Commentary on Excerpt J
Judging by their immediate assent, Dave was probably on target here in surmising that the conflict Frank and Laura had been discussing on Tape 1 was subsequently replayed by them in various metaphorical guises. This is a potentially valuable therapeutic insight, one that might have motivated them to engage self-reflexively in a retrospective look at the pattern of their interactions in the course of making Tape 2. Even as regards the talk of this segment, they might have noted a parallel asymmetry in the greater degree of commitment Laura expresses toward the furtherance of the relationship.
But Laura and Frank may be tired of working through their conflict at this point; it is, after all, nearly 2:45 in the morning. Perhaps impelled by Dave's comments about metaphor and synecdoche, the conversants try spinning out several synoptic metaphors of their own. Whatever reservations one might have about the synoptic or aesthetic value of these expressions, they serve as an enjoyable form of word play for the group and also as a kind of verbal display. Especially revealing is the contrast between Frank's dour metaphors of engulfment, entrapment and entanglement and Jean's far more optimistic images. Apart from their consistent dourness, Frank's successive generalizations about "we" spiders are really quite different, one from another. I interpret the first one as a veiled acknowledgement that his "engulfing" of Laura may be part of a regrettable pattern of possessiveness on his part, reminiscent of past relationships. Frank then shifts, however, to a solipsistic framework in which we are all trapped in webs of our own making, Frank included. By this reading, Frank is off the hook for his surreptitious taping of Laura, but not much better off as a consequence of his metaphor-imposed isolation. Thus, he is quick to accept the line about line-throwing that Jean tosses to him. Yet even this more hopeful image is reframed by Frank as an image of potential danger. In venturing to throw out a line to Laura's web by taping her unawares, Frank sees himself as having become "entangled" and "trapped." Thus does he express his fears of engagement.