Thursday, December 11, 2008
Narrative and Technology
Deckard's Loss of Humanity in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Rick Deckard is actively destroying his own humanity piece by piece, while Rachael and Isadore both are a stable middle ground, despite their definitions as non-human.
Rachael's humanity is established in the beginning of the novel, despite being immediately refuted. She almost passes the Voigt-Kampff test, but fails with Deckard's final question. Although she is established as an android, she expresses many more human characteristics throughout the novel to balance out Deckard. She immediately has regret in her discovery of what she truly is, a much more human response than the uninhibited confidence Deckard has in his sense of purpose. Through their various encounters, she attempts to prohibit Deckard from his own ultimate destruction, but is unsuccessful. No matter what she tells him, he continues on his assigned mission, and effectively destroys the various aspects of what it is to be human.
Isadore, on the other hand, does not directly interact with Deckard until the end of his mission, but serves as an antithesis to him throughout. He cannot determine the differences between what is human or what is an android, as is shown in his attempt to save a cat that he believes to be an android but is actually a living creature. Later, he goes on to give shelter to a group of androids who he perceives to have true emotions and purpose, and through his actions he shows true compassion. He is the antithesis to Deckard; he does not see a black and white difference between something artificial and something organic. Instead of having these clear definitions, he sees what is beyond the exterior and what is truly the essence of a living creature.
Deckard's destruction of his own humanity is broken into three steps, embodied by the androids which he actively hunts down and "retires". The first sign of his dehumanization is his willingness to obey the commands that are given him, regardless of any doubts he has about their morality. Much like an android, he is given commands, and obeys them. Throughout the novel, doubts do arise for him, but he pushes them to the side to complete his mission.
His first target is Polokov, which is basic human interaction. His existence is described through his job as another agent working for the Soviets, and Deckard's association with him is their mutual job of hunting down renegade androids. They have very basic conversations before Deckard realizes the truth about Polokov, which is when he kills off this part of himself through retiring Polokov. Deckard loses his trust for those around him, and so the most base form of his interactions with others is also destroyed; without trust he loses his ability to experience normal interaction with those around him.
After he disposes of this part of himself, Deckard moves on to Luba Luft, who is an opera singer, the empbodiment of art. He first sees her from her performance, and realizes that she truly is something beautiful within the world, and questions the need to retire her. Though she is an android, she is a creative force and an expression of inner self. In destroying her, Deckard is also destroying his own creativity, and moves further away from his humanity. He is faced with the decision as to whether it is better to follow the orders assigned to him or destroy something that is beautiful in the world, and his decision to follow orders that are black and white forces his mind further into a world that is inhuman and devoid of creativity.
Deckard's final target is Roy Baty, a leader of an idea that is greater than himself. Baty is the embodiment of the belief in a cause that is not just functionality. He has given those around him a sense of purpose that they can determine for themselves, rather than purpose that is a directive that must be followed. Deckard kills Baty in total darkness, furthering his descent into a completely black and white world; there are no shades of grey for Baty's destruction, just a directive that must be followed. This is the final destruction of Deckard's humanity, as he destroys the possibility for the belief in a cause, he simply does as instructed.
As Deckard completes his dehumanization, he has become that which he initially was sent out to destroy; he is no longer a thinking, feeling being, but is instead something that is told a directive and follows it. He exists within a world that has no middle ground or shades of grey, and has become his own conception of God. Throughout the novel Mercer is a form of God for him, and Mercer is a pre-programed God, forced to follow the directives which have been sent to him. By becoming this, Deckard can no longer associate with the normal passions of humans. In the end, Deckard has become what he sought to destroy and can never return to the humanity he sought to save.
Narrative and Technology
House of Leaves as a Reworking of Greek Tragedy
Danielewski’s House of Leaves reworks the classic Greek tragedy through the exploration of the three narrators and their relations to the two recurring myths of the Minotaur and Echo. Much like these myths, their fates are inescapable, and the measures they take to avoid them only expediate their fulfillment.
The main mythological characters that are explored are Minos, Theseus, the Minotaur, Echo, and Narcissus, and each of the narrators (Navidson, Zampano, and Truant), all have aspects of these characters inherent within them. This reflection is similar but different for each of them, much like the idea of the echo within words and literature is explored in the novel.
Navidson’s exploration of his House is essentially an exploration of his self, and through this exploration the existence of the flaws of each mythical character arises. To begin with, Minos exists within him as he builds the labyrinth that is his hallway; at first it is merely an inch that is off within his home and then begins to grow larger and larger, until it is more expansive than the diameter of the Earth. Much as Minos did, this is his distancing of himself from Karen and his children. Chad, especially, ventures further and further from Navidson’s House, just as Navidson ventures further in. As the House is Navidson, the more he becomes absorbed in himself the further his child is from him, just as Minos was absorbed in his own image and distanced himself from a child that did not fit in with his self-conception.
As for Theseus, his connection to Navidson lies in their personalities, which is the necessity of the pursuit. Just as Theseus pursues the minotaur, Navidson hunts down a defining photograph through each of his journeys. However, Navidson is directly tied to the variation on the story of the Minotaur that is expressed through a play in the novel, in which Theseus in fact is killing something misunderstood and beautiful, something that is trapped forever in one moment by a single act (110-111). This is Navidson's Delial. By capturing his prize-winning photograph, he is destroying that which gives his own rise to fame, but unlike Theseus, he is forever haunted by this singular moment for he knew the true beauty of the creature which he was slaying. He is trapped in pursuit from then on, but his pursuit is to define a moment without destroying it. He is still the hunter, but his hunt is self-destruction rather than the destruction of the external.
The Minotaur itself is the idea of the beast, something that is defined as unnatural and undesirable, whether misunderstood or not. For Navidson, this is his repression of his memory of Delial, and he himself is in many ways the beast. He sees all of his own misgivings in the photograph that won him his fame, and cannot separate his success from his failure to save a child. Because of this, he sees himself as the beast, as a killer of children, which is perhaps why he is constantly distant from his own children; he is oblivious to the fact that in so doing he is killing his relationship with them.
From the context of the story of Echo and Narcissus, therefore, Navidson must be viewed as Narcissus. His self-absorption blinds him to what truly is asked of him, and he can only look inwards, into his House, his psyche. Though he does so with the best of intentions, to bring his family further together, he cannot see what they truly require from him, his attention, much the same as Narcissus' inability to give his attention to something other than his own reflection.
This is not to say that Echo isn't a part of Navidson as well, however. Just as Echo was robbed of a voice that she could give through anything other than the repetition of something outside of her, so too is Navidson. His only voice comes through that of his films and photographs, said in the novel to most likely be a result of his distance from his family as a child. Without the context that surrounds it, he does not have a voice, and so anything he shows through his lens is necessarily missing some human aspect. This further depicts the impossibility of his gaining of a normal family; he chooses to film their every interaction in their new House, "just lots of toothpaste, gardening, and people stuff"(8). Even in interviews with him in the novel, it is prefaced with them being included in his film.
Zampano's characteristics are more hidden than Navidson's or Truant's, as he never truly has a voice within the novel. Instead, his voice is expressed in what parts of Navidson's film he chooses to create an account of as well as what others have to say about him.
However, just as Navidson does, he creates his own labyrinth, and so shares a similar tie to Minos. He builds around him a comprehensive study of everything having to do with Navidson's film and personal life, replacing his own personal life with one that only involves others when he needs books read or pictures explained to him regarding Navidson. As he is blind, his labyrinth is the world he builds for himself regarding The Navidson Record, an impenetrable mass of knowledge that bends back upon itself and has no straight path through it. This can be seen in his footnotes, constantly doubling back upon themselves and forcing old thoughts back to the surface, overlapping and complicating the knowledge he has.
The trait of pursuit also lies within Zampano, but his does not seek out a singular moment to define and reconcile all as Navidson does. Instead, he attempts to find every single detail that can be explored in Navidson's work, and keeps seeking more and more minutia so that there is an endless ammount of knowledge to be gained with no clear ending. It seems as though he continued actively pursuing this knowledge until his final moments. Though Truant describes this as his graphomania, it is more an obsession with the acquisition of knowledge, or more appropriately, an obsession with the act of acquiring knowledge.
Zampano's relation to Narcissus is more of a forced one, as he has no choice but to look towards himself due to his lack of vision. However, unlike Narcissus, he does not look at his physical appearance, but rather his mental one, exploring his own affliction through Navidson's film. His focus on the blackness that Navidson explores is a personal one, as he is constantly surrounded by darkness himself, and it becomes an obsession that consumes him. Just as Narcissus became blind to the world around him (besides his own reflection), Zampano becomes doubly blind; he is blind to the fact that he is consumed by his work and no longer sees any aspect of life besides the work that he ceaselessly pursues.
