I was reluctant to blog about the readings for this course as it somewhat alienates those who have not read them. Not that I am even aware of readers outside of the program, for I didn't go to much trouble to show it to my family or friends back home, but in the odd chance that someone found it via Facebook, these kind of posts are, in a way, duds.
Yet at the same time, I realize that the readings are what allows this trip to be called a 'course' and not simply an 'excursion.' I hereby try to reconcile these differences by concentrating my reading ponderings to one post.
Currently knee-deep in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, I shall begin here.
My favorite 'book,' (of the mostly-independent sections within the greater novel,) is "An Orison of Sonmi-451." It seems to be set in Korea...in the debatably dystopian future, of course. I bristled at first at how some other non-Korean things had been mixed in, such as the clone name series of Ma-Leu-Da, being rather sensitive to the lumping-together of Asian cultures that occurs far too frequently, but the book later informed that Japan had been absorbed and was called "East Korea" (my, Japan subjugated by Korea, fancy such a notion!) and it would be feasible to say that at least part of China had also joined.
This chapter reminded me of the film, "The Island," because of the similarities in cloning for soullessly pragmatic reasons. Both also approach the subject from the perspectives of the captives.
I feel a bit distracted at the way I must always stop and practice pronouncing the name with a Korean accent. Romanizations of Korean names bother me. "Boom-Sook Kim" looks so odd. Especially since Koreans would say "Kim Boom-Sook." In English romanization, the name might seem silly, but written in Hangul, it seems so natural. 김붐숙
I also wanted to remark on In-Yer-Face theatre. I do believe that graphic and shocking depictions are sometimes necessary. I remember when I was little, I used to read the Redwall series (written by a Liverpool native, actually) and, during the fights and death scenes, I would gloss over actual visualizations of what it would be like to throw swords around or actually kill someone. Perhaps I am of a rare bunch, but because I did not bother to imagine the realities of violence, I was generally rather unaffected by it -> it did not make me retch or flinch. A few years later, the film Atonement (based on the novel by Ian McEwan, also a Brit) was released, and my rosy world finally understood blood.
But only because the film bothered to open my eyes to the realities of what it would be like to participate in war. Come to think of it, Atonement wasn't all too graphic, but it was enough to make me realize. Until that point, I had been against war merely because of my parents' pacifist tendencies, but now I could see how horrible it was for myself.
I think that is what the In-Yer-Face theatre writers must understand. Especially in Blasted. The main character, Ian, peacocks his gun, but when faced with real violence, on which he is on the receiving and not the dealing end, he realizes he never really understood.
Lastly, I find it interesting how cloning became such an issue here after Dolly. Perhaps it also did in the U.S., but I think I was too young to be anything but oblivious in this time period. Yet in the present-day, one could pore through an entire week's worth of news and hear nothing on the subject. In a way, it makes me feel as though all of these moralistic debates and "what-if"s are somewhat pointless after a while. We could talk about, if one were suddenly made Jesus, if one would continue requiring death of every individual, from dawn to dusk, but really, what's the point?
I think I remember Professor Reed mentioning something about this in relation to the British approach to truth: while Americans agonize over defining "truth," it seems that Britain has decided that truth is concrete and are all in unanimous agreement of a "single truth" in academics.
The idea of a "single truth" in America would be so dangerous. We have enough trouble getting evolution to be considered worth teaching as it is.