Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Questions/Comments on Ware/Marcuse, Week 2

Post your comments & questions, as always, to this thread.

7 comments:

Taylor Hochuli said...

(Part 1) The finale of Jimmy Corrigan was actually very enjoyable especially with the twist of Jimmy’s father dying (although it was foreshadowed in past sections, See my Essay #6). There is only one section toward the end that confused me. When Jimmy returns home and has concluded his visit with his mother, I’m not sure if Jimmy actually is planning to commit suicide or if the suicide imagery is a sign of him giving up in general. First, Jimmy visits the street where the man dressed as superhero committed suicide and looks up toward the top of his building as if he is thinking about doing the same thing. As Jimmy rides home on the subway, he glances in the mirror and at the sight of his reflection contemplates what he will do when he gets home and can only imagine sitting in his chair and doing nothing. These thoughts have question marks beneath them to signal that Jimmy can’t think of something else he will do when he returns to his life again. At this thought (which repeats for three thought bubbles), Jimmy puts his head down in despair. Jimmy then goes to the top of his building and distributes many heart pendants that go to the women he cares for (his mother, Peggy, and his step-sister Amy). When looking at Amy’s pendant, Jimmy thinks back to her rejection of him and begins to cry. In his misery, he dreams that he becomes the man dressed as a superman who commits suicide. Right as dream Jimmy is about to jump, he is ripped out of this sad imagery by his new female co-worker that brings him hope of a better future.

In most novels (that I have read anyway), the idea that there is no future or an unending struggle in the future that cannot be removed is the sign that a character is about to commit actual suicide. It is the ultimate form of showing how a flawed society or system leads to someone who can imagine such a desolate universe. The death of Lennie comes when George shoots him once he realized that Lennie’s disabilities can never be accepted in the society is a noticeable example in the book Of Mice and Men (even though it is not a suicide, its along similar lines). The character of Cherryl Brooks offs herself when she sees that there is “no future” in a society that praises passivity over activity in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Such signs are seen when Jimmy returns to the spot of another person who committed suicide, makes his final goodbye to his mom, and begins imagining death while high up in his office. He only thinks of the fact that he has no future since his father is dead, his mother has found a new man, his step-sister has turned against him, and his only chance at love is just a fantasy. All these signs truly signal that Jimmy will commit suicide until the new co-worker gives him a reason to care about the future. The reader doesn’t see Jimmy actually attempt suicide, but I feel that these pieces of the book point to the idea that he would really kill himself if it wasn’t for this girl that enters his life.

Taylor Hochuli said...

(Part 2) For this week’s reading of Marcuse, I picked up on the idea that science turns nature into something classified and only evaluated in terms of it’s worth. He argues that science, “projects nature as potential instrumentality, stuff of control and organization.” Raw materials in nature are taken only for their production value which is good for productivity, but is actually reducing society by sustaining the industrial age. I can see this in a book I’m reading for another class called Solaris. All the scientific community does according to the book is scramble to classify phenomena on a new planet called “Solaris” and trying to get some use out of the planet. The planet keeps an abnormal orbit around two suns by shifting the ocean covering the planet’s surface. The planet is, in fact, a life form that is far beyond human contemplation, despite intense efforts to communicate and extract information from the planet. All the planet represents is something to be classified and then put toward production according to the scientific community, exactly as Marcuse points out. There is less indicated in the book about the society the characters live in, but it still seems to be ruled by scientific Reason and is a One-dimensional Society as defined by Marcuse since it follows these scientific values.

Brian DeWillie said...

In Marcuse, I was a little confused when he was talking about objective vs. subjective, especially when he says, 'physics "does not measure the objective qualities of the external and material world-these are only the results obtained by the accomplishment of such operations."' I don't have the best understanding of Marcuse but is he saying that objectivity in its purest form doesn't really exist? I think he mentions later in the text that we can't know if our scientific theories are really the "truth" and just based on some of my other classes, I think I would agree with him there. An example of this is the inverse square law of gravitation. Mathematical models are created through experiments that show that gravitational force varies proportionally to the inverse square of distance between two objects, however, this model may vary for extremely small scales and extremely large scales. More research is being done that suggests more forces and more dimensions that aren't fully understood.

