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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ape Land

The world that we live in can have many challenges; such as, the censorship in media or the ongoing war in Iraq. Imagining a world in a worse state than the one we live in today is to imagine a world that has many problems. Boulles Planet of the Apes is a world that has Apes rule over Humans. The book is a science fiction novel that mirrors our own society. Crucial topics are presented in this novel: the role language plays in our society, social behavior from interaction, power and authority in culture and the inevitable fate of man. The dystopia of apes ruling over humans depicted in Planet of the Apes made such an impact in literary history because it is a reflection of our own society that moves us towards change. The novel addresses issues that society deals with in relation to government control to the inevitable fate of humanity that is developed in language and social behavior; a mirroring that ultimately empowers its readers towards change. This type of empowerment is not depicted in Disney movies such as; The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Cinderella.

Language in American society is a key element in communicating with one another. The ability to communicate through speech is a strong distinction between humans and animals which differentiates the level of intelligence between humans and any other species. In Planet of the Apes, Ulysses has to learn the language of the apes to be able to create a connection with Zira (female ape who helps Ulysses). In the original film, Taylor is not able to speak because of an injury and then after healing from the injury connects with Zira through speaking English. It is this language and this form of intelligence that allows both Ulysses and Taylor to communicate to the apes; showing the apes that he is a human who is unique from the other humans who cannot speak. Ulysses states, “I have found in Nova and that I now saw in all others: a lack of conscious thought; the absence of intelligence” (41). Just like in our own world, intelligence is key and often times are represented by language. Ulyssses/Taylor learns how to communicate with the apes as he fights to have his voice heard.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel is a mermaid who turns human to pursue her love interest. By turning human, Ariel loses her voice and has to find a way to communicate with the humans. She has to connect with Prince Eric before her time is up or she will forever be imprisoned. At the end, Ariel does not connect with Prince Eric but is saved by her father’s love and lives happily with her true love. Here, language is also essential in communication as we see Ariel’s character develop in the movie. However, after Ariel fails her goal to win over Prince Eric she is saved by her father and this differs from the real world since there are serious consequences when the lack of communication occurs. As in Planet of the Apes, if Ulysses did not learn the language of the Apes he would never had to opportunity to deliver his message across. And in the film, if Taylor did not fix his injury the apes would have stil regarded him as an ‘animal’. Language is an essential part of being human. Ariel is stripped of her voice and does not regain her voice to win over Prince Eric but instead of suffering the consequences, she is saved by her father.

The villain Ursula tells Ariel, “Now, here's the deal...Before the sun sets on the third day, you've got to get dear ol' princey to fall in love with you.” Here, it is declared that there is an agreement being made and as part of the agreement, consequences will occur if not fulfilled. As mentioned, Ariel does not fulfill the agreement, but instead of facing the consequences, she instead is saved by her father. In real life, consequences do occur and people learn from their mistakes as a way to be better and stronger. Ariel thinks to herself, “But without my voice, how can I...” Here, we see that Ariel does hesitate before making the agreement with Ursula but ultimately makes the decision to trade her voice to be human. At the end, Ariel is saved by her father and her father banishes Ursula and turns Ariel permanently human. In contrast with Planet of the Apes, Ulysses/Taylor fights to have that forum to convey to the apes that he has the abaility to speak and therefore is an intelligent human being.

Planet of the Apes also uses language as a way to identify self. Taylor states, “I'm a seeker too. But my dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man.” Here, Taylor thinks about other possible beings that are better than man. In our world the exploration of the universe is to find other life forms out there. There are other ways of identifying “self” in American society. The general public defines themselves through the media and this becomes a problem when the media is not always accurate. The Federal Communications Commission regulates what is seen and what is heard in the media. Censorship is portrayed as a way to keep the public under control in eg. emergency situations. But sometimes censorship can lead to lack of information that causes adverse effects. This relates to the Planet of the Apes because as Taylor tries to communicate with the Apes he goes through a whole process, only to find out that Dr. Zaius has known all along about mankind’s capabilities. Dr. Zaius purposefully censors this information to shelter the other apes. It is important that accurate knowledge is brought out so that the public can make consciously driven actions. People seek the truth in order to push towards change and in Planet of the Apes having a the voice to speak is key to being free from imprisonment. Developing language is one way to socially interact with people and the world around us.

