Lecture 08 - Imagining the Future


Published on

Eighth lecture for my students in English 192, "Science Fiction," summer 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/m13/

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Lecture 08 - Imagining the Future

  1. 1. Lecture 8: Imagining the Future English 192 Summer 2013 15 August 2013 Miss Prism. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days. Cecily. Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much. Miss Prism. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. Cecily. I suppose so. But it seems very unfair. — Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Second Act
  2. 2. A few questions about papers ● Structure? ● Formatting & grammar? ● Relation to the paper prompts? ● Anything else?
  3. 3. The meaning of life: two views “the duty and purpose of man in this world is to fight unceasingly against the evils that Tribulation had loosed upon us.” (41) Aunt Harriet: “Henry will turn me out, I think. He’ll find another wife, how can give him proper children. There’ll be nothing – nothing in the world for me – nothing.” (71) An unnamed Fringes man: “They [the Old People] weren’t God’s last word like they thought: God doesn’t have any last word. If He did He’d be dead. But He isn’t dead: and He changes and grows, like everything that’s alive.” (153)
  4. 4. Women’s opportunities Anne: “I’m a woman – I’ve a right to marry and have children.” (91) Anne: “I’ve got Alan – and you want me to waste years waiting for someone who may never come – or whom I may hate if he does. You want me to give up Alan, and risk being cheated of everything. Well, I don’t intend to. […] I’ve as much right to get what I can out of life as anyone else. […] What is going to happen to the other two then – the two who’ll be on the outside? They won’t be in any group. Do you mean they ought to be cheated out of everything?” (92)
  5. 5. Uncle Axel: “But a woman who is in love is a different proposition. She lives in a world where all the old perspectives have altered. She is blinkered, single-purposed, undependable in other matters. She will sacrifice anything, including herself, to one loyalty. For her, that is quite logical; for everyone else it looks not quite sane; socially it is dangerous.” (95) “Anne’s suicide was a tragedy, but no one saw any mystery about it. A young wife, pregnant with her first child, thrown off her mental balance by the shock of losing her husband in such circumstances; it was a lamentable result, but understandable.” (102)
  6. 6. “Aunt Harriet had been more than ready to break the Purity Laws. So had Sophie’s mother. It made one wonder how many mothers there might be who were turning a blind eye towards matters that did not actually infringe the Definition of the True Image – and perhaps to things that did infringe it, if the inspector could be dodged.” (126)
  7. 7. Women’s virtue Joseph, to Harriet: “You have much to pray for. Not only have you blasphemed by producing a false image, but in your arrogance you have set yourself against the law, and sinned in intent.” (72-73) “My father’s voice went on explaining about the need for Purity in thought as well as in heart and conduct, and its very particular importance to women.” (74)
  8. 8. “Petra remained unabashed. ‘She [the woman from Sealand] says I’ll get better still if I work at it, and then when I grow up I must have babies who can make strong think-pictures, too.” (145) Gordon, the “spider-man”: “this one [Rosalind] can have children. I’ve had a fancy for some children a long time now – even if they do happen to take after their father a bit.” (163) Sophie: “He [Gordon]’s kind to me, David. He’s fond of me. You’ve got to have as little as I have to know how much that means. […] I’d have given him babies gladly, if I could.” (167) Sophie: “Oh, God, what’s the use? If he weren’t in love with you what good would I be to him – like this?” (177)
  9. 9. Figures of contemporary problems The Sealand woman: “They [the Old People] had no means of consensus. They learnt to co- operate constructively in small units; but only destructively in large units. They aspired greedily, and then refused to face the responsibilities they had created. They created vast problems, and then buried their heads in the sands of idle faith. There was, you see, no real communication, no understanding between them.” (156)
  10. 10. The “magic bullet” fantasy The Sealand Woman: “They [the Old People] could never have succeeded. If they had not brought down Tribulation which all but destroyed them; then they would have bred with the carelessness of animals until they had reduced themselves to poverty and misery, and ultimately to starvation and barbarism. One way or another, they were foredoomed because they were an inadequate species.” (157)
  11. 11. The fantasy of perfect communion “‘But Tribulation –’ I began. “Uncle Axel moved impatiently. ‘A word,’ he said, ‘a rusted mirror, reflecting nothing. It’d do the preachers some good to see it.” (78-79) “What, then, could there be for any of us tied closely to a half-dumb ‘normal’ who can never at best make more than a clever guess at anyone else’s feelings or thoughts? Nothing but prolonged unhappiness and frustration.” (93)
  12. 12. Petra’s repetition of the Sealand woman: “people who can only talk with words have something missing. She says we ought to be sorry for them because, however old they grow, they’ll never be able to understand one another much better. They’ll have to be one-at-a-times always, never think-togethers.” (145-46) “And we don’t have to flounder among the shortcomings of words; it is difficult for us to falsify or pretend a thought even if we want to; on the other hand, it is almost impossible for us to misunderstand one another.” (93)
  13. 13. The fantasy of progressive triumph The unnamed Fringes man: “It’s your parts where the old Devil’s hanging on and looking after his own. Arrogant, they are. The true image, and all that. … Want to be like the Old People. Tribulation hasn’t taught ’em a thing. …” (153) The Sealand woman: “We are the New People – your kind of people. The people who can think-together. We’re the people who are going to build a new kind of world – different from the Old People’s world, and from the savages’.” (156)
  14. 14. “The Old People brought down Tribulation, and were broken into fragments by it. Your father and his kind are a part of those fragments. They have become history without being aware of it. They are determined still that there is a final form to defend: soon they will attain the stability they strive for, in the only form it is granted – a place among the fossils. …” (182) “We have a new world to conquer: they have only a lost cause to lose.” (183)
  15. 15. A brief comment about the ending Deus ex machina [day-uus eks mak-ina]. The “god from a machine” who was lowered on to the stage by mechanical contrivance in some ancient Greek plays (notably those of Euripides) to solve the problems of the plot at a stroke.[...] The term is now used pejoratively for any improbable or unexpected contrivance by which an author resolves the complications of the plot in a play or novel, and which has not been convincingly prepared for in the preceding action: the discovery of a lost will was a favourite resort of Victorian novelists. — The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms