Why “War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells Should not Be Banned
The topic of banning books has been controversial for decades and decades but no one ever understands the reasons why they are restricted from being published rigorously. I am one of them. Recently, I’ve been reading “War of the Worlds” and taking thorough research about it, specifically its sad history. For some vague reasons, it was banned immediately in China, Vietnam and North America after the day it was officially published. Could it really hurt and damage children from the inside?
Personally, I strongly believe that this book deserves to reach readers’ hands and not to be prohibited. Some countries which banned “War of the Worlds” explained that the book had used numerous inappropriate languages that had the potential of damaging teenagers and causing them to do unacceptable things. For example, in the book, the protagonist usually says the word “Damn, screw this shit” in order to show his pressured feelings when the Martians approach his house and his attempts to escape the place. In my opinion, those words are not as bad as the banners thought. The reason why Wells utilized them was that they accurately and exactly show how the character was feeling at the time. If someone or something strong and scary tried to find and kill me, I would be absolutely freaked out and undoubtedly shout out the bad words.
Another reason why War of the Worlds was banned in several prominent countries is that it contains countless circumstances that were considered violent and inappropriate. For instance, Ray Ferrier (the protagonist) picks up a seem-to-be heavy axe, suddenly jumps out and slashes one of the Martians body in half. It would be really unfair if the book was banned because of this reason! Every action movie has their own violence scenes! The book would be tedious if Wells did not put several bloody situations into it. The final reason why this book was banned in some countries is that it is biased and related to some political viewpoints which are opposed by many people. I believe that evidence is not concrete and precise, and it lacks thorough investigations and researches. In the book, Wells was alluding the invasions of the British Empire when he came up with the attacks of the Martians in the Earth. It is totally history-based. The British Empire those days owned powerful armies and artilleries, and so did the Martians. They both seized and took over colonies easily without a single droplet of sweat.
In conclusion, I think that War of the Worlds is a great work made by H. G. Wells and it should not be banned. The author deliberately utilized offensive languages, violence scenes, and real history to render the book meaningful and practical, and he did not intend to hurt the feelings of the readers or oppose the government.
Not Quite Safe: Concluding “The War of the Worlds”
Although humanity survives The War of the Worlds, the ending of H.G. Wells’s novel really is not reassuring at all. Though there do seem to be some positive effects such as advances in science, the Martian invasion obviously has its bad effects too: it has seemed to cause some sort of mental illness for the narrator, and probably for many other humans too. Moreover, the narrator talks about the likelihood of another invasion, if not from Mars then from other planets.
One of the reasons that the novel’s ending is not reassuring is that the invasion seems to leave many of the humans with a kind of mental illness, probably post-traumatic stress disorder. The narrator tells us in the Epilogue that occasionally, when he is writing in his study, he ‘see[s] the healing valley below set writhing with flames, and feel[s] the house behind and about [him] empty and desolate’. Since this is in the Epilogue, we know the Martians are dead, so these must be hallucinations. The fact that he imagines the house ‘empty and desolate’ shows that the Martians have left behind a kind of sadness that stays stuck so strongly that the narrator has it embedded in his subconscious mind. We must not forget there are some good effects as well. The narrator says ‘the gifts it has brought to human science are enormous’ which is, of course, greatly reassuring, especially in the eyes of HG Wells, since he was a keen biologist. But a more important reassuring effect would be the narrator’s description of how they might deal with a future invasion from the Martians. He suggests ‘the cylinder might be destroyed by dynamite… or they might be butchered by means of guns so soon as the screw opened.’ This is very reassuring because we know humans will be more cautious now, rather than making the foolish mistakes they did the first time. However, even in this sentence in which the narrator attempts to reassure the reader, there is still a hint of a worrisome effect: the word ‘butchered’. It gives the reader the sense that humans have become crueler as a result of the Martian invasion and it is going to stay that way. Wells makes this clear when he says ‘for many years yet there will certainly be no relaxation.’ Here, Wells uses anastrophe to emphasize the fact that humans are going to stay cruel ‘for many years’. This phrase comes at the start of the sentence to give it the emphasis. However, some would argue that this is a positive effect of the invasion because the Martians deserve our cruelty and we are safer this way.
To add to this sense of anxiety, the narrator talks about the Martians ‘effecting a landing on the planet Venus.’ This tells the reader that even if it is over for humans, it is not over for Venus and in fact it is not over for any other planet in the universe. We know that Wells wants the reader to infer this because in the first chapter he compares us to ‘infusoria under the microscope’ and the Martians as the man observing us. But there are much bigger things than men, and there are much bigger planets than Mars: it is clear that in this analogy there is still space for other planets of the universe, indiscernibly far away from Earth, to be involved in various other wars. If Wells had just wanted a novel about a war between Earth and Mars, he probably would have called it ‘The War of Woking’, but we know it’s about more than that because the novel is called ‘The War of the Worlds’, indicating that there are clearly more than one world. Again, this all contributes to the effect of the ending of the novel not being reassuring.
One final point to add is that the last chapter mimics the first; they both start with some sort of bird’s-eye view of the situation of how Earth is doing at the moment before the narrator gets on with his own story. We know this because he starts the first chapter talking about everyone: ‘no one would have believed’ but by chapter two he is only talking about himself and a few others who are key to the story: ‘I was at home at that hour…’. In the same way, in the final chapter, Wells starts off with giving an accurate account of what happened, specifically what happened to the ‘Martians that were examined after the war’ and then goes on to say ‘I go to London and see the busy multitudes’. This is in no way reassuring either, because the last chapter is like the first, and the first chapter was followed by violent death and vicious destruction. Wells is trying to say that even more wars are soon to occur. Although this is not reassuring, it could be argued that it is still a tremendous way to end a novel as the end is linked to the start in a way that is almost poetic.
