City Tech, Fall 2016

Author: Shiaja Simeon (Page 1 of 2)

Class Notes 11/17/2016

11/17

Class Announcements

(This was posted a little late. I apologize for the inconvenience. )

The Science Fiction Symposium will be held on Tuesday 11/29 from 9-5pm offering science fiction panels. If you would like to volunteer to speak on the student panel that is being offered speak to Professor Belli. It would be nice if we have 4-5 students to volunteer in the student panel about science fiction, class experiences, final projects, and connections to other classes.

Science Fiction Archive Project

  • All projects must have a direct connection to science fiction and help the audience understand science fiction in another way.
  • Your research paper should answer the question so what?
  • You as the researcher should be learning more about science fiction.
  • Find and document research sources.
  • Have a revised proposal by Tuesday 11/21.

By Tuesday 11/17

Please have….

  • Completed clear research focused paragraphs with a minimum of 500 words
  • Upload paragraphs with a reflection on how your proposal has evolved
  • Bring in 4 printed copies for peer review
  • Email professor Belli for feedback by Monday

Blade Runner

The movie Blade Runner was excellent to watch. It complements the novel I Dream of Electric Sheeps? very well. The movie actually enhances the novel. Through the movie the book actually begins to make sense.

Through the movie we see less sensitivity from Deckard towards the androids. However it makes perfectly good sense. The movie brings more life, personality, and imagery to the characters that one may not get from reading the book. The androids have a violent, fight, and survival persona. Also the want for not just freedom but longevity for life. This is sensed more in the novel then the book. The persona of the androids in the movie makes sense of the book because you can actually get a feel and a sense of why the androids may have to be taken down. Unlike in the book which you feel more sensitive or seem to sympathize towards the androids.

A particular line in the movie struck me. The line when the android said I do not want to die. Watching the movie verses the book and hearing those lines make me feel as though an android cannot die. The androids place too much emphasis towards themselves. How can something that’s not really living die. The androids are not living. They are what you may call cyborgs and cyborgs cannot die but they can however be destroyed. For example the technology of the house in Their Shall Be Soft Rains the house does not die although the people have died. But it is possible for technology to be destroyed.

I really enjoyed the movie and believe it would have been better to watch before reading the book because it may have made reading the book more interesting. The book could have become more interesting because we would have been able to see stuff more vividly and imaginatively. The book was sort of dull compared to the movie. The only thing we as readers would have had to done was incorporate mercerism and things like that to not lose the essence of the original work which is the book.

Androids

In Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, detective Rick Deckard is on the job. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter hunting down the existing nexus 6 androids that roam earth. After escaping slavery and servitude on mars the androids are now on the run. Do the androids have a right to freedom? The androids are reacting to being hunted.

The androids are escaped and considered dangerous however the question is are they forced into a corner to feel this way. In the beginning of the story Rick Deckard states, ““But I hunt them…this way, with a reservation clause on the owl, someone would be hunting me” (57). Rick Deckard is the hunter not the hunted. For this reason he refuses to take an owl that is offered to him by Rachel Rosen because if he takes this owl he might be hunted because of the high value and scarcity of owls. He does not want to be the hunted all though he hunts Androids. This now creates the situation where the hunted have to become the hunters. Here we have androids who have escaped earth because they obviously want to live—living a life of servitude is not enough.

The androids are now leaving off of instinct for survival. Even Rachel Rosen an android who is exempt from being hunted because she is not an android that has escaped from mars is fighting to live. Rachel askes Deckard, “You know what I have? Toward this Pris android?” (189). To which he replies, “Empathy,” he said.” (189). Rachel responds, “Something like that” (189). Rachel is showing concern for the life of a fellow android because she can see herself possibly becoming hunted. You see Rachel is really concerned for herself. She states, “Christ, I’m empathic about myself. And see, if I go to that suburban broken-down conapt build-ing__” (191). Rachel is trying to really get Rick to understand the feelings from the androids point of view. You can see her desperate attitude in her attempts to sleep with not only Rick the bounty hunter but also Phil to stave them off. It makes me as a reader question whether or not hunting the androids is justified.

