About Carly Janine

Writer, Librarian-To-Be.

Scholarship Application

 

 

This morning I filled out a generic scholarship application so I could hopefully qualify for some general scholarships that are offered at Palomar. There were two short essay questions.

The first essay question was to be less than 300 words, and pertained to our choice of major/profession.

Response #1:

English is my passion. I have always been a writer, always wanted to write. When I initially graduated high school in Houston in 1999, I received a scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Houston off of my college entrance essay. Sometimes it’s almost like the last 20 years never even happened. Writing is the only thing that I have always consistently loved. For a long time, I struggled with the idea of what I would do with an English degree. I don’t particularly want to teach, although I have a passion for knowledge and sharing information.

This love of information brought me to Library Science. Ultimately, what I would like to do is transfer to Cal State San Marcos and finish my undergraduate education in English. Once I have that, I would like to attend the San Jose State University online master’s program and receive a Master’s of Information and Library Science. I would love to become a librarian and work with the public.

I am impressed with Palomar’s Library Tech Program. Although I am focusing on the transfer credits I need for my English degree, I have concurrently been taking classes in Library Science to feel out the field and perhaps finish the certificate program in addition to my English degree. What I really lack so far is actual library experience, as I work and raise my daughter as well. To that end, I am seeking volunteer opportunities within local libraries and perhaps a part-time job at a bookstore, as entry-level library jobs are hard to come by. I do have hope!

My ideal life would be filled with books, paper, laptops, and words. I want to create worlds for people to read, comment on society, and ultimately serve society by becoming a librarian.

The second essay question involved outlining any struggles we face in our academic journey, 300-500 words.

Response #2:

In late 2013, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1. It is an illness that I have apparently struggled with my entire life. It was a very hard year for me. I lost my apartment when I could no longer afford the rent and had to move back in with my estranged husband. I had a nervous breakdown and lost my job and disappeared, fled town, for over a week. I was eventually found in San Francisco, and was arrested due to my conduct during my breakdown. It turns out the breakdown was a dysphoric mania episode with psychosis. I was hearing voices, terribly paranoid, I kept throwing away my cell phone and purchasing new burner phones, but I had nobody’s phone numbers, nobody to help me. My family had no choice but to leave me in jail for two weeks until I was sane enough to figure out how to bail myself out. They could not find a psych bed for me.

All’s well that ends well, but it took many psychiatric appointments and medication changes to find stability. I was on probation for two years, which I completed successfully. I returned to my career as a massage therapist and have been working steadily ever since.

In addition to my struggles with my mental health, which is thankfully well-managed these days, I also have a beautiful, perfect daughter named Molly. She is 7 years old now and in the second grade. Her father and I divorced after my breakdown, and while we have joint custody, she is primarily with me. I pick her up from school every day and we have grand adventures.

I figure if I work hard and continue my steady pace and getting good grades at school, I should finish my Master’s degree around the time she finishes high school. There is nothing I would enjoy more than being totally free to pursue a job as my daughter goes off to start her life.

I am poor. I am mentally ill. I am a single mom. I try not to tie my identity to these things, but they are a part of who I am. Being poor is something I can change, and while I know librarians are not rich, the idea of having a career that includes such things as pensions and benefits is amazingly appealing. I will work hard to make that future happen for myself, and for her.

***

It was difficult writing such short and important responses, but I hope I did alright, and maybe this year will be a little easier if I can snag some scholarship money. Wish me luck!

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Home Front USA: San Diego, California (World War Z Fan-Fiction)

Carly Janine

Professor Craig Thompson

English 203

12/11/17

Home Front USA – San Diego, California

[Chandra Poole is a white woman in her mid-30s. She is wearing crisp scrubs, and we are sitting on a bench in San Diego, California.]

I had just finished seeing a client, I was a massage therapist back in those days, before the great panic set in. I worked on the coast in Bird Rock, which is part of San Diego between La Jolla and Pacific Beach, on the coast. It’s a sleepy little town, most of the time, although it does get overrun with tourists regularly, hoping to climb down the cliffs to surf, or sipping coffee at the Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. We were just across the street from them, at the Bird Rock Massage Studio. Our place was tiny, just three treatment rooms, and very serene. I was off early in the day, as usual. What was unusual is that it was a Tuesday, and normally there are three of us on, but that day I was the only one that showed up to work.

This had me slightly concerned, but I figured something was going around or it was just the way things had fallen that day, maybe a sick child or bad traffic had gotten to my coworkers. I certainly wasn’t scared. So, I wandered across the street to the La Shore Deli and got my usual Crazy Chicken sandwich. It was always a beautiful sandwich, with avocado and bacon and sliced chicken. My favorite. The things we used to take for granted, right?

[I nod. She continues.]

Now, you’ve got to understand that San Diego was a heavily militarized city. We all felt safe. We had the Marines at Camp Pendleton. We had Miramar, 32nd Street, fucking Navy Seals in Coronado! Who would ever take out San Diego? Nobody. We always figured if we were ever a strategic target, we would be okay. There was heavy surveillance everywhere. There was desalinization, disaster preparedness of the general population was pretty high due to the regular fires and earthquakes. Complacency is what took out San Diego. We were so goddamn smug. There was an answer for everything. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack.

The funny thing is, the deli was still open that day. As I was saying, we felt safe. San Diego always had some under-the-radar military tests going on. We would hear strange booms in the night, or see lights in the sky. It was so common that people didn’t really question anything anymore. We also had a thriving homeless population, despite the lack of organized services to properly care for, process, rehouse and retrain them. Mental health services were scarce, and that was the year of the Hepatitis A outbreak. They were literally washing shit off the streets in an attempt to clean up America’s Finest City. That was our slogan, what a joke, right?

We had already heard some weird stories coming out of the Naval Hospital, stories of people flatlining then coming back to life, aggressive. Who would believe that crap? Not me, not any of us. It was outlandish and inconceivable. So, we kept going to work. People kept getting massages. Life was still rolling along. But the day I got my last Crazy Chicken sandwich, everything changed. I sat in my car, munching on my sandwich, sipping on an iced white mocha with soy. Another ridiculous luxury that I couldn’t afford even then, but I had them anyway. I turned on the radio, and was surprised that most of the stations I listened to were not playing music. 91x was only static. 94.9 and 105.3 still had people in the booth, and they sounded terrified. “Arm yourselves! Hunker down! You have to destroy the brain!” one was saying. Another was still trying to stay calm, telling people to get inside. I turned to NPR, who was already hosting calls from people encountering strange, undead creatures. What the FUCK?!

Where was your son?

He was with his dad. They were all together, my son, his father, his girlfriend, and her two-year-old daughter. They were in Normal Heights, and I was in La Jolla. All of my stuff was up at my place in Escondido, in a room I rented from a friend of mine. Everything was far. I tried to call, to text, but the cell lines were jammed from everyone simultaneously trying to do the same thing. I couldn’t get ahold of them.

[She looks off into the distance.]

I was really lucky. I had just gotten paid a few days before and had a full tank of gas. The panic was setting in, and the lines at all the gas stations were very long. It wasn’t long before the government took over all the radio stations, except NPR. I decided to try and get to my daughter first, before figuring out where to go. My GPS was still working, and the freeways were a nightmare. San Diego always had bad traffic, and now everyone was confused, and scared. I was trying to get away from the beach, while it seemed like everyone with any viable watercraft was trying to get to the shore. At first it wasn’t so bad, I took a circuitous route through Pacific Beach and although it was crowded, people were still being generally decent. When I got to the 8 outside of Ocean Beach, I decided to risk taking it. I was so close to Normal Heights at that point, just a few short miles East and up the hill out of Mission Valley, and I would be there.

