Journal 6

As I finished the Buried Giant I had some very mixed feelings about the ending. My Grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease about a year and a half ago and we have seen him deteriorate rather quickly. As I was reading this novel I could not help but think of him and how he can’t remember the most important memories of his past. He often asks who my Grandmother is and who is own kids are. You can see the look of frustration in his face when he walks into a room full of friends and family and cannot place one name to a face.

At the end of the novel Axle and Beatrice regain their memories and they rediscover all of the horrible things that happens and what led to the mist in the first place. They remember their son’s death, Beatrice’s affair and Axle terrible attack on the Saxons. With this comes up all of the tension and anxiety that the mist helped alleviate. As I read this I wondered what would happen if my own Grandfather was able to get him memory back. I wondered how he would look upon the last year and a half and if he would feel guilty. It has been such a strain on my Grandmother and the whole family is just watching hopelessly as he decline. I could see him feeling some sort of regret and guilt because he was always the one to take care of the family, not the other way around. I also wonder if he would start doing thing any differently. If he saw what life was like without a memory, would that trigger him to do things differently if his memory was regain? All of these questions ran through my head as a read this book and it made me sad but also hopeful as to what could happen if one could regain all the memories that they had lost.

Journal 3/31

After finishing Stars this week I was very unhappy and confused about the ending of the novel. As it came to a close I felt like I had so many unanswered questions about what was going on. I understood that Marq was trying to convey that his life would never be the same again without Rat, but I was confused on what he was going to do next with his life. For him, I hope he is able to find some sort of joy but it is still very unclear if that can ever be obtained.

Although this novel is extremely abstract and mythical, I found some of the themes applicable to real life situations. When Rat left we saw many of the same emotions and feelings that we see when a spouse dies in a relationship in our world. I know that when my Grandfather died, that my Grandmother was a completely different person for a while. It was so sudden and unexpected and she did not know how to carry on with every day life. There were things that he would do that she wouldn’t even realize and now she had to do everything. I think when the book ends we are getting a glimpse of the sorrow and grief that Marq is about to endure in these next months or even years. He grew such an attachment and liking for Rat that he does not see hope for the future. He knows that he had already found the best thing that can ever happen to him and when nothing else will compare, how does one go on. This is an extremely painful and difficult situation to be in and one that was not a choice of his own.

Overall I feel like I did kind of being to gain that acceptance for the general culture of this book. As Professor Drexler pointed out, by the end you realize that it is ok to be accepting of this weird and twisted made up world. In the end it is about two creatures that really and truly feel that they should be together and there is nothing wrong with that no matter the situation. People deserve to be happy and to be with someone who makes them happy.

Moving into next week I am really excited to begin working on our poster projects. My group has decided to work on the possible colonization of Mars and all of the ethical issues that come along with that. First we want to see if it is even possible, and then if so, is it ethical. Should people be put in such a secluded environment and will they be able to survive psychologically? What will happen to them when they are stuck there with the same people for an incredibly large amount of time. We are really excited to be exploring this idea and all the sub topics that come with it.

Journal 2/28

This week we talked a lot about gender and the portrayal of gender in “The Caves of Steel”. Really the only female character in the novel is Jessie and she is portrayed as a very bitter, weak and hysterical woman. She is constantly talked down to by her husband and I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with her throughout the book. I just wanted her to stand up to her husband and say “No. tell me what is going on. “. Elijah is so good as just telling her everything is fine and hanging up the phone before she can say any more. As I talked about this with the people around me in class on Thursday, they brought up a very good point: it is not Jessie’s fault that she is so submissive, it is simply a product of the society that she is in. She does not know any better and you can’t act in someway you have never heard about or seen. She does not realize that she possibly has the option to stand up to her husband, or anyone as a matter of fact, and make the female voice heard in this society.

