Trauma and Media; Magnification and Desensitization

Reading this week’s material reminded me of an article on trauma narratives that I read for my theory class a couple of weeks ago.  According to this article (“The Black Hole of Trauma” by Bessel A van der Kolk and Alexander C. McFarlane), we live and die by stories.  People who suffer trauma must make sense of the their suffering, put in a story, a context, a metanarrative, to make sense of it.  Individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder fail to make sense of the pain and so the pain becomes the only story in their lives, the sole metanarrative.  

I think that In the Shadow of No Towers is a good example of trauma literature.  Spiegelman’s intense focus on the incidents and aftermath of September 11 indicates a kind of fixation, which may or may not be healthy.  His proximity to the tragedy, physically and emotionally, and the influence of his family’s history with the trauma of the Holocaust contribute to Spiegelman’s gravitation toward this dark subject matter.  He also admits at various points in the text that he was fairly neurotic before 9/11, further suggesting a state of mind that is not ideally suited for comprehending the disaster.  Even still, I think that this work is cathartic for both the author and his readers.  The last sentence of the book is particularly conciliatory and redemptive, giving us all a reason to hope.

An individual afflicted with PTSD ruminates on the events of his or her trauma, and, in the case of Spiegelman, the news media fans the flames by covering the story non-stop.  He writes 

     I know I see glasses as half empty rather than half full, but I can no                longer distinguish my own neurotic depression from well-founded                   despair!  I’ve consumed ‘news’ till my brain aches.  The papers have                 confirmed that the towers I saw fall really did fall… aside from that, the         news just confirms that I’m right to feel paranoid.  My subconscious is     drowning in newspaper headlines! (8)

I wonder about what role the media plays in how we view not terrorism, which is a politically charged subject, but but just the simple experience of trauma.  In the case of Spiegelman, the media’s constant coverage of the 9/11 immediately after the attacks helped his already somewhat highstrung, paranoid personality (this is not an indictment of Spiegelman’s mental constitution) to focus even more on his trauma.  Of course, the media does not always encourage this kind of fixation.  For people who are more distant from an act of violence, the event is less jarring, less traumatic, thus the media’s buzz becomes background noise and the individual becomes numb.  Media has this strangely dualistic capacity to bring people closer to trauma and also to numb them to it, an idea which I’m having some trouble reconciling.

 

An semi-related side thought: do you think we can come up with a more original, imaginative, unpoliticized name for what happened on September 11, 2001, which does not rely on saying the date?  Just something to ponder.

An even more unrelated side thought: to celebrate the end of the semester and to provide you all with something to soothe you as you work on your final papers, I give you this link. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bb8P7dfjVw

Enjoy.

Symbols and Meaning, or Saturn, Lead, and Limes oh my

Saturn is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Kronos, the father of the Olympian gods.  According to myths, Kronos/Saturn heard a prophesy that one of his children was going to overthrow him so he took up the nasty habit of eating his offspring.  Needless to say, his wife, Rhea, was not too pleased with this behavior so one day she decided to hide her newborn instead of giving it over to Saturn to eat.  The son she saved, Zeus in the Greek, Jupiter in the Roman, grows up and rebels against his father, eventually freeing his siblings from his father’s stomach.  This myth bears similarities to the rebellion acted out by the characters in the book against the author.  The myth also transforms the relationship between creator and created to that of father and children.  I also think that its interesting that the author chooses Saturn, the second biggest planet in our solar system, to represent himself.  One might interpret this identification as a way of compensating for his diminutive stature which he seems very self-conscious of.

When I read that the people of Monte were using lead to shield themselves from Saturn (this was before it became clear that Saturn stood for the author), I thought of the Roman empire which used lead to make pipes.  This form of manufacturing lead to a lot of sickness, and I think some have argued, contributed to the fall of the empire.  This association with decay and ruin leaches over into the ideas of psychological repression, marking it as an unhealthy activity.  The definition for lead in J.C. Cooper’s An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols further ties the metal with the book.

“In Alchemy lead is the heavy ‘sick’ condition of the metal or of human existence or the soul; it is the base metal, density, the opaque bodily consciousness, unregenerate man, subject of the work of transforming and transmuting.  The metal of Saturn” (96).

