mot o rot

Thursday, March 23, 2006

STORY BOARD

Abstract

yup its going to be very scientific like... stating major concepts explored and conclusions made
aiming for something concise and in plain language.

Intro

Introduce Neodarwinian theory (Modern evolutionary synthesis) possibly with an example application to text (ClockWorkOrange most likely)

Current proponents of Darwinian criticism- Carroll etc... my criticism of their work .. apart from it being psuedo science crap
Arguement for the need of a new way of reading texts (pschosexual/Freudian explored to the death etc) Relevance -- new way of discerning reader/author relationship and purpose of literature in general through investigating how it all sits with current scientific thought.

PARA 1. Meme—introduce concept

Novel as a successful meme

Cultural virusus –insiduous pervasive contagious memes relgion pop culture indoctrination—CWO nadsat sublimination of communist idealogy through language etc

2. Meaning and Nihilism

Religious/secularism

Fear of nihilism and determinism and the Novel’s place in battle against these ominous notions E.POWERS

Act of creation/ usurpation (Alien Resurrection, The Machine Stops, Frankenstein)

Authors personal fight for meaning/validation/verification of purpose : literature fascilitates illusion of meaning, design etc author as aspirant God, Reliogion (mincheanism duality) morality

Penal system-punishment detterance (recurrant them in Burgess’s novels)

TWSeed

Subversion of Christian salvation

Heaven—limbo(jail) released into hell world!!! Antichrist releases souls from jail instead … Aaah



Brainstorm for titles for my Essay:

Some kind of play on “The Origin of Species’ or ‘Descent of man’ would be good

'Darwin made me do it' --- not really suitable for a title but somewhat apt.

Nihilistic Projectories

…..hurled into the future blindly coursing through the universe curbed by natural selection

(hmmm obscure an pretentious much)


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One Man's Meat

Apart from being a nice song by Fad Gadget, One Man's Meat has frighteningly wide applications.

On TWSeed's first page one of the men who process Roger's corpse in the Phosphorus Reclamation Department sings a pop song with macabre undertones

'My adorable Fred:
He's so, so sweet,
From the crown of his head
To the soles of his feet.
He's my meat'

The fate of Roger's little body is to be converted to chemical and be 'silently fed to the earth' in the form of phosphorus pentoxide. This is a strange subversion of the sentiment of 'ashes to ashes' returning Adam to the soil whence he came, into a callous business transaction, the state pays condolences in cash, 'The day of the pawning of the flat-iron was over; the State condoned infanticide.' Beatrice-Joanna wishes 'poor Roger's body could have been thrown into those tigrine waters, swept out to be gnawed by fish.' (echoing a desire for some form of baptism to seagod Pelagius or Morgan)Be part of a natural life cycle, The earth is dying but 'The sea spelled life, whispered or shouted fertility; that voice could never be completely stilled.'
In many creation myths water is the primordial source of life, yet also destructive - drowning, flooding.
"The sea drunk with its own blue flesh, a hydra, biting its tail.' Infinite.

'She felt full of the sea, as of some huge satifsfying round dish of wobly blue-green marbled meat. She wondered vaguely, leaving the shop, what meat had tasted like. Her moth recollected only the salt of live human skin in a purely amatory context - lobes, fingerslips. 'He's my meat,' sang the song about adorable Fred.'

And now we come to Theophagy

"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."


....and in The Wanting Seed this gets rather sticky, because not only is there actually cannabilism but the links between Eucharist and cannabilism are made explicit, and as one rises savagely among the populace the other makes a conventient resurgance. A critique of human nature bared to bone- compelled by necessity, primal survival instinct. The following extract makes it pretty clear:

'Oh,' said Llwewlyn, cutting, this chap was born, you see. Then he was killed by being hung up on a tree, and then he was eaten.'
'Now, for a start,' said Shonny, 'He wasn't a chap'
'A man, the,' said Llewelyn. 'But a man's a chap.'
'The Son of God,' said Shonny, banging the table.
'God and man. And He wasn't waten when He was killed. He went straight up to heaven. Now, you're half-right about the eating. God bless your heart, but it's ourselves that do the eating. When we have mass we eat His body and drink His blood. But they're disguised - do you see are you listening to what I'm telling you? - as bread and wine.'
'When He comes again,' said Llewelyn, snipping, 'will He be eaten properly?.
'What, now,' asked Shonny, 'would you be meaning by that strange statement?'
'Eaten,' said Llewelyn, 'like Ji Whittle was eaten.' He started cutting a new leaf, intent on it. 'Will it be like that, Dad?'
'What's all this?' said Shonny, agitated. 'What's all this you're saying about somebody being eaten? Come on now, speak up child.' He shook the boy's shoulder, but Llewelyn went on cutting calmly.
'He didn't come to school,' he said. 'His mother and dad cut him up and ate him.' [....]

