Postmodernism: The Attack on Titan

Attack On Titan poster

As we all know, times are changing, and rapidly if that. Time, as it seems, continually slips away from us as we become busier and busier and the pace of social change in our society becomes faster and faster. In fact, the pace of social change in our society has become so fast that we cannot mentally keep up with it. Our culture is changing so rapidly that by the time we actually recognize and fully analyze the change, it has already progressed to an entirely different level, leaving us in the dust and wondering where time has gone. David Harvey calls this the “time-space” compression.

“The Information Age” has just gotten a bit more complex. We live in an era where science and technology are everything; they make the clock which we are forever racing to catch up with. Science and technology are the very things that make the knowledge we seek so easily accessible; it’s always at our fingertips. Science aims to continuously explain culture and the human condition. Through the postmodernist perspective, this need to explain is simply what makes us unable to keep up with the change. Instead, we’re constantly feeding off of knowledge always wanting more and more and more. The need to know ‘why’ is precisely what drives the change in our culture.

Science and technology have also skewed our perceptions of boundaries. As industrialization booms worldwide, multi-billion dollar companies are rapidly expanding; at the touch of a button we can instantaneously have contact with someone on the other side of the world. Talk about time and boundary perceptions. We’re losing the concept of not only geographical boundaries as well as cultural boundaries (as if they were really all that solid to begin with). According to postmodernism, this is exactly what is destroying us.

The conditions of postmodernism and the ever-changing concept of time remind me a bit of the show “Attack on Titan.” Attack on Titan (sometimes referred to by the anime-nerd culture as AOT) is a story about a city that is enclosed within walls to protect the citizens from man-eating titans that roam the land outside the walls. The idea is that the walls have protected the people of the city for over 100 years and as such they will continue to protect them from the savages outside. Everyone who lives within these walls seemingly lives with little notice to change with the exception of some individuals. One of those individuals is Eren. Eren continuously says that times are changing and that soon the walls won’t protect them anymore. No one seems to believe him. Eren has the burning desire to join the Survey Corps and strive to fight for knowledge of the outside; to learn how to protect humanity from the man-eating titans. Despite the efforts of Eren’s friends and his mother, Eren’s father gives the best advice, “Human curiosity is not something you can restrain with a lecture.”

“Human curiosity is not something you can restrain with a lecture.” This seems to be the key to understanding the ‘why’ behind not only postmodernism and science, but the continuous speed up of time. Humans are curious. We’re curious about the human condition. We’re endlessly curious as to how we can improve our lives and seemingly add to our longevity, especially in America. But all of this curiosity leads to a never-ending need for knowledge and when we run out of knowledge, we turn to technology to find a way to fulfill the addiction. “The world, in a sense, has become a moving target where knowledge is concerned,” (Moberg 2013: 301). Everything is changing so rapidly that we can’t seem to understand it, thus the never-ending series of ‘why’s.  In a sense, we are like the Eren, sensing the change, but never fully understanding it.

 


 

References: 

Moberg, Mark.

          2013      Engaging in Anthropological Theory: A Social and Political History. New York: Routledge. 

“The Persistence of Memory”

 

the_persistence_of_memory_1931_salvador_dali

 

Alright, this goes back a little from what we’ve recently been reading about in class, but in chapter six of A Good Book, In Theory by Alan Sears & James Carins, Sears & Carins discuss the concept of time. As the world became more industrialized, and technology advances, there becomes a stronger and stronger reliance on “clock-time”.  The clock literally runs our lives now. We watch this mechanical object as it breaks down time into literally measurable moments and marks them for us. As you sit in the classroom of a long lecture, or you anxiously await the end of your shift at work, your eyes drift to the clock, marking every second that more often than not, seems to move excruciatingly slow. This idea of “clock-time” is socially constructed. As our societies have advanced, we’ve become more reliant on a way to mark and measure time.

In order to understand the concept of time, we have to be able to apply it to history. This is where the concept of historical imagination comes into play. “We begin with the simplest idea: we cannot know the future,” (Sears & Carins, 144). We cannot know the future. Let that resonate with you for a moment. Got it? Alright, so, if we cannot know future, then we must rely on the past to predict what may or may not happen in the future. We go on everyday planning out tomorrow and the next day and the next until we’ve planned out our entire week. But we cannot know that that week is actually going to happen. In the movie, The Vow, a young woman, Paige, ends up in a tragic car accident from which she suffers injuries to her brain. As most patients who suffer brain injuries, she’s kept in a medically induced coma until her doctors see improvement and healing in her brain. When Paige is woken up out of her coma, she’s woken to a world she doesn’t know. Her concept of the present and her recent past is gone. There is a man in the hospital room with her when she wakes up, along with another woman. The man, she finds out, is her husband, Leo. Her memories of roughly the past five to ten years of her life are gone. As the film goes on, Paige tries to put together the pieces of her recent past to see if her memories will come back. She even makes a timeline of some photographs, describing a decent amount of the pictures as being “in the lost years”.