Androids or Humans

The world is becoming really complicated. In Do Androids Dream of electric sheep? the line between human and Androids are really thin. The characters in do androids dream of sheep become conflicted. The conflict is between whether or not androids should have rights. This conflict is brought about by the realism of the androids. Should androids be left alone? Do androids have more value past servitude? Do androids deserve to be free and live out life like a human? It is possible for technology to be taken too far and the androids in do androids dream of sleep is a perfect example.

The human characters and even the androids in do androids dream of sheep have to question the significance in their differences. Androids are barely distinguishable and almost human. Rick states, “other humans, having no knowledge of the android presence amongst them had to be protected”(131). Meaning they can go about the world a human being. Rick ask himself, “Do androids dream?…Evidently; that’s why they occasionally kill their employers and flee here” (184). Rick has to question if androids have feelings and emotions like humans. He is beginning to become more empathetic towards the androids. He is also discovering reasons why androids may not be so menacing in harmful. For example, he feels Miss Luft is not seen by him as a threat. Androids are able to adapt their feelings. Rick states, “in two cases that I know of, andy’s owned and cared for animals” (130). This shows andy’s are able to adopt human traits.

Technology is taken too far because there is no fine line between the human and the android. In order to meet the needs of humans they create a slave android that resembles a human entity to expand their capabilities and end up recreating history. Here we have technology being used to mirror slavery. The androids are too advanced to bow down to mistreatment. Now those androids are not content and on the run technology is causing humans to question and fear for their safety. The only problem is, are the androids not safe because of their reaction to the actions of human or vice versa.

Do Androids Dream Of Electrical Sheep?:Animals

“You know how people are about not taking care of an animal; they consider it immoral and anti-empathic” (13). In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? If you do not consider it immoral and anti-empathic you are not humane. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2021. After being devastated by World War Terminus and incurring mass fatalities, most of the human population has migrated to another planet. Animals are either extinct or nearly extinct. On earth, in the post-apocalyptic world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, humans value genuine animals no matter the price and if not you are just simply not human.

Animal species are hard to come by and they are expensive. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the owl is recognized as the first extinct animal. More animals follow and other animals are nearly extinct. One of the main characters, Rick, has lost his only animal, a sheep, after the sheep being contaminated. While tending to his electrical replacement sheep he discovers his neighbor’s horse will breed soon. In the dialogue transpired by Rick and his neighbor you can see his longing for a fine genuine animal. Horses like many other animals are hard to come by and are very expensive. Rick shows a longing for a horse when he states, “I want to have an animal I keep trying to buy one. But on my salary, on what city employee makes –” (13).Rick illustrates that animals are valued because although they are hard to come by and expensive Rick is continuously seeking an animal in which he can barely afford.

Compassion for animals in society distinguishes humans from non-humans. Rick’s job is to catch human androids. His department facilitated a test, Voigt-Kampff test, to determine whether he is testing a human or an android. Rick administers the test on a subject who he conceives to be an android. The subject almost outsmarts Rick into back tracking his conclusion however he doesn’t falter. The questions used tested the compassion and empathy that the test taker had for animals. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? society value animals and if the test taker does not value animals then the test taker may be an android.

Placing high value on having and taking care of an animal in society seems honorable and benevolent but what are the stakes? There already seems to be a hint of dissatisfaction in the lives of the characters and possibly a faulty system in place when distinguishing between human and androids.

