Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

“I don’t know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham we had to have some form of medical almost every week.”- Kathy, Page 13

After reading Never Let Me Go, it took me back to our class conversation about the sympathy people share or should feel for robots and clones. The main arguments were that if something isn’t human, then why treat it like one; why should feelings and emotions even be considered? The same argument is made for animals. Some people think that since animals aren’t human, they shouldn’t be treated with the same respect and admiration that people are expected to use for one another. Ishiguro’s text depicts a boarding school where the main characters are clones that are used for their organs. Whenever necessary their organs are removed in a surgery to help the real humans (the non-clones, or “originals”). To reach “completion” means that the clone will die with its purpose in life finally being served in its entirety, that being giving all of its organs to humans who need it. The reality that the clones face is very distasteful. We first see Tommy struggle to be creative, trying to fit the norm, until Miss Lucy assures him that it’s ok to be different and not have creative skills, as long as he tries his best. The rumors that Madame collects the student’s art in order to determine whether they are lying about being in love surface, mainly because another rumor is floating that the students can be exempt from being donors for three years if in fact they are in love.

When Kathy and Tommy find out the true purpose that Hailsham was supposed to serve, it left me with a lot of questions. I understand the prospect of using Hailsham as the experiment in order to improve living conditions for clones and change the way society views them. The methods used made sense: the clones lived in residential rooms, were fed, lived life as normal as a regular human could. But they were still expected to become donors at their adult age. So how is society to think anything of them other than donors? Their purpose has been written in ink and it is inevitable the circumstances they are going to face. Again it has been asked: can we really sympathize for clones or robots that in fact help the human cause? Why should I care about a clone if it is donating its organs to help a person with cancer or another untreatable disease? It’s a tough question because a part of me wants to feel sorry for what happens, both in the novel and the general prospect in our society of experimental methods, technologically and scientifically benefitting humans. If something can speak like a human, act like a human, experience emotions like a human, then isn’t it human? I want to say yes, but then greed/priority comes to mind. If taking a clone’s organ in order to help save my own life or that of a loved one, then why would I hesitate? It wouldn’t make sense for me to sit here and say I wouldn’t. If it makes me selfish, then so be it. But at the same time, it’s hard for me to condone the way the clones were raised in Hailsham, as if they were crop to be raised and picked when ripe and ready.

“If you’re to live decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.”- Miss Lucy, Page 81

The aforementioned quote shows how Miss Lucy was the only guardian willing to tell the students what they were in for in an upfront manner. I think what she meant by this is for the clone’s sake, they needed to learn what was to become of them, what was to be expected of them, and how they should mentally prepare themselves. She wants them to come to grips with their purpose and reality and somehow live through it the best possible way. Although she loses her position because of her open relationship with the students, it was evident that she really cared for the student clones and did not agree with taking the organs from them. Again this brings up to the question of ethics. The more I think about it, I probably have to conclude that it is unethical what was done to the clones in the novel. Ruth, Tommy and Kathy experience things that most of us have in our past: relationships, bullying, social groups and living within a community. They almost became too human that the thought of ripping their organs out for those who it was “necessary” for seemed barbaric and disheartening.

“Why did we do all of that work in the first place? Why train us, encourage us, make us produce all of that? If we’re just going to give donations anyway, then die, why all those lessons? Why all those books and discussions?”- Kathy, Page 259

When Kathy says this towards the end of the novel, it really made me think how this could apply to anyone, clone or human. The purpose of ones life is a topic that could go a multitude of directions when discussing. If one day we are all expected to die, then why bother working hard and learning all we can? The obvious answer is to make your life worth living and live it to the fullest extent. Some people have different perspectives on this, and I can’t blame Kathy for coming to this realization for her own being. If she is expected to give away her organs with her fellow people, then why was all this encouragement and training so essential for them? Their fates were decided before the clones were ever created, so leading them on for such a long period of time seems to only put more of a damper on their circumstance.

