Just to set my agenda, I love Christmas, I know many people don’t and others are indifferent but I sure do. This year I took part in The Curiosity Box Project, which is hosted by a UK craft and design blog. The rules are you submit your name and a brief description of the things you like/ your style and someone else gets your details and makes you a Secret Santa box with items around the value of £20 with an emphasis on handmade and quirky stuff. If you received a box with a CD and DVD in somebody probably didn’t understand very well. And that why it’s so great.
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This was quite possibly my craziest journey so far and the promised 10 hours resulted in about 16 in five different busses and a boat.
The day didn’t get off to a good start with our alarm failing to sound. Awaking to the hostel receptionist knocking at our door at 5.30 letting us know our bus was there we quickly packed the room into our bags and sprinted down the stairs in a half asleep state. We were taken by car to the bus which was doing its rounds in picking people up, a bus we assumed must be the one that took us to the main bus station, as did everyone else. The bus was the worst I have yet seen in Asia and looked like an out of service local bus as the driver had a barrier for ticket buying, thus meaning the seats didn’t even recline.
Before setting off on my travels Shanghai seemed like an exciting hyper city whereas Hong Kong seemed nothing more than a dirty has been city. I have now learnt that my preconceptions were about as wrong as they could be.
Shanghai is very much standard mainland China, just it happens to have had a technological boom. There are numerous high end shopping streets and
touristy shiny areas but turn down the wrong side alley and the usual China toilet smell wafts into your nostrils. Because the business side of the city has risen so rapidly it is very segregated and perhaps false looking compared to the majority of the city. Although very tall and impressive, the skyline is but one small cluster of high rise buildings still fashioning their Disneyesque gleam as though they may not really be there at all.
Due to being asked for my references by a few different people I thought I would post them up here so it’s all complete before I go travelling. It’s out of place on the blog I’m afraid but hopefully it will assist a few people who are researching the subject.
After finding myself in a bit of a post graduation lifestyle rut it seemed to me that buying a house would be classed as ‘doing something’ in life. My life and plans have now changed and as of yesterday I am no longer a homeowner. I have mixed emotions about the whole process and the relevance of ownership for a person like myself. There are definitely plusses and minuses and the overall experience was positive both personally and financially.
My main qualm with home ownership is that many of us have a very postmodern mentality at the moment, with the job market flat on it’s face, being tied into property can make it very difficult to run to some other place where things may be better…
With the plan of going to Asia, travelling around and hopefully picking up a teaching job along the way I thought it was probably wise to get some classroom time mainly for some confidence and knowledge of what teaching would entail.
With a BA in hand I dont intend to be teaching in the highly competitive areas, preferring the slightly less popular destinations from the standard ‘Gap Year’ sort of placement. The course cost about £170 for 20 hours of classroom tuition, there were various options of making it into a much lengthier course via the use of online learning. I believe the premium bundle was roughly £400 which included 140 hours of online education. The research I had done previously had indicated that online courses weren’t particularly credible to an employer and I decided that what I would learn from it in a theoretical sense could probably be learnt just as well from a few books off amazon marketplace.
The following five posts are the breakdown of my BA academic dissertationcompleted in May of 2009. I have left it as it was handed in as opposed to translating it into a journalistic piece. For information of any of the references I am more than happy to help but didn’t wish to publish them as it would make plagiarism far easier.
The dissertation is inspired by the link between science fiction and reality under the theme of human reproduction and its many artificial variants. This subject was particularly fascinating and the rate at which science is developing is hard to believe or to keep up with. One element which made this project so enjoyable was forcing myself to read novels I normally wouldn’t and being pleasantly surprised by many of them. I am now a big fan of Michel Houellebecq and the way he writes; poetically yet gritty. Also my admiration of the pure genius and forward thinking of Huxley has increased almost exponentially.
I hope you enjoy reading my dissertation, I would greatly appreciate your comments.
This dissertation will attempt to highlight varying prophecies of the future of reproduction and what this will mean to society. From the extremes of cloning to the commonplace In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) the moral implications will be explored and their fictional counterparts investigated. It is common knowledge that dystopian fictions, and often all speculative fiction, reflect the societal fears of the time of writing. Due to this the key texts used must be treated from different angles, the nineteen thirties’ Brave New World has had many of it’s ideas established within science and technology, however, Huoellebecq’s Possibility of an Island from year 2000 is yet to have had time for it’s ideas to materialise.
The first chapter focuses on Brave New World, a book synonymous with the ideas of IVF as well as many other revolutionary ideas. The underlying theme of this novel is humans as commodities and the loss of individuality, epitomised by the worship of Henry T Ford as the creator of mass production. Huxley’s background is quintessential to the success of his writing as he was integrated in the cultures of both science and literature, thus proving to give his work more integrity than many speculative authors at the time. Haldane was a scientist associate of Huxley and his predictions, considered extreme at the time, were essential for the creation of Brave New World. The key areas of research for this chapter are IVF, human conditioning, eugenics and government control. Most of the ideas from Brave New World have evolved in some form through history to present day, some positively and some in ways which cause unimaginable grief.
Aldous Huxley’s 1931 novel Brave New World features, what were at the time, ludicrous ideas of society and reproduction. In his 1958 commentary on the original text, Brave New World Revisited, Huxley was shocked at the speed in which some of his fictional ideologies had come into existence1. This chapter aims to explore Huxley’s numerous ideas regarding reproduction technologies, from sterilisation and contraception to the caste system and child conditioning. All of these topics have seen progress of some form in modern day society. This chapter will attempt to understand the impact of these events through the use of science and social commentary.
Critics have often commented on Huxley’s background to gain a broader perspective on his writing. Huxley was always integrated within the scientific social scene, wanting to be a scientist himself he was hindered by a disease which caused near blindness2. Huxley’s brother was a scientist and through him Aldous became a respected part of the ‘Science and Society’ movement. A culmination of this and Huxley’s father being a writer gave him an interesting mixture of information and talent which enabled him to write such scientifically predictive ideas.
These are in effect, artificial or mechanical men, individuals without souls, without anything that, in a traditional understanding can be seen as distinctly human.
- Krishan Kumar1
Michel Huoellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island (which will be referred to as Possibility) touches on many ideas relating to the reproduction of the human self and its repercussions for mankind. With advances in technology this is something which is increasingly ever more in the public mind. It is impossible to say whether this modern day dystopia is predicting events which will be commonplace in the future, but there is scientific research speculating the potential problems. An important question in this chapter is how these technologies effect human identity, and essentially what element of human identity is the essence humanity.