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Archive for October, 2007

Galatea 2.2- #2

So while I’m sure this book will probably have a really interesting spin, or so I hope, I must say I’m still way too confused to write something interesting or creative about it as of now.  What I will try to focus on are some of the underlying things I found fascinating.

First I’m going to begin with something that immediately reminded me of McHale since I have him so fresh in my mind (and I’m supposed to be some kind of expert on his ideas).  On page 67, Powers the character is talking about the cafeteria at “the Center”.  He says, “I could eavesdrop in any direction, and trawl the same topic: the nature of the knowable, and how we know it”.  This immediately reminded me of McHale and the epistemological questioning knowledge.  The epistemological raises questions about knowledge, where we get it from and whether or not it’s true.  I must say I was really excited when I read this line, but at the same time a little confused.  I guess this is the “hemorrhage” of the novel from postmodernist to modernist??! Sounds right to me, so I’m going to stick with it.

What also caught my attention was on the same page, 67, when he also says, “I thought of joining them, but didn’t want to disrupt those with real work to do.  Instead I read”.  This gives us another glimpse of the science and literature comparison Powers keeps representing in the novel.  It seems like there is a need for one to be better than the other; it’s as if here we’re given the impression that the job of an English Major, for example, is less than that of a science major.  I guess this just surprised me coming from Powers himself comparing what he does to what the others do, basically downgrading himself.  I’m sure there will be more hinting towards this in the novel, but I’m just curious of its relevance.

I also think Imp A and Imp B are really interesting because Powers begins to associate himself with the machines as if it were a real person.  On page 90, he states, “Imp B did rub me the wrong way.  Nothing violent.  I just never cared for it,” implying the need for some sort of connection with the machine on a personal level.  This seems to appear a lot in this novel because they are working so hard to make the neural net think like a human that the process is making the machines more real to each of them.  Hopefully this will all become a bit clearer as the novel progresses as well.

So here are some of the things that stood out to me so far.  As of now, I’m just waiting for it all to come together.  Hopefully each of these things has some relevance to the actual point of all this science stuff!

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This is based on Chapter 1, entitled, “From Modernist to Postmodernist Fiction: Change of Dominant” of the book:

McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge, 2001.

McHale begins by giving us the opinions of a few other authors on how they feel towards postmodernism. He quotes John Barth, a familiar face, as saying of postmodernism that the term is, “awkward and faintly epigonic, suggestive less of a vigorous or even interesting new direction in the old art of storytelling than of something anit-climactic, feebly following a very hard act to follow.” McHale goes on to cite Charles Newman on his views of the postmodernist, according to Newman the term, “inevitably calls to mind a band of vainglorious contemporary artists following the circus elephants of modernism with snow shovels.” McHale himself writes of postmodernism, “the thing to which the term claims to refer, does not exist… Rather, postmodernism, the thing, does not exist precisely in the way that “the Renaissance” or “romanticism” do not exist.” What McHale is getting at is that we cannot give a set definition to postmodernism. And that postmodernism, as well as the Renaissance and romanticism are not solid definitive objects, but instead are contrived notions, created by, as McHale writes, “contemporary readers and writers or retrospectively by literary historians.” And because postmodernism has no set definition, it is open to a multitude of interpretations. To Barth, postmodernism is “the literature of replenishment. To Newman, “the literature of an inflationary economy; Lyotard “a general condition of knowledge in the contemporary informational regime; Ihab Hassan, “a stage on the road to the spiritual unification of humankind.” None of these different interpretations of postmodernism are either right or wrong because they are all “fictions”. Each of these views has its own values, but none have all the answers, and the ideal definition of postmodernism is one which does not attempt to answer every question. However, this definition cannot go the other direction and be too narrow either.

