Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jimmy's Technology

The theme of technology and its impacts strikes us once again in F.C. Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth. There is technology from the way the book is set up to the theme of the World’s Fair in Chicago to even when the Jimmy was playing hide n’ go seek around the same time of his grandma’s funeral.

First, lets talk about the way the book was set up. Inside the front cover is a picture description that tells the reader how to read the book. I didn’t notice this off the bat, so I had to learn on my own, and it too me a few pages. The book is different then any of the other books we have read in class or I have read in my life. You can’t just read left to right. There are different size frames. There could be four small frames (two on top and two on bottom) making up a square equal in size to the frame just to the right. You would have to read the two top frames, left to right and then the bottom two frames left to right and then move on to the bigger frame on the right. Sometimes, Ware decided to mix up the pattern of reading, but luckily for us he inserted arrows to direct us along.

For a good chunk of the book, we learn about Jimmy Corrigan’s grandfather’s experiences growing up around the time of the World Fair in Chicago. This was the time when electricity was introduced to the world via Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse (“Worlds”). General Electric proposed to power the fair via direct current at a cost of one million dollars, but was out bid by Westinghouse by half a million dollars. The fair was then powered by Tesla’s high frequency and high voltage alternating current (“World’s). Jimmy’s great grandfather mentions that if it weren’t for the electricity, the work would have never gotten done in time for the World Fair.

Also, this fair represented the technique of how a city should be built. The Chicago World Fair “was, in large part, designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was the prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a city should be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely, European Classical Architecture principles based on symmetry and balance (“World’s”). The World Fair referenced a new “technique” (referencing the Greek root techne’ of technology) in designing and building a city. Also in the city, was the world’s largest building, the building with the dome that was imaged through out the book. It was the same building which Jimmy’s grandfather and his friend snuck up to the top of. Also, it was the same building in which Jimmy’s great grandfather ran out on Jimmy’s grandfather and left him alone on top of the world’s tallest building.

During the funeral of Jimmy’s great-great grandmother, Grandfather Jimmy and two of his friends were playing hide n’ go seek in the yard. The text reads as follows,
Fortunately, for these children a recent planting of trees, telephone poles, and houses on their bleak neighborhood landscape helps to make their game much more exciting. After all, who’d want to play hide & go seek in a swamp? A half century earlier, the only place to secret yourself around here might’ve been in a depression in the ground or behind an indian on horseback. But with the inevitable forward march of progress comes new ways of hiding things, and new things to hide.
So as progress moves forward, technology also moves forward and the landscape and the world are changing. They are changing from wilderness to farmlands and cities. This changing gives rise to new places to hide, not only in hide n’ go seek but also now places to hide out and get away from everything. When Jimmy goes to visit his dad, he leaves and hides from his job and his smothering mother. Ironically, it is also the technology that allows for the job and his smothering mother.

Going back to the root word, techne’ of technology, we can point out another new technique that has risen. Towards the end of the book, we are introduced to Jimmy’s sister, Amy. She is a colored girl adopted by two white parents. This technique of raising a family is certainly new and this technique poses a constant struggle from the interactions of Amy and Grandpa to the interactions with the hospital staff after her dad was in the car accident.

I started with discussing the new technique of how to read this book, and I want to finish it by talking about the book itself. On the fourth to last page entitled “Corrigenda,” Ware discusses his relationship with his father. He symbolized his life and relationship with his father through that of Jimmy Corrigan in weekly comic strips. He mentions that most people who want to write about their life experiences do so in a memoir type format. He wanted to do something different. So, he created this book out of those comic strips. He planned on giving a copy to his father, but unfortunately unable to do so due to his fathers sudden death. Like Jimmy Corrigan, Ware was robbed of using technology to express his true feelings about his relationship with his father to his father.

Works Cited

"World's Columbian Exposition." Wikipedia. 2008. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 28 Oct 2008 .


KaraG said...

Your paper is good because it has some outside sources and sticks with what you want to say. The thing I noticed is that you need a stronger conclusion. You kind of just ended the paper with a body paragraph. Perhaps if you could wrap up what you were trying to tell us in your paper at the end it would make it stronger. You could even try to restate your thesis if you wanted. Also, I think that the introduction needs better sentencing. It was really broad to me. Maybe if you add a few more sentences about what you are trying to show us it would be make it better.
I was kind of confused about the second paragraph. I wasn’t sure if you were implying that this is a sort of technology that he uses or you were just telling us that. If it was the first option you should maybe say its about technology in Corrigan. If it was the second one, it could be just fluff and you might want to take out that paragraph or reword it because it didn’t seem like it was in the right place.
Lastly, I really liked the last couple paragraphs and they really tie into your thesis about technology. The first couple for me (paragraphs 2,3,4) feels like your not really putting your opinion or trying to prove anything just kind of telling us a summary about stuff. If you wanted to add some sentences about your thoughts to tie it all together that would be good, too.

Adam Johns said...

You cover a variety of interesting territory here, but it isn't your best work - it lacks focus. An ideal strategy would have been to take one of the ideas you touch on only briefly (for instance, the Edison/Tesla thing) and work with it in more depth, pushing yourself toward a full-fledged argument.