Saturday, April 28, 2007

Geraldine Harris

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

I didn't know that merryone was going to start a discussion about what makes a novel sell, nor did I know gracepub was going to discuss friendship. But the two discussions seem to fit in nicely with my thoughts this week about wanting to introduce some of my friends to this community.

Geraldine Harris is not a name most readers here will recognise, I think. I've heard some years back that her series The Seven Citadels faces some publisher disputes (she's one of the two to which I was referring in my comment at merryone's), but I can't find much information online about that dispute. I don't know if it is privacy issues or what, but it seems information about any dispute is kept rather quiet (though I see sly side remarks here and there). The gist of it, from what I heard years back, is that there is some legalese that prevents the books being distributed in the US. I am not sure how accurate that is, as it was just word of mouth information, but if it is true, it is a real pity. This story makes my list of top five favorite fiction pieces of all times. The series is that good.

The story of Kerish-lo-Taan, Prince of the Godborn, is a compelling one. His journey keeps the reader engaged, and watching the spoiled-rich-kid type learn to negotiate his way in life is always fun. Kerish does learn to negotiate, eventually. His relationship with his brother Forollkin provides many very poignant moments in the book, for me. Each of the seven gates builds up tension, and creates a desire in the reader to know what is coming next, and to see Kerish succeed in his quest.

But for me, it is the Gidjabolgo story that is most moving. I suppose I am a sucker for the little monster in any story. I love Gollum, and Frankenstein... so Gidjabolgo was set to steal the show for me, I guess. He is a very well-written character. Indeed, I feel that all of Harris's characters are well-written. I love the complexity to them. Each has rough edges (not in the writing, but in their person). Seeing them work their way through the tasks they meet in life, indeed walking beside them as they do so, joining in the struggle... that's been one of the great joys of my reading life.

Harris is seldom mentioned in the same breath as the names of fantasy's "greats," such as Tolkien or LeGuin. At least, she is not mentioned in connection with them by many people besides me. But I mention her not only in connection, but at the top of that list.

Her books can still be bought second hand, though The Seven Citadels is now out of print. At one period of time, they were rather costly to lay hold of. Trick Falls pointed out to me a few months ago that Amazon had them for a few cents per book (4 books in the series). I bought several sets at about 25¢ per book. I like to keep copies of the series around to give as gifts to people who I think will like it. These that I found at Amazon are old library copies, and are in very good condition. I've given a set to my nephew, managed to complete a set for my godchildren, and given 2 sets to friends, all since October. It is one series of books that I am always eager to pass along to other friends. It's a rich complex narrative, thoughtful -- perhaps even contemplative -- and certainly writing that pulls you in.

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Mailing List Database

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Building a Home in Florida

I've just finished remodeling my house, and the best thing about it all was that we had a very reliable contractor to do the work. He's done some work for me in the past, and I knew I could trust him, and so put the very big job into his hands. And he did a beautiful job.

Finding a reliable contractor isn't all that easy though. I know, because there have been times in the past when I've had some really bad experiences, and I've heard lots of horror stories from friends too.

How much more important is it to find a reliable builder for the home, then? Someone who's building it from the ground up?

South West Florida New Homes is just the site for finding a reliable builder. They've got lots of builders listed there, and they can help would-be home owners find the best match for their building needs. I like how you can click on the specific builder name and research about them, or how you can search by house model. Those sorts of features make gathering the necessary information easier.

When you're looking to build a home in South West Florida, look no further than the website that will let you compare the builders and find the best.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jasper Fforde

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

Jasper Fforde. He's one of the favourite finds I've made amongst my newest friends. Fforde and I have a little different relationship than I do with the other friends who I'm introducing here -- a sort of, you know, special relationship. All of the rest were friends of friends, introduced to me through those others. But Fforde is one of those rare gems... I saw a title on the shelf while browsing through a bookstore, picked it up, uncertain what I'd get inside the covers there. But I took the risk, bought the book, and took it home to read. Those sorts of finds, when they turn into "the real thing," are the sort I don't let go of easily.

