Categories
Ryder Short Stories

The Bell and the Banter

Every noontime, the bell of Barla boomed and the banter began. Trade and teasing trembled in the air for two hours of joviality. These Barlians were a tender, quiet people, and they could only handle so much expressive energy. The second that two hours of banter had passed, the bellboy or bellgirl struck the bell twice, activity ceased, and people went home or to the fields. Before the Barlians established this tradition, the people mingled throughout the day and they felt heavy with small talk and meaningless conversation. They were a productive but introverted people. Cordoning off the banter to the time within the bellstrikes was a means to make meaning of gossip and commerce alike.

To be a bellperson was an honor. Citizens who weren’t quite children but weren’t quite adults were the ones typically chosen by the Bell Council. The council thought the duty a rite of passage, though some held the honor longer than others. A poorly timed bellstrike was grounds for a immediate dismissal and often harmed the bellperson’s reputation for their whole life if they stayed in the town. If someone damaged the bell, severe punishment awaited them.

One year, Martyl the Hammer was chosen to strike the bell everyday for a month. The townfolk expected him to perform flawlessly, given his name and genius in the two hours of school he attended daily. He was well liked by everyone in the town. Yet, the duty made him restless, for a bellboy was not allowed to enjoy activities from the morning until after the day’s banter had ended, to make sure no distractions disrupted the strict time for socialization. What’s more, Martyl harbored a secret resentment of this tradition. He felt arbitrarily limiting the time for bantering harmed the town intellectually. With only a two hour window of debate, social education, and commerce, how would brilliance emerge at anything but the slowest pace? He believed inquiry fared best in social settings, and while alone time was also useful for increasing knowledge, social learning beget the fastest progress.

However, Martyl did not wish to lose respect for failing to maintain the tradition, so he endured the boredom while imagining how he could increase the amount of time for banter, or demolish the limit entirely. On the fifth day, after initiating the social time, he slumped into the corner of the tower and lost himself in the sands of the hourglass while unintelligible conversation wafted in from the window. In the waterfall of grains, he saw a pair of eyes, and suddenly a man sat crosslegged before him.

Yes, I am the one and only Delgen the Dare, and I can help you with your little predicament,” the man said in a frisky, dramatic tone. “Personally I find this town and its traditions most fascinating, but I know you wish things were different. That there was more time to talk and learn. I can help you, offer more time to talk, and shorten those boring hours of lonesomeness.”

Martyl had read about Delgen. Fear drowned him, but he realized this was a profound opportunity, for this was one of the most powerful and dangerous demons in all the realms. He didn’t think Delgen was so evil, but only a chaotic being who’d deceive someone for amusement, but not to torture them. He had heard he’d done good things, but bad things did often come of his antics.

Very well,” Martyl finally decided. “How will you accomplish this?”

I’ll bless your bell,” Delgen said with a smirk. “When it rings once, the town’s time will slow, and within the town you’ll have many more hours of perceived time to talk and trade. When the bell is rang again, time will return to normal pace. A very powerful enchantment, but one I’m willing to bless this town with.”


“And the catch? The trade? You want my soul?” Martyl asked.

No catch,” said Delgen, “You’ll have a great time, if you know what I mean. Bring a gal up and ring the bell, that’d be some fun.”

Martyl knew he shouldn’t make a deal with Delgen. He knew demonic promises were fragile things that disintegrate into deceit. And yet, his addiction to conversation was so great, he had to agree for the opportunity to philosophize endlessly with his friends. He assumed there would be consequences, that he might have to explain a little manipulation of time to people, but he thought he could manage the change, and that it would really make life better. “Bless the bell then. And begone before someone comes up here.”

Delgen smiled, and tapped on the bell. He seemed to have struck a harmonic, as the bell “The magic will start tomorrow,” and with a wink, he was gone in a puff of dust.

The next day, Martyl smacked the bell and immediately sensed a difference. The bell seemed to ring out for several minutes. Martyl’s mistake was immediately apparent. The change in the sense of time was significant, and he would be bellboy for the rest of the month, so he’d have to endure the boredom of this job for even longer. The day stretched on, and he could hardly bear hearing the muffled conversation for what seemed the whole day. He struck the bell twice at two O’clock, and rushed down to catch a hint of conversation. But everyone had gone back to the fields and homes to play out the rest of the day in a dead silence. Usually people snuck in a bit of conversation after banter hours, but when Martyl sat down for dinner with his parents, not a word leap from anyone’s mouth. At the end of the meal when everyone was about to depart the table to work on household tasks, Martyl tried to talk about being a bellboy (without mentioning Delgen of course), but his mother shot him an insane look that shut Maryl up right quick.

