Author Archives: Jordan JP

Science Fiction Symposium, 2017

I had the opportunity to attend the science fiction symposium a few days ago, and I enjoyed my time there. Some of the subjects that were covered were known to me, and I got to learn about several other works of literature. We had several speakers at the event, but since I only had time to attend two sessions, only four speakers really had my absolute attention. I was really interested in what they had to say for different reasons, so much so, that I had to constantly remind myself to take notes for this blog.  Before I get into details about my time at the event, I would like to acknowledge the presence of Prof. Jill Belli & retired Professor, Samuel R. Delany. Unfortunately I couldn’t be present during their talks, however I met Prof. Belli and we had time to talk in between the sessions.

The first speaker who had my full attention was Adam Heidebrink-Bruno, a graduate student in Lehigh University’s Literature and Social Justice program. He had my full attention because of the specific work of Literature he was talking about. He went into the different types of conflicts in a book by Dave Eggers titled the circle. It’s a good work of Literature, it’s not for everybody, but I enjoyed watching the movie they made about it. In fact, I watched the movie the night before the symposium, with no knowledge whatsoever about what the talks would be about. The fact that I watched the movie the night before, the immersive storytelling and diverse conflicts in both the book and the movie, ( ex: Humans vs Technology) are some of the reasons why Adam had my absolute attention. For anyone who doesn’t know anything about it, hopefully the following quote will get you started, “ Privacy is a human right “.

The second speaker who had my full attention was Kimon Keramidas, associate director and clinical assistant professor in the Center for Experimental Humanities in New York University’s Graduate School for Arts and Sciences. He had some of his students work on science fiction storytelling related video games. I thought that was a very interesting approach to video games,  because most of the video games I know of, aren’t known for there storytelling, they are packed full of actions with no story to back them up. I always appreciate a good immersive story in a video game, and I long for more of them. He also mentioned one of his students video game, about the female body image which explores the saying, “ you’re not good enough “. I thought that would be an interesting video game experience for me. I will finish this section by including a direct quote from Kimon, “ Much of science fiction predicts the science of the future “.

The next speaker who had a significant influence on my thoughts after I left the event, was a chemist who doesn’t really like science fiction since much of his work is related to physical science. This is one of these moments where I was so immersed in the talks that I failed to write down the name of the speaker. I could relate to this chemists opinions about certain science fiction works of literature, because of their very nature. An example of such literature is the Harry Potter series, don’t get me wrong, I love these works of literature, I grew up wishing I could be a part of their world. My only concern with these types of literature is that I have no place to insert myself in, the older I get, the more out of place I feel in them, I have no place in them, because of how incredibly impossible they are. I have an active imagination and I really appreciate some science fiction literatures such as the one’s about Harry Potter, but most of the times, I feel excluded in them. There is a saying that brushes on the types of literature I’m talking about, when a narrator mentions something that’s practically impossible, in the world of literature they call it “ An Act of God “.

The last speaker I had time for that really caught my attention, was an art historian working on the creative nature of robots. Her research is mostly about the drawings of ancient times, however, she has a background in robotics, and has a bachelor in computer engineering. She had my full attention when she started talking about a man named Cohen Harold, who taught an AI called AARON, to draw and program images, then went on to teach it about including colors into the drawings. She had very interesting things to say about the AI, but as I mentioned before, I wasn’t focused on taking notes, I was focused on all of the new and interesting information I was getting from the talks. I also would like to mention Jean Pierre Hebert, he is an independent artist of algorithmic art, drawings, and mixed media. He co-founded the Algorists in 1995 with Roman Verostko. I believe his work was being used to teach AARON to draw, program and add colors to images. I will leave you with a quote from a man I admire, “The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like Deepmind, you have no idea how fast—it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year timeframe. 10 years at most”. Elon Musk

Handmaid’s Tale Crash Course part 1

I stumbled upon a video on YouTube about the Handmaid’s Tale. It is pure coincidence and as soon as I watched it, I felt the need to share it with you. It doesn’t have too much information, just some background information about Margaret Atwood, some information about what the novel is about, and if I’m not mistaken the Youtuber said the book was based on certain real events, which he then showed. I thought it was fun to watch which is why I’m posting this so that you can enjoy it too. The following is the link, copy and paste it online, it will take you to the video, I hope you like it.

Class notes 11/16/17


*During the break next week, create a running list of moments where the narrator talks about changing her narrative or call attention to the fact that she’s telling a story.

*If you are interested in a Literature course for spring 2018, please contact Professor Belli, she has information on which courses are available and perhaps she can help you choose a course or even give you some information on which Professor would best fit your needs and requirements.

