I received a really good 1st for my Poetics of Surveillance module!! I'm so happy, my hard work payed off!
I think that writing this blog really helped me, in getting a sense of the topic of Surveillance as a whole, and in being able to write down and organize myself and my ideas. I'm very proud of myself! :)
Monday, 17 December 2012
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I have come to the end of my Poetics of Surveillance module, and I have come away with a whole view of the poetics of surveillance, which is not as fragmented as before taking the module. During the module I felt paranoid and very much aware that I was being watched, by a higher being, the government, CCTV cameras and by others. I was aware of my changing perception of myself, as I knew I was being watched, which thus made me internalise my conscience. Obviously I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but the idea that I was being watched, and didn’t know when or where made me nervous. I now have an understanding of the use of surveillance in society, and personally do not feel that the government is being oppressive in its use of surveillance. I believe it is very much needed in society. My time at court for jury service has also proved this, as in my cases the criminals knew where the CCTV cameras where, and still they were not deterred. This goes to show how in society, the need for surveillance and a government who watches you is necessary. I do not understand why people feel that the government is spying on them, as a negative thing, as it can only be negative if you are actually doing something wrong, and thus feel guilty for it. I have come away from this module of the poetics of surveillance, with the idea that in society, we all have a sense of self-scrutiny, and surveillance.
This is the penultimate blog I will write on for my Poetics of Surveillance module, and I have started thinking about the change in surveillance fiction owing to the increasingly new technology and forms of surveillance. Surveillance writers now face a problem of thinking up new ideas of how their hero will escape in the face of an ever-growing form of technology and surveillance, such as: satellites CCTV, face recognition, finger print readers, licence plate readers, GPS, and a whole host of other James Bond type gadgets. This will ultimately make it harder for the hero in the novel to run and hide from the government as it is impossible to escape its penetrative eye. Contemporary and postmodern surveillance writers may not have a problem as they have freedom and can play around with surveillance, but this will lead to overcomplicating the novel, bogging it down with explanations for the lack of technology. While the classic surveillance story of the hero versus the totalitarian state will never cease to die, the increased technologies and forms of surveillance will create a problem for the hero in facing the state.
After subsequent readings of Kazuo Ishiguro’s, Never Let Me Go, (2005) I find the novel to be extremely bleak in its view of humanity. It’s a disturbing novel. Especially at the end, with Kathy’s metaphor of the rubbish wasting away. For example when she says, “I was thinking about the rubbish, the flapping plastic in the branches, the shore-line of old stuff caught along the fencing.” (282) which suggests that she is literally the old plastic bag, being used as a body to hold its contents, merely being a vessel for genes, being used as an instrument for the use of someone else. What is more shocking, however, is the form of surveillance that runs throughout the novel. The surveillance of the students (clones) and their art. The surveillance is shown through the value and importance placed on art by the figures of authority, the Guardians. The revelation at the end of the novel, of the real reason for the production of the art is cruel, as throughout the novel, the students where given a false sense of hope, of being told and not told, and they put their hopes into the dream of having a normal life, or into the rumour of deferring for true love, which would never come true. The real reason for the art, was used to determine whether the students have souls and are actually human. This raises questions of scientific and anthropocentric concern of their personal identifies. Miss Emily states, “We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put 9t more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.” (255) This therefore questions the clones and thier sanctity of life and if they have equal rights and liberties to life as every other human being. Ishiguro thus creates a satirical self-reflection of the world. For example, when the delivery men say, “sweetheart” (41) it is ironical as it makes the reader self-criticize themselves, making them look inside themselves and observe.
Jonathan Raban’s novel, Surveillance, (2006) questions the society of control in a post 9/11 world where the state has control over its people. For example, in staging these preventative accidents, the government is trying to discipline its people into taking precautions, for when it happens in reality. In Raban’s novel, there are elements of the Foucaldian disciplinary society of control. It can be argued that while the government is trying to make people more aware it seems that the state is trying to control people. The government is not interested in people’s freedoms or liberties, but interested in a society of control. On a personal level, we see in the book that new technologies make it easier for people to survey others. This can be seen when Lucy says, “Look at the way people Google their prospective dates. Everybody does it. Everybody’s trying to spy on everyone else.” (225) This can also be seen in the use of Google maps, which even I have used to Google my own street. I have even seen myself in the Google maps street view, which seems to be taken years ago. It’s rather spooky. Because this technology is so widely used by everybody, does it then make it acceptable to use for spying on others? I admit it’s useful, however, when put into the wrong hands; somebody may use it for unethical and immoral reasons. Personally, I don’t mind the state having such intrusive access to my life, if they use their powers for good. The minute they abuse their powers, for example, taking somebody’s personal identity or fraud, then it is wrong. But the line seems very blurred. It seems hypocritical to say that it’s okay if I use technology as a form of surveillance to spy on my neighbour, let’s say, but its wrong when the government spy on us. In my opinion of the people who feel so strongly about the government spying on us, it may just be that they have something to hide.
In Virginia Woolf’s, Mrs Dalloway, (1925) Woolf comments on the city and its perception. Woolf seems to argue that surveillance is positive in its attribution to an organic city of London that is pure and natural. Can surveillance be a positive thing? Or is it too overpowering in its gaze?
Woolf shapes her readers way of seeing in the novel and challenges her readers to deconstruct a cognitive process of thinking. This can be seen in the 3rd person narration, which shows an unbroken stream of consciousness. For example, in the opening of the novel we are introduced to Clarissa Dalloway, “What a plunge! […] with a little squeak of the hinges, […] she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air.” (5) Here the windows are seen as being open to the stream of consciousness, which opens up her memories and her perceptions of things in the past. Woolf suggests that everyone in the city is being watched, thus having no privacy. All the characters seem to know one another, or know each other’s business, which shows a connectedness, attributed to the function of Victorian Literature. This can be seen in the novel through the organic and natural imagery, which is woven into the world of connectedness. For example, this can be seen as, “a single spider’s thread after wavering here and thereattach[ing] itself to the point of a leaf” (144) which shows the nature backdrop against the city environment showing spider webs of surveillance. This seems to suggest that there is a positive and natural element to surveillance.