Controller or controlled?

Since the introduction of philosophy, people have wondered whether our lives are own to control or if they are already predetermined by a higher being. Even though there is no concise answer to this question, writers, scientists, interviewers and philosophers have contributed their ideas to this debate through their own respective works. Some of the works that reflect people’s lives as predetermined fates are Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Studs Trekel’s Working. Dashiell Hammett’s protagonist, the continental op, has the ability to leave the town after completing his initial task, but he ends up staying and taking another job due to his surroundings. Kurt Vonnegut’s religion creator, Bokonon, saw the harsh truth of predetermined lives and so he created Bokononism to counter the predetermined fate with purposeful lies. Even though Neal Stephenson’s (no comma) protagonist, Hiro, is left poor compared to his fellow Blacksun creators because of his intrinsic need for knowledge, Hiro is rich in knowledge and is destined to be a hero. Roberta Victor, the call girl, from Trekel’s Working, is a victim of her surroundings, since her initial path of independence led her to a path of drug dependence. That in turn sealed her fate as a streetwalker, who was in a constant search for any dope hookup that she could afford.  Pico Della Mirandola, a philosopher, believed contrary to the those beliefs in his Oration On the Dignity Of Man, since he believed that “the Father gave the seeds of every kind and every way of life possible” and that “each man [who] sows and cultivates will grow and bear him their proper fruit.” However, after looking through these works of Hammett, Vonnegut, Stephenson, and Trekel, would Pico agree that we are the controllers of our own fate or if we are being controlled by our surroundings?

Within Hammet’s Red Harvest, The Op could have easily left after completing his initial task, but looking at investigation as his "bread and butter" he was forced to stay by circumstance (Hammet 157). This circumstance was a positive motivator that allowed him to maintain his sense of duty to his work, until his personal enjoyment took over. Once the op began experiencing pleasure from his immoral deeds, he was poisoned and his mind began to corrode. In the beginning, the op maintained accurate portrayals of his deeds in his journal, but after enough corrosion, he went back to change all of his records. Hence it was his circumstance of bringing home the "bread and butter" that lead him down a path in which he was fated to fail (Hammer 157).
Just like the Op, children in poor countries look at every task as a way of getting food. Though many of the tasks they do are not favorable, they are forced to do it to survive. Hence It is the children's surroundings that determine their fates.
Where We Live Matters is the perfect title for this piece because it is what determines our future.
Though, as the greatest species, we like to believe that we are the controllers of our futures, that is not always the case. These children, though they are human-beings, are in danger of becoming child soldiers due to their surroundings.
In Cat's Cradle, Bokonon notices that the “truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, [he] made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies” (Vonnegut 100). The truth is that the people's lives are predetermined by their surroundings and they do not have much say in the matter. Bokonon takes this truth and bends it to the needs of the people to provide them with a life of hope and purpose. Even though the people of San Lorenzo have no power over the people that enter their country, Bokonon makes the people’s helplessness into a positive thing by making up the predetermined groups, karass, that people belong to and are supposed to be united with. Does it matter that these people are no more closely related than a rock and bear? No, because all that matters is what people believe in, and since the people believe Bokononism to be true, it is true. With this in mind, even if we have the wrong beliefs, are we still the controllers or the controlled?
Scared of the many mysteries of life, people tend to look up to a knowledgeable being for consolation. Uncle Enzo tries to make this connection between the people’s normal lives and to that of a higher being by stating that there is “a little bit of Asherah in all of us” (Stephenson 408). Whether there truly may or may not be a higher being, people, being scared of the unknown, create a godly figure to pray to in hopes of rationalizing their lives.
Prostitution: personal choice or circumstance? "It was strictly a romanticism...if you could get away without undressing totally, you did that. (Trekel 62)" - Roberta Victor
Unlike Roberta, Some girls do not choose to get into the prostitution business, but are forced to due to their personal circumstance. With her emotionless face, this girl is probably also "numbing" herself, like Roberta to "keep any sense of self-respect"(Terkel 60, 59).
As Pico has stated, "the Father gave the seeds of every kind and every way of life possible," it is our job to utilize them and make them into what we need. Even if you have the bare necessities, they will bear the cultivator the effort that is put into it. Hiro clearly had the ability of becoming rich like his other Blacksun creator counterparts, but he did not. Is this because he did not put enough effort into his "seeds" or did he have a higher calling for the search of knowledge? In light of this video and Hiro's decision, are humans the controllers or controlled?
Locke, sort of like Pico, believed that all humans had a clean slate when they took birth. Their futures where determined by their exposures. Even though Pico and Locke are separated by a time gap, they both share the same ideas of human self-achievement though the “seeds” they posses. Are we the controllers of our own fate or are we the controlled?
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