Response Assignment #1

city-of-sun.jpgAfter reading the handout with excerpts from The City of the Sun and the four chapters in Frankenstein, consider the following questions. You do not have to answer any specific set of questions, and you are also free to write about something else that takes your attention, but your discussion about each reading should be thoughtful and critical, paying particular attention to themes within both readings that point tofrankenstein_monster_boris_karloff.jpg contemporary cyberspace culture. Be sure to address BOTH readings, and also engage in a discussion with your student colleagues. Do not merely repeat what another student writes, but rather discuss your own thoughts as they relate to those of others.

* Back up your thoughts with examples and/or quotes from the text!!

1. What kind of world does The City of the Sun seem to describe? In what ways does this narrative seem to inform or reflect human society’s inevitable move toward a cyberspace culture? Provide examples and quotes.

2. Discuss Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession with creating another being as it relates to contemporary issues of science and technology today. What parallels seem to exist between today’s reality and this fictional story? What are the parallel ethical issues? Provide examples and quotes.

3. In what ways does the monster exemplify or seem to describe the contemporary idea of the cyborg? Is the monster an early literary version of the cyborg? Why or why not? Provide examples and quotes.

4. Reflect upon and describe the gendered characteristics, behaviors, and actions described of the people in The City of the Sun and the monster within Frankenstein. In what ways are gender borders being crossed? How do these descriptions parallel contemporary issues of gender, particularly as influenced by the culture of cyberspace? Provide examples and quotes.

5. How is interaction with the reader achieved in Frankenstein and/or The City of the Sun? How is that similar and/or different from an entry in a face book or a myspace journal?

Advertisements

20 responses to “Response Assignment #1

  1. 3. In what ways does the monster exemplify or seem to describe the contemporary idea of the cyborg? Is the monster an early literary version of the cyborg? Why or why not? Provide examples and quotes.

    Frankenstein’s monster exemplifies the contemporary idea of the cyborg in many of the points we discussed in class. Dr. Frankenstein never really refers to his creation as a fellow human but rather just that, a creation (Chapter 4, p 41, 42). Frankenstein’s monster and the cyborg share a history in that they were both born of medicine, Frankenstein’s desire “to bestow animation upon lifeless matter” (p 40) and eventually “renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” (p40). The question of whether Frankenstein and his monster cross boundaries isn’t so much if they do as it is which boundaries they cross, human and machine (though composed of human parts, the monster is assembled in a manner similar to a machine), real and unreal (a body reanimated isn’t possible yet Dr. Frankenstein restores life), even the boundaries of gender (Dr. Frankenstein’s creation of life).

    For the most part I would agree that Frankenstein’s monster is in fact an early literary version of the cyborg save for one point, the monster is clearly male as evidenced by his asking for a mate (Chapter 16, p126).

    Am I the only one that finds it odd Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize the word “cyborg”?
    – Alex

  2. oops, forgot my e-mail…
    maeembers[at]gmail[dot]com

  3. I’ll guide you all a bit through the first set of responses. Alex’s response was excellent in that it made reference to class discussion about cyborgian elements and also referred to some text. A good jumping off point from his response above would be to consider his arguments and respond (either pro or against) with textual support (or evidence). One question, for example that comes to my mind from reading his response would be: Do you agree or disagree with Alex’s assumption that asking for a mate is evidence of gender? Furthermore, what textual examples in the text support Haraway’s claim that the cyborg is genderless? (If the monster is indeed a cyborg, what in the text suggests he is either genderless or perhaps has a fluid gender identity?)

  4. I have a question with the other two links I was trying out the links but they don’t seem to be working. I don’t know if anyone came across with the same problem. I might of even type it wrong. Let me know what I’m doing wrong. Here are the links:

    http:/kristenscott.net/index/page_10988.html

    http://kristenscott.net/index/cyberlit/fall07

  5. I agree with Alex that Frankenstein’s creation seems to be clearly male. I think desiring a woman is evidence, but also the fact that he is referred to as a male in sentences like “his limbs were in proportion…” and “his jaws opened…..” (both chapter 5).

    I did find it interesting, however, that Frankenstein does not refer to the gender of the corpses he harvested. I suppose he could have used some parts from women. He also uses words like “thing,” “creature,” and “monster” which are gender-nuetral. I think this opens up issues on the fluidity of gender in general. For instance, I am a male, but if I get a blood transfusion or a transplant from a female, does that make me less male?

