LITR 4368 Literature of the Future
lecture notes

low tech (traces of organic human nature and traditional culture in high tech world; style: romance): "The Onion and I," (VN 8-21)."Drapes and Folds," (VN 126-139)."Speech Sounds"(VN 91-108).

 

midterm > final

improvements < guidance after pre-midterm + Web Highlights as models, expectations

left out efforts, ingenuity on your part, not to ignore, but unknowable beyond evidence of quality

surest indicator of students' abilities: do they take notes in class? (multitask, industry, practice writing)

? How many students revise, edit their drafts? (unity, line of thought)

only sure way to improve writing is to revise (optimally with guidance)

(take-home exams)

 

test-taking:

Does student keep working with the assignment or just gets started and doesn't look back?

 

Research essay: one other indicator of quality

Did student use outside sources as required?

 

Review final exam, esp. Web Highlights

 

 

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/growing-up-trans/

 

Discussion Questions:

1. If you didn't like the cyberpunk / high-tech / virtual realities stories, what alternative values or appeals do these low-tech stories offer?

2. What utopian / dystopian elements? Identify different appeals of low-tech and high-tech.

3. Contrast organic appeals of low-tech with non-organic of high-tech.

4. What elements of romance?

5. Octavia Butler, author of Parable of the Sower, wrote "Speech Sounds"—how might you recognize her style and subject matter?

1. If you didn't like the cyberpunk / high-tech / virtual realities stories, what alternative values or appeals do these low-tech stories offer?

 

 

 

 



2. What utopian / dystopian elements? Identify different appeals of low-tech and high-tech.

Dystopia

Drapes 130 Bracie = hosed-on sludge-colored bodysuits

All bodies were reduced to one bland, universal form

Drapes 137 No exceptions to rule

Drapes 137 Our freedom of fashion taken away

 

Speech 98 burned, abandoned buildings, empty lots, wrecked or stripped cars [post-apocalyptic = dystopia]

 

American dystopia as loss of personal control

Onion 11 public computer health crises > centralized

Onion 11 govt + telecom companies > laws > make & control people

Onion 11 [parents] believed in best in themselves & other people, just as so many Americans had before them

Onion 19 I myself was being limited [by] same programming that controlled helmet

 

Drapes 126 NewSociety fashion

Drapes 126 she was a flat . . . Women's Epidemic in 2022

I was a slant

Drapes 126 shoulder hike greeting . . . emphasize our chests and our unity

Drapes 127 Powers: sumptuous clothing & fabric: "anarchic individualism" that had poisoned last half of twentieth century

Drapes 129 each trim, color an aspect of her depth and love

Drapes 130 Bracie = hosed-on sludge-colored bodysuits

All bodies were reduced to one bland, universal form

Drapes 130 They gave me a sweep

Drapes 131 They've invaded you, stolen what was inside your brain

Drapes 137 No exceptions to rule

Drapes 137 Our freedom of fashion taken away

 

Speech 94 no more any large organization, government or private > neighborhood patrols & armed individuals

Speech 98 she should choose

Speech 98 burned, abandoned buildings, empty lots, wrecked or stripped cars

 

Speech 102 today's children gathered books for fuel

no future; all they would ever be [x-civilization, x-evolution, progress]

 

Speech 102 women settled for less or lived alone

 

 



3. Contrast organic appeals of low-tech with non-organic of high-tech.

 

Low-tech

Speech 93 people started walking

Speech 95 only common language = body language

Speech 95 [barter]

Speech 101 condom

 

Organic human nature vs. virtual reality

Onion 9 smell x calculus

Onion 9 keyed in, x-tears

 

Onion 9 a Home Page before a home

Onion 9 first couple married in cyberspace . . . in a chat room

Onion 9 Internet minister

Onion 9 downloaded graphics for rings + kiss

 

Onion 12 before the Cyberworld became the world

Onion 12 Project Bidwell, move people into the computer

Onion 12 everything we touched we scanned in

Onion 14 as though I were the onion and he the earth

Onion 15 "We live in the mind"

Onion 15 "a real onion can make you cry" + "a real somebody"

Onion 16 remembering the long hours with his physical self

Onion 21 programmed by nothing more than earth itself

Onion 21 learned to live in both worlds

 

Drapes 127 nipple bar on wall

Drapes 135 home-creation kits x blood of RealBirth; "Primitive"

Drapes 135 turkey baster & vial of banked semen

Drapes 135-6 hard to explain, the urge to procreate

 

Drapes 138 bag . . . from remnants

Drapes 139 I pulsed inside her, warm as blood

 

 



4. What elements of romance?

unity > separation > reunion

 

 

Reconstruction of family

Drapes 135 home-creation kits x blood of RealBirth; "Primitive"

Drapes 135 turkey baster & vial of banked semen

Drapes 135-6 hard to explain, the urge to procreate

 

Drapes 138 "Gran"

Speech 91 One group of relatives left alive?

