After finishing the book I tried to look up a little more background information on J.M. Coetzee and the novel in general. I wanted to know just little bit more about this guy to get a better grasp at the way he views South Africa. On Wikipedia I found the following info which was definitely intriguing when looking at some of the discussions we have had in class.

After the publication of the novel, the African National Congressbrought charges against the author and the book before the South African Human Rights Commission, stating that the book presents a damaging image of post-apartheid South Africa and, in effect, is at best a powerful representation of white racist stereotyping of blacks. Conversely, Coetzee has dismissed these charges as superficial and outright dangerous.

 I did not know what to think when I read this. I reflected back to the way in which the author describes not only the rich, white part of South Africa but the commune as well. After a while I could see that both sides had a point in this argument. In a way it does reflect poorly on the country and gives a harsh image of how the locals live, and treat women and whites in general. However, this book is told through the eyes of David, who is a middle aged man experiencing a slight sexually frustrated induced mid life crisis. It is almost like the message before Info-mercials. “The opinions of this company due not necessarily reflect the opinions of this television station” David’s viewpoint and opinions are that of a middle aged white guy. His way of seeing things can’t be morphed just to make nice.  Fanon would have a field day in the middle of this debate due to the fact that this novel does depict a sense of identity for black men living in South Africa. 

David…David…David….What have you got yourself into? As I continued on with this novel I was becoming more confused with David than ever. The decisions he makes and his choice of words are so stubborn and arrogant I want to pull my hair out.

His performance at the school hearing was an absolute joke. I have never seen someone act like they have nothing to loose. And if I have learned anything from good movies it’s this “Never trust a guy who acts like he’s got nothing to lose.” -Frank Costello (The Departed)This could not be more true for David. His actions and mindset were of a man who was planning on hanging himself as soon as he arrived home that night. Yet, David chooses to dodge as much of the embarrassment of a media frenzy as possible admit that he was guilty of whatever Melanie was claiming.       David  used to walk down the halls of his school with his head held high, now he finds himself hiding out far away with his tail between his legs in the care of his daughter.

While taking a closer look at the relationship between Lucy and her father I wondered how she would react if she knew about her own father’s warped view towards women or intimacy in general.  Or better yet, how would David react if one of Lucy’s professors did this to her? Would he understand the urges of a lonely man experiencing the turbulence of a mid-life crisis? Or would he confront that man with the fury of an enragedfather? Most likely these thoughts have never slipped into the mind of this “deep thinker”. It is quite obvious that Gayle Rubin would have a field day picking the mind of David and his outlook towards the opposite sex.

Davids pilgrimage to South Africa is hopefully his chance to find redemption and perhaps find whatever it is he is looking for.  One connection that I feel he made so far was towards the abandoned dog he begins to sympathize with. Like the dog, David was abandoned by numerous women and now lives alone with his healthy dinners and classical music. Not to far off from the dull cage the dog calls home. My favorite quote so far is one that gives us some insight into the mind of Mr. Lurie. “It is admirable what you do…but to me animal welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. Everyone is so cheerful and well intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat (page 74)

As I continue on I will update the ongoing saga of David and his desperate attempt to salvage any decency he may still have left.

It was definitely a pleasant change to read an actual novel for this course but I’m sticking with the argument that having some graphic pictures to go along with the story is always better. For all you Watchmen haters out there I know you’ll get all sentimental halfway through this novel when you suddenly get the urge to see a giant,bald headed, naked, silver guy. I doubt you’ll see any of that in Disgrace but we’ll see.

So far I must say this book is very intriguing. Very sadly I see David as a spitting image of my father. But that’s a whole other can of beans to open up. Lets just hope the similarities don’t start to continue. But his obsessive tendencies and thought process paint a spitting image of the ol’ man.  Its obvious that David has a problem thinking with his penis. Again I think back to Seinfeld and get an image of Jerry’s brains and penis playing an intense game of chess.  But the brain can very easily be deceived and before you know it you are in a rough situation that your brain would never have let happen. Everyone does stupid things in the heat of the moment and I think back to wise words I once heard when I was young from my brother who was trying to give me advice. He said “Sometimes the little head tells the big head what to do and that sometimes the big head should think twice about it” I didn’t get it then but I get it now and I’m sure someone should have told David this a long time ago. Now his job and reputation are at risk and all for a hot fling. Its obvious Melanie has a few loose circuits because this chick seriously can’t make up her mind. Was she planning this the whole time or is the girl just crazy?

As far as Soraya I really don’t know what to say about her. She is obviously involved in something thats way to big for her to handle. Maybe twenty year olds are not as mature as they sometimes think. With the added stress of a creepy nutcase boyfriend and her parents breathing down her neck, Im sure shes not playign with a full deck.  As far as relating this to our theorists I am at a complete blank. I tried to get some ideas stirring but I really couldnt produce anything worth reading. Im sure a sizzling class discussion will help beef up this blog after I hear some other ideas.

With this piece, Fanon presents to us the touchy subject of race. Now as far as race goes, I say “Look to the cookie!” (see Ryans Blog) But it is something that I have learned to discuss openly without fear of questioning certain race relations stereotypes and prejudices. But it is also a topic that in a certain light can make ones opinion sound ignorant or bigoted even if their intentions are noble. With that said I feel that it is sometimes difficult to phrase questions or opinions in a way that doesn’t reflect this negativity. But our history is surely an ugly one that does need to be looked back upon to insure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. But can this ever be done?

Fanon explains that his blackness is something that he cannot escape. ” My blackness was there, dark and unarguable. And it tormented me, pursued me, disturbed me, angered me. (117) Its not that Fanon is ashamed of his blackness, but that he is fed up with the title that comes with his ethnicity. He describes this “infernal circle” that he feel will never end. One point that I felt I could relate with the most was his view towards Jews. ” He is a white man and apart from other rather debatable characteristics, he can sometimes go unnoticed.” This struck a cord with me because a friend of mine deals with this issue daily. Marcus lives in Brooklyn and is a Hasidic Jew. His daily dress is mostly black and his religious hairstyle consists of two long curls formed behind each ear.  This appearance is something that he cannot escape even though he is white. For the past few years he has been under constant torment from people of both races black and white. After being jumped, Marcus has resorted two arming himself more often and this is something that he explains goes on among most male Hasidic Jews in the city. The constant torment and instigating were finally enough for him to resort to violence. A solution that will most likely cause more problems down the road.

Fanon explains on  page 116 , “When people like me, they tell me it is in spite of my color.  When they dislike me, they point out that it is not because of my color.” This is observed all the time and is something that is done without regard. How many times have you heard a story that included “Oh yeah and this black guy came in and said… ” or  “yeah i know him…that black dude right? Even though they are said with no racist intentions they still mirror the type of labeling that Fanon is trying to describe and stop. Yet this infernal cycle will most likely continue until these unintended titles are replaced with something more fitting that doesnt place a title over a person.

As I reflected back upon my numerous past blogs that still shimmer with such a brilliance that I needed shades just to read them, I thought “Wow I still have no idea how it all fits together…Am I really just not getting it?”.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who is thinking this but its about time we start fitting all these little pieces together so that the ‘big picture’ can be seen.

As far as reflecting back I definitely have seen myself open up to this crazy world of theory. The first week I felt very stubborn towards the readings and felt isolated in the sense that I was not understanding them whatsoever. The terror of participating in a class discussion was high after every reading. I was wondering how I would pull off participating in a class discussion when I didn’t even know what I had just read or how to voice my opinion if I wasnt even sure I was on the same page as the rest. Yet as time went on I grew very comfortable with voicing even the smallest new idea that I could muster up. I recommend doing this to anyone who feels they do not participate as much as they should. Because even the smallest concept can really get the ball rolling  and the conversations get turned into dissecting some of the more confusing parts.This is connected with the small groups because this is a great opportunity for non public speakers to get any problems off their chest. I feel I open up more in group work and some of my left field ideas are accepted graciously.  Our class discussion and small group work is by far the foundation of putting this confusing stuff all together.

Two tools that have also became very helpful in   dealing with theory are the Barry book as well as Wikipedia. These sources clear up some of the blurry material as well as give decent backgruond information on some of the authors. Background info is a great way to see which paradigm the author is writing in.

I feel that The Watchmen was the turning point in which I started to feel that I was on the same page as the rest of the class.  My blogs began to start digging a little deeper into the material instead of just exposing some of the ideas that were clearly on the surface. My blogs have definitely progressed over the past few weeks. In the beginning of the semester my blogs  started off “I have no idea what I just read…” and soon progressed to “I have no idea what I just read but here’s what i think…” Hopefully this pattern will stay consistent and I will be able to analyze larger, more difficult material and present an educated opinion with confidence.

It seems that our skills will be tested as we continue on and tackle an actual novel. The idea of applying this stuff to a novel without pictures is enough terror for one night. Yet by using theory and not have it use us, we will be able to take these new concepts and apply them to any piece of writing we encounter in the future.