“I can see … that it might look as though you are simply pawns in a game. It can certainly be looked at like that. But think of it. You were lucky pawns. There was a certain climate and now it’s gone. You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world.”- Miss Emily, Page 266

Tommy and Kathy are told they were special clones, standing alone from their group. Miss Emily is right when she says that this was a game of chess, and the clones were just pieces waiting to be eliminated. The weakest piece on a chess board is a pawn and fortunately for them, Tommy and Kathy were able to live longer and come to a completion at a much later stage.

The fates of the characters didn’t give much hope for any future, so I question whether Ishiguro is warning his audience that this is the way the world is heading. It doesn’t seem to affect the humans in a negative way, and the clones are the only victims. Again there is always that hanging prospect that one day technology and science will team up to rebel against the human race. Nature sure as hell won’t be able to help us, as we continuously mistreat and harm our own environment. It isn’t a great thought to think that one day the technology that we cherish most and hold so dear could turn around and finally get its way with us. Ending our semester with this novel made sense because it leaves me, and probably the rest of the class, just as many questions as we started with at the beginning of semester. There was definitely a progression over these past months and my perception of technoculture has drastically been altered. Working with the literature and films throughout this school year helped open up avenues that I never explored and made me think about things in an innovative way. Ishiguro leaves me with questions about ethics, but at the same time creates a society with inhabitants longing for acceptance and reason. I don’t know if I’ll ever have to deal with any of the issues we faced in class but being exposed to them wasn’t the worst thing considering the technological era we find ourselves in.

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Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion

Contagion is another example of a serious threat to society and the way in which people react. Unlike The Road, an apocalypse has not occurred and wiped out the population, but chaos has ensued during this trying time. The infectious disease has created turmoil, as people are breaking into banks, supermarkets and pharmacies trying to obtain resources without many consequences. A worldwide pandemic like the one the film portrays is something that made me think about how I would react if presented with that situation. Your perspective on life changes because your main objective is to survive as long as you can before the vaccination is finally made and available to you and your loved ones. We see how hard Mitch attempts to protect his daughter from the disease and the struggles they have dealing with this harsh reality.

A problem the scientists face in making a vaccination for the virus was being able to reproduce it. If they can’t understand the origin or content of the virus, there was no way to test a vaccine to prevent and cure it. Some of the scenes we are exposed to are the scientists working in their lab, looking at DNA through a computer monitor and trying to comprehend all aspects of this disease. The film itself represents at two-folded argument. On the one hand we have technology failing the humans, will millions worldwide dying because of the virus. It’s ironic how quick technology is for less essential things, like typing a paper on Microsoft Word or updating a status on a social networking site. Facebook itself is used a means of propaganda during the onscreen encounter between Dr. Ceever and the blogger. When it comes to saving people’s lives, the technology wasn’t quick enough to fulfill that completely. The vaccine is eventually made and saves many people who were either sick or weren’t immune to the deal, something I didn’t really anticipate. Does this suggest that technology and our resources will always overcome all? Or that the disastrous close call our world takes is just a stepping stone for what is to come, something perhaps much worse?

[Erin is on the phone to Barnes who’s on a bus]
Dr. Erin Mears: I believe you may have contact with Beth Emhoff last week?
Aaron Barnes: Yeah, I picked her up from the airport. What’s this about?
[he starts to cough]
Dr. Erin Mears: How are you feeling today?
Aaron Barnes: Pretty cruddy to be honest. My head is pounding. I probably got some sort of bug.
Dr. Erin Mears: Where are you right now?
Aaron Barnes: On the bus, heading to work.
[Erin gets into a car]
Dr. Erin Mears: I’d like you to get off immediately.