It is in this way that Echo is embodied within Zampano as well. By looking through Navidson's work and trying to repeat it in some way, he is forced to only speak through someone else's voice, someone else's vision. Also, as the idea was explored in the novel, Zampano seems to realize this, and attempts to demonstrate that even through perfect repetition, a different meaning is conveyed as shown in footnote 49 of his work (42). He cannot escape this however, just as Echo was cursed to only speak the end of others' sentences and thoughts. Instead of an outside curse though, he has cursed himself, but still cannot escape his need to speak through Navidson's work.
Truant also shares the traits of these mythological characters, beginning with Minos. The labyrinth that he builds begins with his discovery of Zampano's trunk, and he is immediately faced with the choice as to whether or not he should pursue its contents. Just as Minos first had to make the choice to hide his deformed son, Truant makes the choice to explore its contents, and so begins his labyrinth and his own descent into it. Unlike Minos, he is in fact burying himself within his labyrinth, or rather, his own inner self. It is revealed throughout the novel that he is a compulsive liar, and never truly reveals his innermost self to those around him, hiding it behind substances and false stories of glory. Through the exploration of Zampano's trunk, he begins to truly explore himself, and so reveals his own problems to his readers. As a consequence of discovering what is inside of himself, he loses all interactions outside of himself. He is effectively burying himself within his own labyrinth; his inner self is his Minotaur.
This can be further explained in his relationship to Theseus, as he is in pursuit of his inner self that he has repressed over the years. He hunts this self through Zampano's work, and explores the labyrinthine pages of the trunk until he can find what it is that has defined him over the years; he hunts this down to the point of obsession. However, this trait of pursuit also goes into his relationships with others. Both he and Lude are in constant pursuit of various women, and one in particular becomes an obsession for Truant: Thumper. Thumper is the princess that Theseus wishes to obtain by slaying the Minotaur. Truant delves further and further into the depths of Zampano's work, trying to find himself, in some attempt to remove his issues so that he can obtain Thumper. Their first true encounter involves a conversation about Truant's work with Zampano's trunk, and so their relationship is inherrently tied to his hunt. Just as Theseus' princess gave him a means to escape the labyrinth with a string to guide him, Thumper gives Truant his own lifeline throughout the novel by her phone calls in which she asks Truant to come back into the outside world. However, Truant eventually abandons this lifeline and becomes lost in his own labyrinth.
In all of the above ways Narcissus is inherrent in Truant. His entire existence is focused in himself, even before he begins his exploration of Zampano's work and his own troubles. All of his narratives are focused on himself and the effect that outside influences have on him, and his focus on his inner self becomes stronger and stronger as the novel progresses. He eventually cannot escape his own self-examination, and so is entirely self-centered just as Narcissus was. As in Narcissus' case, Echo is the various aspects of society trying to pull him back from his self-absorption, however these attempts only work to lead him further within himself.
All three of the narrators become trapped inside their own labyrinths, the ones which they create for themselves. In many ways they are tied together, and arguably the same character embodied by their similar traits and flaws. Each is given a way out of their labyrinth, whether it be Navidson's family, Zampano's knowledge that an outside world is possible despite his blindness, or Truant's calls from Thumper. However, each of them eventually ignores this possibility, and so are trapped forever within their personal labyrinths. Just as in Greek tragedies, they are doomed to their fate by their own character, despite whatever possibility of escape from their destruction.
All page references are from House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, published in 2000 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, inc.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
“Single vision produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters.”
- (Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, p154)
For background information on Haraway, turn to (1)*
To understand the quote in context, turn to (4)*
How this quote relates to everyday life (6)*
1.) She earned a degree in Zoology and Philosophy, studied philosophies of evolution, earned a Ph. D. from the Biology Department of Yale and wrote her dissertation on the functions of metaphor in shaping research in developmental biology in the twentieth century. Haraway has taught Women's Studies and General Science at the University of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins University. In 2000, Haraway was awarded the highest honor given by the Society for Social Studies of Science, the J. D. Bernal Award, for lifetime contributions to the field. Haraway has also lectured in feminist theory and techno-science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Haraway is a leading thinker about people's love and hate relationship with machines.If you think Haraway is an important individual, very smart, and would like to meet her (7)*If you think she is probably a huge bitch (8)*
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3.) In the book Jimmy Corrigan, Jimmy has many different personalities and aspects on life. Throughout the story he is changing age; we are receiving different viewpoints through these changes. Because of these different perspectives, we can learn more about him this way than if we were to just read words describing what it was like. Now, we are seeing for ourselves what it is like. After all, can you really believe anything someone tells you? (15)
4.) In context, Haraway is speaking of a cyborg world that might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints. The political struggle is to see from both perspectives at once because each reveals both dominations and possibilities unimaginable from the other vantage point. The above statements are in the same paragraph as the original quote. They give an introduction and a preliminary definition of what “Single vision . . .” means. If you would like to see other quotes from Haraway (11)*Would like to see how the quote relates to other works (9)*
5.) That’s fine. I’m sure you are one of those people who “change” the world every step. Good luck with that. (15)
6.) In order to accomplish great things in life, you must be open-minded. To learn most things, your mind must be flexible. Many vantage points are always better than one. There is more clarity in a television screen that has many pixels. This world needs more open-minded individuals and people that are willing to accept and combine different methods of doing things in order to make a “better” hybrid method. (15)
7.) If you agreed to pick this branch only because you think she is smart, the rest of these words probably do not apply to you. Then again, they still might.I do not want to take anything away from her accomplishments, good for her. It is very impressive that she earned a Ph. D from the Biology Department at Yale, I’m sure that was very difficult to do. Unfortunately, I cannot understand someone who calls themselves a leading thinker about people’s love and hate relationships with machines. Why is this important? I am a relatively simple individual and hate when things are over complicated. When people are making a living because they are reaping the benefits off of lost souls looking for reasons why their lives are so screwed up, I do not have respect for them. There are two types of people in this world; those who increase the wealth of society and those who think they do. I don’t mean monetary wealth; I mean overall intelligence and increased benefits to society. When someone is talking about relationships with machines and focusing on women’s issues that are irrelevant, they are letting the world pass them by because they are focused on unimportant nonsense. It is very hard to find a good leader, and if you find Haraway to be a leader and life changer, I do not like you. Agree with what I said (10)*Disagree (13)*Think I am an asshole (5)*Want to make your own decisions (15)*
8.) I’ll agree with you. I do not like to judge people before I personally get to know them, but she sure seems like the type of person I do not like. Most people with this type of background (speaking more of her feministic past) think they are better than others. This could be why she feels the need to tell others how to make their lives better. If you find yourself telling others how to live when they never asked for your opinion, you are probably an asshole. Live your life. Can you figure that out? (15)*
9.) This quote can be applied to many different aspects of life and different works that were read throughout this class. This quote, if someone is looking for a new outlook on life, can change their way of thinking. The problem is, people who have a closed mind will not accept this idea. The idea has to come from parents and be pushed on kids at a young age. Again, this raises another problem. There are a lot of parents out there that are stupid and have no idea of this concept. So basically, every generation gets more stupid and unaware, they will become followers. The kids who are being taught to see the “big picture” are the ones who will be successful, although they may be considered strange at a young age. This will go away after others realize that they are the next leaders of the world and are the ones to follow. There are a lot of accusations being thrown around here, let me summarize this a little bit. Most people are unaware of their surroundings and focus on unimportant bullshit. People must be taught and must learn that the world is much bigger than them. Relates to Jimmy Corrigan (3)*Relates to The House of the Seven Gables (12)*What will make us see the “big picture” (14)*
10.) My man. Think for yourself; be aware of others, take control of your life. End.
11.) I could write another paper on any one of these quotes. These are here to give examples of Haraway’s writing style and to give more background on where the quote I am using came from.“The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women’s experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.”(Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, p149)“The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.”( Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, p151)“They could not achieve man’s dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream.”( Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, p152)“Abstraction and illusion rule in knowledge, domination rules in practice.”( Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, p158)
12.) In The House of the Seven Gables, Holgrave acknowledges his feelings for Phoebe and proceeds to tell her the “story of the deed”. He tells her of the hypnotic actions of a Maule ancestor on young Alice Pyncheon. Holgrave then goes on to tell Phoebe that Maule’s actions led Alice to death. Yes, Maule was getting whatever he wanted out of Alice Pyncheon through hypnotism, but he did not fully understand what he was doing. Holgrave could use the same techniques on the willing Phoebe, but he is aware of the repercussions that will come with his actions.(15)
13.) You are entitled to your opinion; after all, you just read mine so I will respect yours. (15)
14.) There are a million things to say about the world today. Everyone has their own opinion and think their thoughts are the only correct ones. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Things need to “change”, especially in American’s mindsets, but that’s a whole other argument. New thoughts need to transform the way we are thinking today, and just because one person is claiming “change” doesn’t mean it is the correct change.“Each of us has our precious things, and as we care for them we locate the essence of our humanity. In the end, it is because of our great capacity for caring that I remain optimistic we will confront the dangerous issues now before us.”(Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us”) Why is it important to see (16)*Something to live by (15)*
15.) Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other. End
16.) If you are just rolling through this book instead of following the format, that’s ok. I hope you enjoy it. I am just throwing some stuff around in this little blurb about nothing. Maybe you will pick up on some of the formatting, look familiar?