'But if you eat this chap who's God,' said Llewelyn stoutly, 'how can it be horrible? If its all right to eat God why is it horrible toeat JimWhittle?'
'Because,' said Dymphna reasonably, 'if you eat God there's alway's plenty left. You can't eat God up because God just goes on and on and on and God can't ever be finished. You silly clot,' she added and then went on cutting holly leaves.'

'Man is a carnivore, just as man is a breeder. The two are cognate ad the two have been long suppressed. Put the two together and you have no rational cause for suppression.'


"Eucharaistic ingestion is our aswer"(p.167) just as receiveing holy comunion is an act of love for the Lord, cannabilism is just an extension of corporeal love.
This is of course in reference to human meat, 'officially tinned pork', that also serves to break the fast in procreation by effectively solving the population problem by killing of thousands of unwitting soldiers in mock yet entirely fatal warfare.
In a bout of dyspepsia (p.169) (with which Burgess himself was afflicted) 'the meat growled in his stomach; he belched an utterance that sounded like 'paternity lust' (p.170)



Shooting from the hip....


Sperm becomes a weapon of mass destrucion when the world is fighting not terror but overpopulation.. at least in the Wanting Seed. And consequently curvaceous bodies, fecundity and multipara's are scorned and feared. So by hyperbolic deduction religious (and to a lesser extent sporting) doctrine of sexual deprivation, sin of masturbation, espousal of misogyny etc especially when coupled with promises of virgins awaiting heroes in paradise subsequent eroticisation of power and violence, leads to terrorism.
Read an interesting essay 'Revenge of the Radical Loser' by Ian Buruma (Sydney Morning Herald March 18-19,2006 Spectrum p.16-17) on sexual frustration and its violent consequences... specifically extremism which includes a breif critique of Seventeen by Kenzaburo Oe (which I think I should read and would be a valuable aside in my Crit.Response)

Alex's paternity Lust and Violent Compulsions..... Sexual repression in TWSeed

OK... so we have the Greyboys and the Millicents the corrupt police forces of the two novels.
Police force of ACWO is effectively just another teenage gang, violence under the auspices of mainting law and order as Alex's former droogs find. The Greyboys delight in violence:
'Five young greyboys, lit by a streetlamp, were laughing beating up a bewildered-looking old man who appeared, from his lack of response to the slaps and truncheonings, anaesthetized by alc. He seeed also, a Neronian Nazarene set upon by tittering lions, to be singing a hymn.' p.64 TWSeed
The lipsticked greyboys are reminsicent of Nazi brownshirts and other fascist extremist groups were homosexuality is common, except that in The Wanting Seeds England homosexuality is promoted as a way of subordinating selfish reproductive urges to the will of the state in the face of dire overpopulation, and becomes linked to distancing oneself from the weaknesses of the female sex - violence becomes their only masculine outlet. I read some snippets from Political Inversions: Homosexuality, Fascism, & the Modernist Imaginary by Andrew Hewitt.

The Alien films show us a world devoid of the values of humanism, individuals are expendible, conventiant masses of tissue for alien incubation, not even valuable in many examples even to themselves (the fatalism (and evil) of Gedimen)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

ZOOBIES


The words 'teeth' or' tooth' are used 61 times in Earthly Powers -- I found this out through searchinside tool on amazon.

Many more references to teeth using other words however- it is a definite motif, that re-occurs in Honey for the Bears and The Wanting Seed, especially the falling out of teeth, dentures and generally a lot of whining. Losing teeth and pain are linked to impotence as according to The Wordsworth Dictionary of Symbolism teeth often symnolise procreation, sexual potency and sperm and there is a relationship between sexual vitality and canabilism (the desire to eat one's lover) especially pertinent in TWSeed.

