Oct 24 2010

Steam Engines and Clocks

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Response to Walt Whitman’s To a locomotive in winter.

It is clear that Whitman is bringing attention to the locomotive. A Whitman set the setting up from the very beginning and tells us that is winter and that snow is present.  There is a lot of personification taking place. He is constantly referring to it as a person and says “thee “. He also begins to list all its mystifying qualities. He uses Descriptive words to imagine what the locomotive looks like. It’s almost as if the whole poem is dedicated to the magnificence of the locomotive. The locomotive has a “madly-whistled laughter “.Whitman refers to the locomotive as panting and roaring as it makes its way along. It is a “fierce –throated beauty” that plays along to its own tune.

Steam Engine: wheels, requires man to navigate, transporter of sort, steam, smoke

Response to William Wordsworth “Steamboats, Viaducts and Railways”

I’m not sure I got what Wordsworth was speaking about at first but then when I took a second look at the title I realized it’s a sonnet and how much more sense it made. “Motions and Means, on land and sea” is an interesting name to call vehicles/transporters. Be it railcars, ships, boats, or cars. I didn’t many people dedicated poems to celebrate “Steamboats, Viaducts and Railways”. He looks at the new technology as being both a good thing and a bad thing. Sure it “mars loveliness of natures” but it also embraces it. Even though technology has its way of interfering with nature whether it be that it takes natures space and place in society or pollutes  its air. Nature is a part of man just like technology is.

Clock: wheels of some sort?, numbers , tells time, hands , ticking

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Oct 15 2010

Writing for Writing’s Sake ” A way to stay Sane?

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The function of Crusoe’s diary, it seems, is not to anatomize the self, but rather to keep track of it in the modern fashion that Riesman [David Riesman, author of The Lonely Crowd] describes: “The diary-keeping that is so significant a symptom of the new type of character may be viewed as an inner time-and-motion study by which the individual records and judges his output day by day. It is evidence of the separation between the behaving and observing self.”
–Leopold Damrosch, Jr., “Myth and Fiction in Robinson Crusoe”

We find out in Chapter seven that Crusoe has been keeping a journal of events he has gone through. The journal begins with his first post on September 30, 1659 and begins to tell the reader of earlier events of his life on the “Island of Despair”. Even though it doesn’t tell us much of anything that we don’t know already Crusoe is determined to be repetitive and share the information with us; almost like he is reassuring himself. Crusoe also mentions that because he doesn’t know which day is Sunday he is unable to observe the Sabbath as if he is making an excuse for his lack of religious obedience. The journal allows for us to see into Crusoe’s mind as well as the character’s self identity. He refers to himself as “poor, miserable Robinson Crusoe” and this is how we are introduced to him. One can’t help but feel a sense of pity for him. It is confusing as to what type of man Crusoe truly is because the narrative voice is more self assured and inventive.
Crusoe is obsessed in getting everything right but the events recorded do not add up to the real life events occurring at the moment. He writes that he landed on the island on September 30th and that the idea that he should keep a journal didn’t come to him until after having had spent “ten or twelve days “on the island and yet is first entry is September 30th. It is evident that Crusoe is not being as truthful as he leads on. Riesman writes that the journal is “as an inner time-and-motion study by which the individual records and judges his output day by day” . Since he thinks he is the only inhabitant of the island at first he resolves to write down all that goes on around him. His accounts all filled with his accomplishments. The journal is self-serving to Crusoe and gives him a sense of completeness. Every mundane activity is recoded with vigorous enthusiasm.

After he begins to write in his journal “daily” Crusoe seems to have gone through a conversion of some sort. He has many religious moments but seems to disregard them after awhile. For example when he sees the corn sprouts at first he thinks of it as something great but later discounts it as mere luck. Then later when he falls ill he seeks divine intervention and seems very sincere. He imagines seeing an angle that tells him that he must repent for his sins. His hallucination added with the excerpt he reads from the bible seems to be a turning point for him. When he is well, he falls to his knees and thanks God for his recovery. After his “rebirth” Crusoe seems to have changed for the better. He no longer seems the Island as a place of misery and punishment but rather as a place he can call home. And when he starts treating it as such he is a much happier person. It also seems as if he is more sincere in his narrative and accurate. He doesn’t refer to self pity to describe him but rather as a lord and king. And yet only a few pages later he mentions his “unhappy anniversary” of his landing. Crusoe keeping a journal is not only a means for himself to stay sane but also prove t himself everything he has achieved while on the island. Since he is the only one present and out narrator we can only sit back and trust what he tells us to be the truth just as he convinces himself of everything that is going on.

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Oct 04 2010

Techno Criticism of The Tempest

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Hasina Islam

Professor Frederick Buell

English 399w

Honors Seminar

Techno Criticism of The Tempest

October 4, 2010

The Power of Language as Technology in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest, language is used as technology to drive the plot forward. Written and spoken language becomes the spells and enchantments that Prospero uses. According to the English oxford dictionary magic is the use of ritual activities or observances which are intended to influence the course of event or to manipulate the natural world If we take technology to mean the application of science in a commerce/ industry then can we not call magic some sort of science?. Prospero not only serves as the playwright but also the magician who keeps the audience awed by the tricks up his sleeve; Magic and Prospero go hand in hand.

Prospero learns the art of magic from his books and uses it for his own purposes. He wants revenge from his brother for stealing his dukedom but also mystifies everyone on the island by his use of magic. Prospero’s magic is never in detail rather he is the only one that talks about its affects after he has completed a spell. The first time we get a sense that magic is being performed is in Act 1 scene 2,  when he puts on his magic cloak and says “ thou are inclined to sleep” and Miranda immediately falls asleep.

He is able to alter the condition in which his victims are in. Later he uses his magic to paralyze Ferdinand and “charms him from moving”.

When it comes to his slave Caliban, Prospero  uses a different technique. Instead of magically harming him, Prospero constantly threatens to make Caliban suffer by torturing him. Though we never get to see the tortures Proper promises to Caliban, we hear of them.  Prospero says

“ for this be sure , tonight thou shalt have cramps,

Side stitches that shall pen thy breath up, urchins

Shall forth at vast of night that they may work

All exercise on thee. Thou shat be pinched

As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging

Than bees that made’em”  (I.II. lines 328-333)

It is important to note the power Prospero has over his words and what he is able to accomplish with them, almost as if he has mastered the art of spoken language. Whenever there is another character involved Prospero is able to use words to get them to do as he chooses, such is the case with Miranda and Ferdinand. Caliban on the other hand is the only one who seems to outright defy Prospero. Even then his defiance is very minimal to Prospero. Caliban challenges Prospero’s superiority and says the only thing he has learnt from language is the art of cursing.

       Ariel Prospero’s personal slave is subject to Prospero’s authority over him. But unlike Caliban who possess no magical abilities Ariel is quite the charmer. He is able to use magic language in his songs to create spells and enchantments. An example of this is when Ariel sings into Gonzalo’s ear and tells him  

“while you here do snoring lie,

Open-eyed conspiracy

His time doth take

If life you keep a care,

Shake off slumber and beware

Awake, awake!” (II.II.295-300)

With his proclamation of “now, good angels preserve the King! “(II.I.302). Gonzalo awakens and stops Sebastian and Antonio from killing Alonso. Ariel uses music and song to demonstrate his magical abilities as well as inform Gonzalo of the conspiracy that Sebastian and Antonio are planning. Later when Caliban is kneeling in front of Stephano Ariel mimics Trinculo’s voice and calls him a liar. This creates a disagreement between Stephano who believes it is Trinculo speaking. Unfortunate Caliban who is repeatedly called a liar by the nobles. Poor Trinculo receives a few blows even though he has stayed silent the entire time. Ariel creates discords between Caliban and the nobles thus disrupting their plan to overthrow Prospero.

Caliban says it is through his books that Prospero that he gets is power ; written/printed  language.  He finds out about Sebastian and Antonio’s scheme. The audience learns that Prospero’s magic lies in the books he uses. And again later Caliban mentions to Stephano and Trinculo

Remember ,

First to posses his books, for without them

He’s but a sot, as I am, nor hath not

One spirit to command. They do all hate him

As rootedly as I. Burn his books (III.II.86-90)

Prospero’s magic lies in his books. It is his devotion to studying that made him lose his focus and later his dukedom. Written language is the root of his power. While isolated Prospero has only he and the technology / magic he is studying acquired. It is as if he is given a choice to pick between the world and his magic. At first it was his books and so his brother took advantage and seized the throne for himself. Later on the island he kept his distance from his daughter and spent time alone with his spirits/magic. After awhile he tires of being isolated from the world because of his knowledge and so he vows to let it all go; He wants to be rid of his books and find his place in the world. Even with Miranda Prospero doesn’t quite let her in and therefore she is not well informed about her past and where she comes from. Miranda has no power over language and only knows to speak.

