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Futurological Congress
-written by Lem
-Ijon Trichy: space traveller
-Trollelreiner: Swiss futurologist
How was the Futurological Congress written?
-1st person narrative
-diary format
-narrator was hallucinating traveller
What marks or characterizes The Futurological Congress?
What is the "core" of the person as described in The Futurological Congress?
-Trichy shifts bodies but the mind still remains his so the mind is the core of the person
What counter is provided to the mind being the core of the person?
-when Trichy is unsure of the environment (or reality) he becomes unsure of himself
How is the mind altered in The Futurological Congress?
-drugs (hallucinations)
-if we tinker with the mind (through drugs) then do we have the true core of the self
What does the increasing acceleration of the text in the Futurological Congress imply about society?
-view that society is getting out of hand
-no matter how technologically advanced we get, humans will make a mess of thnigs
Discuss illusion and reality in The Futurolical Congress
-the essence of things is how we define them
-issues of reality without illusion
-Many people have become permanently lost to reality, preferring to spend their lives in a realm of alluring fictions
-seems that everyone indulges fantasies of profound and unmitigated evil, popping pills so they can hallucinate the act of torture, sexual assault and murder.
What does the end of the novel reveal?
-everyone sees a utopia of luxury, well-tended nature and advanced technology when the economy, the environment and the physical integrity of the people themselves are actually in a state of collapse
-the immersion of humanity in an illusion to conceal the end of the world.
What does the sewer represent in The Futurological Congress?
-Trichy fundamentally associates his "reality" with the sewer
-society's future
-Lem's take on how things will go (down the crapper)
What type of society is the psychochem future?
-ruled by a cynical tyrant (Symington)
Why is the pyschochem future controlled by a dictator?
-humans cannot confront the reality of their lives thus they must be kept in a state of delusion and dependency
Is the utilitarian notion employed in The Futurological Congress?
-notion that greatest happiness for the greatest number of men
How is satire seen in The Futurological Congress
-they have the good life but it's all fake and they all engage in the theory of evil
-at the conference nothing actually gets done (break between reality and what we're saying)
-also at the conference the Liberated Publishers get amazing spread of food while the congress gets shitty spread irony is publishers aren't a serious group
-anniliation in the name of love
How is gender portrayed in The Futurological Congress?
-men are equated with the active and creative, while women are consistently passive and objectified, the possessions of the men
-for example, the secretaries of the Society for Liberated Literature are there to act out the fantasies of the professors, the men
-also "the bar on my floor had now been seized and occupied by the student protesters-dynamiters and their girls" (17)
What is the theme of the congress? How is the future Trichy travels to related?
-the convention’s theme is overpopulation, which also gave Lem a few good jokes, such as revising the penal code so that fertilization was high treason
-in the far future overpopulation has reduced the world to a nearly unliveable mess,but the inhabitants don’t care, because they have psychem drugs to make life appear beautiful
Can reality be found in the psychem future?
-there is no hope of actually getting through to the "true" reality since the government officials, who are supposed to see things as they are, are also targets of chemical mind alteration by their fellows. -drugs have become the only possible way to convince officials of anything
-various anti-hallucinogens cause the character to see different layers of reality, one worse (showing greater poverty and decay) than the other
-ultimate truth isn't found since there is no escape from hallucinations
How are spatial boundaries and science fiction related? What do they convey in regards to distance?
-in sci-fi they can collapse
-spacial boundaries can be distance
-increase distance, decrease individuality
-increase distance, increase what is foreign/alien
-if this collapses, then see foreign (face to face)
What historical context is associated with Mars during Well's time?
-at time a man reported seeing chanels on Mars but his pronunciation was interepted as canals which peopl took to be engineered (man made)
-narrator in novel also thought there possibly could be life on Mars
How is post-Napoleonic Europe reflected in Well's War of the Worlds?
-decrease in Britian's power and increase in Germany's power
-Wells saw Britian retriving (dwendling) while Germany was a thriving power
-connection of martians as enemies and Germany as enemies (martians=germans maybe)
How is War of the Worlds predicative of WWI?
-warning of shear destruction
-increase in technology (weapons)
-in WWI, technology increased faster than military warefare (still had trenchwarfare)
-chemical warefare (black smoke)
-Well's sees people as retreating to animalistic
What was politics like during WWI?
-decrease in political discourse
-strict allianes
Discuss gender and War of the Worlds
-females don't have role (wife is out of sight out of mind, she is sent away)
-passive, victorian female (not active)
-obedient (a woman draws a gun because the narrator told her to)
How is manliness portrayed in War of the Worlds?
-couragious but reserved (level headed)
-stoic and things about things logically and rationally
-when narrator is fearful of aliens he compares himself to a weeping child
What type of weapons did Wells predict?
-tanks (tripods are like armored vechicles)
-chemcial warfare (black smoke)
-biological warfare (bacteria kills Martians)
-laser-like weapons (heat ray)
-industrial robots
How is the possible submission of man seen in The War of the Worlds?
-curate has become a victim of himself and his religion
-artilleryman turns to a life of drinking and playing cards. -narrator though remains strong, and though he has his moments of weakness, he does not let the devastating situation get the better of him for long and eventually stands on top of a hill, looking at the dead Martians and then at London, knowing men have won.
Where is organized religion seen in War of the Worlds?
-curate (civilian with theological knowledge)
-first structures destroyed were churches by heat ray
How is curate portrayed? How does the narrator respond to the curate?
-calling out to God and not thinking rational
-narrator tells him to be a man so a parallel is drawn between organized religion and weak females
What classes are seen War of the Worlds?
-narrator is middle class (professional)
-working class with servants and arterillary man
How is the arterillary man portrayed?
-surrived attack and has plans to escape and restore human race by digging tunnel and taking in only the robust humans
-had big plans but never acted on them (drank and played cards, no real progress with tunnel)
-art. man is a strong representation of the working class to Wells who was a socialist
How is evolution connected to War of the Worlds?
-Wells was a strong supporter of the theory of evolution
-saw every species as being engaged in a constant, and often brutal struggle for survival
-in the book, the Martian/mankind conflict is portrayed as a similar struggle, but on a larger scale
War of the Worlds (1958, movie)
-dir. by George Pal
-America's enemy was communism
-Cold War: mutually assured destruction kept it going
How is class portrayed in the movie War of the Worlds?
-clear class division
-man with the shovel is of lower class and is portrayed as boisterous and not logical b/c hits cylinder with shovel
Is religion taken into account in the movie War of the Worlds?
-clergy is introduced real quick with the uncle being a man of God
-Martians attack us but as a society we offer olive branch (religion wants to make peace)
What role does gender play in the movie War of the Worlds?
-women are subservient
-main woman has a masters in science but is only a liberian
-her main role in beginning is to get coffee and donuts
-she is hysterical when uncle goes to Martians and needs a man to restrain her
Who are the men in the movie War of the Worlds?
-scientist (hero)
What role does the army play in the movie War of the Worlds?
-army is seen early in the movie
-send reinforcements and have strategies
-this shows how afraid we are of Russion
What places were attacked? What was left intact? Where were people strategizing?
-only half of Europe was "silent" (meaning attacked)
-Russion was left out (weren't even invaded)
-Washington was only strategic place unhindered
How is the holocaust related to the Terminator?
-Aryian ideal ideology
-SS analogy with Arnold's clothes (black leather jacket and boots)
-Arnold's clothes portray an image of toughness
What is indivisibility of space and time?
-when we traverse time, we also traverse space
-if time is defyed,then it is necessary create a new miniature universe outside of this space/time continuum (an alternate-time-effect)
-this is essential if we are to retain any sense of continuity; otherwise, we would never know if our time traveling efforts were successful
What view does the Terminator take on technology
-warning about technology being taken to far
-view that technology is neutral
What fears could the cyborg represent?
-the fear that our constructions might eventually shape our destruction
What is the role/function of robot? Why was it created?
-the cyborgs, or terminators, are sent back in time to destroy John Connor
-a lone protector was sent by the resistance to attempt to save John
-they are merely killing machine
How human is the terminator? How human was it meant to be?
-very human-like and nearly indistinguishable from humans,
-they act and think as humans, but perhaps a little slower and more mechanized
-the terminator has become almost undetectable from humans.
How well does the terminator interact with society?
-interact well with society and blend in almost undetectably. -they make themselves obvious only on their attacks on humans and the display of indestructibility which shows itself upon attack
What is a cyborg? What is the purpose of the cyborg?
-organism which is a mixture of organic and mechanical (synthetic) parts
-generally, the aim is to add to or enhance the abilities of an organism by using technology
How is technology seen as neutral in The Terminator
-capable of being used for both good and evil
-despite the numerous machines that cause all the bad things to happen, it is also a machine, the hydraulic press, that eventually destroys the Terminator
-shows the dark side of technology, as well as the human ability to overcome it - eventually
What is the future like were the cyborgs come from?
-robots are taking over and humans are reduced to a rebellious group, whose leader's life is now in question.
What limitations do the terminators have in social interactions?
-Arnold's terminator character is programmed with a limited set of verbal reponses that suggest how superficial much of our interaction has become
How does the Terminator influence the future in a positive way?
-the Terminator attacks the police station in attempt to fulfill its programming
-if this wouldn't have happened Kyle Reese would have been kept separate from Sarah Connor and John Connor would not have been born
What human ability does the Terminator possess?
-terminator can learn!
-he is controlled by a neural-net processor, a computer that can modify its behaviour based on past experience.
What is the ultimate aim of artificial intelligence?
-create a machine that can think better than any human
Describe artificial intelligence in The Terminator
-scenario is that a neural network named "SkyNet" was placed in charge of defending the world
-it "turned bad" after being active for a period of time
-SkyNet's ability to improve itself and adapt to new situations, characteristic of neural networks and some other AI methods, allowed it to make the decision to declare war on the rest of the world, with spectacular effects
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
-directed by Siegal
-Siegal liked the title "Sleep no more" better
What was the US like in the 1950's?
-Red Scare:communists all around us
-threat that communism would come and take over
How is sci-fi linked with the country it is made in?
-sci-fi embodies the country it's made in
-what if believes, feels, fears, etc.
Joseph McCarthy
-convinced certain groups would be susceptible to communism
-groups vulnerable were culture producers (hollywood), homosexuals (b/c lack morality), labor unions, and "high society"
How was Hollywood effected by the Red Scare?
-hit hard with suscepsion
-many people in Hollywood had Russion backgrounds
-when Hollywood people were investigated some just didn't find work afterwards
What aspects of life does The Body Snatchers portray?
-conventional gender disposition
How was family viewed in the 1950's? What role did it play in The Body Snatchers?
-family was central (bulwark or support of society)
-in movie people would say that other family members weren't themselves (started with family)
What was the setting of The Body Snatchers?
-white, middle class suburbia
-gives a certain degree of security
What do the pods represent?
-source may be organic but moves them away from emotions (effect is expiration of emtions)
What is the enemy?
-literally seeds that grow into pods
-represent nature run anok and alterity (otherness) that is familiar
What happens after being podded?
-people become content and are maddly devoted to getting others podded (like a disease)
-enforced uniformity
What was America's perception of commies?
-reason triumphed (rational/logic)
-ideological and tried to push ideologies unto others
-all are alike (uniform)
-weren't intersted in emotions
How can pods be viewed
1.carries of communist ideologies
2.gradually lossing humanity
Pods as carriers of communist ideology
-infilitrate and unobtrusively take over (take over while people sleep)
-lead to uniformity
Pods as gradual loss of humanity
-no emotions
-acceptance of bland, suburbian America (middle America)
Describe a typicall Hollywood ending. How does the ending of Siegal's film compare?
-typicall hollywood ending is a happy one usually with a thriving romance
-the film is framed by prologue and epilogue which has open ending but insenuation that police will investigate and all will be well
What was Siegal's original format of the film? What would happen if this change was not made?
-originally the film was not framed by prologue and epilogue
-if didn't have last section, the film would end with Miles running around and shouting warnings at people (no sign of happy ending)
What cameo appearances were made in Kaufmann's 1978 version of The Body Snatchers
-Miles (Kevin McCarthy): he yells running down street saying "they're here" not warning
-Don Siegal as cabbie
-Robert Duval as priest on swing
-Jerry Garcia
What is the importance of the cameo appearances?
-McCarthy and Siegal make links to the previous film
-Duval is associated with weird roles and the priest swinging is a weird things
-also introduces bizarre things early in the film
What is the setting of Kaufmann's Body Snatchers?
-San Fransico
Why is San Fransico the setting? What is the city associated with?
-at the time SF had boom of (homo)sexuality
-sea coast which links with theme of mobility
-know as counter-culture (deviation from norm or stretching of norm)
-big city which implies urban alienation (impersonal)
Describe the 70's
-period of disillusionment
-dreams go sour (60's really dead)
-Kent State...protesting Vietnam
-metal rock (move from love to violent,angry rock)
-watergate and impeachment of Nixon (people didn't trust government)
What does Kibner not do? What other characters also don't do this? What does this suggest?
-Kibner doesn't listen (irony is he's a psychatrist)
-he's closed to discovery and operated on what he knows
-Jeff and Jack (poet/writer) also don't listen
-shows they're self-involved and implies a "me" generation
What are Matt, Elizabeth, and Nancy capable of doing?
-have good instincts
Who is left unpodded? Who are we suprised to see podded?
-Nancy is only one not podded
-shocked to see Matt (our hero) podded
How does podification differ between the two versions of The Body Snatchers?
-forget that human body has to be disposed of
-podded people use pronoun "they" when referring to other pods
-question if humanness may exist a little still in the podded people
-when podded scream and point
-chilling transformation
-see disposable of body and many times disposal is insinuation with all the garbage trucks
Describe the chilling transformation of the homeless man and his dog
-first Harry and dog are seen lying intermingled
-next time they are seen as cross-pollinated (have been podded)
-blended: dog has Harry's face
By what mechanism does podification occur? What is podification suggestive of?
-occurs by spores cross pollinating with plants and then tendlres move toward person
-suggest sexuality because visually see center of flower and tendrles moving in and out of it (analogy of sex)
What people are first identified as podded? How does this differ from Siegal and what does this mean?
-the people characters first get the sense of not being themselves are those that are close to them (ie husband)
-in Siegal's it is family memebers (difference)
-marks absence of family
Describe the relationships in the 1978 verision of The Body Snatchers
-unbalanced relationships
-Matt cares more about Elizabeth that she does about him
-similiarly Elizabeth cares about Jeff more than he does about her
-Matt is to Elizabeth in the same way Nancy is to Jack (Matt and Nancy parallel)
-Nancy is the capable one in the relationship that runs the bussiness (bread-winner) and comforts Jack
What is the style that Kaufmann uses in The Body Snatchers?
-evokes the paranoia using techniques like shaky hand-held shots and shots through frosted glass, immediately evoking a feeling that there is something wrong in the city
-uses ultra violet green lighting, suggesting the invasion of these alien plant forms (pods)
-uses mirrors to grosely distort the actors' features, -shows shots of suits constantly running through the city streets, away from ... something
-keeps his camera moving, his frame is always busy with incident
-builds the eerie up out of indirect detail (something that Siegel never did)
-lush and specific with color
What is the "scary image" that is portrayed in Kaufmann's version of The Body Snatchers?
-the scary images come not from the comfortably familiar turned cold and unrecognizable, but rather from people having become so absorbed in themselves that they don't notice the alien and emotionless taking over
What allegory could describe Kaufammn's verision of Body Snatchers?
-the allegory concerns the unwanted side effects of our increasingly atomized society -this is where the move to the big city comes into play
-the great paradox of modern urban living is that you are thoroughly surrounded by other people, and yet those people live lives so completely insulated from yours that you may as well be alone
What are podded people like in Kaufmann's Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Are they recognizable?
-podded people are more overt in the 1978 version
-people seem to identify those who have been podded but don't really care
What indicates Jeff was podded?
-make a complete 180 turn
-goes from being a slob (easy, laid back 60's) to wearing a 3 piece suit (republican hero image)
What is Matt like?
-60's man
-not mucho, more soft
-concerned about health (cooks oriental food)
-liberated man
When is Dr. Kibner podded?
-possibly very early in the beginning like before party
-could be that he was acting a certain way (ie skeptic) so as not to let others catch on
-does show anger at party when slams Jack but once again this could be assuming a role
-could be podded after he is woken up from sleeping by a phone call
*he uses word sleep more than any other character
When are we certain Kibner is podded?
-when he says podification is moving towards a better species
What secondary podding is seen in Kaufmann's Invasion of the Body Snatcher? What is the importance?
-at the party a woman's husband is podded as well as the dry cleaner
-show most of San Fransico is podded
What does being taken over mean in Kaufmann's Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
-elimination of emtion
-the film looks at humanity and equates being human with having emotions

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