of our favourite parts was a chapter on hyperspheres.

Hyperspheres are a kind of torus or donut-shape four-dimensional sphere where the outside can rotate through the inside, creating a way to show how everything is connected.  Two points that are as far away as possible from one another are also closest to one another … at the same time.

In Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, there’s a scene where Coraline begins walking away from the house and ends up back where she began.  Sort of like that aptitude test question of how far a dog can run into the woods (halfway; then he’s running out).  Because the world — even if Gaiman doesn’t use the term — behaves like a hypersphere.

It’s a concept that moves out of the physics world and is found in our everyday lives too — that idea of one thing being both as far away and as close as possible at the same time.  For instance — the ALI community.  We’re strangers, but we share our stories like intimate friends.  We live far apart from one another, but we feel emotionally close.

And I can’t think of another real life situation that mirrors this more than infertility because — at the very same time — you are far away from reaching parenthood as well as close to parenthood.  You are deeply entrenched in that parenting world — thinking about not-yet children, revolving your lives around not-yet children, preparing for not-yet children.  And yet, you cannot have children so you are also far away from parenthood.

Perhaps the hypersphere also serves as an explanation for why we can be both joyous for another person and miserable for ourselves at the exact same moment.

Disclaimer: I am midway through the book, and these are my thoughts midway through the book. I may have a very different reaction to the book once I get to the last page.


1 a { 12.19.10 at 8:47 am }

You were reading a physics book…and you didn’t HAVE to? Interesting.

2 Esperanza { 12.19.10 at 2:14 pm }

That was a really wonderful post. I just loved it. I wrote many posts about that feeling, of being entrenched in “parenthood” but not being able to experience it. Or when I was TTC and I couldn’t do anything not because I was pregnant, but because I was not “not” pregnant. It was so, so hard.

I only saw the movie Coraline but I think, after reading your posts, I want to read the book too. I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan in that I read many of his graphic novels, but I’ve only read Neverwhere as a book. I shall start looking into more of his novels.

3 May { 12.19.10 at 2:26 pm }

When my daughter first got glasses at 4 months of age, the very first thing I did was prop her up in her bouncy seat with a book my husband had (which he’d read “for fun”) called “Great Physicists”. I managed to get a photo where she appears to be thoughtfully absorbing the words in the book, cover clearly visible, pink plastic glasses tied to her bald head with a piece of string.

It has become a classic family photo.

4 Queenie { 12.19.10 at 3:23 pm }

First of all, I’ve really missed reading you. I’ve been blog free for most of the last two months, for various reasons. I was delighted to log on yesterday and see that your book is out–congrat’s!!! It’s not out here, but thankfully, I was able to download Amazon’s software on my Mac, and I bought the Kindle version. I just started, but I am loving it. I had to come tell you right away, particularly because the line about the Hymen Fairy is so completely you, it made me laugh.

5 Elizabeth { 12.20.10 at 1:55 pm }

Beautiful imagery, and, like, really deep too. Thanks for this.

6 Kir { 12.20.10 at 3:43 pm }

love this post, I love how you can weave one thing that might mean anything to us into something that does. You teach me something new everyday.

I agree, we can be close and far apart to parenthood all the time and the imagery of that was just perfect. Close or far you’re an important part of my life..infertile and not.

7 Bea { 12.21.10 at 6:11 am }

These are interesting thoughts.

Yes, infertility is so very close to parenting and so very far away at the same time. Um, I wish I could add to that, but I can’t seem to. I don’t think onlookers appreciate how very close it is, sometimes. Come to think of it, they probably don’t get the “far away” bit that well, either.


8 Amy { 12.21.10 at 3:36 pm }

The closing paragraph of this post just about sums up my life right now and I’m so thankful to have someone I respect validate my feelings. My very best friend in the world is about to give birth to her second child. It is absolutely gut-wrenching to be both ecstatic for her and her beautiful family and to be miserable for me and my husband at the same time. My husband doesn’t understand and says that others’ ability to conceive has nothing to do with our lack thereof (this reminds me of something I read in a previous post of yours) and logically I agree. But no matter how much I remind myself to be happy I can’t simply turn off the sad. They are connected. Hyperspheres…. I like it.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author