Brave New World Film

The many adaptations of Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World has given me the pleasure to be able to not only read the novel but to also watch Brave New World (1980) and Brave New World (1998) film versions. Brave new world (1980) is a three hour film which doubles that of the Brave New World (1998). Brave New World (1980) time allotted allowed for a more thorough depiction of Aldous Huxley’s novel than that of Brave New World (1998). Although Brave New World (1980)deviates a little from the the plot and themes of Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World it proves to be more complimentary to the novel than Brave New World (1998).
Brave New World (1998) is a far cry from Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World because it is saturated by the movie structures of Hollywood. It uses the three character structure through the three act structure eliminating the important roles of Helmholtz Watson and Mustapha Crowne. With Helmholtz absence we lose he theme of isolation and Mustapha’s absence we lose the theme of happiness. John, Lenina, and Bernard serves as the three structure characters. John is the antagonist, Bernard the protagonist, and Lenina the relationship character. The film turns Bernard into the main character who’s goal is to find out how the faults in there system can be managed because he himself knows first had that although all should be happy they are not and this seems throughout the film to be because he is unable to have Lenina all to himself. This is a strong deviation of the motifs of Bernard in the novel. In the chapters following the arrival of John you can see he was quite content with being popular. In the film john is then introduced. John is the antagonist and his point that living with this sense of false happiness is not right is made to the protagonist through the films love interest Lenina. This Hollywood structure totally ruins the relationship between Lenina and John because it emphasizes that of Lenina and Bernard.
Hollywood’s want for excessive drama changes the conflict and themes of the novel. For one it changes between Bernard Marx and the director to something totally different on film. Unlike in the novel Bernard Marx does not just come in and embarrass the director and the director storms off. In the film Bernard and the director have a sort of violent conflict because the director tries to condition a beta to kill Bernard. How Hollywood is that. The film also ends happily ever after with Bernard and Lenina happy with child. Definitely different from the novel which ends in the suicide of john in which, the film turns into an incidental death.
Brave New World (1980) was a close depiction of the novel with very little impact on the plot and themes in a negative way. The film did not tell the story in the chronological order of the novel. This film told the story of the director and Lenina right before she was left in the Reservation at the beginning of the film. It gave the audience the sense that the event was an accident, unlike the film (1998) which makes it seem like it was done on purpose. In the novel it is up for interpretation but I as a reader looked at it as a deliberate act on the director’s part. This deviation did not affect the plot in any way however. The telling of Bernard’s childhood was different in the (1980) film however it did not impact the plot and themes negatively. I would recommend Brave New World (1980) to go along with the reading of Brave New World (novel) because it is most true to the novel. Reading the novel is just a way to get more of the intimacy that is not seen through film.

The New World: Soma

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley we are introduced to soma. Soma is a drug used by characters when they are looking for a good time or beginning to feel unhappy or discomfort. The commonality of using soma is illustrated when the author states, “She felt in her pocket for her soma –only to discover that, by some unprecedented oversight, she had left the bottle down at the rest-house” (106). The narrator refers to the character Lenina leaving her soma home something she never does. In Brave New World soma is so natural it not able to be seen a debilitating.

The naturalness of soma is worse in comparison to drugs in today’s world making it really debilitating. Like real world drugs soma is addictive. At some point Lenina cries out, “Oh, I wish I had my soma” (110). She needed soma because viewing the primitive Native American tribe—of the reservoir, ritual was overwhelming for her. Soma causes the characters to want a drug to deal with miniscule problems. It is worse than real world drugs because it is sociably acceptable and legal. The fact that soma is so natural makes It worst. In the novel the character Linda who was left among the reservoir states, “What I had to suffer—and not a gramme of soma to be had. Only a drink of mescal every now and then, when Pope used to bring it…But it makes you feel so bad afterwards, the mescal does, and you’re sick with the peyotl; besides it always made that awful feeling of being ashamed much worst the next day” (113). There is not much that turn the characters away from soma because unlike real world drugs soma does not have any awful side effects like hangovers, bad teeth, and aging.

Characters are unable to see that there is something wrong with their excessive use of soma. At some point in the novel the Lenina tries to persuade Bernard to have a gramme of soma but he refuses preferring to feel his anger.  The social reliance of soma makes it possible for Lenina to actually persuade him. Characters are unable to see that they are not really happy and soma is used to feel that void and not live life. It is like going through life numb.

Human Nature

In Brave New World it is important to set your eyes on both Bernard’s and John’s world. When you set your eyes on both worlds you are able to distinguish characteristics that establish what makes a human, human.  By the author Aldous Huxley giving us this contrast we are able to analyze between the worlds in which one has lab bred babies, eternal youth, no religion, and the other has natural birth, death and religion. To be a human is to create because a human has to learn, teach, and manufacture.