That was cool . . . What is that thing that speeds around racetracks? (15)
17.) Every day, there are people who live aimlessly and have no idea what is going on around them. One of my favorite movies, Shashank Redemption, has a line in it that sums of most of my everyday thoughts. “Get busy living or get busy dying”. The following is a short Choose Your Own Adventure story that will hopefully provide some comic relief. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Story Inside of a Story
This is a choose your own adventure book. Each decision you make will result in (+/-) points. Whenever you reach the end of a story, add up your points. If you have negative points, you made a few bad decisions that resulted in you dying. You will be able to go back and try your luck again; but beware, there are a lot of unexpected endings.
1.) Open your Eyes. Be aware of your surroundings. See yourself from others shoes. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the Living expression of God’s kindness. Kindness in your face, Kindness in your eyes, Kindness in your smile. -Mother Teresa
2.) Walking up the library steps, you hear a few girls behind you giggling. What do you do?Walk into the library and try and find your friends (6)*Walk in first but hold the door behind you (7)*Open the door and let them walk in front of you (8)*
3.) Idiot. (-5) Did I not just tell you that you were an asshole? Assholes surround themselves by other unaware, incoherent, self-conscious pieces of crap. The reason someone is an asshole is because no one ever told them that they were an asshole. Now your friends are being obnoxious, you guys aren’t aware that others are trying to study in the club, which they also call a library, and the girls want no part of you. You are done, but I hope all is not lost in you (1)*
4.) You get back to your house with your girlfriend and lay down on the couch. The lights are off and you turn on the television. She rests her head on your chest and you put your arm around her. When you lay there, there is nowhere else you would rather be. So, there is actually no point in trying to continue this story. (1)
5.) Walking into the main room of the library, you hear some music playing. Club Hillman is bumping tonight. Your friends are on the table dancing. There are girls swinging from the rafters. Stay and join the party (9)*Tell your friends to settle down (11)*Leave the library (22)*
6.) (-3) Way to go slick, you are an asshole. Be aware of your surroundings. You just missed a great opportunity to be a gentleman and talk to a few very attractive members of the opposite sex. Now, luckily two of the three girls were also unaware and did not even realize that you let the door close in their faces. You saw these girls were very pretty and now would like a second opportunity.
Go find your friends and tell them about the hot girls. (3)*
Apologize for not holding the door and throw them a compliment. (20)*
7.) Good Job. (+2) You played it cool and were aware that there were some beautiful women behind you. They smile at you and give you a well deserved ‘Thank You’. This is a good start for you. As you follow them through the door, a loud noise comes from your right, and you hear a few people laugh. Go find your friends (5)*Help the girl to your right who just dropped her books (15)*Walk to your right to see what the noise was (24)*.
8.) Great Job. (+1) Unfortunately the sexy women that were behind you saw you check them out from head to toe. If you are going to do this, it has to be a quick up and down or pinpoint a location on their body and get a good look at it. Because you did not realize you were staring and that they were watching you, they now think you are a little creepy. Lucky for you though, they also know you are interested. Quit staring. Seriously, stop. You are a dumbass. Do you see the balcony you are walking towards? Oh well, I don’t know what season it is, but have a nice Fall. (1)
9.) The world doesn’t need any more assholes. Be respectful to others and learn to be aware of others needs. You don’t really deserve to live anymore. (1)
10.) (+3) Good man, way to be a gentleman. Your chivalrous tactics paid off. Whether you were playing games with her or were actually aware that she likes you and didn’t want this to be a one night stand, you went up in her book. In class the next day, she slips you the answer key along with her phone number. You go on to live happily ever after. The End
11.) That’s the way to be. Thank you for being aware of your surroundings. Once you settle everyone down and begin to study, you notice that you are bleeding. You reach down and find a knife is sticking out of your leg. You look around and see a bunch of people, all of whom could have stabbed you. The lights begin to dim; a man is standing over you. ‘You are not Dan, why are you taking me from my friends?’ Goodnight. (1)
12.) (-3) Although it would be fun, you need to have your priorities straight. You get so drunk that, on your way home, the cab driver takes you into a dark alley. He beats you and takes your money, you are left for dead. (1)*
13.) a.) (+3) Way to be responsible. Good intentions always work out for the best. continue to (b) b.) As you walk towards your friend Dan, he waves to you and tells you to meet his friends. You smile and introduce yourself, they said that they were glad you were there, they were going to go out with just Dan, but since you were such a gentleman earlier, they want you to come too.go to the bar (23)*stay and study for your exam tomorrow (25)*
14.) (-5) You are creepy. Lucky for you though, your friend knows the one. (13b)*
15.) (-3) You didn’t even know a girl dropped her books; I just had to tell you. Be more aware. You see your friends; they wave to you from across the library. It is very hard to read whenever you are tired. Studying calculus is not fun either.Stay and study (18)*Go home and watch a movie with your girlfriend (4)*Go to your brothers bar and have a few drinks (12)*
16.) (-3)As you are walking into your house, someone meets you at the front door. They tell you that Dan killed himself. When your friend needs your help, you better drop what you are doing and help him. Two days later, your friend Mike finds you face down on the floor. I agree, it is hard to carry someone’s life on your shoulders. (1)*
17.) I just told you to call her . . . not a very good listener. See ya. (1)*
18.) (+2) Studying for your test tomorrow is a good idea, but don’t forget to have a little fun every now and then. Why don’t you call your girlfriend and see what she is up to?Call your girlfriend(4)*Don’t call your girlfriend(17)*
19.) (-1) You should control yourself. Just because you can’t have fun and didn’t go out to the bar doesn’t mean you should kill yourself and burn down the library. I hope you had a good life. (1)*
20.) (+/- 0) “Sorry miss, when I saw you girls behind me I didn’t think 3 things that pretty could be real, just thought you were in my imagination.” . . . really? What a loser, they seemed to like it though; I guess the smile they gave you meant something.Go find your friends to study (13a)*Pretend to go find a seat but wait until they sit down and sit near them (14)*Go study on your own (19)*
21.) (-3) Not a good call. Karen was a classy girl; you also did not notice the ring on her finger. Karen’s friend Sandy would have gone home with you in a second, but you blew that one. Bad intentions my friend. You better start being more aware. Karen’s husband walks in when you have your hand on her knee and he pulls a gun on you. Sorry. (1)*
22.) You better have a better plan than that. Always have a plan. You are so lost you just fell off the face of the earth. (1)
23.) (+1)You get to the bar and start talking to the girls. A few drinks are being put back and a few laughs are shared. You learn that one of the girls, Karen, is the teaching assistant for your class. She catches you looking at her; she smiles and puts her hand on your knee. You learn that the answer key is at her house and she is interested in you going back to her apartment for a little fun. If you go back to her place you will not fall asleep ‘til very late.Go back to her place, have some fun, and get the answer key. (21) *Tell Karen it was nice meeting her and call her a cab. (10)*Go to the bathroom and talk to Dan about your options (28)*
24.) Bang. That loud noise was a gun. Way to be aware. You got caught in the crossfire. (1)*
25.) (+1) Way to leave those girls wanting more, don’t worry, you will see them later. You finish studying and feel very confident about your test tomorrow. So confident, you text Dan to find out what he and the girls are doing. Dan sends you a text that says “Help Me”, but since text messaging is just a machine relaying information, you cannot tell what kind of emotion is attached to his last correspondence. Run out of the library and get a taxi to Dan’s house (27)*Pack your things, go home and get to Dan’s an hour later (26)*Leave Dan to help himself (16)*
26.) (-5) When a friend says help me, you better at least call him to find out if anything is wrong. Dan was being held hostage and was eventually killed. The murderers looked through his phone and saw that he texted you, found your address in his address book and were waiting for you when you got home. You didn’t even get to his place. Bang. Bang. You are dead. (1)*
27.) (+2) You get to Dan’s house, the door is slightly open. There is some noise coming from inside but you cannot understand what is being said. You approach the door and slowly open it. Inside there are people standing over a man on the floor, but you do not recognize these people at first. Slowly approaching, the people do not notice you. You now can see who is on the floor, it is Dan. You hold your hands over your face, only to feel a hand pull them back down. You stare into His face, he smiles back. ‘Breathe’ He said. You were so stunned by Dan’s death, you forgot to breathe. He stood over you too, and carried you both out. (1)*
28.) (+1) While walking to bathroom at Mehhingways, you and Dan get into a fight. The kids you fight turn out to be “tougher” than you thought and are carrying a knife. Goodnight.(1)*
When the World’s Columbian Exposition opened on May 1, 1893, the city that sponsored it was just 60 years old. Incorporated in 1833 as the “Town of Chicago,” it started with just 300 residents. But Chicago was in the right place at the right time. Immigrants from everywhere were drawn to the “golden funnel” by the Illinois and Michigan canal and “the city’s early simultaneous investments in railroads”; by the late 1800s, Chicago’s population was over one million, and it was the second-largest city in the country (McNulty 5).
