Feed on
Posts
comments

Honors Conference Speech Rough Draft

In this time of the Industrial Revolution, technology was largely experienced through the advent of machinery into everyday life. Images of machinery began to depict overall societies, rather than just remaining confined to factories.  The Machine was no longer just a single identifiable object, but encompassed many different aspects of society which together formed The Machine. My thesis explores the changing representation of machinery over time as seen in three different texts and in one film-Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle,Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, George Orwell’s 1984, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

In The Jungle, we encounter a world of newly arrived Polish immigrants who are sucked into the machine of society. Jurgis, the protagonist, is caught up in the factory and all the other systems that the factory is linked to. The real estate, marketing, political, justice, and immigration systems all simultaneously run together in this novel to exploit each member of society. As Jurgis lands his first job in the meatpacking industry, he wonders with pride, “Had he not just gotten a job, and become a share in all this activity, a cog in this marvelous machine?” Jurgis is correct to think that he has become a share in this activity, but it is not quite so optimistic a way as he hopes; rather, it is a one-way relationship where you are required to put in your all and the machine uses you, mind and body, down to your last bit, only to spit you back out in the end. Sinclair offers the solution of socialism for all of the problems he uncovers in his novel, vesting all of his hope on this answer of once and for all getting out of the machine. However, what he fails to realize is that his novel is merely the first of many stages of a machine-run society.

In the film Modern Times, Charlie Chaplain presents audiences with a new perspective on The Machine. Here, humans are possessed, mind and body, by the machine rather than merely being sucked in as cogs of the machine. Here is a clip from the film that illustrates exactly what I mean: [present clip, total time: 1:08]. In this clip, the seriousness is masked with humor, but we cannot ignore Chaplin’s commentary on the nature of machinery and its effect on one’s body. The comic presentation heightens the criticism of the machine. Throughout the movie, Chaplin’s use of slapstick movements mimicking the movements of the machine highlights how he becomes a “robotized victim of the machine [which] extends this into a frontal assault on industrialization” (Stewart 298).  Chaplin’s quirky, exaggerated movements make his body “[remind] us of a mere machine”, serving to capture the “entrapping monomaniacal whirling of a repetitive mass mechanism” (Stewart 299). His character elevates this satire of the machine’s movements, taking his film beyond a representation of mere oppression, as Sinclair attempts to do in The Jungle, into subversive comic grace. The way that Charlie runs amuck in the factory with his wrench, tightening every bolt or every object that even remotely resembles bolts, echoes the view that machines have a mind-numbing effect and serves to slowly eat away at one’s intellectual abilities. The tramp’s mental capability has been reduced to simply understanding the function of wrench and bolt.

      As the Industrial Revolution moves forward, so does The Machine’s grasp on humans and on society. In Orwell’s 1984, people become mindless, soulless machines as a form of manipulation and oppression. Over the years, as people simply functioned day by day and worked away for no other reason than to become functional and beneficial members of society, they helped to keep the greater mechanisms of society going. This creates a new kind of technology that pierces deeply into human consciousness—the machinery that is actually a person. When this occurs, the ambitions, motivations, and eventually, personalities of all different people begin to look the same. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, we see these ideals being implemented to an extreme degree. The Party is able to achieve their desired power through the eradication of basic thought. Winston states, “The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account” (168). Being a human eventually means nothing in this society—conformity is everything. If the Party wants to vaporize you, that can be achieved as easily as pressing delete on a computer: “whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again. You were lifted clean out of the stream of history” (168). A human has become equivalent to a computer. Feelings are erased so the Party can rob you of your life without resistance. This transformation is attainable only through the mechanization of human minds and hearts. Humans become cogs once again, but unlike Modern Times and The Jungle, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, there is no concept of a cog even theoretically separate from a machine. There is only total control and submission, achievable through eradication of humanity.

