Humanity & Reputation

The Most Human Human + // The Empathy Exams + // The Nature of Things SBFB // Working SB+ // The Communist Manifesto SBHB // Histories SBFB // Pride and Prejudice FB++

The first two entries of my library look at what it means to be human. Brian Christian looks for what makes humans different from computers. He finds that what we were once the only ones capable of is now perfected by machines. In his quest to be seen as ‘more human’ than a computer, Christian searches for advice of past winners which included being rude. But this is not quintessentially human, but rather indubitably anti-computer. The Venus-P4 statue was made to look “extremely artificial.” It looks very mechanical, like it was made from a 3D printer or Lego. This is in juxtaposition to the subject matter, which recalls a time of marble statues of archaic gods. Like computers, the artwork is flawless but also unnatural.
People search for the thing that humans can do that animals or computers cannot. We need to prove ourselves special or superior. I think one thing only people do is question their humanity. Leslie Jamison gets paid to act out medical ailments for med students. During these ‘exams’, she is also watching for empathy towards her false condition. Are humans the only ones to empathize or love? Probably not. But it is an important part of what we see personhood as. Do we want cold, disconnected doctors? The artwork provokes the feeling of strangeness with the combination of the unfamiliar hospital room with the predatory glances of all the staff. The Black Eyed Peas’ song “Where is the Love?” also points out the importance of empathy to civilization. It helps us survive as a whole so the song laments the lack of it seen in respect to current issues. Also, this desperation for humanity’s uniqueness discounts the individuality of those same humans. Some people can’t empathize or love after all and it does not make them less human.
The following works are all books or authors you have HB, according to Bayard’s scale. Thus, they are all the best apt for his method. Perhaps the book itself is boring and/or objectively terrible. What matters is its impact as opposed to its contents. You don’t need to have read Twilight or The Hunger Games, but you ‘should’ know that they popularized the supernatural romance and teen dystopian genres. Lucretius’ The Nature of Things is somewhat different in that respect. He was praised for his philosophy and artistry of his poem, but it is not until later which people saw the surprising accuracy of his seed theory in reference to science and other theories like the afterlife and the body and soul.
Working is an integral part of peoples’ lives. It fills an inordinate amount of time, gives the means to survive, and is how many describe themselves. Working aims to tell what people do and if they like it. The painting calls back to a simpler, idealized time of working that one would imagine of people during the industrial age. Yet, as the interviews show there is a large amount of job dissatisfaction. Even the young paperboy was cynical concerning his work situation. Today, with machinery and increase in schooling of the labor force, there is focus on productivity over a nice company culture and people are less free to change fields. The song chosen, is 96,000 from the musical In the Heights. It involves people in a poor neighborhood stating what they would do if they won the lottery and won $96,000. They mention going back to school, leaving the U.S., and improving technology in the schools. The show also discusses poverty and racism, with the difficulty of leaving the city for college and the incoming gentrification.
At the very least, the existence of the Communist Manifesto is definitely falls under assumed public knowledge. It is the first thing you think of when you hear manifesto, proletariat, or bourgeoisie. At some level, everyone uses Bayard’s method. There is thought to exist, like the library he speaks of, some collective culture everyone shares. This seems untrue and yet when we hear that someone has never seen Friends or didn’t know the Titanic was a real ship, we are a bit dubious. The painting, Atlas, represents the power struggle between economic classes. Like how Atlas holds up the sky as punishment for siding with the Titans, the proletariat does all the necessary work which allows the bourgeoisie to prosper simply because they were born into their level of wealth. Both also hold a lot of power, with the possibility of inflicting a great deal of damage if they decided not to do their jobs.
In addition to what makes humans unique, they are the only ones to accumulate knowledge. We have libraries and write histories. The other books in this library were chosen because they are famous and renowned. They are all classics of sort. And while Bayard finds the obligation to read all of these exhausting, Herodotus’ Histories has been a great staple and foundation for literature itself. This collection of history represents not only a simple memory of what supposedly happened but also includes notes on culture and differing perspectives. In a sense, investigative reporting. Herodotus interviewed people and traveled to collect information for his early account of history. Thinking broadly, while his account may be imperfect it had the largest impact on writing.
There is some sense of accomplishment about reading a ‘classic’ novel. It took me months, but I read every word of Pride and Prejudice. But still, I questioned putting SB next to the title. Was I really reading it if I didn’t understand a number of the words or references? Didn’t I lose something because I didn’t pick up on the brilliance of Elizabeth’s comeback because I don’t know the rules of what makes a gentlemen during the Regency period? It’s a difficult distinction which Bayard wishes to eliminate. The photograph shows the beautiful Versailles estate. In the novel, Elizabeth realizes her feelings for Darcy when she visits his estate, Pemberley, and learns his true personality. The song I chose is “What is this Feeling?” from the musical Wicked. This song of ‘loathing’ reminds me of the conflict of the book resulting mainly in the misrepresentation of Darcy from Elizabeth’s prejudiced point of view. The reasons for their dislike are also quite superficial and the characters move past them, like Darcy does towards Elizabeth’s lack of wealth and family.
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