Despite the advances made in the field of science within Wells’s fiction, the end of the novel is not reassuring. Instead it leaves the human mind severely ill and foreshadows many further invasions soon to come, all over the universe.
Depiction on Human Contact with Aliens in the Film “Arrival”
Movies about contact with aliens are pretty numerous and what aliens mostly do is that they abduct, scrutinize, infiltrate, devastate, enslave, observe, attack humanity. In those rare cases when alien’s intentions are peaceful and harmless, it is usually not a problem to understand them. All this only obstructs credibility and suspense, and the main question in probably 90% of alien movies is “How do they look?” or “How can humanity win?” However, this movie mostly deals with the question “Why are they here?” It illustrates the major problem with alien contact: even if Earth is someday visited by an advanced and peaceful alien race trying to establish contact, most likely both sides will be unable to understand each other. Contact means communication, and the latter is barely possible without language. Therefore, the problem of translation becomes extremely topical — and this is what Arrival is about.
Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction movie which is directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer. It is based on the 1998 short story ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. It won an Oscar in addition to 65 awards with the total nominations of 250. It is basically about a linguist who works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world. Like all the best sci-fi, Arrival has something pertinent to say about today’s world; particularly about the importance of communication.
It is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, realistic first-contact stories to stem from Hollywood’s visionaries. It is in a distinctly more idealistic hopeful key than most movies in this genre, one in which the best solutions don’t necessarily materialize in a gun sight. It is much more concerned with deep truths about language, imagination, and human relationships. Communication or lack thereof has always been one of the primary obstacles to equitable interactions between cultures; this story takes that notion to an engaging and powerful extreme. There’s a simple yet profound way it goes about telling its narrative, and it’s worthy of applause. Unfortunately, the movie does not explain much, though. It does not explain much about how and why are aliens able to see the future. It desperately lacks details. It seems like the movie creators focused more on Louise’s memories and conversations with aliens rather than explaining the tremendous gap between Heptapods’ and humans’ mentalities, and without it the movie’s storyline, the characters’ motives, and the role of Heptapod’s written language remains unclear. Generally, everything about Arrival is the aesthetics, the narrative and the ideas and also the performances are great.
In conclusion, Arrival is a crowd-pleaser movie that successfully focuses on the significance of communication rather than being a typical alien movie.
Artificial Intelligence: What Really Makes us Human
“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”
This quote from Edsger W. Dijkstra is a fantastic illustration of the question that surrounds the world of artificial intelligence. These technologies have become so accessible in today’s society that we do not really think of, or consider, where we should draw the line of imposing human characteristics onto artificial beings. Now it is not to say that we only do this with technologies; in fact, the human race has the bad habit of trying to even impose our experiences on animals as well. Is it our fault that we question the relationship aspects that surround artificial intelligence? Better yet, at what point do we consider things human? Is it our abilities to form relationships through thought and passion, or the way we can hold conversation? At some point, humans have found the sweet spot where we can “recognize” and “determine” what is artificial, but chances are, we are wrong. In Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, relationships and artificial intelligence are strong themes throughout. The main character, One Esk/Breq, raises a lot of questions about the capabilities that ancillaries, AIs, hold in the spaceworld society where the book takes place. The one event that sends the world of AI into mayhem is directly linked to the ability that One Esk has to pick favorite lieutenants. As the alternating chapters progress, the readers see the attachment that she has formed with Lieutenant Awn while stationed on the planet of Ors.
When things on Ors go awry Anaander Mianaai, the leader of Radch, requests Awn to return to the Justice of Toren. Mianaai then orders another ancillary to kill Awn, and the ancillary complies. It is important to note that all of the ancillaries aboard the Justice of Toren share a common operating system, a unified label. The Justice of Toren was their identity, but the ancillaries themselves were still individuals with the capabilities of making intelligent decisions. That’s why when One Esk realizes that Awn has been killed she gets visibly upset. One Esk’s ability to form relationships and have care is most apparent at this point and we definitely see the definition of “human” begin to alter. If an ancillary can care, does that make them human? To understand analyzing another relationship dynamic is crucial. Breq’s encounter with Seivarden marks the beginning of another interesting bond.
Seivarden is obviously not a favorite of Breq’s, but she is still compelled to bring him along and care for him. Breq even throws herself off of a bridge to save Seivarden at one point. Her internal dialogue provokes thought, “I didn’t know why I had jumped but at that moment it no longer mattered, at that moment there was nothing else” (Leckie 199). With Seivarden once holding the position of a lieutenant, that probably contributes to Breq’s inability to not monitor him. The relationship alters slowly as Seivarden eventually turns into Breq’s subservient figure. He follows her around and swears to never leave her. The dedication displayed towards Breq by Seivarden is something that we would define as a humanistic trait in all relationships. The bond between these two characters is reversed in comparison to the care and dedication that Breq showed to Awn. The aspects in both of these relationships are interesting to analyze and compare. Lieutenant Awn knew and recognized that One Esk was an ancillary. Yet, she still displayed care for her. Although her affections were not explicit, Awn and One Esk both preferred each other over other lieutenants and ancillaries. Awn even states that One Esk’s “ singing doesn’t disturb me ” (Leckie 181) and apologizes for One Esk thinking that it did.
After Awn’s murder, One Esk began her search for vengeance. Desperate to kill Anaander Mianaai, she created her human guise. Was it through her ability to care for someone that made her disguise believable, or was it her competence that allowed her to hide her true identity? Either way, when Seivarden became involved, he immediately believed that One Esk was a human named Breq. Even further, do we consider Breq to be human? If we abandon the organic and biological definitions of human and look at all other aspects, Breq aligns. She has goals, ponders life, and realizes that death is a possibility during her mission. Breq is a conscious entity, just with altercations that change her human composition to technological. She appears to be human, can talk as if she is human, and interacts with others like she is human. An everyday citizen didn’t even recognize Breq’s true identity. How could we, as humans, say that we could easily distinguish Breq from any real, living being. Our misconstrued ways of defining humanity have closed the gap on what is real and not real. This concept has been around since we began imposing human characteristics onto non-human things, an idea also known as anthropomorphism.
