Jenn Forese

  • Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Unconsoled was confusing and quite verbose.  It seemed that every character that had any interaction with Mr. Ryder knew him very well, infinitely better than he knew them, and had pages […]

  • I like that you brought up Christopher’s maturity and I propose that it began very early in the novel when he decides to face his fears and discomforts. Christopher, afraid of strangers and talking to people he isn’t familiar with, decides to face these fears in order to get to the bottom of the murder mystery. He says, “So talking to people in…[Read more]

  • I really like the point you made about the change in language. It has, indeed, evolved and morphed into a communicative system employing images more often. In fact, personally, I get annoyed when I can’t find the right smiley face to use in a text message when I’m not sure of what to say. I have also been working with this change in language…[Read more]

  • Richard Powers did an excellent job of tying together different perspetives as Mark tries to get his grasp on life and reality back together.  The accident did more than shatter the car: it shattered Mark’s life, as well as Karin’s, and the relationships they had (ie: Karin and her beau).  As they try to connect the parts back together, Karin and the others from Mark’s life are nothing more than imposters, fakes.  Before Mark had turned for the worst, he was believed to have been terrified of his surroundings, his pain, and (most likely) the people around him who seemed to be impersonations of those he knew (p 18).  Given that situation, who would want to open their eyes?  As Karin pleads with the doctor, “My brother is struggling to open his eyes. You say he may be terrified” (18), it was a thought that perhaps Mark, at this point, was more aware of his situation than others might have assumed.

    One thing that seems to be real to Mark is the note that Karin had found on his bedside in the hospital.  Mark tries to learn more about the note, seemingly one of the only real things from the accident (perhaps because it cannot impersonate anyone he knows?).  It is an attempt to reclaim his life and to find “others” who are not “brainwashed.”  Powers writes, “A plan comes to Mark, something he should have thought of a while ago.  Would have, too, if it hadn’t been for all the craziness around these parts.  Simple enough, and the beauty of the plan lies in how it forces the hand of the authorities.  He’ll go public.  He’ll put the note on Crime Solvers.  Everybody in four counties will see the plastic laminated thing pressed up against their TV screens.  I am No One, but Tonight on North Line Road… If any real, unbrainwashed people who know what happened that night are left alive, they’ll have to come forward.  And if the Powers That Be try to snag and silence them, all of central Nebraska will know (335).”  This moment echos a kind of alien abduction in which Mark feels (obviously) utterly alone but not yet defeated.  Mark’s determination, at this moment, is promising- it is easy to give up when you feel so alone and like everyone around you is fake and lying.

    • This issue of the note was a intriguing and elusive literary technique employed by Powers. For me, I originally thought that somehow Mark himself wrote the note, in some kind of fugue state, but that would have been impossible due to his lack of motor skills when the original note had manifested. If however, in some illogical, magical kind of way he did write the note it would entail all kinds of other repercussions. It does however present another element of mystery and intrigue in the novel. I wonder what other kinds of symbolic value it can have?

  • I really like the points you make about science being a money-driven focus and the idea of scientists potentially suing people for having cancer. Also, I have never really made the connection between the structure of the novel and the physical creation and structure of the creature/creation (I don’t like the word “monster” in particular). Also,…[Read more]

  • I love the questions you posed, Michelle, and they definitely made me reconsider several aspects of my readings of the book. I particularly want to focus on the third paragraph you wrote. You said that we are given little reason to question the authority of the narrative but here is where I disagree. If anything, I believe that that is a moment…[Read more]

  • Epileptic uniquely explores how an illness can affect more people than just the one suffering with the illness.  Aside from the written word, the artwork also tells a story.  The artwork helps us see things from d […]

    • I will admit that I am not particularly drawn in by graphic novels/comics/etc. (as I mentioned in class, sometimes I find myself zooming through the text without looking at the art), but there is something about graphic autobiographies/memoirs that I find compelling. I felt the same way when I read Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home.” While sometimes I feel that the artwork hinders my ability to create my own (mental) image of the text (which is one of my favorite parts of reading), in these graphic autobiographies/memoirs the drawings become an integral part of the story. David B.’s artwork allows his readers to get to know him on an even deeper level than just text alone can. For example, you mention how the drawings become darker as the novel progresses. I too noticed that Jean-Christophe grows very dark as his illness progresses and he becomes angrier and more depressed and lashes out at his family; similarly, David is very dark when he attacks his brother and entertains fantasies of killing him. While David may hate his brother at times, I feel that perhaps the drawings tell us that David understands that Jean-Christophe’s actions are beyond his control, just like his fantasies are. While David may express the same idea in words, it’s already apparent when you analyze his art.