This was one of the many important scenes in the movie when Dr. Mears is attempting to discover where the disease may have come from during Beth’s business trip in Hong Kong. Here she is telling the man who picked Beth up from the airport the previous week to get off a bus and meet the investigators. There were a multitude of instances where people had to avoid human contact, whether it was not shaking hands, not touching what another person had touched, or just merely not breathing the same air. The sequence that is revealed at the end of the film, from the bulldozer knocking down trees, to the bat dropping the banana, followed by the pig eating said banana and the cook not washing the pig’s blood off his hands before he makes contact with Beth, is very telling. In regards to the relationship between technology and a catastrophic risk like the viral disease, the bulldozer is essentially a form of technology that began the entire cycle leading to the disease. We touched upon this during our discussion on Avatar and the environment has come up a lot during recent texts we’ve worked with. The decisions we make as humans does not only affect us in today’s world but will also impact those that live on years from now.

I would say that the bulldozer being the root of the cycle that created the disease in the film is at least speaking somewhat to the inability of humans to really understand how the environment that surrounds them functions. Nature is a world of its own and people have been outspoken in our class about how precious it is and that we have no right to ruin it. The sad truth is that humans, along with their technologies, are in fact changing the landscape of nature. It’s scary to think that the possibility of a disease or natural disaster occurring because of our mindless decisions still fails to serve as a wake up call to most. The path we are paving for ourselves and future generations does not seem too promising. Soderbergh appears to be sending a message in this film, similar to James Cameron, John Hillcoat, Neville Shute, and many of the other writers/directors we’ve read/seen do through their texts. If society continues to ignore warnings and be blind to the impending truth, it might be too late to fix whatever damage follows.

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Don DeLillo’s White Noise

“Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death.”

This work of literature gives us an insight into two characters that both fear the concept of death. We’ve spoken a lot in class about artificial intelligence and how using technologies to improve/extend our lifespan might be an attractive offer for some of us. Reading White Noise brings me back to the question of why a person would want to live forever. Honestly it doesn’t seem so appealing if you stop and think about the possibilities. Your family and friends may or may not be able to live for the same duration as you, so do you just replace them along the way? Are you really going to accomplish anything being given more time on this Earth? It is human nature to think about dying and become somewhat mystified by the thought. The idea of not knowing when you are going to die and how you are going to die really leaves us in a state of flux. The novel also brings up a topic from last weeks class discussion about the nuclear plants and how one wrong move could spell doom for towns and cities. A similar situation occurs here, with Jack’s son Heinrich discovering the train car that had been derailed, and how a toxic substance has become released into the air. Being exposed to Nyodene D. has left Jack with the idea that his future has already been decided, so he becomes paranoid and obsessed with his reality.

The Dylar pills and Jack’s pursuit of them reminded me of the characters in Philip Dick’s Ubik, and how they had to find the spray cans in order to survive. That novel also dealt with extending life in the form of a half-life. Jack didn’t necessarily have to find the pills to survive; to the reader it was all in his head and he needed to be reassured that death wouldn’t be inevitable once the chemical caught up with him. What finally breaks Jack’s obsession with death and his health is Wilder’s miraculous feat of riding his tricycle across a highway. This is what finally breaks him down and helps him release all the typical anxieties he is used to having about safety and living in good health.

DeLillo ends the novel in a somewhat obscure way. The supermarket’s aisles have apparently been rearranged and how everyone is in a state of panic. Perhaps he does this to contrast how ridiculous he was in trying to be immortal to the absurdity of the customers panicking over the misplaced items. Similar to the discussion we had on The Road last week, it can be questioned what kind of technologies we are dealing with in this novel and in what ways it fits into the context of our class.

“The system was invisible, which makes it all the more impressive, all the more disquieting to deal with. But we were in accord, at least for now. The networks, the circuits, the streams, the harmonies.”

