Reminiscent of Underworld

I ran accross this quote in an article I was reading called "Aesthetics and Post-Politics" and it reminded me of the highway killer scenes from Underworld, as well as the general topic of techo-media culture in all the books: "Like the video game, a clip completely constructs its reference; it does not produce its estrangment form the concrete particular by abstraction but rather through recourse to fragmentation and to what could be called simulated narrative. This refers to syntax of fragments that operates as if they were narration without really being it, not because they openly negate narrative diegesis but because they present an action that lackds both progession and repetition, overall structure and indivudal characters, spatial-temporal relationships or the negation of these, and a hypotactic system or any other kind of subordination.

Gold!

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I thought that Randy's email to his partners was hilarious, besides being informative (pages 525-528 deal directly with the gold). I thought it was interesting that he anticipated all of these issues and problems and came up with several plans from the point of view of the "questioner," but then still couldn't find a way to get the gold out of the jungle in a sufficient manner. It was also interesting that there is SO much gold just sitting there in the jungle, and that some old lady happened to tell Randy about it. How has it stayed there for so long? I suppose that the transportation issues are the major reason.

THK and VT....

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So, someone mentioned in class the video of the THK. Here's a link to a video of the VT killer that he sent to NBC. You don't see people dying, but it's still really disturbing hearing his justifications for his actions.
http://www.dailymotion.com/us/cluster/news/featured/video/x1r6o7_
virginia-tech-april-16-2007-cho-seu

It's interesting. In my Victorian/gothic lit class, we always discuss how the the literature of that era really reflected the anxieties and paranoia that the Victorians felt. They were apprehensive about technology and advancement in general; they experienced the Industrial Revolution, drug addictions, and imperialism, and with that, came a fear of the unknown, whether it was science or foreigners. England had undergone a lot of change in a short amount of time and they didn't want to believe that horrible things could happen IN England, at home. If horrible things did happen, it was because of something foreign. A lot of those fears haven't gone away and in my Victorian lit class, I always mention the novels we read for this class because I always see connections. It's cool to see how these apprehensions have translated from one genre to another and how similar they are, even though they are separated by two centuries.

Concepts of annihilation

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Ever since we brought it up today in class, I've been thinking about the part on page 399 where the concept of holocaust was discussed. Here are a couple points that have bubbled up as important in my mind:
1. Is it a rude stereotype to automatically assume that a Jew would think the worst thing that ever happened was the Holocaust, capital H? Or is it legitimate to say, if you know someone? Or is it just that someone would be most likely to believe that the tragedy most personal to them is "the worst"?
2. If the Aztecs killed their neighboring tribes, which they did, does that make them less sympathizable (not a word...) in the face of their own wiping out? Traditionally it has been seen as the West being the perpetrator, so it's good to have a dissenting opinion on the party most at fault here, but I don't know that that necessarily precludes acknowledgement of their own personal tragedy.

shifts

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A very large prime number can be sold for quite a bit of money in today's economy, and I think that it's interesting that something as mathematical as that has changed from being a tool for a war effort to something that is currently exploited for profit. You can see this difference in L. Waterhouse and R. Waterhouse's motives. Randy call the hacking a game and even "romantic." If something as pure as mathematics ends up being exploited for economic gain, what's next?

Postmodern postmodern books

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I'm sure you all have noticed that the books in this class are what one might call "postmodern." Postmodernism looks at what a traditional text is, and then tries to mess around with the structure and content, right? Well, check out these "postmodern books": Don't try this at home

Otis P. Lord

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Okay, so I know this is back-tracking a bit, but with the final paper and all I've really been focusing on Infinite Jest, as I'm sure a lot of you are too.

Have you guys read the companion? If not, I highly recommend it--Burn explains a lot of the ways in which the plot intertwines, and it's really interesting. He mentions a lot of things that I don't remember being mentioned in class--for example, the connection between the ETA kids injured in the Eschaton incident and Gately. Otis P. Lord is the figure in the bed next to Gately with "a box on its head" (890), which I totally didn't get at the time. Burn also talks about the significance of Otis P. Lord's name--Gately has had trouble understanding the idea of a God, and right there next to him is someone who is named Lord and is ultimately in the hospital (in a pretty humurous condition) for "playing God" in the Eschaton game. So in a sense, Otis has failed at playing God, and is really sort of a pathetic Lord. Gately is wondering about why God would put him through all this, while a Lord is lying right next to him with a box stuck on his head.

Graffiti, America's Great Pastime

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"The Yanks call this type of plane "Betty," an effeminatizing gesture that really irks him. Then again, the Yanks name even their own planes after women, and paint naked ladies on their sacred instruments of war! If they had samurai swords, Americans would probably decorate the blades of nail polish." (335) That screamed "UNDERWORLD" to me. The last part was particularly amusing. There's nothing wrong with painting on things with nail polish...I do that all the time...On a more serious note, though, I think it's interesting that the American men who painted women on planes considered it good luck, but the Japanese (or at least Stephenson's Yamamoto)thought it was effeminate and a stupid/disrespectful practice. Meanwhile, Japanese soldiers were raping women, sometimes in ways that would serve as a good luck charm and protect them in battle.

Yamamoto

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I found the section of Yamamoto really interesting. From the reasarch I did, its take on Yamamoto's politics was actually fairly acurate, but what really did it for me was the colloquial thought process and delivery that Yamamoto goes through. I particularly liked his description of the Japanese Army. "... but those Army guys have spent their careers mowing down Chinamen and raping their women and they honestly believe that the Americans are just the same except taller and smellier. Come on guys, Yamamoto keeps telling them, the world is not just a big Nainjing. But they don't get it. If Yamamoto were running things, he'd make a rule: each Army officer would have to take some time out from bayoneting Noelithic savages in the jungle, go out on the wide Pacific in a ship, and swap 16-inch shells with an American task force for a while. Then maybe, they'd understand they're in a real scrap here." (335).

Candide

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Has anybody read Candide? If you haven't you should. It's a really short, hilarious book that is full of horrible things happening over and over again while one character keeps saying "it is the best of all possible worlds". I was really reminded of Candide with the scene of Goto Dengo in the water after they all had to abandon ship. Here he is, people are bleeding all around him and he has to avoid getting shot even though the oil on his body is making him float, and then he survives the shooting somehow. Then, he starts to swim, with a a bunch of other guys, combating dehydration, sickness, waves, and a crazy shark feeding frenzy which he lives through only by floating motionless.

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