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The theme of identity in "We" and "The Bell Jar"

In We and The Bell Jar written by Yevgeny Zamyatin and Sylvia Plath respectively, individuality is portrayed as a result of the environment around the main characters, D-503 and Esther Greenwood. The theme of the transformation of identity is highlighted differently in We versus The Bell Jar with the usage of a person, an abstract essence, or an object that develops D-503’s and Esther’s character.

In We, all aspects of one’s life is controlled by the dominating government, the One State. D-503’s name is due to the overarching rule of the One State stripping individuals of their names, replacing them with numbers regarding the person’s importance to the One State. Personal value is perpetually seen and repeated in society as it would be right in everyone’s name. Each citizen has their own personalized Table of Sex Days given by the Bureau of Sex and their own schedule mandated by the One State. D-503 states that he “cannot picture a life” without the guidance of the Table, so it is apparent that D-503 appreciates, and furthermore enjoys the control that the One State has upon his day to day routines. D-503 is hopelessly under rule of the One State until he meets I-330. D-503 drinks alcohol with her, and notes “I became glass. I saw into myself, inside.” (Zamyatin 50). This is important as this is the first time that he has been not sober. He depersonalizes, seeing two versions of himself, describing it as himself crawling out of a shell; one version of himself that conforms to the authority of the One State, and one that detracts and rebels against the One State. The alcohol is symbolic of a light in the darkness for D-503, opening himself up to a different perspective of power. D-503’s characterization (and the torn sense of self that he experiences) is a direct effect of the One State’s almighty control and the abrupt realization of individualism that he experienced from I-330. Feeling ill, D-503 goes to the Bureau of Medicine and discovers that he has “developed a soul” (Zamyatin 79). D-503 is distraught. In a society where creativeness, individualism, and identity persists, developing a soul should not be a serious condition to have. Yet, the state has all power and deems that it be necessary to preserve him in alcohol to help “[avert] an epidemic” (Zamyatin 81). This reflects that these citizens are utterly sedated from free will. The doctors hint at an “epidemic” from him having a soul – but realize that his importance as a Builder of the Integral is more imperative than having his brain removed for science. D-503 is having his identity challenged by the One State for being comparatively different than most others within the society, again all from the opposing sense of self that he feels either obeying the One State or stop conforming altogether. D-503’s identity is eventually forcibly shaped by the Great Operation sponsored by the state. Afterwards, he identity is completely stripped, acting like more of a humanoid, programmable machine than a human with emotions or a soul. He questions the past 200 pages he has written – “Is it possible that I . . . felt—or imagined . . . any of this?” (Zamyatin 202). Here, D-503 feels nothing. His use of dashes, correcting himself, signify that he is questionable about his existence. No past recollection of his life, devoid of all empathy, anger, or desire, subjected to a process that eliminates what makes humans, humans. D-503’s identity was originally shaped by the One State until I-330 formed it into something that pulled at him, showing D-503’s duality, until the greatest entity, the One State, expelled it wholly.

