needs, purposes, souls, and flight attendants

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Doctorow

"deadheading"-10

This is actually a word used in the flight attendant industry. Deadheading refers to when an attendant does not work a section of the flight (either coming or going) and sits like a passenger. I wonder if Doctorow saw the connection or arbitrarily chose the word. Regardless, deadheading in "Down and Out" is an exaggeration of the actual meaning.

"we can't remember what it was like to ear our keep; to worry that there might not be enough, that we might get sick or hit by a bus. We don't remember what it was like to take chances, and we sure as shit don't remember what it felt like to have them pay off" (11)

Humans need to feel. They need to contribute to society. That is what our unalienable right are all about: to allow participation in society. regardless of the need to work, it is a human instinct to do something worthwhile with your life. Royals don't need to work, but they are always holding fundrasiers and forming charities because they have a natural need for human fellowship. We need to feel something, even if it is pain. At least we feel it.

"you think you're going to be anything recognizably human in a hundred centuries" (12)

"I've seen about enough, and that'll be my last day" (12)

"There'll come a day when I don't have anything left to do, except stop" (13)

Humans were not meant to live forever. Eternal existence would have severe psychological effects on a person. A cure for death sounds good, but what reason does a person have to live forever? Each time the person is re-generated and re-born, they lose a little bit of themselves eacg time. Bodily features are different, and memory is altered. What will be the affect of a thousand deaths? Will anything be left over? What will be our purpose for going on and on...

"it was climbing steadily upward as he accumulated more esteem" (13)

I love the satire Doctorow writes. That is the real reason for acculmulation of money, isn't it? It is a symbol of approval. The poor are looked down upon and the rich are looked up to. Nice metaphor. Whuffie forces a person to confrom to society. If you don't act a certain way, your riches will decrease. It's a inadvertant sociological control device.

While the book is a little disturbing, Doctorow made some valid points. "everyone who had serious philosophical conundra on that subject list, you know, died, a generation before." (32). There was no need to fight against an opposition because they would fade in time. The Bitchums just had to wait; the circumstances would give them free reign.

"But you're not really an atom-for-atom copy. You're a clone, with a copied brain-that's not the same" (42)

Like I said earlier, there is something lost with every death. Is a soul something unique to the body, or can it be transferred? Memories alone do not constitute someone's character and personality. Animals have memories, but do they have souls? Many would say not. So what is the soul then?

*I have deliberately left out all the parts about memory. I will be saving them for my paper*

 

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1 Comments

I love the satire Doctorow writes. That is the real reason for acculmulation of money, isn't it? It is a symbol of approval.

Yes, the issues he addresses and the way he approaches such subjects is a sign of great sci fi. His satire reminds me a little of Philip K. Dick, also a great sci fi writer. THis is what makes the form powerful, the ability to convey powerful and contemporary issues in a futuristic, almost third person kindof setting. This perspective gives the reader the ability to analyze the problems within this futuristic world, and then relate them back to modern times.

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