Somewhat similarly, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, life is literally bestowed upon the dead. Victor Frankenstein is a scientist with a passion to reanimate, turning himself into a God figure almost. He completes just that with the creation of his monster, an atrocious looking being stitched together from random mismatching dead body parts. Even though the monster is a breathing, biological, and semi organic human being– others have a hard time categorizing him as this. Right after creating the monster, Victor abandons him. He tells Victor that “God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of your’s ” (Shelley 142). He never truly received the care, love, and understanding that he deserved. This leaves the monster seeking out vengeance of sorts, much like One Esk did with Lieutenant Awn. Each creation from these novels has been abandoned by someone that held importance in their life. The monster was left behind by his own creator, and One Esk left behind by her favorite lieutenant.
The similarities between the characters and their relationships in both novels continue to stack up. The monster ends up altering himself and enhancing his humanistic qualities. He does this by moving into a shack behind a family that lives in a cottage. By analyzing the way the family interacts and behaves with one another, the monster starts to learn. He gains knowledge of language and speech by reading books such as Paradise Lost; due to this education, the monster eventually finds Victor. Victor learns all of this as the monster tells his story. Their relationship begins to alter at this point; due to the fact that Victor has gained a new respect for the monster. There is a new level of understanding and acceptance between the characters that had not been there before. The monster is now more “human” like to Victor, much like Breq’s view of Seivarden in Ancillary Justice.
Breq and the monster both strove for more humanistic qualities to make themselves appear to be human. The question still remains though, do we define them as human? The monster is technically alive and biologically composed, but there is still the label of “monster” that he carries. He is not referred to as a compassionate being, similar to Breq’s situation. Both have feelings and create relationships, so why is it that we can’t allow them to be viewed as human? The stigma of artificial intelligence and the stigma of reanimation are very similar. It’s the negative cloud that surrounds both of these technologies that causes us to not label their by-products human, even if they appear to be so. Yet, we create these technologies ourselves. We always have to attain what’s bigger, what’s better. If it’s our looks that make us human, then why is Breq not considered to be one? If it’s emotion and feelings that make us human, then why are neither Breq or the monster considered to be one? What makes sense is that they both make us feel uncomfortable.
Humans are creatures of habit. We like to have routines and to know that we are in full control of our own creations. The idea that something may be able to outsmart us and know our next move is terrifying. It’s one thing when a television set or gaming device follows our every move but when this intelligence takes on the shape of a human it automatically becomes even more unsettling. This theory is also known as the “uncanny valley”. Almost everything with “ a highly human-like appearance can be subject to the uncanny valley effect, but the most common examples are androids,computer game characters and life-like dolls (Lay).” Because of our tendencies to anthropomorphize we have reached the point where our technologies cause us discomfort. The answer to the still prevalent question of when we begin to consider things human lies within ourselves.
The human race is responsible for the technologies that have surfaced in our society; in Ancillary Justice, the depiction of our relationship with artificial intelligence is accurate. We are the ones who impose authentic intelligence and emotions on technology because we have the inner desire to anthropomorphize. If the artificial intelligence is similar enough to us, then it should be as capable as we are. Due to this, we have stumbled upon a fear of being inferior or unsettled by these lifelike artificial intelligences. The reason we don’t consider these beings human is because we don’t want them to be human. As the superior and dominant species we want full control in society over everything that is below us. This includes artificial intelligence. No matter how close they are to us in emotions, appearances, and intelligence, we will never label them as human, but we should not blame the technology for this; we were the ones who desired it in the first place.
- Lay, Stephanie. “Uncanny Valley: Why We Find Human-like Robots and Dolls so Creepy.” The Guardian. The Conversation, 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
- Leckie, Ann. Ancillary Justice. New York: Orbit, 2013. Print.
- Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. UK: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, 1818. Print.
The Matrix: The Idea Of People Being Imprisoned Inside A Simulation And Controlled By A Superior Being
What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in an artificial world? Summarizing The Matrix, it is a movie where people are kept inside capsules and are experiencing a real life simulation without noticing it being artificial. Throughout history, philosophers and scientists have often theorized and questioned whether or not we live in a “real” world. There are many things that are still unknown about the world, and adding the possibility of a simulation adds fuel to the fire. The reality is, living on Earth already feels like a simulation. People get out of bed, go to work or school, go home and this process is repeated every single day for their entire lives. The question that is brought up is “How does one know if they are in a simulation or not?” I believe that the possibility of a simulation is highly unlikely, as there is not enough evidence that back up that claim. Opening up to the thought, a simulation would lead to a chain of complications and questions: Who made the simulation? Why did they make it? What is happening to our real bodies? The reason why some people tend to believe that a simulation is casted upon us is because there is also no undeniable proof that we actually live in the real world either. However, there is more evidence from philosophers and scientists that lean towards there being no simulation.
