Category: McCoy 101 Fall 2017

A Search For Hidden Messages

Although we finished Zulus a couple of weeks ago, I have been meaning to write this post about Everett’s hidden work. Throughout the novel, there are many questions that go through our mind wondering, was this done on purpose? There are two things that stuck out to me in this novel, which I have never noticed before in any other literature work, thus, the purpose of this blog is to critique Everett’s writing choices. These include: using alphabets as chapters and misspellings throughout the novel.

In Zulus, each chapter opens up as an alphabet and follows through in chronological order with a brief description that references to philosophers, writers, and artists. Does it make sense? No. Honestly, if anything it was distracting and if one were to skip the alphabetical vignette, he or she would not miss much. Not only was it confusing it was also misleading. We would read the description, wondering if it will help us understand what the chapter is about or not. Sadly, it did not help. So why would Everett use alphabets as his chapter headings, rather than the typical numbers? Although the author use of alphabetical chapter heading was indeterminate, we, the reader, can interpret it as connections being made that required in-depth research. Out of all the twenty-six chapters, chapter “A” was the most understandable. “A is for Achitophel” (pg. 7). When initially reading the intro of the chapter, it was the only introduction that actually included a word that was related to the story. Much like the chapter headings to be confusing and ultimately chaos, so was Alice Achitophel’s life. The main character in this story is, Alice Achitophel, and it follows through her journey, as being the only woman left on earth that is capable of bearing a child. Sadly after she was raped, believed to be pregnant, and commits an act of resistance, Alice Achitophel sees her life, the way she sees herself. In other words, she sees herself as a fat person trying to let her thin self out, similar to herself as being a fertile women in a world where the government stresses infertility. Ultimately, a social outcast in all cases.

Whenever we pick up a book, we assume it to be edited perfectly. No grammar errors and definitely no misspellings. However, throughout the novel we have noticed obvious misspellings. Such as “diary” instead of “dairy” (pg 126), “prigknot” instead of “pregnant” (pg. 216 ) and last but not least “fecunt” instead of “fertile” (pg. 216 ). Leaving the audience to wonder, was this done on purpose? Or do human beings have this unintentional tendency to detect faults over merits? This reminds me of a video I watched recently, where the teacher is writing down instructions to a math problem. In these problems, majority of the problems were right, however, the teacher on purpose wrote the wrong answer to one of the problem. Shortly after, one of his students enthusiastically raised his or her hand to correct his teacher’s mistake. At the end of the video, the lesson the teacher wanted to present was that, similar to the example presented in his classroom, many people do this in their daily task. By doing so, he emphasized that it is human nature to overlook information presented correctly and that more often incorrectness is pointed out over normalcy. Or could the misspellings just be typos? If there were just one or two, I could believe that, however, there were clearly many misspellings. Another explanation for the double meaning of the misspellings is known as the term, doublespeak. Doublespeak is a language that purposefully obscures, disguises, and distorts the meaning of words. Doublespeak is usually done to distance one from the truth. An example of where doublespeak has been used before is in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Orwell used this literary device to hide the truth or to make the truth sound more pleasant. Similar to Zulus, 1984, is about a dystopian literature, where there are characters trying to find a place to be themselves in a totalitarian government. In Zulus, this could have been done to keep the reader more aware while reading. While we are reading, our eyes catches the mistake, which then we process as if it was a mistake or not, and then correct the sentence with the right word. Thus, creating a process to help the reader better understand the novel.

While I was trying to figure out Everett’s hidden messages, I wondered, as a student aspiring to become part of the medical field, are these mysterious works a gain or loss? Is it better to be direct, clear and to the point to your audience or concealed in order to try to get your message thought through? (Similar to how Everett does it) Let me know what you think, I would love to hear your opinion.

Humanity in Death

I really enjoyed Taha’s blog post, Rest In Peace, in which he discussed the idea of putting people out of their misery and how in Zone One, Mark Spitz has the mindset of doing just that. He is ultimately finding the humanity within the skells, whether he wants to or not. But because they are blood and flesh thirsty zombies, you would think they don’t have any humanity left at all.   Read more

Who Would Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Though I’d like to (and I will) get into the actual content of the book, Zone One by Colson Whitehead soon (seriously, I’m really liking it so far),  I’d like to briefly discuss something that caught my eye in the first few pages of the novel.

“He was their typical, he was their most, he was their average.” “He staked out the B or the B chose him: it was his native land, and in high school and college he did not stray over the county line…” “… He was not made team captain, nor was he the last one picked. He sidestepped detention and honor rolls with equal aplomb.” “His aptitude lay in the well-execute muddle, never shining, never flunking…” (Page 11)

Read more

PTSD vs. PASD

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the term PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We’re used to hearing about PTSD it in the context of war and active combat, it’s also prevalent after experiencing natural disasters, car accidents, sexual assault, and other life-threatening events. However, in the novel Zone One by Colson Whitehead, a psychotherapist named Dr. Neil Herkimer presents a new diagnosis: PASD, or Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder.  While I was reading about the condition, I was wondering why it wasn’t just called PTSD. I assumed that an event such as the one the novel focuses on (the apocalypse) would fall under the same category. After googling and reading more about PTSD, I realized how wrong I was.

