Section I: Choose three of the following four quotations. Identify the excerpt (author and text), then state the significance of the quotation (10 points each; 3 X 10 = 30 points). [Note: only three of the four quotations are here presented.]
"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself; equal in deformity and wickedness."
"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; --obey!"
Text: Frankenstein. Author: Mary Shelley. The first significant point this quote evokes is the role change from master to slave or rather the non-existent role change, as I see it. From the beginning of Victor's education at the University, he was a slave to science, and then a slave to the process of creating the creature. He had devoted two years of his life as a slave worker and "deprived himself of rest and health" (86). Never did Victor have the control of a master--not even after the creature was created. The creature demanded more of Victor as a master would demand of a slave to do a job: "You must create a female for me... and I demand it of you as a right you must not refuse" (171). The creature was still the real master in the end of the story. He perpetrated the known punishment upon Victor for not complying with his demand and ultimately killed Elizabeth (along with many others). I believe this quote to be very relevant to the lack of religion and faith in this work and time period. Evil will enter into anything or anyone if allowed. The reader never once read of Victor praying to the Lord, or asking forgiveness; rather, the only mention of God was an exclamation heard at Elizabeth's death: "Great God!" (220. As discussed in class, this time period was at the rise of the Industrial Revolution, which led to interests in such forms of science as Galvanism. People perhaps lost a little of their faith in God, and turned to find answers in science. I think that perhaps Victor learned a lesson in playing with the Almighty power the Lord has as the real Creator. Victor Frankenstein should not meddle in human cration, but should leave that power to the Lord. Finally, I see the relationship of the sublime and the creature as another important point this quote raises. In the beginning of Victor's work in creation of the creature, he believed the creature to have "limbs in proportion... Beautiful!" (86). The creature, on the surface, on the outside, was beautiful. However, once the creature became a real, living part of nature, he was feared by all-- including his creator. His external features then changed from beautiful o that of "deformed and wicked," and the creature thus led to a sublime effect. (Grade: 10).
Where should I begin? After all, you have never been there; or if you have, you may not have understood the significance of what you saw, or thought you saw. A window is a window, but there is looking out and looking in. The native you glimpsed, disappearing behind the curtain, or into the bushes, or down the manhole in the mainstreet--my people are shy--may have been only your reflection in the glass. My country specializes in such illusions.
This quotation was taken from Margaret Atwood's story, "Homelanding." This story recounts many aspects of human existence from an outside view, as if it was being told to an alien race. This story tells about human appearance, sex (both difference and the act of), sunbathing, sleeping, death, and many other human functions in a scientific way. This story takes a step away from the normal way of describing these objects. For example, Margaret Atwood talks about eating and describes it by saying "I destroy and assimilate certain parts of my surroundings and change them into myself." Most people who have had human contact their whole life consider eating putting food in their mouths, chewing, and swallowing. This quotation at the beginning of the story shows that the author knows that she is writing this for a human audience. She starts this off with the line, "Where should I begin?" This is more of a conversational style that draws the reader into this as if she was talking directly to the reader. The human reader is supposed to take the role of the alien race. The reader has to take a duality of being both a human and from an alien race who has no knowledge of anything human. The next line restates this with, "After all you have never been there; or if you have you may not have understood the significance of what you say or thought you saw." An alien race would never have been to earth, yet the human reader has spent his whole life on earth if never stopping to think of the significance of what he is seeing. The next line is: "A window is a window, but there is looking out and looking in." This can be seen in all the number of times that someone sees something in someone else that the person does not see in himself. For example, often a teacher is responsible for helping a student develop a talent that was there but the student did not know that he had it. This story is attempting to do the same and show the reader characteristics that mankind has but do not know it has. In the next line, this is reiterated with the statement, "The native you glimpsed, disappearing behind the curtain, or into the bushes, or down the manhole in the mainstreet--my people are shy--may have only been your own reflection in the glass." This shows the reader is the reflection in the glass and is seeing a portrait of himself in the story. Storytelling is often used to teach a lesson to the reader or listener. One of the most read examples of this is the Bible. Jesus often spoke in parables to help teach lessons to his listeners. This story attempts to make us take a step away from ourselves and see ourselves in a different light so we could possibly understand ourselves better. (Grade: 10).