Getting on the freeway was a mistake. Although it was still early in the outbreak, I heard reports of the hospitals being overrun. It was strange, losing the hospitals first. We couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t until much later, of course, that we learned that people receiving organs from China and Mexico on the black market were becoming infected. Tijuana fell almost immediately into chaos, and our border was soon overrun with the living dead. Normal Heights was less than 20 minutes from the border, and I needed to get to my child and get out of there quickly. But the freeway wasn’t moving. Everyone was scrambling to get gas, to get home, to get supplies. It was a nightmare. I decided to exit and loop up to Presidio Park to see if I could see a clear path to get through. I thought perhaps the mission building would be both a great place to scout from, and easily defensible. Ha! As if I had a weapon. I didn’t even carry a taser or mace for self-defense in my car. It took me about an hour to go the meager distance on the freeway to get to the park. I tried not to look at other people in their cars. Whole families, tents, pets were crying, yelling at each other, driving like assholes. It was lucky that I was going East, because the traffic going West, to the ocean, was intense and snarled. People were getting out of their cars and starting to hike, or just sitting in their boats trying to wait it out. They were sitting ducks. People poured in from Arizona, Nevada, Central California, coming to our famous port to try and get on cruise ships, anything that would float.

Presidio Park sits on 40 acres and is on a high hill. The mission itself was built in 1769 to serve as protection from attacking Indians and was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the USA. It had been restored, and was therefore defensible. I had taken my son there for pictures and picnics when he was smaller, before he started school. It was a good memory, but as I crested the hill and really began to look around, I pushed it from my mind. There were other people in the park, that had had the same idea I did. It wasn’t surprising, given that the mission overlooked the 8 freeway and was very visible to all those below, stuck in traffic. Many had hiked up with their gear, hoping to camp in the park, with the fort as a back-up retreat position. Some of them had ham radios, and I listened in, desperate for any details coming out of San Diego.

From atop the hill, I could see great military ships pulling away. I could see our famous Coronado Bridge off in the distance, and wondered if the “suicide bridge” wasn’t perhaps a better option. I shook the suicidal thoughts and focused on getting to my son. I looked more closely and listened to the panicked voices on the radios. A small aircraft had crashed on the 163, snarling traffic in both directions. Always a pervasive threat, fires had broken out in both North and East County, while the dry Santa Ana winds teased and spread the flames. Fire season was always bad in San Diego, and this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. North of us, towards Del Mar, I saw a whole fleet of hot air balloons. They were flying low, heavy, and I was thankful I couldn’t see too closely the horrors of what was happening in that direction, that people were taking off in hot air balloons to escape.

I had just decided that the best way to get to where I needed to go was on foot, following the trails that the homeless had made up the steep incline of Mission Valley to the South, up into University Heights and from there, to Normal Heights, when I heard the explosions. We all looked, stunned, as a series of detonations blew the supports from beneath the Coronado Bridge. It swayed, cracked, and imploded, dumping hundreds of cars into the water below as it came down. “THEY BLEW THE CORONADO BRIDGE! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT!” sobbed one hysterical man. “There were still people on it…” gasped another. And then echoing silence, before all the radios started squawking at once. None of us in my immediate area had even seen a zombie, but we had all seen them blow the bridge. Now reports were coming in that the Navy had quarantined Coronado. Did that mean that they were staying there? Were they helping us? What was going on? Nobody seemed to have a real answer. More news came in, and it wasn’t good. The North County fires had spread all the way from Bonsall to Oceanside, and begun to move both North AND South along the coast. The botanical gardens in Encinitas were ablaze, as was Legoland. All hospitals had issued orders to stay away, shuttering themselves with the horrors they had within. But of course, the undead were getting out, and some already WERE out, you know? But now we had fires burning uncontained, while a few brave firefighters stayed to try and stave off the worst of the spread. Inmates fought alongside them, battling both the blazes and the undead that were beginning to pop up.

I realized quickly that despite being in a good position, I had nothing. I had no supplies, no food, no idea what was going on with my son and my ex-husband and his family. People told me not to leave. We will share, they said. But I couldn’t stay, I needed to get out of there, for my own peace of mind.

So, you left? You were in arguably one of the best positions in San Diego at the time.

Yeah, since I was one of the few that managed to get my car to the park itself with a lot of gas in it, I decided to straight up trade it. It was a good trade, for me, I think. I got a backpack with some food, water, sunscreen, a hat, a handheld radio, and most importantly – I finally obtained a weapon of my own. It was one of those old school sturdy wooden shovels with a wicked end, you know, it wasn’t far off from being a rudimentary Lobo like those Marines created. It worked, anyway. I left the park on foot and made my way East and up the little jagged trails. I had to double back a lot since some of them ended in little encampments and the like. It was in one of these that I encountered my first zombie. It was getting close to dark, and although I was following the instructions others had given me (take a few steps, stop, listen, look, continue) I was still surprised. I stumbled into a little clearing and it lunged for me before I could even bring my shovel up. I had been using it as a walking stick. The zombie had obviously been one of our many homeless, wearing tattered clothing and it reeked of alcohol and piss more than decay. He had a long beard and was generally unkempt, and I could see the wound on his wrist – hell, his whole hand was hanging by a few ligaments and waggled at me as he lunged forward. He was bigger than me, and my stumble was lucky because I was off-balance, and I fell to the side. If I hadn’t stumbled, I’m sure he would’ve gotten me. While he was turning around, I brought the shovel up and jabbed it forward with everything I had towards his occiput, sending his head flying down the hill as his body crumpled next to me. I was panting, out of shape, scared, but victorious. That’s the closest a zombie’s ever come to taking me out.

I finally crested the hill into Old Trolley Barn Park in University Heights in full darkness. Many homeless lived in the canyons, but I had encountered few living things in the early evening. I took out two more zombies with my shovel as I entered the park, as quietly and quickly as possible. Everyone was saying it was safer to traverse the streets, especially if you were alone, despite the Armageddon that was unfolding all around me. I decided to avoid Adams Avenue, and took the alleys and side streets East until I reached Normal Heights. I could hear regular gunfire, and smell smoke. The radio told me that the trainers at Sea World had released all the creatures back into the wild, as had Scripps’ Birch Aquarium. I wondered what it was like to be in one of our sprawling amusement parks, or the mall, and shuddered. Balboa Park was a death zone, with the infected trapping people inside museums and the zoo, and I could hear their desperate pleas as I switched between different frequencies on the radio.

I could see our old apartment building up ahead, with its locked gate, and I thought of our tweaker neighbor with all of his weapons, and hoped. I had so much hope. It was stupid. They were dead, they had to be, but tears started streaming down my face and I ran the last few blocks, recklessly, loudly, with no thought to what I was doing. I had a train of zombies behind me when I finally stopped short outside the apartment. The windows on the ground floor were broken and had been boarded up, and there was a deep quiet coming from inside. I stopped and turned and started fighting them off. Ten, a dozen, I lost track. I recognized some of the zombies from runs to the corner store and Mariposa Ice Cream. I whirled and sliced, and felt nimble as they were so slow and clumsy. But hungry. Being overconfident was dangerous. I couldn’t make this kind of rookie mistake again. It was finally clear, and I used my key to get into the courtyard. All the apartments on the ground floor, including my exhusband’s, were abandoned. It was dark, and quiet, although in the distance I could hear screams. More gunfire.

