shooting war

i’m not sure whether shooting war is a tongue-in-cheek mockery of the whole idea of news blogging or if it’s really trying to be anti-big media but either way it seems to be trying to hard. i feel like the author is constantly trying to show off that he himself is in fact a hipster with his references to american apparel [simultaneously hating it because it’s a corporation but also saying he’s a good person because he buys sweatshop free], making the main character be a hipster from the trendiest area of brooklyn [which so far has given nothing to the story or his character because it doesn’t add significance to his situation] or it being a starbucks blown up [corporations boo!].

he’s way to upfront about everything that it’s hard to take him seriously. it’s like some art school drop out with a trust fund from his parents that grew up reading micheal moore and hating capitalism decided to write a book. maybe he’s mocking that whole cutlure, i don’t know.

i see where he’s going with mass-media crushing the voice of independent news, the whole covering up of the speech bubbles was clever, using bill o’reilly was kind of just a cheap shot because no one takes him seriously [though really would he use the word poser?].

i don’t know, i haven’t seen anything in the book i haven’t seen before. so far it’s just preaching to the choir and hasn’t raised any new questions. the main character seems like the caricature the right would make of the left but this book is definitely from a leftist point of view [and yes i know right and left have no meaning but it’s the only way to write about their meaninglessness].

maybe it’s someone mocking his own culture or making people within his group reexamine themselves so that they see how other people percieve their arguements or maybe it’s jus some guy so immersed within the world he doesn’t see how ridiculous and overplayed it comes across.

difference in kafka’s magical realism

one of the qualifications of magical realism that the article gives is that, to the characters, the laws and rules of the world in which they exist is never questioned. the fact that someone can turn into a bug overnight may be undesirable but it can still happen in the world of the characters.

there are times, however, that kafka bends these so-called rules of magical realism. of course, the idea that he can bend rules of a genre before it even existed is a little ridiculous, but he does take a different approach in some respects.

it both ‘the trial’ and ‘the castle’, the protagonists [in each named k.] is in a world that makes no sense to them. in the trial, k. is charged with a crime he never knows the nature of, and spends the rest of his life struggling to manipulate his way through a ridiculous system of courts and lawyers. k. never fully believes in the world he exists in but sees it as unreal and irrational. however, he is the only character within the story that thinks this way, to the others–both his relatives and those within the court–the world in completely rational.the castle is very similar, where k. comes to a country as a land-surveyor and finds himself in a world without rationality. he doesn’t play by the rules of the world and therefore finds himself ostracized.

the protagonist/reader relationship is then brought to the front because we are alongside k. trying to figure out how the world operates in ways that make no sense to us. the world against the protagonist is the most common kafka theme and it becomes even more apparent the more k.’s idea of how the world works differs from how it works within the castle and the trail. kafka must have surely felt isolated from the world if it seemed irrational to him.

i tried thinking of what would happen in ‘people of paper’ if one of the characters was like k. and didn’t buy into it.  what if one didn’t accept that their life could be narrated by someone who named themselves after a planet, that they couldn’t go into the sky, that mechanical turtles don’t exist, that people can’t be made out of people, and babies can’t tell the future?

people of paper

my favorite thing about people of paper is how it calls into question the character/narrator/author/reader relationship. novels exist with the idea that there is an author who either makes himself the narrator (third person) or who creates a character to narrate. we are then told the story through the eyes of that character.

as a reader, we don’t always remember that the characters of the book and all of their actions are determined by the author. if the author is good and develops characters well, we believe that we are witnessing real people existing in their own world and the narrator is either one of the characters telling us what happened (first person) or some omniscient narrators spying on a bunch of people living their lives.

people of paper gives us both perspectives. on the one hand, we have little mercede and many other characters telling us, directly their stories because we see it through the eyes of saturn, or plasencia. other times their is an omniscient narrator telling us what is happening in these characters lives. what is interesting is that the two characters that seem to be the center of the story don’t get to narrate their own lives. the story is about plasencia’s struggle to find happiness as he writes about fernando’s struggle to find happiness yet fernando doesn’t get to tell us about his struggle. we only hear about it from saturn and everyone else around him. saturn doesn’t even tell us the story of his own unhappiness but narrates his own life in third person.