    • I am really drawn to your “Alice in Wonderland” reference and both David B. and Lewis Carrol both use unconventional methods to explore psychological and even logical issues. What David B. does with art, Carrol does with mathematics and logic throughout his novel. I think there is something to be said about the roll of art and how it sheds a different kind of understanding of a problem. Even something as basic as being to reproduce the characters at their youth and directly show how they grew, or moments of self reflection where B.’s future self interacts with his past self, which may have not had the same effect had it been written. Moreover having the graphic novel format I feel broadens the audience of people who can appreciate the work. Adding another level of interdiciplinary analysis to a disorder that effect people on so many levels, but still remains incurable.

  • I really like your discussion on feet and Albert’s delayed awareness. It is interesting that you pointed out his lack of wonder during his wanders (and I love your use of those words!) I also like that you brought up the ambiguity of his age- a measurement of life based on time. His uncertainty of his age parallels the travels his has done and…[Read more]

  • I like the last question you posed, Michelle, regarding a connection between time and consciousness. It is something I haven’t thought of before and as I was thinking about your question (with a math class in front of me during a prep), I realized that I had become so absorbed in thought and lost track of time. Unlike Albert, I did not lose my…[Read more]

  • As I read Hustvedt’s book, I could not help but get lost in her writing.  I felt that she was quite eloquent and I could feel her sense of desperation through each discussion of case studies.  I could sense her f […]

    • 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 very relevant. The fact that the story is yours doesn’t change the value. 🙂

    • I completely agree with Amelia that this book encourages self reflection, and I add that the self reflection (at least for me) aids for understanding, relevance and finally retention. Thank you for sharing your very difficult experiences Jenn! You certianly must felt a ring of truth while reading this book! I know that many of the books we have read so far have had little or no impact on the way I think about consciousness or self, but Siri Hustvedt’s book has. I loved her examples and found her style simultaneously enlightening, accessible and relevant. I too had anxiously anticipated the final diagnosis of her shakes. I was disappointed when her personal theories did not pan out, and even as I read the last page I was hoping hoping hoping…

      My mother, a sufferer of bipolar disorder and personality disorder is also currently experiencing a seemingly undiagnosable constant headache complete with fainting spells. Doctor after doctor has sent her to yet more doctors, MRIs, blood tests, biopsies of her thyroid have all led to nothing. Given her mental history, I am surprised that there has been no mention of any of the psychological causes that Hustvedt saught out. Unfortunately for my mother, her claims of constant pain are more often dismissed than considered, perhaps because of her disorders and checkered mental history, perhaps because of her appearance (she is covered in tattoos) or her socioeconomic status (she is on government disability). This novel was without a doubt affecting – Hustvedt’s trials are moving and frustrating. But I cant help but think about how much more frustrating it is for people who can’t go to psychoanalysts on park avenue, who don’t have the time to lay down every afternoon to do “feed back” exercises. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not maligning Hustvedt’s work, or trying to make this a class thing, quite the opposite, I greatly appreciate Hustvedt’s honesty about a part of herself that more often than not is hidden, often with shame. But since this book encourages self reflection, I think it pertinent to reflect on others who experience this type of frustration as well.

  • I agree with you in regards to being worried about Noe’s philosophical approaches to consciousness. As I’ve said in another comment, Damasio has the scientific research to support his claims. Noe, in my opinion, has thought long and hard about defining consciousness. Since very little is genuinely understood about consciousness and the mind,…[Read more]

  • I definitely agree with you that Noe is more readable than Damasio (at least, for first time Damasio readers). I love the connection you made between Noe and Damasio as similar to that of Helen and Ralph. I found Noe’s discussion to be more based on the enviornment and how it impacts the mind than Damasio who believes that consciousness is…[Read more]

  • 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,…[Read more]

  • As I was reading Neurocomic, I could not help but realize that what Demetri had said in class regarding this book and its potential use in biology classes was correct: the book is very instructional and […]

  • I feel like the discussion was rather difficult to understand and I definitely struggled with understanding what Dr. Damasio meant by his discussion on cells being able to sense other cells and how that […]

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