Monday, May 16, 2011

Woohoo for Fiction!

 “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” (2190)
If we take out the first part of that definition, “a hybrid of machine and organism”, we are left with the latter stating that a cyborg is a hybrid of social reality and fiction; Or, in other words, fantasy. Humans are always wondering what comes after our lives are over, after death. But, what about the select few people within society who believe in something else; something not entirely human, but not entirely farfetched either. As you probably figured from my picture, I’m referring to wizards and witches. Witches and wizards are human, but not only so. They are a combination of humanity and fantasy. Donna Haraway states that cyborgs are creatures of social reality (humans) and fiction (fantasy).
            “By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized as fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality”. (2191) 

Vampires: A race of creatures that are neither dead nor undead. They are humans, physically dead to the world for their hearts do not beat, allowing the blood to pump within their body giving them the sustenance they need. Therefore, they feast on the blood of those who are “alive”, who’s hearts beat and circulate their blood and plasma, keeping them warm and awake to the world.
            I’m taking the completely fictional side with this theory because I think it’s pretty cool and interesting. No one knows what happens after death, and not everyone believes in a life after death surrounded by pearly gates and clouds. But what is there to stop us from believing in these fictional creatures? Do they not fulfill, in part, the very definitions of “cyborgs”? Are they not hybrids of imagination and material reality? Of social reality and fiction?

            Alright, so about this one: Iron Man. Again, completely fictional, yet he completely fulfills the entire definition of cyborg. He is human, with an electronic heart designed specifically to keep him alive and his heart beating. This being said, we can relate this to humanities continuing advancement with its dependence on technology; the next big breakthrough. Humans are so obsessed with getting the latest android phone, iPad, touch screen (insert object here). Tony Stark, a scientist and a genius, finds a way to create the next big thing in our world. Haraway’s definition fits like a perfect puzzle piece in our world’s struggle to connect ourselves with technology and how we are becoming the cyborgs.

Word Count: 443
Works Cited
Haraway, Donna. "A Manifesto for Cyborgs"  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Company; Second Edition. New York, 2001. Pages 2190 - 2220. Print

Feminism Theory Group Presentation

            The Feminism Theory group presentation was primarily a group effort all around. All of us found things in the media: advertisements, YouTube videos, music videos, literature, pictures, etc. Kelly was the one who put the PowerPoint presentation together but, it was a team effort. My part was to send in any media, mostly music videos, which belonged to a certain time period and emphasized feminism. My part in the presentation was to go over and elaborate on Susan Bordo’s piece on femininity: “The Reproduction of Femininity”. After everyone emailed all their findings, we got together and decided to figure out who was going to present on what and how we were going to go about presenting the theory as a whole, to the class. My other contribution to the presentation was working with the black box and making sure the presentation ran smoothly and functionally. 

Feminism: Unleash Your Inner Male

What is feminism? Well, feminism is the belief that there should be an equality of power between men and women. Yet, the importance or inclusion of intersectionality between gender and race, class, or sexuality are often times disagreed upon. Now, with that being said, feminism has been deemed with the stereotypical crazy woman who yells and goes berserk when something that is slightly demeaning towards a woman, albeit funny: such as a woman cooking in the kitchen while the man sits and watches a football game with his buddies and some beer;  a “traditional” aspect of things. But, that’s not all that feminism is about. Susan Bordo, in her book Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body: Chapter 5 “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity” states that “The body—what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to  the body—is a medium of culture.” (2240) Feminism is far beyond just a woman yelling at a movie scene because the woman is portrayed as the submissive type with no will power.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the media created an image of the “ideal woman”, which created a severe diversion in the image of women.  In order to subvert the desired burdening male view of women, Bordo claims three psychological disorders arose as a facility by which women could passively work through:
        Hysteria: disables the body for both sex and work
        Anorexia: drastic transformation of the body through hunger strike
        Agoraphobia: refusal to leave the house to participate in a stereotypical female activity—shopping.
“Working within this framework, we see that whether we look at hysteria, agoraphobia, or anorexia, we find the body of the sufferer deeply inscribed with an ideological construction of femininity emblematic of the period in question. The construction, of course, is always homogenizing and normalizing, erasing racial, class, and other differences and insisting that all women aspire to a coercive, standardized ideal.” (2243)
Just look at the Olsen twins. 
In our society today, the media has dubbed this (look at the picture) the ideal of what women should look like. 
<<--This, is what society says is pretty. The Olsen twins are the best example for Anorexia and they live up to Bordo's claim about the body as a text, and how there has been a sever diversion in the image of women. 