still, these are only characters created by an author, but plasencia wants us to believe more than that. he makes their world seem more real by making us–the reader–believe that by reading the book we are invading it. of course, by writing the book, he too is invading it–and he makes sure to point this out. in a way, it expresses what reality tv does. we are given unreal characters, a fictional plot, and expected to believe it is real. somehow though, i find myself identifying with his characters much more than if they were part of a reality show. though the stories might not be real, the emotions underlying it definitely are.

zamora

from the information given, i’ve been trying to figure out what zamora’s role in the hoaxing of the tribe and the scandal. paz talks about him being criticized for hoaxing the tribe as an excuse for him to help the president search for rebels in the jungle but if we look at the text and pay attention to the narrative point of view.

when we’re first introduced to the tribe and his discovery it’s in first person point of view which means it is zamora talking to us [the reader] and choosing what information he wants to give us. the structure of the narrative at this point allows our entire perspective of the narrative to be created by one man.

we are given a more fair perspective when witnessing zamora’s conversation with the president. we are neither given his, nor the president’s perspective but that of the bodyguards in the room. judging by the situation, we aren’t led to believe that [i forget his name and am out of town so i don’t have the book on me] would be lying to the reader. he doesn’t benifit by giving us false information about two other characters who he seems to be detached from.

because of this, i believe zampano really was innocent in the way that he didn’t know he was being used by the president. in fact, he was surprised the president was willing to not only help him but put him in charge, but as it goes, he was blamed for his unknown involvement.

as for hoaxing the tribe, there are parts when we are given his relationship to the tribe with either third person narrative or the voice of another character and it doesnt come across as a hoax on his part. if anything, he was decieved by [……]. the tribe only exists of 25 people, no one from the other islands have heard of them, their language is very similar to [……] and only he communicates with them. if anything, it was a way for him to get supplies and publicity and the hoax was no fault of zamora.

binary

we discussed it in class a little but i wanted to expand upon the idea that our society has moved more and more away from binary and how it has positively influenced our society.

feminism and queer theory have led to the breakdown of male/man and female/woman and straight or gay. now, gender is not correlated to sex but divided into a wide spectrum of gender identity and orientation. while american was founded on the binary of whites, non-whites, anthropologist and biologist have shown that race doesn’t exist more than a social concept. since religion has played a smaller and smaller role in our society we no longer have the binary idea of right and wrong in the same way as we did when morality was based on sin. in every action or reaction there is grey area and we examine the reason behind the action, the effects of the action, and the meaning of the action until deciding what degree of right or wrong it is.

i’ve even found myself personally not using yes or no but usually rating things on a 1-10 scale, whether it be the spiciness of food, my enjoyment of something, or my wish to do something.

probably the only thing that is binary anymore is computer program. what does this mean…or what can i make this mean? to many [myself included], computers represent a certain amount of artificiality, whether it be with communication or authenticity of production or human relationships. one could on one hand use this to say that binary implies artificiality though it would take some fancy word play to correlate the onoff onoff of electricity with our need to divide things into one of two categories when they’d fit more naturally on a spectrum. other way to analyze it is through the idea of the cyborg and how this artificiality is similar to people needing to define themselves in any area of their life in order to be part of the culture.

a hero of not our time

i think janet is the heroine of female man because of her reaction to jael accepting responsibility for there being no men in whileaway. even though the ‘utopia’ janet grew up in doesn’t even realize the idea of men, she still cries and feels grief for jael’s action. the question we must then ask is why? does she feel like in her paradise there is still something lacking that she could never put her finger on? (probably) does she regret that half of a species was wiped out because of radical beliefs that, in many ways resemble her own? (hopefully) does she feel responsible because of their similar genotype? (maybe) did she lean something about men that made their existence seen worthwhile? (who knows?)

she has just realized that the entirety of her existence and life as she knows is a result of nothing other than genocide–it’s much like the reactions of some americans when they learn about native americans and the founding of the country. for some reason she feels responsible for the actions in the past.she realizes her own inadequacies at comprehending what was so bad about men and why they were wiped out and how artificial her life is when it relies on technology and not biology.