Gayle Rubin made me a little scared when she suggested that if male innate aggression and dominance are at the root of female oppression then extermination is the only solution. Lets just hope that they aren’t at the root, for my own sake. Now Im thinking I better watch my back at a school that is predominately women.

Rubin’s purpose is clearly stated as she explains how she wants to arrive at a more fully developed definition of the sex/gender system by taking a closer look at the works of Levi-Strauss and Freud.

Since we as a class were already dabbling in some Marxism it was nice to see Rubin starting out by pointing out the failures of classical Marxism and showing how it can be connected to labor force and capitalism. This just echoed the voice of that creep Althusseur. In relation to housework it was interesting to see how it linked with the worker making a consistent wage and yet a woman continually doing housework does not produce any wage at all.

As I continued on I really started to lose focus on what she was really trying to say. The next thing that I really took some time with was the section on gifts . Rubin explains on 1671 that “marriages are the most basic forms of gift exchange in which it is a women who are the most precious gift” As much as I agree with Rubins ideas I just feel that as each generation passes these traditional views of women will be ancient history. Even though these ideas may be passed own from mother to daughter, with easier access to the rest of the world the ideas have no chance of surviving. Now we could examine this notion even further by trying to find the root of sexism but this would turn into quite a frenzy. Hopefully a good ol class discussion will clear some things up.

I found Louis Althusser rather obnoxious because he kept asking questions to himself and then answering them. I do believe this was a character on Seinfeld in which Elane dates a guy who keeps a conversation going by asking questions to himself and then answering them. Althusser definitely has the same thing going on here. Not a very smooth way of talking…But should I go on with my piece? Ok. Do I think it’s good? Of course not.

Althusser starts off by explaining a very complex concept into a few sentences. This starts out by his first of many questions, “What is the reproduction of the conditions of production? …The process of production sets to work the existing  productive forces  in and under definite relations of production” Now what does this mean? I don’s know. From what I can figure out is he simply trying to find the pattern and consistency of a typical social formation. The key to its porduction  and how this always remain the same. He also is looking to find the problem that is keeping our reproduction levels from performing at an optimum level. Does this sound like mumbo jumbo to you as well? I agree. But I figured I d keep reading and give this guy a chance.

One thing that I did like was how he decided to analyze the school system and how they help the means of reproduction. With each passing generation, the powers that be do not want the means of reproduction to change, therefore they keep the school system values the same and pass down similar ways of viewing the world to ensure that certain ideologies live on. It seems that Althusser views this system as a brainwashing machine that should really be examined more closely. If so, then reading this material in school is part of the brainwashing machine and I should reject it. Which I really want to do. This guy would definilty be a Pink Floyd fan as he asks himself “Am I really just another brick in the wall?”

The rest I really need more time to swallow. I am seriously afraid to comment on some of the more in depth stuff at risk of sounding like a glue sniffing schitzo…

In honor of the deep quotes that followed the end of each chapter I decided I would conclude The Watchmen with my own…

“Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me;          Other times I can barely see                                Lately it occurs to me…what a long strange trip it’s been…” (Jerry Garcia)

I find this fitting due to the complexity of some of the themes present in this novel. At times it was quite clear and easy to see the connections to our theorists but often it was very hard to understand the “deeper meaning”. Yet, to say the least, it was quite an unusual journey. With that said I have some questions and thoughts I’d like to get off my chest.

For starters, I would like to comment on the rationale behind Laurie’s “urges”. It seems like she has some weird sexual fascination with having relations at very inappropriate times. The reasoning behind this is still a mystery to me.

Veidt’s plan was finally exposed and I thought it was rather elaborate. As Rorschach stated earlier “In order to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs” This is basically the foundation of Veidt’s plan. His goal is to create a new Utopia and rule over a world that would mirror mans greatest qualities. Yet the obvious problem arises when the price for this Utopia is millions of innocent lives. Now as warped as his plan is I can look beyond the craziness and see where he felt he was doing the world a favor. If society remains on the current path then without a doubt sooner or later, we will destroy ourselves. So in order to preserve the decency left in mankind Veidt puts into action a plan that will garuntee him salvation. It can be seen that this plan does reflect the ideas displayed by Hitler in WW2. Adolf’s vision of a Areian race was his idea of preserving the good left in mankind and the solution for the rest is extermination. The madness is apparent in both but in each of their warped minds,they think they are doing good.