*Congratulations to Kina, she was chosen as the winner of this week’s “People’s Choice Post”

*There is no class next week and we don’t have anything due during that time. The next time we will meet is on Tuesday the 28th of November. Use this time to either finish the book, review some of the information to refresh your memory, or catch up if you’re behind. Do not skip the historical notes in the book.

*Reading Response #12: The Handmaid’s Tale, Parts XI-XV & Historical Notes (due M 11/27)

*Keep in mind, Essay #2 is due on Tuesday the 12th of December, it would be wise to start working on that right away. Further instructions about the Essay will be given when we come back after the break.

*Make it a habit to check the syllabus and schedule daily, add any information and important dates on your calendar or notes whichever one you consult regularly.


Class discussion

The three primary relationships of Offred.

*Luke, her husband, whom she often experience flashbacks about, flashbacks which involves sexual interactions or intimacy one way or another.

*Nick, a chauffeur, more specifically one of the guardians. Towards the end of the novel she may or may not get more involved with him.

*The commander, head of the household, active participant in her ceremonies, and a potential ticket out for Offred, given their recent interest towards each other.


The women Offred has a relationship with.

*Ofglen, Moira, Rita, Cora, Janine, Aunt Lydia, Serena Joy, her daughter, her mother, the previous Handmaid.


What does the narrator mean when talking about reconstruction?

* “This is a reconstruction. All of it is a reconstruction” (134 1).

* Important paragraph for answering that question (134 3).

* “That is a construction too” (140 4). “That” ( Demonstrative pronoun ).


Keep in mind that the story is being told by Offred, therefore the reader only knows her side of the story.

Is Offred striving for accuracy?

*Before answering that question, know that victims of painful or horrific events often repress those memories, it’s one of the defense mechanism of the brain.

*During the retelling of stories, they are often broken down only to be reconstructed with either an additional or missing piece. Meaning that when a story is being retold, the narrator may intentionally or unintentionally include or exclude an event or two. Not even counting the times when the narrator might have forgotten all about the events.


Free writing period in class

Take 5min to write about each of the following character regarding their relationships with Offred, while giving a quote depicting a specific moment or scene you deemed to be a good example of what their relationships is like.

*Luke, Nick, and the commander.

*Take four more minutes to write about the storytelling in the novel. Especially towards the end of the book.



*Mediated: A:acting through an intervening agency  B: exhibiting indirect causation, connection, or relation.

*Reconstructed: building up or forming (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed.


Expect the unexpected

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood has taken a drastic turn in parts IX and X, the most surprising one being Offred’s changed view of the commander. Offred seems to be greatly influenced by Aunt Lydia, which with confidence can be said to not be the best woman to be influenced by. “ Men are sex machines, said Aunt Lydia, and not much more. They only want one thing” (Atwood 144). This quote shows how ignorant some women can be, when they think of men, they see them as one entity who is supposedly biologically programmed all to be the same. Aunt Lydia’s words must be confusing to Offred at times, because she’s known Luke before becoming a Handmaid, and she knows Luke isn’t the same as some of the men around her now. I find this last quote to be ignorant, disgusting and unfair to men. I take it as a personal attack from Aunt Lydia, because by poisoning the minds of the Handmaid’s, she leads them to think that the men in The Handmaid’s Tale are all the same.

One of the things I appreciate about this novel is it’s overwhelming descriptive nature, it is as if the narrator wants us readers to be immersed into the different moments throughout story. “ I crawl into the cupboard, draw up my knees, I’ll choke on it. My ribs hurt with holding back, I shake, I heave, seismic, volcanic, I’ll burst” ( 146 ). This quote describes Offred trying to suppress a laugh, it would be too loud and an inconvenience for her. This quote while being very descriptive gives the reader a deeper more personal perspective on a Handmaid’s restrictive and depressing life.

Further into the story, Offred has surprisingly discovered a whole other side to the commander, she no longer sees him as just another men, which interferes with her attempts to pretend she isn’t present at the ceremony. “ I would steel myself. I would pretend not to be present, not in the flesh” ( 160 ). In this quote, we can see how Offred found a way to endure the previous ceremonies, however further into the story, she won’t be able to use that anymore. “ I found that things were changed. There was an awkwardness now that there hadn’t been before” ( 160 ). “ It was like being on an operating table, in the full glare; like being on a stage” ( 161 ). The preceding quotes are direct abstracts of Offred’s new view toward the commander and the ceremony. These new perspectives must be very confusing and possibly harmful to her continued participation as a Handmaid.