The tweaker neighbor, Dennis, suddenly poked his head out of a window from one of the upstairs units. “Chandra, get up here!” he hissed. I bolted up the stairs and there were my old neighbors, huddled in a circle with a pile of weapons and some candles burning. They were mostly elderly and disabled. “Where are they?” I asked. “They waited for you, Chandra, as long as they could, but we heard the military is evacuating people out of Qualcomm Stadium. I haven’t heard anything official, but they waited for hours then hoped you would get the word, so they left. They took your son, all of them together in the Camry. They’re gone.”

Despair washed over me like a wave, threatening to tow me under, to take me back to the suicidal place. I sank to my knees and started sobbing. Why had I left the mission? This was a hopeless scenario, and now these people had nobody to protect them. Where was my son?

Did you ever see them? Did you find your family?

[Chandra ignores the question and continues.]

I felt so defeated right then. I had come all this way only to be denied my son, and now resented these people that suddenly needed protecting. What had they ever done for me? But that, too, was useless thinking. I was exhausted, and I slept then. I slept with my hands gripped around the handle of that shovel, and I let Dennis watch over the others for four hours. I woke up feeling much better, though somewhat unrested. Dennis filled me in on what I missed during my nap, which was the fall of Balboa Park and downtown. Everyone that had evacuated to Petco Park was gone, fallen to the homeless and hoard of zombies pressing northward and westward from Mexico and Arizona. Everyone was to stay clear of downtown, the freeways were now certain death, and the coast was choked with people trying to evacuate via boat. I briefly considered traveling back to Presidio Park, but just as quickly rejected that idea as going backwards. I don’t go backwards, I go forwards, always. I decided to press on to Qualcomm Stadium. I figured since the trolleys were no longer running, I could cut down Texas Street BACK into Mission Valley, and grab the trolley tracks near the Rio Vista station and walk along them to get to the stadium. Rumors were flying on the radio that they had everything there that we could need, food, supplies, helicopters and other people-moving aircraft sent down from Miramar. I would get to my son, or I would die trying. My neighbors begged me to stay, and I thought of how we could all go together, but I knew they would slow me down. I promised to return for them, and left Dennis in charge. We waited through most of the day without much incident, though we saw occasional packs of undead shamble through the streets. I failed at sleeping some more, and as the sun set, I left. I never saw them again.

What happened to them, did you ever find out?

No. All of North Park and Normal Heights was suffering. It looked like a war had already occurred. I got out of there. It took me a full night to reach the Rio Vista station, and when I got there, a trolley was sitting at the station, on fire, and full of zombies. They groaned and shuffled and stank as they burned. None of them pushed the buttons to open the doors, thankfully. I set out and walked through the dawn towards the stadium, on the tracks. Have I mentioned that I’m scared of heights? Do you know how high the tracks run to drop you off at the stadium? Well, it’s fucking high. It was hot, windy, and I was terrified. I was more scared of walking that distance on the tracks up above the city than I was of the zombies, at least in that moment I was. But arrive I did, and Qualcomm was a mess. I saw no helicopters. No people-movers. Only chaos. There were thousands of people there, and some infected, but there were a lot of guns. They kept going off, and bullets would rip through the soft flesh of the infected and tear through other people. There were doctors, nurses, medics from the military. One whole section was devoted to caring for those who had bullet wounds and other injuries from the quick downfall of society. I looked everywhere for my son, for his father. I checked the field, the bathrooms, walked every surface. When I didn’t find them I broke down, sobbing. People were arguing all around me some hopeful of imminent rescue while others sought to fortify, or venture out. It was overwhelming, and loud, and smelly. I hated it there.

Eventually, I pulled myself together and went over to the medical area to offer my services as a massage therapist. With my knowledge of anatomy, I was quickly assigned the task of helping to bandage the wounded, doing everything the stressed-out nurses and doctors could instruct me to do, often with their hands deep inside someone else, looking back over their shoulders with approval or corrections as I fumbled with the unfamiliar tasks. I was so slow, and so clumsy, but it was good to have something constructive to do and keep me occupied. Days passed in this manner, with us taking turns minding the wounded, taking out the occasional flatliner that turned, and sleeping in shifts. The rest of the stadium melted away for me, the rest of the world. I was completely absorbed in my tasks.

Is this how you became a doctor?

Yes, in a way that was the start of my apprenticeship. When we lost most of the doctors in the initial outbreaks within the hospitals, people were desperate. Even before they started the retraining and resettlement programs, there were these unofficial apprenticeships taking place. People banded together, became close, and naturally started sharing information. I basically started my medical training on day three of the great panic in San Diego. Things went to hell so quickly. The military was called off mostly to other locations, and those that refused to leave, those that didn’t defect for home, or Canada, stayed to help and protect us. There were bunkers, and the often-rumored FEMA camps, not to mention border patrol detention facilities and jails and prisons. But it seemed anywhere people were gathered together, someone would either smuggle in the infected, or a few people would get bit and start turning. These cases were easy enough to take out, at first, but later on, when we had writhing masses of zombies pouring in like ravenous snakes, it was not.

That was after we had established fire-watchers on Mt. Laguna and Palomar Mountain. It was dangerous up in the hills, but with the fires racing back and forth at the mercy of the wind, the best we could do was keep track of where they were and try to warn people. So many died in the fires, with the freeways blocked and the coast a mass of zombies and those fleeing them, or fighting, or the quislings that we didn’t have a name for at first, you know, the people that imitated zombies? They seemed to be a global phenomenon. We would see zombies suddenly set upon one of their own, then hear screams. It was terrible.

How long were you at Qualcomm Stadium?

A few weeks. Can you believe we managed to hold the stadium? Some evacuees and East County-born militia men with their seemingly endless supply of ammo. I mentioned though, that guns were not my favorite weapon due to the number of regular humans that were shot. I still use my shovel. It saved my life many times.

[It lay next to her, a gardening implement with a sharpened shovel-end, smooth of splinters and cracks, decorated with random bits of paint and marker.]

But what about your son?

I never found out what happened to them after they left in the Camry. I looked forever. I will never stop looking for my son. Some nights I lay awake and try to picture him out there. Has he become a feral child? Are the four of them still alive, hunkered down, waiting out the inevitable? Or did they die. I hope they died. I hope it was quick and painless and free from fear. I hope we can continue, all of us, but I don’t see it. Even now, with the farming and resettlement in progress in the western states, it feels hopeless. Everything does.

[Chandra grasps her shovel and stands up. The interview is over.]

The Two Mickey Wolfmanns

Carly Janine Gutierrez

Professor Craig Thompson

English 203

11/28/17

 

The Two Mickey Wolfmanns

In Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon follows the adventures of Doc as he tries to track down the elusive and mercurial Mickey Wolfmann, among other cases. A central figure, Mickey Wolfmann is a real estate developer who has a change of heart, or rather mind. He creates the Channel View Estates while at the top of his game, conning residents into moving into this atrocity that overlooks an ugly waterflow channel, and displacing the previous tenants of the neighborhood. Much like the mystical island of Lemuria, emerging from the sea, Mickey’s conscience breaks through and he has a change of heart. Mickey realizes that charging people for somewhere to live is wrong, and as a rebuttal he creates a newer, more beautiful property in the desert known as Arrepentimiento, which is Spanish for repentance. Mickey Wolfmann wants to atone for the pain he has caused by creating a sanctuary and charging no rent, and it is beautiful. Where Channel View Estates stands for capitalism, greed, and disconnection from the world around it, Arrepentimiento is the opposite. Representing free society, humanity, and connection, Arrepentimiento is a utopian dream. Not merely a housing development, it was to be its own entity, a city rising up naturally from the desert, supporting all those who would call it home. But Arrepentimiento was doomed, as was Mickey’s change of heart.