A narrower definition of Postmodernism-

McHale details what he views as “a superior construction of postmodernism” as: “One that produces new insights, new or richer connections, coherence of a different degree kind, ultimately more discourse…” McHale writes that some of the issues with postmodernism comes as a result of the term itself. He writes, “the term does not even make sense. For if ‘modern’ means ‘pertaining to the present,’ then ‘postmodern’ can only mean ‘pertaining to the future,’ and in that case what could postmodernist fiction be except fiction that has not yet been written?” McHale breaks the word apart a little later, saying that postmodernism does not come “after the present”, but instead “after the modernist movement.” Thus giving us postmodernism as a “reaction against, the poetics of early twentieth -century moderism, and not some hypothetical writing of the future.” McHale is against the notion that modernism ended and then there was postmodernism, but instead that postmodernism is a continuation of the modernist movement, and that postmodernism is modernism with a new face.

The Dominant-

The tool McHale uses to trace the emergence of postmodernism from modernism in fiction is the concept of “the dominant.” McHale uses Roman Jakobson’s of the dominant:

“The dominant may be defined as the focusing component of a work of art: it rules, determines, and transforms the remaining components. It is the dominant which guarantees the integrity of the structure… a poetic work [is] a structured system, a regularly ordered hierarchical set of artistic devices.”

According to McHale, a text can contain more than one dominant. And what exactly the dominant is, can differ between the people who read the text, “the same text will, we can infer, yield different dominants depending upon what aspect of it we are analyzing…. different dominants emerge depending upon which questions we ask of the text, and the position from which we interrogate it.” The dominant can change based on how we approach a text. If one were to go into a text with a strong feminist attitude, then the dominant would most likely be feminist to that reader. However, if a reader with an equally strong Marxist attitude approached that same text, then that reader could conceivably see a different dominant from the same text. McHale puts focus on two particular dominants, epistemological, which translates to modernism, and ontological, which relates to postmodernism. The dominant in a text does have the ability to go back and forth from epistemological to ontological. The term McHale uese to describe this is hemorrhage.

The Epistemological-

The epistemological dominant focuses on an individual’s knowledge, “the signs of the narrative act fall away, and with them all the questions of authority and reliability.” In an epistemological text, there is no question about the reliability of the narrator or the actions in the text. McHale uses the detective novel as a means of describing the epistemological. In detective novels, we are given the same questions again and again, those being the who, what, where, when, and why. And each of these questions has a definitive answer, which come with the solving of the crime. Questioning knowledge is also an important part of the epistemological dominant, “What is there to be known?; Who knows it?; How do they know it?; and with what degree of certainty?; how is knowledge transmitted from one knower to another, and with what degree of reliability?” These are all questions to be asked using the epistemological dominant. Written on the Body and Fight Club go along with these epistemological questions in that both are texts with which we have to question the information we are getting from the narrator. With Written on the Body, we are shown the text through a limited point of view. Everything we are given in the text comes from the perspective of a narrator we know next to nothing about, including name and gender. This lack of reliability makes us question all the information which we receive through the narrator.

The Ontological-

Next is ontological, which McHale correlates with the postmodern. With ontological, the focus is less on questions about the world which can be answered; instead, the world itself comes into question. Where McHale likened epistemological with detective fiction, he relates the ontological with science fiction. In science fiction, the reliability of the world around you is not a major concern. For a story to take place in a bizarre environment, or to be told by a different sort of narrator, is ok with ontological. Using Fight Club again, the narrator exists in two different worlds. There is his world, however, he also exists in Tyler’s world as well. Mchale presents us with the idea that the “blurring of identities that tends to destabilize the projected world” In Fight Club, the narrator’s identity becomes severely blurred between himself and Tyler. And as a result, his world becomes greatly destabilized. Using Galatea 2.2, we have an instance where the author is also the main character in the text. This brings the fictional world which the character inhabits together with the real world that the author is living in.

Limit-Modernist-

McHale introduces the phrase “limit-modernist”; this is a term used to link both the epistemological and ontological. If through the course of a text, “both epistemological and ontological questions seemed to be raised by a text, but which focus dominates depends upon how we look at a text.” This goes back to the idea that the definition of the dominant depends on who is reading the text. The same can be applied to deciding whether a text is epistemological or ontological, it will differ based on the reader.