Esther Greenwood’s identity in The Bell Jar is initially illustrated when she makes up a fake name and hometown, Elly Higgenbottom from Chicago, once she meets Lenny and Frankie in New York. She proclaims that she did not want “anything [she] said or did that night to be associated with [her real identity]” (Plath 11). Esther’s action to delineate as someone she is not is notable in the sense that she feels uncomfortable when people judge her, as her real self/identity, but if she gives fake information then she feels safe from the judgements and opinions of other people. This is as a result of the environment around Esther – a bustling New York City – and the mental illness she faces. Even when she wants to return home to Boston she still feels it necessary “not to be recognized” (Plath 114), which exemplifies the importance of others’ judgements towards Esther. Esther has a self-deprecating sense of her identity, unwilling to accept herself for who she is at the benefit of attempting to be anonymous in society. She dislikes having her name as a label to uniquely identify herself, which is why she tends to avoid tedious human interaction and becoming noticed in public. Moreover, she fails to know what she wants to do in the future as a career, and having quit her all-expense paid trip in New York to return home produces a sizeable loss in her self-confidence. Esther’s significant identity shift occurs when she obtains the shock treatments from Doctor Gordon’s private hospital. She becomes obsessed with death unlike at any level noticed before. It is said before the shock treatments that she hates the sight of blood, but afterwards carries nineteen blades to cut herself with at her convenience. Plath is portraying the medical field in a negative light through Esther. Esther’s identity is shattered as her sleepless increases and emotions become stronger. She attempts to kill herself two different times, both by drowning and hanging, but fails each time. By this point, she knows she is beaten, and details that “The more hopeless you were, the further away they hid you” (Plath 160). Esther’s interpretations become more brash after the treatments occur, wondering if she should go back to the doctors, but decides not to after prioritizing her family over the will of the doctors, characterizing the treatments as hasty, causing more problems than they would fix. She reports her heartbeat as sounding “like a dull motor in [her] ears” (Plath 158), again making herself more distinguished as a machine in this world rather than a human that has positive emotion and soul. Machines only have a certain lifespan before they need to be replaced, something that Esther relates to after the dehumanizing shock treatments from Doctor Gordon. Her identity is drawn out as being hopeless and discouraged of any cure, yet when she hemorrhages and still lives (the doctor calling her “one in a million”), then is heard of the news of Joan hanging herself, strives to continue the shock treatments. It is an interesting turn of events after she expressed how horrible the shock treatments at Doctor Gordon’s were, yet she pursues even though she had believed earlier that there is no cure for her. Plath incorporates Esther’s calming, centering statement “I am, I am, I am” (158 & 243) to seemingly allow Esther to focus her attention on the fact that she is, at any given moment in time, a living being with a heart and soul. The assurance is needed for Esther as she has many different thoughts and actions about taking her life, and she can distract herself from thinking all this by saying “I am” as a way to give herself a more pursuable, median feeling to live rather than being polarized in the feeling of wanting to commit suicide. Continuing the shock treatments, Esther herself demonstrates they are a refreshment of life by exclaiming similarities between the treatments and “a ritual for being born twice” (Plath 244). This is what exactly occurred when she first received the shock treatments from Gordon – though she spiraled into madness and a deeper, darker depression.

The sense of identity in We and The Bell Jar is established differently in the sense that both of the main characters overcome a climactic change in their sense of identity either through a person (I-330), external entity (the One State, depression), or an effect as a result of an object (alcohol, shock treatments) that ultimately define the differences in the texts. D-503 succumbs to the control of the One State through the Great Operation, losing all identity, while Esther attempts to find hers again through a round of shock treatments.

A response to "It's Irresponsible to Spread Fear of Vaccine"

In an article from USA Today titled “It’s Irresponsible to Spread Fear of Vaccine,” the author notes that due the recent outcry of anti-vaxxers claiming vaccinations create more problems than they solve, reported cases of people obtaining measles and other heinous diseases have spiked. The anti-vaccination argument contains shallow threats full of scare tactics without any observational evidence to back up their claims and a hypocritical ineptness that fails to construct a logical narrative.

The USA Today article expresses that Representative Michele Bachmann believes it’s wrong to make “innocent little 12 year old girls” obligated to get a “government injection.” Well, Michele Bachmann, they are not ignorant, naïve little babies anymore, but instead capable of more complex thought2. Bachmann is subverting the image of 12 year old girls in a trivial light. 12 years old is an age of many developmental aspects, including puberty, the usage of drugs and alcohol, and social changes. And sure, our children might be our little babies our whole life, but Bachmann is painting a picture of forced vaccinations without the foreground of the fact that there are 45 states that allow religious exemptions from vaccines and 15 that allow philosophical exemptions3. Her biased thinking is reflective of an appeal to emotion, choosing to use “innocent little 12 year old girls” against the grain of vaccinations for a ridiculous portrayal that is nothing short of absolute fearmongering to the public. She furthers her statements against vaccines, indicating that someone’s daughter had become “mentally retarded after receiving the HPV vaccine.” Again, this is nothing other than a foolish attempt at scare tactics because there are absolutely zero side effects relating to mental retardation in the HPV vaccine4. The most serious side effect of the vaccine is fever or muscle pain5, so what the mother of the daughter is describing is false and what Bachmann is reiterating is a complete lie. Furthermore, they are affirming the consequent, which is an invalid argument form. “If I got the HPV vaccine, I will become mentally retarded. I became mentally retarded. Therefore, I got the HPV vaccine.” This undeniably invalid claim is an attempt at providing a link between vaccines and mental retardation, but it fails. It fails tremendously.

Anti-vaxxers are also employing other fallacies to discourage the usage of vaccines. For instance, in “Not Being Vaccinated Is Not Unacceptable,” anti-vaxxers utilize appeal to person, more specifically poisoning the well, by exclaiming that scientists and the government would rather lie to the public about the effectiveness of vaccines than honestly document their effects on the population. Here, anti-vaxxers are attempting to discredit the reliability of scientists and instead form their own narrative of how vaccines are harmful rather than helpful when empirical data exists6 that highlights that validity of vaccines. Moreover, the fallacy of composition is exemplified when anti-vaxxers portray the ingredients within vaccines as dangerous, but with further research we see that ingredients that would be dangerous injected on their own combine to form a safe, valuable injection to prevent diseases. Formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, is used in vaccines to “inactivate toxins from bacteria and viruses.”7 Sure, formaldehyde is potentially dangerous on its own (even though it also exists in our own bodies), but when it is a part of a whole, it serves a unique purpose, hence the fallacy of composition.

A Freudian Psychological Analysis of "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin

In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian novel, We, D-503 experiences a transformation that opposes his former self when he spends time with I-330. Beforehand, D-503 is led by his superego, a rational, convention-valued state. Next, I-330 shapes D-503 to be guided by his id. Finally, D-503 centers to his ego where the Great Operation comes of him.

At the beginning of the novel, D-503 is aware of the rules and guidelines set by the One State and is perfectly content with them. He enjoys having a decisive, definitive life, even remarking that “[He] will attempt to record . . . what [he thinks]—or, more exactly, what we think” (Zamyatin 4). D-503’s obsession with the conglomerate – the united, resolute population of the One State – instead of noting his own work as distinctive or having any other sort of character or individuality highlights D-503’s fondness of the One State and attachment to the system. This is mirrored from him being led by his superego, a societal value-preserving state that D-503 does not want to dismiss. Moreover, when he first meets I-330, he describes that “No one is ever ‘one,’ but always ‘one of’” (Zamyatin 8). D-503’s proprietary understanding of this stems directly from the One State, as this is how it has always been for D-503, in media res, so why change customary societal rules that is supposedly accepted by the population of the One State? It is because D-503’s drive is from his superego, and his perpetual unwillingness to change what is accepted and traditional for these people is due to that. Furthermore, when I-330 showed D-503 the alcohol, he tells her that “anyone who poisons themselves” by drinking or smoking “will be shown no mercy by the One State” (Zamyatin 49). This is a rule I-330 most likely already understands, yet D-503 hopes to reinforce what I-330 is missing – an id. Nonetheless, he is ultimately reminded of the brutality of the Benefactor, and again D-503 sways towards his superego, desiring to conform to the standard, that is until I-330 pours alcohol down his throat.