Like the lead, I think the limes that Little Merced eats are another example of repression and its destructive power.  She keeps her lime consumption a secret from her father and it eventually makes her sick.  Federico’s fear of confronting the loss of his wife drives him to seek refuge under a poisonous umbrella.  One might take this a step further and argue that Federico’s unwillingness to share his feelings and secrets with his daughter sets a bad example for her (she probably knows something’s wrong; there has to be a reason why the mother left) and his secrets end up hurting her.  If we consider Rachel Adams’s thesis from last week, that there is some kind of shift between Cold War lit and post Cold-War lit, I would say that the reactions of Federico and the EMF, their desire to cut themselves off from another entity are reminiscent of a Cold War mentality of paranoia and polarization.  They don’t hide behind an Iron Curtain, but they do hide behind a lead one.  It is when the truth comes out, words are exchanged, that people break away from repetitive and stagnant positions and seem to recover.  This also relates to trauma theory in that the people who can rewrite painful experiences and somehow integrate them into their metanarrative (as Salvador Plascenia is clearly doing) are able to recover.

One final thought on limes- limes are a sour fruit, not a sweet one, hence not usually associated with enjoyment.  Little Merced’s constant consumption of limes seems semi-masochist and parallel to the self-pitying and rumination on lost love that permeates the novel.   

 

 

limes- caustic, secret, eating, damaging

Broad spectrum, closed system

I can somewhat understand Adams’s argument about the differences between The Crying of Lot 49 as a closed paranoid space and The Tropic of Orange as an open space.  Still, as much as Tropic of Orange honors diversity and expresses a multi-national vision, there were a couple of images that struck me as Pychon-esqe and drew attention to the restraints of society that could lead to paranoia and anxiety like that of the Cold War era.  

First and most obviously, the contaminated orange scare, while not as devastating as a nuclear attack, is still far reaching in its impact.  Global markets are a wonderful innovation because they allow people to have fresh produce almost everywhere even when something is out of season.  On the other hand though, the different standards of health inspection in different countries and the difficulty of tracing where some imports come from can make a food scare as random and potentially as harmful and frightening as a terrorist attack.

The highways so prominently featured in Crying Lot and Tropic of Orange connect nations and people are a fantastic invention because they allow for greater freedom to movc about and provide for greater transparency and acceptance between cultures.  At the same time though, these paths often become blocked with congestion and accidents, which, far from liberating, can be confining, frustrating, and dangerous.  The character of Manzanar Murakami, the homeless music of the traffic conductor, reminds me of Pynchon and his novel V., which deals with the ideas of closed systems and entropy, the inevitable breakdown of order in any given closed system.  The highways in Tropic become closed, toxic, destructive systems when accidents occur and yet Murakami seems to accept this.  Personally, I hate traffic and traveling, even when I’m speeding along uninterrupted so the idea of someone watching traffic and watching traffic disasters and somehow integrating it into something beautiful, a work of art, is astonishing to me.  Murakami seems to voice Pynchon’s belief that the breakdown of order cannot be avoided so one might as well celebrate.  In the novel V., Pynchon creates a metaphor for the contemporary person, writing that we are all sailors on sinking ships, but we can still paint the ship as it goes down, a sentiment that seems reflected in Murakami.

Another detail in Tropic of Orange that seemed to change the setting into a closed system was the brief exchange at the end of chapter 20.  A woman in the restaurant says ‘”I happen to adore Japanese culture.  What can I say?  I adore different cultures.  I’ve traveled all over the world.  I love living in L.A. because I can find anything in the world to eat, right here'” (129).  The odd thing about this statement is that is takes ethnic diversity and reduces it to a commodity to be consumed, literally.  L.A. becomes a microcosm of the world, a concentrated mass of multi-culturalism.  If one believes that L.A. contains everything one could want from another culture, then hasn’t that other culture been simplified and restricted?

The Writer and Death

I cannot help but think of Bill Gray as the ideal or romanticized representation of the writer.  As in Mark Z. Danielewski’s interview (where he told some story about beginning his magnificent first novel on a Greyhound bus in the dark with a flashlight on the way to visit his dying father), there are echoes of the stereotype (or perhaps recurring theme in history) of the author shaped by painful experiences.  Gray is reclusive (a trait associated with many famous authors: Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy, Salinger) and this sense of remoteness contributes to an aura of loneliness and exhaustion.  During his photo session with Brita he talks about the exhaustion of keeping up this writely seclusion.