As plans began for a world’s fair to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World, Chicago won out over proposals from New York City, Washington, DC, and St. Louis for the privilege of hosting. Julie K. Rose calls it
“the last and the greatest of the nineteenth century's World's Fairs, . . . a reflection and celebration of American culture and society--for fun, edification, and profit--and a blueprint for life in modern and postmodern America” (Welcome page).
The planners enlisted premier American architect Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York City’s Central Park, to lay out the overall design of the exposition grounds. Architects for the individual buildings included Henry Ives Cobb, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles McKim, George B. Post, and Louis Sullivan, who helped design the exposition's buildings in a Beaux Arts style under the supervision of Daniel H. Burnham. Sophie Hayden, the first woman to receive a degree in architecture from MIT, designed the Woman's Building. James Gilbert observes that this famous and influential project allowed the architects to create, “bridges between utopian planning and notions of the perfected city and the actual plans of urban architects, road-builders and transportation designers” (256).
The fair was an enormous undertaking. Most of it was contained within a 630 parcel of reclaimed swampland, bordering Lake Michigan. It was bounded by the Palace of the Fine Arts at the northern end and the stock exhibit and pavilion at the south. The map shows major structures that included buildings devoted to leather, machinery, forestry, agriculture, manufacturing and liberal arts, electricity, mines and mining, transportation, horticulture, and fish and fisheries. The grounds featured a Colonnade with an obelisk near the Administration Building and a “Paris-style” arch that formed a water gate from Lake Michigan into a formal basin. In addition to the Woman’s Building and the Music Hall, the fair included buildings devoted to many of the world’s nations, including the U.S. Government Building (and one highlighting the state of Illinois), as well as the Streets of Cairo, a Turkish Village, a Moorish Palace, a Dutch settlement, an American Indian village, and villages featuring Germany Austria, Algeria, and other nations. Norway sailed a 10th century Viking longboat across the ocean and through the international waterways to join the fair.
The grounds included a pier style, two ponds, and a large lagoon, with a wooded island in its center. The exposition even had the novelty of a moving sidewalk. The exposition was built over the railroad terminal, an appropriate location considering the major role the railroad had in building Chicago itself into a great metropolis.
Most of the buildings were constructed of composite materials, often a mixture of hemp and plaster, and the majority of these temporary structures were lost in a fire after the exposition closed. However, the structure of the Palace of Fine Arts was made more permanent and became the first home of the Field Museum; it is now part of the Museum of Science and Industry complex. The Parliament of Religions Building was constructed outside the Jackson Park site and was planned from the beginning to become the new home of the Art Institute of Chicago after the fair closed.
But even the most temporary structures were designed to help visitors envision the coming century, the bright future of technology and new ideas that was on the horizon, as well as the best traditions that future could draw upon. Gilbert observes:
The Chicago Fair linked the utopian speculations of the late nineteenth century, particularly as expressed by Edward Bellamy and William Dean Howells, to the City Beautiful movement of the first decade of the twentieth century which redesigned cities following the inspiration of the layout of the Fair (256).
The architectural choices were praised by many but condemned by some critics, including one of the designers involved; Louis Sullivan later predicted, “the damage wrought by the World's Fair will last for half a century from its date, if not longer” (Chicago Historical Society). The exhibition’s designs laid the groundwork for the subsequent “House Beautiful” movement in American architecture.
Altogether, 46 nations presented 250,000 displays, including the first-ever Ferris wheel. It stood 250 feet tall and rotated 36 cars, each able to hold up to 60 people. Philip Jenkins notes:
Arts and Crafts products were much in evidence . . . which were presented as belonging to a kindred tradition, to societies that did not acknowledge any artificial demarcations between art and life, secular and spiritual. Native displays included some of the finest products of the Northwest Coast cultures, including model Haida and Kwakiutl villages. Indian crafts had a special appeal for women's groups, since these represented a distinctly feminine achievement (72-73).
The Chicago Historical Society describes other exhibits as:
curiosities rather than serious displays of technology and progress. They included an eleven-ton cheese and a 1,500 pound chocolate Venus de Milo in the Hall of Agriculture and a seventy-foot-high tower of light bulbs in the Electricity Building (1).
The range of items on display, ideas illuminated, and innovations presented were mind-boggling. Jack Schendler observes that the fair “boosted the morale of Americans during a deep economic depression” (142).
One of the most striking displays was the introduction to the general public of a new science, one that had been gaining a foothold in Europe but which was still relatively unknown in the United States. It was introduced by Hugo Münsterberg, a German physician who later became a pioneer in establishing the fields of Industrial, Experimental, and Clinical Psychology. Münsterberg, Margaret P. Munger writes, “created quite a sensation . . . when he introduced the American public to the new science of experimental psychology with a display of the shiny brass and polished mahogany instruments used in Germany to measure the mind” (Munger 288). The concept of being able to systematically study human psychology, to understand the powerful influences of family, biology, and circumstance in creating personality, was astonishing and to some fair visitors fantastical.
While some scholars have focused on the numerous mechanical inventions unveiled at the exposition, inventions that presaged a new age of technology, the arrival of psychology may have been even more important in thrusting the world into the future. Certainly, in terms of Jimmy Corrigan, it provides ways for contemporary readers to understand the lonely isolation of both grandfather and grandson and to see the psychological connections between the generations.
Selecting the World’s Columbian Exposition as the backdrop for the grandfather’s story allows Ware to introduce subtle irony on many levels. The exposition promised a brave new world, filled with gadgets to ease the drudgery of life and optimism to enjoy the bright future. The Corrigans had little of either. Modern day Jimmy does have a tape recorder, but he plays with it with the same lackluster apathy with which he approaches everything. It does not bring him any closer to his new-found father than his own ancestor was to his.
The fact that this same exposition introduced the tools for self-examination is another subtle irony, since neither Jimmy from the 1890s nor his grandson seems remotely interested in self-examination either. They both miss out on what Münsterberg argues to be the process of self-discovery that made psychology such an exciting new science:
Everybody noticed early whether his memory worked well or badly, how his attention sometimes failed him, how he was able or unable to think out a problem, how fear or hope, and joy or anger, arose in him. He may have been startled by the wonders of his dreams or by the play of his imagination; he may have thought about the limits of his personal talents or about the special gifts of his mind; he may have felt conflicts between his resolutions and his will. In short, the naïve curiosity which turned first to toys and tools, to stones and plants, later turned to memory ideas and fancies of the imagination, to feelings and excitements, to acts of desire and of volition, to talent and intelligence (1).
This actually describes the kind of life both Jimmys live, but only in the physical outlines. Jimmy Corrigan (either present-day or grandfather) may be “the smartest kid on earth,” but he seems supremely uninterested in using his intelligence to find happiness or at least to understand why happiness is so far from his grasp.
Were either to apply the most useful tool introduced at the exposition, both might start by looking long and hard at their relationships with their distant fathers. Yet both exhibit more than a little of what Münsterberg describes as “a certain unwillingness to link theoretical psychology with the practical needs of the community. “Some have the feeling that psychology loses its dignity when it becomes a handmaid of routine life (341)”. Both Jimmy Corrigans have very real practical needs that applied psychology could help meet, yet both avoid looking inward. Perhaps it is part of the Corrigan legacy.
The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was an exciting six months of discovery, wonder, and possibility. It happened on the brink of a new millennium, as the world stood poised to step into the unknown. A century later, technology and science have changed that world in ways the exposition’s planners could not have dreamed. Yet grasping the available opportunities requires initiative and curiosity. It is probably not a mistake that the world inhabited by the younger Jimmy Corrigan looks very much like the world of his grandfather. Even their parental figures behave in the same distant way, and neither Corrigan has found a way to move on.
Chicago Historical Society. “The World’s Columbian Exposition.” Retrieved on November 25, 2008, at
Gilbert, James. “Social Utopias in Modern America.” Visions of the Future in Germany and America. Norbert Finzsch and Hermann Wellenreuther, eds. New York: Berg, 2001. 251-273.
Jenkins, Philip. Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality. New York: Oxford U P, 2004.
McNulty, Elizabeth. Chicago Then and Now. San Diego: Thunder Bay P, 2000.
Munger, Margaret P. The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions. New York: Oxford U P, 2003.
