Cryptonomicon (and censorship)

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Fri Jul 7 05:48:17 EDT 2000


 I haven't read this- it sounds really influential. I'm sure you said who
wrote it in an earlier post but who was it again?

Jennifer

+ I'd still say that material that presents suffering as desirable can
act 
+ to normalise it in some (?already twisted) people's minds. 

I can't help thinking of _Cryptonomicon_ again - the section when Van
Eck
phreaking reveals that the guy on the computer next door is coming up
with
a theory on people's brains acquiring irreversible kinks early in life.

I still don't think a sane person could ever argue "The book made me do
it"
or even "The styling of the pornography I read made me feel it was OK to
rape this woman" - if you can deduce stuff from a text that may or may
not
be there you should certainly be able to notice when someone makes it
bloody
clear in person that you are overstepping social bounds.

Oh, yeah, course- I guess I was thinking about attitude surveys- I think it
was students- they asked questions like "is it ever all right to hit
someone" and "Would you rape someone if you knew it would never be
discovered", showed them violent porn, and asked again, and their responses
were more likely to be "yes". Of course this may well wear off quickly- but
if you're thinking of that sort of thing as "normal" because you've been
reading/seeing it you *may* *possibly* be *more likely* to misunderstand
signals than someone who hasn't. People are still responsible for their
decisions to hurt someone else but maybe society's climate of disapproval
for this sort of act can be tempered by the availability of literature that
portrays them approvingly. Maybe. 
Anyway, this is off-topic, I guess I should go and be pro-censorship
somewhere else. Librarianship's code of conduct requires us to support
freedom of information... maybe I need to join a school board or something.
Incidentally (and also off-topic) my sympathy for Cuba has taken something
of a downturn since I heard of the shocking way that free (un-government
approved) libraries are being treated- Amnesty International has condemned
Castro for arresting librarians and destroying collections. Now there's
censorship as control-freakery and supression of knowledge- quite unlike my
own totally principled stance, of course. 

Human interactions are fraught with this sort of paradox. All hail DWJ
for
not labelling good and bad, but making some of it evident and some of it
thorny (_Black Maria_ is pretty damn ambiguous, and is it fair for those
who
are ecologically sound and wear their clothes to bits to suffer on the
road
to Babylon?)... and pointing out that just about everyone is fallible.

Tanaqui 

Yes, definitely. She always makes you think about why the characters act as
they do, even the baddies. She's also very anti-coercion and
anti-unquestioning. (Is that a word?)
Jennifer
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