Martyl returned to the tower next morning, and the same anguish struck him as he could hear profuse dialogs crashing into the walls of the tower, unable to achieve clarity. He thought he heard someone say “morality” and “progress,” but nothing else was intelligible. Once again, Martyl ran down after striking the bell twice, but all he saw were the doors slamming. A trader from another town looked around confused, and Martyl tried to start a conversation with him. The trader looked at the ground and mumbled something about having sold in the day what he normally sold in a month, and sort of stumbled with his wagon away, like was drunk on words.

When Martyl came home, his parents had many new baskets, cooking ware, clothing, and brand new items. His parents had spent their life savings on all these things, and were immensely guilty. Martyl couldn’t talk to them, as they just retired to their room and didn’t even come out for dinner. Naturally Martyl was worried and extremely guilty himself for causing this, because normally his parents were incredibly frugal. Martyl walked into his room and stained his brand new toys with tears.

The night passed, and Martyl decided to not ring the bell. He stayed in his room and languished in bed until two. His parents did not seem upset about Martyl not ringing the bell. They were relieved, in fact. No one came to Martyl’s home to dishonor him. No one else rang the bell. Martyl stayed at home, and enjoyed a smidgeon of small talk with his brother, though he seemed unwilling to talk for very long. Martyl read books and worked in the garden until he slept.

But Martyl knew he would have to ring the bell again, or explain to the elders what he had done. The town would not function without discourse for very long. So he decided to ring the bell at noon and then ring the the bell twice only fifteen minutes later. He took the sand from the hourglass, halved it three times, and placed one sixth of the original amount back in the hourglass.

The time passed, though it still felt like a couple hours to Martyl, and then he stepped outside of the tower. People seemed to be meandering around, not instantly returning home like before. Martyl thought perhaps he had solved the predicament, and was about to return home, when Paeda the oldest woman of the village sauntered up to Martyl and declared that he had besmirched his duties. Like the rest of the town, she had been recovering the previous day from the many hours of conversation, and so had not sought him out the previous day even when she knew something was wrong. Paeda demanded Martyl explain what had happened, and Martyl lugubriously confessed. She told Martyl he would be punished severely. The Bell Guards came and Martyl was put in chains; that night, the Bell Council was brought together.

Martyl was found guilty of the greatest disruption of the relationship of the bell and the banter in the history of the town, and awarded the worst punishment, only granted one other time in the past: removal of the tongue. In his attempt to speak his heart and mind out, he lost his own ability to banter for good. What’s more, the Bell Council determined the ideal amount of time of perceived banter, a mere ten minutes of actual time, and so the council had almost two more hours available to do other things when the small amount of objective banter time was over. In this way, the council almost regretted punishing Martyl, since he actually made the town more productive and prosperous. Hence, “Martyl the Martyr” is the man’s new name.

Categories
Poetic Philosophy Poetry Ryder

Supine Wit

Supine wit

curdled dust

backen sit

cradled rust

 

floor’s face

ceiling’s foe

dirt’s grace

buried toe

 

Human mulch

Tender rot

Bridged gulch

To the silent lot

Categories
Poetic Philosophy Ryder

A Place Loved

My home is a candle, an ocean,
A lapping, a purr,
A flicker and a church.
I live the space,
Beyond geometry,
Pure phenomenology,
A crescent, a sun,
An essence, a skin.
I behold and am beheld,
My shelves of my shell,
My stress, my virtue.
My house is a daydream,
A poet’s plaything,
A place of sweet pain,
My comfort, my fury,
Winter ache so blurry.
Do you feel my home,
My memories tied down,
My loud, my soft.
A place loved
Contradicts in the seams,
Addicts all dreams.

Categories
Poetic Philosophy Ryder

Image of an Echo

An echo is a ripple heard
A ripple is an echo seen
The breath is an echo felt
Love is the breath smelled
Sex is love’s taste
And Love’s taste is an echoed soul

Categories
Ryder Writing Journal

Klinenberg Notes

Klinenberg uses personal anecdotes in both articles, but for different reasons. In the scholarly article, it is an ethical appeal to show that Klinenberg knows what he is talking about and has seen his subject of study firsthand. He is demonstrating the jargon of “lived experience.” In the other article, he uses a personal anecdote more as an emotional appeal to the audience to convince them that this is important and that they should care. Scholars already care about this, so he doesn’t have to emotionally appeal them so much.