Wolfmann’s Channel View Estates is all about money. It does not blend into the environment, and has been called an eyesore and worse. When Doc inquires about Mickey Wolfmann’s whereabouts to his Aunt Reet, she responds, “…I’m told Mickey’s been spending time out at his latest assault on the environment – some chipboard horror known as Channel View Estates” (Pynchon, 8). The units in Channel View are definite, everything is laid out and completed, and rent is very expensive. This construction priced out the previous inhabitants of the neighborhood. Everything about the Channel View Estates reeks of capitalism and the void, a devotion to the mighty dollar and the physical items it can buy. The view isn’t even pretty. During a conversation with Crocker Fenway, Doc is told, “Sounds like you’ve been talking to His Holiness Mickey Wolfmann. You’ve been out to have a look at Channel View Estates? Some of us have moved heaven and earth, mostly earth, to keep that promise of urban blight from happening” (Pynchon, 347). Doc and Crocker Fenway both dislike the Channel View Estates, but for different reasons. Either way, it is a dark smear upon the neighborhood, garish, and without conscience.

Unlike the Channel View Estates, Arrepentimiento is built to be a free utopia. It blends into the landscape, a maze of “zomes” and rock. It is difficult to make out the individual units, and all the details surrounding the actual floorplans are hazy, fog-like, and obstructed. It isn’t a definite anything, more of a sprawling idea. As Doc and Tito arrive, “They came over a ridge, and there, down a long slope into a valley whose river might’ve vanished centuries ago, was Mickey Wolfmann’s dream, his penance for having once charged money for human shelter – Arrepentimiento” (Pynchon, 249). This dream of Wolfmann’s had some roots. At the Kismet, Fabian told Doc, “Mickey dated a lot of showgirls back in his day, loved the town, old Vegas dog from way back, built a house out by Red Rock. Also had this dream about putting up a whole city from scratch someday, out in the desert” (Pynchon, 240). Arrepentimiento was a genuine passion of Mickey Wolfmann’s, and the fact that it is now abandoned, incomplete, is sad. This awakening of Mickey Wolfmann’s was very important, a moment of clarity, a tremendous shift. Unfortunately, it was not to last. Much like Lemuria, Arrepentimiento is a utopia lost to the people.

Arrepentimiento and Lemuria are similar. Both represent an idea of utopia, equality, and commitment to humanity. Construction has ceased on Arrepentimiento, and Lemuria has been lost to the Pacific Ocean, perhaps forever. This shift shows an overall shift in the mindset of the citizens of the United States, and Southern California in particular. Even Doc is starting to change, realizing the amount of danger he is in. “Doc brought Denis along for, well maybe not muscle, but something like that, some kind of protection he hadn’t realized till lately he needed, a boost for his immunity against the shopping plazas of Southern California, for a desire not to desire, at least not what you found in the shopping malls” (Pynchon, 348). Not merely a bodyguard, Denis was a reminder to Doc to keep his perspective, to not fall prey to the desire to consume. Capitalism was beginning to crowd out the free-loving hippie lifestyle. No longer connecting, people were fragmenting, becoming sucked into their own worlds while believing they were staying informed. “He thought about Sortilege’s sunken continent, returning, surfacing this way in the lost heart of L.A., and wondered who’d notice it if it did. People in this town saw only what they’d all agreed to see, they believed what was on the tube or in the morning papers half of them read while they were driving to work on the freeway, and it was all their dream about being wised up, about the truth setting them free” (Pynchon, 315). A desire exists not to face reality, to disappear within their lives and agreed-upon perspectives, and to ignore the disappearance of such beautiful things as mythical utopias and hippie mindsets.

This tumultuous shift shows up in other places in the book. Doc and Bigfoot have an interesting dynamic, always influencing each other in strange ways and crossing paths, with Doc representing the hippies and Bigfoot the straights. Doc and Shasta have an undefined relationship that ties into the idea of return, and coming home. The Golden Fang itself is so many things that it cannot be defined in any quantifiable way. Through it all, there is Mickey Wolfmann, used to leading and winning, becoming a pawn in the hands of the FBI and the Golden Fang and the mob, allowing himself to become murky and undefined, if only for a little while. He is even described in such a way, when Doc spies Wolfmann at the Kismet, “The blurred glimpse Doc got was of Mickey in a white suit, wearing much the same look he had in his portrait back at his house in the L.A. hills – that game try at appearing visionary – passing right to left, borne onward, stately, tranquilized, as if being ferried between worlds, or at least bound for a bulletproof car you’d never get to see in through the windows of.” (Pynchon, 243). He is “blurred” and it is a “glimpse” and he appears “tranquilized” so for all we know, this is barely Mickey Wolfmann as he is in reality, at all.

We first hear of Mickey Wolfmann at the beginning of the novel from Shasta, and then Doc calls his Aunt Reet for some background information. She spouts off, “Westside Hochdeutsch mafia, biggest of the big, construction, savings and loans, untaxed billions stashed under an Alp someplace, technically Jewish but wants to be a Nazi, becomes exercised often to the point of violence at those who forget to spell his name with two n’s. What’s he to you?” (Pynchon, 7). He sounds like a violent and unpredictable but powerful man. Surrounding himself with the Aryan Brotherhood and arms, he is protected like a king piece in chess. Mickey Wolfmann is at war with himself, locked in an inner battle between the hippies and the straights. While Wolfmann is back to his old self at the end of the novel, it’s possible that in the future there could be more growth from him. After his experiences at Chryskylodon and out in the desert, time with Shasta, time with the Golden Fang, seeds have been planted for Mickey Wolfmann to become a better man and use his money for good. As Boris relayed, “What Mickey said was, ‘I wish I could undo what I did, I know I can’t, but I bet I can make the money start to flow a different direction’” (Pynchon, 150). The idea has been planted that he is in control of the flow of money, and it can be used as he sees fit to influence the world in good ways. Perhaps a more responsible Mickey Wolfmann lies ahead. Doc and Bigfoot are discussing Mickey and his change of heart, and Doc is bemoaning the fact that he is back to his old self again. Bigfoot responds, “Well, maybe not, Sportello. What goes around may come around, but it never ends up exactly the same place, you ever notice? Like a record on a turntable, all it takes is one groove’s difference and the universe can be on into a whole ‘nother song” (Pynchon, 334). Mickey Wolfmann is a complicated man, fighting against who he is inside, and his creations reflect his inner turmoil.

 

 

 

Anne Carroll Moore & the New York Public Library

Carly Janine

Professor Forney

LT100

11/16/17

 

Anne Carroll Moore & the New York Public Library
ACM01

Anne Carroll Moore and her work in the New York Public Library was groundbreaking. She brought literacy and literature to children in a public library setting by introducing children’s libraries to the New York Public Library System. Born in Limerick, Maine in 1871, Anne Carroll Moore was always opinionated and ambitious. As a child, she had seven older brothers and a horse named Pocahontas. Initially, Moore wanted to be a lawyer like her father, but following the untimely death of both her parents to influenza, and the loss of her sister-in-law, she dropped out of school to care for her brother’s children.