This quote reveals the scene where Jack goes to an ATM machine and finds that the bank’s computer supports his personal account information. This shows how Jack is able to gain a sense of identity from a medium of technology and it helps him on his journey of getting this sense of validation. He seeks confirmation all throughout the novel and at this point in the text he has finally found some hope, although as readers we can sense that it might indeed be false hope. In a way, there is a foreshadowing taking place that we see transpire later on, with the technology and networks that Jack is having good fortunes with eventually letting him down and turning against him. A hot topic in our classroom this semester has been this very premise: as humans the technology we are embracing now will eventually become our worst nightmares. It’s daunting just to think about machines and technological equipment being able to overturn humans to take control, considering we are the people who built and operated the aforementioned advancements through a technological lens.

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John Hillcoat’s The Road

Old Man: I knew this was coming. They were warning us.

After reading Shute’s novel last week, On The Beach, watching Hillcoat’s The Road offered the opposite spectrum of the two-sided perception that the world will one day come to an end. The novel focuses on the Apocalypse, the events leading up to the end of the world. Society knows that the world is ending and they have accepted this reality. They are not trying to survive but rather live their lives as best they can until the inevitable occurs. The same cannot be said for the characters in the film. During this PostApocalyptic landscape, the father and son in the film are just trying to survive. The world is deteriorating throughout the film. Food is hard to come by, trees are falling, and humans and animals alike are hard to come by.

The son’s mother decides that she cannot handle the circumstances and leaves her family behind. When she is giving birth to the son, she shows how much she desperately wants to hold back and not bring her child into the current version of the world. The father’s main purpose throughout the film is to toughen his son up and teach him the ways in which to survive, because one day the father will not be there. If thought about in great detail, the only true hero in the story is the son. The mother leaves when the going gets tough. The family is looking out for his son but has a hard time helping the old man, Eli, or the African American who steals their cart. The son is the only one who worries about the well being of others, in a world where that doesn’t make true sense. Why worry about others when you’re struggling so much to care for yourself?

Finding food was hard enough for the father and son. I didn’t like how convenient the stash of food and beverages came underground, but the film does turn back into its predictable state of depression. I thought finding the resources would lead to the father and son meeting other people like themselves. They hear the dog barking and the father tells his son they have to move because it’s unsafe to stay in that same location. If he had just known who was above ground, perhaps that family could have helped him too before his death.

The main problem I have with this movie is the plot itself. The father and son are trying to stay alive, but for what? For what purpose? Just to stay alive? The father has no wife and the son no mother. It presents the question of the circumstances being worth living through. It’s hard for me to speak my opinion about such a drastic situation, but would you really want to live in the world the film is portraying? You don’t know when you’re going to find food to eat, and you also have to worry about your own race, the human race, and determine whether you’re dealing with humans who are cannibals waiting to take a bite out of you or just good people like yourself trying to survive. The gun that was carried around was a symbol of temptation and sometimes I wish they had just pulled the trigger. The son finding a new family to be with might give him some false hope for now, but it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to survive passed a couple of months.

Motherly Woman: I’m so glad to see you. We were following you. Did you know that? We saw you with your papa. We’re so lucky. We were so worried about you, and now we don’t have to worry about a thing. How does that sound? Is that okay?
The Boy: Okay.

Hillcoat’s film doesn’t really present a sense of hope going forward. The last lines of the film have the boy saying okay to the mother of the new family. He has determined that they are the good people and wants to stay with them. But nothing in the film predicts that there is a better land waiting for them. Nothing hints that nature is going to return to form, that life is going to come back to Earth. The only sign of nature that we see is the beetle that the son finds that flies away. It’s interesting how our society has become preoccupied with the thoughts about what comes after an apocalypse. Let’s say December 21st, 2012 will be the day where a horrible event wipes out the entire world. But some people survive. A few people are still alive the day after. What then? What can those people really do? Struggle to survive for x amount of days? If the world is going to end, it might as well take everyone with them. At least that’s what people should hope for. The suffering that would occur on a dying Earth is not something anyone should want to experience. You won’t be living for a true purpose. It wouldn’t be for your family, your friends, your job, your career, your livelihood. You would be living for the hell of it. You would just be living for survival. And your survival, no matter how long you are able to delay it, would have an expiration date.