“Maybe I don’t want to feel the things other people feel.  I have my own cosmology of pain.  Leave me alone with it.  Don’t stare at me, don’t ask me to sign copies of my books, don’t point me out on the street, don’t creep up on me with a tape recorder clipped to your belt.  Most of all don’t take my picture.  I’ve paid a terrible price for this wretched hiding.  And I’m finally sick of it” (45).

The quotation shows how he is fed up with the certain aspects of the writer life he has designed for himself.  He makes a clear distinction between himself and the rest of the world, wanting to remain apart.  There are people who get their pictures taken and then there are other who don’t want to be photographed.  The interesting thing is that he gives in, he has his picture taken, in a sense killing the writerly image he has made for himself.  Image actually isn’t the right word for it because I don’t think he’s very concerned with image.  I think he genuinely wants to have his depressing solitude, but he sees himself  and his lifestyle as a writer as outmoded; photographers and terrorists can do his job better.  

In a sense I read his decision to do the photo shoot as a suicide or perhaps the prelude to one (I have heard that less civilized people believe that cameras can steal your soul).  Afterwards he leaves the country and tries to help the Swiss writer escape from his kidnappers.  He talks with George about a possible exchange that would endanger his life, which indicates a desire to die (George tells him to get a computer to replace his typewriter, further proof of how Gray is outdated).  Gray travels to Lebanon a place of conflict (more wanting to die) and steps off a curb to be hit by a car (still more wanting to die).  Then he actually talks to a group of veterinarians about his “accident,” I think, in part so he better understand his wounds and he ends up dying more because he thinks he has/wants mortal injuries rather than actually being seriously hurt.  

That being said, sadly, I’m not sure what to make of this suicidal writer other than he may represent the every-writer lost in a post-modern world.

Unity in Fragmentation and Brokenness

In many ways Toni Morrison’s Beloved reminds me of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!  Both speak to issues of slavery and race; both narratives are told from multiple points of view and in non-chronological order, steadily fleshing out the many facets of the story.  I may be putting more faith in my reading of Beloved than Absalom, Absalom! when I say that I think Faulkner’s work is more post-modern in that in the end the reader is not sure what is true and what to believe; I think Morrison gives us a much more solid reality and a “center” that we can stand on.

I feel that the fragmented structure of the novel parallels the fragmented and broken nature of the characters in the work.  The setting of the narrative jumps around so the idea of home is difficult to pin down.  Sethe separates herself from the memory of Beloved, but Beloved cannot be repressed (sound familiar?  House of Leaves is back!).  At the same time, even though the characters lives and bodies are in pieces, the past of fragmentation brings them together and unifies them in the end.  I think that Paul D goes to Sethe with the hope that she might satisfy his needs and make him feel whole, unbroken.  He would not return were it not for some shared connection.  Granted, he does not understand the whole picture and when Beloved enters on the scene he gets uncomfortable and leaves.  Still, at the end, he returns and tries and offers to help heal and piece Sethe back together.  I also think that it is interesting that Sethe’s scars, her bodily brokenness, appears to form a tree.  The tree seems reminiscent of a family tree, showing that all of the characters, Sethe, Denver, Beloved, Paul D, are connected by the physical and not so physical wounds they bear.

The appearance of ghosts in this novel and postmodernism in general is an interesting one.  Going along with the theme I’ve already got rolling here, I think ghosts are great symbols for fragmentation: a ghost is a spirit separated from its body.  In the instance of Beloved, the ghost serves as a symbol of the mental wounds, the repressed, too.  With regards to Alyssa’s comments about ghosts, Morrison may not attempt to separate ghosts from religion, but I don’t think she tries to marry the two ideas together.  I feel the religion within the work comes out more in the form of a general spirituality than rigid establishments and dogmas.  If the work had been more about religion, then I think Morrison would have had the ladies at the end sing a hymn instead of one of Sixo’s(?) old tunes.  Ghost does not immediately connote religion; just think about how many horror movies have ghosts and then think about how many have priests in them.

