Lecture 5: The Day the World Went Away                                                                     English 165EW  ...
Some administrative matters●   We have now taken enough quizzes that I have a basis    for providing tentative grade evalu...
… and the idea of everyday life“Horror has two central elements:(1) an appearance of the evil supernatural or of the  mons...
“[H]orrors bite is explained ...”“… as a sudden tearing-away of the intellectualtrust that stands behind our actions.Speci...
Horror provides three        epistemological insights1) “[T]he intellectual backing for our practical  trust, consisting i...
So why do I belabor this point about horror? “[H]orror gives us a perspective on so-called common sense. It helps us to se...
In other words ...●   Post-apocalyptic fiction does many of the same    things that horror fiction does, and often in the ...
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas      Beynon Harris (1903-1969)                              ●   Probably best known for         ...
●   A defining characteristic of Wyndham’s                                fiction is “the manipulation of one             ...
Thematic concerns in post-apocalyptic                  fiction●   The world in its everydayness, its (social) construction...
Thematic concerns in post-apocalyptic                  fiction●   Value, and the presuppositions that go into our    syste...
●   Often, a specific concern is the relative nature    of ethical judgments.      Bill: “Put like that, there doesn’t see...
●   Evidence and consequence – and how causes result    in effects.      “Certainly they [the triffids] were not spontaneo...
●   What it means to be human, and how the human is    separated from “the natural.”      Coker: “God almighty, aren’t you...
Characteristics to discuss on Monday●   Practicality and “realism.”●   Social (re-)organization.●   The re-production of i...
So, what do we want to do about        28 Days Later?
Media credits●   The title slide includes an engraving from Gustav Doré’s    illustrations for a translation of Dante Alig...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Lecture 05 - The Day the World Went Away

266 views

Published on

Fifth lecture for my students in English 165EW, "Life After the End of the World," winter 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/w13/

Published in: Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
266
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
6
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Lecture 05 - The Day the World Went Away

