Archive for March, 2012

Journal 5

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Both Anarres and the Neanderthal Earth present enticing utopias. Anarres focuses on equality and community. The Neanderthal Earth presents a lush world where women and men lead very separate lives but are still presented as equals. And although both of these worlds appear to be perfect, they both have downsides. As I argued in a previous Journal post, I would rather live on Anarres than on Urras because many of the practices found on Anarres are appealing to me. I like the equality, the emphasis on doing something because you want to do it and the lack of a capitalist system.

The most appealing thing in the Neanderthal world to me would be the lush green planet that still seems to exist for them with many animals that our earth lacks. They also seem to be much more aware of the nature that is around them, living more with it then we do because the Neanderthals are hunter gatherers who live off what is wildly available. Their lifestyle would be a little tough for me, because I am a vegetarian. But I am also a vegetarian because I don’t support the way that animals are raised in order to be eaten, so the lack of farms with mass production of animals would be eliminated and I would be okay with the system of hunting for food.

Aside from the ecological benefits, I think I would still prefer to live on Anarres. Its main downside is that it is a moon that was almost completely devoid of life before the colony was set up. The idea of the Neanderthals separating the males from the females is just too foreign to me, and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Just because women get periods does not mean that men and women shouldn’t live together. I guess I get it because the Neanderthals have a superior sense of smell, but still I feel like there would be a better solution. I do respect the separation as a form of birth control and  population control.

Of course there is also the idea of the Alibi monitoring system. I really don’t mind it, if it is something that the culture has come to be used to. I think that Sawyer is right about the idea of privacy creating many of the crimes that are committed and that if people know they can get caught they will be less likely to commit the crime. This idea is quite a bit like the one on Anarres, where people do not steal or kill because they have no possessions, everything is public. I definitely prefer Anarres way of eliminating crime to the Neanderthal, as the lack of privacy kind of creeps me out.

So, I would chose to live on Anarres over the Neanderthal earth, although both have their pluses and minuses.

Journal 5

Monday, March 19th, 2012

If I had the choice between living in Anarres or Neanderthal earth, I would definitely choose Neanderthal earth. There are many reasons for this. To begin with, Anarres is just not that fun a place to live. The planet appears to be in a constant state of desperation because of its lack of water or ability to grow things, which means that food and water are always being rationed. Also, although there are no official social structures, people are pressured into working and the society has become highly restrictive through assumed, although possibly subconscious, social constructs. Any of the positives of living in Anarres are shared with Neanderthal earth, so why wouldn’t I just choose Neanderthal earth?
Sexuality is a thing that is both widely accepted and encouraged in Neanderthal earth. I think that it is brilliant to have both a female and male “mate” because it’s like having the best of both worlds. You become fully satisfied emotionally and physically. There is also almost no danger or sexual or physical violence because of genetics, inherent morals and constant surveillance. Although the surveillance would be unnerving at first, it doesn’t appear to be overly invasive or stifling because no one is actually watching. The companions, the surveillance devices, also seem pretty nifty. It seems more like a very useful and intelligent friend than a suspicious watcher.
Equality is also a non-issue in the Neanderthal world. As in Anarres, talent and hard work are valued more than gender, because as long as you are qualified for a task gender is irrelevant. The way of life is more innocent and logical there too. They have not over-populated the earth or destroyed the environment through greed and negligence, as we have here on our earth, because they realize that their actions have consequences. They have not killed off animals like the wooly mammoth or the messenger pigeons because they are careful and conscientious.
Neanderthal earth is a very advanced place. Socially, there are not very many taboos to violate, which is eliminating unnecessary embarrassments and makes life generally more pleasant. Technologically, it is possibly even more advanced than we are (e.g. companions), and certainly more advanced than Anarres is, so I think I would feel more comfortable there for that reason.
The Neanderthal world seems, to me at least, to be more utopian than Anarres. It seems happier out of choice rather then necessity. They share many of the same positives, but Anarres has many more negatives.

Journal 5: Life in Ponter’s World

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I did not really have to think twice about my answer: Neanderthal World.  Hands down. Besides the fact that the Neanderthal World is really our Earth (home sweet home), there are so many qualities that Ponter’s world has that make it sound better than Anarres.

The first of these qualities is the almost complete of crime.  While the Companion and the Alibi Archive may be, to us as humans, an invasion of privacy, who wouldn’t want to live in a world in which a woman can walk alone at night without the threat of harm?  Yes, Ben Franklin, I understand that “he who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”  But Ben Franklin wasn’t a woman living in 20th century America.  And I’d rather feel safe walking back to my dorm at 2am alone, knowing that even if I do get attacked, there is still a very real chance for justice with an Alibi Archive.  In the Neanderthal World, it seems as though rape is non-existent, especially when compared to the stark description of Mary’s attack in the human world.

Secondly, the Neanderthals seem to take much better care of the Earth than we do.  They work with nature rather than pollute it.  Ponter is shocked to discover that we wiped out several species off the face of the earth.  Just the fact that the Neanderthals respect nature makes them a good candidate for a place to live.  It is difficult not to consider giving up the human world, with all its smog and criminals, to live in a place where safety doesn’t appear to be an issue, both in terms of physical and personal health.

Journal 5- Anarres

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Journal 5- Kat Tar

Anarres (To The Moon)

I honestly doubt my ability to live and thrive on Neanderthal Earth. Beside the simple fact that the world has no humans on it, I’d be surrounded by a constant nagging guilt in constantly comparing myself as a human to the very ‘nature friendly’ Neanderthals. Even when not taking species into consideration I’d be constantly freaked out over the idea of my life being recorded all the time.

The idea that the government would have access to my personal life, the most intimate details there in is a positively scary idea. The idea alone reminds me of the Panopticon, or something straight out of 1984. How could anyone be certain that the government was trusty worthy enough to not watch things for their own advantage? There were the judges that had to sign off on legal permissions to use the alibi archives, but even then Lurt was able to easily sneak into the building and cause trouble. There seemed little to no security there and the fact that archives were so poorly guarded made me even more wary of the idea.

I much prefer the idea on Anarres where there were no jails, so while the idea might or might not work, there was no crime or jails. If Adikor had been on Anarres and Ponter had disappeared there wouldn’t have been the threat of castration and sterilization of anyone that shares 50% of their DNA with him. The story that Daklar told of her mate being dragged away because his family member was accused and found guilty of a crime was horrific. The idea of genetic cleansing reminded me scarily of the Nazi’s or some other really scary government projects where people were selectively sterilized. There seems so little freedom in the Neanderthal Earth in comparison to Anarres that I couldn’t live comfortably there; much less agree to put a little computer on my arm that records everything I ever do.

Journal 5: Neanderthal Earth

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Between Neanderthal Earth (N.E.) and Anarres- I choose N.E.. Both worlds have many pros and cons, but for me N.E. has more pros than Anarres.

N.E. seems to be a civilized, organized, and peaceful society. They live in a plentiful world with many different animals and landscapes. Knowing that our Earth has many beautiful places and creatures, I can only imagine that N.E. is even more amazing because they have not hunted anything to extinction or flattened land for agriculture/other uses. The Neanderthals seemed to have preserved and limited themselves to keep the world in balance. This world isn’t over-crowded, and no where does it mention anyone in poverty (although there very well could be). Social norms would be different, but not necessarily bad. The things that would be considered taboo in our society are not even an issue on N.E., so I would just need to adjust my way of thinking.

Of course in any society there are some negative aspects. The few things that might bother me about the Neanderthal society are the lack of privacy, the separation of genders, the birth control. If I moved to the Neanderthal world, then the adjustment to having my every move recorded would be difficult, but no one would even see the recording. At first having separated genders would be weird, but I would get used to being separated from males. The birth control that the Neanderthal society uses (only having children every 10 years) definitely works for limiting population growth, but you would probably have a child at 20 or 30, and if you’re not ready at age 20, then you can only have 1 child in your life. One could try at age 40, but birth issues increase drastically. This limit would be quite hard to deal with, but I would be able to accept it over Anarres.

I chose Anarres over Urras, but I chose N.E. over Anarres because N.E. would be easier to transition to and I would be happier. The Anarres landscape is dull and lifeless. There is barely enough food for everyone. If you want to learn things that can’t be “shared”, you aren’t really supposed to learn them. I would rather be able to have my own home and not be looked at as an outcast. Both worlds have a different concept of privacy than what we know, but privacy on Anarres is less optimal than N.E.. N.E. records everything, but no one is watching it, and unless something bad happens, no one will every watch it but you. On Anarres, you are expected to share almost everything. You can be private, but you will be socially shunned and that would be miserable.

When it comes down to it, Anarres would be a very difficult place to move to. It has a rough terrain not suited for humans. Neanderthal Earth is safe, beautiful, and plentiful, and I would easily choose it over Anarres.

-Sarah McDermott

Journal 5: Taking Dust for Privacy

Monday, March 19th, 2012

After much deliberation, I have finally come to the conclusion that I would choose to live on Anarres rather than in the Neanderthal world.

I certainly find both planets to have positive traits — such as women having the same opportunities as men when it comes to education, social standing, and career choices, and the fact that homosexuality and bisexuality are seen as natural, not immoral — but some of the social norms of the Neanderthal world are troubling for me.