Social interactions are pertinent to human and ape interactions. In Planet of the Apes, a type of social interaction is apparent through science experiments and through imitation. When Ulysses encounters Professor Antelle in a cage, he discovers that Professor Antelle has adapted to the other humans as a non-intelligent being and states, “I watched him while he was doing this, and there was nothing in his attitude to reveal his true nature” (160). At this point, Professor Antelle imitates the other humans and behaves unlike his true nature. The same way the apes have imitated our own world by putting humans in a cage is the same way Professor Antelle imitates being an animal in this dystopic world. In these excerpts, it is hard for Ulysses to reach a connection with Professor Antelle and this struggle makes it difficult for him to reach a form of connection with his former friend. Ulysses, further states, “My self-respect notes with satisfaction that apes have invented nothing, that they are mere imitators” (217). Here, it is pointed out that the apes in this planet have imitated what they have seen in the past from human behavior. This is similar to infants who imitate language from their surroundings and parents. At the end of the book Nova learns from Sirius how to speak, Ulysses stating “today Sirius talks fluently and Nova almost as well” (264). Ulysses is proud of this moment when Nova develops language. In our own society, an infant’s first words are also a proud moment. More so, Ulysses finds himself feeling a sense of gratification after Nova starts to socially interact and after all his hard work he has a sense of connection with Nova.

In Pocahontas, Pocahontas is part of an Native American tribe who is visited by settlers and amongst these settlers is John Smith. The settlers want to take over the land and push Pocahontas' tribe away. At the end Pocahontas succeeds in teaching John Smith to respect the land, trees, and animals. Here, we see that if nurtured properly we can understand each other and respect one another. In Planet of the Apes, Professor Antelle is changed to have lack of intelligence while he is caged like an animal. Ulysses struggles with losing his former friend and continues his search to find a human connection. In Pocahontas, John Smith does gain understanding towards the land of the Natives American Tribe, and with the help of Pocahontas develops a better understanding. However, often times in our society through misuse of power, this type of understanding is never accomplished. Here, we see it is easier to reach an understanding between Pocahontas and John Smith.

John Smith states, “We've improved the lives of savages all over the world.” Pocahontas questions his use of the term "savage" and John Smith defines the word "savage" as people who are uncivilized. Later he learns to respect the trees and animals under a new perspective. And through this new understanding, peace is created between the settlers and Indian Tribe. Pocahontas states to her father, “I won't! I love him, Father... This is where the path of hatred has brought us.” Pocahontas is also challenging her father to choose a path that is more peaceful instead of a path that is violent. Here, we see that with two opposing sides there needs to be understanding. In our own world it is important to be knowledgeable of both sides and fight for the change that is best for the overall well being of society. However, it is often a hard and rigorous path to reach understanding. John Smith states, “They're not savages. They can help us. They know the land. They know how to navigate the rivers.” Here, John Smith changes his view on what the word "savages" means. It is doubtful that he would have changed his view without the influence of Pocahontas. So in this sense this is a good thing yet not realistic. In Planet of the Apes, both Taylor and Ulysses have to strive on their own and although they have help from the female ape Zira, both characters still go through many obstacles as they fight for their freedom and existence.

Taylor also talks about a sense of social interaction, “Imagine me needing someone. Back on Earth I never did. Oh, there were women... Lots of love-making but no love. So I left, because there was no one to hold me there.” At this point we see that Taylor does not develop any bonds with people on earth so he travels. In Disney movies love is the key element in the plot. But love does not always provide all the answers. In Planet of the Apes, Taylor meets Nova as his potential companion but still is not able to communicate with her. He is able to communicate with the female ape Zira. Similar to real life we also have various types of connections. And we find ways to connect through social interacttion and this creates better understanding and the push to change. In American history, the colonists took over the lands of the Native Americans and broke any type of relation. In Planet of the Apes we see Taylor/Ulysses character try to connect with Nova and Zira; he finds more of a connection with Zira although Nova is the human. Whereas in Pocahontas, we see that Pocahontas and John Smith’s love is ultimately what helps them develop a type of understanding quicker. In our own society, we go through several struggles with our fellow mankind; the same struggles that we see Ulysses and Taylor go through. These struggles and challenges is what helps push towards a better world. The misuse of power can create a road block in this road towards change; however, this misuse of power never stops eventual change from happening.

