Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lecture 8: Feminist Theory, Critical Thinking and Born Digital Fiction, Kieren Boddy

'The (Former) General In His Labyrinth' by Mohsin Hamid 

The story is of a former general (Now a President (I assume this is meant to be a story about Pervez Musharraf, fmr President of Pakistan)) in an unspecified Middle-eastern country who, at the start of the story has three paths, one, to day dream about his past as a child and his experiences at school, and two, listen to a story from an aid that can be told in two different ways, and three, leave the office and attend a meeting with an ambassador and the Presidential recording studio. 

There is a complexity to the story in that it uses a looping matrix of story segments that change depeinding on which away you navigate throughout the story (a sort of pick your own adventure book). It is a shame that there is no way of navigating through all of it in one direction without going back on yourself because of its non-linear but railroaded style it was constructed in. There is multiplicity, in a sense, inherent with the form the story was written and constructed. There was not much simultaneity, from my interpretation at least, but there may be simultaneity in the essence that no matter which direction you choose to navigate, the opposite direction could also be happening at the same time (if you think multi-dimensionally). 
The gender throughout this piece was predominantly male, with only one mention of a woman present in the story, that of the Producer of the Presidents broadcast studio. The main character only has a fleeting discussion with her (internally commenting on her sunglasses as a make shift hair band and speaking as though she has listened to too much western television) before leaving the room with apparent indecisiveness and frustration. Class is noticeable in that the story is about the "ruling classes" and their various aids and facilitators of their power and various other hangers on. 

Although the President has 'power', it is waining in my opinion(and in hindsight to the current political situation in Pakistan) because of the way in which the President is described and how he is talked to by those that are around him. He daydreams of his youth and how he hated the 'effeminateness' of education (his childhood opinion), procrastinated when he should have done school work during the day rather than by candle at night and the fact that he was quite tenacious when he put his mind to it. He has to be entertained by his aid with a circular story and others are waiting for him to do something, but he is trying hard to puzzle that out. He also has to correct a visiting member of royalty who commented on what 'he has done to the country' with what 'he has done for the country'. 

The story is from a male view point, the reason for this is that at the time of the story was written, the General Pervez Musharraf was relinquishing his military rank to become President of Pakistan. The story was a piece of social commentary with a dash of speculative fiction in the case of what the President's does during the day.  The lack of female points of view was primarily because of this. 

As I mentioned earlier, the President character, as a child equated education as an 'effeminate' because of the women teachers he had, commenting on how docile it was compared to his needs as a 'red-blooded male'. This is contrasted by how the Producer character seems like an equal as she has a power over the President regarding the hows and when the recording studio can broadcast over national and international channels. 

* appologies for the presentation of this. I could have written an essay about this, but I refrained. Using week 8 slides questions (7 or so) the ones not seen here I think are evidently answered in question 1. 

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