Characters and Satirical Experiment

Like a couple people mentioned before, the J-characters in this novel seem to represent different aspects of the female psyche: Jeanine seems to play the role of want-to-be submissive housewife, Janet portrays a rational and scientific mind, Jael represents a violent rebel and would-be conqueror, and Joanna seems to be the contemplative observer.  As the writer and a character in the novel, I think that Joanna’s sensibilities present her as the most fully human character in the novel; that is, she seems the most realistic, and while she does not always appear as an agent of action she seems aware of and has more access to other perspectives and possibilities (perhaps I’m attributing too much of Joanna, the writer and creator of the world and everything in it, to Joanna the character).  All of the major characters, including Joanna, seem to be extremes: overly submissive, overly rational, overly aggressive, overly meditative.  Their extremes make them more into archetypes than characters, inorganic representations rather than organic people.

These archetypes of female possibility, the fragmented structure of the novel, the intense interest in feminine and masculine identity, and the meta-fictional aspects of the novel draw attention to the work as an artificial construction.  Science fiction does not always draw attention to itself as artificial; most times in sci-fi, we give ourselves over to willing suspension of disbelief and simply accept that the mechanics of the world are different.  This novel draws does not disguise the fact that Russ is using the sci-fi genre as a platform for experimenting and investigating gender identity.  I think that Anastasia and Alyssa are correct in reading the novel as a satire or parody since these forms of writing usually depend on generalizations.  How can Russ not be poking fun at gender constructions when she lists in quick succession the names of women whose identities are imbedded right in the name? (“…Clarissa, who will commit suicide…” I think is a reference to the title character of the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, a modern writer and feminist (34).)

Anastasia and Alyssa’s comments remind me of the Toni Morrsion book Playing in the Dark, which I read an excerpt from recently in my theory class.  One of the things that Morrison insists upon is that she recognizes that African American voices are marginalized in literary scholarship, but she does not want to trade a white Euro-centric perspective for a strictly African or African American perspective.  Both white and black need to be acknowledged to understand one another, just as female and male are needed to understand one another (Janet Evanson might disagree with me, but in our world of two sexes, two genders, both must be incorporated in the whole of humanity).  I think that Russ comes to a similar conclusion at the end of Female Man when Jael’s crusade to overthrow male domination comes across as extreme and just trading misogyny for misandry.  While much of post-modern literature is inconclusive (I don’t think that Joanna formally allies herself with Jael and her war plans) I think we are right to question the anti-male domination view at the end.

Postmodern Horror?

One of the things the first strikes me about this novel is its connections to the horror genre (I vaguely recall hearing or reading about this novel a number of years ago and thinking that it was a work of horror).  The title House of Leaves is reminiscent of the titles and settings of other great works of horror fiction: The Haunting of Hill House, House of Frankenstein, the house on the hill in “Salem’s Lot, the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  The creepy, old house that some unsuspecting family moves into is an undeniable cliche of the genre.  The novel certainly plays up the ominousness and foreboding from the very beginning.  Much like the voice-over/introduction to The Texas Chain-saw Massacre, the story of how Truant acquired Zampano’s writings blurs the line between fact and fiction, grounded reality and infinite dreams and nightmares.  All horror relies upon creating a space in the audience’s mind where anything can happen.

While Truant’s introduction and his footnotes contribute to the tone and tension of the work, as a horror novel, the narrative lacks immediacy.  Scary stories usually depend upon the reader being drawn into a situation of terror with one of the characters.  Danielewski undermines the immediacy though by switching between the Davidson plot and the Truant plot.  He also noticeably softens the horror by ending chapter four with Karen screaming and then beginning chapter five with a long, tiresome explanation about the mythology and science of echoes.  It is as though the author wants the story to walk a line between being horror and being something else.

And if this is a horror novel of a sort, what is the horror, the boogeyman?  I suspect that it has something to do with house, not because it is haunted, but because the house is a symbol for the American Dream as is the family that inhabits the house.  There is something wrong with the ideal life of a couple living in a perfect home with two kids and a dog (and a cat in this novel).  There is something terribly romanticized in the way that Davidson describes his new home, life, and project.  

“Maybe because of my past they’re expecting something different, but I just thought it would be nice to see how people move into a place and start to inhabit it.  Settle in, maybe put down some roots, interact, hopefully understand each other a little better.  Personally, I just want to create a cozy outpost for me and my family.  A place to drink lemonade on the porch and watch the sun set” (9).

The whole situation seems too optimistic to me.  For a guy who won a Pulitzer for a photograph of a dying girl in Sudan, he seems oddly oblivious to the possibilities of obstacles to be met and imperfect conclusions.  