Toomey remembers being in bed, with his mother's arms around him when his father, grinning with 'mock ferocity'

Thrusting the tooth toward my hidden genitals. "Remember this, boy, remember to look after your pegs." There was a fire (why?) blazing in the bedroom grate, and he untonged the molar and let it drop among the coals. Then he waved the tongs at me, making a dull metallic castanetting, and went out singing. Was that what they called the primal scene, or something?
The pulling out of the young Toomey's molar is an act of castration spurred by his dentist-father's Oedipal rage.Havelock Ellis (a fellow man of letters) then explains that this is a usefull explanation for his 'aberation', albiet irrational (and likens it to false etymology)

"....Dim yanked out his false zoobies, upper and lower. He threw these down on the pavement and then I treated them to the old boot-crush, though they were hard bastards like, being made of some new horrorshow plastic stuff."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

DARWIN MADE ME DO IT

'Nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to [our] eyes'

Pierre de Laplace


Newtonian universe, quantifiable, predictable - mechanistic- like a giant clockwork 'unwinding along a rigid, predetermined pathway towards an unalterable final state'-- led to determinism. This is aligned with neodarwinian theory (as if it is lagging behind contemporary physical theory), as humans/all animals are survival machines/ vehicles for replicating molecules (genes), caught up in the mechanism of natural selection.

then along came...

Quantum physics
relativity of time and space
unquantifiable Heisenberg's uncertainty principle- states that there is an irreducible indeterminism in the operation of subatomic particles/systems
no 'objective reality'

Determinists argue that free will is only possible in a deterministic universe. - You will events to happen/ not chance. And the activities of a person are determined by character, personality- which are in turn determined by the dynamic interaction between inherited characteristics and the environment. Thus, the decision in itself is predetermined
Thus from fear springs mind-body dualism (descendant from Plato's Forms, Aristotle -clarified by Descartes) vs reductive materialism (interestingly this dualism has a parallel in matters wave- particle duality resolved by quantum mechanics)
no universal time


Am i sounding like a broken record?


In the selfish gene Dawkins deliberates on human power to defy the selfish imperitave of our genes,
''We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism - something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators."
Richard Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene'



On a completly irrelevant note chapter 10 of Dawkin's The Extended Phenotype is called 'An Agony in 5 fits' and I think thats pretty neat.

IT'S SAPIENS TO BE HOMO

The representation of Homosexuality in The Wanting Seed
Burgess presents homosexuality and war as equally disturbing solutions to Malthusian catastrophe.
"I have never had homosexual proclivities, and I do not well understand what causes the inversion, which goes against biology." [Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess(1986)]

Homosexuality=Denial of biological imperative, through eyes of Catholicism means towards redemption-Original Sin, sin of the flesh with no redeeming end.

"I wish I could approve of homosexuality, but I'm enough of a Catholic to regard [it] as an aberration, as the spending of seed in barren places....I don't know why...it exists....it's not natural. I've just been reading Aldous Huxley's essay about parrots, which imitate human speech, although they don't have the apparatus and there's no earthly biological reason for it....This is like homosexuality. What is nature up to here? Only God would be interested in playing such games with nature – in making parrots speak, or homosexuality. "[remarks to Duncan Fallowell, quoted in Roger Lewis, Anthony Burgess (2002)]


St Augustine held that involvement in Adam's guilt and punishment takes effect through the dependence of human procreation on the sexual passion, in which the spirit's inability to control flesh is evident. In the Gus phase after the orgiastic rites and bacchanalian chaos (coinciding with rise of cannibalistic dining clubs) of Interphase, the Ministry of Infertility is abolished and military service, against an unnamed enemy (actually overpopulation) where soldiers die in mass graves and are harvested for tinned man flesh to feed others equally doomed.

"War and sex. Babies and bullets 'In the old days,' she used, I'd have been told that I've already exceeded my ration. And now your Ministry [of fertility] tells me that I've not fulfilled my quota. Mad." [Beatrice Joanna V i p.218]

Novel ends at Sea-- Pelagius/Morgan= man of the sea

"I was brought up a Catholic, became an agnostic, flirted with Islam and now hold a position which may be termed Manichee…I believe the wrong God is temporarily ruling the world and the true God has gone under. Thus I am a pessimist but believe the world has much solace to offer: love, food, music, the immense variety of race and language, literature and the pleasure of artistic creation." [Anthony Burgess, The New York Times obituary, Nov. 26, 1993]


A Clockwork Orange and TWSeed are characterised by Manichean dualism-
obvious dichotomies:
Homo/Straight
In/Fertility
Pelagian/Augustian


This does not apply to morality-- only opposites of Morality/Ammorality ie:Tristram finds great generosity and compassion amoung murderers and cannibals

Man·i·chae·ism (măn'ĭ-kē'ĭz'əm) pronunciationalso Man·i·chae·an·ism (-kē'ə-nĭz'əm)
n.
1.
The syncretic, dualistic religious philosophy taught by the Persian prophet Manes, combining elements of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Gnostic thought and opposed by the imperial Roman government, Neo-Platonist philosophers, and orthodox Christians.

