April 5, 2005

Final pages: Galatea 2.2

Though Galatea 2.2 does not live up to this description:

"Dazzling...A cerebral thriller that's both intellectually engagin and emotionally compelling, a lively tour de force."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

it does have some redeeming qualities. However, I am not judging the "goodness" of the novel here. I am supposed to get something out of it aesthetically-speaking, right?


Everything in this course was put together in this novel. From Engine No. 9 to Eliza (274) to various philosophies of imitation vs. reality, they are all represented in this novel. If anything, it is a media tour de force.

One ideology that I would like to focus on is the imitationvs. reality concept throughout the novel. Lentz is the empiricist (inductive thinker), an Aristotle of the day. He is, at times, "fail[ing] to get away cleanly [from his belief that Helen is just a machine]" (260), but he invariably returns to statements, such as, "That's not consciousness. Trust me. I built her" (274).

Powers, on the other hand, begins to believe that Helen is conscious of her surroundings, of him... Lentz compares him to the student who thinks he is talking to a human, but instead reaches ELIZA. Nice comparison, although Powers disagrees with the apt assumption.

I really do not know. Helen is a bit of a whiz. I think I may be fooled by her synapses on anything BUT English composition.

Really, I couldn't help it. I thought, for the first 250 pages or so that this was a wonderful sleeping aid. However, when you hit the next remaining 130 pages+ the reader is brought more characters--more life--than Lentz and Richard Powers, and all of their overwrought banter.

As for the conclusion (there is a spoiler here), I think Powers champions humanity, stating that there is something in a human being, which cannot be attributed to a machine. Still, after Powers gives her the newspaper clippings and such--the real life; she is debilitated by this knowledge. People can cope with this, we are seasoned to grow numb to our world and accept, to a certain degree, the negative things.

I am reminded of May from The Secret Life of Bees. She, like Helen, cannot let the weight slide off of her. Instead, the dire state of humanity hits her and she cannot function under the weight of the world's pain.

The news clippings are my medium, and I think that it reinforces the idea that some mediums are more difficult to function in than others. Photography, journalism, film: they can all convey messages, which are not so pleasing to the eye, but some, such as the news in written and visual formatting can be lacking in optimism. A truism, I know.

Stepping away from Galatea 2.2, I see valid connections surfacing, but I think I need a little more time to wrestle with these ideas.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at April 5, 2005 12:21 AM | TrackBack
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