  1. 1. Lecture 5: The Day the World Went Away English 165EW Winter 2013 23 January 2013 “[W]ell, maybe you’ll have seen some of Doré’s pictures of sinners in hell. But Doré couldn’t include the sounds, the sobbing, the murmurous moaning, and occasionally a forlorn cry.” —William Masen in The Day of the Triffids (14; ch. 1)
  2. 2. Some administrative matters● We have now taken enough quizzes that I have a basis for providing tentative grade evaluations for you. ● It is always OK to email me and ask me what your current grade is.● There are some new documents on the course website: ● “How Your Grade Is Calculated (in Excruciating Detail)” ● Sample MLA-compliant paper● Paper topics, grading rubric● Let’s take a vote on 28 Days Later at the end of class.
  3. 3. … and the idea of everyday life“Horror has two central elements:(1) an appearance of the evil supernatural or of the monstrous (this includes the psychopath who kills monstrously); and(2) the intentional elicitation of dread, visceral disgust, fear, or startlement in the spectator or reader.” (Nickel 15)“Although these reactions may be unpleasant and itmay be puzzling to some people why I should everwish to experience them, they are not desensitizedreactions. On the contrary, the reaction to terrorappears on its face to be a morally engagedreaction.” (16)
  4. 4. “[H]orrors bite is explained ...”“… as a sudden tearing-away of the intellectualtrust that stands behind our actions.Specifically, it is a malicious ripping-away of thisintellectual trust, exposing our vulnerabilities inrelying on the world and on other people. […][H]orror puts forward scenarios that throughtheir vivid depiction threaten our backgroundcognitive reliance on others and the worldaround us.” (28)
  5. 5. Horror provides three epistemological insights1) “[T]he intellectual backing for our practical trust, consisting in the various background beliefs we have that our environment (natural and social) will behave in regular ways, cannot be made perfectly certain.”2) “[W]e can still go on, even in the absence of perfect certainty.”3) “[T]he construction of the everyday is necessary.” (28-29)
  6. 6. So why do I belabor this point about horror? “[H]orror gives us a perspective on so-called common sense. It helps us to see that a notion of everyday life completely secure against threats cannot be possible, and that the security of common sense is a persistent illusion. […] [T]he idea of security in the everyday is based on an intellectually dubious but pragmatically attractive construction.” (17) “The crucial point is that the viewer is not in a position rationally to refuse the scenario of the film as impossible, and that the paranoid scenario thus threatens to annihilate the viewer.” (20)
  7. 7. In other words ...● Post-apocalyptic fiction does many of the same things that horror fiction does, and often in the same ways, even when it does not overlap with the horror genre explicitly. “Horror often dramatizes the ordinary or everyday world gone berserk and the transmogrification of the commonplace.” (18)● Among other things, post-apocalyptic fiction and horror fiction share a capacity to throw our unquestioned background assumptions into relief and help us to think about them explicitly.
  8. 8. John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (1903-1969) ● Probably best known for The Day of the Triffids (1951). ● Published prolifically in the science fiction (or “logical fantasy”) genre under various combinations of elements of his long name.Image from en.wikipedia.org
  9. 9. ● A defining characteristic of Wyndham’s fiction is “the manipulation of one fundamental element that introduces chaos into an organised society and culminates in the decimated civilisation making a desperate attempt to reinvent itself and survive.” (Mark Slattery, “Down on Triffid Farm”) ● “With its psychological interest in how ordinary people react to extraordinary situations, and its air of cold war anxiety, the novel [Day of the Triffids] is characteristic of much of Wyndhams mature work.” (Alastair Horne,A triffid, from the BBC’s Literature Online biography of1981 television Wyndham)adaptation of the novel.
  10. 10. Thematic concerns in post-apocalyptic fiction● The world in its everydayness, its (social) construction, and its precarity. “But then [before the ‘Great Catastrophe’] there was so much routine, things were so interlinked. Each one of us so steadily did his little part in the right place that it was easy to mistake habit and custom for the natural law.” (12; ch. 1) “Triffids were, admittedly, a bit weird—but that was, after all, just because they were a novelty. […] The bat was an animal that had learned to fly; well, here was a plant that had learned to walk— what of that?” (29; ch. 2) Josella: “You know, one of the most shocking things about it is to realize how easily we have lost a world that seemed so safe and certain.” (93; ch. 6) Josella: “[T]hose of us who get through are going to be much nearer to one another, more dependent on one another, more like —well, more like a tribe than we ever were before.” (104; ch. 7)
  11. 11. Thematic concerns in post-apocalyptic fiction● Value, and the presuppositions that go into our systems of valuing. “Whas good of living blinds a bat?” (17; ch. 1) “‘Anybody who has had a great treasure has always led a precarious existence,’ she [Josella] said reflectively.” (55; ch. 4) “[M]y existence simply had no focus any longer. My way of life, my plans, ambitions, every expectation I had had, they were all wiped out at a stroke, along with the conditions that had formed them.” (46; ch. 3)
  12. 12. ● Often, a specific concern is the relative nature of ethical judgments. Bill: “Put like that, there doesn’t seem to be much choice, does there? And even if we could save a few, which are we going to choose? And who are we to choose? […] Do we help those who have survived the catastrophe to rebuild some kind of life? Or do we make a moral gesture which, on the face of it, can scarcely be more than a gesture?” (85; ch. 6) Dr. Vorless: “We must all see, if we pause to think, that one kind of community’s virtue may well be another kind of community’s crime; that what is frowned upon here may be considered laudable elsewhere; that customs condemned in one country are condoned in another.” (98; ch. 7)
  13. 13. ● Evidence and consequence – and how causes result in effects. “Certainly they [the triffids] were not spontaneously generated, as many simple souls believed. Nor did most people endorse the theory that they were a kind of sample visitation – harbingers of worse to come if the world did not mend its ways and behave its troublesome self. Nor did their seeds float to us through space as specimens of the horrid forms that life might assume upon other, less favored worlds […] My own belief, for what that is worth, is that they were the outcome of a series of ingenious biological meddlings – and very likely accidental.” (20; ch. 2) “[A] tall, elderly, gaunt man with a bush of wiry gray hair […] was holding forth emphatically about repentance, the wrath to come, and the uncomfortable prospects of sinners. Nobody was paying him any attention; for most of them the day of wrath had already arrived.” (43; ch. 3)
  14. 14. ● What it means to be human, and how the human is separated from “the natural.” Coker: “God almighty, aren’t you people human?” (81; ch. 6) Bill: “I had the feeling that it was all something too big, too unnatural really to happen.” (70; ch. 5) Dr. Vorless: “I would ask you to consider very carefully whether or not you do hold a warrant from God to deprive any woman of the happiness of carrying out her natural functions.” (101; ch. 7) Alf: “Triffids, huh! Nasty damn things, I reckon. Not natcheral, as you might say.” (110; ch. 8) “‘Bloody unnatural brutes,’ said one. ‘I always did hate them bastards.” (121; ch. 8) Commander Torrance: Feudalism is “the obvious and quite natural social and economic form for that state of things we are having to face now.” (222; ch. 17)
  15. 15. Characteristics to discuss on Monday● Practicality and “realism.”● Social (re-)organization.● The re-production of implicit, theoretical, and practical knowledge.● Balance and precarity.● The (social) production of space.
  16. 16. So, what do we want to do about 28 Days Later?
  17. 17. Media credits● The title slide includes an engraving from Gustav Doré’s illustrations for a translation of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, which engraving is now out of copyright. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inferno_Canto_3_ Charon_strikes_lines_107-108.jpg● A partial still used from the BBC film adaptation of The Day of the Triffids (slide 9) is under copyright, but has been selected for its value as a teaching tool, and is a low- resolution excerpt from a single frame that not suitable for producing a quality reproduction.● The photo of John Wyndham (slide 8) is a low-resolution copy being used only as a teaching tool, and is irreplaceable. Original source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Wyndham_Parkes_L ucas_Beynon_Harris.jpg

×