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Bibliography by Brittany Stern

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago

Annotated Bibliography

 

By Brittany Stern, Borges: An Exploration in Modeling

 

1. Borges, Jorge Luis. Collected Fictions. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc., 1998.

 

1.    In this anthology Andrew Hurley translates and compiles several of Jorge Luis Borges’ short fictions. Although each story stands as an isolated work, they are better understood when taken in context with each other. Borges constantly invents new characters in new places, but the stories themselves seem to form small networks as they link to each other in theme and imagery. For example, in the “The Aleph,” one of Borges early collections, the two stories “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” and “A Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz” end similarly – the protagonists decide to defend what they had originally sought to destroy. Borges demonstrates a fluidity of reality in these ‘battles’ as ‘sides’ change as their construction changes. At the end of “Story of the Warrior and the Captive Maiden” Borges writes: “it may be that all of the stories I have told are one in the same.” Another thread of stories begins within another collection, “The Garden of Forking Paths,” and is carried through to “The Aleph.” In “The Circular Ruins” Borges describes a man who wishes to dream himself a man, and transfer him to reality. In the end, the man realizes that he is in ‘reality’ a dream of another man. This story along with “The Garden of Forking Paths,” “The Aleph,” “The Immortal” all deal with an infinity that works to collapse reality in upon itself. Borges refuses a narrative that delivers a beginning middle and end, instead it is entirely circular – infinitely repeated. Borges also refuses the narrative as defining ‘character,’ ‘narrator,’ and ‘reader.’ Borges thrusts his reader into the dimension of his narrative, as reader becomes implicit in the generated cycle.

 


2. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations and Simulacra. New York, NY: Semiotext(e) Inc., 1983.

 

Baudrillard outlines his simulation theory in this novella. Meticulous in his observation, Baudrillard uses exact case study to demonstrate what he calls the three layers of the simulacra: natural, productive, and operational control (Evans). Baudrillard explains complex social phenomena through the advent of simulacra. Baudrillard uses Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “An Exactitude of Science” as an allegory for his concept. He defines simulation as a place holder – an absence. “To simulate is to feign to have what one hasn’t.”

The first social problem to which he relates his theory is that of ethnography, for the act of studying a culture inscribes its demise. Baudrillard problematizes ethnography further with the example of the Tasaday, an indigenous tribe transported to an inner jungle so to keep their culture untouched from the surrounding world. Baudrillard explains that this culture then becomes a simulation as well, for it has been taken out of a natural progression of events – artificially preserved. In this vein, Baudrillard reveals how contemporary conventions operate on a lack of any reality. An illustration of this point is his analysis on the role of museums. The need for museums comes about because “our entire linear and accumulative culture would collapse if we could not stockpile the past in plain view…we need a visible past, continuum, myth of origin to reassure us to our ends, since ultimately we never believed them” (19). The shape society is molded by the ever present simulacra. Baudrillard points to language, as a means for confusing and conglomerating concepts as a root cause for this simulacra.

 


 

3. Original: Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Cien Anos de Soledad. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sudamericanos, 1967.

    Used: Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2006.

 

Marquez writes several generations of the Buendia family. The most significant elements of Marquez’ text are his invention of the mythical place of Macondo, and his use of a circular narrative within his story that works to break the conventions of textuality. Interestingly Marquez employs a model at the beginning of his text - he uses a family tree of the Buendia family. Conspicuously missing as useful supplemental material is a map of the imagined place of Macondo. By the middle of the novel, Marquez has developed an intricate world, beginning in Riohacha and tracing the family to Macondo, which then makes contacts with other towns and cities. The founding of Macondo is arguably the most important part of the narrative, and its strange and magical birth is one that Marquez refers to throughout the novel. He describes Jose Arcadio Buendia flight of Riohacha with a team of men in search of the sea. The men fail in their quest, so they settle out of necessity in the forest. At this point, the novel’s fulcrum becomes the house of Beundia in the isolated Macondo, with all of the events happening within a fairly small periphery that grows larger over time. Therefore the movement of the novel is circular – always coming back to its beginning. This circular motion is mirrored in other parts of Marquez’s narrative. The family tree aforementioned is necessary to the understanding of the novel for Marquez details six generations of the Buendia family, and recycles a total of five names for all of the characters. This device is intentionally to confuse, so that linear time collapses, the understanding of one character blends into another. The family names portray an interconnectedness that manifests as the characters repeat each others’ actions. As the pattern continually repeats the reader becomes positioned within the text as accomplice to their inevitable results. 


 

4. Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.

 

Roland Barthes Mythologies is a novella made up of short vignettes. Barthes attempts to deconstruct a different social aspect in each one: the titles of the vignettes correspond with the aspect of society that Barthes deals with, for example: “Soap Powders and Detergents,” “Toys,” “Striptease,” and “Plastic.” Barthes theorizes all of these objects (some of the vignettes deal with societal events or conventions as well) signify much more than their sign. Any of these objects has a simulated and a dissimulated reality. The object exists isolated and self contained, signifying a use that one ‘needs.’ This is the simulated reality, one may not need this product, the assigned signified is usually far from the ‘reality’ – they are mythologies. A dissimulated reality lies in what the product actually does but feigns it does not. These realities are eliminated from the mythology as it is inscribed into culture. The best example for Barthes complicated process as he exposes societal constructions is in his theory on Detergents. The detergent sitting on the top of the washing machine signifies “deep clean” (which Barthes points out is impossible since fabric is never ‘deep’) and freedom from any germ. This is its simulated reality as it is conveyed to us by animated war between different colored dots. In looking at the language of its perception Barthes flushes out its dissimulated reality: the detergent indicates that a societal obsession with uniformity and vanity.

 


5. Tooley, R.V. Maps and Mapmakers. Great Britain: Bonanza Books, 1961.

 

IIn his book Maps and Mapmakers, Tooley traces the history of mapmaking to its origins in order to uncover patterns about society and history. Tooley prefaces his study by stating that maps are the “oldest form of the graphic arts” (1), and quite possibly the first employment of mathematics were to better form their “conception of the universe” (3) on a map. Tooley focuses on the types of information that can be derived from maps and the visual reality they create and document. For example, a collection of maps – taken from a particular place over a period of time – forms another map that elucidate changes in land and human formations. Besides the visual representation of land that a map conveys, maps are often decorative, and almost take on a ceremonious tone. Tooley considers the changing aesthetics of maps over time, and how these conventions demonstrate a changing “national taste and characteristics”(71). Tooley’s book not only serves as an analysis of map-making history, but also as a chronology of actual maps from different countries from the 11th to 17th century. In the chronology, Tooley includes different kinds of maps, for example a map of a city compared to a map of an entire country. He outlines the different strategies employed in their creation.

An example of a map used:

 

 


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