Jackson Crowder said...

Chapter six of One Dimensional Man really spoke to me and I feel that it has spoken or will speak to all of us. Essentially, (at least the way I read it) he's saying that we live in a society that has become so hopelessly dependent on its technology that we have become slaves to it. Man has created technology to help himself dominate or have dominion over the natural world. But, somewhat like Frankenstein's monster, Marcuse theorizes that his creation is now out of his hands. We are all examples to support his argument. My computer is slowly but surely falling to ruin and I have become obsessed with getting a new one so that the latest technology will be at my fingertips. The same thing goes for my phone. People line up for hours if not days to be among the first to get the new iphone or ipad. Have you ever left your smart phone at home by accident? You feel isolated, helpless, cut off from the world. I know that I do. Today we have so much trouble imagining how people lived before the dawn of iphones and GS3's and the like. Marcuse would say, and I agree with him wholeheartedly that it is because we have become slaves to our own creations. The master and slave analogy he uses at the chapter's beginning is particularly fitting. Just as slaves were dependent on their masters to provide the basic means for life, we are becoming more and more dependent on our technology to provide ours. Our phones enable us to communicate with others, stay up on happenings in our communities and abroad, and even tell us where to find food when we want it. Chapter six was one of the most fascinating we have read yet because I believe that it is one of the most socially relevant.

Janine Talis said...

In the second half of Jimmy Corrigan, I noticed a format change, most notably with the section on Jimmy's grandfather. Part way through the long stretch of his grandfather's story line, the narrative suddenly switched from a third person/omnipotent narrator to a first person narrator, starting when he is at the italian boy's house. It is also around this time that his character seems to become more like Jimmy. The girl with the red-hair's face is no longer shown (but was shown in the first half), and he starts having some disturbing dreams directed toward his father.

I'm not very good at reading Marcuse. His language and ideas easily confuse me. I did notice that he kept seeming to contrast technical apparatus with technological apparatus. What exactly is he referring to, and what are the differences between the two?

Karen Knutson said...

I enjoyed reading Marcuse this week and I felt like the first part was dealing with the quantative nature of science which I personally love and how science used to be very qualitative and now these two ideas need to be in a certain balance. This is just pure fuel for my RPG. I feel like Marcuse wants to be more abstract, but in science that is very difficult because we need statistics to prove that what we hypothesise is actually happening or not, and it seems like he understands that this is the case and also hits on a very important flaw, is that we understand things in layers, and if one layer is proven false, then other layers may also fall to the ground (which is also exciting if you ask me). I got a bit lost closer to the end because a lot of philosophy was being thrown around as well as other languages, but I want to use this section a lot in my RPG because it would be so natural to throw in. "The machiene is indifferent toward the social uses to which it is put, provided those uses remain within its technical capabillities." So true.

I enjoyed that Jimmy may have a possible love interest at the end. Also I wonder why Jimmy wears the superman sweatshirt through most of the ending of the comic. He then wears his grandfather's clothes and is that trying to repesent a full circle thing? Also the keychains at the end are so depressing. He just wants to find some sort attention from the other gender

Roger Sepich said...

When I started reading the second half of Jimmy Corrigan, I thought the rest of the book might lead up to a climax where Jimmy finally meets his sister that he suddenly finds out is half black. But then he's forced into meeting her at the hospital when his dad gets into a car accident. This was my favorite scene of the entire book, I think. Between Jimmy wearing a silly Superman shirt and being doubly nervous at his dad's accident and meeting his sister for the first time, along with the way the doctor slowly reads off all of the dad's injuries in medical terminology, it made me laugh at something I probably shouldn't have been laughing at, which is at some moments the brilliance of this book. But I have to admit, I was shocked when his dad died and felt really bad for Jimmy in that moment when his sister pushes him away.

When I finished the book, I didn't really know what to make of everything that happened. Jimmy finally finds a family and then he loses it in a flash, and then he seems to be having suicidal thoughts before he talks to the new girl working across from him.

I think my main question at the end was just, where does Jimmy go from here? What happens with this girl he starts talking to in the office, or does she leave his life as quickly as she entered it (like his dad and sister), leaving him on the brink again? The ending just felt so open-ended for me, but that can be both a good and bad thing.