in this sense she is a tragic hero and her flaw is being a woman feeling incomplete long after the absense of men should have abolished any form of suffering. jeannine is a tragic hero in the sense that she believes she is unable to escape the role society has laid out for her and joanna is a tragic hero in the sense that, after all her ranting and textualization and stereotyping, sh is left nowhere. sometimes she wants to fulfill gender roles but doesnt know if thats because she wants it, or if she wants it because she is told to want it. she can’t find true happiness with her husband just like she can’t find true happiness with laur because, in her eyes, the world is inherently flawed and since she is unable to fix the entire world, she also feels shes unable to fix her personal life because she feels it relies entirely on the external world.

not a feminist book

i wasn’t in class so my thoughts on this book will be completely unmediated by what might have been said.

i find it hard to believe joanna russ is taking herself seriously. her ideas are so over-the-top and sexist that i really can’t see how someone’s opinions can be  like this. kinotice i said sexism and not feminism. russ is not in any way a feminist writer. feminism is about equality between sexes, giving women a choice about how they live their lives, and recognizing gender as nothing more than a social construct and her bitching–yes bitching–supports none of these ideas. the only way she could be a feminist is if this novel in tongue-in-cheek mockery of people that actually think like that. at least, i’m going to read the novel as if it were written to be ironic even though the exclusionary dedication at the beginning says otherwise.

a simple example: marriage. seriously? i’m all for same-sex relationships with whatever official name people want to give them but marriage, for me, is about commitment and a social network to raise children. one parent can raise a kid just fine, two parents can raise a kid just fine, someone unrelated to a kid can raise it just fine. to describe her “utopian” idea of raising a kid until it was five and sending it off as idiotic would be an understatement.

she also shows no compassion for other women–i won’t even go into her ideas of men that could not be described as anything but reactionary–and criticizes jeannine’s personal decision for how to live her life.

oh, and the writing style of this book. i’ve heard all the ideas about how language and literature are creations of men and are set up in ways that are beneficial for men and excludes women. i feel like her formatting is a desperate attempt at creating something new, but her pretension causes it to fail miserably.

and yes i’ve read novels feminist novels and yes they have challenged ideas on gender and literary form and i felt like i’ve gained something from those books. this isn’t one of them.

am i that predictable?

when we talked about companies being able to cross reference and find out our taste i was a little skeptical. even though i like a wide range of styles and genres when it comes to music and writing, i’m also very particular about what i read and don’t read. i hadn’t used amazon or any site like that to recommend anything to me before but had relied on advice from friends as to what books and bands i should check out. the same friend wouldn’t always be right about what i would or wouldn’t like and even though i knew i was influenced by those around me, i had made my own decision once given the choices.

i decided to test this theory out and look up some writers on amazon that were often compared to writers i didn’t like and see what it recommended me. my first shot was neil gaiman because he is the only writer that remotely resembles fantasy that i like but all the recommendations were his other works so that didn’t help. i decided to look up ray bradbury because he is one of the few sci-fi writers i enjoy but the recommendations were hg wells and phillip k dick–a classic and my favorite. next i tried kafka thinking a classic would recommend me bad classics [and there are many] but i was told i would like hemmingway and nerval. finally as a last shot i looked up hp lovecraft and finally was given recommendations i wouldn’t like–fantasy and fan fiction.

what does this all say? i hadn’t used one of these things before and i don’t get my ideas of what i should check out by magazine reviews of books and records so i couldn’t be that influenced. except i was probably influenced by those who were and there are only a limited number of authors anyway. all in all it made me feel not like an individual. i think thats what postmondernism is about. feeling part of a mass group but still isolated at the same time.

three times

so i’ve read the book house of leaves three times now and each time i’ve gotten something different out of it.

the first time i read it without reading any of tyhe appendixes but just as the story existed on its own. it went a lot faster but i feel like i didn’t get the depth i did with my second reading.

the second time i read it i read each appendix when a footnote sent me there. i got much more depth into johnny’s character and was able to understand his actions a lot better. it gave the book less of a narrative sense because the characters didn’t have too much back story but you could find it out from other stories. it was as if they existed and though the plot only presented you with one moment of their lives you were able to find out the rest.  actually, the quotes and letters were about the only part of the appendix and exhibits that i thought added something. the incomplete ones did nothing for me and i didn’t get much more out of zampano’s character.

this time when i read it for class it seemed a little long winded and that searching for so much depth and interpretation in a book where it’s already laid out took away from the experience. when i read books i see the text existing as something on it’s own and, personally, i don’t get much out of literary analysis. some authors write their books for the stories and ideas and some [james joyce – finnegan’s wake] write stories academia will read it over and over trying to find the hidden meaning. i think with house of leaves danielewski is parodying this with the over-abundance of footnotes.

and the footnotes…each time i started reading i told myself i would read them all, but less than halfway through each time, i gave up because i rarely got any more out of them.

title

what’s with the title of the story? does it refer to the navidson house or truants house or is what it is referring to not even a house in general.

the passage quoted in the book that may or may not be an actual quote but if it is i don’t really care on page 25 reads: “‘uncanniness also means “not being at home.'” [first off, this is an example of  just how stupid and overplayed literary criticism analysis is because every word in the sentence except one is a quotation which means the thought isn’t even heidegger’s but he just likes to pretend it’s his idea] house is a physical structure where as home is a place where one can call there own and feels safe and protected. so, a house may not always be a home.

this is true for navidson, truant, and presumably zampano. the feeling of uncanniness is that their houses do not feel like homes, they don’t feel safe within their own space but it is as if their house has been invaded.

sheets of paper are sometimes called leaved of paper. truant’s home has become the navidson record. he completely loses himself within it and it fills his living space in the pages, painted on the walls, in the locks added to his door and the measuring tape nailed to the floor. this is all the navidson record manifesting itself within what use to be his home. the “not being at home” of feeling uncanny has changed his home into a house–something cold, strange, and different than what he expected and a place where he doesn’t feel safe.

his life is composed of leaves of paper where the story written on them is uncanny. house instead of home, leaves instead of paper because it is more obscure and another things for people to ponder over. done.

incomplete

both the navidson and reston interviews are missing. much of the other information zampano wished to include is also missing. to get the full story of johnny truant we have to read letters from far before the story began. later in the book, entire pages or passages are missing–truant tells us they are either burnt or blotched out. what is danielewski trying to say?

in fiction, one never gets the whole story, no matter how omnipotent the narrator is. one doesn’t know every detail of each character’s life that made them that way and no matter how much detail the author gives us, we are never fully able to understand the world they’ve created as they see it in their head.

danielewski toys with this idea in many ways. first, instead of truant telling us about his mother and father, he only alludes to it. some authors would just leave it at this, others would have him tell the audience or the editors why he is like the way he is. instead, danielewski includes the letters his mom has sent him so we can experience directly his experience and, in a way, closes the gap between narrator and reader.

i’d lie if i said i wasn’t disappointed when i turned to the back and found both the navidson and the reston interviews missing. i wanted to know what they said. i wanted to know the opinion of two imaginary characters from an imaginary movie in an imaginary book written by an imaginary man discovered by another imaginary man. in doing this, danielewski is pointing out that we cannot always know the thoughts of the characters. he could have just as easily never given us the idea that there were interviews with these characters and we may not have known the difference but the fact that he does leaves us yearning for more and paying even closer attention to how the characters act in hopes of finding the person lying under the action.

post 3

duvall writes that “jack’s failure to recognize proto-fascist urges in an aestheticized american consumer culture is all the more striking since he emphasizes in his course hitler’s manipulation of mass cultural aesthetics” and in fact, this is one of the only things jack discusses involving hilter–the only other topic being his mother.  he argues the irony is in the fact that jack doesn’t recognize the fascism of his own culture. in jack’s world, there is no mass control or ideology, and people are presented with what seems like a freedom of choice. in order to understand what he means, we must first look at a definition of fascism and since this is the internet, wikipedia is probably the easiest though not best place to check saying: “a totalitarian nationalist political ideology and mass movement that is concerned with notions of cultural decline or decadence, and which seeks to achieve a millenarian national rebirth by exalting the nation or race, as well as promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.”