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Nevil Shute’s On The Beach

Enroute to Moira’s parents’ farm before the fishing trip, Dwight is holding the fishing rod he’s bought for Dwight Junior, and plans to try out on the trip. He thinks of the world’s end.

“He sat in the back seat of the car fingering the little rod as they drove out into the suburbs, looking at the streets and houses that they passed in the grey light of the winter day. Very soon, perhaps in a month’s time, there would be no one here, no living creatures but the cats and dogs that had been granted a short reprieve. Soon they too would be gone; summers and winters would pass by and these houses and these streets would know them. Presently, as time passed, the radioactivity would pass also; with a cobalt half-life of about five years these streets and houses would be habitable again in twenty years at the latest, and probably sooner than that. The human race was to be wiped out and the world made clean again for wiser occupants without undue delay. Well, probably that made sense.”

Chapter 8, pp. 276-277

Reading this novel led me to think back on the discussion we had in class during my Avatar presentation, along with a few other occasions. It seems like this idea of technology overtaking society leads us to believe that humans are at fault and essentially the cause for the inevitable self-destruction of our race. The fact that we embrace all this technology that surrounds us along with the strides and progression machines are making, it’s inevitable that our continuous use of them will cause something more drastic. Nevil Shute portrays the human world as a dying civilization, much like the one we see in Avatar. Humans have destroyed their own world and it is time for a fresh start. All the warfare that occurs between all the different countries is evidence that humans are the one destroying each other and the world they live in. Priorities seem to be a problem, in the text and in today’s world. The people seem to have accepted what has happened rather than try to fight against it. They don’t resist the government’s propaganda on taking the suicide pills in order to die rather than suffering in the nuclear radiation. The characters show no emotion and it’s hard to grasp the point of the novel. Is Shute telling us that humans are eventually going to deteriorate because of each other? And that we should just accept it?

This novel was a bit different than anything we’ve worked with. There was no virtual world where humans could enter or supercomputers dictating reality. Its focus was more on this post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world theme, and how it took the nuclear destruction of the world for humans to appreciate what they had. The characters in the novel decide to do things meaningful to them but at the same time won’t matter now that their time is coming to an end. The people have now decided to not take life for granted and enjoy what is left for them since time is not on their side. This speaks to the aspects of human nature that don’t quite make sense. It takes such a tragic event with dire circumstances to shift the way people look at life. We’ve spoken about the idea that humans care more about materialistic means rather than living life to the fullest. Buying sneakers, cell phones, laptops, and all the latest trends cause people to lose sight of what is really important. The characters in the novel don’t really seem to know why certain countries have attacked or are being accused of attacking other countries. Doubt and questions are what remain until the people come to the conclusion that there isn’t much hope to live through the radiation worldwide. I guess humans destroyed their own world so they might as well accept it for what it is and live out the remaining time they have.

The one thing I would call Shute out from his novel is the premise behind it. I highly doubt that people would react the way the characters do to the inevitable and definitive end of the world. I feel like humans would riot and react in a dangerous way, rather than enjoying what time is remaining. Our society is one that is greedy and only cares for their wellbeing. I don’t want to sound like I’m against everything humans do because there are good people out there who do good things. But our society makes it easier to be consumers rather than people who share. We take rather than give. We destroy rather than fix. And then we complain or panic when things aren’t the way they should be.

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Josef Rusnak’s The Thirteenth Floor

Douglas Hall: How can you love me? I’m not even real. You can’t fall in love with a dream.

