Point of View

In Frankenstein by Dave Morris, the story plot is still the same as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, but it has different approaches and point of view from the original work. These points of view change the story entirely, since the readers are now reading it through different speaker as if they are the characters themselves. Although it is interesting to read a story in different point of view, it is sometimes confusing and I wish it could just be written in single point of view throughout the story.

In part one, the second person point of view gives readers a sense of companionship with Frankenstein. Readers are helping Frankenstein deciding what to get for the body structures, and I feel like I am one of the creators, which is interesting.

However in part two, it shifts to first person point of view, and readers are now the monsters. This, similar to part one, gives reader a sense of involvement in the story, but in a different approach. Although it is great that Morris is trying different approach to narrate the story, I was sometimes confused of what I am in the story. Also, I find myself still standing on the human part, believing human nature is kind and feeling disturbed when the monster/I kill Williams.

The point of view in the rest of the story is all first person, but the readers are going from Victor’s point of view instead of the monster’s. It really is confusing in the beginning of part three, because I don’t know if I am Victor’s companion or Victor himself. Every time I start on a new chapter or part, I have to question myself whether or not I am on the right point of view this time. I just have to put in extra effort to clarify the story.

Also, the options are mostly in second person point of view asking what “you” want, and I will just have to stop for a while and think about who I really am at this point. Therefore, even though it is interesting the author writes in different approaches and provides many options, I just want the story to be in the same point of view.

“Creature”

In Tuesday class, we discussed about the significance of the word “creature,” as it has a negative connotation and has been used in the story to describe the monster Frankenstein creates. However, according to Merriam-Webster, the word “creature” means, “something created either animate or inanimate.” Parents create their children, the king and queen of Geneva create Frankenstein, and Frankenstein creates the monster. Therefore, I believe that creature can be anything that is created, with or without a negative connotation, and this is proven by how the monster calls humans and how Elizabeth calls Williams.

While Frankenstein describes the monster as the “creature” throughout the story, the monster also describes humans as “creature” because they also are animate beings who are created by their creators, parents. When the monster narrates his story to Frankenstein about humans’ mistreatment to him, he refers human beings as “creature”. The monster says to Frankenstein, “You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who own me nothing? They spurn and hate me,” (Shelly 119). By using the word “fellow-creatures”, the monster agrees that humans are also creations, just are created in different ways. The word “creature” does not only apply to the monster that is created by Frankenstein, but also applies to humans who are created by their parents.

Yet some readers may challenge my view by insisting that the definition and my belief do not necessarily eliminate the negative connotation in the word. Indeed, when Frankenstein applies the word “creature” to the monster, there is definitely a negative and fearful meaning on the word. However, by examining how Elizabeth refers Williams as a “creature”, it is clear that creature can apply to anything, even without a negative connotation. Elizabeth says to Justine, “Oh! How I hate its shews and mockeries! When one creature is murdered, another is immediately deprived of life in a slow torturing manner,” (Shelly 108). The “one creature” is referring to Williams, who is a sweet and beautiful child. Because the word “creature” can be used to describe the monster, humans, and even Williams, it can be anything in the world that is created by someone and it can have no definite connotation behind it.

 

Objectivity for Sex Workers

In Annette Debo’s “Ophelia Speaks: Resurrecting Still Lives in Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia,” she discusses the significance of looking and objectivity. Through photographs, sex workers, and how Opelia looks at herself as a sex worker, there is a deeper meaning behind the simple action of observing and looking. Debo claims that, “looking is perhaps even more significant than the physicality of sex, and everyone is looking,”(207). Indeed, Debo brings up an insightful observation that everyone has to look and stare at something in his or her daily life, and we often take our vision for granted when it actually says a lot about how we perceive things.

Debo and many other writers suggest that sex workers and Ophelia are looked as objects instead of human being. However, this objectivity is not necessarily bad. Debo says, “Ophelia knows she is the object, not the subject, of the photograph,”(208). Not only the customer is looking at her as an object, Ophelia is also observing the things that are going on around her. I believe, this mutual relationship gives Ophelia an advantage in her career as a sex workers. According to other writers Debo mentions, such as Berger, he explains, “the subject is aware of being seen by a spectator,”(49). Although she is posing, she knows what she is supposed to do and what will make her look better. Ophelia is able to use her advantage and make a living, and therefore, the objectivity can sometimes be looked as a fair game for both observant and object.