In conclusion it is quite evident that the source of technology in The Tempest is language whether it be spoken or written. Magic as Technology serves the purpose of moving the plot forward as well as understanding the character of Prospero; the playwright. While Miranda learns only speech from language and Caliban profanity both Ariel and Prospero learn technology. They use their new found knowledge of technology to alter situations around them and to their favor. Ariel’s power is limited to song and music while Prospero’s power goes beyond that. He is able not only to utter magical spells but also read them. No other character has the same technological means as Prospero.

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Sep 23 2010

Outline

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Hasina Islam

Professor Frederick Buell

English 399w

Honors Seminar

Second Assignment : outline

September 23, 2010

Magic as a moving force ,Technology

I. Magic in the play

a.. What is the role of magic in the play?

b.  does it have limitations

c. helps move the play along?

II. Magic as a possible theme?

Importance of spells/ potions/ books in the play

Prospero as a Magician?

Spirits ( Ariel  ) and their use of magic

III. Location/ Climate/ Temperature allowance of Magic?  

What’s considered an Illusion

What is realistic / reality of the island

Random thoughts

Like a magic show the play lasts only a few hours

Music in the background in a magic show , music is played in the play  sets the mood

Prospero is the magician , knows all the tricks

Magic is a thematic device?

Prospero’s magic spoken words? Never described in detail only Prospero talks of his magic

Spoken incantations powerful ?

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Sep 23 2010

Prospero’s use of the parapsychlogical as technology in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Hasina Islam

Professor Frederick Buell

English 399w

Honors Seminar

Second Assignment

September 23, 2010

Prospero’s use of the parapsychlogical as technology in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Throughout The Tempest, many characters use magic to drive the plot forward. It is these spells and enchantments that become the representative of the power of language. According to the English oxford dictionary magic is the use of ritual activities or observances which are intended to influence the course of event or to manipulate the natural world If we take technology to mean the application of science in a commerce/ industry then can we not call magic some sort of science?. Prospero not only servers are the playwright but also the magician who keeps the audience awed by the tricks up his sleeve; Magic and Prospero go hand in hand.

Prospero learns the art of magic from his books and uses it for his own purposes. He wants to take revenge from his brother for stealing his dukedom but also mystifies everyone one the island by his use of magic. Prospero’s magic is never in detail rather he is the only one that talks about its affects after he has completed a spell. The first time we get a sense that magic is being performed is in Act 1 scene 2,  he puts on his magic cloak and says “ thou are inclined to sleep” and Mirada immediately falls asleep. He is able to alter the condition hi victim are in . Later he uses his magic to paralyze Ferdinand and “charms him from moving”.

When is comes to his slave Caliban, Prospero so uses a different technique. Instead of magically harming him, Prospero constantly threatens to make Caliban suffer by torturing him. Though we never get to see the tortures Proper promises to Caliban, we hear of them.  Prospero says

“ for this be sure , tonight thou shalt have cramps,

Side stitches that shall pen thy breath up, urchins

Shall forth at vast of night that they may work

All exercise on thee. Thou shat be pinched

As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging

Than bees that made’em”  (I.II. lines 328-333)

It’s important to note the power Prospero has over his words and what he is able to accomplish with them, almost as if he has mastered the art of spoken language. Whenever there is another character involved Prospero is able to use words to get the to do as he chooses, such is the case with Miranda and Ferdinand. Caliban on the other hand is the only one who seems to outright defy Prospero. Even then his defiance is very minimal to Prospero. Caliban challenges Prospero’s superiority and says the only thing he has learnt from language is the art of cursing.

            Like Caliban, Ariel Prospero’s personal slave is subject to Prospero’s authority over him. But unlike Caliban who possess no magical abilities Ariel is quite the charmer. He is able to use magic language in his songs to create spells and enchantments. Ariel sings into Gonzalo’s ear and tells him  

“while you here do snoring lie,

Open-eyed conspiracy

His time doth take

If life you keep a care,

Shake off slumber and beware

Awake, awake!” (II.II.295-300)

With his proclamation of “now, good angels preserve the King! “(II.I.302). Gonzalo awakes and stops Sebastian and Antonio from killing Alonso. Ariel uses music and song to demonstrate his magical abilities as well as inform Gonzalo of the conspiracy that Sebastian and Antonio were planning. Again when Caliban I kneeling in front of Stephano Ariel mimics Trinculo’s voice and calls him a liar. This creates a disagreement between Stephano who believes it is Trinculo speaking, Caliban who is repeatedly called a liar and poor Trinculo who suffers a few blows even though h was mum. Ariel creates discords between Caliban and the nobles thus disrupting their plan to overthrow Prospero.