By the time William Gibson publishes Neuromancer in the actual year of 1984, a huge jump occurs in the perception of machines. What was once horrible now becomes desirable, as the world presented in this novel is one where people are infused with machinery as never before. They are excited by technology and seek it—going to great lengths to infuse their bodies with the technology of the matrix, which allows them to escape the bounds of the real world and seek refuge in the wonders of the machine. Machinery is depicted quite differently than The Jungle or Modern Times. Cyberspace, Gibson tells us, is “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation”. It is alive, it is exciting—not mind-numbingly monotonous or mechanical. The technology of cyberspace lifts humans out of their current conditions and elevates them to worlds unheard of before. The human brain is a computer (whereas before, it was like a computer), where memory and cognitive abilities are programmed or altered through surgeries and drugs.  The entire world is thoroughly mechanized; human society has advanced to a point where technology encompasses everything, including how the human mind functions. Gibson himself explains how he sees the human brain: “On the most basic level, computers in my books are simply a metaphor for human memory, the ways it defines who and what we are, in how easily it’s subject to revision” (Grant 41). This exact concept was presented as leading to a Dystopia and was horrifyingly negative in 1984, but not in Gibson’s world. In fact, it allows for an escape from the constricting current realm into one where anything is possible—a state both positive and negative.  This is a world described as having “unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data” (51). The world itself is a collection of data, created by humans in order to surpass regular boundaries of humankind. The matrix encompasses personality and immortality.

This was the image of machinery in the late 20th century—positive, wondrous, and with limitless possibilities. Machinery has no doubt transformed our society in many ways, creating possibilities that are both wonderful and dangerous, with the potential to destroy, create, or transform society into virtually unrecognizable people and structure. Machinery creates important existential questions for the progress of humankind. The authors all agree that humans have become inextricably linked to machinery and only foresee worlds where we are more and more attached to our creation, not less. Although it is impossible to know if our future holds electrifying hallucinations in the matrix of cyberspace or totalitarian control by Big Brother, but it is possible to dream and use those dreams to inspire new and awe-inspiring technologies that will take us to even greater, unforeseen lengths.

Amongst most primitive peoples, matters of fact and matters of magic are equally real. Even today, as Schuyler Cammann tells us, the Mongol tribesman regards the hemispherical shape of his tent as the dome of the sky, and the circular smoke vent at the top as the sun gate or sky door, while the column of rising smoke is the world pillar or the world tree the axis mundi. Only by sloughing off these mythopoetic attributes did a tent finally become a mere tent, a hole a hole, a column of smoke just smoke. P. 92

The above quote section from Lewis-Mumford is both intriguing and troublesome for me. I find it intriguing because he basically states that “matters of fact” are real and “matters of magic” are NOT real, while also saying that most primitive peoples do they think they are out of ignorance. While matters of fact and matters of magic are separate to me, who is to say that they are not actually the same thing? The sun rises every day, thats a fact, but the sun could be rising because of magic in someone’s perspective. One persons fact can easily be another person’s magic. What I find troublesome about this quote is Mumsford’s relaxed labeling of primitive peoples, basically hashing up all stereotypes of being uneducated and us more advanced folk being the higher species.Nevertheless, I still find the idea of fact being separated from magic an interesting concept and one that I am grappling with.

“Once upon a time there were gods only, and no mortal creatures. But when the time came that these also should be created, the gods fashioned them out of earth and fire and various mixtures of both elements in the interior of the earth…”

As a creation myth, one can label “The Story of Epimetheus” as a myth of technology if we take into consideration that ‘creations’ and ‘creating’ is technology. The act of creating, by craft and as an art form is a technology that is ever evolving and never ending. Man is constantly inventing new things and crafting new, innovative techniques that help us live. However, this concept of never-ending creating by humans is actually an interesting and somewhat ironic concept when  we read creation myths such as this one and all other creation stories out there. In these stories, The Creator, (usually God), creates instantly. There is no series of experimentation, never-ending evolution, etc. He simply says “Be”, and there it is. However, His creations are given the gift of creating.  (In “The Story of Epimetheus”, we are told that man is given this by Prometheus who steals the mechanical arts from Hephaestus and Athene, thus allowing man wisdom to create new things for themselves). We are told many times in various religious texts that God created human beings in His likeness, (See “The Story of Epimetheus”: “Now man, having a share of the divine attributes, was at first the only one of the animals who had any gods, because he alone was of their kindred”) so was this also one of the attributes of God that humans were given? If so, it is a gift given in moderation to humans. While we humans may not have the power of simply commanding the object of our imagination to “Be”, we do have the power to keep trying and trying until eventually, we are able to form a close enough likeness of our original conceived idea. We are definitely not God, but how God-like do we strive to be? Is our fascination with technology a manifestation of this innate God-given gift of the power of creating?