The following picture is from the Hulu series  based on the novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Know Your Worth

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is not what I expected it to be, I pictured a much darker story than it turned out to be. While I was reading parts III to VIII, I was amazed by the Handmaid’s unwillingness to give up on the small pleasures of life even under the horrible circumstances they had to live in. I predicted to see the Handmaid’s spirit crumble under the horrible and often enough filthy situations they were in, but I was wrong. “Sometimes I sing to myself, in my head; something lugubrious, mournful, Presbyterian”(Atwood 54). This quote is an important one because even though she’s being treated as a means to an end, as an object, her mind is her own and she will do what she wants with it regardless of the rules. I really like that, it shows that she has a similar mindset to those of slaves, you can take away their freedom, take away everything they hold dear, but it is up to them whether or not you can break their spirits.

People living under conditions where they are regarded as less than others and as a means to an end, usually end up forgetting who they are and what they are worth. The protagonist in the novel, contrary to others, refuses to forget who she is, they gave her a Handmaid’s name, however she will not give up on her own. “ My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because its forbidden” (84). This quote tells the reader that she knows what her name is, but she buried it deep in her mind to be recovered at a later time. This goes back to the earlier moments where she did not allow her oppressors to have control over her mind, they are trying to change her personality, but she won’t let them.

The protagonist often uses her imagination to relive joyful moments of her past life, she imagines them with as much details as she can, perhaps hoping she could go back and enjoy them once more “ We would lie in those afternoon beds, afterwards, hands on each other, talking it over” (51). This quote shows that she doesn’t let her mind succumb to the less than ideal moments she’s been through, she still remembers the pleasurable ones, and she longs for them.While I was reading a bit further, I couldn’t resist the urge to compare her visit to the doctor with the memory she has of Luke. “ My breasts are fingered in their turn, a search for ripeness, rot,”(60). “ Two brown eyes, a nose, a head with brown hair on it. His hand is between my legs” (60). These quotes show the doctors behavior towards her, he’s using his position to pressure her to give into him, compared to her past life, where she actually had the desire to do so.

The following pictures depicts two very different worlds.




(                                (Janine-poster.png)

After reading further into the novel, I can’t help it but wonder why the Handmaid’s won’t rise up and decide enough is enough. They are treated as objects, looked down upon, and they have to abide by the several strict rules set upon them, surely they would rather live in better conditions. Perhaps they think it would be best to keep their heads down and hope for an opportunity for a better life to come by. Perhaps they simple do not have a better choice or were not allowed to make that choice. I can only make assumptions at the moment due to my ignorance of the full story in the novel.

Unfortunate Circumstances

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a novel that has been developed in a first person view, which gives it a deeper and more personal feel overall. Upon reading the first few pages of the story, I couldn’t really get a good grip on what was going on, I believe it’s because of the lack of information given before I was introduced into the story. After getting through a few pages, I found myself unable to look away from the book. The unraveling of the mystery behind what I read in the beginning of the story kept me interested.

In the beginning of the novel, a woman was introduced, who I believe is the protagonist. The protagonist and according to the story, several other women were kept inside of this house, as if they were prisoners but they were maids. “ In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms when the Aunts weren’t looking, and touch each other’s hands across space ” (Atwood 4). The preceding quote was very shocking to me at first, because of my ignorance about the situation, but after reading it, I started to realize that these women were being treated harshly. They were deprived of even the basics of human interactions. These maids were being treated as inferior to the owners or occupants of the house, as in the commander, his wife, and the Aunts.

There seems to be a lot of rules according to what I’ve read so far, which means there are consequences attached to those rules in case they’ve been broken. An example of such rules can be found in the following quote, “ We learned to lip read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths” (4). The preceding quote gives the reader hints about one of the rules in the house, which is no talking past bedtime. I thought that was unnecessary and somewhat controlling towards the maids.


While I was reading a bit further into the story, I came upon certain moments that made me question the reason for the willingness of the maids to stay in that place. “ She probably longed to slap my face. They can hit us, there’s scriptural precedent. But not with any implement. Only with their hands” (16). The preceding quote is an example of how inhuman the maids were treated. The contents of that quote is one of the several reasons why I found myself questioning their willingness to remain in such a place.

The following is a picture from the tv show based on the novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

I came across some readers who translated the beginning of the story into something completely different from what I think it is. An example of that is suggesting that the maids are being treated so harshly because they are women and that the men are the ones doing it, as far as I’ve seen from chapters one and two, that statement is false. “ She wanted me to feel that I could not come into the house unless she said so” (13). The preceding quote shows that the commanders wife is using her authority to look down on and perhaps abuse the maids. Another example would be the Aunts, according to the following quote, they seems to be the ones enforcing the rules in the house, “ In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms when the Aunts weren’t looking,” (4). The protagonist and the rest of the women were afraid to let the Aunts see them physically interacting, which says a lot about the Aunts control over them.