    As far as Haraway’s assertion that cyborgs have no gender, I recall that Kristin mentioned this was the most controversial of her arguments. I can see why. I think that she was using cyborgs as a metaphor to discuss gender and feminism, and those are her primary foci, rather than “cyborg theory.”

    If wearing glasses makes me a cyborg, and cyborgs have no gender, does that mean I have no gender? It just seems like a bizarre assertion to me. I do find it impressive, however, that Haraway set out to discuss feminism, politics, and science, and in the process, founded a new area of theory.

    Corey

  6. 5. How is interaction with the reader achieved in Frankenstein and/or The City of the Sun? How is that similar and/or different from an entry in a face book or a myspace journal?

    While reading Frankenstein, I noticed immediately how intimate the narrative is. The accounts by both Frankenstein and the monster are very confessional—both characters talk at length about their emotions…They express quite freely their aspirations, desires, and fears, however dark or unappealing. This is particularly interesting on the part of Frankenstein, who describes his true feelings (as far as we know hehe…okay I won’t even go there) to the reader and by contrast hides everything about his project from his family and friends: “I dreaded to behold this monster, but I feared still more that Henry should see him (Ch. 5, 46).”

    Frankenstein even goes so far as to address the reader as if they were sitting with her in conversation: “I see by your eagerness and the wonder and hope which your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed of the secret with which I am acquainted; that cannot be; listen patiently until the end of my story…(Ch. 4, 39)” And in true conversational style, Frankenstein digresses into a dialogue about zealous pursuits by the human spirit…which he ironically dismisses as “unlawful (Ch. 4, 42).” He addresses the reader again when he declares, “But I forget that I am moralizing in the most interesting part of my tale, and your looks remind me to proceed (Ch. 4, 42).” The line your looks remind me to proceed really drives home the fact that Frankenstein is interacting with the reader…on a ‘physical’ level! This is an interesting parallel to the themes of cyberspace that we had in class. Of course there is no real space where the reader and Frankenstein interact…but the illusion of that interaction and intimacy is still created by Shelley’s narrative style. But like Frankenstein…I digress.

    Interaction with the reader in The City of the Sun is limited to the reader taking a third-person seat to a conversation between the G.M. and the Captain. Due to the nature of the conversation, the narrative is written in an explicatory style, and any personal feelings the G.M. or Captain may have about the systems of the new world are, well, personal. Unless the characters make their feelings explicit through dialogue, the reader gets only raw information about the City of the Sun.

    Both stories can be similar to a blog entry on a social networking site, depending on how the author chooses to communicate in her posts. Some posts may read more like Frankenstein’s narrative in that the author communicates her feelings / fears / hopes, etc., and some posts may read more like The City of the Sun whereby the style is more explicatory (recounting a day at work or a vacation). The latter is more impersonal. Either way, the variety of content on people’s personal blogs is so great that there are a multitude of similarities and differences to both stories.

    In response to the questions about gender in Frankenstein, I tried to read through keeping in mind that the monster could indeed by female. Corey brought up that the monster was referred to with the pronoun ‘his.’ In Ch. 16, the monster refers to itself as ‘he:’ “And then I bent over her and whispered, `Awake, fairest, thy lover is near — he who would give his life but to obtain one look of affection from thine eyes; my beloved, awake! (Ch. 16, 125)”

    But, if you want to be provocative… there were no other indications of gender other than when the monster expressed love for some females it encountered…of course this would have to assume that the monster is heterosexual…it would also have to assume the monster had adequately functioning (and hetero) sexual impulses…Does the monster have an adequate self-awareness to determine its own gender…so in calling itself ‘he’ it fully understands the concept of male? So yeah this debate could go on forever…and this post is LENGTHY so I’ll just stop there.

    P.S. But for all practical purposes I think the monster is a dude.
    P.P.S. The way in which gender interaction took place in The City of the Sun could be a very interesting conversation (separation of the sexes).

    Mindy

  7. City of the Sun is meant to be a utopia. Specifically, it’s a utopia in 1602, and it’s the fictional ideas of the author and not a real functioning society. It is possible that it could work and be an ideal arrangement, but in many ways it sounds to me like a failed experiment done many years later. Of course, I may have a different definition of “failed” than some people. More on that later. To get back on topic, this fictional paradise bears some resemblances to cyberspace. There are a few specific excerpts that easily connect to the virtual world.

