Tag Archive: postmodern


         -An imitation of the passage in Chapter 13 on page 108-109

     “The books from which Felix instructed Safie were George Orwell’s 1984 and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. I should not have understood the significance of these books had not Felix, in reading them, described the magnitude of the ideas implicated by the novels. Through these works, I obtained a rudimentary understanding of the history and ideology behind the most infamous socialist nations of the past and present. I heard from Orwell of the social rigidity and homogeneity of Oceania and from Solzhenitsyn’s writings I heard of the avaricious and recreant Soviets and Felix even told of the cruelty of Chairman Mao in the People’s Republic of China. I heard of the collectivization of farms under Joseph Stalin and I wept with Safie over the hapless fate of the destitute kulaks.”

“ These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so innovative, so virtuous, and conscientious, yet so brutal, envious, and insatiable? He appeared at one time a mere mouthpiece of an evil ideology, and at another as all that can be conceived as fair and compassionate. To be a merciful and just man appeared the highest honour that can befall man; to be envious and brutal, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more pitiful than that of the blind bat or harmless dove. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or why there were laws and governments put in place to assist such actions; but when I heard of how envy of the wealthy was being masked as compassion for the poor, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with abhorrence and a feeling of injustice.”

“Every conversation of the cottagers now exposed new forms of malevolence to me. While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of socialist society was explained to me. I heard of the government’s ownership of property, of equal wealth for all regardless of occupation; of rigidity, groupthink, and malevolence.

The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned that the purpose for such socialist systems was for the equivalence of power and wealth. A man should only be respected if he expressed compassion for those who found themselves at the bottom of any hierarchy and contempt for those who have succeeded much of their own accord. Thus, man was doomed to waste his powers to bestow uniform riches for all people. And so what was my place in this society? Of my creation and creator, I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I possessed no capital, no companions, no kind of property. Was I then to receive the pity and compassion of man or would I merely bear witness to the eradication of any man, who in any of his various identities, was considered a tyrant; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. In these attributes, I knew that I was superior to man, yet with regards to my capital I was an inferior being. What was I then? Was I, then, a victim, a child to be cared for, from which all people empathized with and whom all men pitied? Or was I then an oppressor, a taskmaster to be exterminated from the face of the Earth, from whom all men despised and envied.

I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me: I tried to rationalize the reasons for which such system would function without such pathology, but the more I tried to rationalize such ideas, the more I realized the incoherence of such ideas. Should I then separate myself from the society of man, ensuring my survival and evading my inevitable dishonest obliteration from the face of this Earth?

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

            Regarding my short parody, I choose to imitate the structure and formal aspects of the passage on page 108-109 of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This passage depicted the creature learning all about human history and the nature of human society in the present; He does this by listening in to Felix’s conversations with Safie as he attempts to teach her how to speak the same language as him. In reading this passage I realized that it often discussed aspects of capitalist based societies as being evil and in some senses unfair. This insinuation of the evils of capitalism is mentioned through constant mentions of a “division of property, of immense wealth” and of higher “rank” being attributed to those who had more money. In attempting to recreate this passage for a modern audience, I reflected on the constant recurrence of the espousals of socialist ideals and of the degradation of capitalism that I hear on a constant basis. Thus, I decided to use this parody as an admonition of the adoption of socialist ideals. Far too often I see the espousal of socialist ideals often grounded in the name of compassion without the recognition of the dangers that socialism has presented throughout history. While socialism is often masked by compassion, it often is motivated by the envy of those who succeed in a free market capitalist system and because of this socialism in many different variations and in different times throughout history has resulted in the mass genocide of those often seen as successful. Furthermore, those people who more recently have embraced the ideas of socialism are those ideologues – usually on the extremes of the political spectrum- who adopt a small number of incoherent irrational axioms to live their life by and center their belief systems around. Because of this adherence to ideologies and social systems based on faulty axioms, I found it incredibly important to broadcast the dangers of socialism. In keeping true to the original passage, I kept the original structure, form, and used similar language to that in the original passage. The original passage began with the creature learning about history from the teachings of Safie by Felix and in my parody, this remains true except he learns of the socialist dictators of the past and portrayed in novels. In this teaching, I chose to use George Orwell’s 1984 and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago to be the novels from which the creature and Safie learn from. This is because Orwell’s novel emphasizes the dangers of groupthink and of the danger of centralizing power in the government while Solzhenitsyn’s novel focuses on the horrors and tragedies that people- usually those with even a modicum of wealth- experienced during the Russian Revolution.  Next, the creature reflects on how man can value such high moral principles yet simultaneously act against them and in my parody I kept similar dialogue but made the dialogue apply in the context of a degeneration of socialism. Finally, the creature speaks of fundamental aspects of human society with an insinuation of an aversion to capitalism and thus in my parody, I used the same structure in my criticism of socialism. Overall, my goal in this project was to convey a caution against the adoption of socialist ideals often adopted in our modern society through a comparably similar imitation of the original passage.