The Purpose of Life is to End, Live While You Can.

Jordan Jean Pierre

English 2001

Essay draft



What is the purpose of life? I can safely assume that most self aware beings in the universe have asked themselves or others that question at least once. It is one of the greatest questions to have ever been asked, and yet the answer is painfully obvious. The purpose of all life is to end. Whether or not someone believes that is inconsequential to the fact that death will eventually consume all life. A great example of that statement can be found in the novel Station eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The majority of the novel is about a post apocalyptic world devastated by the Georgian flu pandemic. The story is saturated with suffering and death leaving the characters vulnerable to thoughts such as what the purpose of life is.

The first official encounter the reader has with death in the story, is when Arthur passed away on stage during his performance as king Lear. “Jeevan realized this charade must be for Arthur’s family, so they wouldn’t be notified of his death via the evening news” ( Emily 7 ). The preceding quote is the quote that solidified the reader’s assumptions of the possible death of Arthur. Despite Arthur’s many successes and failures, happiness and sadness, love and hatred, none of it mattered in the end, none of it could prevent his unfortunate and sudden demise. Arthur’s life was a somewhat accomplished one, because he chose to give purpose to his life. Even though he knew death would eventually claim it, he decided to make the best of his time. The purpose of life is to end, but what happens in between someone’s birth and death is completely their responsibility.

The Georgian flu pandemic according to the characters in the story, wiped out most of humanity, it is a horrible thing that has happened to the world inside the novel. It makes one wonder what the purpose of life is. People often seek answers to such a question in religion, or other forms of comfortable ideas, anything that would make them be less afraid of what’s to come. “ Have you considered the perfection of the virus” (60). The preceding quote is a small but effective example that shows the reader that the prophet somehow sees the flu as a divine disease set upon humanity by an omniscient God. Even while facing the truth, certain people will find a way to modify it to their own needs. After all of those deaths people are still looking for the purpose of life, instead of worrying about how they will give purpose to the time they have in between their births and deaths.

I am working on a cover letter for my essay, which is coming along well. My essay will be based on what the purpose of life is in the world of the novel, and the different ways the characters in the story deal with that. I am struggling to find major quotes and statements throughout the story that are useful to the development of my essay, however I am confident that I will find plenty once I put my focus on finding them.

One of the building blocks of a great mind is found in writings

I’ve always loved to write, even when I was a kid learning to write for the first time with my professors. I would go home and practice all the letters I’ve learned just so I could be better at it. Writing has always been a part of my life, from when my parents told me bed time stories that they read and memorized, to when I started spending my free time reading my sister’s books, until this very moment where I’m telling you why I write. I write because I have a tremendous amount of inspiration, I write because I can express my imagination and invite readers to experience them with me, I write because I can’t express myself as well when I’m speaking, because of my speech disorder. These are just some of the reasons why I write.

I started writing when I realized that all of these letters when put together can tell the most amazing stories. I’ve realized that one can be transported deep into another world, and be dropped in the middle of some of the most amazing adventures, while being safe in the comfort of their home. I’ve realized at a young age that I had all the tools required to bring someone else with me into these imaginary worlds that can be created just by writing a few paragraphs. Without any further thoughts, I started writing about anything and everything I could imagine and I don’t have any plans to stop.

I started reading my sister’s books at the young age of nine, I didn’t understand every words I saw in those books, but that didn’t stop me from understanding the stories that were being told. I kept reading those books because they gave me the inspiration I needed for my own writing. Even though my stories didn’t always make sense, I kept on writing because I wasn’t trying to make sense during those times, I was simply trying to put my imagination to paper, where it can be cherished and preserved.

I can remember my first love letter to my crush, I had to put everything I learned from previous readings and writings into this one letter. I was extremely nervous because I wanted to put all of my feelings towards her into the letter, but I also didn’t want it to be overwhelming. I didn’t realize it at the time, but writing this love letter really helped me be better at writing and sharing my thoughts. After what seemed to have been an eternity, I finally did give her the letter and the rest is for me to know and for you to make assumptions about.

I have a speech disorder called stuttering also know as stammering, it is a nervous system disorder, as in there is something wrong in my cerebral cortex, more specifically in my frontal and temporal lobes because they are associated with speech. I’ve had to deal with it for most of my life, and one of the moments where I am free of it is when I’m writing. When I write I don’t have this anchor pulling me down and stopping me from being all that I know I can be, when I write I can express myself better than I ever could otherwise. I envy the people who can speak fluently and take it for granted. They probably don’t know about all of the great opportunities I’ve missed out on because of my stuttering, it has affected my personal life, my love life, my public life and my professional life.

