English 738T, Spring 2015
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Author Archives: Denis Dodson

For my final blog post, I want to further discuss how I view, (forgive the pun), the use of eyes within many of the works presented to us in this class.  As we discussed while discussing Blade Runner, in particular, there is a massive emphasis on the physical eye, as well as the act of seeing.  This is exemplified by the fact that it is often the glowing eyes of the genetically engineered beings that cause differentiation to be made between creation and human.  As we discussed in class, the reason Roy seems to have an affinity for attacking the eyes of his victims might emphasize the idiom, “the eyes are the windows to the soul” – meaning, eyes are a form of connectivity.  By linking eyes, it can be stated that you are connecting, at least at an emotional level, to that other person.  Which is why it is imperative that Roy destroy the eye, or window, to the soul, as it robs the person of far more than their life.  This is a fascinating idea, particularly in what it means to have genetically created eyes.  The need to connect with another via sight, however, is not a new concept.

One of my favorite examples of emotional connection through the physical eye is in Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale”.  There are two very distinct passages that speak to this phenomena:

1075         That through a window, thickly set with many a bar
1076         Of iron, great and square as any beam,
1077         He cast his eye upon Emelye,
1078         And with that he turned pale and cried, “A!”
1079         As though he were stabbed unto the heart.

1095         This prison did not cause me to cry out,
1096         But I was hurt right now through my eye
1097          Into my heart, so that it will be the death of me.
1098          The fairness of that lady whom I see
1099          Yonder in the garden roaming to and fro
1100          Is cause of all my crying and my woe.

As stated within Chaucer on Love, Knowledge and Sight by Norman Klassen, “Chretien de Troyes discusses the importance of vision at length in the romance Cliges.  There, the eyes serve a double function as perceivers of beauty and as active agents.  As agents, they strike through the eyes and enter the heart of the person whose gaze they meet” (86).  As it can be read in “The Knight’s Tale”, love requires sight.  When you look upon someone, a piece of you, as it was believed, literally enters their heart through the eye.  In this way, the eye has a very real and truly physical consequence in “The Knight’s Tale”.  I would, however, argue that this is of extreme consequence for the majority of the works that we have read for class.

Although it cannot be argued that a literal part of oneself enters the hearts of modern romantic literature, the eyes still have an enormous stake in forming emotional bonds.  Frankenstein, for example, is absolutely obsessed with the yellow of the creature’s eyes, and the terror that Victor finds in them.  Therefore, by Roy focusing on destroying the eyes in particular, I believe it is speaking to the necessity of eyes to form human connections.  Although eyesight is not as imperative as it is within “The Knight’s Tale”, it is a valid form of creating human attachment.  If the world is merely a creation of our perception, to forcefully rid our bodies of the main organ for perception is crippling.

So I am curious – now that we have finished the semester and have read an abundance of literature that seem obsessed with sight or what is seen (in particular, I am also fascinated with the technology of photography in Memento), how is the physical eye and sight handled throughout the course?

It is currently 2:51 am, and I devoted the entirety of tonight to following the incidents occurring in Baltimore, particularly with an emphasis with Twitter.  Obviously, Ferguson was at the fore-front of my mind, and how each of these two separate events might somehow intersect.  And it is just about to turn to 3am, so excuse if this is complete rambling, but I am very interested in how each of the “sides” to the Baltimore incident handled the reporting of the incident.

I am not experienced with Twitter, but the top post for “#BaltimoreRiots” states the following, “By my count so far, five journalists attacked in #BaltimoreRiots -some injuries-photos…” and then linked to an outside post which I will not attach.  This, to me, isn’t surprising in the slightest.  Being behind cameras at a heated event is, of course, dangerous.  However, while watching a livestream of the event, on the street at around 1:16am, two events happened on camera roughly 30 minutes apart:

1.)  The cameraman who was livestreaming was told to “Get outta here take a picture.”, and was hit with a glass bottle of alcohol by a Baltimore resident.

2.)  Swat teams flashed strobelights at the cameraman’s equipment, in an attempt to disrupt the recording.

These two incidents, immediately following each other, are incredibly interesting to me, primarily in regards to our readings for class.  In an example of both Frankenstein and Caleb Williams, we have documentation and reporting through narration.  Each of these works seem to hold subjective reporting in extremely high regards, emphasizing the writing of journals in order to document history, regardless of subjectivity.  However, objective documentation in the form of recording seems to be completely unwanted tonight by both sides of the conflict.  And yet each side takes so readily to Twitter to document their feelings.