The Matrix can closely be related to Plato’s allegory of the cave. In his allegory of the cave, Plato describes people being born inside a dark cave chained up against a wall and living inside their whole lives. These people have never experienced daylight and often only see mere shadows of people or animals walking by. Eventually, one person was released from his chains and stepped foot into the outside world. He could not believe his eyes as objects looked too good to be true. He was told that the shadows he was used to seeing were fake and artificial, while things like sunlight, plants, and animals were real. Overtime, he gradually adjusted to the new environment and saw a new light in the sun. The sun could be interpreted as “The nature and knowledge of reality.” It gives the viewer knowledge and shows truth behind each object with its light. With his newfound knowledge, the man then returns to the cave to tell his friends about his experience in the outside world. To his surprise, he was not used to the darkness and shadows of the cave. He tried to help free his comrades, but they resisted and thought his experiences were ignorant and useless. The Matrix generally has the same concept as Plato’s allegory of the cave. The main character Neo, was given an opportunity to swallow a red pill and be released from the computer simulation to experience what the real world was like. He then proceeded to swallow the red pill in order to awaken in the real world. To his surprise, thousands of people were being succumbed inside capsules living under a false reality. The man who left the cave and experienced the outside world can be interpreted as Neo. They both left their augmented reality to face truth and what lies beyond what they were accustomed to. Eventually they came back to the artificial realities to help free the people enslaved inside. Importantly, Plato’s allegory is connected to his theory of forms written in his other dialogues. It concludes that “The physical reality is merely a shadow or reflection of the forms reality.” Plato explains that the things we see in the physical world are like the shadows on the wall in his allegory.
The Matrix has many philosophical beliefs behind it. Another of which is the idea of Rene Descartes. Descartes’ Evil Demon describes a powerful demon that controls and exists solely for the purpose of deceiving him (Descartes). The philosopher explains that this particular demon creates a “fictional” world for him to live in and goes as far as falsifying everything Descartes feels with his body. This demon can control and forge everything that exists in the outside world, but cannot touch universal truths and conclusions such as 2+2=4. This mediation causes Descartes to believe that he has no physical body, and is just a mind. Due to this, Descartes decides to escape all the illusions, leaving behind only what is real. This is also known as Cartesian doubt, another one of Descartes’ writing which leads to the famous phrase “I think, therefore I am.” The ideology of Evil Demon can be easily distinguished in The Matrix. In the film, the powerful and controlling demon is The Matrix itself which deceives all of humanity. The Matrix locks away a person’s sense of feel and reality to the point where they are not even able to tell that they are living in a simulation. A flaw in the system was that the machine feeds the individual what they want to believe in. For example, if one person trapped in The Matrix shares what they think oatmeal tastes like, the other person will perceive it tasting as something totally different. In reality, when it comes to tasting food and various other activities, people will generally come to a consensus on the taste.
Now with utilizing these philosophical beliefs, are we able to say with certainty that we are not in a “simulation”? The short answer is unlikely. We can never prove that everything around us is real and not an illusion, nor can we prove that we are living in a simulation. The concept of a world simulation is purely speculation and is based off of personal beliefs. Like Plato’s allegory of the cave, the sun is constantly shining on the Earth, revealing to us what seems to be real and the truth. Descartes’ Evil Demon is probably unrealistic because our sense of feeling and realization are not deceived by someone or something. Everything that we touch or sense is definitely the real deal. Things being false and not actually existing creating a simulation for billions of people would require technology that is far from realistic at this point in time. The chances of a superior being with this technology is quite low. If there really is a simulation happening, then has someone escaped and realized the truth? As far as we know, there has been no Neo in this world. Usually during a simulation, there are a few glitches that happen such as the spoon scene in the matrix. There has not been any abnormal phenomenon similar to this at all in history. No one can bend a spoon with their mind, or dodge bullets in slow motion. The world that we live in today is just too normal for anything to be a simulation.
To conclude, I believe that we are not imprisoned inside a simulation and controlled by a superior being. There are still however, many unexplored and unknown conspiracies that currently exist in our world. This is why there is no certainty that we are not indeed in a simulation. Most likely for centuries, no one will be able to uncover these theories and conspiracies. The only thing that we can do right now is trust everything is real, and continue to theorize ideas to back it up. Reality has not mislead us over the course of history and hopefully it never will. Eventually one day our technology will become so advanced that we would be able to create our own “simulation.” Until then, we should just keep on living our everyday lives as it has been.
Review Of The Movie The Matrix
The movie began in an abandoned building, where a woman dressed in black was surrounded by a police squad in a room. The opening scene then cuts to a group of men in suits that arrived to accompany the police in pursuing this woman. With superhuman abilities, the woman was able to defeat them and escape the room. Afterward, she fled the scene and was chased by officers as well as the group of mysterious agents that arrived at the scene later. She was chased up until there was a telephone booth in sight. That is where she then answered the ringing phone and vanished. Thomas Anderson, alias “Neo” in the hacking scene, felt that something was wrong with the world. In addition to that, he was confused as to why he continued to receive online messages with the concept of “the Matrix.” Neo followed “the white rabbit” as he was told to by Trinity. He was led to the club where Trinity had a talk with him about meeting Morpheus. Before Neo could meet Morpheus, the suited agents appeared at his job where they apprehended him. During interrogation, Agent Smith threatened him into helping them capture Morpheus. With curiosity, Neo continued his previously interrupted journey. He met Morpheus, where he has introduced the choice between two pills: the red and blue ones. The red pill showed him the truth of the matrix whereas the blue one would return him to his former life. Neo swallowed the red pill and woke up in a liquid-filled pod among several others that were attached to a mechanic system. He was collected and brought onto the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus’ aircraft.
As Neo was recovering, Morpheus explained that there was a war between humans and machines. When humans blocked the machines solar energy, the machines, in turn, took their energy as well. This caused humans to stay in the Matrix, which is a simulated reality that was modeled from the 20th century. The city of Zion was the only place for humans to stay. Even though rules can be bent and it causes them to have superhuman abilities, death inside of the Matrix can also kill the physical body, since it is dealing with your mind. Morpheus also warned Neo that the Matrix was watched by the Agents, which are computer programs that are trying to eliminate any threats to the system, while other machines were killing humans in the real world. Morpheus believed that Neo was “the One” that would end the war between humans and machines. The crew visited the Oracle, the prophet that predicted the existence of the One. She implied that Neo was not the one and told Neo that he would have to choose between Morpheus’ life and his own in the future. Because Cypher, a member of the crew, tipped the Agents, the crew was ambushed by Agents and policemen. Cypher wanted to betray Morpheus to live a life in the Matrix. Due to him wanting to finish his plan to betray Morpheus, he left the Matrix first and murdered most of the crew members in the real world. Cypher monologued and could not proceed to kill Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity. Instead, Tank, a crewman that Cypher wounded, killed him.
