ROL Vol. 3: Boris Gets A Visitor
ROL Vol. 4: Boris Takes A Nap
By Katharine Miller
Vol. 3 – 101 pages, Vol. 4- 98 pages.
Well, it’s been almost a year since I read a Bot’ O’ Leisure book and, since author Katharine Miller officially became Canada’s Own Katharine Miller yesterday, I thought I’d celebrate with a quick review the latest of Boris’ offerings. I’ve writen quite a bit about my admiration of Miller’s work already. I gush about her styalistic ellegence here, and spend a lot of time trying to make myself sound smart in phylosophy here. But you clicked this link looking for a short book review, and probably don’t want to ramble over an extra thousand words of my writing, so let me summarize thusly: Boris is sort of a newspaper strip about about The Jetsons as re-imagined by Samuel Beckett. I think that’s a fair discription of the little robot with whom the early twentieth century, Irish nihilist in me first fell in love, and the latest volumes of Miller’s text-less, cartoon series continue in this same, excellent philosophical vein; exploring simply, and usefully the profound joys and sadnesses associated with mundane activity.
In Boris Gets A Visitor, our hero tries, rather unsuccessfully, to impart some of his accumulated wisdom to another of his kind. The story shares the moral of Herman Hess’ Siddhartha, that while many things can be explained, nothing can ever be taught. In Boris Takes A Nap, our robot has grown board with the common endeavors that once thrilled him, and expands his conscious experience into the realm of impossible dreams. Miller is once again using the perfect absurdity of her adorable robot to explore a fundamental truth of the human condition; in this case, that it is impossible for the normal mind to remain joyfully focused on its true circumstance.
“All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”
-Yoda, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.
Thankfully, Miller also realises, in these newer works, that she has already been leaning on her cute cartoons and philosophical dexterity for two hundred pages. While ROL 1 and 2 were both deeply enjoyable experiences, she wasn’t going to get much more mileage (actually, given that she’s a citizen now, let’s say Kilometerage) out of the character without introducing a more exciting, and perhaps more literary, external conflict. She’s solved this problem beautifully, by introducing an element that my aforementioned hero Beckett spent his entire career deliberately avoiding, back-story.
The absence of all senescent life in the Boris universe was something I had been taking for granted. I was passively curious about it. I made a few casual guesses about what might have happened to all the people, but I’d seen Endgame, I knew that it didn’t mater. The end of the world, I thought, was not the story, simply a necessary stage for the performance of it. It seem, however, that I was wrong. I am shocked, awed and sincerely excited (as I suppose Boris must be) discover some clues. Not only clues to the mystery of Boris’ existence, but possibly clues to the mystery the ghost town where he resides. I’m all a tingle to think that Boris, the robot with human drives and yearnings, may be about to uncover an answer to one of the most fundamental human questions: Where Do I Come From?
Please read all of Miller’s books, and join me, in hot anticipation of the upcoming ROL. 5: Boris Meets His Maker.