amelia daly

  • Good morning!  I meant to ask how many others in class are in close contact with someone with autism spectrum disorder.  As I mentioned in class, I have a sister who is an ABA therapist.  Our nephew is autistic, an […]

  • I read this book in one sitting.

    This took on the coming of age format perfectly.  Christopher is so innocent in his observations.  But I should call them recordings, because while he observes everything, he d […]

    • I was interested by how he could detach. I end that sentiment at the word “detach,” because usually when people use that word it is reference to a strong emotion or a relationship. In Christopher’s case it gains a an almost new meaning. It becomes part of a complex mathematical system. From Christopher’s point of view, if it is cannot be logically explained it has no place in existence. At one point her says his father loves him, but only because he told him that. To Christopher this word lacks the connotation that it would have to his father. His father is distraught after their break, because, for him, love has a deeper felt inexplicable emotion behind it, whereas for Christopher this translates to a quantifiable reaction like trust (I trust you for these reasons, x and y, and if evidence is placed against those reasons, trust is removed from the equation). The episode when he cannot process or relate to the feelings he is having and suffers the blackout, seems almost like a safe guard for his mind, set in place to allow his inner system of logical to function, kind of like blocking out a painful memory, except in his case it physically hurts.

    • I wasn’t at all surprised by Christopher’s ability to sever ties from his father. Christopher experiences reality in a mathematical sense; unknowns or variables to Christopher can be solved by formulating an equation for the data presented to him. Upon the revelation that his father not only lied about his mother, but about killing Wellington, Christopher could no longer compute a satisfactory equation which made their relationship make sense. This is not to say Christopher experiences his father solely as math, but take it as a metaphor that order supersedes blood ties and familial love in Christopher’s world. The differentiation is integral for understanding how he responds with his world.

  • I was reviewing notes and saw that last week, we ended class considering an idea of Dennett’s.  I believe it had something to do with questioning the need for intelligence and/or language for consciousness, or […]

    • Seeing children’s consciousness grow and change is certainly a fascinating and wonder-full experience. I have two nieces and I am always shocked to discover how much their minds have grown between visits. One is six and the other is four. My first real extended interaction with a baby was with the youngest, she was just a mewling vomitty little thing. But now she is a little person with wants and desires and fear and bravery all her own. This is not a unique observation on my part. But I appreciated your connection between the experiences of your children and the characters we are reading about and their changing (expanding or contracting) experiences with consciousness.

      As far as those initial streams of consciousness, I too was initially confused about who they were coming from…but I liked it. It felt very poetic for me, though I was drawn away from the plot by imagining Powers in the act of writing this section. I also found myself, strangely, begin to THINK in a similar fashion as I was drifting off to sleep that night. A total randomness (or seeming randomness) of words whirled around my head. I thought for a moment of getting up to write down what I was thinking, but in a moment that I am sure we all have experienced, I thought instead that I would just try hard to “remember” the next day. Obviously the only thing left of that is the memory of the reflection on the experience. Oh well.

      Also thanks for posting the links! I really liked the ted talk.

    • I’m about to go off on a tangent, but I’m really fascinated by the fact that you found yourself thinking in a fashion similar to the writing, Darby. Something I’ve noticed about myself is that after I read certain authors, my writing style will change to mimic that author’s style. I distinctly remember reading “A Farewell to Arms” and being struck by my (frankly horrible) imitation of Hemingway. It seemed beyond my control; I could not shake it for a few days. It’s something I did unconsciously at first, but now I have some “go-to” texts that I read when I need to get the creative juices flowing. I’m wondering if this has to do with the distinct style of the voice (Powers is unique, as is, of course, Hemingway) but at the same time, all writers are unique. What, then, does it? I’m really curious about this now.

  • I also felt there was much more of an engaging, enveloping experience in this reading. Her styling is rich and reminiscent of fiction without muddying the line. In other words, I wholly believe her emotions are true. It was also very educational. As for your personal experience, I feel like this book encourages self reflection. Your example is…[Read more]

  • I posted this article as a bit of a wrench toss. Besides all of the physical versus psychological issues of the brain that we discuss, along DNA, experience, and the combinations, there is also the existence of highly influential BUGS!

  • This reading brought so much to the tip of my tongue “which indicate that half-remembered underground.” (88)  In 2008? I had a very strange experience.  I had all of these strange pains all day.  As they increased […]

    • Scientists and philosophers can hardly come to an agreement on what free will means for a number of reasons:
      a) first of all the history of the concept of free will is mostly a theological and a philosophical affair that mostly feeds on the mind/body dichotomy
      b) Scientific enquiry tends to be positivist in the sense of setting out to establish facts and concrete phenomena. Science will not really bother to craft the meaning of something so elusive as “free will”
      C) However, philosophical and theological studies can reassess the concept of free will in light of neuroscientic findings like the ones Hustvedt referred to in her book (pp.86-88)
      d) Still there will remain largely the divide between philosophers/theologians -mostly conceptual/analytical- and scientists (mostly factual/experimental)

    • I posted this article as a bit of a wrench toss. Besides all of the physical versus psychological issues of the brain that we discuss, along DNA, experience, and the combinations, there is also the existence of highly influential BUGS!

  • Darby, that text is on amazon prime!

  • I like that you use the word “vulnerable.” The “carefully woven tale” you speak of is constructed automatically. It is difficult to understand that while it is “careful,” it is not in our control. We have no more control over how our minds work than a tree has of the growth of its leaves.

  • I walked past one of those book vendors you see all over in the Village.  Most of the time I look at those tables of books and wonder how those guys make any money at all.  I always am hoping to see something w […]

    • Will you bring that book to class? I’m curious to see it.

    • No problem

    • Amelia, I love the James quote you provided. I wrote it down on a post-it and put by my desk. There is a very interesting element about the idea (albeit perhaps debatable) that our perception of the world, our consciousness within ourselves and of ourselves, is comprised of only partial elements from “reality” due merely to the fact that there must be some filtering, or perhaps a better way to say it might be “curating” or own experience. People have particular individual outlooks, tendencies, habits, either learned or instinctual, that make their perceptions unique but that also make them incomplete. James’ assertion that his experience is “what he agree[s] to attend to” gives him a power which I doubt any of us have. Perhaps he means merely that his mind sorts out the pertinent details for him, but that seems more tactical than I feel it really is. I might be leaning a little too much on psychology and sociology here but I find it hard to leave them out of my attempt to understand this weeks readings. There are so many infinite nuances in this discussion! There is a street book seller near me in astoria…maybe he has some old brain textbooks that I can buy to help me sort it out too!

    • Darby, that text is on amazon prime!

  • Thanks Jenn! I appreciate and agree with the clarification. I suspect there was some growth, as you say, unconsciously. I still longed for verification of it, either via the narrator or through a reflective journal entry or best, in one final exciting argument between Helen and Ralph. I’m satisfied with how rattled he was, but felt the effect on…[Read more]

  • she has seen this one before.  I wanted this to read as Tender is the Night, but it fell a bit flat.

    “But to be included in Dick Diver’s world for a while was a remarkable experience:  people believed he made s […]

    • Amelia, I really like the line you wrote regarding Ralph Messenger: “I thought that line was perfect and I wanted to see if there was some character growth after his illness. It seems just to have scared him into fidelity.” Having multiple discussions on consciousness and thought, perhaps there is some character growth in Messenger after all, seemingly unconscious, that pushes him to fidelity. Perhaps being ill has unconsciously changed his thoughts and ultimately his behaviour.

    • Thanks Jenn! I appreciate and agree with the clarification. I suspect there was some growth, as you say, unconsciously. I still longed for verification of it, either via the narrator or through a reflective journal entry or best, in one final exciting argument between Helen and Ralph. I’m satisfied with how rattled he was, but felt the effect on the conversation of consciousness did not take place, leaving his stance incomplete. To clarify further, I think “growth” is an unfair request. Really I’m just curious of any change in his opinion.

    • I was intrigued by your observation as well, Amelia. The characters fell a little flat to me in the end and I think it is in large part due to the fact that there seemed to be very little evolution. Certainly Helen rediscovers her sexuality and begins to truly heal after the death of her husband. Likewise Ralph becomes faithful, begins to act his age and ultimately receives one of the coveted honor. But having “glimpsed” their thoughts throughout the novel, the reader is deprived of the experience of the fruition of the experience. The closing bit about what becomes of the characters also seemed a little too convenient for me, tying the whole plot up in a neat package.

      I also appreciated the book as a means to glean a better understanding about the subject and science of consciousness, but (and I hate to say this) the overall effect felt a little School House Rock…the project conceived as a pedantic tool rather than a real attempt at portraying either Helen or Ralph’s internal experiences.

    • I think being scared into fidelity was character growth for Ralph, but I don’t think it was his illness that changed him. I wouldn’t even say he was scared, actually. Until he read Helen’s journal, he never had the ability to know what someone else was thinking. Reading Helen’s journal gave him that ability, and intruding into Helen’s thoughts gave him a glimpse of Carrie’s own. Knowing Carrie knew about his affairs and used them to justify her own made him really think about their relationship. Perhaps he’s subdued after his surgery not because of his illness, but because of what he’s learned. This isn’t to say he’s a particularly sympathetic character, but maybe he didn’t fully realize until he read Helen’s journal that other people are, in fact, conscious, and have thoughts entirely independent of his own. He was self-centered. I think he learned as much about consciousness as Helen did, in the end.

    • I felt that there was more of a gradual character growth in Helen, but there was just a drastic sudden change in Messenger. The novel was very avant-gard, it reminded me a lot of Nobokov (with Messenger’s Lolita-eque crush on his step daughter), “Dracula” (with the whole epistolary format), Cervantes (with its self reflexive quality, the characters reading each others journals, after the reader has), among others, and it really felt like Lodge was pushing the boundaries of the standard story, and the usual methods of telling it.
      I think like in Nobokov’s works, there’s much more to “Thinks…” than meet the eye. There are puzzles that can be unraveled, dormant within the text, and sub-stories. I suspect that upon a second reading, or reexamining some of the stories within the stories, more can be gleamed not only on consciousness, but the way that it is spread through institutions. There was that whole backstory of the politics in the daily lives of the professors and deans and what not. In that regard, it’s hard for me to really ascertain the flatness of the characters, but I did find Lodge’s depiction of Helen misogynistic, and that of a chauvinistic imagination.

    • Messenger is no Dick Diver, and Lodge is no Fitzgerald. But next week we are onto Virginia Woolf!

  • I am happy you brought up this reference! I agree that the line is much more successful adapted here than in it’s “original.” It is great too because it is so sarcastic so true and certainly one of the sadder […]

  • Sorry prof, but you were on your way where? Those skies are blue and that is a palm tree.
    I am especially impressed you thought of us from wherever!

  • I like the intensity of this format. I agree with others that it is thought provoking. It def feels like an exercise!!! I think it is fun too and great way to get several more insights since everyone […]

  • How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

    One of the ways in which “how fiction works” can relate to cinema is in the theory that “all art is bred of other art.” […]

  • I think Connor would say that those websites are diluting the discourse on adaptation. These sites give the laymen encouragement to share their judgments.
    I agree Faye that the emotional attachment laymen have […]

  • I thought Connor’s perspective was hilarious. He is suggesting that the reason the fidelity argument is so steadfast for the layman is because it is basically an argument that works to secure their initial […]

  • I agree that question six is case by case. The movie Drive has characters and plot not necessarily influenced by a particular context of time or place. Maybe having it set in LA creates some contextualization, […]

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