To be honest, I went about it all wrong. The book I'd picked up, called Lost in a Good Book (I know, I know -- that's such an obvious trap! you'd think I wouldn't be so easily taken in!), is the second in a series. I didn't care, though. I read it anyway. And loved it. It didn't take long before I went back in time, so to speak, and picked up the first in the series, The Eyre Affair, and was immediately head over heels. I don't usually believe in love at first sight, but I hardly know how else to describe this. I've got the rest of Fforde's books now, though I haven't gotten to read all of them yet.

There's just something about him. It isn't just the quirky names, like the hero named Thursday Next. Nor is it just the parallel universe in which those names move about and make their life -- a parallel universe where mammoths and dodo birds have been brought back to life through DNA research, and where Next works as a Literary Detective (!). And it isn't just the extraordinary dexterity with which he moves through all the Great Books, though that's probably a large part of it. It is all of that, in part, but it is also more. Fforde's low-key humour, which never hits you in the face, even though it never stops, sits just right with me. I love how cleverly he strings the fun together. I have to say that the best way I can describe it is that Fforde achieves an almost Pinholian type of humour, and you all know how I feel about Pinholian humour... Fforde, like Pinhole, manages to set up fun and funny situations because they are such radically twisted views of life, and yet they are twisted, not detached. They are views of life that are grounded enough to make sense to just about any reader, and to ring true somehow, through all of the hilarity. What might seem like lighthearted fun on the surface usually also settles itself in some very profound part of the imagination too. If you follow the toying about with reality that these types of authors bring to the whole game, it is sure to be a fun journey indeed.

Authors like Douglas Adams or Neil Gaiman, or even Terry Pratchett, bring some of this same sort of twists and turns into their story, and into the view of life exposed in those works. The ability to play about with the absurd, but not be completely engulfed in the nihilism that so many are when they play this game, is a real gift. I'm glad to have bumped into the likes of Jasper Fforde (and Pinhole too), a perfect fit into that list of better-known authors, to make this journey through the absurb actually feel fun. If you don't enjoy Adams, Pratchett, Gaiman, or Pinhole, then I'd suspect Fforde is not going to be to your taste either. But, then, I don't know if I know anyone who doesn't like those writers.

I've been writing some reviews over at ReviewStream, and they've just started a new policy. Every review can now earn a few extra pennies for receiving positive votes. If you've got a few minutes, you can take the time to go and read my reviews and vote on those that are helpful. You can find them from the links below. Thanks!


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Vacation Resorts

Before you set out for your next holiday, visit Vacation Resort International, where you can book some great packages that will take care of everything you need for your travels. It is easy to book your travel needs at this intuitive, easily navigated site. And, you'll find lots of choices there, with good write ups and descriptions, and competitive prices.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Diana Wynne Jones

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

Finally. I am finally back on the site here, and I hope the connection will last long enough for me to finally introduce one more friend before I move on to other things.

I was first introduced to Diana Wynne Jones when I was doing my masters' thesis. The topic for that paper was reader response theory, using the Harry Potter series as a sort of case study. I did a large amount of reading about the specifics of reader response theory, and also about the genre of fantasy literature, especially that written for teens and preteens. It was then that one of my professors introduced me to Diana Wynne Jones.

Jones studied under C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and has since become a prolific writer of fantasy books. I have about 35 of her books on my shelf (not exaggerating; I counted), including one collection of fantasy short stories that she edited. I've also got a book of critical essays about Jones's work. I think a read through the write ups at Amazon about that particular text provides a helpful insight into Jones's work and her perceived place in the world of fantasy and speculative fiction, at least as viewed by some critics. I think, at the very least, that Jones's work will be recognized by anyone who encounters it as a body of literature that has had a clear impact on subsequent series, particularly the Harry Potter books. At the same time, the influence of Lewis and Tolkien on Jones is plain enough to see, and I love what she has done in the way of taking that tradition and making it pretty much her own.