 

Speech 97 maybe he was just alone . . . she had been alone . . . the illness x children, husband, sister, parents

Speech 99 she would never hear her name spoken again

Speech 108 [her name spoken again]

 

 



5. Octavia Butler, author of Parable of the Sower, wrote "Speech Sounds"—how might you recognize her style and subject matter?

 

Rapid action, intimate witness & dispassionate reporter of violence

Speech 105 It happened just that simply, just that fast

 

Intensity of feelings

Speech 100 he could read .  . . hated him

 

Civilization as teaching – tradition? continuity

Can surprise you; think you know what’s going on; glad to be fooled

Best writers can appear to be predictable, can set up predictable, but then vary, turn

Reader can track from comfort / security / identity > sudden expansion of world, possibility

99, 108 name

 

 

 

 

2. Metaphors and other figurative speech > comparing the unknown to the known

Onion 10 "Superhighway" analogy

Onion 15 "Peel a cyberonion"

no inside, all layers

Onion 15 layers of programming

 

  

Utopia must guarantee flexibility, acceptance of contingency

Onion 17 odd onions, nonuniform?

Mimic randomness of genetic world

Onion 17 described onions to me in all their forms

Onion 18 wonder if all cyberworld was equally simple

Onion 18 texture = coding for apple

[cf. Houston & zoning]

 

 

Traditional culture

Drapes 129 "Maybe she's a little like her Gran

pictured my mother's mother

Drapes 138 bag . . . from remnants

Drapes 139 I pulsed inside her, warm as blood

 

Domestic space & concerns (x streets)

Onion 9 a Home Page before a home

Onion 9 first couple married in cyberspace . . . in a chat room

Onion 9 Internet minister

Onion 9 downloaded graphics for rings + kiss

Onion 10 wedding service > divorce page

Onion 10 everyone like a thief; no one like the law

 

Drapes 130 wanted to teach those same lessons to some young person

Drapes 138-9 Diana remained my true friend

 

Live in both worlds

Onion 13 can do or use anything, yet nothing used up

Onion 13 we were pioneers

Onion 21 programmed by nothing more than earth itself

Onion 21 learned to live in both worlds

 

Drapes 128 feet > wheelies

Drapes 129 Old Putrid Flesh

Drapes 129 NewOnes . . . farmed after 2025, . . . ghastly mix of human and roboid

 

 

"The Onion and I," (VN 8-21)

Onion 9 flesh

Onion 9 smell x calculus

Onion 9 Mother > computer science, found all rest of world

Onion 9 a Home Page before a home

Onion 9 first couple married in cyberspace . . . in a chat room

Onion 9 Internet minister

Onion 9 downloaded graphics for rings + kiss

Onion 9 keyed in, x-tears

Onion 10 Internet, Virtual World, Cyberspace

Onion 10 opportunities; no coordination

Onion 10 "Superhighway" analogy

Onion 10 wedding service > divorce page

Onion 10 everyone like a thief; no one like the law

Onion 11 public computer health crises > centralized

Onion 11 govt + telecom companies > laws > make & control people

Onion 11 [parents] believed in best in themselves & other people, just as so many Americans had before them

Onion 11 [narrator's birth +] first cyberlife experiments

Onion 12 before the Cyberworld became the world

Onion 12 Project Bidwell, move people into the computer

Onion 12 everything we touched we scanned in

Onion 13 can do or use anything, yet nothing used up

Onion 13 we were pioneers

Onion 13 think outdoors

Onion 13 think x thoughful

out here, thoughts grow

vertical x horizontal

Onion 14 as though I were the onion and he the earth

Onion 15 "We live in the mind"

Onion 15 "Peel a cyberonion"

no inside, all layers

Onion 15 layers of programming

Onion 15 "a real onion can make you cry" + "a real somebody"

Onion 16 remembering the long hours with his physical self

Onion 16 onions = only things refused to have scanned

Onion 16 became fixed, permanent, never-changing: like Cyberonions

Onion 17 odd onions, nonuniform?

