Saturday, December 3, 2016

Week Fourteen: Satire and Sci-fi

     For the final week, i enjoyed listening to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I found the story to be quite interesting and comedic to sit through. Arthur Dent is a reasonable character to feel sympathy for in the beginning, albeit a silly chuckle once Ford Prefect gets involved. He appears to be a serious yet lighter-hearted character, similar to the doctor from the famous British series Doctor Who. It follows some similar lines of thought as well, exploring the galaxy and running into interesting yet questionable characters and aliens.

     The comedic portrayal of events undermined the seriousness of the situation and spurred some interesting thought. We have a tendency to use humor to cover up and undermine the gravity of a situation. This is continued with the movie seen in class, Idiocracy. It is a hilarious portrayal of the future that seems, in a way, to be experiencing some fruition. These stories for this week delve into the self denial of futures we feel are more impossible. For instance, a majority of science fiction sees humanity exploring space and the cosmos, acquiring knowledge and making a mark on the stars. With Hitchhikers guide of the galaxy as well as Idiocracy, we see a very different depiction. We see main characters full of self questioning and denial over the loss of the world and events they know. However, these stories are told through a satire in order to make them more enjoyable and palpable for most audiences. This ties into recent events, particularly the latest election. A seemingly serious event such as an election to determine the future of an entire country was seen as a joke, as people laughed at the election until its specific end. During its time, a great amount of memes and other internet satire was created to instill laughter over the events and a few times saw the candidates come under fire from it, such as the Presidential elect and his "itty-bitty" hands. It has even been claimed that as many as 11,000 voters voted for a dead ape known as Harambe. It wasn't until the presidential elect was finished that many understood the effects of these consequences. Similar to the presidency of Idiocracy, the people in charge are not entirely the most qualified people to run a country. It is more of miscommunication and blind faith that govern. The use of Brawndo's electrolytes on the crops that lead to the crop issues in the movie, misinformation can become seen as true fact and the misinformation begins to snowball. Arthur is in the same boat, because of his birthplace being on earth he is believed to possess a greater knowledge and the meaning to the answer of life. 42 May be a legitimate answer, but people feel it is easier to hide the truth and lash back at others than to understand the truth of the situation.  On a lighter note, physiologically we try to find optimism in any unfortunate situation.

Week Thirteen: Literary Speculation

     For this week, I read Oryx and Crake. I found this read to (living up to the title for this week) quite speculative. Snowman/Jimmy has a incredibly strong battle of what it means to be human and struggles to keep it alive. Are we made human through our interactions with other humans? our Memories? Or doing whats right and protecting ones wishes? The story ends with snowman in a tough predicament: Save the colony of created he's sworn to protect, or join these three of his own kind? Being human in my eyes is doing what you feel is right, if its a mistake you learn from it and add to your experience. The human experience is living, making mistakes, standing your ground on the issues you truly believe in. I enjoyed the book for it had this deep speculation with Snowman's retrieval of the memories that lead to the plague and the end of human civilization. Is the purpose of creating a being or an Artificial intelligence our way of ensuring we have a legacy that will outlive the human race when nature takes its course with us? The speculation asks more questions than it answers.

     The same question can be asked about writing in genre. Genre and writing are talked about in different circumstances but they go hand in hand. Everything is classified and divided into genres as well as sub-genre. A new piece of writing does not stay free of a genre, it is simply reclassified or receives a basis from an already established genre. It would be as if a company in the United States decided to create a new automobile. The Genre of American cars would already exist, it would simply be a unique facet of that specific genre. It could be a standard mass produced car, or  super car, muscle car or hyper car, but it would still be designated under the American Auto Genre. It is all relative and there are pieces that cross multiple genres, but they simply share these different genres. The text ties into this in the way that it depends on ones perspective. It may be a certain auto, or in the case of the uncle in The Aquatic Uncle, each character has a different perspective of what it means to be an evolving creature in the world. One is not wrong, they just see the world through a different perspective based on their strengths and weaknesses. The same can be said for genre, and it can lead to speculative thought into its definitive position.

