Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feed: Utopia

After having left the moon, Titus and his friends do not want to remember the experiences they went through for the last few days. They are discharged from the hospital and go out to Earth with their feeds completely working so they do not feel out of place anymore. The group of teenagers go out and do crazy things like go in 'mal' just to feel like they are alive and do things that are the popular thing to do. Titus is in a tight spot because he is surrounded by people who conform to society and follow all of the fads. A great example of this was the lesions that people were getting on their bodies. The lesions were occurring because the environment was less able to sustain human life because of the detrimental effects of all the damage done by man. Once the famous people from "Oh? Wow! Thing!" got the lesions, people started to think it was really cool so if they didn't already have them, they would go get some made without any second thoughts as to why people had those lesions in the first place.
This section had the largest part of the plot; especially most of which has to do with Titus and Violet getting to know each other and their dating. Titus was in a tough place because he was stuck in between his friends which were conformist and his girlfriend which was a nonconformist. Titus wanted to fit in with the group he hung out with as it is human nature to fit in with a group but oddly enough, he was attracted to Violet because she was different from everybody. He was always jumping from one of their sides to another and at the end of the section it did not work out for him. They were at a party and wanted to have a good time but then Violet started to criticize Quendy's lesions and bring stuff up that both parties did not agree on. Then when she could not move because she had problems with her brain because of the feed and passed out, all of Titus' friends were unmoved and wanted her to leave instead of trying to help. Titus was the only one that helped her out and had some compassion for Violet to get help but could not imagine his friends acting in such a crude manner. Thus, Titus was faced with a dilemma as to what he chose to be: conformist or nonconformist.
Another part of the section that stood out to me was the way the consumerist and political systems were manipulating the people. The president could say whatever he wanted to say about other countries or people and then later another announcement would come on talking about how the whole nation misinterpreted the president and his curse words actually meant something nice. Then the companies were trying so hard to figure the consumers out so that they could get them hooked on buying something. That is the very reason Violet did not get to receive help to fix her feed because when she went shopping with Titus and looked at a lot of weird things and did not buy any of it, they could not figure her out so she was not an asset or something they cared to help because it was not going to benefit them in any way. What was amazing to me is that the companies are already trying to do something similar to this on the internet. According to what we search, look at, listen to, and buy the search engines like google are formulating our persona and through the use of mathematics try to figure out what we would like or would possibly buy. It is kind of scary how things are already so similar to the story although it seems far fetched.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Feed: Eden

I don't particularly know why this section is titled Eden but it takes place once Titus and his crew have become hospitalized for getting the transmission to the feed about the demise of society. They do not have connection to the feed at this point because that man messed it up. While stuck in the hospital for that period of time they do things to pass the time like mess with the medical supplies and make games out of them. Even though the whole group of people did not enjoy their time on the moon they seemed to have a better time in the hospital. The difference between this section and the rest of them is that they were much shorter. It was probably due to the fact that they were not exposed to the feed and could only be exposed to what they were surrounded by and not the feed. The fad-following girls really missed the feed. They pretty much depended on it for every decision they made. A prime example is on page 52 when Loga went to visit them and she went into the bathroom to change her hairstyle because popular hairdo was different and then the girls did the same thing because they saw that it was the current style. They relied so much on the way that the feed told them to dress and cut their hair that their disconnection from the feed was much worse.
The part that stood out to me the most was the attachment to electrical devices that many people have. They feel as if they are not connected to the world if they do not get on the internet or have their phone right beside them. It may be that we are so dependent on these things to keep up with people instead of having an actual conversation or encounter with them. I have personally seen how our minds grow accustomed so quickly to the things we do and then there is a greater need for them that it is almost impossible to not have it. Sadly, many people are like Calista and Quendy who do not try to be their own person but follow whatever the feed tells them is the popular thing to do. Supposedly this society is even more focused on the concept of individualism and being yourself, independent but this quality of following the trending topics is displaying quite the opposite in the practice.