Untouched Amazonian Tribe

The very fact that the reporters in this video are calling this Amazonian tribe “untouched” brings to mind many things when it comes to technoculture. Just the existence of such a report strikes a chord with me. Firstly is the pointing out by the commentator of the vast  contrast between so-called ‘primitive’ societies and the type of ‘advanced’ society that we now inhabit. This tribe makes everything they own-from their tents, to their clothes, to the body paint they don as a warning for the outsiders to stay away. How much of what we own today has been crafted from our own hands, or has even touched human hands in its manufacture? How much of what we own today is deemed a’ necessity’ by the rest of society or by our own bodies? Are the things we own things that we HAVE to have, things that have come about from the organic process of living and surviving, or are they artificial needs that satisfy an artificial appetite? It is obvious that technology has transformed our world–but this video makes me wonder what our world would look like if we had frozen time and advancement. What would we do with our lives if we had no technology?

When observing Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks”, I am reminded that this is a painting that uses realism as its mode of artistic expression. Realism is an art & literary movement that seeks to depict “the faithful representation of reality” or verisimilitude– that is, it seeks to portray life as it really is, without the romanticism and dramatization of previous ages. If this is a realist painting and the scene depicted is a realistic situation, then what exactly is that ‘realistic’ situation and what exactly is this painting trying to say by depicting it?

When I look at this painting, the first emotion I feel is loneliness. That is because my eye  is first drawn to the man sitting alone at the counter of the bar. He is wearing a dark gray suit and is looking down at his cup, or perhaps he is looking at the couple sitting across from him at the bar who appear to be in conversation with the waiter. The man appears to be either seeking solace in his cup of coffee or escape from the world. In contrast to his shadowy corner, the couple sitting across from him are directly under the lights of the cafe. The woman stands out in her bright red dress and red hair, while the man next to her sits with his face up. His face is illuminated and not hidden, which is in contrast to the solitary man whose entire face is shadowed by his hat.

What is interesting about the lonely man and his environment is that he is clearly sitting in a downtown area of a city, which looks like New York City. Normally, one thinks of downtown areas as being bustling areas of activity, where men and women are in a rush working and living. However, this downtown corner looks abandoned-as if everybody in the town went home  or disappeared. The characters in the painting seem as if they are the only 4 remaining living people in this town. It is also interesting that there are shadows cast on the building opposite the cafe by the bright lights. These lights create a world within the walls of the cafe-an artificial, crafted place that beckons a passerby and promises light, warmth, welcome, and refuge from the outside world. It is perhaps these lights that drew in the three customers and kept them there at this hour.

The bar is very well-lit with bright lights and white walls. This creates an interesting juxtaposition of the ‘newly modern, electrified, urban world’ with the humans in the picture. I would imagine that a newly modern, electrified, urban world would bring with it promises of all the wondrous events that can take place with all of this great new technology. There should be so many exciting  things to do and discover in this brand new world! However, the people in this painting are participating in none of that and are merely drinking coffee. The solitary man seems to have lost all sense of this wonder. In fact, he almost seems defeated. What has happened to him that is making him feel so lonely? What has happened to him that pushes him to seek solitude in a corner of a brightly lit cafe? What about this ‘newly modern, electrified, urban world’ pushes people like this man to end up in situations such as this? What wondrous new technologies have caused this man, and this couple, and the waiter to cross paths? It seems that the more I look at this painting, the more I am left with questions and more questions about what is really going on here. Is it that the more manipulated. technological, or artificial our world becomes, the more questions we are left with in the end about what is real and what is REALLY going on?

Technocritical Aspects of The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, we see a very different modern world from the novels that we have been studying thus far. Technology is everywhere in the novel and in the lives of the characters-from telephones, to automobiles, trains, clocks, and lights. The rapidly changing world of the novel, possible only through technology, is frequently described as one that inspires wonder, promise, and excitement:

“All the lights were going on in West Egg now; the electric trains, men-carrying, were plunging home through the rain from New York. It was the hour of a profound human change, and excitement was generating on the air” (96).