    Excerpt 0: One of the first things explained in the handout is that among the many people of the City they have knowledge of every language, culture, and history. My response to that is Wikipedia. As I’m sure everyone knows by now, it’s an entire encyclopedia created by people voluntarily sharing their knowledge in their own areas of expertise. Among all of the users there is someone who knows the answer to any answerable question (and some who think they know the answer to some unanswerable ones).

    Excerpt II: Here the Captain says, “Friendship is recognized among them in war, in infirmity, in the art contests, by which means they aid one another mutually by teaching. Sometimes they improve themselves mutually with praises, with conversation, with actions, and out of the things they need.” This sounds like every online forum I’ve ever been to. Especially forums which feature an art section, there are constantly contests (both official and for pride’s sake) and there will invariably be a showcase of different styles and techniques. Most of these artists will happily share these techniques without a second thought, especially if they can learn something new in return. These forums are all about self improvement. Also in this section is reference to nobility. Those held in highest regards are those who have mastered the most endeavors, not those who get by with the least. Someone who can use Photoshop like a pro, mix music in Acid that sounds like it should be sold, and still get the best K:D ratio in Counter Strike is far more revered than someone who hires people to do these things for them (except that last one…nobody in their right mind would hire someone to play a game over the internet with strangers for them).

    Excerpt VI: It’s not stated very specifically, but near the end of the section El Capitano mentions that there is no real difference between social classes. He refers to social classes when he says “…all the rich and poor together make up the community. They are rich because they want nothing, poor because they possess nothing…” This is exactly true on the internet. Nobody actually has anything on the internet, it’s not physical, but everyone can be a part of however much they wish.

    Now, though this is a bit off topic, I promised I’d get to this in the first paragraph. This City of the Sun has quite a few good ideas, but the key ones around which the entire system for living revolves is extremely similar to something that’s been tried. I considered this system to be failed, but yet many countries actually use it currently…just they’re all third world countries. Those that aren’t have digressed from its doctrines greatly. This system is, of course, communism. The idea behind communism as I understand it is that everyone gets what they need from the community at large, eliminating poverty and social class. For various reasons that I could research and right a book about (in fact, I’m sure many people have), it didn’t work well. It seems odd to me that a utopia in 1602 uses such a similar system…but hey, lots of people thought it would work even in the 1900s, and some still stand by it. Enough about that, though, I’ve completely fallen off the track, crossed the adjacent highway, jumped the ditch, and drove into the lake.

    -Glenn

  8. Please note that when you see “Frankenstein,” at the top of the first two chapters, the “speaker” is the DOCTOR Frankenstein. And then the last two chapters are spoken by the “Monster” —

    We have generally referred to the monster as Frankenstein, but Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (the author of the original story of Frankenstein that you are reading) did not call the monster Frankenstein, rather just “the monster.”

  9. I’m going to have to disagree with most of what has been said thus far about Frankenstein’s monster. I think it can be very easily argued that the monster is in no way a cyborg. Of course, I think when we picture the monster in our minds, the image that rises is very much like the one posted here on the blog, a boxy head (perhaps like some sort of boxy robot?) and bolts on either side of the neck. However, neither of things is a part of the description of the monster that Shelley wrote. Furthermore, while the Doctor is narrating he says, “I collected bones from charnel-houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame…The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials” (Ch4, p41). He also makes mention of his time spent in graveyards and of torturing live animals in an attempt to gain further insight into the spark of life (Ch4 p40). So it becomes plain that the pieces that went into the creation of the monster were entirely of natural origin, and therefore nothing like the mix of man and machine that would go into the creation of a cyborg.

    Furthermore, for a creature such as a cyborg, science and knowledge must come with ease because without those two ideas the cyborg would never have come to fruition. The monster though, is incapable of even the easiest scientific problems. He is utterly unable to figure out how to start a fire (Ch11 p89), and he never seems to figure it out throughout his travels (Ch11 and Ch16). He simply does without.