Well as everyone knows there is an awful lot to digest throughout these last chapters. I can tell already that our class discussion will resemble the last one due to the amount of “stuff” that takes place regarding the new twists and turns this story takes. A few things that deserve particular notice are ones that we have already begun to dissect.  A. The parallel story of The Black Frieghter B. This damn Nostalgia perfume which appears often in Chapter 8 C. Rorschachs ugly history D. The comedians motives and relationships.   The list goes on but we will discuss them later…

Yet I must say that I was fascinated with the chapter regarding Dr. Manhattan. The way in which his past is told by shifting suddenly through time really works for me. This chapter gives more insight into how Dr. Manhattan views the world in which he now sees in its truest forms. On page 14 of chapter 4 he explains “Now its June, A charity event with several costumed adventurers attending…friendly middle aged men who like to dress up. I have nothing in common with them.” Now I know this might be going out on a limb but the actions of Dr. Manhattan some way remind me of the movie “Liar Liar”. Dr. M.just does not have any reason or need to lie so his hope of having an actual relationship with anyone is impossible. Humans don’t want to know the truth. Especially if that truth goes beyond death and time itself. This goes back to my original theory that Dr M was nothing more than a massive weapon that needed to get laid. The picture on page 21 of Dr. M in a God like pose over the Vietnamese soldiers is very powerful and speaks volumes.  “an utmost religious awe” He is a godlike figure but with human tendencies. It seems that he still thinks like a human but is a walking God among insects.

Another thing I would like to bring up is the way in which Dr. Manhattan is forced to choose what events to change and which ones not too. “We are all puppets ” America thinks its the master of Dr. M but they are mistaken. If anyone has seen the 80’s  show “Quantum leap” this idea becomes a little more clear. Changing history can really screw things up and changing things for your own desires and personal benefits can lead you down a screwed up path. Just ask Marty McFly and that damn sports almanac.

First of all let me say this, The Watchmen is by far the most entertaining piece of literature I have ever been assigned to read in my entire education career. And you can take that to the bank! The characters, the language, the scenery, the way Rorschach beats the crap out of everyone, it’s all so good. This Rorschach makes Wolverine look like my little sister.  Next time I need information from someone I highly plan on breaking fingers until I get answers or until I realize he really doesnt know anything…

As far as relating this material to the ideas of Sausaure, Jameson etc…I think that will be a little more challenging than I thought but what the heck I’ll give it a try.

The first thing that I started to think about was how different this world of superheroes was to the traditional image I have always had towards super heroes. In a way this novel is like that movie The Incredibles but rated NC-17 . It gives the reader a glimpse into the world of retired, worn out, super heroes and the problems that would come after living the life of a famous vigilante. After all these “super heroes” are simply that “vigilantes with fancy costumes.” Now it may sound cynical but the idea of super heroes especially ones massed into one large group with  a name like Crimebusters, (I can’t help but get that “Who ya gonna call?” type feeling.) is a little scary thought. I mean who said that it was okay for them to decide what was right and wrong and start enforcing it with violence. Sounds more like a dictator to me. What has always made me view super heroes in this way is the idea of their ultimate power. They are stronger than the people, the police and the army. Now most heroes live by a code of honor in which they decide whats right and wrong which is usually rooted in their upbringing or by the laws of his/her nation. Yet what if they draw the line of right and wrong a little too close? And start enforcing code and policies that he/she feel are right but may not be in the best interest of the people. For example, even the almighty Superman has shown he cares about Louis Lane a lot more than he does about the rest of us. Take Superman 1 for example. After the death of Louis Lane, Superman gets so worked up and angry he begins flying around the world so fast that it actually begins to spin backwards and time slowly starts to reverse. After setting time back, Superman rushes down and comes to the aid of a clueless Louis. Now if he has the power to do that then why cant he do that very same thing when someone else is in need of his aid and he could not help. Also, by doing this if someone were getting beaten or tortured somewhere else in the world, by turning back time, Superman is forcing them too relive these horrible experiences twice! All for the sake of his own selfishness and desire. Does anyone see my point here?

As far as The Watchmen goes, it seemed to me that this was showing a post-post modernist view of this world. The idea of one superhero fighting for justice and becoming famous like Batman, Spiderman, etc give us a view of a post modern world. The Watchmen shows us the repercussions of a world of after supheros. (The Incredibles Part 2: The Atermath) Jameson definitely has his say in this piece with pastiche being a part of the world these people live in. All these heroes are simply mimicking and repeating what has already been done before but in a serious way. If they thought it was funny we would have parody but sadly “The Comedian”is dead serious about that name for a hero.  Another connection to Jameson is how the world they live in is cut off from the rest of the actual world. It seems that the only information being given is from the various news headlines found throughout the novel. These characters are very wrapped up in their world and now it seems that things are changing.

As we continue on Im sure more conection will be drawn and maybe we will finally undersatnd why Dr. Manhatten gets the blue word bubbles?