New York City, with all its glimmering lights and flashy attire, draws the admiration of all: “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world” (69). NYC has become the city that never sleeps, attracting people from all over the world to its seemingly endless supply of potential and its promise to give a piece of its expensive pie to all those who work for it. “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge…anything at all,” Nick says, “Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder” (69). This is a world where anything is possible–where machines and technology have reached the skies and the promise of prosperity. New York brings with it “the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye” (57). Men, women, and machines have combined to form a new kind of society that is constantly on the move and on the pursuit of bigger and better things.

This is the world that Jay Gatsby enters into as a teenager running away from home, wide-eyed and full of childish hope that acquiring a piece of this wonderful splendor will somehow win him back Daisy, his lost love. He accumulates his piece of New York alright, but the only good that comes of his efforts is that it becomes more and more obvious how this materiality that has taken over the modern world has only created emptiness, shallowness, and somewhat crazy human beings. The “artificial world” (151) of Daisy and Gatsby was nothing but a short-lived, sad attempt at creating meaning out of nothing but material objects. “The colossal vitality of his [Gatsby’s] illusion” (97) was shattered before his eyes: “He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way” (97). His wealth and grandeur, only possible through the achievements of modern technology and its merger with societal structures, were nothing but a cover up. They were a cover-up of his loneliness and attempts at impressing Daisy. Gatsby, in the previous quote, discovers how meaningless his world is without Daisy in it. Without actual human life and actual human connections, his wealth, property, and accumulations become nothing but objects. Without Daisy, Gatsby is nothing but a bootlegger who hit it big-and then lost at his own game. His manufactured life is an illusion and can only be made real through the human connection he desires so much. [This brings to mind the ending of Sharon Old’s poem “Summer Solstice”-it is the same idea that technology and material accumulation is meaningless if vital human connections are lost]. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that the promise of New York, with its pretty packages and beautiful blue Tiffany’s bow, becomes nothing but an illusion for all those trapped in it. The effects of such a life only produces “the same people…the same profusion of champagne, the same many-colored, many-keyed commotion” (105)–in other words, monotony and homogeneity and noise–trapped in a never-ending pursuit of artificial happiness and success. This is true for Gatsby, and many others in the novel, who get caught up in the mechanical bubble and sadly never escape.

In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle,the various human/sociological/administrative/business systems portrayed combine to form one large, all-encompassing force called capitalism. Humans are capitalized for their labor, forcing society to become a complicated function meant simply to benefit one person or another. The businesses exist simply to take advantage of someone (i.e. its workers) and something (i.e.  the product it is selling) for the benefit of a third party. The machines and factories are well-oiled systems that run on the blood, sweat, and tears of its workers (literally). Sinclair repeatedly compares the workers in the factories as “cogs in the machine” (41). The more cogs in the machine equates to more people toiling away in the factories at poverty wages. The more cogs, the greater the  product output, resulting in more money in the pockets of the owners. This capitalist, no-holds-barred system comes at a great toll for every cog–I mean human– that makes up this huge system.

This great toll is described in one of the more poignant and saddening moments in the novel. The narrator draws a comparison between the pork factory and the human workers. We are told that “it was all so very businesslike…it was pork-making by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics” (44). The hogs were “so innocent, they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their protests–and so perfectly within their rights!” (44). The same is true of the workers, who came into the factories initially with so much trust, excitement, and hope for a better tomorrow–all things that were so very encouraged and “human”. Jurgis and Ona come to this country because of the great tales they were told of prosperity and freedom and were quickly smitten with the possibility of the great life ahead of them: “It seemed a dream of wonder, with its tale of human energy, of things being done, of employment for thousands upon thousands of men, of opportunity and freedom, of life and love and joy” (38).  They, too, want to cash in on the capitalist dream. But like the hogs, they are “seized by the leg”, turned upside down, and used up for every ounce of worth they possess. The narrator continues to say, “And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self confidence, of self importance, and a sense of dignity” (45). In the same way, the workers come in with many personalities and desires and even an ounce of dignity, which is snatched away in the miserable conditions and impersonality of the machines they work for. This is the saddest realization of this process-the workers did not work for people with hearts and souls and compassion, they worked for the machines that called themselves people for the sake of cashing in. I would even say that the machines they use everyday end  up using them, becoming their masters, their providers, and their punishers. It tortures them, cuts them, hurts them, and causes them pain. In this system, the ultimate result is that the humans become cogs in the machines and the machines become human.

