Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mutual Influence of Society and Literature

On reading O'Flinn's essay, I could only agree with what he had to say with regards to a piece of literature influencing society and society influencing literature. I believe or agree that we are all products of our society whether we agree with it's doctrines or not, that is to say we are all influenced by our society and we also shape our society. If we are passive or activists we are still nonetheless a part and or a reaction to that society. Would it not take an extreme effort to create a piece of work where the values, the norms, the mores of that society did not penetrate a certain piece of literature, and if one agreed with a critique of a society would that not change the minds that shape that society?

Orwell was writing I believe when the school of thought in regards to the arts was modernism. this explains the notion of "art for art's sake." You were to look at a piece of literature or art with no contextual reference, you were not to take into account the biography of the author, the social climate of the time, the sex, not the name, nor any of the other pieces of work that the author had written. Today we are taught quite the opposite, we are told about the backgrounds of the author, and use their biography as a way to look at the piece of literature. I think Orwell would approve of the direction in which the pedagogy of literature is going.

On the other hand, with regards to the critiques of society, the way in which our society is going, would be startling. His predictions are on the verge of coming true. I took a Political Science course in which I was taught a few items of relevance. One which I took as a fundamental principal was that our senators and congressmen are in the position they are in for power and that their main objective is to hold that power, fortunately for us we still have the power to control their actions as far as policy decisions go. The second is that the government is continually trying to increase it's revenues and thus increase it's increase it's revenues it is coming up with disturbing ways to bring it in. The way I was taught was that first the government comes up with a form of technology that makes life a little more convenience such as GPS in our cars, it is not necessary but everyone wants one. They wait a while until everyone is use to having one, all the cars will come with one pre-installed, next they will make it mandatory that everyone will have one and now they can track where you go and charge you monthly for your mileage use on the pretense that is will encourage energy conservation. This immediately came to mind when I was reading 1984 and the description of the "telescreen."

As frightening as the thoughts are, I do still have hope that the "people" still have the power to influence policy. If we are smart enough not to buy into the fear or the Panoticism of terrorism, we can maintain our (the people's) influence over the direction of our society.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Utopia, Marxism, and Full Employment

Granted, I am not well versed in the concepts of Utopia, Marxism, or the global market and economy, so what I say needs to be taken with a grain of salt and where so ever I am misguided a redirection would be most certainly appreciated. Saying that, it seems to me that Jameson is saying that, “this particular root of all evil identified as unemployment,” is the direct culprit for all of the vile that is found is society, “crime, war, degraded mass culture, drugs, violence, boredom, the lust for power, the lust for distraction, the lust for nirvana, sexism, racism,” or is he being sarcastic and using irony so that we see the utter absurdity of the notion? From my experience all of the vile characteristics he describes cannot necessarily be directly linked to unemployment.

The concept of Utopia which I find (as it has been presented to me) closer to Communism (not in the negative connotation but in the idealist way), that is where everything is communal in which one works for the greater community and where no one receives more than is absolutely necessary to survive (this of course is in relation to unemployment and capitalism) and this something that we truly have never seen in any society. Where Capitalism, which I should define my concept and to me Capitalism is most exemplified by publicly traded companies. These companies drive the working force to work as much as possible, to pump out as much product as possible, at the cheapest price possible. To convince the rest of the public that what ever the product is, it will enhance their life so greatly that it is no longer a want but indeed a necessity. Furthermore, the obligation of said company is not to the greater good, it is not to their employees, but it is to their stockholders otherwise known has the owners of the company. The way I am reading it is that Jameson would like to infuse principles of Utopia with principles from Marxism, into our now Capitalized society, which seems to me that in a Capitalistic society there is no, as Jameson has pointed out, way to establish full employment. In order to have the utopian requirement of full employment then would you not need to have given up the capitalistic society as well? Or is that the point he is trying to make?