And at that exact point in time, D-503’s duality is featured, and he begins to form an id. D-503 first hints at this transformation when he describes that he saw two of himself – the former, cipher D-503, and the other “[crawling] out whole, the shell is cracked open . . . shattered” (Zamyatin 50). This demonstrates D-503’s shift from relying on his superego to his id, characterizing a new being that is formed as a result. This result expresses the dichotomy that D-503 faces, his former superego conflicting with the newer, yet prominent, id. The development of the id is also shown when D-503 hits R-13 for carrying I-330 at the Day of the One Vote. D-503 recalls “a feeling of liberation, a lightness in my whole body” (Zamyatin 127) which contrasts to what he would have felt before being transformed into having a greater id. This exhibits that D-503 is driven by his id more in the story after meeting I-330 and ingesting alcohol, than when he didn’t know of I-330 and was driven more by his superego. R-13 is a good friend of D-503, yet appears to be more indifferent to society as he made the choice to attack R-13 in favor of I-330’s freedom. Another event that shows D-503’s id after falling in love with I-330 is indicated when I-330 insists that D-503 choose the Great Operation or her. D-503 responds “I can’t go on without you, I can’t . . .” (Zamyatin 162). D-503’s choosing to continue with I-330 rather than submit to the Great Operation sponsored by the One State who D-503 formerly adored is contingent upon the development of what drives him most at this point – his id. D-503’s pleasure principle with I-330 is stronger than his submission to societal conventions and values (id > superego) because of the transformation that D-503 experienced. Just seconds later after this conversation happened, D-503 looks out the window, sees people in their uniforms, and thinks “I don’t want to be saved . . .” (Zamyatin 163) – “saved” as in submission to the One State and the Great Operation. D-503’s indifference to the One State mirrors the values of his id, ignoring his superego, instead wanting to go against the grain instead of compliance with the One State as he always has done in the past. Additionally, the pinnacle moment that shows D-503’s refusal to comply with the One State was when he was hailed at the MEPHI celebration as the Builder of the Integral, hoisted up over hundreds of people in honor. He “felt . . . [himself], a separate thing, a world . . . the number one” (Zamyatin 138). The diction depersonalizes D-503, separating his being as an entity unlike anything that he has ever seen before. The obsession of unity and solidarity is shattered as D-503’s point of view changes from this experience, not to mention his ever-growing id as he gets involved with MEPHI through his relationship with I-330. The growing pleasure principle and indifference to follow the One State’s laws will lead to a death drive in D-503 because of his id, and he employs his ego to mediate the two.

D-503’s ego shines after his world forces him to balance the powers of the One State, I-330, and MEPHI. D-503 cries out “Oh, if only I had . . . smashed myself . . . to smithereens . . . [or] found myself . . . behind the wall . . . if only I had actually never returned here again” (Zamyatin 172). Here, he is regretting some of the decisions he has made, contemplating what life would be like if he had done this or not that, and this is a result of his ego driving D-503. In an attempt to balance the life of submission to the One State (superego) and I-330 and MEPHI (id), the ego attempts to center the two, yet causes panic and anxiety in D-503, only wishing what for what he does not have. He is mirroring exactly what people driven by an ego do, negotiating with society’s demands, trying to centralize the needs of the One State and also I-330. Moreover, when D-503 walked outside after hearing the news that the Wall got blown up, his first thought was “Who is ‘we’? Who am I?” (Zamyatin 192). That would be a completely different reaction from his superego or his id because it is merely an existential question when D-503 is controlled by his ego. A definitive answer from his superego (“We are the One State,” for example), or his id (“You are the One State”) would result as he knows where he belongs when driven by those two. However, the ego mediator fails to understand where he belongs and causes D-503 to be pulled between the One State and I-330, or his superego and id. Furthermore, D-503 exclaims “Everything had been decided and tomorrow morning I would do it. It was just like deciding to kill yourself . . .” (Zamyatin 197). This is D-503’s solution to his growing ego. The way he arbitrates the opposing drives he experiences is by complete submission to the Great Operation. The result of the huge drive of his id from I-330 was a death drive, and after a viable formation of his ego did D-503 realize that this was the best, and only, outcome. Another transformation to absolute automaton, an instrument to those who are allowed to keep the gift of life.

D-503 is at first led by his superego, wanting (and enjoying) the laws of the One State in place, hating the idea of individuality or separation, and following societal conventions and values. Soon after meeting I-330 does D-503 develop a larger id that transforms D-503 into exploring his pleasure principle through alcohol and I-330, having a greater disregard for the One State and the Benefactor, which ultimately leads to a death drive in D-503, where his ego takes over. D-503’s ego attempts to mediate the desires and drives of his superego and id, and it tears at him, resulting in submission to the Great Operation by the One State.