The Transhistorical Party-

McHale also introduces the idea of the “transhistorical party.” In this idea, “characters apparently from disparate historical eras are brought together at the same time and place.” There are two variations of the tranhistorical party, one going along with the epistemological, the other with the ontological. In the first variation, the collection of figures is allowable because they are encased by a plot device. McHale uses the party at the end of Mrs. Dalloway as an example. Another example of this can be seen at the end of the film Blazing Saddles. For the most part, the film is in a cowboy western setting, but towards the end a large fight breaks out, and spills out and you see the movie backlot. The fight also goes into the cafeteria for the movie lot. It is here that characters from all different films, cowboys, vikings, knights, as well as others are all in the same place. Normally this would be unacceptable, but because it is on a movie set, it is okay.

The other kind of transhitorical party is one where this blending of worlds is not enclosed by a plot device. As McHale writes it is “a case of intertextual boundary-violation, transworld identity between characters belonging to different worlds.” An example of this would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In this movie, the worlds of humans and cartoon characters blend naturally. There is no plot device enclosing them, it is simply how they live in their world.

Synthesizing the Theory-

What McHale’s ideas have contributed to our understanding of postmodernism is that he is the first person we have encountered who has presented the idea that a text can have both modernist as well as postmodernist aspects to it. All other theorists have focused on one primary issue, whether it be the concept of meta-narratives, capitalism, history, etc. All previous authors have picked single topics and worked to explain what makes them explicitly postmodern. What McHale is giving us is the idea that something does not have to be set in stone as either modern or postmodern and there is flexibility.

Further Reading-

As if that wasn’t enough information for you, here are some options for further reading on McHale:

-This is an article you can find on JSTOR which we could not link to the page. The article is a review of his focus on postmodernist fiction

Reviewed Work(s):
Postmodernist Fiction by Brian McHale
What Fiction Means by Bent Nordhiem
Thomas Docherty
The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 40, No. 160. (Nov., 1989), pp. 597-598

Here is another review of McHale: http://jes.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/18/3/216

And finally, here is a summary of the book from which the chapter we read came: http://webpages.ursinus.edu/rrichter/mchale.html

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Galatea 2.2

Richard PowersTo get a good look at the author/character of this novel, Richard Powers himself (which by the way reminds me of an old soap opera shot!)! So this novel is really interesting…I don’t even know where to begin with this because I had to reread the first 48 pages just to gain a basic understanding of all the scientific, computer mumbo jumbo! However, what I did find really interesting, after reading a little bit about him from wikipedia after class yesterday, is how much his actual life reflects through his writing.  Not only is he the character and author at the same time in this novel, but he uses his life as his main source for this novel.  To actually think about the way he’s writing this novel is so interesting.  To imagine an author as a character that is essentially making a connection between the world of fiction and reality.  I’m curious to see how this works for the rest of the novel because I can’t help but wonder if the author will start to comment on his own writing but through the character of himself.  That may seem really scrambled but it makes sense in my mind.

So moving on, I also found it interesting how he uses abbreviation for what seems to be the things he likes most.  He seems fascinated with the college he went to and the town it was in, yet he uses abbreviations for them, and along those same lines, he abbreviates the woman he seems to have some connection to as C.  Clearly we know C. is a woman and that there was a point in his life when they were together, but I’m confused on what exactly their relationship consists of.  He often thinks about her because she randomly appears in between all the computer programming talk, but I’m not really sure what to make of it.

I’m not so sure I feel confident enough to talk about anything else as of yet, but I’m hoping that this novel will turn around for me and I will begin to like it.  There has to be something under all of this computer stuff that will start to interest me!

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Nikki Lee

After yesterdays class and our discussion of Nikki Lee I can’t help but focus on the subject object aspect of her photos we were discussing. To focus on one photo in particular the Hispanic Project photo,

Hispanic Project I found it difficult to tell the difference between the subject and object. I feel as thought because she is attempting to blend in with this Hispanic community and portray a type of reality in this photo that in many ways the community and Nikki Lee both become the object of this photo. But I’m left wondering what then the subject is, or whether or not the subject and object of the photo can be interchangeable?! However, after some more thought on this subject object thing I started to see it a different way. When looking at this photo and considering the fact that Lee seems to be the only one in the photo looking towards the camera and imposing the identity of a Hispanic person on her life she can be seen as the subject. It’s interesting how this can be looked at in two very different ways.