It is a part of human nature to want and give answers. In Brave New World most characters don’t have questions or answers. We as reader’s can see John’s world contrast with Bernard’s when john says, “Linda never seemed to know. The old men of pueblo had much more definite answers” (122). In the new world they are ok not knowing but in the old world they are always curious. It also human nature to be innovative and create. In the old world john states, “To fashion, to give form, to feel his fingers gaining in and skill and power—this gave him an extraordinary pleasure” (125).  This is a natural feeling for human beings.

Humans also love to teach and learn. Not only do we see Linda do this we also see Helmholtz do when he states, “I wanted to do a bit of propaganda; I was trying to engineer them a feeling as I felt when I wrote the rhymes” (165). Here he wants the students to think and create. In the new world we see opposition to these human characteristics. The controller states:

It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose—well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher caste—make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere; that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of wellbeing, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the controller reflected, quit possibly true.(162)

The controller proves that knowledge is the key to human nature. It is innate for human beings to seek knowledge, purpose, and improvisation.

Metropolis

Metropolis is an interesting film created by Fritz Lang in 1927. As soon as the film begins questions pop up in your head. You immediately see two different worlds. Metropolis is a big advanced city. Poor laborers and their families live underneath the city while the rich lives in the city. The beginning of metropolis was very intense because I as a viewer was trying to learn who, what, where is Metropolis. As the film began to climax it became more predictable. For example, Maria was speaking to the workers in secret standing in front of multiple crosses.  This scene caused me to question where is the church for the workers seeing as the rich have a nice beautiful church. When she began to speak you could tell that she was trying to calm the workers. She begins to tell the story of babel and you can see in it that she does not want the fate of Metropolis to end in that way. In her speech to the workers she says, “The mediator between head and hands must be the heart” (55:42). As the film goes on you see that this means that the brain cannot deal with the hand peacefully and vice versa without the heart. Without the heart the hand and head causes more disruption to themselves and others.

I would compare this to technology and people. As technology is developed in the world the heart has to be involved because technology must not be more important than the well being of people, animals, and the earth.  Technology is built that can harm people, animals, and the earth and people use innocent technology to do hateful and mean things. An example of using technology for evil was through the Rowang who developed a robot to hurt Metropolis master Joh and in turn almost ruined a whole city. Technology should definitely not be used that why. I could see that faith and compassion is important to have in Metropolis.

Faith in Technology

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster is a short story that falls under the genre of science fiction. The Machine Stops is set in a machine at the center of the earth where the inhabitants believe is the only form of their existence.   The main character Vashti has put all her faith in the machine, like many of her cohabitants. In The Machine Stops the characters blind faith in technology is the cause of the end to their existence.

The characters in the novel placed a lot of value on the machine.  To them it was like a religion and in a religion you have faith. In the machine stops the narrator states, “The word “religion” was sedulously avoided, and in theory the machine was still the creation and the implement of man” (19). This statement shows how the characters have blind faith in technology because here is a generation who regards belief in science over religion who however adopts the idea that the machine was still the creation and the implement of man using the absence of science. The characters in the short story show their ignorance and how they may have arrived at such faith. The inhabitants of the machine do not respect originality. In a customary lecture it is stated dated, “First hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by love and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second hand, and if possible tenth hand, for then they will be far removing from the disturbing element—direct observation” (18).  This shows reference that people on the machine were taught to accept preconceived ideas and notations over their own.

The machine was destroyed because they had faith in the machine alone. They did not seek knowledge of the inner workings or condition of the machine. It was not until it was too late that someone suggested people learn how to manage the system.  Placing to much value in technology can be disastrous. In the short story the narrator states, “Beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that they had woven” (25).  This metaphor is beautifully used to explain the damage that man has done own themselves.  As a result of men reliance on technology and decline and self-reliance they doomed themselves.

Anyone who reads this short story can take away a lesson. The lesson is that technology should not be the center of your life. Everyone should still concern themselves with knowledge and not let technology take over.

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