2.A dualistic philosophy dividing the world between good and evil principles or regarding matter as intrinsically evil and mind as intrinsically good.

Manichaeism

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Genes, those nasty fascist things...

Nihilism, and hedonism are left to fill the void left by the collapse of messianic socialism (akin to Pelagianism in The Wanting Seed) and the demise of religious belief. This corresesponds with the asscendancy of Darwinian evolutionary theory and the current reactionary movement of fundamentalist religion, the espousal of intelligent design etc-- in order to reject the nihilism and (percieved increase of 'imm-') ammorality that ensued.

In TWSeed and Alien Ressurection struggle for survival- focus. Ripley exhibits altruistic behaviour through kin selection mechanism, sharing genetic material with the aliens makes her feel their pain- supporting genecentric theory- gene's of Ripley's coding for her to sympathise with those that share her genes and prompts altruistic behaviour which enhances the fitness of biological relatives yet lowers her own the behavior would be selected for because they increase the inclusive fitness of her genes, the selfish replicators (genes) may expend with one vehicle (Ripley) in order to assist replicas of itself in other bodies.


R x B > C

where:
R
= the genetical relatedness of the recipient to the actor, usually defined as the probability that a gene picked randomly from each at the same locus is identical by descent
B = the additional reproductive benefit gained by the recipient of the 'altruistic' act,
C
= the reproductive cost to the individual of performing the act.


Kin selection, Wikipedia
The insect-like alien brood with queen etc. fortifies this theory as the nonreproducing aliens sacrifice themselves for the queen as she ensure the reproduction of (high percentage of) their genes. This from EvoWiki:
'Hymenopterans (ants, bees, wasps) have an interesting wrinkle: they are haplodiploid, with males being haploid and females being diploid. Concomitantly, female hymenopterans are more closely related to their sisters than to their offspring (2/3 for having the same father vs. 1/2). This circumstance predisposes worker females to care for their queens' offspring.' 'Altruism' from EvoWiki.org
This theory of Kin Selection also explains the evolution of multicellularity (microbial co-operation in the form of colonial organism) multicellular organism = collection of genetiacally identical individual cells, though morphologically different through cellular differentiation by the activation or inactivation of genes. An insect colony is analogous to a multicellelar organsim, where worker insects represent somatic cells which are subordinate or act altruistically - to increase replication of replicas of their genes by sex cells- the equavalent to a Queen bee.

The hyper morality of Call-'No human being is that humane'
RIPLEY
Why do you care what happens to them?

CALL
(smacks lips) Because I'm programmed to. (imposed morality (superego-law etc)
vs heritable morality+ implications for freewill)


RIPLEY
You're programmed to be an asshole?

CALL
(chuckles)

RIPLEY
You're the new asshole model (chuckling) they're putting
out?


A well written little review from physicsroom.org.nz:

"[Body fluids] affront a subject's aspiration towards autonomy and self-identity. They attest to a certain irreducable 'dirt' or disgust, a horror of the unknown or the unspecifiable that permeates, lurks, lingers, and at times leaks out of the body, a testament to the fraudulence and impossibility of the 'clean' and 'proper.' They are engulfing, difficult to be rid of...(Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies)
From the opening sequence of Jean Pierre Jeunet's Alien Resurrection (Alien 4), depicting a human face in extreme closeup undulating and rippling, an expansive mass of amorphous matter, it is clear the form (or lack of form) that horror will take in this film. Before going to see Alien Resurrection I was told by friends who had already seen the film that a dominant characteristic of the movie was its' 'wetness,' and indeed the aliens in this instalment are significantly less solid than those of past productions. Their slick exoskeletons drip and ooze viscid fluid, and they excrete boundless quantities of transparent mucus from unknown orifices and glands.
Like the first three instalments of the Alien series, much of the tension in Alien Resurrection arises from a confrontation with this gooey, undifferentiated, seeping matter. The film's lingering shots of alien excreta point to the biological functions of the alien body as a primary site of horror in the film, it's leakages and expulsions a source of both fascination and dread. Like The Blob, The Fly, and Scanners, Alien Resurrection is a sci-fi horror film with 'abject body movie' written all over it." Jonathan Nicol, 6 March 1998

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Toomey (Earthly Powers)
"I went back to my novel, crumpled the sheet I had started, and forced the characters back into total servitute to my will. Slaves, sort of, with only the illusion of freedom. Like all of us."