    Lastly, the monster is engendered. Whether this is so simply because it is easier for Frankenstein and the monster himself to consider him a male or because he is anatomically a male doesn’t matter. The monster views himself as a male, and he requests that Frankenstein create him a companion who “would not deny herself to me” (Ch16 p126). A cyborg, according to Haraway, is genderless, and how can someone with no gender engender themselves and really understand what that means? The monster isn’t a man the way human men are men, but he is male, which is clearly recognizes.

    Dr. Frankenstein could conceivably be seen as a cyborg, in my opinion. It’s more easy to see the assumed godhood that he is chasing, of course. It’s something that Shelley had to be aware of, something she was trying to bring attention to. But it’s of course a dark godhood. Frankenstein himself asks, “Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil…to animate the lifeless clay?” (Ch4 p40). Not only telling about Frankenstein’s knowledge that what he is doing is unnatural, it’s also a blatant allusion to the Book of Genesis and God’s creation of Adam. God was a potter after all and built Adam of clay. But all of that aside, Frankenstein takes a new place in modern literature as the first “mad scientist.” This is where his cyborghood is established. He stretches beyond the scope of his flesh and blood body, becoming obsessed with his chemistry equipment, spreading out over it so that it becomes a part of his passion and life. Also, while cyborgs are genderless, they may reproduce asexually, by building another like themselves. This is exactly what it is that Frankenstein is after. He says, “my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man” (Ch4 p39).

  10. Dr. Frankenstien’s obsession can be seen as a frontier he created for himself that served as a “scientific pursuit…” where “…there is continual food for discovery and wonder”. He was caught up in the idea of striving for an object, a creation. The idea to become greater than nature will allow is seen in Dr. Frankenstein’s intentions. In his solitude of creating a monster, he created an alternative world for himself. It may not be “virtual” or “unreal” but it is a world in which he let himself become ruled by a machine in order to create a human through unnatural processes. The term cyborg comes into play; the monster is a mixture of a human? (and machine), but that all depends on what one would consider a human and if one would consider something made from completely unnatural processes even part human. It is true that the monster does not rely on reproduction to exist because it was made by man but not biologically.
    Machines are becoming biological and life is becoming engineered. For example, such technologies like genetically modified organisms, plastic surgery, laser eye surgery, the multitude of prescription drugs people are taking, and the preservatives that are put in our foods are possibly altering humans as indeterminate. Are we altering our human structure and are we not aware of these unnatural (“unreal”) things we are consuming each day.
    Gender also plays a role, I agree that the monster is or could potentially be male, but if he is a cyborg he could be neither male nor female. Also in chapter 5 Dr. Frankenstein refers to his creation as a male, ” He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me.”
    A utopia may be defined as the greatest of all paradises, the perfect world, or a place where you can leave your identity behind. I think the city of the sun could be a utopia, but how can one person define a place like that when everyone has a different perspective. There seems to be present an “information highway”, when the captain says, “…they told me that among them there was a knowledge of all languages, and that by perserverence they continually send explorers and ambassadors over the whole earth, who learn thouroughly the customs, forces, rule, and histories of the nations, bad and good alike.” I agree with Glenn about relating this to wikipedia or even google or search engines in general. Also e-mail can also relate to this idea because it is a connectivity between people while also an exchange of information whatever it may be.

  11. As I read this, I could not but help compare Dr. Frankenstein’s quest of creating life with the expansion of of cyberspace as the “last frontier.” P. 41 “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.” He is describing circumventing the last fear in a world that was rapidly becoming modernized. The monster seems to be almost exactly the concept put forth for a cyborg. It is equal parts animal and science, blending both into a mobile, if not entirely human, form. It has gender, yes, but despite that it would be unable to reproduce if it had another of it’s kind.

    I agree with Kimberly how the “explorers and ambassadors” of the City of the Sun relate to cyberspace. They also relate to the Captain. He is creating a new frontier for himself ( I just love that concept, don’t I?). It is a place with customs, a people, a social structure, and a rich culture, but it does not exist in the normal sense. A utopia in which everyone is free to be who they want to be, with no restrictions.