Word Count: 394
Works Cited
Bordo, Susan. "The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity".  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Company; Second Edition. New York, 2001. Pages 2240 -2254. Print

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patrick Bateman Does Not Exist?

          So we watched American Psycho in class today. And we also talked about Postmodernism/Poststructuralism with a pinch of Capitalism. For those of you who aren't philosophers (like me) would have given a blank stare at how these two coincide. Well, let me tell you how. Postmodernism is the idea that nothing is real, or genuine; everything is an imitation of something that's already been done. Andy Warhol portrayed that beautifully with his Campbell's Soup painting. Warhol didn't come up with the company's logo or design; he copied it. He didn't take credit for the creation of the actual image because that would be copyrighting and that's not allowed. BUT, there's another side to postmodernism as well. Warhol's painting not really the Campbell's Soup logo. Why? Because it's not the actual thing itself. His painting is a copy, an imitation, of the actual can for Campbell's Soup. Now take this idea and put it with American Psycho. 
          "There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman. Some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me. Only an entity; something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable, I simply am not there." This is probably the best example of postmodernism, and capitalism, there is. Postmodernism because the character clearly states that he is not real. Yes, he is flesh and bone therefore he is real but his identity is not. His identity, his character, is purely made up, something he has put together. It is constructed by the things he buys. Here is where capitalism fits in. You are what you buy. Bateman exemplifies everything that he purchases thus giving us a capitalistic view. Capitalism is a purely consumer based economy. Because Bateman is a copy, an imitation, of who Patrick Bateman is, or thought to be by his peers, he is a postmodern being; he is not genuine. Because he has created a persona for himself through his consumerism, he is a capitalist. 

Word Count: 346
Works Cited:
LionsGates Films. "American Psycho -2. "Morning Routine". Christian Bale. 9 May 2009. YouTube. 19 April 2011.


Differance: Meaning is an endless chain of difference. 
Deconstruction: The meaning depends on the materials used to express it and the materials are always already contradictory.
Words are full of contradictions.

Alright, so I read Geek Love for my Theories of Fiction class and had to present on it. That being said, I delved into the world of Deconstruction, headfirst, and tore that book apart. It was the perfect example of what deconstruction is. Deconstruction is the idea that a text has more than one meaning, that a text conveys complex binaries and oppositions where the narration and story works to break down these contradictions. In Geek Love, Katherine Dunns, breaks down the absurdity of what we as a people consider to be normal and freakish. One of the major binaries in this novel is normal vs freak, born vs made. The characters cling strongly to the fact that they are different, that they are freaks and that they are born that way. What they fail to realize is that they were deliberately constructed; they were created with the help of methamphetamines, radiation and a number of other drugs. They were both born and made, normal and freak. Also, they are neither normal nor freak and neither born nor made. "Deconstruction isn't about identifying the binaries themselves, it's about what's in-between."

          Why am I summarizing this story? Think about it; deconstruction is the notion that everything is what it isn’t and what it is. Nothing is everything and everything nothing. YOU, the reader, the individual, make it what you want it to be; your mind creates what it wants.
          The characters in the book live within the real world. But, they are apart from the world at the same time. Their traveling circus, Fabulon, is a world within a world. They live within this world that they have constructed and have set themselves apart from the rest of it. The normal people always walk into their world to see the newest show but it works because the people know that these people are there for the purpose entertainment and awe. However, if the family of freaks walks into the real world, which they do, they get shot at because people can’t handle anything that doesn’t make sense to them.
          That being said, this goes hand in hand with simulacra; the imitation is the truth. What is there to say that this world does not exist? Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t there be both the normal world, the one that we have been programmed to understand and accept, and the world of freaks, of people, ideas and things that go beyond everything we know. If the imitation of something is true, then the imitation of life is true as well.

Word Count: 466
Works Cited: 
Mark Fullmer. "Jacques Derrida in 1 Minute". 5 July 2010. YouTube. 19 April 2011.