Jones has a real knack for creating parallel universes (um, or should I say multiverses, as she likes to say?), and the worlds of possibilty about which she speculates are truly magical. I don't suppose I have met another writer who so easily appeals simultaneously to my "silly" side, the sense of wonder and all, and also to the scholarly side who has an appreciation of "the greats" in serious literature. Whether creating a story structured around a John Donne poem, or whether putting together a tale of Romeo and Juliet in Fantasyland, with all of the conventions of the genre that implies, Jones weaves the two worlds together beautifully. And her play with words (such as the multiverse mentioned above, or one of her title characters called "Chrestomanci," which invokes so many possibilities for word play) is a clear precursor to J. K. Rowling's fun with the language in her series (things like the Mirror of Erised or the pensieve). Jones, in many ways, strikes me as more subtle than Rowling with her wit, but equally witty, all the same.

It is hard to choose a favourite of Jones's novels. Each has their charm. I love the Chrestomanci series, and, it being the most obvious link to the Harry Potter series (it is a wizarding school for teens... and this series was begun in the 1970s), this was the first of Jones's works I encountered. I found many other very fun works over time. I immediately fell in love with A Tale of Time City and Dogsbody (where she used the "Sirius" connection for her dog story long before Black appeared in the Potter series). It was later that I read Homeward Bounders, which probably has ended up winning my heart over as my favourite of her books. It is a tale of hope, and the anchor that hope provides for us. It is a rich, tightly woven story, and I love all the allusions in it to other rich and deeply meaningful myths and stories. It is one of the most profound books of it's genre that I've ever read. I have given copies to the children of some of my overseas friends here, those who are growing up in a culture not their own, because I think this book is one that has much to say to teens who find themselves in that situation.

One additional thing that I found out when I began reading Jones's work extensively is that we are co-fans of another of my favourite writers, Geraldine Harris. A friend introduced me to Harris about the same time my professor introduced me to Jones. I was thrilled that I could introduce her, in turn, to Jones. It was almost like joining this ever-widening community of readers and writers who all had an appreciation for the same sort of things in life and literature. In fact, it just so happens that my copy of Harris's series has a blurb written by Jones on the back cover. And I later learned that Jones has elsewhere expressed admiration for Harris's work, and vice versa. I believe that one has a short story in an anthology that the other edited, but I forget which is which, and I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of the anthology.

At any rate, I probably could not have found an author who suits my tastes any better than Jones does, and especially not one who is so prolific. She can write across a fairly wide range, and write very well. It is always a pleasure to read her work. She doesn't have a single novel that's been a miss for me yet, and with 35 of them on my shelf, that is saying something.

Jones has the quick wit of J. K. Rowling, the wry humour of Jasper Fforde, the ability to weave together a convincing fantastic tale that Geraldine Harris has, and a rich immersion in all that is high-brow and literary that can match Edwin Morgan. At the same time, she can make all of it her own, remaking it into something new by viewing it through her own unique lenses, much as Heiner Müller does.

How can I not love her work?

The entire entry in The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales on Diana Wynne Jones can be read here

Monday, April 23, 2007

Do We, in fact, Need Another Hero?

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

I've not yet stopped thinking about my recent rereadings of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience. I posted here on some thoughts prompted by the synchronicity of reading Thoreau while being subject to new airline restrictions, and how this might relate to the question of one's civil rights. It has led me to a continued consideration of the question of the heroic.

The rest of this post has been moved to its new home at HubPages

-- sorry for the inconvenience --

More reflections on the hero, the heroic and heroism

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Price of Gold

When's the last time you checked out the price of gold?

Well, that's just too long.

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Check out MDC for prices, and see what arrangements they can help you make for the safe transport and safe keeping of your investment.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Harry Potter new release... this July!

All the talk is Harry Potter these days. I keep seeing signs everywhere for the upcoming release of the final book. I haven't ordered mine yet, but I keep telling myself I am going to get that done quickly. I don't want to get in a situation where it is all sold out before I can pick mine up.

Author Ed Butts over at the Writing Up blogging site, has raised the question of what makes a book a classic. He wrote about it following on the heels of an interview a ten year old girl conducted with him for a school assignment. The teacher wanted the students to state whether they think Harry Potter is (or will be) a classic.

What do you think? Does this series qualify for such elite status?

