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Archive for the ‘Postmodernism’ Category

Apex Hides the Hurt (3)

For the end of the novel I was a little disappointed.  As we discussed in class, the name “Struggle” didn’t really impress me what so ever.  I liked the way he presented it, but the name wasn’t so great.  When I first read the name of the town I immediately thought about the founding of the town.  The name Struggle looks to be an immediately reference to the struggle of slaves.  Being that free slaves for the basis for the town being founded, it would only make sense to turn back to the founding fathers, right?!

What I also thought was interesting about our class discussion and the end of the book was the place of the stubbed toe in the novel.  The way the narrator continues to cover his terrible mistake of stubbing his toe over and over again sparked an idea for me.  Maybe the re-stubbing of his toe should represent the way the name New Prospera as the towns name would cover up the history of the town.  Once he loses his toe there isn’t anything to cover up anymore. Perhaps the toe is a metaphor for revealing the name of the town, “Struggle”, as a way to reveal the history of the town.  What has led the town to where it is at the end of the novel.  What I would really like to know is how the people of the town respond to what the narrator chose as the name of the town.  The ending wasn’t quite what I expected it to be.  I wanted more information after reading the end that was unavailable.

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Apex Hides the Hurt (2)

This book is out there I must say, but it really has me tuned in and interested. The folks on “my end” of the table today in class were discussing how Whitehead introduces something, but doesn’t quite give enough information to really draw them in. I feel like that isn’t really the case for me. Again, the history of the town is addressed but in a different way this time. The entire library scene was really interesting to me. The librarian chick or whoever she is caught my attention with the way she is introduced as basically being sucked into the town by Lucky and just decided to stay. I get this feeling Lucky, this great man who everyone is so mesmerized by, has something hidden about him that I’m not so sure of yet (but I know its there).

Since I have so many thoughts about this novel I’m going to shift to something else. We didn’t have a chance to talk about the maid today in class, but shes definitely really interesting. The notes under the door are really terrific in a creepy way. She writes things that make her sound like a third grader, and I always get the impression that the narrator actually thinks shes cleaning his room and then hes shocked to see that nothing has changed. I’m a little confused by it all so I think I need some more clarification because it’s really fascinating whats going on with him and the maid.

So to switch yet again, the narrators little meeting with Albie has a lot going on. When they begin to discuss Quincy the narrator begins to get a little sexual. On page 70 he says, “He got laid for the first time at a party his freshman host had taken him to, and the Quincy name now meant manhood, or at least the end of expectant masturbation and the start of default masturbation”. After that point I got this feeling of sexuality at certain parts. This came out of nowhere and surprised me quite a bit, but what else was really odd was his fantasy about the librarian. He says,

Something in her movements jostled a heavy-lidded thing in his brain stem, and he had a very concrete image of the librarian in her bedroom, on her bed, leaning back, bit of thigh, little feather of panties just visible. He realized it was his first sexual thought in months, not counting what had been wrought by that damned series of shampoo commercials. The shampoo commercial as arena for erotic play had alternately vexed and titillated him during his convalescence. (98)

He gives the feeling that not only are these dirty thoughts and discussions surprising to the reader, but to himself as well. I don’t know where I’m going with this other than the fact that it was off because these bits of information came out of nowhere. It doesn’t exactly fit in with the librarians brief history of the library and her wealth of information about the town, but for some reason Whitehead felt like he should just through it in there. Based on the passage above I associated his sexual fantasy to his “misfortune” or loss of a toe. Since the loss of his little toe kept him isolated and limping around everywhere, maybe these dirty thoughts were just what he needed to revive himself?!

I guess it would help to keep in mind how infamous this novel is for throwing its reader some curve balls to keep them alert and always thinking…for me anyway.