Fresh off our study of Ubik last week and the class discussion we had revolving around the idea of being “real,” it was a challenge to follow what was real and what wasn’t in the film, The Thirteenth Floor. There were such drastic shifts in what time period the film was in, along with the characters and whether they were being controlled by the actual person or the virtual reality figures. Some concepts in the film have been discussed at length this semester in regards to other texts and films we’ve worked with. When Douglas Hall first enters the virtual world to take the place of John Ferguson, I immediately thought of Avatar and how Jake Sully first experiences his new body in his Na’vi avatar body. The way Hall reacts as John Ferguson was different from Jake. Jake was happy to be in a new body because of his confinement to a wheelchair, so essentially he was being given a fresh start. Hall was more engaged in the new world he was in, a completely different time period from the one he came from. The gap in decades between the 1930’s and 1990’s creates this disparity that we see in Hall’s reaction to his temporary body as Ferguson. Obviously there are flaws in their system, as the real John Ferguson doesn’t remember where he is once the timed simulation is over for Hall.

Douglas Hall: These people are real. They are as real as you and me.
Jason Whitney: Yeah, that’s because…we designed them that way,Doug. I mean, but..In the end, they’re just a bunch of electronic circuits.

Today’s society exemplifies the perceptions of how unreliable our reality really is. The film seems to blame computing technologies as the reason for people in society losing sight of their reality. In the year 2012, our world is greatly affected by technologies to the point where people are indeed losing perceptions of their reality. Their realities are in fact becoming a part of the technology, whether it is a person not being able to leave the house without their cellular device or someone who can’t have their morning coffee without logging on to Facebook. Some people are so lost in what reality is that they live their life through social networking. It can be argued that the United States has felt the negative impacts of technology, from obesity rates being at an all-time high to unemployment rising due to lack of jobs. Reality as we know it has changed and it isn’t too farfetched to suggest that we may be heading down a road where we can simulate our bodies and experience life through a new body.

The ending of the film is where things get choppy. The characters we dealt with throughout the film are suddenly taken over by others. Jerry Ashton takes the place of Douglas Hall’s associate while Jane Fuller’s boyfriend, David, takes over Hall’s body. It’s clear that David was jealous of Jane’s fascination with Hall so his jealousy has caused him to exact his revenge. I just have a hard time grasping which world Hall and Fuller are originally from and what the true purpose of the VR simulation system was. Our final scene has Douglas and Jane in the year 2024. Is it really 2024 or is it just another simulation? And why does the film end the way it does? We don’t hear what Jane is talking to Douglas about following the introduction to Jane’s real father, who looks very similar to Hannon Fuller. The director ends the movie similar to a computer monitor turning off, perhaps symbolizing the end of the VR simulation Jane was trying to shut down from the beginning. So does that mean that their project has indeed finished and the year 2024 is only reality left? This is one of those films where you are left with more unanswered questions than anything else.

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Philip K Dick’s Ubik

“It seems so—negative. I don’t do anything; I don’t move objects or turn stones into bread or give birth without impregnation or reverse the illness process in sick people. Or read minds. Or look into the future—not even common talents like that. I just negate somebody else’s ability.”

Ubik deals with advancements different than what we’ve encountered so far this semester. First we have this idea that a company employs people who can block out another person’s special ability. The owner has a wife who is dead but not really dead. Really? A half-life gives a person consciousness and allows them to communicate on a limited basis. The plot is interesting because we are all led to believe that the owner, Glen Runciter, is the one who died in the explosion caused by his competitors. However, it is actually his employees who need the half-lives in order to survive.

I find it interesting that our study of this text is coming off the week that our class studied James Cameron’s Avatar. Similar to the humans trying to obtain unobtanium in order to survive, the characters in Ubik are looking for ubik, a product that seems to be their only hope for surviving the aftermath of the bombing. During my presentation, I posed the question about having the ability to live forever. Some people responded with “What would I do living forever?” Others wanted that ability because 1) it would take away the stress of knowing your time would one day be up and 2) it sounds pretty cool to be able to live forever and always get to experience new things.

My one question from the text has to do with the way it ends. Joe Chip becomes a currency and the last line in the text reads “This was just the beginning.” Why would this work end the way it does and what does it say about Dick’s perception of the future? Do we actually have a chance to live forever? It would change our ability to leave our mark on the world because we would always be around to leave it. Our contributions would be endless. The one downside may be that the human experience would be altered forever.