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Winter Time in Tinsel Town

This was originally posted on my main blog last year.

I've been thinking a lot about the notion of the heroic recently, and partly that is because of the superhero movies coming out of Hollywood in recent months and years. After watching the newest Superman movie with my nephews and godchildren, I was discussing the idea of the hero with my godchildren's parents. We talked about how differently Superman was presented in this new film than he was in the older versions from our childhood. I've discussed in other blogs long ago the subverting of traditional gender roles in the heroes of recent films (the same pattern of reversal is followed in MI3), but I'm thinking now of the hero in terms of broader relationships -- not just with The Other, but with the society of which he is a part.

In Superman Returns, much is made of the hero's frailty. Not only does he have to depend on his mother to save him at one point, and Lois's family at another, but he finds himself in a regular hospital just like any of us, waiting to be saved by faceless humanity. Similarly, we see Spiderman saved by the good people of the city in the last film, and in the X-Men films, good old diplomacy and politics are a real part of protecting the mutant population.

Northrop Frye, in his Anatomy of Criticism, points to the disappearance of the hero as one of the features of "winter" literature. In his erudite walk through the literary canon, Frye divides literature into genre groups, associating each group with the 4 seasons. Spring = comedy; summer = romance; autumn = tragedy; winter = irony/satire. For all his erudition, this approach of Frye's makes his criticism very accessible.

It seems to me that the new packaging of the superhero, the display of his/her vulnerabilities, the all-too-humanness of the hero, represents a move in Hollywood Film. It seems to me that we might just be seeing a move toward winter, a move toward a preference for satire and irony.

I would argue that traditionally, Hollywood has been seen as The Land of Eternal Spring. "A Hollywood ending" has become almost synonymous with "a fairy tale ending" or "happily ever after." There has been a preference for this sort of happy ending -- a spring/comedy convention -- in most Hollywood productions. While dark films, satire, irony, or movies that don't end so happily have always been around, they haven't by any means been the norm coming out of Hollywood.

Superhero movies, for me, seem like a good place to look for the indicators of a possible "change of season" in Hollywood. In Frye's criticism, he is mostly concerned with mythologies, and what is more akin to myth than the superhero/comic-book-based movie? It is the modern mode of presenting mythologies, isn't it? And it seems that we are moving toward a darker, more ironic hero than what we were seeing on the screen 20 years ago. (And that is more closely akin to what we've always had, more or less, on the pages of the comic books.)

But I don't see this trend stopping with this type of film. I recently saw The Break Up with some friends, and was pleasantly surprised by it. It seems even the "chick flick" might move into a winter mode. Frye speaks of the ironic myth as one which attempts to create "a more realistic content which fits [romantic mythical forms] in unexpected ways" (p. 223). It is often a parody of summer/romance, as he points out. I think this is precisely what is going on in The Break Up. It presents a more realistic version of the fights between a couple, rather than the over-the-top, too-much-to-be-taken-too-seriously sort of onscreen fight we often expect in a more traditional "chick flick." There is a realism to the fights that puts an edge on the show, and it is an edge that is usually lacking in the genre. Even more significant is the ending, which is also a real twist from what the genre has taught us to expect of such films. Frye mentions that when we are unsure of how we should judge the outcome of a text, we are moving in the winter world of irony. I think that is exactly the state in which The Break Up leaves the viewer.

I am not sure if this trend towards winter time will continue, but it is one that I will follow with great interest.

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Payday Advance

If times are tighter than you'd like them to be, a payday advance might be just the thing to tide you over till the check comes in. Often, these loans are perfect for students, military personnel, and other workers paid bi-monthly, who very often end up feeling stressed out over not having funds ready when they need them.

A payday loan can help the stress come to an end. A chap just has to get the loan that will help tide him over, and then pay back the amount (either in full or in part) when the next pay check comes in.

Some UK payday loan companies serve Ireland, Scotland and England. If that's where you're located, and your finding yourself feeling a little stressed over the tight funds, then put a stop to the stress by getting a payday advance.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Max and Personal Responsibility

This originally appeared my main blog about six months ago.