Münsterberg, Hugo. Psychology, General and Applied. New York: Appleton, 1914.
Rose, Julie K. “The World’s Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath.” Retrieved on November 25, 2008 from
Schnedler, Jack. Chicago. NY: Fodor’s Travel Publications, 2001.
Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon, 2000.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Our generation is different than that of other generations. This generation has been witness to one of, if not the greatest change in everyday life. This generation has grown up along side the phenomenon known as the internet. Starting from a few globally connected computers to the mainstream medium it is today, the internet is here to stay. However, the complexity and utility of this modern marvel was not always this way. In fact, only in recent years has the internet become such a universal part of our media system. The important question that must be answered is what has made the internet so mainstream, used and accepted by almost every majority. The answer to this question lies in the ability for the users to interact not only with the internet itself, but with other users within the internet. Interactivity has made the internet the superhighway it is today and in the end is what internet users strive for.
First we must understand what interactivity is. This question has puzzled and frustrated researchers for years. In years past, several studies have been conducted to try and grasp what the term “online interactivity” really means. Media researchers have viewed online interactivity primarily as an attribute of technological functions of the medium such as hyper linking, activating media downloads, filling in feedback forms, and playing online games (Warnick, 1). However, this does not include any user to user interaction that would fall under the internet genre of social networking. Social networking has recently become the number one use of the internet, which in the interests of this paper would fare to be most important. Therefore, we must accept a definition that would include social networking within it. With this, in more recent years researchers have based more of their theories on interactivity to be paralleled with user to user interaction. Examples of this include chat rooms, emails, and instant messages. However, it is important to also understand that online interactivity is not limited to just social networking. Both arguments and research supply sufficient evidence that they both represent what I feel online interactivity actually means. After taking both sides of the research into account I came up with a definition of what I feel online interactivity actually is. Simply put, online interactivity is an artifact of what users experience and perceive.
Now that I have presented a definition of what I feel interactivity is in relation to the internet, I intend to prove that this definition is sufficient and why online interactivity is such a sought after commodity within the confines of the World Wide Web. I’ve decided to focus my research on political campaign websites in terms of interactivity within them. This way it will make it easier to understand each of the types of interactivity I discuss. Also by narrowing the research field, I will be able to summarize my thoughts in a fairly brief manner. Most will appreciate it since interactivity itself holds such an enormous amount of potential to touch upon. Before discussing social networking and its parallels and effects on online interactivity, I’d like to address what most people wouldn’t consider online interactivity.
A recent study on online political sites labels one type of rarely discussed interactivity called “text-based interactivity”. This concept has only recently been presented, however it has shown to play a role in users’ reactions to the campaign sites. (Warnick 7) Text-based interactivity refers to the presence of various stylistic devices, such as use of first person and active versus passive voice; additional visual cues such as photographs of the candidate or supporters interacting with other people; and additional textual content on the site. Such site elements function as rhetorical features of the site text that communicate a sense of engaging presence to site visitors. Campaign sites are purposefully designed to have a persuasive influence on their audience of users, and the use of expressive style, modes of self presentation, and attentiveness to content has been shown to enhance users’ reception of messages and recall of site content. (Warnick, 11) Although text-based interactivity is fairly simplistic compared to other modes of online interaction, research has presented and proven that it has a definite effect on a user’s perception.
User to User interactivity will be the next branch of interactivity addressed. I define this as communication between users that is aligned and moderated within a computer based medium. The extremely popular AOL Instant Messaging, Facebook, and MySpace would all fall under this genre of online interactivity. In terms of my focused research on political campaign sites, examples would include online town halls, internet chat, blog with user comments, and moderated discussions, all provided within the site medium. This also allows the representatives of each campaign a chance and place to interact with their supporters. Over the years this has proven to be an extremely successful way for candidates to communicate with supporters, as well as win over some non supporters. A study done in 2008 shows just that. The first political campaign site appeared in 1994 and only 3% of supporters stated that they used the internet as a main source of campaign news. As the years increased, so did the popularity of the internet and use of it for campaign news. In 2000, 11% said they used the web as their main source, and 21% in 2004. Most astonishingly, that percent had risen to 52% in 2008. (Warnick, 5) A lot of this success comes from the convenience and stability of the internet. With the explosion of social networking and continued use of other interactivity within their sites, the candidates were able to use the internet as an extremely powerful tool in their respective campaigns.
Moving away from the research, it’s time to consider some of my own thoughts on why I think interactivity has become such a driving factor of the internet. Ironically, I think it can all be traced back to our very first discussion of technology in class. We all unanimously agreed that technology played a role in our daily lives and has in a sense created what humans are perceived as today. Can you think back to when we didn’t have cells phones and computers? In reality, it wasn’t very long ago. We actually had to plan things in advance and communicate with each other without the use of cell phones and instant messaging. As humans, we are instinctively creatures of efficiency. We are always trying to find easier ways to complete everyday tasks, whether those tasks are as simple as making a phone call, or as complex as curing a disease, we are always looking for the easy way out. As we walk the fine line of efficient and lazy, the line eventually starts to blur. I would argue that over the years humans have used their instinctive efficiency to become lazy. I believe that this in itself has caused the explosion of social networking and online interactivity to happen. As we look back to our midterm discussion on the difference between human nature and technology, which most of us came to the conclusion that technology creates our human nature, it’s almost pathetically funny to think about what our human nature is today. Text messaging, interacting on Facebook every free second you have, and instant messenger conversations literally about nothing. Is that what our human nature is today? From our obsessive need for social networking and constant communication with each other, it becomes increasingly harder to disagree with that sad truth. Opinions aside, online interactivity has undoubtedly shown itself to be an extremely popular aspect of the internet. So much in fact that as mentioned before, social networking has become the number one use of the internet.
So as we accept that online interactivity has become highly desired by its users, we also understand more about human tendencies and our instinctive manners. After all, we have become slaves to technology. And this same technology slaves to us. Ultimately, my research of interactivity within political campaign sites has confirmed my original thoughts on online interactivity. In recent years, it has become the major factor in driving the internet into the media super highway it is today. Personal bias and skeptical research may try to disprove this theory, however any sort of argument against this conclusion would be extremely hard to support. The internet and its user interaction has become the symbol of our generation. Love it or hate it, online interactivity has and will continue to affect your everyday life.
Barbara Warnick’s “Interactivity: Golden Fleece of the Internet” Essay. University of Pittsburgh
Adam John’s Narrative and Technology Discussions
Now before I begin discussing what research was done and the results of my research, let us take a look at what the terms narrative and interactive mean. Narrative means “a representation of an event or series of events; a recreation, re-enactment, etc” (Adam Johns Lecture). Interactive means, “1: mutually or reciprocally active 2: involving the actions or input of a user ; especially : of, relating to, or being a two-way electronic communication system (as a telephone, cable television, or a computer) that involves a user's orders (as for information or merchandise) or responses (as to a poll)” (Merriam-Webster Online). I would like us to focus on the second meaning of interactive when we discuss interactivity later. Now you might be asking yourself what either of those words has to with video games. Allow me to explain it you using verbal and visible examples, as well as using my research findings.
In order to explain what these terms have to do with video games, we will begin first while looking at a game not mentioned earlier. We will look at the game Pong. It was developed by Atari in 1972 as an arcade game then it was released on the first Atari home system in 1975. This is a very interactive game as the object of the game was to move the block/paddle where ever the ball was going and you had to get it to go past your opponents paddle in order to get a point (Pong Wikipedia). If you cannot recall what Pong looks like, here is a photo:
Now seeing as how Pong paved the way for interactivity in video games, let’s take a glimpse at our first game, Zork. This is the main photo for Zork found on numerous websites:
Now it isn’t very self-explanatory but let’s examine the photo for a moment. It’s very plain, just a bunch of text and gives you a feeling of wonder and perhaps confusion with the phrase at the top. But let’s not look too into it; I just wanted to show you the main photo so you knew what game I was referencing. A photo that we need to examine is the following photo of how the game actually looks. This photo is from the first version of Zork as soon as we begin the game.
Now does this look like your typical video game? I do not know of any video games that look anything like this. Then again this game is only available on computers. But examine this photo closely and you will see that this is not a game at all but an interactive narrative. Interactive narrative? Yes an interactive narrative. This is a narrative that gives us complete interactivity but it does have restrictions. There are preset commands and answers to things. There are preset occurrences during the game that happen at predetermined times. Everything is set-up in a way that we have to choose which way to go and what to do. But we don’t exactly have complete control do we? And can we even see where or what we are doing? No we do not.
