User:Atallent/HUMN 4472 Journal

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August 25, 2019: Initial Idea of Science Fiction

I see science fiction as a genre that explores the possibilities of what is to come or could become possible. Creators of work like this use imaginative thinking to conjure up ideas of advancements in technology, humanity, and the world itself in the future as it compares to the state of theirs at that time.

The genre of science fiction has been exposed to us through various movies, television shows, and novels. My most recent encounter was through the film, A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Méliès. This story depicts space exploration which is something that did not become possible until many decades and technological advancements later.

Since they are ideas based off science, a majority of these fantasy worlds are recognized as having the ability to come to fruition, but they can also contain elements that are not as accepted such as the idea of aliens, powers, etc. Though the technology dealing with the many space related storylines might be far off, it is not necessarily impossible which makes stories like these intriguing and at times, a cautionary tale.

August 25, 2019: Learning About Science Fiction

The Truth About Science Fiction offered much insight into the history and noticeable advancements that have occurred as a result of science fiction works that I had not known before. Wireless communication, lie detectors, aviation, televisions, robots, and tanks were all ideas created in the minds of these early writers that were then transformed into their physical forms that have continued to advance and grow into these things that people use on a daily basis.

The documentary also addresses the patent lawsuit that H.G. Wells entered in to have the recognition as the inventor of the tank. I thought this was an interesting point about the ideas that are created in science fiction. Though these writers are innovators of change and advancement, the development of these life changing technologies are credited elsewhere. Ursula Le Guin discusses this concept in her introduction from which I learned that the “idea” contained in science fiction work cannot be compared to that of a scientist’s incomparable completion of it.[1]

Through Philip K. Dick’s definition of science fiction, I learned that this genre can also be set in the present as an alternate-world and is not solely exclusive to futuristic societies that differ from ours.[2] He sites the ‘’shock of dysrecognition” as the essence of science fiction, but that it must also be recognized as possible for it not to be confused with fantasy.[3] Science fiction is based on imagination and creativity, but it does contain limitations to those that are accepted within the bounds of this genre.

September 9, 2019: Passage of Time

John Cheever’s "The Swimmer" is not the typical science fiction story that I am accustomed to seeing. There is this element to the story that does not align with what could actually be possible, but is something that could be more logically explained by acknowledging that Neddy’s interpretation of events is unreliable. This element that I am speaking of is the passage of time as we encounter it in the story which has Neddy traveling from pool to pool on the “Lucinda River” during the span of one midsummer afternoon.

When reading through the story, it is natural to brush off some of the initial signs that something is off like Neddy does at first, but when these irregularities advance near the midpoint of the story, one cannot help but to wonder what has happened. Neddy clearly has no recollection of the “misfortunes” Mrs. Halloran speaks about, Eric’s operation, or going “broke” and asking for a loan from Grace,[4] but according to those around him, all of these events have happened.

It was questioned if he is losing his memory,[5] but as the reader can tell, some time has passed from the initial midsummer day he had set out on. His surroundings gradually got colder and showed signs of autumn, Eric’s operation was revealed to have happened three years ago, and he lost weight and began to get weaker pool after pool. Neddy begins to forget the concept of time as it relates to the memories he has and wonders if things were “last week, last month, last year,” [6] reinforcing this idea that a considerable amount of time and a disorienting event has occurred without his knowledge.

The science fiction element that this story contains is from a form of time travel which advances Neddy’s decline in society each dip in the pool or after each drink he takes. We know this passage of time to be true in some sense because when he returns home, the door handles are rusted and his home is empty. Neddy’s attempt to stay youthful and escape the harsh realities that time brings catches up with him as it does everyone.

@Atallent: Good work. Be sure you're using secondary sources to support and develop your ideas. —Grlucas (talk) 07:35, 10 September 2019 (EDT)
@Atallent: You bring up very interesting points. I agree with you for the most part. However, you stated that the harsh realities that time brings catches up with everyone. Do you believe this happens because we know this to be true or do you believe we allow ourselves to believe this therefore it becomes true? —AmaniSensei (talk)

Septemper 9, 2019: The Past

The theme of both John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” and Chris Marker’s La Jetée align because no matter how much one wants to stay in the past, it is not possible.

For Neddy, he wants to appear youthful despite not being and he also wants to keep his status in his community high despite having troubles both financially and martially that will derail these aspirations of his. It is his avoidance of these problems that cause this confusion and passage of time to accelerate to where it is no longer under his ability to fix. His desire to stay in the past is marked by his pool hopping, but it is his physical deterioration and scorn from peers that ground him in reality.

For the man in La Jetée, the present is that of dismay and he wants to escape it by staying in the past with the woman there who he met and now loves. He declines an offer to enter the future where he might have lived, but in choosing to stay in the past, the man loses his life. Even though we see time travel come to fruition in the story, we learn that you cannot reset time and go back to something you did not already have.

Through both of these stories, we learn that you can only move forward no matter how harsh that reality might be.