In the Matrix, the Agents had captured and interrogated Morpheus to learn his access codes to the computer in Zion. Tank suggested that killing Morpheus could prevent this from happening but instead Neo chose to sacrifice himself to save Morpheus because of the prophecy from the oracle. Neo entered the Matrix along with Trinity to rescue Morpheus. Neo and Trinity saved Morpheus with a snazzy sequence of fight scenes. But, as Morpheus and Trinity exited the Matrix, Smith ambushed Neo because he monologued. Although Agent Smith attempted to kill Neo, Neo instead defeated him in a dual. As a few Sentinels attacked the Nebuchadnezzar, Trinity confessed her love to Neo’s physical form and pleaded with him to get up after being almost killed once again by the Agents while he tried to escape. After a true loves first kiss, Neo was revived and became one with his true power. With his ability to control the Matrix with his new power, Neo destroyed Agent Smith. He left the Matrix just in time for the ship’s electromagnetic pulse to disable the Sentinels. Later, Neo made a call inside the Matrix, with a promise to show the machines that he will show their prisoners a world where anything was possible. After hanging up, he flew away in the sky.
In “The Matrix”, a cable or chord that runs from a computer connects into each crew members’ brain and creates visual perceptions of an altered reality. As defined by Zimbardo and in class, perception is a mental process that elaborates and assigns meaning to sensory patterns. Visual perception is the ability to see, organize, and interpret one’s environment. This means that our brain can create things such as colors and music. But, because our brain has to do it in rapid timing, it relies on schemas to help it develop. A schema is a cognitive concept that helps interprets information. In “The Matrix”, the computer system on the Nebuchadnezzar is the ‘schemas’ for the crews’ visual perception of the world. “The Matrix” is a visually appealing motion picture with just enough ridiculousness to keep me entertained. I did not know what to expect when the plot was explained to me but, the balance between realism and unrealism kept me entertained. I will definitely show this movie to friends, and rent it in the future. Watching this movie will increase our list of inside jokes and give us a chance to learn about the mechanics of the human mind. In addition to the plot humoring me, I highly enjoyed the amount of skill that stemmed from Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishbourne, and Hugo Weaving. Each actor’s ability to fit their character astounded me. “The Matrix” would not be ‘the matrix’ without them delivering an almost perfect performance fitting with the plot. Lastly, in my opinion, the movie was accurate most of the time with reference to the psychology facts that I have learned so far.
Analysis Of Structuralism In The Matrix
The Matrix, as a movie, is a perfect representative for an analysis of Structuralism presenting a reality that is torn between the two ideologies, The Matrix: the movie or the artificial world, the double life of the main character or the red and blue pill. Films create meaning by using structures (codes and conventions) as a language we can understand. In this essay we will analyse how films convey meaning through the use their structures of codes and conventions (narrative, camera shots), this is similar to the way languages convey meaning through the use of their structures of codes and conventions (words, sentences, grammar).
As I mentioned before, Structuralism is generally defined as the way films convey meaning through the use of codes and conventions created through the manipulation of the film world. This methodology looks at a film as a set of patterns, relationships, or structures; we see, understand and enjoy films through recognition of these structures. The meaning of a film comes not so much from inherent meanings of its individual elements, as from how they interrelate within what we know as a films ‘structure’ or ‘system’. Structuralism emphasizes the importance of narrative theories and other recurring patterns, content that helps the audience understand what is going on.
For example, genre films, audience can easily understand its meaning: a genre is considered as a structure, set of conventional patterns. Not only the narrative but also the way a camera is used to tell a story can also be analysed as structural elements as it uses the structure of film language to communicate with the audience. Structuralist theorists such as Barthes, Levi-Strauss and Todorov have analysed plot patterns found in fairy tales and other traditional narratives as these appear in contemporary film. Structuralism is about semiotics which is a concept of codes to discuss conventional ways that things are done. Semiotics can be applied to anything which can be seen as signifying something – in other words, to everything which has meaning within a culture. Codes are cultural phenomena because they are learned, it is through familiarity that codes come to seem natural rather than cultural: this process is called “naturalization”.
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction film focusing on the concept of reality. Four ways in which Structuralism is shown are in the camera work, the plot, semiotics and the symbolism and the characterization through casting. To start with, the camera work is essential in this film. The Matrix uses filters to show the setting: green is why the Matrix looks unnatural, ghostly. A green filter was used on all the scenes shot of the Matrix, which gave it that otherworldly feel, as though we are seeing it through a monitor. This color suggests that, unlike in the real world, what we see in the Matrix is being shown or filtered through something else, another reality. The color blue was removed from everything we see in the Matrix too. Also, the bullet time is one of the most remarkable features of the film. The Matrix is characterized by its high transformation of time, showing commonly imperceptible events such as flying bullets, and space, by way of the ability of the camera angle to change the audience’s point-of-view moving around the scene at a normal speed while events are slowed. It was created specifically for The Matrix.