"I assure you: the cards are sufficiently randomized."
The sentence is spoken by Data in the Star Trek: TNG episode, "Cause and Effect." The irony of Data assuming (in this case) that the cards have been radomly shuffled brings about the question whether or not anything in life is "sufficiently randomized." The reason Data makes the remark is because the crew is getting a sense that they have somehow lived through the xact card game before. Only when several crewmembers realize something is happening do they figure out that they are in a temporal loop. But how does anyone know whether or not they have lived the exact moments before? It is only due to certain circumstances (everyone on one ship, everyone repeats the exact same thing from the exact same time, the loop is repeated continuously over 17 days) that the crewmembers can pick up upon the loop they are in.
The sentence by Data also points out the self-reflexive nature of this narrative story. Since the audience only has an hour to see the entire problem presented and solved, then the writers can only present the key events over the seventeen-day loop. The writers use the format of the show to make Data's assumption ironic, because nothing occurring in the show is "randomized" at all. It all has a purpose and that purpose is to put forth a story with a beginning, middle, and end. In a sense, this structure serves to bring order to our own lives, lives that lack the definition contained within every show on television. Only by repeating certain events in our minds, does any sense of definitiveness come forth, thus creating our own loop. The true randomness Data refers to happen in everyday, quotidian life, not just in a one-hour television show. By constantly repeating a single event (the explosion), the crew, the show and the audience are allowed to make sense of an otherwise tragic scenario. This allows the audience to process and give meaning to an otherwise random event, thus randomizing the card game and de-randomizing the crew's life up to that tragic point.
Section II Choose three of the following four terms and explain the significance of each (10 points each; 3 X 10 = 30 points). [Note: only three of the four terms are here presented.]
Allegory is a very important term in the contents of this class. As defined on the guide to terms, allegory is "a narrative in which the agents and action, and sometimes the setting as well, are contrived to make coherent sense on the 'literal,' or primary, level of signification, and also to signify a second, correlated order of agents, concepts, and events." In basic terms, a story is allegorical when characters and events in a story parallel and present a commentary about the present time period, or our ideology. As we have discussed, science fiction was born about the same time of many important cultural changes including the Industrial Revolution, Urbanization, and the rise of literacy. Big upsets were happening in the religious world because of the new-found belief in science, and new literary genres emerged as a result: realism and science fiction. Science fiction explored things that were possible but beyond our known quotidian reality. Literate minds as well as scientific minds loved this idea. Science was always pushing farther and trying to advance, and, on the other hand, the science fiction writers were reflecting on these advances. In most cases, science fiction is about ourselves. It shows us how things could be different. For example, Star Trek: TNG incorporates gender and cultural equality. Jordy, a black man, is in a very high position; and Dr. Crusher is a woman. These are ideas our society is struggling with. In many cases, these authors were hiding a warning in an allegory. Science in many cases has become such a part of our belief system and who we are that it takes something like science fiction to make us step back and examine our beliefs. On this series alone, there are many levels of attacks to our beliefs. As the Enterprise combats different species of being, it can be viewed on two levels. In the show, each of these species pose a serious threat to the crew and the ship's survival; but each species also represents an aspect of society. For example, the Vulcans represent logic and how it operates in society. These beings show us the extreme side of logic and the problems of depending on logic alone. Through the use of these allegorical species, the show is thereby allowed not only to give us an extreme example of aspects of our society; in some cases it offers suggestions on how we could improve our society in that area. In these ways, science fiction will continue to use allegory to provide a commentary on our present-day society and work to improve it. (Grade: 10)
The term Replicant is used to define the android/ cyborg creaturs in the Ridley Scott film, Bladerunner. The first issue raised by the term is the actual term itself. The creator, Tyrell, successfully tried to replicate not only human appearance but actions and emotions as well. The appearance and actions of a Replicant are so familiar to humans that the only way to determine their nature is through a test involving their eyes. This brings forth the notion that the "eyes are a window to your soul" raising the question: if a being can be created in such a way that everything is the exact duplicate of a human being then where does the essence of being come from? The very essence we rely upon to live comes from our memories and our experiences. When the very things that fabricate our reality become fabricated, then the idea of a soul becomes lost. If the sould can be constructed through an outside medium then there is no difference between a Replicant and a human. We can be programmed to feel a certain way (disgust at certain actions), to act a certain way (proper attire) just like a Replicant. So, the distinction becomes more blurred because people are not always aware that this is taking place, just like Rachael. Rachael is the Replicant that is not aware (until Deckard shows her) that she is in fact a Replicant. The film plays the role of Deckard warning humanity that they can potentially become Rachael, an unwitting victim of being programmed.