What is depacification? Only jargon like that appears in scholarly article. Klinenberg is making an argument in the scholarly way. His style is mostly but not entirely official, suggesting he has to conform to academic norms while still trying to add some of his own style.

Thesis: he argues that factors, like prevalence of fear, that disrupt communities and promote social isolation have prevented society from assisting certain social groups in emergencies. Klinenberg gives numerous examples and statistics as evidence for his argument. Personal anecdotes are more appropriate in sociology, which is in some ways is the study of personal anecdotes, than in other fields of study.

The book is still an intellectual and complex treatise on this tragedy, but it introduces and explains the main ideas of sociology (like urban morphology) in a manner that supposes the audience is smart but not familiar with the topic. He informs more than argues, though he is slightly critical of society as well, moreso than the scholarly article..

Rhetorical analysis is the why and how. Klinenberg is making a call to action in both articles, emotional appeals. Abstract is a story of a paper, intro of John Lasko is a personal story. I think these are conventional introductons, but understandable. These are tropes, not cliches.

Primary sources are original data that is coincidental with an event, with no interpretation applied.

Audiences read for different reasons. The scholars read for their jobs, whereas public readers read for pleasure. These readers elect to read. All rhetorical choices are about closing distance between the writer and reader. A poor rhetorical choice lengthens the distance between reader and writer.

Klinenberg uses stories in different ways. In Dying Alone, he invokes Pauline as an ethical appeal to prove his authority in the matter. He’s been there in person, and case studies are an important away of demonstrating ‘lived experience’ in a sociology article. While there is some emotional appeal to this story, it’s more as an example and a depiction of his theoretical concepts.

In Heat Wave, uses stories as emotional and dramatic appeals to encourage readers to keep reading. Donaghue, Lasko, and the mayor Daley all appear as dramatic actors in this social scheme to give the story more flavor. Klinenberg didn’t know Lasko so Lasko is less of an ethical appeal than Pauline even though both are similar examples. The historical narrative of the story is entertaining but not quite scholarly.

Categories
Environmental Philosophy Ryder

Kantian Ethics

Utilitarianism doesn’t account for standard wrongs like lying and murder so long as it creates a positive amount of happiness.

Kantian ethics, however, does account for these things. Kant separates “mere things” from rational (thinking) autonomous (self-governing) beings (RABs) who have a will. We ought not use RABs as mere things. RABs: most humans, sentient alien life or intelligent earth life, but not any animals we know of on Earth. So this is a very anthropocentric view. Some humans and animals are not exactly part of our full moral community, but we should still treat other people. We might not treat animals badly because if we do this, we would tend to treat other people badly too (a psychological explanation).

Things have instrumental value, a pragmatic use. RABs instead have intrinsic value, value in of themselves because of the nature of their being. To measure people’s worth in terms of their merit is to measure their instrumental value and not their intrinsic value. All this boils into the categorical imperative: Act in such a way that you treat humanity (all RABs), whether in your own person or the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.

Categorical: “under all circumstances,” Imperative: “what we should always do.”

Rationality is the ability to formulate moral principles and act upon them. Intension of respecting an individual is Kantian but intending to do good is utilitarian, not Kantian

A Kantian would probably argue that GMOs should be labeled because it’s their will to choose GMOs. Not labeling might be construed as lying, which is always wrong according to a Kantian. Lying is always using someone as an end. Lack of information too makes it hard for one to act autonomously. Are corporations inherently in violation of the imperative because their goal is always profit first and foremost which requires them to treat people as ends?

Categories
Ryder Speculative Fiction

Speculation on the Island of Dr. Moraeu

In the Island, H.G. Wells throws us from a ship to an island. I find ships to be speculative by nature, for the goal of ships is often to search and sailors must have good eyes. Ships are complex and science fiction to the layman. The culture of the ship is flux, hence it is a good transition into science fiction.

Islands are self-contained realities. Anything could be on an island and can be disconnected from the rest of mankind. Islands are thus the perfect lands for speculation. Speculation is like Heidegger’s notion of “worlding” taken to an extreme.

“Under his stringy black locks I saw his ear; it jumped upon me suddenly close to my face.” (ph 76) his ear jumped on him? Metaphor or reality?