I feel like it really relies on how you look at the image. If you see her as blending in with the Hispanics and don’t recognize that it is Nikki Lee posing in the photo then its easy to assume that the entire photo centered around the “Hispanic project” turns the community and Lee into the object of the photo. On the other hand, the fact that she stands out the most out of everyone in the photo could also make her the subject in the Hispanic community which becomes the object world.

What was also interesting was the idea of Lee portraying stereotypes. This, for me, was most obvious in her Ohio Project. Like we also discussed in class the way she was placing herself in those photos was really mind blowing. Our society has placed certain stereotypes on a number of things in our world and its hard for me to tell whether or not Nikki Lee is trying to portray those stereotypes or question them. Lee is definitely very focused on specific views in the world which I really liked about her photography, but I can’t help but think theres something more going on behind her photos. She is constructing these subcultures but its hard for me to tell what exactly shes trying to do other than remind me of the many stereotypes we have in our society.

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Part I
One idea I noticed reoccurring in my posts was how the authors we have read use form in interesting ways, often times with narration. I guess this both intrigues and frustrates me because I really seem to like the different, unsteady form of postmodernism that doesn’t need to bind itself with rules, but at the same time I get frustrated because it makes me unsure of whether or not I’m actually understanding what I’ve read. I noticed this most in my very first blog for Winterson’s novel and I return to the concept of form with my post on Lyotard which really helped me better recognize the aspect of form in relation to postmodernism. As I said above, in some cases form helps me understand a text and at other times it confuses me more, and I discuss this in these specific blogs.
In my post for Winterson I wrote,

I noticed the postmodern aspects of this novel really shine through in Winterson’s form. It is often that I had to go back and reread something because she jumps from dialog between two people to a random thought. An example of this that really stands out for me is on pg 32. The narrator is going on about his/her obsession with looking at Louise’s wedding ring, then some dialog jumps in that reads, “‘ you bloody idiot,’ said my friend. ‘Another married woman.’” Then the narrator starts talking about Elgin and the history behind his name and his family. This left me thinking, who the hell is the friend? And why is she jumping around?

This is where the postmodern form in the novel really confused me. A friend is introduced in the above quote, and the presence of this friend completely lost me. I really enjoyed Winterson’s novel, but in this case the form really confused me. There was so much going on as I showed in this piece of my blog and I couldn’t quite grasp what was happening in the text. I also noticed, as I just reread this quote from my blog that the huge issue I had with the gender of the narrator is another form of the novel I addressed. I wrote, “the narrator is going on about his/her obsession” because at first whether or not the narrator was male or female confused me, but it them became something I liked after a few pages into the novel. The genderless narrator kept me thinking throughout the entire novel and what helped me through without knowledge of the sex of the narrator was the Malpas reading on the subject. I could then realize the concept of more than one subject in a text which I had never thought about before. So Winterson’s form both frustrated and intrigued me in Written on the Body mostly through the narrator’s gender and the creative narration that constantly jumps around. I feel I did a nice job making connections with this text in this post. I was clearly mixed up by the postmodern aspects of this novel, yet I enjoyed it as much as possible. After rereading this post I was happy with the fact that I could put down exactly what confused me about Winterson’s form and use the novel to explain what I struggled with.

Lyotard was an important blog for me because after our class discussion, I could really understand his ideas about postmodernism. In this blog I discussed how,

Reading through Lyotard for the first time definitely threw me for a bit of a loop. Our class discussion really helped me pull it all together. What I grabbed most from the reading was Lyotard’s point that postmodernism alludes the reader to think certain things and I could connect with this in comparing it to Written on the Body. As a postmodern text, Winterson is constantly trying to allude the reader, and the end of the book is probably the best example of that.

In this case, Lyotard helped me better understand Winterson’s novel and the possible alluding based on allusion as a form of expression. The alluding of the reader was an important aspect of the form in Winterson’s novel. In this case the postmodern form intrigued me and it opened up a new light for me as a reader. I was confused by the end of the novel, and after reading Lyotard I realized how many options the end of Written on the Body offered. Whether or not I accurately connected Lyotard and Winterson, Lyotard still helped me see how the genderless narrator can be used in a different way. Because the narrator can be male or female and Winterson could be trying to allude the reader to think certain things about the novel which changes constantly, form is working in two ways. The alluding the reader can change based on whether or not the reader sees the narrator as male or female, or it could depend entire on when the narrator says something that alludes the reader to think the narrator is a female or when the narrator says something that alludes the reader to think its a male. In this post I was attempting to make a connection between what I understood from our class discussion and apply it to a text. I addressed the ending of the novel because that was what immediately came to mind after discussing Lyotard. I attempted to use Lyotard’s idea of alluding and attach it to Winterson’s novel when I wrote, “The reader is left wondering whether or not Louise is really there and its completely left open for the reader’s interpretation”. I was attempting to use the text to describe the correlation I was trying to make. In these two quotes from my blog I thought it was interesting how I addressed form in both cases, and at the same time both posts went well together.

Part II
Of all the posts I’ve written for postmodernism, my two best posts would have to be for the movie, Fight Club, and for Written on the Body. I feel these two are my best posts because they address connections I made with the text and I explained where and why certain things were obvious to me. In my post for Fight Club, what I liked most and think I articulated best were my ideas about Marla’s role in the movie. I suggested the following: “When Marla intruded and the narrator confronted her and said he couldn’t cry when she was there, she has destroyed him because his need to cry becomes an important part in the movie. At that point, Marla has begun invading his life and could very well be the cause of his mental creation of Tyler”. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that I described Marla as the leading factor to Tyler’s creation which happened to be said in the novel. When I introduced this idea in my blog, in connection with the movie, I thought I was really stretching the idea and there was a possibility I had no idea what I was talking about. When I read the novel and noticed the narrator says, “I know why Tyler had occurred. Tyler loved Marla. From the first night I met her, Tyler or some part of me had needed a way to be with Marla” (198), I was really amazed at the connection I made. I then used Marla to make connections with the rest of the movie, specifically her relations with Tyler and the ways in which they invade the narrator’s life. I feel like I did a nice job developing an idea based on the movie and articulated it well in this post.

In my second post, of my two best blog posts, for Written on the Body, I thought I did a nice job discussing the novel and relating back to some postmodernist texts we read and discussed in class. I did this in the last paragraph when I wrote,

Our class discussion on McHale’s definition of postmodernism and modernism will be very useful in pulling out more postmodernism in this novel. Not only does the narrator draw in postmodernism through the essence of his/her gender, but Winterson also uses modernism through the narrator’s truth and knowledge when describing his/her experience with love.

I made a connection to our class discussion from what I understood most, and related it back to what we were reading. In most cases, my posts show how class discussion has helped me understand certain aspects of a text and relate it back to postmodernism. In this post, I also noticed how although I was confused about the use of “you” in the novel, I attempted to articulate my own ideas and confusions. Usually when I write a post on something that confused me, I tend to state my confusion and leave it at that. I chose this post because even though I was at a standstill in comprehending the narration, I continued to read and think about what I was reading to attempt to draw out some meaning. I even states in my post that “It is often that I go back and reread something because she jumps from dialog between two people to a random thought”. I tried my best, even when utterly lost in narration, to discuss some important details that caught my attention in the novel in order to write the blog post.

One of my best comments was to Kim H., and I wrote,

You have a few good points about the narrator not really knowing Louise and the narrator losing your attention at certain points in the novel. I got the impression while reading this book that the narrator knew Louise in the way he/she wanted to know Louise. That is, the narrator was familiar with her body and her movements and the sensual aspects. Who Louise really was and her personality seemed unimportant to the narrator and his/her obsession with sexuality. I think this ties in really well with how the novel can lose the reader’s attention and this is probably because you’re reading the novel through the narrator’s dirty mind and towards the end the action in the novel begins to fade away. Although some parts of the novel are frustrating…I on the other hand kind of enjoyed this book in a weird way.

