Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cultural Seed plot

Roy Wagner in his text "The Invention of Culture " states that culture is invented "whenever and wherever some 'alien' or 'foreign' set of conventions is brought into relation with one's own"(10). This notion applied to Red Mars makes for quite a compelling read in that there are multiple cultures being invented simultaneously. There is the culure that forms between the members of the first hundred who are in themselves representative of there respective governments and with it their national traditions. There is the culture that slowly emerges between earth and mars via the overseeing committee (UNOMA)in contact with the first hundred based on observation and regulation of activites. There is the culture that emerges between the members of the first hundred and the planet. And the culture that comes about as the occupation spreads.
So what to do make of it??
Well, one way to look at the cultural invention of Red Mars is to look at it through the eco-economics lens that Robert Markely refers to in his article. And though this may seem inappropriate it really isn't at all...Because while Markley seems taken with the notion of eco-economics in terms of the bio-system interactions that have taken place in the novel, it can be argued that this same notion can appropriately be applied to the culture invention/clash/collision taking place along side the biosystem evolution. For indeed the culture invention/clash/collision is made up of complex relationships that result in making apparent the "interlocking systems that create and sustain tenuous seemingly miraculaous conditions that allow life to flourish"(775). It is these relationships - the more intimate ones to be exact, that keep the momentum of the novel moving. It is so because within each relationship one finds a small scale cultural invention in that those who are bound up in intimate relationships function initially in different cultural paradigms thus in coming together sexually, religiously, politically, amicably they serve to create/invent a new way of being. And this can be readily seen in the Maya/Frank/John love/hate triangle; the nadia/arcady romance; the Michel Duval/Hiroko/areophany affair; and ann and "her" mars to name a few. Each of those mentioned relationships create a "social" and gives to Mars a foreign culture. And while this giving is taking place Mars continues to provide them with the backdrop of opportunity placing the relationships and the culture that amounts from them in a dynamic coupling with the planet.

All this talk of cultural invention (which is by its nature divisive) though is rather ironic given the "trans" lable under which the colonization of Mars occuring. That is not to say that there aren't subversive characters such as Arcady, Ann, Sax who in their own ways are working against the division that one can't help but be confronted with within the framework of culture; however, Robinson makes explicit that transcendance of cultural boundaries cannot be escaped. And this is pointed to implicitly by Willima White in his article that discusses Greimas' semantic rectangle. For cant we argue that robinson utilizes this tool to emphasize just how bound humans are to binary systems?

This last question brings me to my final point.

Wagner in his novel makes it explicit that culture is a convention that we ourselves have created. Following this line of thought then..culture is "made up" or created by us. As such (I'm tying this notion to Robinson now)no matter how far we travel we cannot escape the boundaries of our own making.

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