the supermarket is a place of rebirth throughout the book–after the airborne toxic event, after jack has nearly killed someone. it is rebirth under the ideologies of capitalism, collectivism, consumerism, and materialism. purchasing name brands help people like the gladney’s feel “fullness of being” (p.20) while people like murray offer resistance to this “proto-fascism” by attributing to the “spiritual consensus” (p.18) of the generic.

the television is there to tell them what to buy and as a result it tells them what to think. this can be seen by the intrusion of brand names into the narrative or jack’s daughter mouthing car names in her sleep. this fascism isn’t achieved by violence or thought-control but with the illusion of choice and comfort given to them from the only source of information they have: television.

just in ontime, sex, drugs, government control

reading the scene during the airborne toxic event where gladney is talking to the realbutsimulation officer i was surprised in how ahead of his time delillo was. maybe he wasn’t far ahead of his time. since orwell writers have explored the idea of government knowledge and personal privacy.

gladney is, to an extent, an everyday citizen who lives in an interpretation of what the world was in 1985, not some hero of a distopia novel, but he worries what extent of his personal information has been examined by the officer in order to determine how threatened by nyodene d he might be. “where was it located exactly?…what else did he know? did he know about my wives, my involvement with hitler, my dreams and fears?” (p.140)

postmodern is based on reference within reference where culture becomes art, not vise-versa. we must then ask whether orwellian paranoia is a reaction to the world and a distrust that developed out of the actions of the government, or if it was the ideas written about in such books as 1984 that became the worries of the common american. did the paranoia about government control of the culture end up in books or did books create the paranoia of the culture?

it may seem like a circular argument but it could be applied to almost any concept of our culture. in sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs, klosterman writes that during the first few seasons of the real world, he saw people on the show that reminded him of people he knew. after a few seasons the opposite became true: he now met people who reminded him of characters on the show. while something was attempting to reflect real life, all it did was create an image of real life and real people for our society to emulate.

the same could be said about novels from orwell to delillo, the reasons behind the postmodern distrust of government could be postmodern in themselves-people becoming the fabricated image of reality they are presented with.

inquiry 1

the hardest part about the first paper was trying to find an argument to make. i could come up with arguments for each specific quote and tie one to another so that slowly the argument would change, but i found myself arguing different–though not conflicting–themes throughout the paper. another part i found difficult was deciding which passages would best support my point and which seemed like they would help but were really just ‘white noise.’ hahahahaha not funny. but really, there wasn’t conflicting information but an overwhelming amount of it.

the length of the paper surprised me. i felt like i was going to have touble even writing three pages but almost up to four pages there were still many passages i could have used to develope each theme further and even argue new ones. i was alsosurprised how the same information–such as the white packaging or the supermarket being sealed–could be used to argue different ideas and the layers that could e found within the text.

i no good with technology

jameson states that “not only are picasso and joyce no longer ugly; they now strike us, on the whole, as rather realistic.” in this he argues that, culturally, we are always reinventing ourselves where the ugly and profane become the genius and revolutionary, which becomes mimicked and diluted throughout society until we get to a point where it is the norm and what was once deemed to be ‘revolutionary’ is now deemed as classic and people become bored with the classics and want to create something new of their own.

this can easily be observed by looking at the smaller movements within the modernist movement: symbolists and realists developing out of angst against the romanticist, surrealist and imagists hoping to gain more depth, and cubist trying to think outside the box [pun intended], and dadaist reacting against basically everything.

the difference with postmodernism is the mindset of believing that everything has been done before and the false presumption that, for the first time, people have realized this. as a result, art has become a mere synthesis-such as the mcmansions mentioned by trish-something mass produced, or something without effort or thought but instead created to be seen as being an artist-such as painting an entire canvas one color.

the idea of mass-productions is one of the most noticeable differences between modernism and post-modernism. postmodernism is under the illusion that modernist art is ‘high culture’ art, though many of the sub-movements within modernism were actually against it. one way that this could be argued though, is that not everyone can buy a painting by dali or picasso, but any college kid can go into urban outfitters with their parent’s credit card and buy an andy warhol print. because of our ability to mass-produce-and artist’s knowledge of this as they produce-postmodernism has succeeded in becoming more mainstream and engrossed within the culture as a whole than earlier movements.