Power and Authority are also portrayed in Planet of the Apes, as in our own world through government. Ulysses while trying to connect with the apes states, “But there was nothing I could do to convince the orangutan” (103). Here the orangutan does not want to believe that Ulysses really is an intelligent being. In the book and in the film the orangutans want to preserve 'apehood' and are not open to humans potential capacity of having intelligence because they are afraid of humans taking over. In our own society, the government also keeps certain information away from the public as a form of control. Not knowing information may be helpful so the public will not go into chaos especially in emergency situations. But overall it is best to be aware of all forms of knowledge because this is the only way to know the truth no matter how harsh. Taylor/Ulysses works hard to fight the powers that be, the Orangutans.

In Cinderella, Cinderella has two step sisters and a step mother. The step mother abuses her power and treats Cinderella like a slave instead of treating her like a daughter. Luckily, Cinderella has a fairy godmother who creates for her a beautiful dress and glass slippers so she can attend the ball. At the end, Cinderella is stripped of her magical apparel and is left only with the glass slippers. The wicked stepmother prevents her from being involved with the Prince but is saved by the glass slippers. In our own society, government does have a control over the country and as seen in the Planet of the Apes, power can be abused by authority. In Planet of the Apes, Ulysses has to leave and Taylor is shunned away; they both have to work hard to find refuge. Cinderella does not work hard to gain her happy ending, instead she is saved by her fairy godmother.

Fairy godmother states, “Nonsense, child… If you'd lost all your faith, I couldn't be here. And here I am.” Cinderella loses her faith and the fairy godmother helps cheer her up. In life people do obtain support to get back from their mishaps; however, it is through our own efforts that really make that difference. Taylor in the movie makes a public speech to convince the Orangutans about his intelligence. In Cinderella, the Fairy godmother states a limitation, “You must understand, my dear: On the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will be as it was before.” Here, there is a limitation that is in the magic spell; however, Cinderella still gets to keep glass slippers. The glass slippers ultimate lead Prince Charming back with Cinderella. Ulysses in the book gets to travel back to Planet of Earth only to discover that the apes are more advanced and is left with another predicament. In life there is always a type of harsh reality to face and is not as simple as Disney films portray. Disney perpetuates an acceptance of inaccurate realities; whereas, Planet of the Apes shows more of a precise reality in reflection to our own.

In the Planet of the Apes, Taylor has a hard time with power and authority, more specifically with Dr. Zaius who states, “You are right, I have always known about man...He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself.” Here, we see that Dr. Zaius is aware of man all along but see that human’s emotions rule over his emotions and is ultimately doomed to his own demise. There is this struggle in Planet of the Apes. And in Disney films there is this struggle seen between Cinderella and her step mother but Cinderella is saved by her godmother. In Planet of the Apes Taylor has to find a way to get through Dr. Zaius and does not have such an easy path. In current times, Obama is trying to create change, as he tries to send troops back home or tries to improve the quality of healthcare. Obama would benefit from seeing Planet of the Apes versus Cinderella because he would see power and authority as a mirror reflection similar to our society. Whereas, in Cinderella he would only see that Cinderella’s problems are easily fixed for her. Making changes in our own world takes a lot of time and energy and Planet of the Apes gives a better interpretation of this process towards change. The idea that we must work hard in order to challenge the status quo is the idea towards being proactive.

The inevitable fate of man is an interesting topic both in the real world and in the Planet of the Apes. The real world has the potential to go towards self destruction through for example, pollution or to engaging in war. In the film Taylor acknowledges that humans destroy themselves as he discovers he has been in earth all along. In the book, Ulysses travels to another planet only to encounter more advanced apes. In the film the discovery that humans destroy civilization causes the rise of the apes. And in the novel, that apes eventually rise to the higher form of society, leaving humans even more inferior. The irony here is that although man pushes towards change, the inevitable fate of man is self destruction.

In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is turned into the Beast to be taught a lesson since he was not kind. Belle is imprisoned by the Beast; the Beast hoping that Belle would fall in love with him so the spell would be broken. At the end, Belle does fall in love with the Beast and the Beast is then turned back into the Prince. Again we see a happy ending. In contrast, in the Planet of the Apes, we see the endings being either the discovery of a world of Apes that are more developed or a world that is actually earth. The “beast” in human nature is harder to overcome than depicted in the movie Beauty and the Beast; sometimes love is not enough. Although this implication has its own ironies similar the ironies of man destroying themselves.