We can also draw this objectivity in looking to the movie Titanic. When Jack is drawing a picture of Rose being naked, he is able to concentrate on the drawing and finish his artwork. Rose, just like Ophelia, is seen as a art/object instead of a real person who is sexually attractive. Rose knows Jack is looking at her, similarly, Ophelia knows Bellocq and people are going to look at her. Further, Debo believes, “She [Ophelia] knows that we are looking, and we are forced to recognize that knowledge, giving her the upper hand in the situation.” Objectivity sometimes becomes an advantage for sex worker, as a good way of molding their appearance make them earn better living. Therefore, our perception of things change depends on what object we are seeing, even when the object is a human being, and the object itself  is also able to change our perspective to them.

The desire to desire

In Natasha Tretherwey’s “Bellocq Ophelia”, Ophelia expresses her desire in many aspects of her life, including her family, jobs, names, and expectation to life in general. In the society where gender and racial treatment are unequal, Ophelia learns how to pretend her behavior and conceal her desire throughout her life. Indicating her desire, Ophelia points out, “The girls here are of a country sort, kindly/ and plain for the most part, with simple desires –/ not unlike myself or those girls I knew at home,” (Tretherwey 17). According to this quotes, Ophelia has desires in her life, just like all the other girls who are also treated unequally. However, as the poem proceeds, the reason why Ophelia is unable to fulfill her desire becomes obvious.

Early in her life, Ophelia is trained by her mother to serve man, and this forced obedience eventually leads her to accept being a prostitute in the future. She recalls her mother’s words, “my mother taught me to curtsy and be still/ so that I might please a white man, my father,” (Tretherwey 20). Because of her mother, Ophelia can neither choose to not follow her mother’s instruction nor speak for herself. This inability to express her feelings ultimately deteriorate her desire to pursue the life she wants.

Later in her life, she unfortunately becomes a prostitute due to her hardship in life, and her boss again trains her in a certain way she does not like. She describes Countess P     ’s advice, “Become what you must. Let him see whatever/ he needs. Train yourself not to look back,” (Tretherwey 11). Again, the boss has taught her to please man, and this is what Ophelia internally struggles to obey. Eventually, she is greatly disappointed to herself, and she develops a sense of emptiness in her life.

Unable to make a change in her life, Ophelia is frustrated to her life and is about to give up trying. She confesses to her love ones, Constance, “You are as steadfast as your name/ suggests, and I am as mute/ as my own namesake,” (Tretherwey 23), meaning she is jealous of other people’s life, not her own. This speech also infers that Ophelia is unable to reveal her true feelings, which is a continuous trend since the beginning of her life. She concludes her frustration with “I am then nothing/ but the light I see behind my shut eyelids,” (Tretherwey 19) and “I want freedom from memory,” (Tretherwey 24), showing how much she dislikes her current life and her desire to change the situation and the feeling of being ashamed. Ophelia goes through a series of process in which she starts from an obedient daughter, a cooperated worker, and a woman who is extremely unsatisfied about her life. This process and this development of her personality are the main factors why Ophelia is unable to express and pursue her desire.

Speechless Protest

In both Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin and the Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids by Herman Melville, the workers suffer in between individuality and the whole system of industrialization. Whereas Chaplin, at first, is physically unable to stop his actions of turning the screws and later mentally goes mad and gets send to psychiatric hospital, the girls have also been dehumanized by the machinery in the factory.

Under his demanding boss, Chaplin is forced to work faster and faster to achieve efficiency, and he does not even have the time to scratch his face or rest a bit. He is unable to catch up with the speed and eventually goes crazy and turns every screw, button, and even human body he sees. From this situation, it is obvious that industrialization has became too overwhelmed to people at the age, and Chaplin is telling the audience that technology has a negative side that damages individuality. Further, he has a horrible working environment, which is dirty and he even has to become one of the experimenter for the new invention of food feeder that is not functioning. He even rather stays in the prison than come back to the work field because prison has a better living condition. Overall, the film is a speechless protest for the workers and the unemployed who live miserably during the Great Depression.

Similarly, the girls have to work with the “inflexible iron animal” (Melville 1277) in the paper mill. The machine is described as animal to depict its ruthlessness, which is a share trait with Chaplin’s boss. Also, Melville describes, “The girls did not so much seem accessory wheels to the general machinery as mere cogs to the wheels,” (Melville 1271). From this quotation, we can infer that the girls have been dehumanized by the machines, or even become parts of the machine. Just like Chaplin, the girls have terrible working condition, in which they devote themselves and their lives entirely to the machines and the factory. While Chaplin speaks for the workers in the Great Depression, From Melville, he advocates the awareness for unfair treatment of the girl workers, similar to Chaplin’s intention to speak for the workers and the unemployed in Great Depression.

Both Modern Times and the Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids discuss about the ruthless authority in the factories, Chaplin’s boss and the machines that the girls rely on, and the dehumanization of the workers.

