sarawrs's blog

THK and VT....


So, someone mentioned in class the video of the THK. Here's a link to a video of the VT killer that he sent to NBC. You don't see people dying, but it's still really disturbing hearing his justifications for his actions.

It's interesting. In my Victorian/gothic lit class, we always discuss how the the literature of that era really reflected the anxieties and paranoia that the Victorians felt. They were apprehensive about technology and advancement in general; they experienced the Industrial Revolution, drug addictions, and imperialism, and with that, came a fear of the unknown, whether it was science or foreigners. England had undergone a lot of change in a short amount of time and they didn't want to believe that horrible things could happen IN England, at home. If horrible things did happen, it was because of something foreign. A lot of those fears haven't gone away and in my Victorian lit class, I always mention the novels we read for this class because I always see connections. It's cool to see how these apprehensions have translated from one genre to another and how similar they are, even though they are separated by two centuries.

Graffiti, America's Great Pastime


"The Yanks call this type of plane "Betty," an effeminatizing gesture that really irks him. Then again, the Yanks name even their own planes after women, and paint naked ladies on their sacred instruments of war! If they had samurai swords, Americans would probably decorate the blades of nail polish." (335) That screamed "UNDERWORLD" to me. The last part was particularly amusing. There's nothing wrong with painting on things with nail polish...I do that all the time...On a more serious note, though, I think it's interesting that the American men who painted women on planes considered it good luck, but the Japanese (or at least Stephenson's Yamamoto)thought it was effeminate and a stupid/disrespectful practice. Meanwhile, Japanese soldiers were raping women, sometimes in ways that would serve as a good luck charm and protect them in battle.

I love Bobby Shaftoe


I love Bobby Shaftoe. I think he is absolutely hilarious in that card-playing, haiku-composing way. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Damn it, they are still in Africa! You ought to be able to see lions and giraffes and rhinos!" (176) Because really, that's all that Africa has to offer...a nice safari adventure.

"'N-N-N-Norway,' Lieutenant Monkberg says. He looks so pathetic that Shaftoe considers offering him some m-m-m-morphine...Then he comes to his senses, remembers that Lieutenant Monkberg is an officer whose duty it is to send him off to die, and decides that he can jut go fuck himself sideways." (263)

politically correctness


This passage relates to a previous blog about the use of the term "Nip" in the novel: "Nip is the word used by Sergeant Sean Daniel McGee, U.S. Army, Retired, to refer to Nipponese people in his war memoir...It is a terrible racist slur." (212)

I thought this passage was particularly interesting because it reminds me of our society's preoccupation with trying to be really politically correct. I know people who are afraid to offend others, so they're hyper-sensitive about using the correct terminology: African American instead of black (which actually offends some people if they're not descended from Africans), Jewish instead of Jew...and so on. A lot of people I know aren't offended by being called black or a Jew, though, because that IS what they are and by trying to be politically correct, I think a lot of terms become overgeneralized. On the other hand, those names aren't derogatory, whereas "chink" and "nip" are.

That was so yesterday


"It's war, baby." also reminds me of the saying, "That's showbiz, kid." The inconsistency of "showbiz," where one day something has that special "it" factor, and the next day, everyone has already forgotten about it and moved on, is present on page 79: Avi and Randy "were frequently mentioned as among Silicon Valley's rising stars...A year after that, the entire enterprise had crashed and burned." I thought the next line was really funny. "This was an epic tale not worth telling." The author likes to use oxymoronic terms (or concepts) next to each other. (i.e. "sophisticated urbanite" tha

first thoughts


Here are my initial reactions to the new novel. I thought the prologue was really ironic because Shaftoe keeps making up these haikus but he's in China. He says it's to add some Oriental spice to his poetry and to impress the folks back home. Way to generalize all Asians, buddy. (I guess I'm a little sensitive about that.) He's really sarcastic, and I was particularly amused when I read, "Now these Chinese are sophisticated urbanites" (1). It's really strange to read about Shanghai as this chaotic, backwards area because today, it's home to a chaotic (some things never change), artsy community.

what the...

Okay, can someone please explain the last scene with Orin and Luria P--- that starts on 971?

As for the ending, as someone has already mentioned in their blog, it is definitely not a very cheery scene. I'm not very surprised that the ending wasn't anything more conclusive or uplifting, because, quite frankly, this book was just depressing. It had its moments of ludicrous hilarity, but overall, I just felt really bad for a lot of, if not all of, the characters. Everyone is so emotionally messed up that they deserve a hug...or maybe not (if you remember that scene with Ken Erdedy and Poor Tony that starts on 503). It's fitting that the ending matches the criticism what people expect out of entertainment. We want something that is wrapped up neatly at the end and leaves us with warm, fuzzy feelings; instead, we get relapse and a feeling that nothing changed for the better.

Teeth and Movies


Okay, so in this section, we witness another dream about teeth. First, Hal had a nightmare about losing his teeth (449), and now Joelle on 723-724 worries obsessively about hers and has a dream about going to the dentist. Additionally, James had also made a movie called "Fun With Teeth" (987) about a dentist performing unanesthetized root canals on patients. I remember hearing that the most common dreams are about flying, falling, or losing teeth. I thought this was interesting, so I looked it up online: "This classic dream has a number of interpretations. It can literally mean that you are frightened of losing your teeth. It can show the beginning of a new phase of life just as we lose our teeth when we pass from early childhood and head towards adulthood. You may be worried about your self image or the dream may signify unexpressed anxiety."

Marathe's secret life

So, my friend from out of town and I were discussing Infinite Jest. Believe it or not, he's read it before (for FUN!) and is going through it a second time. Anyway, it was a really interesting conversation and I asked him what he thought about Marathe, since I remember we were talking about him in class the other day. My friend thinks that Marathe is not a double or a triple agent, but a QUADRUPLE agent. Ultimately, he is loyal to the Americans because his wife is sick from all the toxic poisoning and the Americans are the only ones who are willing to help her.

Any thoughts?

Hal, Robot...or Hal the Emo Kid?

I think it's interesting in class that someone likened Hal, when we first met him during the interview, to a malfunctioning robot. This is brought up again on 694: Hal thinks that "he's far more robotic than John Wayne" and internally, "there's pretty much nothing at all, he knows." Despite such opinions about himself, we learn that Hal is extremely lonely. That last revealing tidbit of information makes me really feel bad for the kid. His dad nuked his brains in a microwave, his mother doesn't understand him,'s like he's one of those "emo" kids, but not in that obnoxious greasy-haired, skinny-jeans-wearing way.

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