Secondly, the plot. The Matrix is a complex movie. Plot structures are recurring story patterns that are a defining characteristic of a genre. However, this film constantly jumps from virtual world to real world and back and has endless plot elements. With this complex plot the viewer is able to emphasize with Neo because he is also being hit very suddenly with this rush of information. We feel lost just like him. On another subject, it goes without saying that the world is shaped by countless networks of meaning and codes. Making a semiotic analysis, we discover different codes. Cultural codes include the way that texts signify; beliefs about gender, social class and authority. As an example, the Hitchcock blonde, brings together several ways of representing gender, class and sexuality, which in turn reveal cultural beliefs in those areas. Cultural codes are particularly likely to become naturalised, as in notions during historical periods of what was considered the inherent nature or men or women or particular national or racial groups.
Technical codes, in film, include such things as continuity editing, point of view and reaction shots, cross-shooting and over-shoulder shooting, dissolves, and montage. Technical codes involve both techniques of making movies and, for viewers, learned ways of seeing them. Soviet film-maker Sergei Eisenstein believed montage is one of the most important aspects of film language. He describes 5 types of montage: lighting, angle, shot duration, juxtaposition and cultural context. According to him, “montage” is a structure that enables the audience to gain meaning from film. An example of how structuralist theory can be seen in film is understanding how the simple combination of shots can create an additional idea. The blank expression on a person’s face, an appetising meal, and then back to the person’s face. While nothing in this sequence literally expresses hunger or desire the juxtaposition of the images convey that meaning to the audience. It is the structure of film that we use to understand its meaning, nevertheless unraveling meaning can become quite complicated at times.
Another key point is symbolism. The word itself “Matrix” in the dictionary refers to “a situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops or is contained. The womb”. About the main character, Neo, his name has a couple of meanings. It is an anagram for “one”, as in the One who will save humanity, and also means “new” as in the new, freshly born person now aware of the Matrix. Trinity represents the number three which is a powerful number in many stories and traditions. In keeping with the Christian themes, the “father”, “son” and “holy spirit” seems to be related here. In The Matrix, Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo fight the machines. What is more, you can acknowledge references to Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, Neo’s computer advises him to “follow the white rabbit” – the conscious choice to take the journey into alternate reality. Morpheus is the roman god of dreams. He constantly alludes to dreams and two different realities: “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real. What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
As well, characters in The Matrix are really brought to life by the actors who play them. The actors have the perfect mannerisms and tones of voice to convey what they are without seeing their actions. One of the best examples is the actor Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. You can immediately tell that he is robotic and emotionless from his movement and his voice. We, as spectators, decode the film in different ways, not always in the way the producer intended. According to Stuart Hall’s Reception Theory, a work can be received in one of three ways and divided three different types of audiences decoding a text. Firstly, the dominant-hegemonic, this is when the audience agree with the messages and ideology that the producer has placed behind the work. Secondly, the negotiated, they do not agree or disagree, they see a point made on the relation to the work while also making their own opinions and finally, the oppositional, the audience rejects the producer preferred conception and creates their own.
There are a lot of interesting aspects of The Matrix that provoke discussion, arguments and debates over what the filmmakers meant by a particular scene, character or dialogue. The Matrix became a cultural phenomenon, this film leaves no-one unmoved As I mentioned before, we decode messages and information, but how can we not be influenced by all these effects? These technical codes? It is impossible for us to manage. As Morpheus claims in the movie “What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, the ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain”. Also Jean Baudrillard claimed “The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce.” And the great question is do you agree with the producers? What is the Matrix? Is it controlling you?
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- The Matrix. 1999. [Película] Dirigido por Joel Silver. EEUU: Warner Bros.
The Concept of Home in “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler
A home is one of the places in which an individual feels the most safe and enjoys spending a lot of their time. In Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Kindred, the concept of home is complicated by the clashing emotions of the characters Dana and Kevin. This displays how the idea of home can be affected by having stronger experiences somewhere else. Dana and Kevin, after being teleported from one time period to another, are forced to rethink their beliefs of what their home is to them. Their experience in the 19th century made Dana and Kevin start to feel more accustomed to it and make them begin to feel like it is their home.
In the beginning of the novel, Dana feels like the new apartment she is sharing with Kevin in 1976 is her home. She says, after her second sojourn to Rufus, “God, I hurt, and I’m so tired. But it doesn’t matter. I’m home”. Dana has had few encounters in the 19th century as she hasn’t been there for very long, yet the experiences she does have are mostly negative.
She also hasn’t really had any connections with the people there besides realizing that a few of them were her ancestors, so she understandably views her 1976 apartment as her home. It’s the time that she grew up in, and it’s where Kevin and the things she likes/is most familiar with are, while 19th century Maryland is a time and place she’s been in for less than a day.
As Dana starts making more trips back to the antebellum South, she has more experiences there and makes more connections with the people there. She becomes more used to everything there and how it works. When she thinks about it after a couple more visits and after getting Kevin back, she thinks that Rufus’s time was a “sharper, stronger reality”, and that “the work was harder, the smells and tastes were stronger, the danger was greater, the pain was worse”. Dana has done and experienced so much there that it’s become a place she’s familiar enough with to think of as home. She remembers that “she could recall feeling relief at seeing the house, feeling that she had come home. And having to stop and correct herself, remind herself that she was in an alien, dangerous place”. These thoughts show Dana’s conflicting emotions regarding the plantation and what it was to her. Even though it was a place in which she had felt a lot of pain, she had also had good experiences there and made strong emotional connections with some of the people there. With this, Butler is trying to make the point that home might sometimes have painful or dangerous things along with the good things, but it will still be home if that’s what one feels about it.