September 15, 2019: The concept of time in “Blink”

The Doctor Who episode, “Blink,” is an interesting science fiction story that revolves around time and how the past, present, and future are all existing as one non-linear sequence of events. Time is presented in this way the most when we witness Sally having a conversation with the Doctor who is reading off a transcript in 1969 that was still in the process of being written in Sally’s time. If time were to occur linearly and through the actions of cause and effect, this occurrence would have never been possible, but through the power of time travel, it is the future that now impacts the present.

As we learn at the end of the episode, it was Sally’s future self who gave the Doctor the materials he needed to help the Sally of the present eventually stop the Weeping Angels from more destruction. When the two meet each other, The Doctor says, “things do not always happen to me in the right order”[7] to which Sally later says, “it’s still in your future".[8] One’s concept of time is rearranged because even though the events of the episode are now in Sally’s past, they are to occur in the Doctor’s future.

The TARDIS is not the only manipulator of time present, the Weeping Angels have this ability as well. It is the Doctor who describes their ability to transport people back in time as a form of ‘death’ because, as described by Penny Crofts, “a person’s identity is not just bound up with their physical body or even a particular mind, but with who and what a person cares about”.[9] In removing these individuals from everything they know and love whilst keeping every aspect of their selves the same, the Weeping Angels serve “a fate worse than death” since it is difficult to cope with the lost possibilities and future that they always imagined would be obtainable to them in the world that they knew, but can now never return to.[10]

@Atallent: I also wrote about the time sequence in my journal. I found it to be very clever to have everything wrap up in the end as Sally’s future self being the one that sent her all the clues. Yet, having her meet a past Doctor that had not even experienced her past.--Daisja30 (talk) 23:30, 15 September 2019 (EDT)

September 16, 2019: The Present

I see the common theme between Doctor Who’s “Blink” and William Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum” as characters seeing some sort of beauty in whatever time they are given or are currently in.

In “Blink,” Kathy and Billy are sent back in time by the Weeping Angels long before they were born to live out their days with no possibility of returning to the future which was once their present. The two end up marrying and living full, fulfilling lives despite this drastic change and can be interpreted that though these two were removed from the time they are familiar with, it was the past that they made home.

In “The Gernsback Continuum,” the narrator acknowledges that the “perfect” world of the imagined future of the 1930s could be even worse than the world he is living in now despite the obvious problems it faces. Though he views the world as in a state of “near-dystopia”,[11] it is the “semiotic ghosts” rooted from the past that haunt the narrator in the present, similar to how Kathy and Billy’s past in their now future must continue to haunt them in their present as time moves forward.

The alternate present of this idealized world he is experiencing becomes even more haunting to him as he realizes “some unnamed atrocity must have taken place for such a world to exist” and that "perfect" does not exist without faults.[12] Therefore, the dream of a perfect reality is never as it seems and the best reality that we have is the one in which we are currently interacting in.

September 23, 2019:

September 23, 2019: Memory Manipulation

An interesting parallel between the two stories is how one’s perception of the truth can be altered and how memory manipulation is an important tool used in both these present and future situations.

In “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, memory is manipulated by technology while in the X-Files episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” memory is manipulated by words. Though achieving the same thing through different methods, the theme of the two stories remain the same. Memories are the most integral part to understanding ourselves and who we are, but when that is taken away or is manipulated, it is easy to lose sight of yourself and who you are as a person.

Memory is influenced by outside factors and sources that help to fill in the gaps that one is not always aware is present. Even though the technology for memory implantation is not present currently, the idea of having these physical “souvenirs” as tokens that would reinforce that Quail's trip to Mars actually happened is the same idea as pictures jogging our memories or creating new ones based off of what we see because we perceive truth in what is physical.

We also rely on the spoken word to tell us what has happened and what to believe which is prevalently seen in Chrissy’s character as well as everyone else in the show. Their perception of events changes with each story told because we search for the truth in what is spoken despite its unreliable tendencies. The “truth” for us is often times a compilation of what we have been told by others to help fill in the gaps that we inherently have.

References

  1. Le Guin, Ursula K.; Attebery, Brian (1993). The Norton Book of Science Fiction: North American Science Fiction, 1960-1990. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 25.
  2. Dick, Philip K. (1981). "My Definition of Science Fiction": 99.
  3. Dick, Philip K. (1981). "My Definition of Science Fiction": 99–100.
  4. Cheever, John (1964). "The Swimmer" (PDF). pp. 733–735.
  5. Cheever, John (1964). "The Swimmer" (PDF). p. 734.
  6. Cheever, John (1964). "The Swimmer" (PDF). p. 736.
  7. Template:Cite episode
  8. Template:Cite episode
  9. Crofts, Penny (2018). Peters, Tim; Crawley, Karen (eds.). "Don't Blink: Monstrous Justice and the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who". Routledge.
  10. Crofts, Penny (2018). Peters, Tim; Crawley, Karen (eds.). "Don't Blink: Monstrous Justice and the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who". Routledge.
  11. Gibson, William (1981). "The Gernsback Continuum" (PDF). p. 35.
  12. Schwartz, Lukasz. "Of Semiotic Ghosts and Phantoms": 1.