Now I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to have complete control, but we will discuss that more in depth later. Let’s continue on with our lack of interactivity through visibility in Zork. All we see is text, we have no visible evidence of where we are going or what we are doing except a narrative in front of us. This didn’t go over to well with me being a pretty devoted gamer. I can’t explain how annoyed I was by this game and the lack of interactivity I felt due to the lack of being able to see what I was doing. Just reading text of what was happening was not working. I could not paint a mental picture of this being real. But I was not the only one who had trouble.
In order to be unbiased, I incorporated the help of a close friend for my project. His job was to play each game for a one hour period then write down what he thought about three specific categories: interactivity, narrative and game play. I made him suffer through Zork first, since I had to play it for this class, I figured I would be nice and let him have fun after. Now while he was doing this I watched him from another room and he was literally red in the face and ready to break my computer. After playing the game for the hour he wrote down a few things on the interactivity of the game that stood out to me.
First he wrote about the game itself then the narrative of the game. He felt that the game lacked entertainment and excitement. He called it boring. He was not too thrilled about being able to only do certain things as well. He felt that the commands were not realistic enough and by that he meant he was getting angry with the game not recognizing words that it had previously included in a prompt. His feelings on this subject are not too far from his feelings on interactivity. He felt very confused by the narrative and by what it was he was doing and what he read. He also felt that there was no story involved. He said that while he was typing in the commands he felt that game went no where even though he moved through 4 rooms by simply going the same direction. He just did not feel the narrative and interactivity were linked and that really hurts the game as a whole. When writing about the game play he felt that there wasn’t any. So let’s move forward to our next game, Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed was published by Ubisoft and released on all gaming platforms. “The setting is 1191 AD. The Third Crusade is tearing the Holy Land apart. You, as Altair, intend to stop the hostilities by suppressing both sides of the conflict. You are an Assassin, a warrior shrouded in secrecy and feared for your ruthlessness. Your actions can throw your immediate environment into chaos, and your existence will shape events during this pivotal moment in history.”(IGN.com)
Now, this game is your standard action/adventure game where you have control of the character and you see the character throughout the game. The object is to go around and prevent 10 men from gaining access to a special relic that would let them control the world. To put it frankly you go around and basically kill these men. Each city has different tasks you must complete in order for you to gain access to the assassination. You do not have to these in any specific order.
I watched my friend play this game and he decided not to follow any mission plans. This is what I love about this game. You have total interactivity with the game. You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to. You can just walk around and kill the guards or even the pedestrians which is what my friend did. Now if you want to beat the game you have to assassinate each main boss. But all the objectives that are listed are optional. You do not have to go around and save every citizen, or pick pocket every bad guy or even interrogate a priest by beating him up. What I want to show you first is the official trailer to the game itself so you have an idea of what is going on.
Now, when going through this games interactivity my friend wrote down that he believed the game was open to the control of the player. He also wrote that the results of what he experienced were based on the actions he was performing. As stated earlier, he decided against the missions, which led him to go run around the city and eliminate the royal guards of the boss. He also continued on by assassinating civilians because they were in his way. When I asked him what he thought of the narrative aspect of the game he told me that he felt the story was compelling and that it gripped his attention. He said that it had a smooth flow to the story and actions. He felt the same way about the game play of Assassin’s Creed. He believes that since you have the choice of what to do in the game as you see fit, he felt the game was like an open world or perhaps a choose your own adventure.
Here are a few screen caps of game play from Assassin’s Creed. The first is a jumping kill on a royal soldier, who happens to be a boss in the game. The second screen cap is what they call the “Leap of Faith” in the game. You climb up the tallest building wherever an eagle soars and you look around to survey the area and unlock items on your map. Then you press a combination of buttons and Altair steps up and leaps off the edge doing a flip in midair and landing in a haystack. Highly unrealistic from such a high distance that he would survive but it makes the game fun, as I have repeatedly done this over and over while playing.
Now this seems like an interesting point in my research. This game begins to take on a “choose your own adventure” guideline as the game goes on. Perhaps this interaction is what makes this game seem so much more realistic then Zork. Or maybe it makes the game just like Zork. It may not have the appearance or flow of Zork, but it runs the same course. We choose our own destiny in these games and perhaps this is an evolution of Zork. We have now seen a modern day look at interactivity and perhaps a link between modern video games and Zork. So let’s see what effect Halo 3 has on the topic
Halo 3 was developed by Bungie specifically for the X-Box 360. As I stated earlier this is the third and final installment of the Halo trilogy. It’s a first person shooter game where our view point is from that of our character, Master Chief. But that is not the only view we have in this game. The views will change depending on the situation you are in. For example this is our basic view for the game:
As we can see here, the view gives the player a feeling that he is Master Chief and he is holding that gun. This makes the game feel more personal and more interactive. This also allows the players to see closer and more detailed aspects of the area and people/aliens involved in the battle. Now throughout this game there are various missions that must be completed in order to beat the game and end the war. Each stage/mission has its own set of objectives that need to be done in order to move on. The following slides are all the various views of the game during play except the last one will be from a video clip.
Now as we see above, we are holding a different gun that requires the game to switch views and we are now able to see our character instead of actually seeing through his eyes. In the next photo, we see the view from a part of the game in which Master Chief is driving the Warthog around. This view allows us to see the road from a higher angle and we can see more of the area from this view. And the last one is a frozen video clip that shows Master Chief and the Arbiter moving into the next chamber of the building. We see many videos during game play.
While having been an avid Halo fan since the first Halo game was released in 2003, naturally I was going to continue playing the series all the way till the end. My friend never really got the hang of the game when it first came out. He was not very good at first person shooters. But this time, he seemed much calmer when playing and he had some good things to say about it. For instance, he felt that the game was one-directional but it was fun and interactive. You get to look around from Chief’s perspective and see all of the area surrounding you. That’s interactivity right there! If you can’t see what’s going on around you, then there isn’t much to be interactive with.
When referring to the narrative of the game he believed that the game could be better if there were some extra missions available. In order to get to your next mission, you have to successfully complete the prior. He felt that the story flowed smoothly and there were no problems in understanding what was going on. He agrees with critics that the game is fun and worth replaying over and over again. But one aspect that the Halo franchise excelled in was its online gaming. Now my friend didn’t experience it but I have and let me tell you something, it’s phenomenal.
Halo 3 has two methods of online playing. The first option is Online versus multiplayer (up to 16 people). This feature allows 16 people from all over the world to interact and play against each other in either an every man for themselves battle royal or as a team in a variety of games. The next option is Online Co-Op Multiplayer (up to 4 people). In this option, the players insert themselves into the actual story mode of the game and play together as a team trying to beat the game. Now I have taken part in both of these and I can’t tell you how much interactivity there is amongst the players. With the standard headset, included with the X-Box 360, you can hear and talk to the people you are playing with and against depending on which mode you choose. But having that ability, to communicate with people across the world, really suggests the amount of interactivity is above and beyond what the creators of Zork or Pong could have ever imagined.
In conclusion this allows us to look into the future of gaming and interactivity to where we can almost maybe create a system in which we see ourselves in a game and can communicate with everyone else that’s playing. Online gaming is just the beginning of a technological revolution that will allow us to be completely interactive. Maybe this is some type of virtual reality or perhaps total-interactive-technology, but this really hasn’t been created yet. Who knows who, what, where and when this is going to actually happen. For all we know it could be in the works even as we speak.
• Goldstein, Hilary. "Assassin's Creed." IGN.com. 20 November 2008
• Goldstein, Hilary. "Halo 3." IGN.com. 20 November 2008
• "Interactive." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 20 November 2008
• Johns, Adam. "Narrative." Class. University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning Room 318, Pittsburgh. 26 Aug. 2008.
• "Pong." Wikipedia.com. 2 Dec. 2008
• Ubisoft. Assassin's Creed Trailer [The Trailer for the Video Game]. Digital image. Gametrailers.com. 20 Nov. 2008
• "Zork." Wikipedia.com. 20 November 2008
*Images found through Google Image search*
In order to determine whether or not this is truly interactive, we need to know what interaction is. It can be defined in the dictionary as a “mutual or reciprocal action or influence,” meaning that one action prompts another (2). With that in mind, we can agree that these videos are indeed interactive, because the man’s action of presenting the cards prompts the viewer to click on one of them, and that action prompts a new video relating to the card that was chosen. More and more of this type of videos are being uploaded onto Youtube, and they seem to be very popular, judging by the fact that the card trick video alone has been viewed over 7.7 million times. However, not only are interactive videos on Youtube a success, social networking sites are also taking over the internet. These websites, similar to Youtube, allow people to create an account and post their opinions on anything, or hold conversations with their friends, as well as people they do not actually know. The significance of these videos and websites is remarkable because they have severely changed the way our society functions in terms of social interaction, and the interactive videos have the potential to change cinema.