Eventually, “ACM” as she was called behind her back, was to find schooling at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Mary Wright Plummer was in charge of the librarian program at Pratt, and she implemented a children’s room at their library. In The New Yorker article, “The Lion and The Mouse,” Jill Lepore writes, “In 1896, Anne Carroll Moore was given the task of running…the Children’s Library of the Pratt Institute” (Lepore). Moore worked at the Pratt Library for 10 years, running their children’s library and learning about children and literacy before being hired on by the New York Public Library in 1906. ACM was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Work With Children and oversaw the creation and opening of the shiny new New York Public Library in 1911. “[ACM] not only oversaw the children’s programs at all the branch libraries but also planned the Central Children’s Room. [It] became a pint-sized paradise, with its pots of pansies and pussy willows and oak tables and coveted window seats, so low to the floor that even the shortest legs didn’t dangle” (Lepore). The level of thought and care that ACM put into planning the space for the children is self-evident. There were many factors that contributed to Moore’s ascension to greatness.

The time period when Moore lived was key to her success as a librarian. When she was growing up, libraries were beginning to spread like wildfire, but most of them still didn’t let in children. “Between 1881 and 1917, Andrew Carnegie underwrote the construction of more than sixteen hundred public libraries in the United States, buildings from which children were routinely turned away, because they needed to be protected from morally corrupting books, especially novels” (Lepore). But Moore worked hard to change all that. “In each of the library’s branches, Moore abolished age restrictions. Down came the “Silence” signs, up went framed prints of the work of children’s-book illustrators” (Lepore). She created a warm and welcoming environment for the children, and sought to have them feel comfortable and wanted. Unlike before, the space was geared toward enticing children to read, not shunning them from books.

Anne Carroll Moore brought literature to children, and not just any books. She had a high standard and critical eye for new works, ensuring that the books were of good quality and engaging content. In “Moore Than Meets the Eye” published by the School Library Journal, Julie Cummins writes, “Moore’s name was associated with the standards of excellence she brought to children’s books–standards that laid the foundation for the newly emerging fields of children’s librarianship and children’s publishing” (Cummins). It was only natural that spending so much time among children’s literature that Moore would become a book critic. She had opinions and was unafraid of sharing them with the world. “From 1924 to 1930, Moore reviewed children’s books…[Moore] could be a tough critic, especially of books that violated her rules…but merely in bothering to regularly criticize children’s books Moore was ahead of everyone” (Lepore). Not only was she a critic, she was the first children’s book critic, ever. “The year 1918 also saw Moore join the staff of the Bookman, the chief American literary journal of the day. Moore wrote a regular column of criticism of children’s books, the first sustained criticism of its kind in any journal and the very first modern children’s book reviews” (Cummins). Unafraid of failure and undaunted by the times, Moore was truly a literary pioneer.

Inspiration

While ACM’s contributions to the literary world are unmistakably important, she also was in the right place, at the right time, and around the right people. She had inspiration coming from all directions. On the final pages of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, Jan Pinborough lists some of her inspirations. “Anne Carroll Moore did not singlehandedly create the children’s library. A group of strong pioneering women librarians around the country also helped blaze the trail:

  • 1887, Minerva Sanders creates a children’s area in a public library in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
  • 1894, the Milwaukee librarian Lutie Stearns gave a speech calling for children of all ages to be allowed in libraries.
  • 1896, Pratt Institute, Mary Wright Plummer opened the first library room designed specifically for children and gave Miss Moore free rein to implement her ideas, including the first version of the famous library pledge.
  • 1904, Caroline M. Hewins, who had campaigned for free libraries, opened a children’s library room in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • 1914, the Brooklyn librarian Clara Hunt designed a branch library just for children” (Pinborough).

It is clear that without Mary Wright Plummer’s mentorship, that Anne Carroll Moore would never have achieved the level of success that she did. Plummer took ACM under her wing, and the ten years of experience working in the children’s room was vital to her securing her position at the New York Public Library.

Innovations

Opening up libraries to children was something new and innovative in the early 1900s, but Anne Carroll Moore took that idea several steps farther. “Much of what Moore did in [the children’s] room had never been done before, or half as well. She brought in storytellers and, in her first year, organized two hundred story hours (and ten times as many two years later). She compiled a list of twenty-five hundred standard titles in children’s literature. She won the right to grant borrowing privileges to children; by 1913, children’s books accounted for a third of all the volumes borrowed from New York’s branch libraries” (Lepore). The sheer amount of work undertaken by one person shows how dedicated and intelligent Moore was. She was always thinking of the children, first and foremost. “Miss Moore organized reading clubs and invited musicians, storytellers, and famous authors like Dr. Seuss to entertain the children” (Pinborough). The personal relationships that Anne Carroll Moore developed during her career as a librarian benefited the children of New York most of all. She wrote long letters to authors, illustrators, publishers, and when these people came through the city, they would inevitably stop by the library.

Not only did she create a space truly for children, that fit their sizes and tastes and interests, the way she appealed to them was unique, and the people she chose to serve them were, as well. “In 1924, [Moore] hired the African-American writer Nella Larsen to head the Children’s Room in Harlem” (Lepore). ACM also hired Pure Belpre, who was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. “Three writers whose books stemmed from their storytelling experiences as librarians at the New York Public Library during Moore’s time are Mary Gould Davis, Anna Cogswell Tyler, and Pura Belpre…[who] was also the first to record stories from her native land and was a pioneer in preserving its folklore” (Cummins). These tales of diversity do a lot to support the idea of Anne Carroll Moore being a forward-thinking and inclusive person. At a time when others were looking at race and ethnicity to divide, “[Moore] celebrated the holidays of immigrants (reading Irish poetry aloud, for instance, on St. Patrick’s Day) and stocked the shelves with books in French, German, Russian, and Swedish” (Lepore). Her focus was always on the children and their needs, what would make them more comfortable. “Often, Miss Moore would reach into her handbag and pull out a wooden doll named Nicholas Knickerbocker. Children who were just learning English felt less shy about talking when Nicholas was around” (Pinborough). The way she reached out to bring literacy to all children is something to be admired.

One important thing that the children gleaned from their library visits was a sense of responsibility and accountability. In addition to a ledger where children signed their name to check out books, Anne Carroll Moore also had them recite a pledge. “When I write my name in this book I promise to take good care of the books I use in the Library and at home, and to obey the rules of the Library” (Lepore). There were a lot of very poor families in New York in the early 1900s, and having the books to read and learn and grow from must have been an amazing new experience to many.

Perhaps ACM’s most famous innovation, among librarians, was her creation of the Four Respects. “First was respect for children. They were to be treated as individuals, not talked down to, and all their requests for books were to be considered seriously. Second was respect for children’s books themselves. They were to be well written, factually accurate, and sincere; and they were not to mix fantasy with reality. Third was respect for fellow workers. The children’s services staff was not to be considered as a separate (and lesser) entity, but rather as a vital part of the larger library. Cooperation among the departments was the key to success. Fourth was respect for the professional standing of children’s librarians. Their training and expertise in children’s books and reading merited recognition as a professional specialty” (Cummins). Moore recognized that everyone working together on equal footing, with the children on equal footing as well, would lead to a sustainable environment of learning.

