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April 11, 2006

Two Worlds

Stephenson, Diamond Age 1 (rescheduled from 14 Apr) -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

This book is very interesting. I find myself very confused at some parts and at others very interested. I feel that the reason that I get confused is because Stephenson has created a world, and with that world terms and ideas that are foreign to our own. However, in the foreign place we can still see similarities to our culture that cause us to stop and think.

Neal Stephenson does a great job of portraying two "worlds" in this book. To me, I can see the street-life in Shanghai compared to the more upperclass life of Atlantis. He seems to go on back and forth between two cultures leading us to believe that there will be some kind of connection between the two in the future. Bud seems to be a character that is trying to survive anyway he can. It was a little different for me reading about a character like this because we're not used to having a "killer" or a "bad guy" point of view. In a way, it made me as a reader uncomfortable about reading this. I was able to identify a little more with Hackworth because he is more of a noble character.

Something that I thought was noteworthy was that, especially at the beginning of the book, Stephenson gives us the idea that the human body is becoming a tool. An example is the skull gun inside of Bud's head. It also mentions the devices that make Bud gain muscle. It seems that this futuristic world more focused on advancement than of values and saftey for the human race. This is also shown with Nell and Harv, during the first time that we meet them. Their mother, Tequila, is not even a part of their lives. They use technology to make themselves matresses and Nell is amazed by the machine so she makes some more for her babies.

The only thing that is puzzling me is the exact time-period that this is taking place in. Stepheson describes Finkle-McGraw as a 70-year-old man. Then during the biography of his life it talks about Iowa City and South Dakota and it seems as if they are talking about our American culture. What I don't understand is how did this change occur so quickly in a matter of 70 years? Feel free to comment!

Posted by AndrewLoNigro at April 11, 2006 09:52 PM

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Comments

Finkle-McGraw does seem to harken back to a time when his midwestern American values were very much what we're used to seeing. The book is set in the mid 21st-century, so Finkle-McGaw could be about your age now.

When you look back at the life of somebody who was your age in the 1950s, how many things that we take for granted now seemed like completely futuristic things? Regular transcontinental and transoceanic commercial airline flights... telephones small enough to put in your pocket... web pages and iPods and DVDs and multiplayer online computer games, the subject matter of TV shows, the way friends are connected through IM and FaceBook.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 11, 2006 10:43 PM

I totally agree with you Andy on the fact that our world is more focused on trying to figure out how to become more advanced than about poverty, the economy or wars. It is really scary to think about. What is the human race coming to?
I also like how there is a two world type theme to the book. But as of now, I am a little confused on what is going on. There is so many minor aspects to the book, that I can not find the major point.

Posted by: Denamarie Ercolani at April 11, 2006 10:56 PM

I was rather surprised that Stephenson creates this character of Bud, draws us in with him and his drug-peddling violence, only to kill him off after a few chapters. It's a nice spring board into the rest of the characters, and Bud acts as a bridge between Judge Fang and Tequila.

I am curious if he will play any further part in the story.

Posted by: Mike Rubino at April 12, 2006 11:34 AM

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