In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is helped by Ms. Potts to win over Belle, “Be gentle, Be sincere.” Throughout the movie Beast does end up changing into someone gentler. The beast ultimately changes to be a better person, irregardless of Belle helping him. The Beast in this sense ends up finding his gentler nature. As in Planet of the Apes, when Taylor sees the Statue of Liberty, the discovery of mans own self destruction is revealed. In Beauty of Beast, the happy ending is that through the hands of love he changes and becomes more human. Belle states, “I love you” and ultimately saving the Beast from himself and this breaks the spell. In real life there is this type of support and care that saves us from our own selves. And although this change is not as simple as what is being depicted in Disney films, through hard work, sometimes love does triumph and love does conquer.

“You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell,” Taylor proclaims. This is when he discovers that man has destroyed Earth into oblivion. The inevitable fate of man is towards destruction. Irony is displayed here, in a sense that although people push for change, the inevitable result sometimes is towards a worser state. There is always a push for change under new leadership, yet history tells of repeated mistakes. Time and time again humanity repeats the same mistakes. Change is necessary to have a better world and humans are capable of doing good and with the book Planet of Apes, it gives us an awareness that we need to push for change. However, the inevitable fate of man is seen in our world as we continue to pursue war. In our history we have seen the destruction that war creates, yet nations still pursue war. It seems that in this sense humanity is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and in Planet of the Apes, this is ironic in a sense that although humans push towards change it results in ultimate demise.

Overall, language is essential in identifying self in both our world and in the world in Planet of the Apes. Social interaction is important criteria as a way to have a type of connection with one another. Power and Authority are in all aspects of any formed civilization. And the fate of man is dependent with the will of man. The will of man is not depicted accurately in Disney. Disney movies portrays unrealistic realities, leaving its viewers satistied to accept the status quo. In the Planet of the Apes the dystopic world is presented as a mirror reflection of our own world; which motivates people to be proactive and fight for change. Although the fate of man may still lead to ultimate destruction, the will to change gives a sense of hope.

Works Cited
Boulle, Pierre. Planet of the Apes. France: Livre de Roche, 1963.
Dir Schaffner, Franklin. Planet of the Apes. 20th Century Fox, 1968.
Dirs Gabriel, Mike and Goldberg, Eric. Pocahontas. Walt Disney Pictures, 1995.
Dirs Trousdale, Gary and Wise, Kirk. Beauty and the Beast. Walt Disney Pictures, 1991.
Dirs Geronimi, Clyde and Luske, Hamilton. Cinderella. Walt Disney and RKO Radio Pictures, 1950.
Dirs Clements, Ron and Musker, John. Little Mermaid. Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution, 1989.
“Memorable Quotes for Pocahontas.” Pocahontas (1995) – Memorable quotes. 9 Dec. 2009,
“Memorable Quotes for Beauty and the Beast.” Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Memorable quotes. 9 Dec. 2009,
“Memorable Quotes for Cinderella.” Cinderella (1950) – Memorable quotes. 9 Dec. 2009,
“Memorable Quotes for the Little Mermaid.” The Little Mermaid (1989) – Memorable quotes. 9 Dec. 2009,
“Memorable Quotes for Planet of the Apes.” Planet of the Apes (1968) – Memorable quotes. 9 Dec. 2009,

Cyborg as a Metaphor

A cyborg is an organism that is a self-regulating integration of artificial and natural systems. The boundaries that are transgressed via this metaphor are that a cyborg cannot fully be artificial and cannot fully be natural. Although a cyborg can sort of have the best of both the human experience and machine capabilities- it can neither be fully human or machine. “The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women’s experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion (Haraway, 1). Here, when I think of the experiences of women there is an illusion in a sense that some experiences are from under societies own labels on women roles and the reality of these experiences stems from these labels. Labels such as- women having to stay home to take care of children are now changed to a new movement for women to also work outside the home. The decision to be a stay at home mother or to be a working mother should be a decision made by the woman. Yet under a capitalistic society the pressure to make money has to fall on someone and sometimes the decision becomes the lost relationships in family ties due to both parents working outside the home.