In Kindred, Butler complicates the concept of home by showing that home isn’t always the place where one feels the safest, or the one where one always wants to be. After the epilogue in the Reader’s Guide, Robert Crossley argues that Butler, with Kindred, offers a challenge to the expression “Home is where the heart is”, along with other expressions, which essentially means that home is where someone always longs to be. He writes that “By the time Dana’s time traveling finally stops and she is restored to her Los Angeles home in 1976, the meaning of a homecoming has become impossibly complicated. Her first act, once her arm is sufficiently healed, is to fly to present-day Maryland; both her California house and the Weylin plantation have become inescapably ‘home’ to her”. Dana feels like there are two places that are her home, but a person can’t long to be in two places at the same time, so the expression “Home is where the heart is” was challenged. Butler did this using Dana as an example and uses this to make the point that home isn’t necessarily only one place. Kevin’s conflicting emotions regarding his and Dana’s 1976 house and the Weylin plantation were also used by Butler to complicate the concept of “home”. At first, he, like Dana, thought of their house in 1976 as their home. However, when he went to the antebellum South with Dana, he was left there for five years when Dana was transported back to the 20th century, having to live in the 19th century by himself until Dana came back. He said that he “‘kept going farther and farther up the east coast’”, but that the only time he felt at home was when he “went back to Maryland … when he visited the Weylins to see whether Dana was there”, and when he was back in the 20th century, he also said “If I’m not home yet, maybe I don’t have a home”. These things he says show that even though he doesn’t like the Weylin plantation, he still somehow thinks of it as home, because he has had experiences there with Dana that affected him a lot, and since he loves Dana, he’ll think of a place as his home when she is/was there with him. This is also a point that Butler is trying to make: home is a place in which someone has shared many experiences (sometimes good, but other times not as good) with someone who he/she has a strong emotional connection with.
Butler uses the characters Dana and Kevin and their emotions regarding two different places they’ve stayed in to complicate the concept of “home,” which is usually thought of as a place that someone feels safe in and one that a person would almost always want to be. She does this by having them have stay and go through many experiences, both good and bad, in a foreign place and time. This makes them feel like the both of the times and places they stayed in are their homes, even though one of them has proved to be dangerous to them, especially to Dana. Butler has made all of her readers think about their ideas of home and what it is.
The Theme of Big Government in “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
A big government can create dangers in people’s lives by taking away their rights. In Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a young boy is taken away from his family at the age of 6 and is sent to a battle school in space that is controlled by the people of the military. Ender is from the US but in battle school, the students are from all over the world. Throughout the book, Ender is put into various armies that train the children in the battle school to one day be able to command an army to defeat the enemy buggers, who they have had previous wars with two to be exact. Ender was thought to be the next war hero and was very early on recognized as a threat to others in battle school. This recognition was brought on by the military professionals manipulating and isolating him. Therefore having a big and controlling government is dangerous.
I chose this theme because in the story there are various clues on how the government has been using this “battle school” to take away the essential rights of a human being. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They have taken away life by making the maximum number of children a family could have to be two. Ender is what you would call a Third. For example, in the text, it states “It was not his fault he was a Third. It was the government’s idea, they were the ones who authorized it- how else could a Third like Ender have got into school?”. Even if a family wanted more than two children, they would have to run it by the government talk about controlling. They have also taken away liberty aka freedom. While in the battle school everything is monitored including the letters they get from home. Children are also taken from their families and used for military use which is ludicrous considering the things they put them through. Any and almost every conversation can be taped and used against them. During the early stages of childhood, the government puts a monitor inside the necks of kids. Those monitors record everything that the child would hear or see, to find out if they would be the right fit for the battle school. So everyone in that household would have their freedom limited because of a walking talking military recording device. Finally, the military took away their pursuit of happiness, each one of those children had their childhood ripped from their hands and had to start developing their own identities early on in life. Ender’s feelings were toyed with by the teachers who were supposed to make him feel safe at school. He is also supposed to develop rapidly and not at the age he is supposed to he was the youngest commander while in battle school and given insane tasks to accomplish with no previous knowledge he was going to get them.
I chose to do a PowerPoint explaining what the government is doing. They are caging up these people’s rights and emotions and values. The book states “These other armies, they aren’t the enemy, it’s the teachers”. In the students mind the only reason they go to this school is to get better at fighting but slowly Ender starts to see the bigger picture thanks to his friends Dink who starts to help him realize what the adults a.k.a military professionals are up too. I also chose this because the government is taking over, and in my mind turning everyone into their robots destroying any relationships and real human emotions they had left.
One thing I learned from this book is to never give up and to wear your courage on your sleeve because it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Another thing was don’t try and grow up to fast because Ender did not have a choice he kinda just got thrown into the situation he was in and was stripped of his youth and forced to grow up. Overall reading Ender’s Game was a lovely experience it taught me an important life lesson which I will never forget, I will try and savor my youth for as long as I can and try never to rush or push anything. I will allow it to always go at its own pace.
Ultimately the result of the government and pressure of others does not allow Ender to experience all of his rights. The fact that the government can’t fight their own battle and have to bring kids into the equation is cowardly and selfish. These grown adults can’t even give them dignity and freedom. Everything is taken away from him and he is put into a world that is not his learning to fend and fight for himself. His life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were taken too fast. If only the poor boy had a chance to revel in his childhood and not sit thinking about the past.
Analysis of the Main Messages in “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Game, parallels the concept of the Cold War that developed shortly after World War II which was a state of political hostility. New technologies rose in the 1980s as well, such as the world’s first and only fleet of space planes which led to the fear that new technology would one day over take humanity. As the science fiction novel opens, it takes place set in a future dystopia where rival governments battle not only for control of Earth, but for the survival of the human race. Ender, a well known mastermind, has the ability to analyze specific situations and find a solution quickly. He is suggested as the only prospect for humanity as he is the only person with the intellect to fight the buggers, the common enemy civilians contain on Earth. Ender is the object of bullying at Battle School, due to the fact that the school’s leaders intend for him to be isolated and feared. He wins respect by devising clever new strategies in battle games and for cracking the security codes on his tormentors’ computer files. Card demonstrates empathy as a defining feature used to comprehend the enemy and to inspire allegiance within one’s unit. Card is trying to let others know there are few differences between kids and adults. Children might be smaller and insignificant, but the intelligence they demonstrate can have a bigger impact then the world may see.