These are some of the reasons why I write, these are the things, places, and moments where I get my inspiration from.

Life shines brightest in moments of death

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a story that is developed around the life of a man named Jeevan, the beginning of the story, which can be said to have been the most crucial part of the story is set in the Elgin Theater in Toronto. The story is being told in a limited point of view using the protagonist, which in this story is Jeevan. There are several characters being introduced into the story over time, but the more important ones are, Jeevan Chaudhary who’s the main character, Laura who’s Jeevan’s girlfriend, Kirsten Raymonde who’s a little girl, and Walter Jacobi who is a cardiologist. While I was reading through the first couple pages, I couldn’t really figure out who the protagonist or main character was. The reason for my confusion in the beginning is because of the introduction of a man named Arthur Leander. He was in a play acting as King Lear, an it was only when he passed away that I’ve realized I was wrong in assuming he was the main character.

As the story progresses, the reader finds out that Jeevan knew Arthur a bit more than perhaps a member of the audience, thanks to a flashback experienced by Jeevan. “Jeevan was thinking of the time he’d interviewed Arthur in Los Angeles, years ago now”(Emily, 5). Later on in the story, while Jeevan was speaking to Kirsten, we learned that Arthur had died doing the thing that he loved the most. We know this because while he was being interviewed by Jeevan, he mentioned “ I’ve waited all my life to be old enough to play Lear, and there’s nothing I love more than being on stage, the immediacy of it…” (Emily, 8). In the beginning of the story when the reader learned about the death of Arthur, it was seen as this sad thing that happened. Now because of this last quote, the reader’s view on Arthur’s death may change upon realizing the man died doing what he loved doing.

Arthur’s death can be said to have turned out to be not as bad as it seemed. First of all, the man died happy, and second, as he’s life was ending, that moment encouraged Jeevan’s idea about becoming a paramedic. “he’d wondered all his life what his profession should be, and now he was certain, absolutely certain that he wanted to be a paramedic“(Emily,11). Because Jeevan was now convinced he wants to become a paramedic, he’s whole life is about to change, it is like he’s about to have a new life now, as if as Arthur’s life was ending, it brought out the final push needed in Jeevan’s life to become this new and fulfilling life he always wanted. ” he found himself blindsided by an unexpected joy ” (Emily, 11). There are these strange moments where death is no longer seen as an unfortunate thing, on the contrary, it is seen as this changing point in someone’s life. It becomes a moment where a person learns valuable lessons and it causes them to steer their own lives in a better direction.  Arthur’s death is one of such moments, it can be an horrifying experience or it can be the last push you needed before changing your life for the better.


The city lurking behind the city

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas  by Ursula Le Guin is a great story, perhaps it is one of the best stories I’ve read in a while. The setting is in a place called Omelas, where everything seems to be perfect, where all the people there are happy, their children are safe and healthy, there seems to be no war or famine, however, it only appears so to the unaware eye. “One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes” ( Ursula, 5). This is a glimpse into the horror a child has to go through, for Omelas to be this not so perfect place where people are living great and joyous lives.

The city of Omelas can be seen as a symbolic place, a place that reminds its inhabitants that everything has a cost. The beautiful landscapes, the houses, the joy and contentment in everyone’s lives, is nothing else but the fruit of a child’s suffering. ” They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery” ( Ursula, 5 ). The previous quote tells us the people who live in the city all know about the child in the closet, there is no forgetting about it, everything that is beautiful around them is a reminder of their disregard of the child’s wellbeing.

The inhabitants of the city are all aware of the reason why everything is so wonderful, but not all of them bother to think about much. Most people in the city just keep going about their day they dedicate a great deal of energy and effort into keeping their minds busy. The others are not capable of doing the same, they often go pay the child a visit, visits that end up becoming the last push they needed to be convinced of leaving that wicked and perverted city. ” They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back” ( Ursula, 7 ).  In this quote, some of the people who were living in the city, were so horrified by the things people allowed to continue happening, the only solution they deemed viable, was to just walk out and away from the  city. The people who left the city can be said to have felt guilt, a feeling that goes in direct opposition to the narrators previous statement, “One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt” ( Ursula, 3 ). In is quote, the narrator states that Omelas is a perfect city, therefore there is no guilt in Omelas, but from a readers point of view, the people who left the city left because they could not handle the immense amount of guilt that they felt while living in such a place.