Victor Frankenstein is indeed a new sort of creator than what we have encountered in the novels and stories read thus far. He is not only a mechanical artist, but he is a scientist, an innovator, and a creator who leads himself to believe that he has God-like powers. He has done something new for humans:with his own hands, he has given life to a non-animate thing. What eventually leads Frankenstein to his demise is that he not only desires to achieve God-like knowledge and power, but leads himself to believe that he is actually capable of achieving this.

Frankenstein tells us, “I have described myself as always having been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature” (25). His thirst for knowledge is almost unquenchable at first and he immerses himself in his quest for unlocking the secrets of nature. He says, “I gazed upon the fortifications and impediments that seemed to keep human beings from entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined” (25). By refusing to accept the obstacles to every other human scientist, Frankenstein demonstrates his desire to rise above the normal scientist and discover what none other has ever been able to thus far. After seeing the minor achievements he has in his laboratory, he declares, “More, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation” (33). Thus we see how Frankenstein develops a confidence in his abilities that eventually leads to arrogance.

Frankenstein steps into dangerous territory when he says, “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I must first break through,and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator an source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (38). He begins to mimic the personality of God, believing himself to be the Provider and Sustainer of life, one who Frankenstein seems to suggest is even worthy of being worshipped by his creations. These very beliefs seems to me to be the reason that Shelley decides to torment her protagonist when he actually does achieve what he desires. Frankenstein quickly becomes disgusted with himself when he sets eyes upon his creation, the thing that he has been working so hard to achieve. I interpreted this plot twist as one that demonstrates the dangers of God-like science and what can happen when man desires to know just a little too much. Seeing as how this novel was written in the middle of the age of discoveries and inventions, Shelley seems to be arguing for a restraint in the enthusiasm that the world is exhibiting by stating that while man can create so much, is it really right or worthwhile to do so? This argument can even be applied to the modern-day debates on stem cell research and cloning. By creating a monster that disgusts its creator, is Shelley telling readers that their is a limit to man-made creation…that surpassing this limit only leads to a demise of the value of human life and the human psyche?

Claude Monet's Gare Saint Lazare, 1877

The above image is Claude Monet’s famous painting, “Gare Saint Lazare, 1877”. I chose this image because it provokes in my mind the revolutionary changing effects of time and travel that became possible because of the most popular machine of the time: the steam engine. It is an Impressionist painting, meaning that it was painted by paying great attention to the transient, changing effects of light caused by nature and human activity. It is made to capture a single moment in time, with all the hustle and bustle of the train station included. The painting was created en plain air, meaning that the artist was in the station, physically painting in the open air in order to best capture the fleeting moment in front of him.

You can see how the steam billows up from the two trains, causing it to cover much of the scenery and landscape in the foreground and background. It reflects the light around it and creates a new atmosphere of a grayish, purplish sky. This to me is very provocative because it is the first time in history that such an atmosphere has been created. Due to the steam engine, cities are for the first time experiencing pollution and reflecting aspects of what we know as ‘city life’ today. People have become masters of time, accomplishing within minutes what was never possible before due to the endless possibilities available by steam. The landscape of human activity has completely transformed, with metal buildings and  man-made structures replacing the hills and mountains nature created. The brushstrokes, applied in short, thick, stippled strokes, emphasize the fleeting aspect of the scene. The people around the train are all hurrying to their destinations. The large black trains anchor the painting, demanding the attention of all those around it and those viewing the painting. They stand almost as bold creatures, daring anyone to even try and ignore its unavoidable presence. This is a moment made possible by human invention and captured by a great artist. Monet skillfully captures the beauty and gloom of this new invention in the very moment that it is changing the world around it.