When the main characters remembers Moreau’s name and fame and pieces everything together, the novel suddenly tastes of horror. Is it sci-fi or horror, and what really is the difference? Horror is often speculation, a visualization of immorality perhaps, or a pondering on intense but strange passions. Something about the narration makes the main character seem detached. He’s detached from reality. Almost perishing on the boat certainly derealizes you.

The book perhaps blurs lines of man and animal to stress a moral value of animals? Vivisection is a term of negative connotation now but was it as much in Well’s time? Is Prendick so against it? The tone doesn’t suggest too much of initial disapproval. This book is a questioning of science and curiosity gone too far.

Class notes (9/3)

Speculation — typical definition is conjecture, hypothesis, thinking. But all of its etymological roots are around seeing. Seeing is a mastery over the seen object. Empiricism, seeings is believing, etc. Hinges on things that you don’t see. Speculation often has a negative connotation “that’s just speculation.” You might project into the future to realize something in the present, as in economics and stocks.

“Deprivation of the present, throwing a thought into the future.” Prospecting, gambling.

Species as speculation. Definition: “appearance or outward form.” Immediate object of vision.

Species went from appearance to the essential qualities that determine a class, type, or category. Species is a term for money.

The island is anther world entering.

Prendick’s disgust is premised on a non-seen familiarity. He must speculate on his disgust. Vision fails. Another act must be introduced, an instinct. Prendick is a hyper-Victorian protagonist. He supresses his instincts. Classification is a type of seeing. This mode of seeing reminisces of racist classification. Foreign looking with the Middle Eastern turban and wrappings, so he can see very little. Foreign = strange, abnormal. Racial eugenic logic is a placeholder for abnormality. Wells has to not give . Seeing is a game, a power play.

Hearing seems to be more ethical. But Prendick, though empathetic, wants to leave. But as soon as he hears a humanish groaning, sobbing, he bursts in. Who is more animal and who is more human, Prendrick or the mutated ones?

Are our commandments against our human nature?

Prendrick describes the human-animal distinction, our identification with Prendrick hinges on his vacillation between instinct and rationality as determining the normalization of species.

Categories
Environmental Philosophy

Utilitarianism and GMOs

What is ethics? Beliefs about right and wrong, what we ought to do. Ethics could be based on: religious beliefs, the law, cultural beliefs, personal beliefs, reason.

Cultural relativism: acting with your culture is ethical, against is unethical.

Personal beliefs, moral egoism: you are always right. All ethics then becomes arbitrary. Personal beliefs may infringe on other people’s personal beliefs. What is the ‘reason’ behind a personal belief? It’s not something like disliking coffee, which is just an opinion.

Utilitarianism: pain is bad. Pain is ethically relevant. Therefore, shouldn’t we act to minimize the amount of pain in the world. Pleasure is good so we should maximize pleasure. Actions are measured in terms of their consequences for everyone affected. Each person counts equally, but greater pains and pleasures count more than lesser ones. Traditional utilitarianism is anthropocentric.

It still seems like you require intentions to morally evaluate an action: tobacco companies knew that tobacco was bad for you but denied this. This was wrong. But what if they hadn’t known it was bad, but still caused cancer and death. Is one case less moral? This does not seem like a utilitarian measurement.

GMOs Pros: droughts resistant, bacteria, more yield, tailored needs of people, cheaper, shipped farther, less insecticides, pesticides, more nutrients, advanced genetic research, insurance for farmer, profits for companies, more jobs.

GMOs Cons: consumers might be more prone to antibiotic resistant disease. Local farmers cant compete. Cost to farmers if they have to buy seeds each season. Seeds cross-pollinate to non-GMO crops, building monsanto monopoly, allows uniformed decision making, long term health effects unknown, out compete native/non-GMOs, all crops ready at the same time, monocultures.

Categories
Ryder Speculative Fiction

Intro to Speculative Fiction

Fantasy, horror, and science fiction require you to inhabit another world, they defamiliarize reality. “He died with a falafel in his hand.”

Categories
Criticism Ryder

Spivak on Subaltern

The logic of normalization is all boxification. Gilroy, you get to choose your box (the ship, the nation). Spivak: some people are outside the boxes. Britain tried normalizing many people in other countries. They trained classes of administrators in various countries. Different orders of Chow’s mimeses (mimicking) appear here. There are two versions of the governed, the class of the elite, and the people. Subalterns don’t fill censuses, get education, vote, etc. They are studied by the elite.