In 1918, an enduring endeavor was undertaken. Anne Carroll Moore collaborated with Franklin K. Mathiews from the Boy Scouts of America and Frederic Melcher, editor of Publishers Weekly, in Room 105, a famous meeting place within the New York Public Library. “As a result of the three Ms’ collaboration, Children’s Book Week was founded as an annual event in praise of books and reading” (Cummins). Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country, according to the Children’s Book Council. Now over a hundred years old, it is impossible to quantify how much impact this book week has had on the youth of America.

Controversy

In Anne Carroll Moore: A Biography, by Frances Clarke Sayers (who was Moore’s successor at the New York Public Library) Sayers says “There was no wavering. Once [Moore] had arrived at an opinion or fixed her goals of accomplishment, nothing could shake the strength of her belief in her own infallibility” (Sayers, 120). This was to come back to haunt her. Moore’s influence grew and grew throughout her 35-year career as a librarian and children’s book critic, until she tried to interfere with Stuart Little. “The end of Moore’s influence came when…she tried to block the publication of a book by E. B. White. Watching Moore stand in the way of “Stuart Little,” White’s editor, Ursula Nordstrom, remembered, was like watching a horse fall down, its spindly legs crumpling beneath its great weight” (Lepore). But what happened?

E.B White and Moore were friends and pen-pals; she had been encouraging him to write a children’s book via letters for years. In fact, “Moore had come to think of recruiting E. B. White to the world of juvenilia as her final triumph…”Stuart Little” was to be Anne Carroll Moore’s lasting legacy to children’s literature. In her mind, it was her book” (Lepore). This controlling aspect of her personality showed up in other areas of her life once she retired, as well. “[ACM] still showed up for meetings at the New York Public Library; she still ran those meetings, dismaying her successor, Frances Clarke Sayers, who tried switching meeting places, to no avail: “No matter where you held them, she was there.” (In an oral history conducted at U.C.L.A. in the nineteen-seventies, Sayers admitted that she found it all but impossible to stand up to Moore, who made her life “an absolute hell” by refusing to cede control: “She hung on to everything.”)” (Lepore). In America, working is akin to identity for many people. Perhaps the idea of giving up her career was too much for Anne Carroll Moore, and she simply could not let go.

Or perhaps, she was always overbearing. “A certain amount of anxiety was entailed in working under ACM” (Sayers, 128). It is embarrassing, that “To the Whites she sent a fourteen-page letter, predicting that the book would fail and that it would prove an embarrassment, and begging the author to reconsider its publication” (Lepore). Not only did Moore discourage E.B. White from publishing Stuart Little, once it was written, she completely blackballed it. “The real blow came when Frances Clarke Sayers, presumably acting on Moore’s orders, refused to buy “Stuart Little” for the library, sending a signal to children’s librarians across the country: “Not recommended for purchase by expert” (Lepore). Having Sayers refuse to purchase or recommend the book was a horrible blow, but ACM went even farther. “Moore, in her rage, fallen but still kicking, seems to have used her influence to shut “Stuart Little” out of the Newbery Medal, a prize awarded by a panel of librarians, including, that year, Frances Clarke Sayers” (Lepore). Of course, many millions of people have read Stuart Little, so how did that come to be? Teachers saved the book, and of course, their young students. “Anne Carroll Moore tried very hard to ensure that schools would ban “Stuart Little.” Some did. But some schoolteachers decided, instead, to teach the book” (Lepore). After several letter-writing campaigns, many teachers began teaching E.B. White’s mouse novel, and over time, it’s popularity outgrew any dissent.

Lasting Legacy

Anne Carroll Moore was at her best when she was encouraging children to read, and writers to write for them. The effect she had on her staff was amazing. Many of them went on to become “children’s book editors, authors, and illustrators” (Cummins). This mentorship of her staff was perhaps her best quality. Eventually, all careers must start to wind down.  “When Miss Moore turned seventy years old, it was time for her to retire. Some people thought she should sit quietly at home. But Miss Moore thought otherwise. Her friends at the library gave her a set of luggage-with a small green suitcase for Nicholas- and she traveled across the country, teaching more people how to make good libraries for children” (Pinborough). ACM was a tireless warrior, fiercely bringing literacy to children around the country.  “Her dedication to literary excellence and the legacy she left behind as the creator of children’s services at the library are unlikely to be surpassed” (Cummins). Anne Carroll Moore’s unique position of power within the literary community was legendary. Whatever else can be said of her, Anne Carroll Moore was a champion of literacy and that is her greatest legacy.

 

 

Works Cited

Cummins, Julie. “Moore Than Meets the Eye.” School Library Journal, vol. 45, no. 7, July 1999, p. 27. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.palomar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=2082058&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Lepore, Jill. “The Lion and the Mouse.” New Yorker, vol. 84, no. 21, 21 July 2008, pp. 66-73. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.palomar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=33250720&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Pinborough, Jan. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

Sayers, Frances Clark. Anne Carroll Moore: A Biography. Scribner, 1972.

Fall 2017

This semester is nearly over. We only have three weeks left after Thanksgiving this week! It has been very challenging for me, taking Intro to Library Services and English 203 at the same time, while working two jobs and watching my sweet daughter. I had to register for Spring 2018 last week, and I will be taking Spanish 2 (5 units) and a research literacy class (1 unit) for library tech.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of ceasing my library technician classes for awhile. I am really enjoying the program at Palomar, and I would like to finish it and take on an internship or two. But I also really want to focus on getting my credits for my English major so I can transfer to Cal State San Marcos without having to be at Palomar 3+ years first. Most librarians I’ve talked to seem to be of the mind that I don’t NEED the library technician certificate, but I DO need library experience. So basically, I would graduate faster if I just focus on my major and volunteer at libraries in my “free time” instead of the internship. I still think an internship would look good, so I’m not totally decided, but I do know I’m not taking 7 units of two different writing-heavy classes at the same time again!

There are still so many classes I have to take. Speech, Biology, American Indian Studies (instead of US History), Intermediate Algebra so I can take Statistics, some literature classes, some writing electives like Intro & Intermediate Creative Writing… When I start making the list I get stressed out and feel like I will never finish, so I try not to look at it. But I do need to meet with my counselor again and figure out exactly what all I have left.

I’m so happy I got A’s over the summer. I tanked my library services grade by turning in a bad report when I ran out of time a couple weeks ago. Time management can be so tough. I currently have a B in both my classes, but I want them to be A’s! It doesn’t help that my library professor is the chair of the department, AND my English professor is the director of the writing center. I wanted so badly to impress both of them, but I am just being average.

Over the summer, I was so nervous and stressed out that I told both my professors that I had bipolar disorder. I haven’t broken down and done that this semester, but it may have helped with my report snafu. I know there are mental health services on campus and I could get some kind of note that gives me longer deadlines, but I haven’t wanted to admit that I have a mental disorder. I should consider it, though.

I am going to start volunteering in my daughter’s classroom for Art Class, if the school approves me. I have to get a TB test next week, then fill out a form disclosing my misdemeanor and the reason for it. “Hi, I’m crazy, can I volunteer?” *sigh* My mother offered to pay the fee to expunge my record, which I need to do in order to pass a background check to work with teens/kids at a library. I can’t wait until I can stop explaining my mental breakdown to all sorts of officials, but that may never go away, expungement or not.

I’ve enjoyed both my classes this semester, but have felt particularly drawn to my English class. I guess it’s good that is what I am majoring in. But I also enjoy all the research and information from my Library Services class and have yet to change my mind about becoming a librarian, which is something people seem to keep expecting me to do. No way, man. I’m getting this BA in English/Creative Writing from Cal State San Marcos, then a Master’s of Library & Information Science from San Jose State University. It’s going to happen, assuming I can continue to feed myself and stay in California until I graduate.