            Ariel says it is through his books that Prospero finds out about Sebastian and Antonio’s scheme. The audience learns that Prospero’s magic lies in the books he uses. And again later Caliban mentions to Stephano and Trinculo

Remember ,

First to posses his books, for without them

He’s but a sot, as I am, nor hath not

One spirit to command. They do all hate him

As rootedly as I. Burn his books (III.II.86-90)

Prospero’s magic lies in his books. It is his devotion to studying that made him lose his focus and later his dukedom. While isolated Prospero has only himself and the technology/ magic he is studying/ acquired. Even with Miranda Prospero doesn’t quite let her in and therefore she is not well informed about her past and where she comes from. It is as if he is given a choice to pick between the world and his magic. At first it was his books and so his brother took advantage and seized the throne for himself. Later on the island he kept his distance from his daughter and spent time alone with his spirits. After awhile he tired of being isolated from the world because of his knowledge and so he vows to let it all go; He wants to be rid of his books and find his place in the world.

Throughout the play here have been many instances where Prospero either his minions were showing off their magical abilities by getting those around them to do as they wished. It I evident that Magic is a type of technology that Prospero is using to not only move the plot along but also to make use of the power of language. In the epilogue Prospero asks the audience to applaud him for giving up his books, he is setting his magical items aside. The enchantment is over and so is the play.

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Sep 04 2010

Iron Stairs

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There’s something about this poem that makes me want to randomly pick out words before I start reading it. I think it’s the way the poem looks on the page like one tall building.

Random word associations before reading the poem

Iron stairs – man made

Roof – man made , machine involved

Machines involved?

Cops – institutions that control and regulate

Suicide victim?

Bullet proof vests- machine made

Parapet ?

————–

It’s hard not to notice all the technology mentioned in the poem. Sharon Olds uses vivid imagery to tell the tale of a possible suicide mission. From the moment the poem beings with the man/machine made iron stairs it is clear that the protagonist is trying to escape all that surrounds him. The area between the roof and the ground seems to be void of anything related to technology. It is free empty air and his means of escape. Even when he is on the brink of dying he is not given his last rite but rather forced to take his place in the world. It’s as if the institutions around the people of the city have gotten used people wanting to get away. When the cops arrive they aren’t even bothered by the situation at all. Even when he threatens to jump the cop continues to talk to him and everything around them is prepared to prevent him from dying.

————-

Summer Solstice, New York City

By the end of the longest day of the year he could not stand it,
he went up the iron stairs through the roof of the building
and over the soft, tarry surface
to the edge, put one leg over the complex green tin cornice
and said if they came a step closer that was it.
Then the huge machinery of the earth began to work for his life,
the cops came in their suits blue-gray as the sky on a cloudy evening,
and one put on a bullet-proof vest, a
black shell around his own life,
life of his children’s father, in case
the man was armed, and one, slung with a
rope like the sign of his bounden duty,
came up out of a hole in the top of the neighboring building
like the gold hole they say is in the top of the head,
and began to lurk toward the man who wanted to die.
The tallest cop approached him directly,
softly, slowly, talking to him, talking, talking,
while the man’s leg hung over the lip of the next world
and the crowd gathered in the street, silent, and the
hairy net with its implacable grid was
unfolded near the curb and spread out and
stretched as the sheet is prepared to receive at birth.
then they all came a little closer
where he squatted next to his death, his shirt
glowing in a dish at night in the dark in a lab and then
everything stopped
as his body jerked and he
stepped down from the parapet and went toward them
and they closed on him, I thought they were going to
beat him up, as a mother whose child has been
lost will scream at the child when it’s found, they
took him by the arms and held him up and
leaned him against the wall of the chimney and the
tall cop lit a cigarette
in his own mouth, and gave it to him, and
then they all lit cigarettes, and the
red, glowing ends burned like the
tiny campfires we lit at night
back at the beginning of the world.

Sharon Olds
from The Gold Cell (Knopf, 1987)

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