Some time back, Inklings wrote a blog that has stuck with me, and out of which several good discussions with "real life" friends have since grown, as well as the excellent thoughts shared in the discussions around my other blog site about that topic. In that blog, Inklings talks about life's unfairness, and about personal responsibility, and how we always have a choice in what we do with what we are given.

About the time I read that article by Inklings, I had recently seen the 2002 film Max, starring John Cusack and Noah Taylor. The DVD's cover has a line that becomes important in the film: "ART+POLITICS=POWER." The film's story centres around Hitler's need to make a choice between politics and art as a life path. I guess we know, from history, what he chooses. But the suggestion seems to be there -- he could've chosen otherwise, and the world would've been so different if he had.

What I first heard about the movie some time back (besides that Cusack was in it) was that it is a sympathetic look at Hitler. I don't know if "sympathetic" is precisely the word I'd use, but it is a look at what might have gone into forming Hitler into the creature he became. It examines the conditions in post-war Germany: the poverty of many of the soldiers, the racism and propaganda going on, the extreme class distinctions between rich and poor -- the whole deal. It also looks at Modernism in art, and how so many within that movement sought to divorce politics from art, ignoring the things going on around them. This impetus forces the decision that it seems Hitler "must" make in the film -- art or politics. In the end, of course, it is demonstrated that his real goal was power, and he seeks to meld art and politics into a means of gaining power. "Politics is the new art!" he shouts over and over in the film, to a very chilling effect.

But what I like about the movie -- at least one of the things -- is that it doesn't let the man off the hook for what he did. The movie shows the social forces that went into the making of the monster, if you want to look at it that way, but it also shows that the man was personally responsible for what he became. There were social forces at work, the film recognizes. But it is also the irresponsible use, by Hitler in the film, of his own art and politics, that ultimately leads him to make the decisions he does. It seems to demonstrate that there was a choice, and in the exercise of a single choice, he set out down a path from which he never turned back.

It was a chilling film, and has stayed quite close to the centre of my thoughts these several months since watching it. I especially liked, when I saw it, how it intermingled with the thoughts Inklings presented in her blog about taking responsibility for the directions that we do take in life, rather than sitting back and whining about things.

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The Matrix: The Female Cyborg

This blog originally appeared here, at the first blog I ever kept about a year ago.

I want to wrap up discussion of The Matrix films with today's blogs, at least for now. With the recent difficulty getting onto the Writing Up site, I haven't posted on the films in a few days now, and so this post might become long. But I think it is a topic worthy of exploration and discussion regarding the films.

It is a commonly understood foundation of feminist thought to think of the female as the long-pointed-to "Other" in patriarchal thought. From some of the foundational writings of feminist thought as regards literary and cultural studies, such as Simone de Beauvoir's work in The Second Sex, the feminine has been demonstrated to be nothing more in masculine thought than the Other to his Absolute. He defines himself by making her his negative (as a photo is printed from a negative), noting what he is by pointing to her and saying, "I am not that." This, coupled with the idea that woman is nothing more than a womb (and do take a look at a good dictionary like the OED -- it is obvious that this becomes the sole identifying factor in describing/defining what the feminine is), has led to the feminine being defined purely in terms of lack. This is represented by the empty space of the womb, and also, naturally, by the lack of a phallus.

That is a pretty well-known fundamental principle underlying feminist thought and its criticism of patriarchal thought and power structures. I want to think here, in connection with The Matrix, of how that thought has developed through thinkers such as Donna Haraway. I have actually asked Dr. Haraway if she's done any writing on The Matrix films, but her email reply was "Alas, I have not written on the Matrix." But I do think her writings have much to offer to a consideration of the films. I will apologize in advance -- a blog is no space to do her thought justice in regards to the movies, and I am starkly aware of my own inadequacy for the task too. I hope that there will be plenty of discussion generated here that will move toward a better exposition of the valuable ideas available to us in Haraway's work, and how that thought can illuminate a film like The Matrix.

A part of what goes on in feminist thought in writers such as Helene Cixous is an attempt to re-appropriate language and the power inherent in it and "remake" the image of the female, not as a person of lack, but as a Subject herself, and not simply Other to the masculine. Haraway's thought builds on such ideas, and perhaps takes us a step further. While Cixous advocates an ecriture feminine (feminine writing), Haraway is more focused on the image of the cyborg, and sees the issues of language and power in connection to the cyborg. A cyborg, or cybernetic organism, is "a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction," according to Haraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto". This, of course, has a connection with the beings we see in The Matrix, who are constantly plugged into the Matrix, which seems to be the site where things are "really happening." It is similar to the distinction, too, I often see made on this site between what we say and do here at this site and what we do in "real life." I have seen Mitchell Allen point out several times that this site is real life. And that is just the sort of "social reality" that Haraway seems to be getting at in her ideas about cyborgs and human identities -- it is an identity which is no longer tied to the body. Indeed, I am finding just how true that is the longer I blog here. I have made several new friends at this site, but none have met me in the flesh or know what this body I inhabit looks like. Does that make them less friends? Are the relationships, then, less real?

And this is a large part of what the films probe into -- what is reality and what is illusion? Is what is "real" what happens when Neo, Trinity and the rest plug in? It seems to be, and indeed, Morpheus tells Neo that the blows he receives in the Matrix can be real enough to make the body bleed because "your mind makes it real." And, as Cypher so clearly reminds us, it is the food in the Matrix that gives so much satisfaction, unlike the tasteless fare that his "real" body consumes when he is unplugged. A similar dialogue occurs with the Merovingian in the early part of the second film too. And at the end of the day, it is those cyborg Selves who are able to see past the boundary of real and illusion, body and mind, and make new realities, new Self-images, and in a sense reconstruct the Self altogether by their power over the mind-body division that ultimately come out ahead in the films.

In all of this, though, I have not yet tied it back to the question of feminism, which is what Haraway discusses so fully. I think part of it lies in the idea of both machine and woman functioning as Other to Man. And partly, as Haraway points to, in the cyborg's exploding the myths of origin. It is a radical grasping for power long denied. She writes, "Cyborg writing must not be about the Fall, the imagination of a once-upon-a-time wholeness before language, before writing, before Man. Cyborg writing is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other." (175)

Central to the feminist-cyborg agenda, then is a retelling of the story of the feminine, and indeed of humanity. Again, Haraway says, "The tools are often stories, retold stories, versions that reverse and displace the hierarchical dualisms of naturalized identities. In retelling origin stories, cyborg authors subvert the central myths of origin of Western culture. We have all been colonized by those origin myths, with their longing for fulfilment in apocalypse. The phallogocentrie origin stories most crucial for feminist cyborgs are built into the literal technologies - teehnologies that write the world, biotechnology and microelectronics - that have recently textualized our bodies as code problems on the grid of C3I. Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control." (sic, 175)

In The Matrix, one powerful emblem for this retelling lies in the person of the Oracle. She is a perfect symbol for this feminine cyborg, being a woman "of colour" (this being for Haraway the prime spokeswoman for the feminine cyborg, being doubly denied a voice by the patriarchy because of her gender and her race). And the Oracle holds a place of special power in the films, perhaps not less than that of the Architect (who, interestingly, almost serves as the Other to her Subject).

Another central tenet of Haraway's thought is that no single construct is a whole. This is a very important concept in The Matrix films. Not only is it pictured visually in the shattered mirror before which Neo sits when he finally chooses to leave the Matrix in favour of "real life," but it is a constant theme of the films that the constructs put forth in the Matrix -- the mental projections of the Self -- are, or can be, in some way divorced from the bodies lying in the chairs on the ship, plugged in. The ability to divorce mind from body, to choose a particularized mental projection, is a manifestation of this fragmented identity.

Tied up in all of this thinking, for Haraway, is the oppression of colonized peoples (see the above quotation). To associate the colonized with the feminine, and specifically with the female body (remember -- thought of in terms of lack) is not a new direction for feminist thought. Indeed, there is a strong tradition of seeing connections between the colonized and the feminine, especially related in their joint identity as "Other." This link can be traced back through Edward Said's Orientalism, in which all of these themes of language and power, domination of the Subject over his "Other," naming, etc., all come together to show the nature of domination in the patriarchal power game. Susan Suleri does a nice job of relating Said's thought to the human body in her essay "The Geography of A Passage to India (found in this book.) The feminist cyborg, though, is one who is not bound by her body. Neither is she bound by her origins. She is a hybrid Self, one who does not rely on presenting her whole Self for the public gaze, but is content to allow fragmented identities to represent her as she wills. This is certainly a central theme of The Matrix films, which advocate an exploding of the physical boundaries which we think of as limiting us. It is a fuller development of the Self, not by naming woman or machine as man's Other, but by a merging of these identities.

In part, this also brings to mind for me three fairly recent movies that I loved, which all deal with the question of blurring the "line" between humans and machines: Bicentennial Man, A. I., and I, Robot. Each of the movies is based on an Isaac Asimov story, and so approaches the topic quite differently than do The Matrix films. In Asimov's stories, we see an exploration of computers evolving into a Self, a consciousness. This is different from what we see in The Matrix, where the humans are so merging with machines as to become a sort of "coevolution." Of course, Haraway would argue that part of the beauty of cyborgs is that origins are not so important anyway. What matters is the final product -- what Asimov explores as the Self.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Looking for a Place to Stay?

Orlando Vacation Rentals are more than just a place to lay your head at the end of a long day of fun in the Florida sun. These great units are comfortable and affordable, and offer excellent accommodations for the whole family.... or just for the two of you.

And Orlando makes a perfect vacation spot. There are over 50 theme parks in the area -- yes, over 50! It isn't all about Disney World, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios. With all these theme parks, you could spend a month in the Orlando area and never get filled up on all the fun.

And not only theme parks. There are also beaches and golf resorts. In fact, there are more golf resorts within a 40 minute driving distance than any other city.

So, if you are looking for a fun holiday destination, think of Orlando, and make your reservation for a vacation rental in the Orlando area now.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Still waiting

I'm still waiting for my main blog site to be accessible. I was able to get on for a short while, but haven't been able to post the final blog on The Matrix yet. With the site being down this often, I might have to reconsider thinking of it as my main site.... grrrr.

Anyway, may I remind you instead that this is a perfect time to review my blog? Click on the tab below to get started

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Dreams Our Stuff is Made of

I am having some trouble logging into my main blog site, so am unable at the moment to post the last of The Matrix blogs. It was my favorite post in the series back when I first posted it, but oh well. I'll get it up here eventually.

So, in the meantime, let me recommend this title: Thomas Disch has written an amazing study of the science fiction genre. It is a very insightful read for scholars who have an interest in genre, but also for sci-fi buffs. I ordered it many years ago, and have often referred back to it for some bit of information on sci-fi or genre studies. It's a handy little resource to have on the shelf.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Florida travel

Orlando is a fantastically fun place to spend one's holiday. I can assure you that my family and I had a real good time when we were there some years ago.

Here's something that isn't really a newsflash: there is a lot of junk available on the internet. While there's also good information, you sometimes have to wade through a lot of rubbish if you're ever to find it. I've got some good news for you, then: a web release has just announced an excellent resource, especially geared at UK residents who plan to spend their holiday in Florida.

Thinkflorida has put together a collection of good, reliable information... without all the rubbish. I like what I see at the site. If you book a particular Orlando Holiday Villa from them, then that is precisely the Orlando holiday villa you are going to get. If you have ever had the experience of getting something very different than what was advertised, then you know how meaningful such a promise is

Thinkflorida provides lots of great services, including a car rental service, a ticketing service and an online booking service for Private Pool Homes, Condos and Town Houses in the Disney area. And here's something else really good to know about their pricing: often, the UK customer is sometimes not fully aware of how cheap it is to rent a villa for the entire party, since many book their vacation as a package. While many would consider a $20 per night per person a ‘deal,' it could actually only cost them less than $10 per person per night if they would rent the unit directly.

That's the sort of useful information you're going to find at thinkflorida. Imagine... a site that will help you find that sort of savings.

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