“Our understanding of society and of our own lives is necessarily retrospective. We look back from the present, which is the latest moment in the process of development. We can understand the world around us only by asking how it got to be this way,” (Sears & Carins, 147). Throughout the film, Paige continuously asks questions about her recent past, and the things that she cannot remember. By doing this, she is trying to find ground to stand on in the world she is living in, but does not recall. Children, and adults alike, do this very same thing, often without more than a moment’s thought. As we go throughout our day, we don’t consistently ask, “How did that chair get there?”, “Where did ‘x’ come from?” unless we’re analyzing a new area (or just doing some strange math problems). We know that these things are there and/or that these things happen, because they have been there or have happened in the past, so we understand these things to be a sort of constant. A young child, however, doesn’t have a vast knowledge of history (personal or social), so they continually ask the adults and older children around them questions who’s answers may seem obvious. As such, they are the prime example of how we understand our world only by asking how it got to be this way.

Tying this all together now, we understand time, and life within time, only through the society in which we live. Our concept of time in America is not the same as it is for someone living in a country in Southeast Asia. Our society, our culture, sets up the framework for our understanding of the past, the present, and the future. It is through our memories, our teachings, and our social interactions that we are able to understand time in the way that we do. We know the past is the past because we are told that it has happened before the moment we are currently residing in . However, as Sears & Carins put it “…the past is the present.” We are living off of the events that have happened in order to form a prediction, of the future. Time then, is a method to our madness, if you will.

 

Note: The above image is of Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”. I found the image rather fitting when talking about time, historical imagination, and the past. It reminded me of the concept of time, not just because of the clocks, but because the clocks are seemingly melting. My mind interpreted that image of clocks melting as “Time is slipping away”. Memory is more than essential to being able to understand time. Without memories, it would be rather difficult to sort out what is the present, what is the past, and what the future may hold. Which reminds me a lot of those with dementia and Alzheimers, which is a topic for a later day. Also, the title of the piece seemed rather suiting as well (and I have only borrowed it for this blog post).

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Phenomenology, Memories & Friendship

Phenomenology, Memories & Friendship

Alright, I ask for your pardons as I am not the greatest at actually creating a meaningful form of feedback.

In reading Chapter four of Sears and Carins, I was rather fascinated by Phenomenology. For anyone who is reading this blog, and therefore this blog post, who is not in our Theory class, “Phenomenology… focuses on the examination of consciousness,” (Sears & Carins, 87). That is to say that our brains work in a miraculous way to sort out everything we see, everything we experience everyday of our lives. As we live and breathe in every conscious moment, our brains work very similarly to a computer, filing what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste, etc., into not only meaningful sets of information but into what we know to be memories. Without consciousness, our daily lives would be filled with sets upon sets of data that, without meaningful coding, are just that, strings of data. Phenomenology is a bit like reading binary and being able to apply meaning to all of the various sets of numbers.

Now, to explain the photo above. While I am not the greatest with traditional media, (for those non art-savvy people, that means things like painting and drawing with your own hand) I have a bit of a niche for photography. The photo above was from a visit to Chicago’s infamous Millennium Park. Millennium Park is a place that makes me realize just how influential phenomenology is on our daily lives. As a repeat offender of sight-seeing, exploring and drinking in the culture of Chicago, my first visit to Millennium Park occurred merely a few years ago. The first time you walk through this art extravaganza, you’re bombarded with dozens of different shapes, colors, and sizes of the different pieces. All around you are the sounds of busy tourists, young children, traffic, blaring sirens, smells of flowers and food. But yet, consciousness allows us to put certain sounds, sights, and scents into different levels of foreground (important) and background (less important).

During my visit to Millennium Park, I was with a group of friends, whom I could only claim to be my friends through the concept of intersubjectivity. Intersubjectivity is the concept that we assume that others see the world in essentially the same way that we do, (Sears & Carins, 90). By assuming that others see the world in essentially the same way that we do, we are able to interact with them and seemingly understand them. In my experience with others, the more we seem to understand one another the stronger the bond formed between them, thusly the lead to what we commonly know as friendship.

Tying this all together, Phenomenology is the study of consciousness. Why is this important in Anthropological Theory? Simply because consciousness is social. Consciousness allows us to categorize, file, and store sets of informative data all around us, including our interactions with other people. However, we only interact and relate to other people on the assumed basis that we have a similar understanding to the world that we live in, this is intersubjectivity. That’s all I’ve got for you folks. I hope I didn’t bore you to tears. :3