Week Twelve: Diverse Positions of science Fiction

For this week, i had begun to read the short story Bloodchild. I found it to be quite odd but also fascinating. We as humans are so used to being the top of the food chain that it is a peculiar thought to be second to a more predatory species; used as hosts for their young. It is a piece that does not follow Majoritarian culture. It is one where we are not the dominant predators, but a group of animals used as hosts for our predatory "masters". It is a different concept that from the psychological standpoint is incredibly uncomfortable, that creatures with the ability to reach the top of our own food chain could be used in these ways. History is told through the triumphant, but in this case its told through the victims of the loss. Humans hate the thought of being caged up like animals, and this story breaks this perception and creates uncomfortable tension while reading the story. It is very different from that of Majoritarian culture in its ways of taking typical human stereotypes and making us the victims.

Absent for this class.


1. What is you're reaction to the text we just read?
My initial reaction is a feeling of uncomfortableness. It is a perspective i have not been exposed to before and it takes some time to process this story.

2. What connections did you make with the story? Discuss the elements of the story with which you were able to connect.
I made connections with the humans in the story, the human element is family and makes for just common connections in the story. Also, i connect with the main character Gan as i would not want to assist in the flaying of one of my own. The blood and parasites hatching would have been too much for any person, let alone a child/ adolescent.

3. What changes would you make to adapt this story into another medium? What medium would you use? What changes would you make?
I would not alter the story too much if i were to convert it to another medium, it is informative and descriptive. That being said, i would put it into comic format. Since it is a short story it would logically fit into the size and scope that a comic possess, as well as the structure of a comic could provide artistic leeway to reduce the grotesqueness of some of the scenes. It would provide enough space to tell the story while keeping it simple yet informative with the storytelling of the piece.

Week Eleven: Cyberpunk and Steampunk

For this week, I read the novel Snow Crash. I enjoyed the virtual reality aspects of the story with its quirks of important questions, such as what happens to the mob when people move their business into virtual reality? The answer, they deliver some amazing pizza. It differs from the traditional in this genre with its use of drugs that alter the reality of people not only in the real world, but those in the augmented reality as well. Its a less touched upon subject as the augmented reality is often seen as the escape from reality, but it does offer the important questions of what a drug could appear like in this augmented world. The use of this drug as a form of mind control was mind bending as well, it created the psychological fear that one isn't safe in the real world or the created world.

This effects the reader in the sense that the reality we create for ourselves to shield ourselves from the horror of actual reality may be just as bad. It makes the reader contemplate if the created reality is worth the risks that standard reality comes with on a daily basis. If the end goal was just to escape reality, are you just substituting it for an equally bad one? It is believed that the created reality would somehow take us away from our own fleeting existence, possibly even establishing ourselves a legacy. The internet is an excellent example of this through its many forums and dormant sites. Anything that is put out on the internet will remain on the internet: It cannot be removed once it is put out there somewhere, even if it is deleted. For this week, it was the altered realities of a computer domain that had a lot of the same aspects in life that we come to see, nightclubs, fake-appearances, and drugs. However, it takes the level of drugs to a new directions as the drug Snow Crash will harm a user in the real world. Its implications won't just effect one in the augmented reality, but kill them in the real reality as well. In a way, the augmented reality creates a sense of arrogance as people would do things on there they wouldn't do in normal life. However, isn't that a reason why augmented reality was created? So we could accomplish the feats and desires we would never be able to achieve in our own lives? Real reality can be bleak, as in the case of Protagonist as he is a a courier pizza driver for the mob in real life, a nobody if you will. But in the augmented reality he is an untouchable swordsman. Reality is what one perceives as real, it can vary from person to person. Only thing is, what happens when reality for some becomes the real reality?

Week Ten: The fiction of ideas.

For this week, I read Bable 17. I enjoy the linguistics and this book delved into the effects of speech/communication. I found it interesting that learning the Language of Bable 17 caused people to become traitors of the state. I deviated a bit from the main conversation of this post due to a little bit of research I had conducted out of curiosity. Although something like brainwashing is impossible on this, we do see a similar psychological effect in people. For instance, those that speak multiple languages change the pitch of their voice and alter their personality slightly depending on the language that they are speaking. It is being studied currently and there are a variety of articles on the matter, one is here if anyone reading this is more curious: Bi-cultural Bilinguals. In essence people's personalities change depending on their security in their language skills and cultural situation. In essence, it is not traitorous behavior but it is inherent personality change based on the language that is spoken. I digress, In Fahrenheit 451 written word is technically forbidden in the form of books. Like a drug, it is chastised by normal society and anyone in possession of books is deemed unfit for society. The books are burned, and they are thrown in jail. It ties into the "Mob" mentality: you are either with us, or against us. At times, the majority can be wrong but the few are out-weighed by the many, thus fall to the judgement of the majority. The consequences of this are that the truth often times can be hidden from plain sight and forgotten.