Software/apps that Standard Notes has replaced

Why I kind of want a Pixel 3 for the Titan M chip

Right now, I have a OnePlus phone. Though for my next, I may buy a Pixel 3 for it's Titan M security chip.

The Titan M security chip is an isolated processor and memory. Google took their Titan Chip in their data centers and modified it for mobile use. 

The first level of security seen comes from the bootloader. The chip is integrated into Verified Boot, Android's way of authenticating each stage of the boot process. Titan M can protect against bad actors trying to guess your passcode hundreds of thousands of times per second by limiting the amount of attempts. Also, all content on the device is encrypted, and can only be decrypted when the correct passcode is input (shouldn't this be standard?) through the chip's verification. The firmware cannot be tampered with unless you know the passcode.

It allows apps that store sensitize information, such as e-voting, money transfers, sensitive communications, etc., to keep their data in the chip as well as generating and storing private keys. This is also the first iteration of Android's Protected Confirmation, faciliated by Titan M, which requires user verification to prevent bad actor attempts in sensitive apps or transactions.

For security-conscious people, this sounds compelling. For the not so security-conscious, this is behind-the-scenes security that you will love. 

I don't demand much from my phone, but by god do I want the data onboard to be my eyes only, under all circumstances. The cheapest phone with Titan M is $400, the 3a. Maybe once my OnePlus phone bites the dust.

Why I like black but "c" is white

I like black.

Given the opportunity to get a white phone or a black phone, I'll pick the latter. White car or black car? Black car. Even my lock screen and home screen are completely black, like #000000 kind of black. Black black.

So why is my Listed website, "c", white?

The short answer is that it's easier to read and it doesn't stress our eyes out as much.

According to UX Movement, white text on a black background is harder to read because when white text reflects light, the reflected light bleeds into close words and letters. Moreover, since white stimulates all three color sensitive cones in our eyes, reading white text on a black background stresses our eyes out. 

Furthermore, people with astigmatism (approx. half the population), when the cornea is irregularly shaped it causes blurred vision, find it much more difficult to read white text on black backgrounds.

Meanwhile, black text on a white background absorbs light, crispening the text making it easier to read even though opening my Listed website in a dark room with your brightness set to max might make you go blind (sorry but not sorry). And, a study done in 1980 showed that readers were 26% more accurate when reading black text on a white background, so I'll take it.

So, accessibility, readability, and efficiency are why I keep the Listed theme default. 

Have fun reading with less stressed eyes!

The Core 8 apps on my phone

1. My default clock app

I have four alarms (two for weekday mornings and two for weekend mornings) that I use regularly. I also enjoy using the timer feature for laundry and the dishwasher, as having that reminder that I need to tend to something rather than asking myself every 20 minutes "Has it been an hour yet?" is helpful.

2. Standard Notes

I live in plain text, the bold editor, FileSafe, and the simple markdown editor (and also the newly announced TokenVault!).

3. Tutanota

Replacing Gmail/Outlook with Tutanota. Also replacing Google Calendar for Tutanota's encrypted calendar with encrypted notifications.

4. Brave

I love me some Chromium. Have tried to switch to Firefox but I always switch back. I add Ublock Origin and Privacy Badger as extensions (I would add HTTPS Everywhere, but Brave has a built in HTTP to HTTPS capabilities).

5. Spotify

For all my musical and podcastical needs.

6. Today Weather

A sleek, AMOLED friendly app that does not have subscriptions.

7. Google Maps

For ideas on things to do, where to go, how late places are open, and traffic. I have tried every single maps app there is to try and I cannot get away from Google Maps no matter how hard I try. So it stays.

8. Signal

End-to-end encrypted messaging. Everybody should be using Signal. Stop using WhatsApp or Telegram.