The ability to replicate everything human has, allows the film to critique the "superiority" of technology as falling short of providing a soul. This then shows the major pitfall of technology. No matter how great and powerful it can become, there is a lack of soul from which to draw upon. This lack of soul allows the technology to take on a sense of coldness. The coldness translates to a lack of appreciation for life that can become terribly dangerous if allowed to acquire consciousness. The coldness relates directly to Frankenstein's creature. The creation was a ruthless, calculating being that was brought to "life" through the accumulation of different people's body parts. When Mary Chelley wrote it, the creation was seen as the epitome of technological feats. Victor Frankenstein gave life to an otherwise inanimate object. Tyrell is the parallel of Victor Frankenstein. The Replicants are used as a modern-day Frankenstein creation, giving life to an otherwise inanimate object.
The commentary on our ability to think for ourselves is questioned throughout the film. The film is making the point that if technology is allowed to grow so large taht beings are created that are the same as us, and we do not have the ability to question it, the technology will take over by thinking and acting superior to us.
The photograph is significant in this class because it is hard evidence. We have examined the line between reality and fiction, but the photograph pushes that question further. In the movie Bladerunner, and the novel 1984 by George Orwell the photgraph is a big focus. It is used to judge what is real and what is not. In the novel, there is a major theme: he who controls the past, controls the present, and he who controls the present, controls the future. In this sense, photographs are very touchy subjects. A photograph is a living moment in the past which is now dead. In the book, whenever the party wants the public to believe something new, they change all records in the past concerning that event. In a sense, they erase that part of the past by destroying the evidence: a photograph. A specific example is the photograph Winston has of three men who betrayed the party. he is asked to change the old newspaper documents. After these men have been reformed, they are executed and "vaporized" from society. No record of them will exist and, in doing so, they never existed. This ideology is very hard for Winston to swallow. He held a photograph of these three men in his hand. He knew they existed, but, after their death, no one else did. The idea of the party changing the past by erasing hard evidence gives us an example of the blurred line between fact and fiction. By removing the evidence, their existence is fictional. It is Winston's word against the party's. The idea of controlling the past to control the future is also present in Bladerunner. In the movie, this Bladerunner looks to his photographs to remember his past. They represent hard evidence of the life he has led. But he begins to realize that these may not be real picturs. They may not be his memories. Like the memories of Rachael, they may simply be implanted in his head to make him feel human. It sllows the humans on earth to possess a perfect weapon against the run-away Replicants: create one that thinks he is human to catch others of his kind without feeling guilty about killing its own kind. In the end, that is the case. The blurred line between reality and fiction lies completely in the photograph with the hidden motive of control by the ruling class, and also the allegorical sense of reality versus fiction is our postmodern society. As Jose Chung states, "truth is as subjective as reality." (Grade: 10).
Section III Choose one of the following two questions and write a detailed response in essay form. (40 points). [Note: I am here presenting the best response to question A since about 90% of the class chose to write on this topic. Click on the following text to access the essay.]
A) Donna Haraway states that "Monsters have always defined the limits of community in Western imaginations" (180). And yet, we are presented in this course with "monsters" that are little different from ourselves: the aliens that turn out to be government agents in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"; the Borg who could be read as a reflection of the Federation or as the evil double of Data; the serial killer in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" who is as "scripted" as anyone else in the episode; Bladerunner's Replicants who are, as Tyrell states, "more human than human"; and, of course, Victor Frankenstein's creature in Mary Shelley's novel. Discussing three works, explain why these examples of science fiction move away from the tendency (for example in fantasy) to represent monsters as the opposite of that which is human. What is significant about this alignment of monsters with ourselves? Click on this colored text for two sample responses.
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