I can already feel changes on the horizon. Something within me, restless in my heart, is stirring. I am finally at a time in my life when I can devote myself to school, and my kid, and it feels so good. Some days I long for a place to live, just me and her, where everything is clean and nice and food is on the table. I would love to be able to host people again. But would I be lonely? Perhaps, perhaps I would at that. My roommate and I have such a special relationship. We shall see what happens over the next six months!

Anyway, I thought you could use a break from my essay posts. Hoping to get some words down in my book next semester, since it’ll be the first one where I am NOT taking a writing-heavy class. I want to finish my sci-fi story, I want to finish my bipolar disorder book, I want to get going on publishing. I want it all, right now. But I guess in its own time will work.

The Tragedy of Miss Lucy

Carly Janine

Professor Craig Thompson

English 203

11/08/2017

 

The Tragedy of Miss Lucy

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go touches on what it means to be human, how important ethical science is, and the concepts of acceptance and fate. He paints a dark picture of humanity and what happens in the lives of clones created for organ donation. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are essentially very lucky, very sheltered clones raised in the protected environment of Hailsham. They are given educations, distractions, and senses of purpose. Kathy is driving Tommy through the woods towards the end of the book, and Tommy breaks a long silence and says that he agrees with Miss Lucy, not Miss Emily. He’s talking about whether or not to shield the clones from their knowledge of their fate as they mature. Miss Lucy wants to tell the students everything and fully prepare them for their fates, dashing their dreams. Miss Emily wants to encourage their souls to grow, and keep them protected, safe, and happy until they are old enough to understand what is happening. While Miss Emily’s approach sounds beautiful, in reality it is the cruelest option. Allowing the students to dream of better lives, having jobs, families, when it is not a possibility, doesn’t serve them. Miss Lucy could have been more thoughtful with her big reveal to the students. She was frustrated and going against the grain of the administration of the school by speaking out to the students directly at all about their purpose. However, she was truly doing them a kindness by telling them about their organ donations, lack of options, and ultimate fates.

Seeking a deferral of their donations, Tommy and Kathy go find Madame in her home, long after graduation and the Cottages. At this meeting, Madame and Miss Emily are both present, and they give their reasons for sheltering the students. Madame doesn’t truly view the clones as human, and admits fault, when she says, “Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans?” (Ishiguro, 254). She had been listening to their story and theory about the Gallery, before presenting Miss Emily. When Miss Emily comes forward, she presents with her general misplaced positivity, “As for myself, whatever the disappointments, I don’t feel so badly about it. I think what we achieved merits some respect” (Ishiguro, 256). She goes on to tell them that the true reason for the Gallery was, in fact, to prove that the clones had souls at all. Hailsham itself was one giant experiment, created to show society that clones had souls, deserved compassion, and should be treated humanely, so long as they ultimately fulfilled their purpose. But society did not want to know. With the closing of Hailsham, thus ended hope for the likes of Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy.

After they confront Madame and Miss Emily, Tommy mentions, in reference to his bouts of anger growing up, “Maybe I did know, somewhere deep down. Something the rest of you didn’t” (Ishiguro, 274). Tommy isn’t certain that he believes he had always known, but in a way, all of the students knew from hints and rumors growing up, what would eventually become of them. This nebulous knowledge hung over their heads, and in Miss Lucy’s perfect system, this never would have happened. Under Miss Lucy’s guidance, the clones would have full knowledge of the entire process from the time they are young children. Hailsham administration could have allowed Miss Lucy to teach classes, preparing them for their true purpose, while continuing to nurture their minds and souls. On-site therapy to deal with the knowledge of what humanity has done would have been helpful. Ultimately, with the proper education, the students would grow to be well-rounded adults.

While Miss Lucy was not overly successful in her attempt to educate the students, her talk did stick and resonate with Tommy and Kathy. It is while overhearing two students talk about becoming actors that Miss Lucy snaps, telling all the students gathered around her about their fate and the fact that none of their dreams will come true. The students are fifteen years old when Miss Lucy says to them in the pavilion, “Your lives are set out for you. You’ll become adults, then before you’re old, you’ll start to donate your vital organs. That’s what each of you was created to do” (Ishiguro,81). While they all remembered the incident, they also allowed it to pass, become foggy, and ultimately took no action in terms of self-preservation because of it. This is because she was forced to inform them in a hurried, under-the-table sort of way. Had the administration allowed Miss Lucy to educate the students properly, they would have been better prepared for the lives set out for them, and perhaps been able to change their fates.

A rebellion is exactly the sort of thing that Hailsham would have wanted to avoid, and do avoid, by scaring the young students away from the forest. “There were all kinds of horrible stories about the woods” (Ishiguro, 50). These stories kept them from exploring, keeping them blissfully unaware of the brevity of their lives. Although it takes some time for the clones to accept their fate, the flights of fancy, such as looking for “possibles”, and having “dream jobs,” “dream futures,” never lasted. The three main characters handled the knowledge of their ultimate purpose very differently. Ruth always had to believe in something, have drama, attention. Tommy struggled with his anger and lack of creativity, often howling into the void. Kathy dreamed of having a baby, but of the three, seemed the most suited to accepting her fate as a carer. Tommy believes it is because she has not yet been called up for her first organ donation herself. As the narrator, unreliable though she may be, Kathy truly depicts the humanity of the clones.

Of the three main characters, Ruth would have fared the worst under Miss Lucy’s system, mostly due to the fact that she thrives on belief, stories, drama, and attention. Knowing early on that none of these things would ultimately help or save her may have broken Ruth. But perhaps not, it is possible that with therapy and a strong curriculum, Miss Lucy could have gotten through to Ruth, and she could have become self-aware much earlier on, and given Kathy and Tommy the opportunity to be together, have many more years of love. Ruth comes to regret her meddling, near the end of her life, and she says to Kathy, “The main thing is, I kept you and Tommy apart…That was the worst thing I did” (Ishiguro, 232). Ruth goes on to urge Kathy and Tommy to seek a deferral from Madame on the basis of true love. She truly changes.

Tommy seemed to struggle the most out of the trio, having such problems with his anger growing up that he is bullied mercilessly through his younger years. Something was always lurking in his subconscious, telling him that nothing he did would ever be good enough to save him from his fate, and that it wasn’t even worth trying. Had Tommy been fully educated early on, his anger could possibly have dissipated, replaced instead with knowledge and acceptance that comes to him much later. He would have wasted much less time with Ruth and made certain that Kathy was his main focus for what years they could have together. Tommy says to Kathy, “You and me, right from the start, even when we were little, we were always trying to find things out. Remember, Kath, all those secret talks we used to have?” (Ishiguro, 284). A great tragedy of Tommy’s life is that he gets to spend so little time with Kathy before he completes.