I would argue, therefore, that Frankenstein and Caleb Williams offer very unique insights into tonight’s conflict – in both of these stories, the reporting is purely subjective.  Likewise, Twitter is also purely subjective.  It seems that the “attacked” medium, livefootage, is unwanted as a purely objective form of documentation.  I am therefore curious what use objectivity has in the complexities of the works we have read for class.  Can we only arrive at the “truth” of these situations by delving into the subjective rather than the objective?  Is there even such a thing as the objective in regards to both journal or footage keeping?

The livefootage was archived, and readily available upon request.  However, the site is very aflame with spammers and racial remarks, so it is a very “Not Safe For Work” environment at the moment, so I will refrain from posting it anywhere on this site, just in case. Now, to sleep.  If none of this made sense, expect edits in the morning!

“I had made her, writing deep into the night by candlelight, until the tiny black letters blurred into stitches and I began to feel that I was sewing a great quilt, as the old women in town do night after night, looking dolefully out their windows from time to time toward the light in my own window and imagining my sins while their thighs tremble under the heavy body of the quilt heaped across their laps, and their strokes grow quicker than machinery and tight enough to score deep creases in the cloth. I have looked with reciprocal coolness their way, not wondering what stories joined the fragments in their workbaskets”

I may have chosen the worst possible day to get sick.  Hopefully this post won’t be too-terribly useless, as I missed the PG class.  However, I am VERY curious about the writing aspects of both PG and Frankenstein.  PG seems to be absolutely dripping with images of writing and creating, but in a very strange, and perhaps more obvious, way compared to Frankenstein.  In both cases, the concept of writing as creation (Walton, for example) seem to be incredibly important.  Particularly in the above quotation, the concept of writing, and “thighs tremble” (perhaps a nod to childbirth?) hints to creation through authorship.  I am not entirely sure what to make of it as of yet, but I believe there is a lot to be made from the authors, as creators of works focusing primarily on creation, in conversation.  Because of this, professor Fraistat’s offering of “an as yet to be articulated “Reference” section that would provide a bibliography for the various citations used in the text as well as including other relevant sources” could be very useful, perhaps, in examining what can be read from the citations present from both a literary and authoritative standpoint as the pieces work in conversation with one another.

While many of us probably have different variations on the work of Frankenstein, I became very interested in the cover of my Longman Cultural Edition, which I realized in class is the second edition, and promptly purchased the kindle first edition.  However, the cover featured the painting The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli.  The painting depicts a woman, sleeping sprawled across her bed, with a demon sitting on her chest with a ghostly horse peering through her bed curtains.  This eerie scene is commonly stated to be a possible influence on the death of Elizabeth at the hands of the creature in Frankenstein.  While interesting, I am more focused on the modern interpretation of the painting as depicting sleep paralysis – a form of nightmare in which the victim is awake, but immobile.  This concept of paralysis, at least in my opinion, is continually represented throughout Frankenstein as a whole, but most notably referenced through the desire for human emotion, going as far as building prosthetics of communication in the form of living and nonliving creations.

The work seems to be obsessed with the concept of communication, and the desire to sympathize with another human being.  Walton seems to exemplify this in his second letter, by stating:

“But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil.  I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy…I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling.  I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me…” (8)

By stating that he isn’t able to “satisfy” “the absence of the object”, Walton seems to be stating that he is missing a part of himself by the lack of communication and connection.  He goes on throughout his other letters to describe how miserable he has become at the absence of simply a friend.  In this way, it can be  read that the absence of human contact is debilitating for Walton – not necessarily painful, but a form of depressing stasis or paralysis.  This is interesting, however, because Walton is saying these things in the form of written letters, an example of communication, to his sister.  Walton confronts this contradiction, however, by stating, “I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling”, which would lead the reader to believe that Walton doesn’t necessarily view writing as an incredibly viable form of emotional connectivity.  However, upon first meeting professor Frankenstein, Walton’s immediate response, rather than simply listening to the man, is to write down his story, seemingly verbatim.  In this way, I would argue that, because Walton’s first response is to write a story, it is a reflection of Walton’s desire for human contact.  Because Walton fills his “absence of the object” through this piece of writing, the writing is a reflection of, as well as the cure for, the desire for human contact.  If the reader infers that the work of Frankenstein is Walton’s personal cure for an “absence”, the work becomes an emotional prosthetic for Walden’s personal missing, or “absent”, piece of himself.  So I am therefore interested – in a work dedicated and obsessed with the concept of creation and prosthetic, what does it mean that the work itself, Walton’s writing, is a form of emotional prosthetic in itself?