I made a good connection to what she discussed in her blog and described what I liked most about her ideas. I tried to add to her ideas as well by adding more of my own thoughts about the text. I also agreed with her loss of attention when reading the novel, but stated at the end how I enjoyed the novel even though she may not have. My next best comment was for Ryan in relation to Written on the Body, and I wrote,

I must say although I don’t necessarily agree with you that the narrator is a male, you do have some very interesting points here. I too was hung up on the narrators ease in having affairs. It’s as if the narrator thinks any marriage should be destroyed, even the beautiful ones. I also found it interesting when the narrator says, “I know what I did and what I was doing at the time. But I didn’t walk down the aisle, queue up at the Registry Office and swear to be faithful unto death. I wouldn’t dare” (16). It’s as if being an adulterer was the narrator’s only option and that he/she thought, who in the world would want to get married? Marriage is for losers apparently (according to this narrator anyway)!

In this comment, although I didn’t entirely agree with Ryan, I acknowledged what I found interesting in his post and added to it with other quotes from the novel. I feel I did a nice job articulating my own ideas about the narration which correlated well with what Ryan was discussing in his post.

The quotes and blog posts above are my best to date because they were the posts I feel I described my thoughts the best in. I often have difficulty doing a good job getting specific thoughts out either because I’m afraid someone will either think I’m completely wrong or I can’t really describe what I’m thinking accurately. Esther’s does this well in her blog for Fight Club the novel. She always seems to get her ideas out in a really clear way. For example, she does an excellent job relating Jameson to Fight Club in the following passage,

Today I will be thinking about the concept of Jameson’s ‘postmodernism is not a style but instead a cultural dominant.’ (4) What I take from this phrase is that we are not able to recognize postmodernism as a thing we can take or leave depending upon our preferences, but instead it is the current state of society. Jameson also insists that postmodernism is primarily characterized by a fragmentation of the concept of history, where people create a conception of the past based on small pieces of actual truth intermixed with fiction (Esther’s Blog).

She not only cited Jameson and quotes part of his essay, but she also puts it into her own words. After quoting and explaining what she got from Jameson’s theory, she also explains where in Fight Club she noticed specific instances of the “cultural dominant”. This is really an exceptional blog because of those things. Not only was Jameson’s essay a challenge just to read and get something out of, but she also went to the extent of putting his concepts into her own words and using it to make assumptions about the novel.

Three goals I would like to set for myself for writing posts for the rest of the semester would be:

  • to make better connections to postmodernism and postmodern theorists in relation to the texts we read
  • use more detail when discussing aspects of a text that struck me as interesting
  • work on putting definitions addressed by theorists in my own words

In order to reach these goals I need to first work on participating more in class discussion. Perhaps if I get my ideas out in class I will be more confident in writing them in my blogs. When I attempt to participate in class discussion I constantly get this feeling inside that stops me. I’ve been working on this, but the lack of confidence I feel after reading a text and trying to understanding it tends to hold me back. Because so many of the texts we discuss have so much detail it’s difficult to get to everything in one class period. When we read something by a theorists I attempt to read it twice before class, but perhaps I should skim through it once more after class before I write my blog for that day. This could help me re-gather my ideas and connect them to what we discussed in class. What helps me most and what I need to continue to do in order to reach these goals is to continue writing my blog posts after class discussion. Most of the time any questions I may have about a text are brought up by someone else in class and discussed which helps me write a better post. I am going to continue working on these things and hope that my blogging improves for the rest of the semester.