For example, I don’t agree with the fact that men and women, while equal, are so incredibly divided, as I feel that this prevents a wholly unified society from forming, and creates a rift in friendships and relationships, complicates child-rearing, and contributes to the feeling that men and women are separate but equal. In contrast, women and men on Anarres are equals to such an extent that their lives are entirely intertwined at home, as well as in school and the workplace — there is a social union on the planet that has appealed to me since I first began reading The Dispossessed. Also, while I may have trouble with the fact that mothers and fathers are both able to essentially abandon their children at the dormitories, I at least support the concept of women not being entirely tied down by or solely responsible for child-rearing.

Furthermore, I would have a lot of difficulty dealing with the fact that my every move would be recorded by the government. While many may argue that the Neanderthal society’s crime rate is greatly reduced by the existence of the Companions and the Alibi Archive, one should consider the fact that Anarres has no crime to reduce. In short, because Anarres is a society without ownership, no thievery can occur, and, because one must struggle to survive in a harsh environment with few resources, interdependence with others becomes a necessity and violence/murder thus becomes detrimental to one’s own well-being. Also, I feel that privacy is a basic human right, as some people do wish to keep some aspects of their lives confidential, not because it’s illegal or threatening to society, but because it may be embarrassing or just incredibly personal.

Overall, while Anarres is incredibly arid with a shortage of resources and the requirement that many civilians work in areas such as the Dust, I would still prefer it over the Neanderthal world, where privacy is nonexistent, men and women are separated, and things such as one’s profession and passion can be determined worthless by a panel of strangers.

Is Privacy Worth Your Safety?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Who would want to know that a permanent, nonstop video record of your life was constantly in progress while you’re changing, or going to the bathroom or even just sleeping in to an absurdly irresponsible hour? I certainly wouldn’t – and yet who among us doesn’t go to the bathroom or change clothes? The fact that there is no video evidence of most people engaging in more private activities doesn’t mean that most people don’t engage in them, and if having a video record of them has the potential to save lives and secure the safety of a society then it just might be a risk worth taking.

The Neanderthal Earth of Hominids takes that very risk and builds its entire society on top of it. Every individual within the society has a personal companion chip recording every second of their lives, just as every individual within our society has a social security number. Does that mean that somewhere out there in the Neanderthal world one can expect there exists a video of them on the toilet? Yes. Yes it does. But it also means that when a young child goes missing their whereabouts can be ascertained effortlessly. It means that when someone is murdered there is a video of their murderer committing the act. It means that the age old question “is it better to put ten innocent men in jail or let one guilty man go free,” is obsolete.

That being said, that the world has come to a point where in giving up any and all sense of privacy can be seen as a necessity for safety is a disturbing and disappointing notion. In the Neanderthal world there are no intimate moments known just to oneself or shared between two significant others. The complete lack of privacy in the Neanderthal Earth of Hominids feels like a punishment, but after reading any newspaper on any given day it begins to seem like a punishment well deserved.

If it meant the secured safety of myself and the ones I loved, I would give up my privacy to live on the Neanderthal Earth, because some things are more important than knowing there isn’t a video of yourself on the toilet.


-Joshua Lawson

Journal 5: Surveillance and Segregation

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Surveillance. The very word sends a shiver down my spine and tension racing up into my shoulders. I bristle at the idea of someone listening in on my conversations, reading my emails, filming my movements down the street or sidewalk. I don’t even like that my social security number can be tracked. I don’t like that my information can be pulled up with a punch of a few buttons. And I don’t like that the very systems that keep my information can be hacked. These misgivings and hesitations constitute the bulk of my dislike for the Neanderthal Earth. I love their preservation of natural resources, and I love their peaceful way of life. However I, as I am now, would not deal well with the level of surveillance they put themselves under in order to be safe and maintain their current way of life. I prefer the social responsibility on Anarres to every moment of one’s life being recorded and preserved as on the Neanderthal Earth. The situation in which Adikor finds himself shows that the system is far from infallible, and that a perfectly innocent man can have the events of his past dredged up and used against him. Lurt’s ability to manipulate the access to the alibi archives for a brief time through her use of the noxious gas also shows that the system can fail, and fail easily. This constitutes one of my major misgivings about living on the Neanderthal Earth.

My second issue centers around the segregation of men and women. I for one strongly dislike living with other women without the less hormonal presence of men around. I would not want to live exclusively with either sex. Yes, I acknowledge that the separation of the two sexes could reduce violent crimes. I would not like being restricted in contact with my male mate to just a few days a month, however. Only a handful of days a month to see my Daddy, my Papa, my brother, my husband? I would hate that. I also consider myself straight, and I would find the expectation of having a male and female lover difficult to cope with. I’d hardly mind others engaging in poly-amorous relationships, but I wouldn’t be comfortable engaging in one myself. The lack of established permanent relationships on Anarres is strange, and I wouldn’t like the obligation to constantly share my space, but I would prefer it over the surveillance of Neanderthal Earth.