Anthony Burgess wrote in the New York Times
"It is the Godlike task of the novelist to create human beings whom we accept as living creatures filled with complexities and armed with free will' - Fictional characters and their lives, delicately moulded to resemble real life (or credible alternate) perhaps to substantiate the delusion of purpose. They represent 'life by design', not acts and identity as products prescribed by genetics and experience, every action of a charater in a novel every line spoken, thought revealed is a product of the author's (optomistic, delusional or in the case of Burgess cynical) will, carefully orchestrated to produce a work of meaning.
the fantasy of a world with purpose and the author (and readers) claim to meaning
Works of literature support a nihilistic world view by their very existance, necessary to fill a void/defy nihilism and resynthesise the events of life/human nature et into some meaning-rendering design- (ultimate form the novel?)

This directly from my proposal:

My critical response will be a work of neo-Darwinian-criticism, investigating the nihilist sentiments of my chosen texts through dissecting narrative, themes, language and character under the microscope of modern evolutionary theory.

To demonstrate, in the case of A Clockwork Orange, what appears to be a triumphant vindication of the value of free-will and a rejection of nihilism, when one reduces Alex to a phenotype, a product of his DNA and environment; his pre-Ludovico (which is somewhat analogous to eugenic experimentation) actions appear not the result of free-will but predetermined by millennia of evolution and random probability. At the close of the novel, his bloodlust wanes as he develops what Burgess calls in The Wanting Seed a ‘paternity lust’. Previously an embodiment of immoral nihilism Alex now, recognizing his biological purpose, his morality emerges as he becomes the vehicle of gene replication, now compelling him
to find a mate, in apparent conflict with the view that the theory of evolution is a ‘universal acid’ a ‘solvent algorithm that deprives nature of purpose' (Daniel Dennet). Through analysis of these texts I will attempt to contend with this apparent contradiction with the premise that morality, the fundament concepts of good, evil, etc. are at most, (and yet critically) an instrumentally useful illusion, that is either a heritable characteristic that has evolved or as a meme (a unit of cultural transmission analogous to the gene) has been selected for as a psychological adaptation promoting its own replication and that of populations (and individuals within those cultures) with ethical foundations. With the basic premise that humans (all living organisms in fact) are elaborate vehicles for gene replication, my provisional aim is to investigate the nihilist sentiments of my chosen texts.

The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits can be interpreted as an extended metaphor for life, the existential torment of being. Carroll prefaces the poem by appealing to the ‘strong moral purpose’ and arithmetical principles and ‘its noble teachings in natural history.’ The crew’s voyage into the unknown, and their quest to find a Snark, their map ‘A perfect and absolute blank’ can represent humanity’s vain pursuit of meaning, truth for alas ‘the Snark was a Boojum’ representing void, the end of all searching, an entirely nihilistic sentiment. The Barrister’s dream condemns suicide, perhaps like Camu, Carroll perpetually conscious of the ultimate futility of life believes that despite the impossibility of a quest for truth morality and meaning are necessary illusions as suicide is never justified.

I will also explore where this Darwinian perspective leaves the concepts of Gender- particularly pertinent in Orlando as Sally Potter denies the biological nature of gender and paints it as a cultural construct.



Sunday, February 19, 2006


Moloko plus

Ok, redefining my Critical Response, as an exercise.

In my proposal (oral presentation) I proposed an essay of neo-Darwinian-criticism on The Hunting of the Snark(Lewis Carroll), Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed, Alien Resurrection and the Sally Potter's film adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Now the focus is going to be more on Burgess, as I am currently tackling his tome Earthly Powers, which is really very funny and I am diverging from a path that would comfortably encompass Carroll's nonsense ballad (which is sad because it would have livened it up, but anywho.) I say neoDarwinian to differentiate my scientific source-point of analysis from Darwinian theory pre-modern synthesis and place it within current thought articulated in the writings of Richard Dawkins (the primary exponent of gene-centric evolutionary theory), Daniel Dennet, Stephen Pinker, Paul Davies and Stephen Jay Gould (and possibly other post ‘William’s revolution’ neo-Darwinists.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

From the mouth of a dedicated student


I'm creating this page, to trick myself into doing some work. Reading others' blogs, wikipedia, scouring ebay etc are a diversion from my homework which is getting a little out of control. I need discipline. So
mot o rot is to serve as my English Extension 2 Journal. The best chair in my room will no longer lead me to mindlessly flittering the hours away (climbing to a schizophrenic frenzy and panic ) but hopefully to some productive distraction.... if thats possible