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Cindy Sherman Film Stills

Sherman In sticking with the film stills we viewed in class and although I also thought of and agreed with some of the possible narratives we applied to those film still, the entire time I was looking at those black and white photographs I was constantly reminded of Hitchcock films.  After giving this Hitchcock idea some thought, I decided that the film Vertigo was one I found many resemblances to.  The way Cindy Sherman is looking away in each of the photographs and never looking directly at the camera, I saw of feeling of being watched in each of the stills.  This reminded me of Vertigo because the woman, Madelaine, in the film was constantly being seen through the male gaze.  The entire film plays out as if we are watching Madelaine through the eyes of the detective, in this case the male gaze.

If I remember correctly the male gaze was brought up as a topic in class, and after thinking about it I can really see how it applies well to Cindy Sherman.  The last photograph we looked at, the film still of the woman oddly positioned in bed with the mirror in her hand also reminded me of the male gaze.  ShermanNow, I might be beating this idea to death, but at first sight of this photo I was immediately drawn to the mirror in her hand.  The way her face is positioned, again looking away from the camera, made me thinking she was refusing to look into the mirror.  It was almost as if looking in the mirror upset her in some way.  Again the look of disgust appears on her face, which I tend to notice in quite a few of her photos.  Maybe this downward angle of the camera and the look on the womans face along with the refusal to look in the mirror is again because she feels like shes being watched.  In this photo I could also argue that the camera angle forces the viewer to be staring down at her, where as in the other photos were looking more directly at her.  In sticking with the ones we discussed in class I think that was pretty much all I wanted to add.  I may be stretching a bit, but I thought I would throw it out there since it kept coming back to me.

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The end of Fight Club

The end of this novel was really interesting. I think I liked the ending of the novel much better than the movie. With the movie, the audience is left questioning what will happen next to the narrator and Marla. In the novel, however, the narrator is happy in his little world with “God” behind his desk and all the little angels bringing him food on trays and pills. We know where he’s ended up and we even get some sort of feeling of happiness for the narrator.

He says everyone is writing him letters about looking forward to getting him back, but he doesn’t seem to be in a rush. It’s also interesting to see how he doesn’t object to being called Mr. Durden at the end either. He says,

But I don’t want to go back. Not yet. Just because. Because every once in a while, somebody brings me my lunch tray and my meds and he has a black eye or his forehead is swollen with stitches, and he says: ‘We miss you Mr. Durden’ (207-208).

At this point after all the work the narrator was going through to get Marla to see he wasn’t Tyler Durden, he’s using Tyler and fight club as some sort of crutch again. He likes seeing these members of fight club and the connection he still has to it, yet he’s no part of it anymore. This reminds us of what we were discussing at the end of class yesterday also. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I remember thinking about how at the end of the novel, the narrator wanted to be the center of fight club, the person in charge. If I remember correctly we may have been talking about who has the power in the novel and the role of removing that power. I kept thinking about the how when fight club was first created by Tyler and the narrator, they were the power whether or not we’re supposed to think so, that is how I saw it. Tyler, who was essentially the narrator, instructed everyone on what they were supposed to do; their homework, if you will.

It was interesting to me that with that idea, Tyler seems to remove himself from power, but the narrator is kicked out of the fight club meeting for trying to take control. The narrator, who didn’t really want the control all along, was demanding it, and I got the feeling that this was because without power or control Project Mayhem was created so he was attempting to destroy Project Mayhem and restore control. There are a lot of points in the novel where I feel like control can’t be removed and will always be there. I see this with the support groups, and with Marla and her relationship more with Tyler and then with the narrator.

Marla is another important issue in the novel. As I wrote in one of my posts about the movie when Marla and the narrator meet at the support groups, Marla has begun invading his life and could very well be the cause of his mental creation of Tyler. In a way her constant fearlessness and freedom also resembled Tyler and who the narrator wanted to be (My blog post). The narrator admits to needing Tyler to get close to Marla in chapter 28 when he says, “I know why Tyler had occurred. Tyler loved Marla. From the first night I met her, Tyler or some part of me had needed a way to be with Marla” (198). The narrator needed Marla from the moment he met her and thus, created Tyler as a way to Marla. Marla caused Tyler!

I think that’s all I really wanted to talk about for the end of the novel, but I really liked the differences in the novel from the movie. I enjoyed the novel so much more!

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