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Week Twelve (Thurs, Apr. 14): Self-Reflexivity, Squared

I. coursekeeping
final round of naming! (?!)
papers due tomorrow: any questions about else is what's coming up?
(next week I'll talk to the whole group about the portfolios)

II. dakota:
In our discussion section on Thursday, our group discussed the plague in relation to justice and chance. In an attempt to define justice, we tried to determine whether the plague was just and/or merely a product of chance. Throughout this conversation, I found myself feeling that we kept failing to mention one thing: the plague makes sense. Perhaps we overlooked it because it’s such a simple concept or because when a thing causes such tremendous pain, we don’t want it to make sense. Regardless, I think when you’re trying to determine whether the plague is a product of chance or if it’s acting justly, it’s a relevant concept. Infected citizens of Oran and their family members asked themselves or some higher figure “why me?” Those who belief it is a matter of chance that the plague resurfaced in Oran would answer their questions with chance. The priest in the novel might answer their question with some reference to “an eye for an eye” justice. A scientist on the other hand, would answer the “why me” question with the science behind the plague. The person became sick with plague because he/she came in contact in some way or another with the plague bacteria when he/she was walking about. If you want to explore the reasoning behind “why Oran became infected,” well, there was something, some aspect (whether it be weather, food supply, etc.) that favored the reemergence of the plague. Although we may not know all of the details and minute scientific reasons behind the plague’s emergence in Oran, I believe they exist and that leads me to believe that the plague isn’t a product of chance. It’s sort of like when our computer goes haywire. As non-computer scientists, we may not know why our computer is malfunctioning but, the computer is actually behaving in this way for a reason that makes sense to the computer. There had to be some cause and effect. Thinking about the plague in this light makes me wonder if chance can be a part of the equation when the equation makes sense on its own.

cf. the Sunday's NY Times Book Review Paul mentioned of a book by Anne Harrington called The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine, reviewed by Jerome Groopman, a cancer specialist, who writes ....

"Doctors like myself are schooled in the cause and effect of changes in DNA, cells, and tissues. We apply this biology to identify what is wrong with a patient, then recommend a medication, procedure, or behavioral change that will ameliorate the physical problem ...

Sometimes, of course, standard treatments don't work, or simply don't exist. And sometimes tests fail to uncover any physical cause for a patient's suffering at all. But such failures, Harrington argues, explain only part of the widespread dissatisfaction with mainstream medicine. Of equal or greater import, she writes, is medicine's failure to address the 'existential' aspect of illness, to answer the questions 'Why me? Why now? What next?' Doctors usually frame their answers to such questions in language that forgoes any meaning for the individual. Whether cancer will return is a matter of statistical likelihoods ... or in lay terms, "bad luck". There is no meaning in randomness, and for the patient no sense of control

As patients, we may be modern in many ways, but we find such uncertainty hard to accept. Throughout history, Harrington rightly argues, people have strained to make 'personal sense' of illness and suffering. Western cultures, like all cultures, have traditionally provided people 'a stockpile of religious, moral, and social stories to help them answer the great 'why' questions of of their suffering, and to connect their experiences to some larger understanding of their identities and destinies.' But today, she writes, the story offered by mainstream medicine 'is as impersonal as they come'.

so: what do think of this idea (of the "other" hannah) that we are "plagued for a sense of meaning"?

III. OrganizedKhaos:
"…those teachers are dangerous if your goal is to do something new. And a writer should always have that goal. Writing is a journey into the unknown, not building a model airplane."
To me, this suggests that there isn't an algorithmic process to writing a novel or screen play. That  all the books we read and films we watch are an attempt for a writer to create something new.... do we all just fall into the trap of pleasing the audience and replicating what already exists? I want to think differently because its sad to think that my original thoughts are nothing but a melange of affected, influenced and replicated thought processes.

I do believe that Susan Orleans character does change, matter of fact I think that the characters do adapt. 

I don't agree that film limits people's imagination. For me film extends beyond the screen and often times into the real world. I can understand how it may inhibits or reduce the amount the mind works to create its own world for some people but for me, I guess I don't get a sense of limitations but more of an expansion of is already real

IV. who among you has taken a film course/studied film?
guidance for "reading" one? a close reading, attending to shots, angles, etc?

V. my own interest in the larger questions...particularly self-referentiality

To what degree does the self-referentiality of the movie "eat itself"?
To what degree does the "diegesis" (telling) eat/trump/control
the "mimesis" (showing) of the film? (referencing here the Kaufmans'
conversation about "ouroboros").

What role might
ouroboros --self-reflexivity or cyclicality--play in evolution??

VI. Cf. Paths to Storytelling as Life: Fellow Traveling with Richard Rorty:
From Rorty's 1992 essay, "Trotsky and the Wild Orchids": "So, at 12, I knew that the point of being human was to spend one's life fighting social injustice ... But I also had private, weird, snobbish, incommunicable interests ... [including a] desire to learn all there was to know about orchids ...

If I had not read all those [philosophy] books, I might never have been able to stop looking for what Derrida calls 'a full presence beyond the reach of play', for a luminous, self-justifying, self-sufficient synoptic vision. By now, I am pretty sure that looking for such a presence and such a vision is a bad idea. The main trouble is that you might succeed, and your success might let you imagine that you have something more to rely on than the tolerance and decency of your fellow human beings. The democratic community of Dewey's dreams is a community in which nobody imagines that. It is a community in which everybody thinks that it is human solidarity, rather than knowledge of something not merely human, that really matters. The actually existing approximations to such a ... community now seem to me the greatest achievements of our species. In comparison, even Hegel's and Proust's books seem optional, orchidaceous extras."

VII. Further reading
Lucas Hilderbrand. "Review: Adaptation." Film Quarterly 2004, 58.1 (Fall): 36-43.
Jonze and Kaufman "rooted their film Adaptation's intertextual mental masturbation in autoerotic fantasy. Legible as a gimmicky self-reflexive exercise, a comedy of narcissistic neurosis, or a proufound self-portrait of artistic endeavor, Adaptation productively narrativizes masturbation's myriad associations, pathologies, and possibilities."

Barbara Simerka and Christopher Weimer, "Duplicitous Diegesis: Don Quijote and Charlie Kaufman's Adapation." Hispania 2005, 88.1: 91-100.
a comparative study centered on "the representation of self-inscriptive narrative acts and the juxtaposition of disparate generic forms to create parody."

Gary Bortolotti and Linda Hutcheon, "On the Origin of Adaptations: Rethinking Fidelity Discourse and 'Success'--Biologically." New Literary History 2007, 38: 443-458.
"As a biologist and a literary theorist... we would like to propose... a homology between biological and cultural adaptation... a similarity in structure that is indicative of a common origin: that is, both kinds of adaptation are understandable as processes of replication ... both evolve with changing environments... biological thinking may help move us beyond... 'fidelity discourse'.... to think anew about the broader questions of why and how certain stories are told and retold.... moving out of an evaluative discourse and into a descriptive one... As Terry Pratchett has reminded us: 'Stories, great flapping ribbons of shaped space-time, have been blowing and uncoiling around the universe since the beginning of time. And they have evolved. The weakest have died and the strongest have survived and they have grown fat on the retelling.'"