Week Nine: Space Opera

For this week, I read The Martian. I managed to be one of the few people living under a rock who neither read the book before this point nor saw the movie. I was fond of the survivalist approach to the book. It was a work of Science Fiction, fitting clearly within the science fiction genre but with elements of slight satire (His constant cursing and sidetones) and thriller. Unlike many works of science fiction, this piece was written as a tragedy versus a high-adventure through the cosmos. We have a man whom is trapped in a broken habitat on an alien world, struggling to survive until help arrives. Even though the events themselves are fictional, they feel real in their chronological order. It even is told in the form of a documentary through emails between the characters. It had the high emotional impacts of a thriller through the various snippets of news from earth as he would reach milestones. Unlike the movie for this week, Forbidden Planet, the book itself at times is narrated like a documentary, and features triumphic emotional highs and devastating lows. A good example of a bad low was when the habitat popped and damaged his helmet. Not only is he knocked out and helmet busted, but his habitat is damaged and the spuds are now damaged goods. A similar progression is witnessed in the film Apollo 13, which features the use of a Central control to help troubleshoot ways to survive.

Week Eight: Mythic Fiction and Contemporary Urban Fantasy

For this week, i selected Ocean at the End of the Lane to read. I am very fond of this book now, and I plan on rereading it once the semester ends to understand the content of it more. It was an interesting read; characters fairy related tend to be fun and whimsical and at times a bit hard to follow. In this story, it reinvented a few old myths and tales, a few of which being "witches", mischievous spirits, and spell casting to ward off evil spirits. The largest reinvent in this story i believe is to be the mischievous spirit/ demon Ursula Monkton. She has traits similar to a demon such as possession, she latches onto our main characters foot and uses him as a connection point to our world.  This possession is in part transformed into a parasitic insect, which embeds itself into his foot and requires magic in order to expel. She is not technically possessing him, however she is using him as a gateway into this world. It also delves into parallel worlds, the witch-like characters appear immortal like the gods of ancient mythology. However, they are not immortal. As it is pointed out in the text, the witches live in a different realm of time that occurs much slower than our own, giving them the appearance of immortality due to their lack of aging. Even their "death" isn't truly death, more a hibernation to rebuild until they can function in the world again. Lessie return to her ocean is a sort of means to it, they are immortal in the sense that they do not die but they can be injured, and injured seriously.
Like any mythology, it begins with a character coming from an ordinary background and facing challenges that seem beyond their abilities. In this tale, it follows an interesting twist because the character in question ends the story just as ordinary as he had in the beginning. His memory is stitched together to forget the events of his childhood, however, returning to gran's makes his memory return temporarily. He has no recollection of the events that had occurred nor has he retained enough memory outside of the house to allow him to experience any moral development because of it. It is only Lettie who receives any moral development in the story, she sacrifices herself in order to save him from the Varmints. She is the tragic hero, who lays her life down in order to save another. It would have been interesting to have an alternative version of this story written from her perspective with the tragic hero in mind. The myths were made relevant to the contemporary world due to them hiding in plain sight. They had been on that property for years, and no one seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary there. The myths made in the story explained the psychologically bent behavior of some of the characters, such as the narrator's father. Had this not had the context of a demonic entity it would have been assumed the father had an affair, as well as a total psychotic break that lead to him nearly strangling the narrator. It uses mythically created characters to explain the more quirky psychotic tendencies of unstable people.
Notes: 10/10/2016
genre- expectation around genre for it to be it for it. ex. scoff has scoff, can be narrative wise.
set of loosely set expectations
think like a pizza
Neil, NEIL.
Genre vs literature:
some works that are not genre- creating taxonomies for these creates more genres
everything has a genre
mythological expressions to explain their meaning
mythology- much bigger than yourself and finding yourself within it