 

Both conditions entail symptoms such as changes in sleeping habits, weight gain or weight loss, nightmares, feeling jittery and paranoid, loss of energy, trouble concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death, dying, and suicide, as well as negative thinking in general. These are only some of the existing similarities.

Read more

Consent

Throughout the book Clays Arc there has been a reoccurring theme of a lack of consent. Consent is the permission from both parties for something to happen or an agreement to do something. The characters in Clays Arc, Blake, Keira, and Rane, have been taken away from their homes without their consent, and have been forced to live in hiding. While living in these homes they have come into contact with a deadly disease that has been spread onto them yet again without their consent.

Consent is black and white. Unfortunately the struggle of consent has been prominent for decades. One major topic relating to lack of consent is medical experimentation on slaves. Although slavery no longer exists, the repercussions are still relevant today. According to this Daily News New York article, protesters demanded a removal of  a Central Park statue of 19th century doctor who experimented on slave women. The doctor’s name was J Marion Sims.  The article writes, “Sims, a South Carolina native, is considered by some to be the ‘father of modern gynecology.’ He developed a surgery to treat a tear women sometimes suffer after childbirth and founded the first hospital designed specifically for women in 1855. But Sims honed his craft in the 19th century by carrying out a series of experimental operations on African-American slave women — without using anesthesia.” Although Sims may have thought he was helping these women, he did not take into consideration the unethical work he was committing. Consent is not something to take lightly. It occurs daily whether it be intentional or not. I believe it is important for students to be informed about the topic of consent to help diminish possible problems in the future.

Communication

Sakshi has brought up an awesome point in her blog post. The whole concept of people saying “I don’t see color” is pointless. The only thing that is happening is people are avoiding the issue all together. We can all pretend that racism doesn’t exist but what good will that do? It won’t fix the issue at hand – it will just keep happening. Talking about an issue is what’s going to fix it.

I am a supplemental instructor for organic chemistry and recently I was learning the most effective ways of teaching or tutoring students. One of the worst things you can possibly do as a tutor is giving the students an answer to a practice question. It is important to talk through the question and help them reach the answer on their own. One of my favorite lines to use when someone asks me a question that I know they should be able to answer using basic knowledge of the material is “I don’t know, you tell me.” It might be annoying at first and students hate it but it makes them tell me their thought process. As we go through the thought process, we adjust it so that they could solve a similar problem in the future. So my point is avoiding talking about an issue or just saying its bad is like giving a student the answer without explaining it. They get absolutely nothing from it.

Communication is very important when it comes to analyzing and fixing a problem. Earlier this semester we read in Medical Apartheid about doctors who only communicated with like-minded people and prevented African American doctors to work in hospitals. “Until three or four decades ago, these researchers were speaking only to their like-minded peers – other whites, usually male and rarely of the lower classes.” (Washington, 10)  They also prevented communication with the world and only other doctors were able to understand the recordings. “The medical jargon in which such research papers are couched is often impenetrable even to well-educated nonmedical people.” (Washington, 12) This causes a sense of skepticism within the African American community. Doctors were no longer trusted which hurt African American health in general. There was also no one who was able to be a voice of reason for these doctors. Doctors are very intelligent but even they make poor decisions as Avery talked about in her post.

I believe communication could fix majority of the problems. The key is to be open minded and listen to the perspective of others. Every person has developed their standing on an issue based on facts and experiences they have encountered in their lives. Hearing out ideas of others could lead to middle ground solution to a problem at hand. Also talking over issues with children would build a solid foundation for dealing with major issues in their future.

A New York City Infection

For all intents and purposes, I am a New York City girl. Although I grew up in Westchester, I have been going in and out of the city about twice a week since the time I was sixteen. I was fourteen when my parents let me go on the train by myself, I was sixteen when I got my heavily used metro card and I was eighteen when I got my first summer internship in the city; going through the hustle and bustle of the NYC five days a week from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. So for some odd reason, I feel some sort of comfort as we are reading Zone One like I have the upper hand advantage on this one.

It is true that I have never been infected by a disease that turned me into a zombie, but I very well could be. The line that altered me to this fate the most was, “Just another day at the office when she gets bit by some New York whacko while loading up on spring mix at the corner deli’s Salad Lounge. Full of plague but unaware” (p.18) . This line made me giggle as we were reading aloud in class because it was a scene that was almost all too familiar in the scariest sense possible.

When you are in the city something chances, it is almost like the rules change; your expectations change. The ways that you interact with someone in the suburbs is totally different from the way you interact with that same person in the city. If someone were to bite you in the suburbs, you would have stopped what you are doing, told the manager, called the police, probably told the town paper and altered everyone that you know about this problem. In the city however it goes like this; someone bites you, you stop, you roll your eyes, maybe curse at them, and then continue on with your day. I cannot even fault the woman who was infected because it is the way that I, as well as almost every other New Yorker, would have handled this situation. This book works so well because it is so true to its setting. It is the way that New Yorkers would have interacted and while it might shock some who don’t know NYC, it is a complete and total representation of life in the city.