Youtube user SMP Films has created a video entitled “Choose Your Path – Find Sparta,” which is made up of sixty-three videos total, about a man who comes home to realize that his cat Sparta is missing (3). Comparable to Cup of Death, in which the reader has to choose his or her path to find the bowl, the viewer of this video chooses which video to watch next, depending on which room he or she wants to search, or which piece of furniture to look under. In the first video, the man says that the last time he saw his cat, “he was hiding in the clothes hamper with my underwear on his head.” This piece of information might be a clue, or it might be to throw off the viewer. The video then goes on to present the option of searching the office, the living room, the bathroom, or the bedroom. Each of these options takes the viewer to a new video, in which the man does what the viewer chooses. Depending on what the viewer chooses, the video may or may not end with the man finding the cat. This video is important because the viewer is taking part in the story. As a viewer, reader, etc. I feel that when I have a role in the story, I am more engaged and interested in what is happening. It makes me feel vital to the plot, and if someone else were to do it the story would be different. In a way, the viewer, reader, etc. makes the story without literally making it. The same concept is seen when parents tell stories to their children. Most often the children will interject their own ideas into the story, regardless of whether or not it helps the storyline. For example, an upcoming movie called “Bedtime Stories” starring Adam Sandler is about a man (Sandler) who tells stories to his niece and nephew, but they interrupt him to create their own versions of the story. The difference with this movie, though, is that what the children say comes true. However, that was not the children’s intention, but the movie is a presentation of the children’s want to be part of the story, much like the makers of the interactive videos had hoped for. Now that these videos are becoming more popular, cinema as we know it has the potential to move toward this format. In a way, with DVDs, it has already begun. Not available on VHS, there are menus and categories that viewers can interact with, and on some children’s DVDs there are games that they can play, such as the “Madagascar” DVD, in which the player helps the penguins escape. However, this is different because it does not drive the plot of the movie, although it is an uprising of interaction in videos. With the popularity of interactivity on Youtube, it is likely that Hollywood filmmakers might begin to use this technique to draw viewers to their own shows and reshape movies, because their audiences could very well be more engaged in it, creating a large profit.
Interactive novels, however, which are more popular among children than adults, are not as inclined to become a huge success. As a reader, I find it to be a hassle to search through the book for specific pages and remember the previous pages that I read along with the order that I read them in. Constantly flipping through pages and trying to remember the pages I have already read distracts me from the story, which causes me to be less eager to read the rest of the book. I also prefer the visual convenience of movies to the routine swarm of letters taking over hundreds of pieces of paper. Though some people may have an opposite opinion, I think with America’s downward spiral into laziness and doing things the easy way, many of our fellow citizens would agree with me.
Interaction, though, is found in other places on the internet, such as social networking websites. In the past few years these types of websites have taken over the younger generations, especially teenagers, in that now these teens no longer need to call their friends or meet with them to talk. These websites allow anyone to create an account and instantly connect with millions of people if they wish to do so. In reality, most people have a relatively small number of friends and acquaintances, but on these sites people tend to have hundreds or thousands of friends, including people from other states and countries who they have never met. Two of the most popular social networking sites available in the United States, which happen to be competitor companies, are Facebook and Myspace. When first created in 2003 Myspace was an instant sensation. It quickly drew millions of users, reaching 100 million accounts on August 9, 2006 (3). Its apparent success prompted other websites, including Facebook, which has since become even more popular than Myspace.
The interactive perks of Facebook include adding friends, writing on walls, inviting people to events, and holding private conversations via message, along with many others. “Friending,” as it is commonly called, is the act of requesting a friendship with another person. That subsequent person then has the option of accepting or declining the request, depending on how they feel about the requester. Often times, though, the requester may be someone the requested does not know, who seeks their friendship merely because they live nearby or they like the person’s picture, and often times the requested accepts these friend requests from strangers to boost their friend count. Due to the high rate of “friending” strangers, internet predators can more easily find their targets and harm our society. Social networking sites have begun to occupy the spots that were once taken by chat rooms, but they are considered to be more acceptable, and that is severely affecting our society because these unsuspecting people can be tricked into falling victim of an internet predator. Though not all people who send friend requests to strangers are bad people, social networking sites have just become an open door for those who are.
Also on the Facebook website, each user has a wall, on which any of their friends can write whatever they want, to start a conversation, say hello, or post any random piece of information, etc. The person who receives these wall posts can reciprocate the post and write back on the first person’s wall. This type of interaction, though slower than speaking to one another, is a severely popular form of communication among the younger generation. It has dramatically changed how people communicate with their friends. The act of sitting at a computer and typing and clicking the mouse is much more satisfying to people now, probably because of the rise in obesity and laziness in this country, than is the act of walking or driving to a friend’s house or straining their voice by using the telephone. However, laziness may not be the only reason people prefer Facebook to face-to-face friendly interaction. On Facebook, users are able to hold conversations with multiple people at a time while surfing the web, or watching videos on Youtube, or whatever they desire to do. This has already begun to affect the products we buy, specifically with cell phones. In order to keep up with the way we communicate online, cell phone companies are making new smart phones, such as the iPhone or the Blackberry. We can use them to send not only text messages, but also pictures and videos. We can also go to websites and send links to those sites to anybody.
Another interactive perk on Facebook, which encourages face-to-face interaction, is that its users are able to create events, such as birthday parties or movie nights, and send invitations to their friends. These events, unless set to private, are shown on their friends’ news feeds, which is a list of that user’s friends’ activities. This is another way that this website is interactive, because when anyone does something on the website, their friends can see their actions and decide whether or not to respond. For instance, if an event is created, they can choose to attend the event or not; if someone comments on a picture, they can choose to reply to what that comment says; or if someone posts a note they can choose to read it or not; and there are hundreds of other actions that can be done using the news feed. Sometimes, though, users do not want their conversations broadcasted to each of their friends, so they have the option of using messages. These are private messages sent between two users, or if desired they can be sent to more than one person at a time, but regardless they will not be shown in the news feed. Facebook’s interactivity is so popular that it has surpassed Myspace’s popularity. In June of 2008, it attracted 132.1 million new users all over the world (4). Because social networking is so common these days, interaction has shifted more towards these kinds of websites, and less towards physical interaction between friends.
In order to keep up with the trends, Facebook has added a new application called Facebook Mobile, so that anyone can access their Facebook accounts from their cell phones, usually on smart phones. Any notifications they get, such as a wall post or a message, prompt their cell phone to ring, so that they are instantly notified, rather than waiting to find out when they check their account later. Users can do almost everything Facebook offers on their phones that they can do on their computer, such as write on walls, send messages, poke their friends, and even upload pictures. The cell phone Facebook application is another way the products we buy are being influenced by our online communication.
Interactive videos and websites are much more frequented by younger users than older users, because the younger generations grew up with these technologies and are accustomed to it, whereas the older generations are less knowledgeable, in most cases, about how to use these sites. One reason younger people like the videos better than older people do, could be because as people grow older they tend to become less creative and imaginative, and the interactive videos are all about creating your own story with what you’re given. Also, as people grow older, usually they become more respectful towards other people. These websites, especially Youtube, allow the users to say anything they want without feeling remorse for being disrespectful or intentionally hurtful toward someone, or something that person said or did.
Because of these new interactive videos and social networking websites, societies have changed. Social interaction is no longer strictly a face-to-face or over the telephone experience, and film is no longer strictly one storyline. When people become interested in these types of videos, the desire for them will grow, and eventually filmmakers might turn toward making these videos into blockbuster productions. Websites such as Facebook will continue to expand into even greater sites that allow more interaction between friends, and this internet craze will not cease to prosper.
Through the plot we can see that Danielewski used the 2001 (book and film) to show you can adapt books through biology differences. Clarke and Kubrick had different stances of how to show us 2001: A Space Odyssey. Just like each author of House of Leaves had different stances.
The book 2001: A Space Odyssey begins in two million B.C. with apes roaming the savannah. These ape men are starving because they have never adapted to their surroundings. Even though they are surrounded with plentiful animals to hunt they still do not know how to kill them. Then, the monolith comes (which is a special crystal rock) that cast hypnotic spells on the animals to adapt to their environment and hunt animals, throw rocks, etc (DeMet). The next part of the novel goes to a space exploration where they are they find a monolith on the moon. They have a mission shuttle to go to Saturn (or Jupiter according to the film). On this space craft, we find the computer HAL 9000 that controls everything on the ship. In the end, he kills everyone but one person (Dr. Bowman). Finally, we see that the doctor shuts off Hal with just a screwdriver showing our evolutionary tools of the man apes come in handy after 4 million years. Last, Dave gets in the pod and travels away from the ship to see another monolith that takes him to see his future self and his last meal (Clarke).
