I wanted to talk about the last two stories that we didn’t get to discuss last Monday from Consider the Lobster which were “The View from Ms. Thompson’s” and “The Host.” These were some of my favorite stories in this collection because they have reoccurring themes that we have seen in Wallace’s works. Such as the nature of humans and what I think he might label as “lack of humanity.” I say this for one reason: I think Wallace is trying to tell us in his works how far society has destroyed man. Well not society per se but criticize how humans function now.
For example in the Broom of the System we were shown the degrees of manipulation one can go to in order to achieve what they want. We see Vick Rigorous and how he is able to, or at least attempts to, manipulate Leonore to become his object of affection; I think this shows a prominent human characteristic. That we want to be in control and when we don’t have what we want we will reach such negative extents in order to achieve our goals.
Furthermore, we see a comparison between a self and an other which I think Wallace presents in many of his works. That we cannot define ourselves and need someone, or something to show us what we aren’t, and in this way know what we are. Such as the example of the black dessert in Ohio and the representation it has for the population. This reminds me of a play by Jean-Paul Sartre called “No Exit” where the 3 main characters are stuck in a room together which the reader can assume is hell. The characters debate amongst themselves and compete for each other and we get examples of the lack of satisfaction one has when they cannot see themselves and instead need someone else to tell them who they are, what they look like, etc. This is a trait I see in many of Wallace’s works; the idea that we do have an inner debate with our selfs and our others.
Which brings me back to these last two essays of Consider the Lobster. What struck me in these essays was the images brought up and how inhumane they were talked about by the characters in the essays. In “The View from Ms. Thompson’s” we see the after effects of 9/11 in a small town and the sudden movement of patriotism shown by the American flags. It disturbed me that the show of patriotism came only after such a tragic event happened, the fact that it took something catastrophic like that to give people a sense of pride made me feel like this was flag showing was false pride.
In “The Host” one of the first images that horrified me was when John Ziegler was upset that the media was not willing to show the Berg videotape of the American soldiers beheadings. You would think that people wouldn’t want to see such images but the comment here is at how willing and anxious we become for watching something like that. It just reminds me of movies now a days like Saw and … [well I don’t watch scary movies so you can fill in the blank] and the acceptance that exists of watching such gory images. I felt Ziegler’s need to watch that tape was showing a lack of humanity and distance from being human if you can be okay watching the beheading of another human being.
I realize now that this post became more about general themes seen in Wallace’s works that stuck in my head rather than just those two essays I mentioned I was going to talk about. I guess this is okay since it is my last post and like many other posts before mine, I wanted to share a bit about what I learned this semester.