Tag: blog post 3

We Enter a Time of Great Calamity!

I saw fields and fields of black, it was this disgusting black shit, spread for miles. I saw walls of
concrete fall from the sky and crush little wood houses. I saw a furry animal trying to stand up on its legs
but the back ones were broken or not working, and it dragged itself with the front ones, whimpering,
through someplace with gray dust, and needles coming out of the sand. Its jaws were open.

This is one of the images Titus sees during one of the times his feed is hacked. The image is described as a landscape of “black shit” with destruction and death all around. He also makes a point at mentioning a furry animal with broken legs dragging it’s way across a ground sprouting needles.

By doing a traditional close reading, we can see that the “fields and fields of black” is a model for what the world is beyond the feed. It can be inferred that much of the hacking is images of the world beyond the feed, actually. However, the fields of black are also like a pollution, with the word choice “shit” giving it sludge-like quality.  This pollution is similar to the constant bombardment of ads the characters receive upon going literally anywhere throughout the novel, as the ads have the same encompassing quality, they cover the feed, leaving little to see beneath them.

Titus also mentions seeing the destruction of houses via concrete falling from the sky. While this could be happening in real time, it also represents the eventual destruction of the mind via the feeds. The wooden houses being the encasing (skull) and the sudden intrusion of this heavy object is too much on the mind and is massive foreshadowing to the fates of those who use “the feed”. This is further foreshadowed by the animal Titus sees, with the animal being specifically about Violet’s proverbial wooden house being smashed beneath sky concrete. Later on in the novel, Violet’s legs start to not work due to her exposure to the feed, much like this animal. The animal’s attempts to drag itself through the sand and needles, which-assuming the animal is meant to represent predominantly Violet-can be related to FeedTech’s denial of her maintenance request due to her vague customer profile. In other words, her mind is now like a desert and all of the little needles are the strange products she feigned interest in, now harming her, the poor little animal with broken legs.

The vision comes full circle with the positioning of the animal’s jaw: wide open. The position is similar to the first time the characters were hacked on the moon. Everyone with their mouths agape, almost like a scream. What is it that they are all shouting, though? The exact same thing:

“We enter a time of calamity.”

Anderson, M. T. “Nudging Again.” Feed. London: Walker, 2013. 76. Web.

Feed MT Anderson (This is how I read Feed, just in case the page numbers don’t correlate, this is why).

Distant Reading: Dracula

Dracula is a well known classic by Bram Stoker. I have never read this novel, so I chose it for this assignment. The only things I knew about Dracula before doing this distant reading was that it is considered a Horror novel about a vampire which is exactly why I’ve never read it. I did not know any of the characters names or the setting of the novel.

One question I had was, “Who are the main characters?” Using the website, Voyant, I found that the main characters were named either: Jonathan, Helsing, Lucy or Mina. The word count for Helsing is over 300, Mina and Lucy are over 200, and Jonathan is over 100. Despite being the title character, the word count for Dracula is in the novel only 31 times which wasn’t enough to make it onto the word cloud. I thought that was interesting because I had assumed Dracula was the main character.

Another question I had was about the setting of the novel. The word “Night” appears 310 times and the word “Godalming” (I looked up and found that it is the name of a town) was used 85 times. The words “room” and “door” are also listed a lot. That makes me think that Dracula is set at night inside a home in a town called “Godalming”. By using Voyant, I could also know about the time period the novel was set and written in because of some of Stoker’s word choices. “Shall” is not a word that we normally use today, but it is in Dracula 426 times and is the second most frequent word besides “said”. The only time I ever see someone use the word now is when quoting a classic.

One thing that Voyant and the word cloud failed me in is finding words that could give me some indication the plot of Dracula. Even after looking more into the word cloud, I couldn’t find any word or string of words that gave me a clue.

I enjoyed being able to easily look at the word frequency of a novel without having to manually count every word. I thought it was interesting to see what words writers back in the 1800s used more than we do now and even knowing the words that we still use today were used just as frequently back then.

I think that distant reading and wordclouds are cool tools to have on hand and helpful with familiarizing yourself with the novel before actually reading it. I do not think that it should be substituted for actually reading the novel because it doesn’t necessarily give you the information you need. If you only go by what you find on wordclouds, you would only have assumptions. I still don’t know who exactly the main character is based on this wordcloud because several other names show up just as much. Although I would go with Helsing, I’m only assuming that because distant reading doesn’t give you a concrete answer.

Distant reading is useful, but is not something that should replace reading the novel or close reading at all.

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