Feed: Moon

The first setting in Feed was the Moon. This futuristic American society seemed to be very far fetched with their travels to the moon and other planets. The main character Titus has his group of friends with which he hangs out with and they all seem to be entranced with the idea of being on the moon until they come to the conclusion that it sucks. Calista, Loga, Quendy, Marty, Link and Titus were all on a quest to get to all of the parties and do a whole bunch of crazy stuff just like most teenagers. All of them have this feed that is like a receiver in their brains that works to connect with others as well as for the propaganda of companies trying to sell their merchandise. While at one of these parties, Titus comes across this girl that seems to be different than all of the rest. She stood out to him for wearing a wool dress-an uncommon material for clothes in those days- and that she was looking at them in such a condescending way. He became intrigued with her and her differences from everyone else. The end of this section was when another person that was different was at a club with them and he touched them and transmitted the phrase "We enter a time of calamity!" and ended up on many of  their feeds.
Although this book is set for the future, it could very easily be paralleled to our life in America today. Many people have social networking sites and are smartphones which means that for the most part they stay connected to the 'feed' which allows them to speak to anyone. For this service to remain free, there has to be businesses that will pay these social networks to put ads on their website because of the myriad of people that can potentially see that ad and want to buy some of their stuff. So we too are bombarded with propaganda of many sorts so that we would want to purchase more and more. It is mind boggling to think that so many people are becoming very dependent on them and pretty much live off of them. I think this is a new trend because of the technology. In the other reading selections there was never a strong dependence to something that was not necessary. I remember someone saying one time that back in the day there was no technology and the people were able to finish everything they had to do for the day. Now that we have technology, supposedly to save time and do things quicker, we don't seem to find the time in the day to finish what we have to do. This is so true because we try to do so many things in one day because of how quick we can accomplish them but end up not having time for all that we had planned. It is amazing how times have changed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"The Red Convertible" Louise Erdrich

 "The Red Convertible" is a story about these brothers that were Native American and went on to be good friends. Lyman, the brother narrating the story, started working and he and his brother bought a Red Oldsmobile. They got to enjoy it for at least one good time traveling to many different places and meeting people. Henry Jr. did not get to enjoy the convertible for a while because he had to go to the Vietnam war. Lyman took care of it as much as he could and would only write Henry about that car while he was away. Then when he came back, they could tell that he was different because of the war. Lyman bought a color television and Henry would act really weird when he was watching it as well as with the rest of his family. On one occasion they were watching the television when Henry just bit his lip and even while they were eating he did not try to clean it off so ate food with his blood all over it. Lyman then proceeded to devise a plan so that he could try to get his old brother back. He tore the convertible up so that it would seem almost not able to fix but Henry does not think it isn't beyond repair. All of a sudden Henry starts to fix the convertible and gets it in tip top shape. They go for one last ride and then when they go to the river and have some beers, Henry wants to give Lyman the car and he does not take it. They fight and I think he goes into the river, Lyman goes to the car and turns on the lights so he can see his brother and the convertible goes into the water also. That is why at the beginning of the story, Lyman says that his brother took the whole car and he is walking.
This story was really sad because the people that come back from the war are never as they were before. The things that they see in the war are so traumatic that people cannot really go on without having those images drown through their everyday lives. It cannot be easy to have to come back to civilian life after a war and trying to tell people about what they went through but no one understands. It must really feel lonely especially when Lyman wanted to be close to his brother but they were not connected as they were before. Relationships are fortified through the things both parties have in common and shared living experiences so Henry must have felt like they were not as close as they could have been for him to understand. It must be sad that these people got stripped of their lives because they had to go to war against their will. This goes back to the whole trying to control the people in order for them to do what the government wants. The soldiers are broken down to follow the orders.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

