Zamyatin: We, Records 12-26
Gottlieb: “Dystopia East, Dystopia West,” pp. 8-17
notes & response:
-Everything will be as simple, right, and limited as a circle. I do not fear this word “limitation.” The function of man’s highest faculty, his reason, consists precisely of the continuous limitation of infinity, the breaking up of infinity into convenient, easily digestible portions— differentials. This is precisely what lends my field, mathematics, its divine beauty.
-Our gods are here, below, with us—in the office, the kitchen, the workshop, the toilet; the gods have become like us. Ergo, we have become as gods.
-All women are lips, nothing but lips.
-Language and the way it parts the lips
-I am certain that sooner or later I shall succeed in fitting all these absurdities into some logical formula.
-The mention of the word “mine” as a primitive notion
-The continual mention of the narrator knowing that he is sick or ill but that he doesn’t want to be “cured”
-But imagine this impermeable substance softened by some fire; and nothing slides across it any more, everything enters into it, into this mirror world that we examined with such curiosity when we were children. Children are not so foolish, I assure you.
-There’s a constant level of sincerity and honesty in the narrator’s voice
-By now I was so accustomed to the most incredible events, that, as I recall, I was not even surprised and asked no questions. I quickly stepped into the closet and breathlessly, blindly, greedily united with her.
-Perhaps this “discharge” has cured me finally of my tormenting “soul,” and I’ve become again like all of us.
-And, even simply as the author of these notes, I feel that I am duty-bound to find the answers. Not to mention the fact that all unknowns are organically inimical to man, and homo sapiens is human in the full sense of the word only when his grammar is entirely free of question marks, when it has nothing but exclamation points, periods, and commas.
-Do doctors really want to cure illness?…It’d put them out of business
-“The map is not the territory”—Your view of the world is not necessarily the view of the world → 1)Rework the map 2) a. Ignore the map b. “Fit” the material to the map
-“The hole of life, in all its complexity and beauty…”
-“The real me and this other me”—D-530
-His identity/map is now under siege so he begins to question the map (illness)
-“If you’re one of those people in love, I don’t know whether to envy or pity you.”
-Hypocrite comes from a Greek word meaning “actor”. It’s often difficult to tell the difference between a true believer and a hypocrite.
-Saints, philosophers, lunatics…
-The establishment of identity and the ability to hold onto it
-I-330 could be his liberator, the mother figure
-Horizontal hostility is far less dangerous than upward/downward hostility
-“Internalizing the oppressor”—Ferdinand
-Instinct (a kind of blinders) serves as a map
-Reptilian / Mammalian / Primate Brain
(Defensive) / (Copulate) / (Propaganda)
-Oceanic consciousness—Freud; In dreams, often times, the most important part of the dream is what’s pushed away to the margins
-Apocalypse or Holocaust is in the eye of the beholder
One of the most interesting questions associated with any situation of robotic or futuristic hybrid of beings is one of ownership. As the author of this story, the narrator constantly questions his own situations and those of the characters surrounding him. He obviously understands what it means to know compassion, love, and remorse, but then appears to write them off as if they are only another part of the story. However, the poetics that are built within the context are unavoidable and seem to give the dystopia of the story’s plot a bit more of a utopic feeling. Inevitably, that seems to be what all human beings need—hope. I think this story provides that and more. The further questioning of what happiness is and what it means to possess such a quality that can be hard to find and to define only further relates to what most human beings go through on a daily basis. In fact, more often than not, that happiness is associated with some sort of understanding of love and how it relates to other characters in our daily lives. Despite the fact that these characters could be driven mad by the mundane or the loss of a name, there’s a poetic beauty and dashes of hope that are spread throughout the story, often offered at the times where a reader least expects it, similar to that of ordinary life.