Monday, April 7, 2008

Infernal Desire Machines

This is my second go-round with this book, and it is still pretty weird. I enjoy it, however, and the seemingly endless array of tools it uses. There were a couple of things I wanted to explore during class but did not get the chance to, so I’ll just offer them in the blog.

We talked about hierarchal structures during class, coming to the overall dominance of patriarchal societies. Within the book, this is shown. The first page of the first chapter (p 15) defines cities as either male or female, with this one being “obtusely masculine.” Desiderio even goes on to later say that the Minister had become the city on page 28, the representation of what the city wants. What struck me, however, was the figure of the Cathedral, which was destroyed by Dr Hoffman. It was “the greatest national monument” (p. 29) and “stood for the spirit of the city” (p. 34); it was vitally important to the city. This struck me because of the possible inference to the Cathedral as being a female figure. It was described as “sublimely chaste” and the dome exploding like a “fiery parasol” (p. 29). The definitions of parasol I found often attribute their use to women, and the idea of being “sublimely chaste” seemed like trait that would be sought in something feminine. While this may be a bit of a stretch, I found the chaste statement to support the parasol one. If this is true, that the Cathedral is feminine, what could Carter be saying about one of the most important structures in the male city? What could she be saying about religion?

The other question I wanted to ask was about the idea of dreaming in this novel. Desiderio begins to explain to us how reality and dream continue to become one, and this continues throughout the novel. On page 30, his dream becomes his reality, as he explains that he awoke while still knowing he was asleep. From this moment on, his experiences continue to become subject to the “unreality” of Hoffman. What I would like to explore, however, is the passage on page 63, when Desiderio explains his experience with the Determination Police. He goes on to say that he should sleep to clear his head. If sleep brings about the unreality, is it possible for him to clear his head by rest? Just a few things.

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