In order to live on Anarres, I would have to give up my personal sense of the self. I would have to give up feeling that I owned things. I would have to give up the desire for solitude. But I could find ways to cope with that. I would constantly feel watched knowing that all my actions were recorded into my alibi archive were I to live in Neanderthal Earth. I wouldn’t be able to relax knowing that. I would have a far easier time relaxing if I just had to share rooms with other people.

In conclusion, despite the differences and difficulties, I would choose to live on Anarres.

– Julie Allbeck

Journal #5

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Choosing between the Neanderthal Earth (Hominids) and the utopia Anarres (The Dispossessed)

John Sawyer’s Neanderthal Earth seems to have a more promising social structure than Le Guin’s Anarres in a number of ways. Although there are extreme similarities in the differences between our world and theirs, N.E.’s complexity of their social structure defines their natural intelligence.
Neanderthal Earth’s gender ethics are what our culture defines as “quite the taboo”.  Their free bisexuality with one another seems to work quite well however – Adikor, the protagonist’s “man-mate” seems to love him and his female partner equally, no matter the distance between them – which is quite a lot most of their lives. The women live separately from the men, besides even ten years when a generation is picked to be “created”. This is a reasonable control for the population of their world, reproducing with one another in order to create a numbered generation. The gaps between the generations is probably thought to be a severe problem among our society – but again, this dynamic in the N.E. social structure seems to work as well.  Ponter’s daughters, Jasmel being the oldest and Megameg being the youngest, have an intelligent aurora to their personalities.
On the other hand, Neanderthal Earth is also different in many difficult forms of taboo for our society to deal with – more difficult than the embracing of bisexuality and separatism among the genders. Their form of punishment for committing crimes against one another is a harsh result – the victim is sterilized of his genes (now considered “bad” genes) along with most of his ancestors to follow – such as his son. When Adikor is put on trial, he is in severe danger of losing his genes along with his son. This form of punishment may seem more humane because they are not killing someone physically, but instead they are killing someone’s generation which is more harmful in itself. That person’s line is completed stopped in order to preserve the “good” genes of society.
Just like the abnormal practice of “sharing equally” in Le Guin’s society of Anarres, the notion of “absolutely no privacy” stand within the Neanderthal universe. With the Companion on their arm, everything they do in their lives is recorded down in a personalized “black box” within the archives of the community. If they commit a crime, then it is recorded. If they step out of line, it is recorded. This aides the leaders in the community to “keep tabs” on their people, and enforces a rather scary policy about “being a good citizen”.
Although it seems that all these taboos are consderably absurd to be accepted by anyone in our culture, I would live in Neanderthal Earth over Anarres because I enjoy their complexity of their natural intelligence.

Oh, Anarres! My flawed paradise

Monday, March 19th, 2012

In comparison to Anarres, the Neanderthal Earth is more safe and comfortable, however I would still pick Anarres because the Neanderthal Earth has a more rigid social order and lacks privacy.

On Anarres pretty much everyone is required to undertake difficult labor out in the Dust at least once in their lives. One is also guaranteed employment that is beneficial to society at all times through the PDC. Conversely, on the Neanderthal Earth one must periodically defend the work they do to a council of the elders. If the elders decide the work is not benefiting society then you’re out of work. Presumably, on the Neanderthal Earth it would  be quite easy to go off the grid and become a full-time hunter-gatherer. However, this possibility is not mentioned in Hominids so it’s hard to determine how easy it would really be. Even though the work might be harder on Anarres, I would prefer living there because I would never doubt my contributions to society as a whole.

The biggest problem I have with the Neanderthal Earth is the total lack of privacy brought about by the constantly recording Companions. First of all, Neanderthals are forced into having an artificial device implanted into their body. I don’t think the Companions are necessarily a bad idea, but it should be something one opts into and only forced into if one has a history of committing violent crimes then they can be forcibly implanted. I admit that the Companions and the Alibi Archives make for a much more safe and secure society. My disagreement is with the way the Companion system is implemented. In a society where criminal genes have supposedly been eliminated, why watch the majority of people who are  not harming others and just trying to be good?

One thing I really admire about the Neanderthal Earth is how homes are built to work with the environment rather than to destroy and replace it. Exploitation and destruction of the environment will eventually lead to the downfall of the exploiters, whether it’s on Anarres (although there’s not much to destroy there), Urras,  or our own Earth. The Neanderthals have figured out how to make an advanced and sustainable society that is very beautiful in the ecological sense. As much as I love Odonian ideology, the Anarresti seem to have fallen into the same trap of exploiting their environment for profit. However, it is necessary to survive in the harsh conditions on Anarres, so I forgive them.

The combination of near absolute freedom and leftist sociopolitical systems on Anarres always wins me over, despite the hard work and harsh environment. Anarres seems like the ideal place for me because I would be able to retain my individuality while also tangibly benefiting society as a whole. An anarchist’s paradise might not exist on Earth, but Anarres makes it seem possible.