-Steven Gonzalez

December 5, 2018

by Steven Gonzalez

In Anne Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, she ineffectively asserts that the manipulation of “nature” by scientists invalidates the findings and of said scientists and carries some sort of underlying oppressive patriarchal nature through the gendering of ideas, phenomena, and other scientific occurrences. Anne Mellor draws comparisons between scientists who attempt to manipulate nature and Victor Frankenstein who does much of the same in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. More specifically, she frequently cites Frankenstein’s creation of the creature and his constant reference to nature as being feminine as his patriarchal oppression of the opposite sex. Ultimately, Frankenstein’s manipulation of nature in the novel has a vague and ambiguous connection to his oppressive nature to women at best.

Frankenstein’s frequent reference to nature as feminine is not an indicator of his oppressiveness in the least. As Victor began to immerse himself in the sciences, he describes what a philosopher had exposed to him, ” He had partially unveiled the face of nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery.”(Shelley 46). In this quote, Frankenstein genders Nature but not as a means to demean her but as a mechanism used to understand her. We as humans have a proclivity to characterize that which is abstract as having gender so that we can better understand how they are or operate. Victor even regards nature as “a wonder and mystery “in the quote further supporting the idea that the reference to nature as a female is a mechanism used to understand her and not used a means to demean women by comparing them to a chaotic nature. Additionally, Victor’s attempt to manipulate nature is not so much a way for Frankenstein to express his narcissistic nature or to display Victor’s God complex. Instead, Victor’s manipulation of nature is a result of his curiosity; he manipulates nature in an attempt to stretch his understanding of nature’s bounds and limits. Victor is a classic scientist: ruled by the curiosity and pursuit of knowledge in the unknown. Victor recounts when he was younger stating, ” And thus for a time, I was occupied by exploded systems, mingling, like an unadept, a thousand contradictory theories, and floundering desperately in a very slough of multifarious knowledge, guided by an ardent imagination and childish reasoning.”(Shelley 47). This quote shows that what has guided Victor in his work in the sciences has been his imagination and the curiosity of what could and could not be. Victor’s undying curiosity of the unknown within nature is shown when he recalls a thunderstorm he witnessed when he was young stating, ” and the thunder burst at once with frightful loudness from various quarters of the heavens. I remained, while the storm lasted, watching its progress with curiosity and delight.” (Shelley 47). Once again we see Victor delighted and curious with regards to mysteries which nature holds and never describes nature in such a way to disparage or trivialize her.

Anne Mellor ineffectively and ambiguously makes the argument that Victor through his manipulation and characterization of nature engages in “sexual politics”. On the other hand, I do agree with her portrayal of real-life pseudo-scientists who attempt to stretch the bounds of nature and reality without success( not necessarily with her connection to these pseudo-scientists and their characterization of certain phenomena as feminine. Ultimately, it seems like Anne Mellor is projecting her postmodern feminist misconceptions on Victor Frankenstein, who I believe to be the noble, curious, yet ignorant scientist.