  12. While I agree with Alex and a few others that the monster is male, I don’t think that it should be based on his desire for a woman. That can happen no matter the gender; heterosexuality should not just be assumed. The fact that the monster is male is evident through referring to himself as ‘he’. However, one can just as easily argue that the monster refers to himself as male simply because that is what Doctor Frankenstein believes he is. It’s entirely possible that Frankenstein doesn’t have the mental capacity to truly grasp the concept of being a man or a woman, and calls himself male because that is what the doctor calls him. His mental capacity is not related to his emotions and his desire for love, but through observations he sees that he most resembles a male and therefore should have a female as his counterpart. He also is attracted to the gentleness and general personality of the woman he has been watching, not necessarily her gender.

    #5
    There is much difference in the interaction with the reader in both pieces. In Frankenstein, it is as if both the doctor and the monster are thinking aloud, or speaking to the reader, and in that they show their emotions quite well. They engage the emotions of the reader and cause them to feel what they are feeling. The monster speaks of a ‘thrill of terror’ running through him (Ch. 16, p. 125). The entire paragraph is suspenseful, and the monster’s emotions are nearly palpable.

    In The City of the Sun, however, the two are speaking as if the reader is not there. The reader is not engaged in any way, and feels as if he or she is simply watching. In my opinion, that makes it slightly tedious to go through.

    This tedium is evident in the reply comments of various LiveJournal or Myspace blogs. When the blogger writes so as to engage his or her readers, there are likely to be more comments. If a question is asked, or particular emotions are conveyed as if speaking to the readers, they tend to interact with the writer more, and actually WISH to interact. They reach out to connect with the writer. However, in blogs which are more distanced and simple recollections of the day, the reader is more likely to feel bored while reading it, simply because it does not engage and involve. It’s simply human nature to subconsciously have quite a bit of the world revolving around oneself.

  13. Thanks for the links Tom.

    2. Discuss Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession with creating another being as it relates to contemporary issues of science and technology today. What parallels seem to exist between today’s reality and this fictional story? What are the parallel ethical issues? Provide examples and quotes.

    Dr. Frankenstein seems more obsess of his creature than anything else. He just couldn’t wait once he gets the creature finish. As his obsession grew more and more, he paid less attention to his own father and paid more attention to his work. Dr. Frankenstein didn’t take the time to enjoy the seasons of winter, spring, and summer. He quoted, “the same feeling which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time.” (Ch 4, p 42) The man didn’t seem to care what was going on in the world. He was so a work-alcoholic that is obsessed creating his creature. He says, “My cheeks had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement.” (Ch 4, p 41) I found it not normal for a person to be pale. It seems he doesn’t even eat or sleep. When he said, “It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” (Ch. 5, p. 43) Once he saw that creature eye and heard him breathe, he was very excited what was happening to his creature. I think once Dr. Frankenstein finishes the creature; it was the first time he slept in a long time.

    Some of the parallel ethical issues will have to do with racist cause the fact the creature is refer to as monster can be racist and also how the react to him. You kind of feel sorry for the monster since everytime someone see him everyone freaks out. Just like when he visits the village he says, “I had hardly placed my foot within the door before the chicken shrieked, and one the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many others kinds of missile weapons.” (Ch. 11, p 90) This made the monster the hurt, frightened and scared. All he knew is he wasn’t wanted in the village and they were scared what he look like. I agree most people weather it was male or female. In most stories or in movies the gender is always a male. Why couldn’t they have one as female? Of course in this story it’s a male. I just wish someone would at least have it as a female. Not there is wrong with the male. It’s just we seen so many stories with the male gender.

    The fictional story seems to exist when Dr. Frankenstein builds his creature. I think in reality if someone would make something like the monster, it would be like a Cyborg or a robot. In the fictional story Dr. Frankenstein builds the creature with organs like an eye, a finger, a liver, and other organs. In reality people would build a Cyborg with any technology maybe made out of metal and maybe have it control by computer. They may have something like the Terminator. For the monster it’s suppose to be more human than creature.