Monday, April 18, 2011

That Bench You Are Sitting On is Fake

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth –it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”


“If I had a world of my own everything will be nonsense.
Nothing will be what it is because everything will be what it isn't
In contrary wise what it is it wouldn't be
And what it wouldn't be it would
You see”
                                                                                    Shinedown – “Her Name is Alice

            According to Ecclesiastes, that which is an imitation of an untruth is really the truth. The truth does not exist because the imitation, or simulacrum, is not true but in actuality it is. The imitation is the truth; it is real. Have I confused you yet? Let me explain. Take, for example, the Gas Lamp District in downtown San Diego; it is modeled after the French Quarter. Odd? I think so. Why I think this to be odd is because there has never been any connection or influence from the French in San Diego. So, ask yourself; why is downtown modeled as such? Now, downtown San Diego has itself become a simulacrum. It is an imitation of an untruth but it is really a truth in itself. The French Quarter exists. It is real. BUT, why is there an imitation of the Quarter in a place that has no French influence?
            Also, a simulacrum, as stated before, is an imitation and according to Baudrillard “it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum – not unreal, but a simulacrum, never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.” (1560) As confusing as this all may be, a simulacrum is also a simulation. When you walk into the Gas Lamp District you feel as though you have walked into the actual French Quarter. Deep down you know it all to be fake, an imitation of the real thing, but on the surface you forget all that and are immersed in the simulation of the imitation.
            Now, for the lyrics to Shinedown’s song. “What it is it wouldn’t be and what it wouldn’t be it would.” Think hard about what this is saying after reading my attempt at explaining what simulacrum is. Think of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and what Alice’s world is like. Her world lacks truth but really the world that she creates is true. Her world does not hide the truth but embodies it. Wonderland is an imitation of what Alice sees in reality but because she is a child she gives it childlike qualities and appearances. So, Wonderland is real. What you think is true, really isn’t and what you think isn’t true, really is.

Word Count: 500
Works Cited:
Baudrillard, Jean. "The Precession of Simulacra".  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W. Norton & Company; Second Edition. New York, 2001. Pages 1556 -1560. Print

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gasp! Something Else Pertaining to Marx....An Analysis

Communism is "not a state of the future, but the real movement which destroys the existing state of being."
                                                                        The German Ideology, by Marx
            When Karl Marx came up with his ideology he was probably envisioning George Orwell’s novel 1984 (to be written many years past his time). In a sense at least. Marx talked about socialism and how it came about because of the struggle between the class systems, constantly in contradiction with one another causing rifts and separations. After analyzing this system he came to the conclusion that capitalism brought about the oppression of the working class, or the proletarians that Orwell called them. These people are the ones that make up the majority of the population and are the ones that maintain the upkeep of the economy’s wealth and income.
            Althusser, a Marxist philosopher, proposed a new definition of philosophy as class struggle in theory. The struggle of the working class serving, living, creating, slaving, for the well being and selfishness of the upper class. The majority of the population is led to believe that they are happy to do things for the upper class, because the upper class are educated and smarter than they are and know what they are doing; the upper class wants the best for the working class and makes their decisions for them. Although the people in the working class are nothing more than a mere number in the work force, they are still thought about and are cared for…or so they believe. This same thing can be seen in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Big Brother is the big man in charge who makes the decisions for everyone who works for him and does what he says.
            But something went wrong in George Orwell’s world in the novel. One man decided to revolt against Big Brother and the people in power because he felt as though he was being cheated in life. Although the character in the book is actually a part of the upper class and is not revolting against the rich because he is not making just as much as they are, he is still revolting for something better. It’s a reversed revolution in the book but is still a revolution for the betterment of the self.
            Althusser uses the Marxist theory pertaining to communism and how the class system does not allow for any shifts in status. Either you are poor and in the working class or you are rich and in the upper class. You can not be promoted to the upper from the lower class. In 1984, we see this same ideology put into play. Those who are in the same position as the main character cannot go against Big Brother’s orders and creeds and if they do so and veer away from their positions and into that of the prole’s then they are to be punished. The character realizes that the life he has, has robbed him of his individuality and therefore decides to break away from it all; a sort of revolt if you will.
Word Count: 510