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I think I really enjoy reading this book. There are a lot of little things that can mean so much; I’m constantly thinking about what the narrator is really trying to say. A few things that really interested me after class yesterday were the unnamed narrator and his race, the history of the town through the bartender, who alone is interesting, and just the way in which the narrator tries to be a slick comic. I think I’m going to start with the history of the town because I’m sure that is going to be a reoccurring discussion within the novel. Considering the name of the town is so important, particularly to “Muttonchops”, it seems increasingly relevant that he is the one to introduce the history to the narrator. On page 24 Muttonchops begins his story time by telling the narrator, “My family goes back to the firs settlers…This was a colored town once. Founded by free black men and women”.

This sparked a connection for me to the race of the unnamed character. I feel like its easy to get the idea that the narrator is a colored male by things like describing others as white men or white women. This unnamed narrator business confuses me at times. His sneaky little remarks throw me off at times. Just the fact that the bartender isn’t given a name, but rather the narrator names him himself as more of a description of what he looks like, Muttonchops. The example we discussed in class which really stuck with me is on page 50 when the narrator says,

She was clumsy. She had household accidents. Through the modern lens, he told his audience (a comedy young lady at a bar, poised sophisticates at a dinner part, a dentist), he interpreted the young lady’s constant accidents as sublimated rebellion against the strict gender roles of her time.

Upon first reading of this I caught his witty little comment towards the end, but I was mostly draw to the way he was sarcastically, in my opinion, addressing the wifes accidents. The way she’s constantly cutting herself immediately sparked two ideas in my mine. 1. She is either being aggressively treated or abused by her lovely husband who “would come back from work to confront his wife’s wounds” (50), or 2. She is slitting her wrists due most likely to some sort of depression. I’m not sure which makes more sense, but it obvious in various ways that the things in this novel are said in a way that is meant to spark these thoughts.

There is one other thing that I’m still brewing some thoughts about, but I wanted to get it out there. When the narrator introduces himself as a consultant, a nomenclature consultant, he has this interesting little paragraph of an explanation as to what his job entails. For example, there are two instances where this occurs in the firs part of the novel. The first is on page 22 when he says, “‘I name things like new detergents and medicines and stuff like that so that they sound catchy…You have some kind of pill to put people to sleep or make them less depressed so they can accept the world. Well you need a reassuring name that will make them believe in the pill'”. This happens again on page 44, except the scenario is a little different. Interestingly enough, what stays the same is the idea to name something that will “make them less depressed so they can accept the world”. I haven’t quite decided what this is all about, but it struck me as interesting.

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So after our mid-term evaluations I realized how much I focused on form in many of my posts. Along with form, Hutcheon seemed to be the one theorists that stuck with me most so I’m trying really hard to pull everything together. I know I’m leaning more towards Fight Club because that was the novel that interested me the most, yet I’m still not sure what the heck I’m going to write this paper about. That narration in Fight Club is what attracted me, and I’m stuck trying to piece it all together into a paper topic. So now that I’ve got all of my favorites down I should try to make sense of them.

  • The narration of Fight Club compared to traditional first person narration (which I’m having trouble finding sources on)
  • Hutcheon’s idea of Mimesis-(attempt to represent the real/giving readers access to the “real” as a duplication) The narration in Fight Club is giving us access to the “real” of Tyler and the narrator’s two worlds.

I’m just not sure whether or not I can find enough information to move me through this paper or to work out these ideas. I found a few books in the library:

Michael Smith, Understanding unreliable narrators: reading between the lines in the literature classroom.

Gary Fireman, Narrative and the consciousness.

Katherine Synder, Bachelors, manhood, and the novel. (not sure how helpful either of these will be but I’m going to try and skim them a little first)

That’s were I stand as of now. I’m hoping that by tomorrow I will have a more solid topic to work with!

