Plan for the Day
- Canvas Post Issues
- Draft these in a Google or Word Doc; then, copy + paste them into the Canvas textbox
- Then, check to make sure the post makes it to the Discussion page
- Soror Humans and technology
- Nova and Ulysse
- More on Planet of the Apes (below)
- Charts, artist renditions, scientific authority…
- Read the following reviews of Planet of the Apes for next week
Your Canvas discussion post is due Friday (11/11) by 11:11 pm. Of course, you already knew that and have calendar reminders set, right?
The Politics of Language–Veterans Day Edition
Although any day is a good day to discuss language use and etymology when you’re an English professor, on or around Veterans Day/Armistice Day, I like to show the class this discussion of word usage from the great philosopher George Carlin. Not required watching but it is relevant to our discussion on satire…
Literary Terms to Consider
It might help to revisit a few literary terms for discussing this novel. Below I have a few that will help you better understand why fiction is relevant for a class on science and technology:
- metaphor/metaphoric: figures of speech or associations (as in texts) that require abstract meaning and not concrete interpretations; something representative or symbolic of an abstract concept
- figurative: metaphoric use of words; not literal
- literal: actual, dictionary definition of a concept
- allusion: indirect reference to an event or concept usually through story telling
- allegory: a text that refers to a deeper meaning of interpretation; political, moral, symbolic reference
We’ve talked about devolution and slow advancements in science and technology in The Time Machine. Below are some key quotations regarding evolution.
- p. 127: “Apes and men are two separate branches that have evolved from a point in common but in different directions.”
- p. 130: Zira on ape superiority—“ [O]ur being equipped with four hands is one of the most important factors in our spiritual evolution.”
- p. 137: “[P]edestrians crossed the street” via “passages consisting of a metal frame to which they clung with all four hands.”
- p. 142: Zira explains why they experiment on humans—“Man’s brain, like the rest of his anatomy, is the one that bears the closest resemblance to ours.”
Copying Knowledge but Not Creating It
What does the excavation reveal? What comment on scientific/technological advancement is Boulle making? Obviously, science is established based on (or in contrast to) previous science, so, in reality, scientists don’t just copy. Metaphorically, however, what is Boulle’s satire getting at? Think about this for a bit. One interpretation is that science doesn’t progress when stifled by old thinking. If a group doesn’t open up to new approaches, they’ll only get the same old experiments and results. Boulle might also be commenting on science or politics here (or both): if you keep electing the same kinds of people, we get the same kinds of governments…
They might be Giants
Several years ago, I saw a movie during a Sherlock Holmes film series (conducted by the great film professor, Sam Shapiro) that had an interesting reference to science. The quote from the movie made me think about how discoveries are often pursued along unlikely paths. Maybe science on Soror advances slowly because the scientists aren’t thinking radically enough. Let’s read the quote from the film They Might be Giants (1971).
In the scene, Justin Playfair (really Sherlock Holmes) comments on Don Quixote’s foolish idea of attacking windmills as if they were giants. He says,
Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That’s insane. But, thinking that they might be…Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn’t? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we’d all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.
Planète des Singes
Pierre Boulle, a former prisoner of war (POW), might have channeled his experience into Ulysse’s captivity. The gorillas could easily be seen as prison guards. Part Two of the novel begins with Ulysse dealing with life in a cage. How does he make sense of his surroundings? Any particular method that looks familiar?
- p. 77: “I needed this intellectual exercise to escape from the despair that haunted me, to prove to myself that I was a man, I mean a man from Earth, a reasoning creature who made habit to discover a logical explanation…”
- p. 87: “The two warders with whom I had dealt were probably lowly underlings incapable of interpreting my movements, but there surely existed other apes who were more civilized.”
- p. 88: Monkey see, monkey do…
- p. 91: “I was beginning to feel proud of being the exceptional subject who alone deserved privileged treatment.”
- p. 95: Conditioned reflex experiements.
- p. 103: “there was nothing [Ulysse] could do to convince the orangutan [he was intelligent]….[Zaius] was a methodical scientist; he refused to listen to such nonsense.”
- p. 104: Zaius was firm in believing humans weren’t capable of complex thought—“[N]othing could shake his stupid skepticism.”
By the way, does anyone else notice that Zira seems to have learned French pretty quickly. How come?
- It’s possible that she mimics Ulysse because that’s one definition of “ape.”
- Perhaps there’s an assumption that French, once consider the lingua franca, is a universal language.
- The above two are both good interpretations, yet I think there’s another interpretation based on the author’s native language, French.
- We’re biased towards our own native languages and consider them easy to learn.
- I encourage you to learn a second, third, fourth, etc. language for your own enrichment.
Professor Antelle, the wise mind behind this voyage, becomes more like the Soror humans, that is, animal-like. I have some questions for you as to why this is the case. Could it be he’s lost without his society? Could it be he’s not able to adapt to a new culture (the Ape culture as a reference to a foreign culture)? His captivity doesn’t produce the same results as Ulysse’s.
Key quotations about the Professor
- p. 13: “[T]he professor….often admitted he was tired of his fellow men.”
- p. 29: On seeing Nova for the first time—“Levain and I were breathless, lost in admiration, and I think even Professor Antelle was moved.”
- Ulysse was surprised to see him play games in the water. Maybe he’s supposed to always be serious.
- Aren’t all professors supposed to be serious?
- 121: “Professor Antelle….had added…that the Euclidean rules, being completely false, were no doubt for that very reason universal.”
- 160: “[T]he leader and mastermind of our expedition, the famous Professor Antelle….[H]is behavior was identical to the other men’s.”
- 185: [Professor Antelle’s] eyes, which had once been so keen, had lost all their gleam and suggested the same spiritual void as those of the other captives.
- p. 196: “Professor Antelle….still behaves like a perfect animal.”
Perhaps the professor could only live for his work, which is often a critique of academics—they’re obsessed with their own research and absent minded about everything else.
Have Planet of the Apes finished by next week. We’ll finish our discussion of the novel then. Those of you not reading the novel will have a very tough time on the Final Exam. Watching the film adaptations won’t help you on those tests.
Don’t forget your Canvas discussion post is due Friday (11/11) by 11:11 pm–make two wishes!!!