Kathy herself seemed to be the strongest and most stable of the main characters. She longed for a baby, although she knew she could not get pregnant. She loves Tommy from afar, and they stay in touch as much as they can through the years. Kathy is loyal and doesn’t really speak up for herself, allowing Ruth to manipulate her over and over again throughout their youth. Once she becomes a carer, she is very good at it and is able to advocate for her patients without issue. However, being a carer is a tiring and lonely life. Kathy spends her life waiting to be called up for organ donation, and never is, though by the end of the novel she is, perhaps soon, to be called up to a center and then have a carer herself. Kathy creates a fantasy of seeing Tommy approach in a field when she drives to Norfolk, after he dies. It is telling of her nature that even when her friends are gone, she still obediently continues to drive to work, to be where she was “supposed to be” (Ishiguro, 288). Had Kathy been given a more thorough understanding of her ultimate fate, perhaps she could have gotten out from under Ruth’s power a bit, and seen earlier on that what she had with Tommy was the most precious thing in her life.

Miss Lucy’s system would have better served the students, better prepared them for life as clones, and left them overall happier and more well-adjusted than being in the dark. Had Miss Lucy had some support, it is possible that she could have helped to change the way Hailsham operated. This was a big threat to Miss Emily’s philosophy and approach with the clones. Ultimately, Miss Lucy never had the chance to change the lives of the students at all and that is the biggest tragedy of Never Let Me Go.

Deckard and The Toad

Carly Janine

Professor Craig Thompson

English 203

10/18/2017

 

Deckard and The Toad

 

In Philip K. Dick’s dystopian novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the question is posed on what it means to be human versus what it means to be an android. Where humans have the capacity for empathy, androids do not. It is this primary difference that truly separate the humans from the androids. Rick Deckard is a particularly unempathetic human for most of the novel, referring to his Sidney’s guide regularly on how many androids he needs to retire to get what animal. He is more concerned with having a living animal to care for as a status symbol than he is with the lives of the androids he retires on a regular basis. However, at the end of the novel, and after a very long day, Deckard retreats to the wastelands of Oregon and has a spiritual experience, during which he finds a toad. After his trials and tribulations in retiring the Nexus-6 androids and having an affair with Rachael Rosen, who then decides to kill his new goat in a most grotesque fashion, Deckard begins to see that the lines between the human and android are perhaps blurred, and that these technological creatures have their own emotions and drives and perhaps deserve life, such as it is offered to them. By the time Deckard discovers the toad is electric at the end of the novel, he has developed a sense of empathy toward androids and other electric creatures. This character evolution of Deckard’s is the primary catalyst in his reluctance to continue to retire androids. Deckard begins to accept that perhaps these beings have their own lives and fates, and questions his role in their demise, making him then more human.

The novel begins with the introduction of Rick Deckard and his wife, Iran. They are having a fight and using their mood organs, which are devices that stimulate or suppress the thalamus, offering a variety of moods to choose from in different combinations. Iran says, “My first reaction consisted of being grateful that we could afford a Penfield mood organ. But then I realized how unhealthy it was, sensing the absence of life, not just in this building but everywhere, and not reacting – do you see? I guess you don’t” (Dick, 5). She refers to Deckard’s insensitivity, and the way he can just ignore the impossibilities of life and go to work every day. Iran actually schedules herself for depressive moods, and in general seems far more in tune with the oppressive world than does Deckard. Iran also refers to the lack of population, as most humans have emigrated away from Earth. This crushingly lonely world does not seem to have any effect on Deckard, but the fact that he has an electric sheep instead of a living one really does. At the outset, all that motivates Deckard is money and status.

It would be unfair to say that Deckard had never contemplated his actions, but he considered androids to be lone killers. “Rick liked to think of them that way; it made his job palatable. In retiring – i.e., killing – an andy, he did not violate the rule of life laid down by Mercer. ‘You shall kill only the killers,’ Mercer had told them the year empathy boxes first appeared on Earth” (Dick, 30). By viewing androids as cold killers, it was easier for Deckard to do his job. Wilbur Mercer is the central figure in Mercerism, which is seemingly a theology of sorts, that allows for empathetic connection to other humans. By using a device called an empathy box, only humans can upload their consciousness into this shared experience. Within the experience, the old man, Mercer, toils up a hill while being attacked by mysterious forces. Other interesting things can happen within the realm of the empathy box, bringing the remaining humans closer together and reminding them of their shared humanity.

With a clear conscience, Deckard heads in to work to get down to the business of administering the Voigt-Kampff empathy-measuring test to Rachael Rosen, and continuing his hunt for the Nexus-6 androids on his list. As he attempts to administer the test to the opera singer Luba Luft, she calls an android police officer to come take Deckard in. It is at this mysterious, fake police station (full of androids) that Deckard first encounters another bounty hunter by the name of Phil Resch. It is Resch that actually retires both his superior Garland, and Luba Luft. Resch acts as a foil for Deckard, and is symbolic of the changes he is going through. Resch differs from Deckard in that he is ready to kill with any excuse, without hesitation. There is a lot of speculation as to whether Resch is human or android himself. Eventually he is proven human, and he owns a squirrel named Buffy, however, he lacks a certain amount of empathy. It is easy for Resch to kill, where for Deckard all the criteria must be met in order for him to retire androids. Deckard buys a copy of an art print for Luba Luft shortly before she is retired, and states upon her death that he is getting out of the business, after claiming the bounty, of course. On Phil Resch, Deckard ruminates, “You’re a good bounty hunter, Rick realized. Your attitude proves it. But am I? Suddenly for the first time in his life, he had begun to wonder” (Dick, 133). This self-examination is new, and Deckard is really starting to struggle with his work.

As Deckard began to question his place within the world, he surprises his wife by showing up with a newly-purchased goat. He tells her of his newfound empathy toward androids, and together they give thanks by fusing with Mercer via their empathy boxes. Shortly thereafter, he calls Rachael Rosen to get her help and they immediately have an affair at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Rachael reveals that she knows he will be unable to continue to hunt androids after being with her, as she has seen it in all the other bounty hunters she had been with, aside from Phil Resch. Perhaps to prove her wrong, Deckard goes on to retire the remaining Nexus-6 units that same evening. Perhaps unused to being wrong, or from some sense of jealousy, Rachael retaliates by throwing Deckard’s poor new goat right off of his roof.

Both humans and androids enjoy watching Buster Friendly. He is a TV personality and he acts as a foil for Mercer. Where Mercerism is all about empathy, compassion, and connection, the message of Buster Friendly is one of isolation and despair. Humans feel ultimately good, or at least affected, by fusing with Mercer and enjoying their shared experience. Towards the end of the novel, Buster Friendly is discovered to be an android, and he shockingly reveals that Wilbur Mercer is actually a human named Al Jarry, and that the images seen within the empathy boxes are all filmed and staged. Mercerism is a fake, and so is Buster Friendly, but Mercer is real. He appears to both Isidore and Deckard, offering advice and bringing gifts. This theme of being both real and not-real appears throughout the novel and culminates with the finding of the “real” toad. Deckard is so excited to have found a real animal out in the wastelands, while being permanently fused with Mercer. He toils up a hill, as Mercer does, and is even struck by an errant stone. The toad is sacred to Mercer, and believed to be extinct. Deckard is so excited, he puts the toad in a box and takes it straight home to his wife. Iran is the one that discovers the control panel that shows the toad to be electrical. While disappointed, Deckard says that he would prefer to know. Deckard then says to Iran, “The spider Mercer gave the chickenhead, Isidore; it probably was artificial, too. But it doesn’t matter. The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are” (Dick, 222). This shows that he believes the toad to be a gift from Mercer, and also just how far he has shifted from being a cold-hearted android-hunter to a softer, more compassionate and empathetic version of himself. In this world, the androids and humans are both living on borrowed time. If Deckard can evolve so much in one day, perhaps there is hope for humanity, and for them to coexist with androids.