The function of Crusoe’s diary, it seems, is not to anatomize the self, but rather to keep track of it in the modern fashion that Riesman [David Riesman, author of The Lonely Crowd] describes: “The diary-keeping that is so significant a symptom of the new type of character may be viewed as an inner time-and-motion study by which the individual records and judges his output day by day. It is evidence of the separation between the behaving and observing self.”

–Leopold Damrosch, Jr., “Myth and Fiction in Robinson Crusoe”

The quote above by Leopold Damrosch, Jr., interprets Defoe’s work Robinson Crusoe as an investigation of the effect of the capitalization of time present in Defoe’s Enlightenment time period. Damrosch argues that Crusoe’s diary-keeping is the effect of his society’s newfound consumption with maximizing output and judging the effectiveness of one’s day by the amount of tangible, material things they were able to accomplish. When Damrosch states that “the individual records and judges his output day by day”, he is summarizing only one aspect of the construction of this novel. Damrosch argues that in the novel, there is a “separation between the behaving and observing self” but that is not to “anatomize”, or analyze the self, while I see that the two are very much intertwined in the novel. In fact, Crusoe’s records of his activity leads him to analyze his actions and reflect on the great blessings and “providence” he possesses. Crusoe’s entries are a balance of strict record-keeping and reflective self-observation.  For example, Crusoe details his daily mechanical output with entries such as this:

May 4. I went a fishing, but caught not one Fish that I durst eat of, till I was weary of my Sport, when just going to leave off, I caught young Dolphin. I had made a lon Line of some Rope Yarn, but I had no Hooks, yet I frequently caught Fish enough, as much as I car’d to eat, al which I dry’d in the Sun, and eat them dry.” (62)

This is countered with Crusoe’s deep reflections upon the nature of his soul and how he has managed his time thus far:

“I do not remember that I had in all that Time one Thought that so much as tended either to looking upwards toward God, or inwards towards a Reflection upon my own Ways; But a certain Stupidity of Soul, without Desire of Good, or Conscience of Evil, had entirely overwhelm’d me, and I was all that the most hardned , unthinking, wicked Creature among our common Sailors, can be supposed to be, not having the least Sense, either of the Fear of God in Danger, or of Thankfulness to God in Deliverances.” (65)

Crusoe does demonstrate the transformative capitalist mindset of the time period: that days are measured by time and what one produced during that time. However, by presenting passages such as the one above, Defoe seems to also be arguing for balance to this hectic, occupied lifestyle by encouraging his readers through Crusoe’s modeling to also take a step back from the hustle and bustle of life to reflect upon oneself and the true fruitfulness of one’s life. He is arguing for greater faith and greater output.

Damrosch states that the function of the diary is to “to keep track of” the self. By carefully analyzing his daily activities and accomplishments, Crusoe realizes what he is able to accomplish simply through the work of his own hands. He collects his possessions and inventions and is proud to take stock of his growing material wealth. However, through his diary, Crusoe is able to not only keep track of his physical activities, but also of the inner workings of his mind:

“I had no room for desire, except it was of Things which I had not, and they were but Trifles, though indeed of great Use to me…There the nasty sorry useless Stuff lay; I had no manner of Business for it….I had not the least Advantage by it, or Benefit from it; but there it lay in a Drawer, and grew mouldy…and if I had had the Drawer full of Diamond, it had been the same case; and they had been of no manner of Value to me, because of no Use” (94-95).

This self-reflection, possible only through the keeping of his diary, allows Crusoe to develop and tell us:

“I had now brought my State of Life to be much easier in itself than it was at first, and much easier to my Mind, as well as to my Body. I frequently sat down to my Meat with Thankfulness, and admir’d the Hand of God’s Providence, which had thus spread my Table in the Wilderness. I learn’d to look more upon the bright Side of my Condition…” (95).

Thus Crusoe does, in a way, separate his “behaving and observing self” (Damrosch), but only by placing a type of cause-and-effect relationship between the two. By recording his behaving self, he is able to observe himself through an objective lens and reflect on the condition of his Life. This leads to a more developed, mature Crusoe as the novel progresses. He is able to learn from his daily record, rather than simply measure the worthiness of his life through material gains and losses. In this way, the novel seems to be a critic of the capitalist system, which seeks to maximize profit and output through the mechanization of human life.

Older Posts »

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar