Demetri Siafakas

  • In the summer of 2013, I became infatuated with the found footage genre of horror films.  I found that 99% of these films were made low-budget, had the same recurring plot, and provided cheap scares, if any at […]

  • As we progressed each week, moving from work to work, following the words to try to pry out some useful and substantial knowledge regarding consciousness, I tried to follow patterns within the text. Earlier in the […]

  • 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,…[Read more]

  • The Echo Maker was difficult to to read not in terms of its language, but rather the individual tension each character carried, with one odd exception. Richard Powers uses a type of free indirect discourse to […]

  • I agree with you that Frankenstein is a novel that is way before its time. Yes, it reads like Victorian literature, but it feel so contemporary. Maybe this is due to the point you brought up originally which is that the reader is given the narrative of Frankenstein in much the same way the Monster pieces together his subjective reality in the wake…[Read more]

  • You bring up a good point in the pairing or grouping of characters. Shelley wants to emphasize that it is in a being’s nature to find connections with others. Frankenstein has deep emotions for his closed ones, and the Monster has an equally strong desire to create filial bonds. However, there is a constant obstacle in all of these endeavors and…[Read more]

  • “I had this fantasy that if I climbed onto a horse I could find you, tear you away from this daily, recurring death, and carry you back to life,” David B. tells his older brother in the epilogue of his graphic nov […]

  • Your experience with dreams while reading this text is striking. Reminds me of how Hustvedt experienced literature and aesthetics in her wake and her sleep. Bringing it back to The Man Who Walked Away, you’re right when I believe you’re suggesting that the book can read like “running in sticky sand.” That is, of course, purposeful for Casey tries…[Read more]

  • I think you bring up an interesting point regarding empathy and Albert’s treatment. In order for the Doctor to aid Albert in any capacity, he must empathize and learn to form a connection with him. As a result, the minor characters and the Doctor have to piece together the fragments of their own pasts to build a relationship with Albert’s…[Read more]

  •  The design here is clear. Antonio Damasio is the popular neuroscientist who knows of what he speaks, and although he is trying to convey a message to a broader audience, he can’t overcome the gap that exists between his knowledge and his mass audience’s probable lack of knowledge. The result is a writing that if one were to venture a guess, using theory of mind undoubtedly, they may suggest that Damasio’s writing concerning consciousness is much like the symphony metaphor he’s prone to use; one may understand they are reading a specific hypothesis of neuroscience, but may not be able to pick out the individual instruments that comprise the symphony. Noe is the philosopher who aspires to speculate upon science. He is aware that his hypothesis is built mainly upon philosophy, that he needs not only the context of environment to support his theory of consciousness, but to put almost every idea within the text in context because unlike Damasio’s neuroscientific data, philosophy by its nature is an academia built on abstraction, and one can easily poke drill holes of practicality into the fluff of abstraction.
    Siri Hustvedt’s work The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves, then, is the natural progression of presenting neurological thoughts on consciousness. She is a fiction writer bound by no expectation other then that of crafting a story. There is an occurring refrain in the novel that is usually presented as “My fantasy story about the shaking woman…” or “The story of the shaking woman is the narrative…,” which helps frame the entire work. There is equal ambition in Hustvedt’s work as there is in Damasio or Noe as she presents a multitude of different perspectives of how one may view physiological phenomenon that are often tied to neurology, psychology, or any other field of science devoted to studying and divining phenomena tied somehow to the mind. Repeatedly, Hustvedt presents stories she has heard from experts in their field or stories from her own life as examples of symptoms which can be viewed through the magnifying glass of any professional devoted to a certain scientific field. Her attempt at examining the many abnormalities which may arise in an individual are far reaching and encompass a far larger perspective for which Damasio or Noe do not even attempt to strive. They are bound by their fields, Hustvedt is bound by the limitlessness afforded to her by telling a story. It’s for this and many other reasons that a class of graduate English students may find Hustvedt more satisfying, and that provides insight into the many flaws of Damasio and Noe. Hustvedt ends her work with an brief exploration of ambiguity, finally declaring, “Ambiguity does not obey logic.” This is the advantage she has over the former two writers, who dare not lay their claims in the ocean of ambiguity. She succeeds where they cannot, simply on a technicality; Damasio and Noe must tell their audience the truth as far as they see it, Hustvedt is merely telling the story of the shaking woman.

    • I think one of the most frustrating things about being a scholar (of anything…art, theatre, whatever) is the inescapable desire to critique everything. I know I am guilty of it. We are taught to pick apart literature, find the flaws, the foundations, and the perfection (if there is any). Hustvedt’s book is certainly better read, and most certainly an easier one. But for some reason I have a hard time embracing it completely. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but I think it might be problematic to use that enjoyment of an indication of rightness or truth. She cites her sources, she is very well read, but in the end, you are right Dimitri, she is telling us a story, one she shapes and guides to its albeit frustrating fruition. I wonder how her story telling technique has influenced out understanding. Are we closer now to “getting it” than we were last week? I am not certain I am any closer. Are you?

  • As one ventures into the work of Antonio Damasio, they might unknowingly wander into a world that at its surface is inconceivable: the ethereal delineations of brain, mind, and consciousness. Certainly, the first […]

    • 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.

  •  Rita Carter’s “A Stream of Illusion” beckons its reader to be conscious of whether one’s conscious is, in fact, conscious at all. “The intuition that this ‘I’ is in control is, however, certainly, illusory,” she p […]

    • Your discussion of the difference between objective reality and perception is interesting in relation to our class discussion about meaning. Is perception meaningful or functional despite–or even because of–its disjunction from reality?

      Also, we should remember that perception may not capture reality in any perfect way, but it does a pretty decent job most of the time. Most of us agree that we’re looking at a tree when we look at a tree.

  • Was it just me or was this tough to follow? I think I got his idea on social homeostasis.

  • Demetri Siafakas became a registered member 3 years, 7 months ago