  14. Frankenstein’s fourth chapter opens with the most obvious comparison when he says of science, “In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder.” This is the essence of what we are currently going through with the widespread adaptation of virtual worlds. We crave the fodder for “discovery and wonder,” whether it be a structured world like World of Warcraft or free form like Second Life, or something in between, yet a further hybridization as in the case of Home, the Second Life inspired virtual world for Sony’s PS3 that, while free form, also operates as a gateway to areas of structured content. The Gamer in me is a bit unsettled at how much of the doctor I find in myself. Frankenstein could almost be analogous to playing the Sims, something which I have always looked upon as like playing with dolls in a doll house, (except they don’t listen to you and inexplicably pee everywhere). But the creator’s new game Spore, far exceeds Frankenstein’s vision, putting you an a godlike position of first a microscopic organism, growing it, evolving it, until eventually you have an entire galaxy. The act is safer through virtual enactment, but the brain’s basic impulse is the frightening part for me, that of taking on creation. (Perhaps this impulse in men actually hearkens back to time immemorial, leftovers from before our sexual dimorphism, before having gender, back to the bacterial.) The monster in later chapters, when he relates his early hours, can be seen as a parallel to modern cyberspace exploration. He starts “I knew, and could distinguish, nothing;” referring to his inexperience at using his senses, going on to add, “My sensations had by this time become distinct, and my mind received every day additional ideas. My eyes became accustomed to the light and to perceive objects in their right forms; I distinguished the insect from the herb, and by degrees, one herb from another.” The monster is flesh, augmented through medical science, and forced to explore the unknown, to define himself beyond what he can glean of how the world views him. This is the very essence of the social structure of cyberspace. We are flesh, augmented by science, computers in this case, exploring a new frontier where we define our own existence. In this way I also make my argument for Frankenstein as an early cyborg, augmented flesh.

    In the City of the Sun, I can see definite precursors to the notion of cyberspace. Particularly interesting to me was in excerpt 2, “men and women wear the same kind of garment, suited for war… both sexes are instructed in the arts together,” which was a big deal at the time that this was written. But we are still only just barely dabbling in this now, trying on different roles anonymously. It has been published (http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/30/0552220) that many men will play massively multiplayer games using female avatars because it gives them an advantage. Under the guise of womanhood and behind a questionably proportioned elf or what have you, they can manipulate other male players into giving them deals on gear or special items, or letting them tag along in a group even though they are much less experienced in the game and the lower level character is essentially a burden on the group. The players here see a distinct advantage that the opposite gender holds, and wishes to assimilate it into their online identity, so as to reap the same benefits and augment their cyberselves.

  15. I’m not particularly a fan of Frankenstein, so I’m going to skip the previous posts and answer the only question unrelated to it.

    1. What kind of world does The City of the Sun seem to describe? In what ways does this narrative seem to inform or reflect human society’s inevitable move toward a cyberspace culture? Provide examples and quotes.

    While perfect is definitely a subjective term, The City of the Sun is describing what most would consider a Utopian society.

    Access to knowledge and culture: In the first paragraph of TCOTS the Captain describes how explorers are continually sent out to gather current knowledge of foreign languages, customs, history, etc. While the process is a bit different now, the end result is the same. The internet houses the cumulative knowledge of the entire world.

    Cultural harmony and connectedness: There’s still plenty of hatred and conflict to go around, but I’d imagine it is in slightly shorter supply since cyberspace started connecting us more intimately so many years ago. In time hopefully we’ll all treat each other as family, as the Captain describes in Excerpt II.

    Also, while not related to cyberspace in a way I can see offhand, there’s a mention of a system that seems to be socialism. Not necessarily a socialist government, but a universalization of certain necessary services that are too important to not be free and government-controlled.

  16. I would have to agree with the statement that Frankenstein’s Monster is NOT a cyborg in the literal sense. He does indeed cross boundaries, namely the animal/human boundary, but aside from the artificial method of his creation, he remains a completely organic being. As far as the questions of gender and reproduction, I think that the monster’s attraction to women hints at it being male, but then again the monster could just be aesthetically appreciating the beauty of the female form verses that of a male’s. And the given chapters do not give us an opportunity to see if the monster can reproduce or not, which would be an interesting proposition.

    Honestly it depends on how flexible you are with your definition of a cyborg. Yes, when you say the word cyborg you think of a human that has been modified/implanted with metallic technology. That is very cut and dry. However, one could expand that definition to a human that has been modified by something alien to them, regardless of what it is; which is where the argument that Frankenstein himself is a cyborg comes into play. Frankenstein was at one point a normal human, but he was altered first by his obsession, then by his reaction to his creation. What it really boils down to is ignorance coupled with intolerance. People fear what they do not understand, as people feared the monster for his ‘different’ appearance. At the same time, the monster was ignorant, of life in general. This made him fear nearly everything. So the label of ‘cyborg’ could be attributed to almost anyone. The only ones who would be spared are people that you would consider ‘pure’ as in someone unchanged by anything. And other than newborns, I don’t think it’s possible to be pure in that sense.

