Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fun with Postmodernism

I strongly agree with Thomas. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman holds similarities with “Apocalypse Now” (Thomas said Heart of Darkness). What seems so interesting is the story of Desiderio. He encounters many different people and cultures, but in the back of his mind is always this mission to kill Doctor Hoffman. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow pilots the boat into Africa for his own enjoyment. Captain Williard’s tale in “Apocalypse Now” is very similar to Desidero’s tale.

That being said, I would have to The Infernal Desire Machines from a post colonialist literary perspective (which previous bloggers have commented on). What makes this story interesting to the perspective is the idea of post modernism. When indigenous people bow down to Captain Williard or Kurtz, that is to be taken as a sign of imperial superiority. But since The Infernal Desire Machines is a post modern piece of literature, the book satirizes this concept of imperial superiority. Desidero says, “it was quite possible to feel that they [the river people] were not fully human” (73). Most post colonialist literature gives this feeling of inhumanity, but few pieces of post colonialist literature actually comes out and says it. The absurdity of the sentence (as well as many others) makes this book easier to understand as a piece of a post modernist satire.

This idea continues throughout “the River People” chapter. Carter writes, “I [Desiderio] found the perfect place to hide from the determination police and a never-before-longing in my heart now found itself satisfied” (76). This begins to tackle concepts of social Darwinism. The belief that the River people are removed from the world banks on the notion of inferiority. Even more ridiculous is the second part of the sentence. The longing in his heart to join the river people implies that Desiderio thinks he is part of the natural. It also implies his wish to leave “civilization” (92). The notion that Desiderio leaves civilization to join the river people is a piece of social Darwinism. Desiderio may leave European culture, but he does not leave civilization. Once again, since Carter is a postmodern novelist, she understands that many writers before her (Conrad, for example) implored these post colonial images, and now she has the chance to poke fun of them.

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