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The Gone-Away World

ENG2502: Text, Culture, Context (Science Fiction and Society)
by

Camilla Hoel

on 10 April 2014

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Transcript of The Gone-Away World

The Gone-Away World
Nick harkaway
(1972- )
ENG2502 "Science Fiction and Society"
NTNU
April 10, 2014
Dr Camilla Ulleland Hoel
structures of evil
the other
Hannah Arendt:
The Banality of Evil
capitalism
“The problem isn’t who is in charge. It’s what is in charge. The problem is that people are encouraged to function as machines. Or actually, as mechanisms. Human emotion and sympathy are unprofessional. They are inappropriate to the exercise of reason. Everything which makes people good — makes them human — is ruled out.” (104)

"According to Sebastian, ideas have run away with the world. He hates chain stores and fast-food restaurants, mass-produced items and fashionable clothes — any instance of something which is repeated across the world regardless of local context. These things deny the uniqueness of each moment and each person” (130).
“Sebastian’s credo — which he does indeed value above almost anything else — is that no single idea, no map of progress, no theory should ever advance in the world at the cost of a single human life. Sebastian loathes the statistics with which he is so able. He is interested exclusively in histories, because where numbers of the dead are only numbers, stories of them evoke tragedy." (130)
Government Machine
military
Jorgmund &
The Clockwork Hand Society
(ninjas)
Wu Shenyang
Zaher Bey
The Voiceless Dragon
The Katiri (pirates)
“I thought I was fighting against greedy, evil men. And then I began to realise that they were just ordinary men, but what was happening inside them was very strange. They were heaving as if they were evil. As if they hated us. The consequences of their actions were horrible.
… All the time I could not understand why. There was no human reason for this.
… It was futile. It made no sense. Only an idiot would engage in such a battle.
… An idiot or a machine.” (332)
Someone on the other end speaks, firmly and simply. General George either grows older or grows colder; it happens to him from within like a tall building being demolished or flowers growing in fast motion, and I realise that he is making himself into the cog, rather than the man. The saving grace of hierarchy — of the Government Machine — is this: George Copsen will execute the orders of his country, and in doing so he will kill thousands, maybe more. But it will not be his choice. It will be the action of a nation, a huge complex animal of which he is the tiniest part, albeit at this moment a significant part. George Copsen retreats and General Copsen emerges to take his place and keep him from going mad given what he will now do.” (218)

"The un-war which is going on all around and is possessed of an irrational and powerful volution of its own ...
The logic of un-war is strong. Certain actions demand certain responses, of which the simplest is 'shot at? Shoot back.'" (178)
“‘So, I ask again, what is Jorgmund? Not the Pipe. The Pipe is an object that brings relief. But Jorgmund is not only that. Is it a government? A company?’ He shrugs again. ‘... Jorgmund is a machine for laying, maintaining and defending the Pipe. That is its only task. Its only priority. In fact, that is the only thing it can see. It is blind to us. It does not even know that we exist, except in so far as we impinge upon that purpose.
… Humans are simply not of interest to Jorgmund. We are gears.’” (330)
“We teach gong fu so that you have a choice. Otherwise … the man in charge has all the power. Yes? And … what if he is not a man? A hundred people all bowing down to a child who does anything he pleases. No responsibility. Just power. No wisdom. Just actions. As if the throne was empty.” (71)
“‘Every one of us is expected to act within the constraints of right thinking, and to be prepared to stand by the consequences of those actions. That is,’ he adds, ‘not as comfortable a position as you might think’.” (117)
"Of all the groups operating here, only one seems to be able to avoid those reactions — or maybe they are simply more perverse, more determinedly and convolutedly insane than everyone else; Zaher Bey’s pirates for the most part do not shoot back. They elude, taunt and tease. They also steal as a way of counting coup — they will steal anything just to demonstrate that they can.” (178)
“And then, at last, there are enemies. If I had needed confirmation that this is not just any war, I have it now. The enemy are not men. They are shadows. They are visions of the Other Side, made real. … I hear harsh words in an enemy language (it is no language I can recognise, perhaps not a real language at all, just the sound made by foes)” (239)
monsters
bifurcates

chimeras
"I am Gonzo's shadow. I am his imaginary friend made real. I am
new." (460)

"'I am a monster,' I tell them, in case they haven't understood.
'Are you?' Old Man Lubitsch wants to know.
'Yes.'
''What is the most monstrous thing you have done?'" (461)
“The worst are the subtle ones, the seemingly unchanged ones which are all unnatural inside — or maybe they’re not unchanged at all, but new. … But it’s the ones that you know, somehow, are ordinary men and women gone askew, which are the saddest and the strangest. … At a level beneath words, I know they are wrong.” (310).
“It wasn’t actually about the dog. It was bout this thing, lying there on the bed, a thing which looked human and talked human and hugged human, but which could open up and envelop you like a snake. … The thing with the distended stomach was other, and Larry Tusk wasn’t having any of it. … Sometimes, the nightmares look like people” (314)
“If someone ordinary and mad had eaten Dora the dog, and Larry Tusk had beaten them to death with a fire extinguisher, that would have been murder, albeit provoked. And the thing is that for all that Pascal was a monster, he was clearly a thinking, feeling monster, and that made hum at least most of the way to being a person”. (315).

“The curious thing is that almost everyone feels ambivalent about the Found Thousand. Many people in this room are deeply suspicious of them — and they may be right. The point, as Tommy Lapland announces to a rapt audience of civilian refugees, is that we don’t go out an annihilate people just because we don’t trust them. That’s how you tell the bad guys from the good guys.” (348).

Monsters
"the basic five-step text for announcing an atrocity" (343)
hierarchy
duty
alterity
secrecy
necessity
when people feed the machine
“We will strike out beyond the embrace of the Pipe, and we will see what can be achieved, and how we are changed, by living with a world which can reveal us to ourselves or assail us with our fears. The Found Thousand tell me it is not so hard. And surely it cannot be more dangerous than to exist within the compass of Jorgmund’s grasp, and risk casual annihilation or disenfranchisement by faceless persons ‘up the line’.” (353)
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