The blending of reality and fiction within the novel and the preoccupation with the family is reminiscent of the sado-masochistic games that the older couple plays in Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.  Neither of the families in these works are complete; there is always a space that needs to be filled whether it be with an absent child (Albee’s play), an absence of communication between husband and wife (Davidson and Karen seem to communicate a lot through cameras), or actual rooms that appear out of impossibility.  I think it is interesting to note that both Truant and Zampano are single, without family, and in the eyes of the American Dream, incomplete.

I suspect that in this horror story the boogeyman is not a fantastic monster, but the reality that the American Dream is tainted, uncontainable, or unattainable.

Against Meta-narratives

I think Todd brings up some valid points about The Lathe of Heaven presenting a view that contradicts modernism and goes against meta-narratives.  I hadn’t even considered Haber’s incredulity toward Freud and Jung.  Certainly, looking at the institution of psychiatry as a whole, the work portrays the field as misguided.  Haber may not believe in the theories of Freud and Jung, but he creates his own belief system that has its own flaws.  In The Crying of Lot 49, we say psychiatry represented in the absurd, cartoonish, unreliable, untrustworthy, and immoral figure of Dr. Hilarius.  In Le Guin’s work, Dr. Haber appears more realistic, but also more controlling, manipulative, and negative (I feel there is a certain irony in my saying that Haber is a negative force because it means that I’m comparing my meta-narrative against his and if all meta-narratives aren’t to be trusted, then…oh never mind).

I tend to think of Dr. Haber as a modernist character, someone who has certain beliefs that cohere with a particular meta-narrative who seeks to bring about a world the resembles/better coheres with his own system of beliefs.  I’ll admit that his intentions are noble; the elimination of war, overpopulation, hunger, disease, racism, and the invention of nine-foot tall turtles are all worthwhile endeavors.  However, in bringing about his vision of the world, he condenses and contains life into a small package to fit his equally small view.  

For me, the most horrible byproduct of his plans for his meta-narrative’s domination is the elimination of races with the elimination of racism.  Le Guin makes it very clear that this lack of diversity is a terrible thing: “But now, never to have known a woman with brown skin, brown skin and wiry black hair cut very short so that the elegant line of the skull shoed like the curve of a bronze vase- no, that was wrong.  That was intolerable.  That every soul on earth should have a body the color of a battleship: no!” (130).  The very symbolism of the color gray, already a hue of somber connotation, now becomes a color of sterility and violence by associating it with a battleship.  Dr. Haber essentially achieves Hitler’s dream of a master race, but instead of killing a few billion people he has Orr disevent them.  I think that Le Guin is very aware of the connotation of Dr. Haber’s actions and how they relate to evil predecessors; she makes a point of writing near the end that after the Break there are still gray people and many of them reside in Germany.

I tend to think that had Orr not met Heather, then he might not have worked up the nerve to stand up to Dr. Haber and step away from the downward spiral toward one meta-narrative.  Orr’s actions and feelings and the novel as a whole, I think, respect and revel in the many varieties of reality, the spectrum of meta-narratives, and the diversity of humanity, even in the midst of its chaos.  The final scene of the novel shows a nine-foot tall alien armor turtle watching a black woman and a white man meet and reunite at once over a cup of coffee.  What could be more uplifting, absurd, and positive toward the vast array of meta-narratives in existence and yet to be thought of?

Continuing Themes with Pynchon

Reading The Crying of Lot 49, I’m struck by many of the similarities between this work and Pynchon’s first novel V..  Oedipa Maas’s quest mirrors that of Herbert Stencil’s search for the illusive figure of V. in the earlier novel.  Both characters become obsessed with goals of discovery (and to a certain extent self-discovery) that seem perpetually out of reach.  The clues that they follow are random and not firmly grounded or linked together.  In V., Pynchon emphasizes the wild-goose-chase nature of the search writing that the journey becomes such an obsession that without the search Stencil has no meaning so he deliberately perpetuates the fruitless search. 

The Crying of Lot 49 also contains traces of another pivotal character from V. named Benny Profane.  Benny seems to have no purpose in life, no internal drive, no meaning or anchor.  I think that at the beginning of the novel Oedipa seems stuck in a similar kind of apathetic malaise.  Many other characters in the novel, particularly the Paranoids, display the same detachedness as Benny Profane and inclination toward debauchery as the Whole Sick Crew, Benny’s group of drinking, partying, whoring, irresponsible companions.