 

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Octavia Butler’s Dawn

“Your Earth is still your Earth, but between the efforts of your people to destroy it and ours to restore it, it has changed.” Book 1: Dawn; Section 1: Womb; Chapter 5; pp. 33-32.

This quote exemplifies what Octavia Butler’s stance is on human nature and what the purpose was in writing this series of works. Jdahya tells Lilith that although Earth still belongs to the humans in essence, humans tried to destroy each other and their own world. The Oankalis have tried to restore it so this is why they have a say in when the humans will be sent back to Earth, along with all the new lessons on culture and tradition that the humans are being trained to learn. I feel that Butler has a pessimistic view on human society based on what Dawn focuses on. Humans have waged a nuclear war on themselves and a foreign alien species is the one trying to save the remaining humans on Earth rather than allowing them to destroy each other. I find it very interesting how we have found ourselves at this point in the semester reading Butler’s work. All along we have speculated the dangers in technology and how computers having a mind of their own can be alarming. Eventually the technology might turn on the humans and take over, which is somewhat the reality we are currently living in. In this text, the humans have turned on each other and the only hopes in restoring Earth to a stable state is to have the aliens come in and save the day. They are erasing historical records and modifying cultures in order to make Earth “different.”

“Yet it talked about mixed settlements, Human and Oankali-trade-partner settlements within which ooloi would control the fertility and “mix” the children of both groups.” Book 1: Dawn; Section 4: The Training Room; Chapter 1; p. 200.

The development between the Humans and Oankalis is at an advanced level towards the end of the novel, as Lilith is going to breed together with an Oankali. This is despite the animosity that is taking place between the humans and Oankali. Clearly the humans have a reason to be upset and violent. They have been taken out of their environment by this alien species and are being brainwashed by one of their own (Lilith) in order to learn the differences that will take place on Earth. Butler is writing from the perspective that the Oankali are the good guys, the passive species that don’t want to fight and resist any altercations. In the first encounter with Lilith, we see Jdahya’s response to Lilith about hurting other humans. He says that his purpose is anything but harming humans. They are trying to help the humans (and themselves) by restoring what is left of the human population and Earth. The only reason for all this turmoil is the human population turning against itself in the first place. As a reader, you find yourself turning against the humans and taking the side of the Oankali.

The biggest development throughout the text is Lilith’s inquiry, as well as the reader’s, as to what sacrifice the Oankali are seeking in return for helping restore the human’s society and sending them back to Earth. As gene traders, they improve their own species by joining their genes with the races they encounter. I find this very similar to the development in Sleep Dealer and how Memo advances his body by getting nodes in order to work and support his family. It’s the idea that you can improve your own being by taking something away from someone else or using technological advancements to benefit yourself. Butler’s work gives us the sense that there is a possibility that transformation and progress will exist for our species, and perhaps another species, somewhere down the

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Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer

Sleep Dealer takes what we’ve discussed about being part of a community and goes further in creating a surreal futuristic phenomenon. In class the point was brought up that the labor portrayed in the film is similar to the exhaustion a person might experience when using technology, for example spending countless hours on a computer desktop. I can see the parallels in that comparison because I’ve been subject to working on papers for countless hours. There have probably been times where I didn’t look away from the screen enough and it did take a toll on my eyes and my energy level. The labor done in the film might not have taken a physical toll as much as we think because they are technically standing in one spot and moving their hands to motion a lifelike action done in construction or whatever field their duty falls under. I believe that the toll it takes on Memo to the point where he is exhausted is more on the mental and emotional side. The labor drained his energy and I do think this is essential to using technology. When using an electronic device, a person becomes mesmerized by the features of the device and technically enters a new world. Memo enters a new world that his perceptions lead him to believe that he’s in. Imagining this film becoming a reality could really chance the landscape of the work force and the issues some underdeveloped counties, like Mexico, deal with.