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Galatea 2.2- #4

First let me begin with summing up how I felt about Powers and this book by the end.  This wonderful clip from Family Guy just really did it for me:

So to really talk about the end of this novel.  What stuck with me most was the twist on the “real” bet with Powers and Lentz.  The first one sounded fine to me and I think that when the actual bet is revealed I begin to dislike Lentz just a little bit more.  The whole importance of the bet was basically to trick Powers into making meaning from the things the machine was spitting out; meaning that didn’t really exist.  This brought me back to what I wrote in another post about how personal it seemed Powers was getting with the machine.  It got so bad that he had actual feelings of dislike towards the machine as if it were another human.  I guess it all makes sense now as to how Lentz really wanted Powers to relate to the building of a machine that was supposedly supposed to be able to read and interpret literature.  A machine that had something in common with Powers almost like a friend he desperately needed because it was supposed to be able to do all of the things English majors can do; read and interpret literature.

What struck me most was the point at which Powers begins to realize.  On page 320 he says,

“But first, I needed to hear things for myself.  ‘ Lentz.  Tell me something.  Was this…?’ He saw my little hand-muscle spasm, a flinch that passed itself off as a wave at the hardware.  He decoded me.  I could accept being set up.  All I wanted to know was whether she was a setup, too.  His face clouded. ‘Nobody expected Helen.  She surprised everyone.’ As close to humility as a temperament would take him”.

I can’t help but sense how crushed Powers seems at this point.  I must say I didn’t expect it just as much as he didn’t, but this part in the novel seems so strong to me.  It’s almost as if he doesn’t know what to do next.  This is where I begin to get frustrated because as we discussed in class yesterday, this whole scam is even coming back at the reader.  This book definitely still leaves me curious, but I feel like I need to give it one more shot.

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Galatea 2.2- #3

So since all I can do is write about things that suddenly pop out at me as interesting in this book I’m going to do just that. After yesterday class, I was really thinking about Lentz and Audrey. We were talking about how Lentz was talking about Audrey to Powers right in front of her. What I thought was interesting was the strange attachment that was there, but at the same time lacking. I got the feeling he became defensive when Constance tried to help, “‘I’ll do that,’ Constance offered. ‘No you won’t.’ Lentz told her. ‘Come on, Audrey. Let’s eat some Lunch'” (167). Lentz gives me the impression that his wifes illness is hard for him to cope with and he struggles wishing she were better.  He has to have some sort of connection with her because he has a natural intimacy with her as he puts his arms around her waist.  But at the same time he has absolutely no objections to turning her illness into scientific rambling. On page 168, he’s going on and on to Powers and says,

Increasing control over all the variables. Divide and conquer. Max out the activity or do away with it. Future tech. That’s what science is all about, Marcel. Efficiency. Productivity. Total immunity. Regeneration of lost parts. Eternal, ripple-free life, frozen in our early twenties. Or die trying.

It’s as if he finds comfort in bringing up something scientific in one way or another. If it gets his mind off of his wifes condition and loosens Powers focus then they can all feel better. But what was also really interesting about the connection to Audrey is a comment Powers makes later on. Because he closed the office door and got a look at the pictures, he immediately had some connection to her, but seeing her in person only heightened it. As hes training and reading to the machine he thinks of Audrey,

Sometimes now, during the training, I imagined I read aloud to that woman, locked out of her own home. Audrey had smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing, but no new memory. Her long-term reservoirs were drying up, through want of reiteration. Imp H, on the other hand, could link any set of things into a vast, standing constellation. But it had no nose, mouth, fingers, and only the most rudimentary eyes and ears (172).

I thought it was interesting that Audrey was so essential to the machine. Perhaps, Lentz needed Powers to meet Audrey in order to complete the bet, or maybe not. What really is Audrey’s importance in this novel?  I’m interested in the fact that there is such a connection and insistence on connection her to the machine.  Audrey has what the machine doesnt physically but the machine is capable of storing more new knowledge.  Audrey can’t even remember her own husband.  I must say I thought it was really comical, in a sick way I guess, that she was yelling “Oh, Nurse.  Thank God you’re here. This man…was trying to rape me” (167).  I immediately thought this jerk Lentz who always has something snippy to say isn’t remember by his own wife and shes quick to say that he has tried to rape her of all things.  It really made me wish I knew what he looked like because maybe he has that naughty look in his eye.  Or maybe I’m just rambling on for no reason.

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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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