Pynchon continues his interest in entropy from V. on into The Crying of Lot 49.  In The Crying of lot 49, Pynchon actually touches more directly on the subject of entropy in terms of its scientific definition.  At the same time though, there appears to be a kind of social entropy taking place as well.  The order of things is breaking down in Oedipa’s world.  It is a world where a psychiatrist can get away with calling his client at three in the morning, a husband and wife nonchalantly and knowingly cast fidelity out the window, and people feel little reverence for dead American soldiers.  There is something amiss in this setting.  Social entropy similarly appears in Pynchon’s earlierst novel, most notably manifesting itself in the chaotic activities of the Whole Sick Crew.  

Pynchon also carries weird names over from V.  V. is populated with characters with strange yet meaningful names like Dewey Gland, Pig Bodine (one of the more profane characters), Slab (ironically an artist by profession),Rachel Owlglass (easily one of the most compassionate and insightful characters in the novel), and Benny Profane (a combination of Benny as in Benzadrine, an amphedamine drug, and Profane, which stands for his degenerative path).  I think that Oedipa Maas’s name has a similar imbedded meaning to that of Herbert Stencil.  Like a Stencil, Herbert Stencil is empty and must fill himself with something outside himself to give him meaning.  For Herbert, his meaning derives from his search for V.  Similarly Oedipa Maas or “more” seems to be searching for something “more.”  To me, the word “more” connotes reaching higher or aspiring; in a capitalistic society we try to achieve “more” money, toys, happiness, et cetera.  Her first name calls to mind Oedipus, the hero of Sophocles’s Greek tragedy about a man who makes an unsettling self-discovery and, perhaps on some level, mirrors Oedipa’s personal quest to discover the meaning of the Tristero System.

Response to First Week’s Reading

One of the things that I noticed in many of the works we read for this week was the tension between the past and the present.  In “POSTmodernISM: A Paracritcal Bibliography,” the author attempts to go about defining postmodernism and its predecessor modernism with mixed success.  In Foer’s short story there is both admiration and conflict between the different generations represented within the author’s family.  “Super Goat Man” depicts the distance between the nostalgic older generations and the less interested and invested younger folks.

This tension reiterates the trend of fragmentation in postmodern work.  Together, the inability to fully understand and reconcile the past to the present and the fragmentation of structure in these postmodern stories contributes to a feeling of uneasiness that others have mentioned in previous blog postings.  The disconnection between past and present in terms of memories and values makes for a seemingly foundation-less, free-floating contemporary point of view; the younger generations do not immediately identify themselves with their parents’ generation, thus leading to a fluid, undefined sense of self.  The uncertainty, ambiguity, and rejection of the past mirrors the unconventional structure of many postmodern narratives.  The story “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” serves as an example of internal conflict and structure.  Structurally, the story unfolds in un-chronological order, which then establishes the character of Arthur/Art/Soap/Wolverine as a somewhat disembodied individual.  I also think that a large part of the mystery, the reason why we as readers keep reading is not just because we want to know what Soap is going to do at the party, but that we want to know who he is, his identity.  

Despite the negative connotation I associate with fragmentation, I think many postmodernists (?) view this division as an advantage.  John Cage writes that “Now there’re more and more of us , we find one another more’ n’ more interesting.  We’re amazed, when there’re so many of us, that each one of us is unique, different from all the others.”  While few of the works we read this week label the postmodern identity as an improvement or a tragedy (Foer’s story seems most at odds with the ideas of heritage and the permanence versus fleeting nature of family values and traits), I think it is interesting that this conflict can be viewed as both good and bad.

In reading Dr. Sample’s post about the atrocities in “Uniforms” I’m not sure what he means by diminishing and multiplying effects.  The randomness, repetition, and an underdeveloped context for the violence (at least to me) made the acts of atrocity seem pretty meaningless and petty.  I’m interested to know what others’ thoughts are on violence in postmodernism.  Clearly, DeLillo’s “Uniforms” depicts extreme violence in a very matter-of-fact, detached manner, which, as many have said in previous posts, is extremely disturbing.  I wonder where one would place a work like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian in terms of postmodernism.  McCarthy’s work is similar to the  piece that we read for class in that they both possess an indifference toward acts of atrocity, but McCarthy goes into much more detail.  How does this difference change things?