Luz is a central character and the presenters in class asked us to think about what she means to the film along with what symbolic value she has towards Memo. Even though she comes off as a conniving, manipulative backstabber throughout the film, she turns out to be the gateway to Memo’s problems. His family is struggling to make due following the death of Memo’s father and the fact that their water supply is still being cut off by the wall that was built to block it off. Even though she sells Memo’s memories and experiences to Ramirez, it is Ramirez who is able to help Memo because of his guilt for killing is father. The wall is broken with the technology and Memo’s family is able to celebrate the wrecking of the dam. Luz is the one that opens up Memo to this new world and she performs the procedure to give Memo the nodes.

If I had the choice, I probably wouldn’t choose to get nodes and follow the path Memo does. It’s easy for me to say that living in today’s world, because Memo’s circumstances were obviously different. The positive that comes from this film is the idea that underdeveloped countries, like Mexico, might benefit from the incorporated technology. There would be newer opportunities, in the United States, for labor and obtaining resources. The biggest thing I took away from the film is how the human experience was portrayed through technology. Just like we read in Neuromancer, technology opens a new world and perspective that our senses take part in as an experience. Although we don’t see Memo teleporting into the construction sight, his senses are leading the way as he does his work and experiences the exhausting labor.

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William Gibson’s Neuromancer

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

― William Gibson, Neuromancer

This novel is centered on cyberspace and its impact on people all around the world. Case’s livelihood feeds off his work done in the computer systems, hacking information and cracking codes for his employers. This quote signifies how multifaceted a system the computer world is. The unthinkable complexity made me think about the experience I had just attempting to read through the text. I found it interesting how the quote portrays the system with a sense of imagery, enabling a reader to visualize interconnecting streams of light representing the users of the Internet connecting with each other. This analysis can be contrasted to the users of Facebook and how the community is connected through friend requests, likes, statuses and messages.

“Neuromancer” is giving a glimpse on how the future of technology will inevitably doom society. The society in the text allows itself to be directly controlled by technology. There are no signs of positive technology, which is in contrast to what we see in Mark Zuckerberg’s film. The idea of Facebook was seen as a revolutionary idea where people could connect with each other, learn personal tidbits about classmates and hang their dirty laundry on their profile pages for the world to see. Gibson doesn’t give the readers any evidence that the technology used in cyberspace was successful or positive. Case exemplifies what the society of the Matrix eventually becomes, and that is technologically advanced but at the same time all about the materialistic aspects of life. Case only cares about his own wellbeing and his career during his work for Armitage.

I saw that a few of my colleagues found an article that pops up when you type in Neuromancer into the Google search. It was written back in 2009, 25 years after the novel was released. The purpose of the article is essentially looking at what the text got right in terms of the technological world and what it got wrong. The section on cyberspace and virtual reality is the one I focused on, more because it includes the aforementioned quote I discuss above. The idea that the characters in the novel “jack in” to the Internet world and are able to use all of their senses to experience beauty is a segway to what we know as the social networking world. As a Facebook user, we figuratively jack in to the social networking world by signing in to Facebook. We experience visual and auditory sensations but in a much different way than the novel suggests. It’s apparent that Gibson was writing to inform and warn how society was going to be transformed by this new phenomenon that is technology. The biggest difference I see between the novel and the Facebook movie is the vision that is portrayed from each. Neuromancer is suggesting that things are manipulated through cyberspace and the plot is driven by a task for a hacker to break a code in order to merge Wintermute and Neuromancer into one entity.

Mark Zuckerberg is busy dealing with two lawsuits, one with his former best friend, but his idea of Facebook is never questioned in terms of its impact. We see the characters in the film quoted in comparing the old ways of doing things with this brand new idea. In class, we discussed how the old and the young play roles in the film. The quote that Sean Parker says “we’ve lived on farms, and in cities, and now we live on the Internet” shows the shift in perspectives that a couple of decades can provide. The same can be said contrasting Neuromancer and The Social Network, and how the experience of technology is so different through both works.

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