Empty heart

While there seem to have class difference and gender inequality between the bachelors and the maids, in reality, they all share empty hearts and meaningless lives. For the bachelors, even though they are living paradisial lives, their existence is isolated from the real world, and they are missing out in lives. For the maids, their dull expression reflects to their thoughtless mind, and the machines in the paper-mill have dehumanized them, similar to what happens in the Life in the Iron Mills. Therefore, the bachelors and the maids’ lives and hearts are actually paralleled with each other, despite that they are living in seemingly different lifestyles, heaven and hell.

Living in fancy lives, the bachelors, like the girls in the paper-mill, are living an isolated life from the world. Melville detail description about the bachelors’ living condition shows that their paradise is separated with the London society. He describes, “the whole care-worn world the slip, and disentangled, stand beneath the quiet cloister of the Paradise of Bachelors,” (Melville 1275). From this passage, it is obvious that the bachelors are distant to the real world, since they are indifferent, disentangled and quiet to the world. Further, because the bachelors are isolated from the society, the bachelors miss out on a part of life experience , which is to challenge themselves. As the narrator says, “Pain! Trouble!… No such thing,” (Melville 1264), there is no obstacle in the bachelors’ lives. It is only by breaking through the challenges that people can feel the sense of accomplishment for their hard works. Although the bachelors are carefree and disconnected in their lives, deep in their hearts, they are empty and are living meaningless lives.

For the girls, they are apparently living miserable lives in the paper-mill with machines that dehumanize them. The working condition is also isolated and brutal, as the interminable work keep them away from society and other thoughts. There is much evidence in the story where the girls have completely devoted themselves to their works and machines. Melville describes, “The girls did not so much seem accessory wheels to the general machinery as mere cogs to the wheels,” (Mellville 1271). From this quotation, we can infer that eventually, the girls get dehumanize and become part of the machines. When the girls are separated away from the real society, they turn into heartless machinery that live meaningless life. Both the bachelors and girls are having empty hearts and living in the border of the society without know what is the real world like, no matter how luxury or miserable their lives are.

The Female Narrator

While Jane Atteridge Rose argues that the narrator in “Life in the Iron-Mills” is male, I believe that the narrator is female. The reason is not only because of Rebecca Harding Davis’s background, attending an all girls school and being a wife and a mother, but also because the story has a theme of feminist, as Leo indicates. Davis’s daily life gives her opportunities to think over the roles of women in the industrialized society she lives in, and she indirectly points out the social issues as a female narrator in the story.

In “Life in the Iron-Mills,” the omniscient narrator describes the poor conditions women are living in in a feminist way. She deliberately portrays the women as “a crowd of half-clothed women” and “[a mulatto] needed the post to steady her, so did more than one of them,” (Davis 2765). From these descriptions, Davis shows how vulnerable and mistreated the women are, which are careful observations men usually do not notice. Being a feminist, the narrator and Davis depict men into women features. One of the main characters, Hugh Wolfe, has a nickname of a girl, “Molly Wolfe.” This nickname has feminized the main character. Also, unlike the stereotypical men, Hugh “was never seen in the cockpit, did not own a terrier, drank but seldom… He had the taint of school-learning on him,” (Davis 2769). From this passage, it is obvious that Hugh does not conform the social expectation of a man, which is to be tough and rough. All of Deborah’s hard work, trying her best to get Hugh’s attention and taking supper to Hugh no matter how cold and hungry she is, represent Davis’s struggle between her family and artistic fulfillment. Narrating as a woman, Davis makes the story female-centric, as she focuses on women’s conditions and makes Hugh less manly, and the existence of a female narrator is a way for Davis to express her dissatisfaction in her multi-tasking life.

Devaluation and Feminization

Thomas Foster provides a thorough analysis about how cyberpunk has changed the value of human body and gender distinction. From his point of view, Gibson’s differentiation of cyberspace and the real world solidify the mind and devalues the body, as Gibson replaces the word “body” over “meat” and “flesh” over “data.” I agree with him, but I think that both body and mind have worked equally important to the characters in Neuromancer. Although Foster is right on Gibson’s intention of body and mind splitting, the characters actually have both mind and body coexisted so that they can perform their task in their optimal capacity.

There are some moments when both body and mind have to act together in order for the characters to survive. For example, when Molly is working as a “meat puppet,” she has mindsets on getting more money for her renovation on her body and she needs her body for the job. In this case, both body and mind are irreplaceable. On the other hand, when Case is flipping in and out of simstim, it is his body and the real world that keep him away from Molly’s pain. His body also acts as a buffer between material world and cyberspace, since he wants get drugged for his body and then punch his mind into the matrix.