Going off of that point, for that reason, I do not think that Jessie should be prosecuted for any of her actions in the novel. She did attend meetings and become a member of the medievalist club but she never did anything wrong. It is not like in her spare time she decided to go out and destroy robots or intentionally hurt Daneel. She simply attended meetings where she was able to talk about her point of view and listen to others talk about theirs. Once again she just grew up in this society and she has an opinion and joined a club that shares that same opinion. There is no crime in having an opinion. She very much encompasses New York City as a whole where she herself is acting as a robot. She just goes through the motions of her life and depends on all this processed food and fake air. Theres nothing real or organic about the people of New York or the resources they use, and I feel that Jessie is a great character that encompasses all of this.

Journal 2/16

One of the exercises that really stood out to me in class this week was when we had to find an ethical dilemma in “The Bicentennial Man”. My group talked mostly about the beginning/end of the story when Andrew was in the surgeon’s office and he asked the surgeon to basically kill him. He did actually want the surgeon to kill him right there on the table, but rather he wanted the surgeon to alter the connections between his positron brain and his organic nerves. Slowly the potential would be drained from the nerves and Andrew will die. Without this surgery Andrew could in essence live forever and probably would never be considered human due to his immortality. All Andrew wants is to be considered human.

When my group was talking about this particular scene we immediately made the connection to physician assisted suicide. It is a huge debate topic in the modern world about whether physician assisted suicide is moral and ethical. This procedure that Andrew is asking the robot surgeon to do is a form of physician assisted suicide, because he knows the surgery will lead to his ultimate death. This brings up an ethical dilemma because the surgeon has the ability to please the patient and carry out his will, but at the same time he will be killing the patient. When thinking about utility and using it as a way to determine if something is ethical, it is hard to say if respecting the patients wishes brings the most benefit to the most amount of people. Doing the surgery would mean that Andrew would have his wishes obeyed and he will have a better chance of being considered a man. However, he will die soon and that will bring great sadness and despair to all that are close to him. Also with the death of Andrew comes the death of all the knowledge and creativity he possesses which has proved invaluable to the humans thus far. Now, if the surgeon choses not to do the surgery, then Andrew would be upset because his wishes were not being obeyed. On the alternative side the Doctor would not have to kill anyone and Andrew would be around to share his wealth and knowledge with the world.

Through this process it is hard to know if the surgeon made the right ethical decision. There truly is no right decision in this case which is why this is a topic that is still heavily debated today. A person that is suffering only wishes to end their suffering, but that comes at the expense of the Doctor’s conscience. It is very hard to tease out and unpack this ethical dilemma but in the end I think the surgeon did make the best choice for Andrew, even if it was not the best choice for everyone.

Journal 2/3

I began reading the Red Badge of Courage this week and so far it seems like a very interesting book. What struck me the most was the moral struggle that the youth was having with himself about whether he would be able to fight when the time came, or if he would run away. I often think about this when I think about war to be honest. How do these soldiers stand their ground and risk their lives when the enemy is just charging at them. It takes a great deal of strength and courage, and honestly I think I would be too selfish/cowardly to be a soldier and I might be the one that chickens out and runs.

One of the main points I wanted to make about this though was the modern day “solider” in all of us. Although we all are not fighting in a true war and dodging bullets all day long, we still all have an enemy that we must fight. With the recent current events and the policies that have been put in place by the President, I have seen a (not so new) enemy grow into a more powerful source of tension in the population. Lots of the people in this country, especially at Bucknell, saw these new policies as the enemy and they chose to be courageous and strong and to charge into battle. Many people participated in the “walk out” on campus, while others protested in their own private ways. Regardless of the protests, I saw many soldiers fighting a battle that they felt passionate about, when it would be so much easier to stay silent and just run away.

I think the overall moral dilemma occurring within the youth can be translated into many different aspects of life. Although this week it was very easy to see such a public display of strength and courage, it is not something that is present only at certain times. This moral dilemma to fight or run is constantly present, and I think it says a lot about a person’s character whether they choose to stay and fight or they chose to run.