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Arthur Clarke’s novel is more different than you would think. A writer of one of the reviews wrote “gripping and intellectually satisfying, full of the tension and clarity which the movie lacks. All the parts of the movie that are vague and unintelligible, especially the beginning and the end, become clear and convincing in the book (DeMet).” The “spirit” of the film had nothing to do with Clarke and everything to do with Kubrick (DeMet). The beginning of the movie is quiet and actually through out the entire movie you never really hear much talking. It is a slow movie at best. The ape part is confusing at first if you never read the book. It starts out with many shots of the earth for about 20 minutes then finally the monolith shows. After about a minute it goes to the next scene (2001: A Space Odyssey). An interesting part of the movie is there is an actual intermission on the DVD. Another big part of this movie is the music score. We are given repeated confirmation that this music is the singing voice of the monolith and that it sings when it is helping its primitive hosts to evolve (Ager). There is a lot of heavy breathing when they are outside in space and a lot of music that goes with what is happening in the scenes. The movie is more of an art form than a novel interpretation. It looks at different aspects of film making and makes it its own -- especially the visual effects in the movie. In 1968 it was a masterpiece in the art of visual effects and it won an Academy Award for visual effects. Kubrick once states in an interview “…in a film like 2001, where each viewer brings his own emotions and perceptions to bear on the subject matter, a certain degree of ambiguity is valuable, because it allows the audience to ‘fill in’ the visual experience themselves (DeMet)”.
In House of Leaves, Danielewski made different adaptations of each story. First off, Johnny Truant adapts to the story of Zampano. The story is more about him, although he does make some references to the novel but mostly he rambles about his life. Zampano’s adaptation of the film “The Navidson Record” is a lot of footnotes and tells us about the story through research, even though some of it is fake research. Lastly, “The Navidson’s Record” is an adaptation of the family and the house. It takes us through a labyrinth of Karen and Navidson’s problems and also through the labyrinth that is the house it’s self. I think that each of these adaptations is different in their own right just like Kubrick’s adaptation of the book 2001.
There are several plot similarities where biological adaptation is present. The use of these tools in the simple plot show how we adapt to survive or adapt to learn more. To survive and learn are the simplest forms of biology.
When concerning technological adaptation they both have to face a greater power of technology then themselves. I have noticed is the connection between HAL and the actual House in the House of Leaves book. Everyone is being controlled by something that is not human. The House and HAL tell the humans what to do. The House does not speak but it controls Navidson in controlling it and knowing more about it. HAL is supposedly smarter than any other computer and never makes mistakes. This has to do with adaptation; the adaptation of humans to rely on other things for help. Now we have computers to help us find information and electronics to do everything. The house, in Navidson’s eyes, is a form of technology in a sense of how it is bigger in the inside than the outside and his need to explore technology.
Many of the characters in the plot before the end are killed by a force greater than us –technology. HAL kills many of the astronauts by simply telling the computers not to. In House of Leaves, the house is a greater force by killing many of the explorations. Another major theme is the use of things we adapted long ago. For instance, a strong theme in 2001 is the use of the screwdriver to take apart HAL. Also, when Dr. Bowman comes into the space shuttle and does not need help from HAL but uses his physical intuition. They show at the beginning of the movie the ape figuring out tools and how to use them to kill other things to survive. So, even if technology is overtaking you, you can still use your evolutionary tools of intuition and the simplest tools like the screwdriver or wheel. At the end of House of Leaves, Navidson has the simplest tools to arrive at the end of the journey. A bike – which could be the wheel, matches from 10 years ago, and his bodies fight to survive.
There are several different instances where 2001 is mentioned in the book. The first instance is the fact that Navidson’s daughter is named Daisy. I find this interesting that at the beginning of the book in the cover and in the appendix it says “. . .reaches for Daisy, only to arrive a fraction of a second too late, his fingers finding air, his eyes scratching after Daisy as she falls to her death ( Danielewski 522). I think that this is important just because of the Daisy song HAL sings at the end of the movie and book. I find it ironic that his child is named after the song that the house sings to him when he almost dies. This could relate to adaptation to biology. Navidson’s biological child is foreshadowing his death. Even the simplest part of a book or movie can show this. By just stating the name is Daisy could be a foreshadowing of Navidson’s ultimate encounter with death.
The song at the end when Navidson is holding on for life is a strong connection to Dr. Bowman in 2001. “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy over the love of you. That’s not right (Danielewski 477)”. This could be an obvious connection to the plot. HAL sang this to Dr. Bowman as he used his tools to turn him off. The song that is one of the simplest songs to sing and in 1961 it was the first song a computer actually sang (IBM 7094). So, HAL is singing the song that is the simplest form of computer, even though he is technological advanced. HAL is trying to remind Dr. Bowman what he actually is. I think that the actual House is singing the song to Navidson, just like the computer singing to Dr. Bowman. He is trying to remind Navidson what he is and why the house is there.
The next difference is when Zampano is talking about the monolith in 2001. He states “The monolith in 2001 seems the most appropriate cinematic analog, incontrovertibly there but virtually inviolate to interpretation (Danielewski 60). The monolith is kind of like the hallways in the book. They are just there, but have a deep meaning as to why. They are there because they are the passage to knowledge and the future. In fact, Clarke first talked about the monolith in one of his earlier short stories and said it was pyramid shaped. Kubrick took this idea and made it a rectangle to enhance our viewing of what it should be on screen (Ager). I think this is important because Danielewski is recognizing the biggest difference between the novel and films adaptation.
Zampano’s interpretation of Navidson was a factual one. Johnny’s interpretation was an interesting and random one. I believe that these could be technological differences between them. These also could be biological tendencies to try to adapt a better novel than before by technology. Technology is something you use to try to better your situation in the world. For instance, the ape men thought the tools they made were technology to better them. This is the narration adapting through technology.
In the simplest form, Navidson’s adaptation of the house is a biological one. He searched it for clues as to why it was there and used general tools to try to figure it out. The House also gave him trouble in his marriage and an obsession with the house – which is biological adaptation. This is adaptation because he is adapting himself and no one will stand in his way to try and adapt to the House. The House controls Navidson. I think the House could be technologically talking to Navidson. 2001 could be the same way. As I stated before, HAL controlled the ship because they wanted him to. They were trying to adapt our species to trust computers and technology. This could be like Clarke’s original book, even if they were writing simultaneously, he still was technically the first copy. In the simplest form, Clarke explains what he means by using his technology background and explaining to us why the astronauts trusted computers. Navidson, using his cameras explained to us exactly what he was doing, too. Clarke’s influences were evolution and Navidson was trying to evolve.
Zampano’s novel about the Navidson Record is a biological adaptation to several different things. First, Zampano was blind. If he did write this book, he did it where he couldn’t see and to me that shows he some how biological adapted so he could write. The technology of using many sources to write a book could be another alteration of a narrative. He tried to make it different. This could be like the adaptation of book to film since in the case of 2001 the book came first. Kubrick took the movie and made it his own. He used his different styles of making a movie and added a great movie score and visual effects to make the movie make sense to us in a better way then just reading. Zampano did just this. He took the Navidson Record, and even if he couldn’t see showed us the twists and turns just like Navidson felt in the movie. He took us back and forth with footnotes.
Johnny’s interpretation was biological. We can assume that Johnny could have schizophrenia or multiple personalities as we stated in class. His mother, when she wrote the Whalestoe letters, was apparently the same way. He became the way he was because of the biological adaptation from his past. I think that Johnny can connect with anybody as in terms of adapting. He wrote how he felt and what he actually believed was right. These authors and film makers all did this because of how they felt about a certain subject. They wanted to show the world a different side of themselves that they never knew. They all adapted technology in a sense of biology to show the world how narration can show us things we never seen before. For example, it had to be shocking to people when they read or saw 2001 that it could be the way the earth would be in 2001. Maybe, since the book and film 2001 were written almost simultaneously, Danielewski was giving us a clue to Johnny’s multiple personalities – he could be all the authors at once.
These books and films are connected through various ways. They can be connected through narration. They can be connected biologically. They can be connected technologically. The plots of each book are a biological interpretation of one another. They are growing and adapting to their environments through narration. 2001 is stated in this book because of the way it was adapting biologically to the world and how Kubrick adapted it to make it his own. The book was adapting biologically through different levels and also each author was making it its own.
"Adaptation." Def. 2. Encarta World English Dictionary. 2007. Microsoft. 6 Dec. 2008
Ager, Robert. "2001: A Space Odyssey - in-depth analysis." Kubrick: and beyond the cinema frame. 2008. 7 Dec. 2008
Clarke, Author. 2001: A Space Odyssey. New York, NY: Signet, 1968.
Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon, 2000.
Dell, Diane. "Vocabulary List for Biodiversity." 25 Nov. 2008
DeMet, George D. "2001: A Space Odyssey Internet Resource Archive." 1994-2001. Palantir.net. 2 Dec. 2008
IBM 7094. Daisy. Rec. 1961. Max Mathews. Audio and Video. 2008. Vortex Technology. 7 Dec. 2008
2001: A Space Odyssey. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. DVD. 1968.