Haraway would rather be a cyborg than a goddess. To this I can see how being a woman who has the woman experiences and also being a woman who is needed in the work field is more ideal than being a woman who is just idolized.

Iron Heel

I just wanted to comment a little about Ernest Everhard’s character.
Upon reading a few chapters- I can see how Avis is captured by him.
Ernest challenges the upper class and looks from the view of the working class. He states towards the great thinkers, “You are sincere… But should you change your belief to something that menaces the established order, your preaching would be unacceptable to your employers” (London,22). Here, Ernest understands that the capitalist class is sincere and pushes to do the best under capitalistic eyes but not under the view of a working class. It is interesting to me because it makes me question power and authority. How can change occur when the main people in control are those that cannot relate to the people that are in need of benefiting from the proposed changes? I think that when thinking about who we choose to lead- we should push to put in charge someone who has experienced what he or she is trying to change. Then, change can be beneficial to those that need it the most and the “employers” will have to accept a new order- one that has the everyone’s best intentions.

Premodern Moral Order vs. Modern

Taylor’s understanding of premodern moral order to modern moral order has to do with Plato’s premodern pursuit of excellence by being virtuous as an ideal versus the modern pursuit of security and prosperity, helping ourselves which in turn helps others. For Plato, the highest forms of reality are those that are non-material that philosophers can only understand (9). In the premodern moral order perspective, I can understand that when a hierarchy is endangered it is revealed because it threatens the natural order of things. At present time, Taylor points out that “security and prosperity are now the principle goals of organized society (13). In addition to this perspective, as individuals prosper, in turn others also benefit from their prosperity. In Taylor’s modern moral order I observe in daily interactions that life is based in the pursuit of success. The view that, if I succeed then my family who supported me succeeds and it is this security that will ensure prosperity for those around me. The mentality of having good work ethics and working hard to have a good life is important to ultimate success. I do think that there are other virtues that are important; for example being helpful towards a friend in need or helping out the community. However, sometimes there is no time for these virtuous acts- there is no time to help the community in need especially if one has to work or go to school to earn more money. And as this type of modern moral order continues the outlook of our future will continue to be a push for success through capitalistic eyes.

Social Imaginaries

When reading “Social Imaginaries” it made me question where my practices come from? Do they come from my own personal beliefs or do they come from the practices that already exist in my normative life? Taylor focuses on, “imagination” as a way that people see their world and these social imaginaries are not told in theories/doctrines but are told in stories and legends (23). I recall that when growing up education was a major influence as far as shaping my own self-discipline to do well in school, yet the practice of having good work ethics was already established before I went to school. I can’t recall a time in my life that having good ethics was ever officially taught to me, I have always known it as a skill to be developed. Practices are passed down from generation to generation and the “economy” we see today comes from our own ways of seeing the world around us. Taylor states that “the new practice, with the implicit understanding that it generates, can be the basis of the modications of modern theory, which in turn can inflect practice” (30). As a point to this, I grew up under the Catholic tradition which was passed down by my family’s beliefs and although there is a part of Catholicism that I still hold on to, I started inquiring about other belief systems and explored the religion of Buddhism (even read a book that looked into the benefits of both religions). The way I live my life is to be good person and at the same time to be a mindful person, these types of practices comes from the beliefs of two already existing religions which has transformed for me over time from family traditions to my encountering of my own atmosphere.

Consumers and the Public

For the most part, I can see where Adorno is coming from when he states, “The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them.” Today there is a lot of pressure to be a certain way and teenagers to young adults of varying ages all want to fit into an ideal. We buy products to be like movie stars or models we see in television or in movies. And our society facilitates this through advertising and this way of being is deeply rooted in our culture. However, there are those rare occasions where television steps away from the ideal; for example, plus size models who are confident and strong and talk shows that converse about inner beauty and the importance of being a secure individual.Next, I can also see where Benjamin is coming form when he states, “The public is an examiner, but an absent-minded one.” The public attends a movie to be entertained or to relax and with all the special effects the audience engages in the movie but often times does not play close attention to details on what the movie is portraying or the message beyond the technology. Although, I have often seen films that from a critical point of view have had meaning, purpose and a message to say about current times. I have also spoken to individuals about there own views of certain films and individuals who really took the time to dive into the artistry of the film. So in some cases, the public is an examiner and at the same time fully attentive to the sequences of the film.