excerpt of Charlotte's Web -E.B. White

The part of the reading from Charlotte's Webb was close to the end if I am not mistaken. They are taking Wilbur back to the home because the fair has finished. He won the prize for being a good show pig thanks to Charlotte, the spider, who made a web that had words on it and was a wonder all around the fair. This excerpt was taken from the point when Charlotte is dying and Wilbur wants to take her sac of eggs so that he can remember his best friend. So Wilbur asks for Templeton to get the eggs and rushes him to do so before the men take them away. Templeton goes on this rant about how he is always doing whatever everyone else wants and they really don't care about him that much. He does not like the fact that they want him to do things for them but do not value him and just lays around. Wilbur promises to give him the first of the slop whenever he gets it and finally Templeton took the offer and went to fetch the sac of eggs. In the end Wilbur does not end up just being another meal for the humans but becomes a mini celebrity and Charlotte's offspring are all over the place although, none of them ever replace Charlotte. 
The part about when Templeton is expressing his feelings caught my attention. He has been and is the person that collects trash and lives with that purpose. The way that Charlotte made the miracle web was because of Templeton finding the words on scraps of trash that he picked up. Even though he does play a critical role in this society people don't care about him and cast him aside as if he were not important. I know Templeton is not meant to be liked but his arguement is valid. Wilbur and Charlotte have this nice friendship and Templeton is just another brick on the wall wh does stuff for them and does not usually get anything in return, not even a friendship. Wilbur did nothing to be Charlotte's friend, he was just nice to her and everything happened from there. Templeton had always been there but he did not fit in so he never became anyone's friend.  Technically, if it wouldn't have been for Templeton's help in them writing the words on the web, Wilbur would have died a quick death. Templeton could be representative of the people who are at the bottom of the hierarchy of people (even though some people might not agree to there being one). He does so much but in the end is only motivated by what he can get or fulfilling the basic needs. This is probably why he doesn't care so much even though he does talk to Wilbur about having friends. He is really just thinking about he basic needs because that is the only way that he can survive to the next time and friendships are not necessary when you are just trying to live.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Blossoms Li-Young Lee

This poem is about a pair of people who are driving along a road in the season when peaches are harvested. They see a sign on the side of the road marked "Peaches" and they abruptly stop to get some. The second stanza goes back in time creating a mental image of the peaches coming from "laden boughs, from hands
from sweet fellowship in the bins" in other words the people harvesting the peaches and putting them into the bins. This couple is really enjoying the peaches and they seem to have stopped and gone to a little place close to the orchard to eat them while they are taking in the whole day to remember it. They end up having a pretty nice day and forget about what it  was they were supposed to do that day.
As opposed to many of the writings we have read from the 20th century, this poem was really optimistic. They aren't thinking about what things are going wrong but rather focus on the beauty of what is around them, the fruit they are eating, and their enjoyable day. They describe the peach like having a "round jubilance" and being "succulent" which leads me to believe that this couple really must be happy about those peaches! Or like they say when you are in a relationship and you are happy everything else seems perfect. At first I thought that this pair of people could either be good friends or it could be a romantic relationship and it could really go either way.
The last stanza really says a lot about what the speaker feels. He enjoys the great moments in life which makes the bad things not overshadow or even come to mind. It pretty much says that the best life lived is the one which lives because they do not have death in mind. This is partly true because if you are constantly worried about how something can cause you to die then it would be hard to even get out of the bed for that very fear. A constant precaution is always taken and nothing that is spontaneous is welcome. The speaker is completely opposite because none of the things that are written in the poem had been previously planned. From the time they swerved onto that road selling peaches everything else just happened and that was a very nice occasion. So if you do welcome the spontaneous things and just try to enjoy life for living then those moments will come along on their own.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The School

Trees, snakes, herb gardens, gerbils, white mice, salamander, tropical fish, puppy, orphan, parents, grandparents, students, all twelve of these were dying all around the students of Edgar's class. Edgar tried to help the students by giving reasons for why those things happened continuously but could not come up with a good explanation. The rate of death was unfathomable and the children were distraught. When they had a class discussion about what was going on they wanted Edgar to make love with Helen so that they would not be sad by what was going on around them and they would not lose hope. After their "demonstration" a gerbil came in the classroom and the children had completely forgot about everything and were happy once again. This is one very sad story almost hard to believe.
Not only was the death of everything around them unbelievable, but the way the children responded when they were thinking about those deaths. When I was reading, the students seemed to be in elementary school, not past the third grade. But then they say "is death that which gives meaning to life?" and "but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of –." I am pretty sure that most little kids would not have such opinion about death even with all of the things happening. I guess the reason Barthelme put it in the story was just to give one of the usual explanations for death that no one is satisfied with but does settle for.
Death after death of all of these things reminded me of all of the incessant wars, conflicts, genocides, tsunamis, earthquakes, and disasters that have taken place in the world; people die everyday. We are always bombarded with the deaths of people everyday and many wonder why things like these happen but still strive to make that connection with those around us like try to find love. Why do people do this if there is a possibility that they will die the next day or within a short period of time? Because we still have hope for life and a better future just like those little kids when the gerbil came in. Just like Ecclesiastes 3:11 says we have " time indefinite put in [our] hearts" in other words, nobody wants to die. 
Who did Edgar and Helen represent, if anyone/anything?
Why was Edgar always using petty explanations for what went wrong?