Mimic randomness of genetic world

Onion 17 described onions to me in all their forms

Onion 18 cyberonions x-roots

Onion 18 wonder if all cyberworld was equally simple

Onion 18 texture = coding for apple

Onion 19 I myself was being limited [by] same programming that controlled helmet

[cf. Houston & zoning]

Onion 20 a Cyberperson

Onion 20 cannot describe experience; cf. Faith

Onion 20 they cannot make a cyberboy who could taste a real onion and know the difference

Onion 21 programmed by nothing more than earth itself

Onion 21 learned to live in both worlds

 

 

"Drapes and Folds," (VN 126-139)

Drapes 126 "For Ilene"

Drapes 126 NewSociety fashion

Drapes 126 she was a flat . . . Women's Epidemic in 2022

I was a slant

Drapes 126 shoulder hike greeting . . . emphasize our chests and our unity

Drapes 126 digitalized word ribbon: "No draped or folded cloth"

Drapes 127 nipple bar on wall

Drapes 127 "Tomorrow's my 100th birthday"

Drapes 127 fabric against law

Drapes 127 Powers: sumptuous clothing & fabric: "anarchic individualism" that had poisoned last half of twentieth century

Drapes 128 multicultural tribalism > Race War 2000

Drapes 128 dancing outlawed

Drapes 128 feet > wheelies

Drapes 129 Old Putrid Flesh

Drapes 129 NewOnes . . . farmed after 2025, . . . ghastly mix of human and roboid

Drapes 129 "Utility or Futility," unadorned simplicity in all things

Drapes 129 "Maybe she's a little like her Gran

pictured my mother's mother

Drapes 129 each trim, color an aspect of her depth and love

Drapes 130 wanted to teach those same lessons to some young person

Drapes 130 x-"Gran"; x-programmed for that word

Drapes 130 Bracie = hosed-on sludge-colored bodysuits

All bodies were reduced to one bland, universal form

Drapes 130 They gave me a sweep

Drapes 131 They've invaded you, stolen what was inside your brain

Drapes 131 less is more

Drapes 132 Europe, or one of the other adult theme parks

Drapes 132 Prepare your dwelling for defabrication

Drapes 132 kimono panel: a voice previously unheard in clothing

Drapes 132 lack of fat in diets, vacuum cleaner exhaust & cosmetic slurry

Drapes 133-4 the Chicken Years

Everyone hated it, the manipulation, the boredom

Drapes 134 poultry infants, "ThrowAways"

Drapes 135 As Diana repeated the party line, I realized that my friend was truly gone

revisionist pseudo-history

Drapes 135 home-creation kits x blood of RealBirth; "Primitive"

Drapes 135 turkey baster & vial of banked semen

Drapes 135-6 hard to explain, the urge to procreate

Drapes 136 head spinning

Drapes 136 BioKil, fabric fought off viral infection

Endorpha, pleasure fiber

Interferex x-cancer

Drapes 137 pair of jeans; "Bran"

Drapes 137 No exceptions to rule

Drapes 137 Our freedom of fashion taken away

Drapes 138 bag . . . from remnants

Drapes 138 "Gran"

Drapes 138-9 Diana remained my true friend

Drapes 139 I pulsed inside her, warm as blood

 

"Speech Sounds" (VN 91-108)

Speech 91 One group of relatives left alive?

Speech 91 disagreement > misunderstanding

Speech 91 lost curses, small anxious sounds

Speech 92 limited ability to communicate

Speech 92 buses so rare and irregular now

Speech 93 people started walking

Speech 93 cars rare . . . sever shortage of fuel and relatively unimpaired mechanics

Speech 93 cars = weapons

Speech 93 left-handed people less impaired, more reasonable

Speech 94 LAPD uniform

Speech 94 no more any large organization, government or private > neighborhood patrols & armed individuals

Speech 94 gas

Speech 95 least impaired stand back

Speech 95 only common language = body language

Speech 95 [barter]

Speech 96 heard so little coherent speech for the past 3 years

Speech 96 loss of language > new obscene gestures

Speech 97 maybe he was just alone . . . she had been alone . . . the illness x children, husband, sister, parents

Speech 97 if it was an illness

Speech 97 the Soviets

Speech 97 language always lost or severely impaired, never regained

Speech 98 she should choose

Speech 98 burned, abandoned buildings, empty lots, wrecked or stripped cars

Speech 98 retain a name like Obsidian [Peter = Rock]

Speech 98 her own name symbol

Speech 99 she would never hear her name spoken again

Speech 99 recognized street map, but writing meant nothing

Speech 99 she had lost reading and writing

Speech 99 books x-read, x-fuel

Speech 100 he could read .  . . hated him

Speech 100 He did not speak or comprehend spoken language

Speech 101 condom

Speech 102 today's children gathered books for fuel

no future; all they would ever be [x-civilization, x-evolution, progress]

Speech 102 women settled for less or lived alone

Speech 103 grasped the 2 fingers and nodded. He was with her

Speech 105 It happened just that simply, just that fast

Speech 107 What if . . . ? > teachers and protectors

Speech 108 [her name spoken again]

 

 

Leftover notes from previous classes

 

popular progressions in sf

 

mechanical > organic ("The Onion . . . ")

metal > fabric, texture, hair ("Drapes . . . ")

virtual reality > organic human nature, flesh, physical self

totalitarian state > individual, family

uniformity, simplicity > variety, messiness

(compare 1984, Brave New World)