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, describes Enders journey throughout his childhood in Battle School. Ender is telling Valentine why he loathes himself. While he is able to understand his enemies better than anyone else can, once Ender comprehens them, he demolishes them. Consumed with such immense empathy, when coming to understand his unfavorable enemies Ender manages to appreciate them. Ender asserts, “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves”. Love and hate are juxtaposed from each other to demonstrate how they are contrasted. When Ender crushes the buggers he is hurting himself in the process. Ender tries to avoid having enemies, so he will not be forced to agonize anyone. Ender will admire even those who seem to be his most harsh enemies when he properly recognizes them. But due to the situations Ender has been placed in he has no choice other than destroying those enemies.
Adults constantly manipulate or control children, but this is not always the intense, for Peter and Valentine, Ender’s older siblings, maintain to dominance over the world’s political system through their authority of adults. Ender, who lacks to exert any dominance over anyone, is ruthlessly manipulated by adult figures, despite their knowledge of his superior intelligence. Graff declares, “Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me to find out what you’re good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools”. Tools symbolize the matter in which the children are being used by the adults. Graff interprets to Ender the philosophy behind all their actions. But, Ender is not aware of it at the time, this is the same reason that the adults will begin to shape the children time and time again. Ender disagrees to this idea, he determines that people should be looked upon as more than just tools, but nevertheless it is the prevailing ideology of the people’s government. By following this philosophy it justifies doing horrific actions for the sake of humanity. However the question arises do the ends justify the means. Therefore, being capable of manipulating and killing but as well as creating and helping are an integral part of society and children must be taken seriously.
On the other hand, ruthlessness is the human condition devoid of its humanity, and it is the danger that threatens total destruction. One who happens to not become overcome by empathy for others, will guide the world to the dismantle of humanity. Graff begins to conversate with Ender in regards to his theory of why they are in a war with the buggers. Graff describes to Ender that the buggers communicate through a different matter than humans, thought, they most likely cannot comprehend that humans are thinking creatures. Ender therefore is compelled to understand why this barrier cannot be fixated. He expresses “‘So the whole war is because we can’t talk to each other.’ ‘If the other fellow can’t tell you his story, you can never be sure he isn’t trying to kill you.’ ‘What if we just left them alone?’ ‘Ender, we didn’t go to them first, they came to us. If they were going to leave us alone, they could have done it a hundred years ago, before the First Invasion. ’ ‘Maybe they didn’t know we were intelligent life. Maybe’”. One thinks here of Plato’s philosopher-kings is alluded, who would rather not to hold power over a society but who would do so anyway, leading unhappiness lives in order to make the community as a whole function enough for others to live successful lives. Graff proclaims that they can never be certain to which the alien species could ever truly leave them at peace. However, Ender finds it difficult to understand how an intelligent alien species could be completely unwilling to be able to have a rational discussion in regards to warfare. Ironically, following the conversation Ender then goes on to take the task on of eliminating the buggers. But, the rest of the human civilization comes to the conclusion that the enemies are committed to dangerous acts of war, even though Ender will not stop on the philosophy of talking issues out. Compassion for the humans they’ve killed and their sorrow over the war means that they are human, and this is why Ender senses the need to take action to support them and why he so keenly mourns his destruction of their race.
Even if affection and affinity can be manipulated for brutal purposes, by themselves these qualities have a much greater potential for excellence. People are constantly taken advantage of mentally, all the actions that can be put into action are whose path they will choose to follow. Ender will never be able to live his own life because there is no such thing as living one’s own life without others influence especially since Ender is such an empathetic character. Valentine and Ender decide to go off together because at least once he gets to the buggers, their world will finally be desolate. Ender declares to Valentine, “I just want one thing clear. I’m not going for you. I’m not going in order to be governor, or because I’m bored here. I’m going because I know the Buggers better than any other living soul, and maybe if I go there I can understand them better. I stole their future from them; I can only begin to repay by seeing what I can learn from their past”. Ironically, Ender is going for Valentine in a sense because he is trying to ensure humanity is not at war anymore with the buggers so he comes to their home to reinforce the fact that humans are not a threat to their species so he can try and give back a part of what he has already taken away from them. Looking for a better location to begin a new alien civilization Ender’s search ends up lasting several years. Ender is viewed as a supherb, amiable child who wholeheartedly adores his friends and family and yet it is because he is a valuable, empathetic human being that he is capable of the most brutal and ingenious acts of violence. It is inferred the deadliest warrior is not a warrior at all. The ability to sympathize for those around him symbolizes humanity.
All in all, Orson Scott Card illustrates Ender’s struggles on morality and is manipulated by the adults so that he thinks their way. Adults think it is okay to manipulate the children into their view of morality. Even before defeating the Buggers, Ender starts to wonder if there was simply a misunderstanding and that they are not enemies. He would rather take the hard road and try to resolve their conflict peacefully instead of just blowing them up, but the adults manipulate him into destroying the Buggers. It turns out that the Bugger’s were a peaceful race, and Ender is enraged that the adults manipulated him so that he would destroy their species. Card published the novel in 1985 which reflected the recent collapse of the Soviet Union, which ended up demolishing itself into several countries. Its collapse became a victory for the west as they gained freedom, a privilege of democracy over communism. Evidence shown demonstrated political tensions began to arise which was known as the Cold War, a petty rivalry that developed after World War II between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies. Card discussed the influence technology and new advances during this era, Columbia blasted into orbit to inaugurate STS-1, the maiden voyage of the space-shuttle program, which greatly impacted the novel. Overall, adolescent children are perceived as frivolous and null, but the brilliance they exhibit can have a substantial effect then the world may identify.