Foster further claims Case’s inability to access to Cyberspace actually weakens him, since he can no longer use his mind to do what he is best at. Foster indicates, “Case’s loss of access to cyberspace implicity feminizes him.” (Foster 216) However, there are many times that Molly has to protect Case and be the one who is risking her life. The example of Molly, as Foster describes her appearance as “no distinction to be made between surface and depth, between stylistic signifiers and the identity they construct,” (Foster 223) is actually contradicted to his claim of Case being feminized because Molly is apparently more capable of doing the action work than Case is. Therefore, I agree with Foster on his argument that mind and body have new definitions from Gibson, but I disagree with him on the devaluation of body and feminization on the inability to access to cyberspace.

Cause of Indifference

Indifference and atrocity are often driven by some degrees of disappointment, which, in this story, are caused by betrayal and unwillingness. In this week blog post, people discuss how emotionless and cruel Molly and Case are towards their works, relationship, and daily life. In my opinion, the two of them are simply too overwhelmed by trying to survive in the harsh world. Molly and Case, as a muscle and a cowboy, are basically nobody, since they need monetary help from another powerful and wealthy source. Although Molly and Case are labeled as heartless criminal, behind the coldness, they are just two individuals who exerted all their strength and attention on this survival game.

It is obvious that there are some emotional segments deep in Molly’s mind, but she decides to constrain her feeling after everything she has gone through. For example, Molly reveals to Case how she killed the senator because he used her as a killing weapon, and this is one of the reasons Molly distrusts others. Another personal story of her is how she once cared about Johnny but never bother to care about anyone again after Johnny’s death. She admits, “never much found anybody I gave a damn about, after that.” (Gibson 178) However, she has slowly gained some mental attachment to Case ever since they met. Also, she tells Case that he is similar to Johnny in some ways that they both “Guess you’re kinda like what he was. Think you’re born to run.” (Gibson 179)

For Case, in return, he did not disclose Kolodny’s real identity as Molly to the Turing, and it is a mutual support between Molly and him. His indifference is reached due to an exhaustion to anger and care. Case can feel his anger, which is undeniable a kind of emotion. He certainly has a sense of responsibility and feeling to Molly, and he is not going to leave Molly alone when Maelcum and Armitage are trying to get away. “[he] found his anger again, real as a shard of hot rock beneath his ribs… ‘I stayin’ right here.'” (Gibson 192) His anger is also somewhat related to Linda, who took care of him and stayed together for a while. He also admits that he has become numb for many years already. He tries to conceal his inner thought and desire. “It’s the meat talking, ignore it.” (Gibson 152) Case is not emotionless; he is just trying to hide his weakness.

Although it’s hard to define the relationship between Molly and Case as love or simply just reliance and needs, they definitely care about each other and reveal their emotion occasionally. From the two, I notice that indifference is sometimes associated with disappointment in life. Behind people’s seemingly coldness, there are compassion and enthusiasm that are under their eagerness to survive.

Neuromancer #1

Through Gibson’s imagination, what is the message he’s trying to show about the influence of technology and the potential of mankind?

In 1984, Gibson had already drawn a parallel between present and future technology. Currently, technology plays an irreplaceable role in our daily life, and this phenomenon also happens in Neuromancer.

Through his prediction of future, Gibson has envisioned an upcoming trend, in which technology will no longer be parts of our life, but parts of us, including intelligence and organs. The artificial and technological organs are similar to plastic surgery and organ replacement nowadays, and this further proven that how Gibson’s imagination corresponds to current event.

One of the technological surgery comes from Armitage’s past identity, Colonel Willis Corto, as Case describes that, “the war ended nine days later, and Corto was shipped to a military facility in Utah, blind, legless, and missing most of his jaw.” (Gibson 83) While technology has cured him, it has also made “him became a subject in an experimental program that sought to reverse schizophrenia.” (Gibson 84) By describing the pros and cons of technological surgery, Gibson warns the reader that technology can be beneficial but also lethal and turn human into spiritless, empty shell. Similar situation happens to Case too, Armitage cures him but replace “fifteen toxin sacs bonded to the lining of various main arteries.” (Gibson 45) Therefore, as he finds out how quickly technology is developing in 1984, Gibson is trying to show that technology should remain as a helpful tool in our life.

While having a hard time understanding the vocabulary, I found it amazing how Gibson could come up with various words that do not exist in his era. Some argue that the story do not make any sense, since Gibson has made up words that do not exist in the dictionary, such as the word “cyberspace.” To me, however, the words open up another conceptual world that seems plausible. I believe that human has the intelligence to survive under any condition, even when global warming is getting more serious and the end of 2012 is right around the corner. Technology is helpful in developing the potential and survival of mankind. To answer the question, “Nothing is impossible,” but we should remain cautious on how we are using our resources without taking for granted on technology.