In short, the subaltern don’t speak. Charity workers, academics, religious groups, governments, and the elite speak for them. Non-subalterns interpret the violence of the subaltern. Subalterns aren’t individualized, they move in masses. Voters are. Illegal aliens are subaltern because they are not citizens even though they live in the US. You’re not subaltern because your ethnic or postcolonial. When the subaltern speaks, she is no longer subaltern.

The subaltern is the structural object. Is a bribed or bullied person who votes, still subaltern. Can you choose to be subaltern? No, it is visited upon you. You’re not speaking is a form of speaking. Having the choice makes you not subaltern from the start. Participation in democracy is something you have to exercise and renew frequently. You can be non-democratic but not subaltern as well. Subaltern isn’t an identity category, it’s a political category that comes from above.

It doesn’t matter who speaks for a subaltern, the subaltern is still so. Whether it is the white man or the brown man speaking for brown women, they both make her subaltern.

Categories
Criticism Ryder

Chen on Toxicity

Animacy: deals with sentience, movement, life and death, object-relationships. What is lost when we treat couches as dead and ourselves as alive? There is not such a strict dividing line between what is animate and what is inanimate.

What happens when bodies are infested by technology — pollutants and technology? Is this is an anti-Haraway move? Becoming a cyborg isn’t necessarily good and utopian thing.

Toxicity: is all metaphoric toxicity is real toxicity. But

What is the right scale to understand toxicity? Individual or demographic?

Once we embrace toxicity, it naturalizes toxicity — we all have a predilection to toxicity as a persistent danger. With toxicity comes purity. Toxicity is an opportunity for management (a Foucaultian), an identity tool. It’s like sexuality in that almost all of us might be abnormal in some way, we have abnormal sexualities, abnormal toxicities. We all have our toxic characters. We do many things to make ourselves not toxic, which often make us toxic.

Thomas the Train lickers have a toxic surrounding —

Like Spivak — once a demographic becomes visible, it becomes regulated.

Can the toxic speak? Are they subaltern? Toxicity is productive, not necessarily good, but produces groups and capitalist products.

Categories
Criticism Ryder

Haraway on the Cyborg

The cyborg is a condensed image of… this manifesto blurs the line of description and prescription. Our imaginations haven’t caught up to the fact that we aren’t natural anymore. This is the description. But to Haraway, this is a good thing, we do something with cyborgness. It’s fun to be a cyborg. We have to be responsible for the changes from natural to cyborg.

The cyborg is post-gender. We are already living in a post-gender world. No manifestos on the final exam.

Fat white guys have been superceded by technology in the informatics of domination. Everything is connected into the larger systems, the internet especially. Public arenas, workplaces, etc. have been dispersed and interfacted into nearly infinite, polymorphous ways. This changes how people are integrated into social units of various kinds. Patriarchy was about depriving women of a voice, so the informatics of domination give too much voice, drown women (and others) in discipline, entertainment, etc.

Our public and private lives have blurred. Facebook is both.

All of these terms on 2202-3 are the old vs. new. The individual vs. organization. Any of them could be master terms that everything could subsume under. There’s no retreat to a singular order of ‘nature’ anymore. We can’t go back to patriarchy or matriarchy, neither is a solution. We became cyborg by crossing from the left to the right.

Coding: we are programming life now. Life is a coding problem, we aren’t organic unities anymore. We switch out organs like they’re modular. Ecology is a dynamic language that we tweak. Anything that was ‘nature’ is a system of coding. DNA codes everything. It’s not all 1s and 0s necessarily, but it all boils down to the same logic.

We have been cyborgs to some extent since that we’ve invented writing. Derrida, we still have some non-writing outside of us, that we cannot completely absorb this thought. But Haraway, we’ve given up on nature, and we’ve fully absorbed coding.

We’ve moved on from identity to affinity. Identity is in our blood. It’s becoming more and more difficult to figure out which identity is the dominant one. We have a multiplicty of identity. We split into smaller categories “women of color” vs colored/women. But another way to acquire this multiplicity is to gain an affinity for something. Say we read novels looking for an identity compared to reading a novel looking for affinities of what moves you whether you identify with it or not. You like people who are near you, not just people who have your identities. The cyborg builds on the post-identity policy by building many affinities. Haraway likes monsters.