    So are we all cyborgs in some way? Some of us are changed by events in our lives, some are changed by possessions, and yes some of us have medical procedures that might seem cyborg-like, such as pacemakers or artificial limbs. We are all changed by something, and we all challenge the boundaries of animal/human, human/machine, physical/virtual, and real/unreal. So you decide.

  17. My belief is that the gender of Frankenstein’s Monster is indeterminate. Sure the Monster is refered to in the masculin, but I don’t believe that it is anything more than a simple literary convenience. To constanly describe something as ‘it’ becomes a bore to read.
    As for the Monster wanting a companion. It is important to distinguish between gender and sexual preference. The two are completely seperate from one another and thus one cannot be said to give a preference over ones choice in the other. An example of this would be a transgendered MTF that was a Tomboy and gay. How would this person be described in the binary world of male/female and straight/gay?

    I don’t see the Monster as any type of cyborg. There is no mention of it being made from anything that is not organic, and at best I could come to terms with describing it as a protocyborg as Vacarescu does in her paper.

    I see the story of Frankenstein and his Monster as analogous to cyberspace’s creation itself. As Jenny talks about above Frankenstein is consumed with his work/project. This atmosphere of creation and perfectionism is similar to that found in the early days of MIT’s AI lab (for a great description of this environment see Steven Levy’s book Hackers.) Today you can see this level of fanatacism throughout the underlying layers of the systems that make up the ‘net. With RMS and the FSF being a specific example and the world of FLOSS in general embodying this dynamic of learning and advancement with that of unpredictable outcomes.

  18. Thom Gaughan
    Cyber Lit.
    Assignment 1
    9/11/07

    3. In what ways does the monster exemplify or seem to describe the contemporary idea of the cyborg? Is the monster an early literary version of the cyborg? Why or why not? Provide examples and quotes.
    I would say in the loosest way the Frankenstein monster is a version of a cyborg. Like some of the others had stated there is maybe a general reference to the monster’s gender in the 5th chapter and when it was later called masculine. And even when the monster was first awoken Frankenstein describes its features and uses such as:

    “His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriance’s only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.” On page 43.

    Even in the chapters where we read from the monster’s point of view I felt like it was coming from a male. But that’s kind of beside the point. When the book was written the world was still kind of coming into its uses of machines so the idea of using machines in people wasn’t really something they could conceive where as just using parts of a dead person to create life was something more in the grasp of reality…sort of. I guess what I’m trying to say is that when we now think of cyborgs as pieces of machine and alive people they were thinking of pieces of dead people and alive people. It’s the same idea just decades later and more educated now. The monsters is essentially a regular person reformatted and animated to create a better outcome and that is the same of what we believe is a cyborg and what Frankenstein believed was his monster.

  19. The City of the Sun seems to describe a Utopia-like society, as Brandon stated in the last post. It seems to be a world without parallels to our own. Campanells’ description is that of a highly evolved and specialized civilization, not the calamity that, socially at least, ours has become. I think that our Western society aims to achieve a perverse version of the China described in TCOTS.

    From Excerpt II
    “There is a magistrate who is named Magnanimity, another Fortitude, a third Chastity, a forth Liberality, a fifth Criminal and Civil Justice… They are elected to duties of that kind, each one to that duty for excellence in which he is known from boyhood to be most suitable.”

    It seems to me that this mirrors our efficiency concerning control of our systems, mechanically and electronically. So whereas our people are the polar opposite of the people Campanells describes in TCOTS, our technology is structured similarly.

    From Excerpt VI
    “They allow no game which is played while sitting, neither the single die nor dice, nor chess, nor others like these… They are rich because they want nothing, poor because they possess nothing; and consequently they are not slaves to circumstances, but circumstances serve them”

    Obviously our society is more apt to play games while sitting down, we will probably play chess online with someone we have never met. We may be capitalists, but as everyone gets a cell phone and an IPOD and technology advances in general we all become streamlined and similar, each with a purpose that suits them for whatever reason.

    I focus on the words “inevitable move” in your question and completely agree with this idea that we will continue to advance towards a cyberspace based culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s