All posts by Johanna Go

Johanna’s Quotes

1. “She’s not at all submissive or attentive. She just wanted to get close to me, to play, and to make love.”
2. “I love her freeness, even when it hurts.”

Lost Horizon
3. “To be gentle and patient, to care for the riches of the mind, to preside in wisdom and secrecy while the storm rages without — it will all be very pleasantly simple for you, and you will doubtless find great happiness.”
4. “And then, in the midst of the still-encompassing dream, he felt himself master of Shangri–La.”

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell is an animated film directed by Mamoru Oshii. The movie is set in the future where technology is so advanced that people and technology are merged to become more efficient beings. An example is a doctor whose fingers elongate and pieces of metal can be seen underneath. Many humans have computers as a replacement for a brain which leaves them open to being hacked. The garbage collector was hacked in such a way that false memories of a fake wife and child was programmed in his brain. Even the picture he tried to show to his partner of his wife was just a picture of him. There are also secret police who track down and stop hackers. The protagonist, Makoto Kusanagi, is part of Section 9 and this episode causes her to question her identity. With the birth of advanced technology, individuality is lost. There is a scene where there is a lady inside a building that looks just like Kusanagi, while Kusanagi herself is standing on the street level. This shows that the protagonist could have been modeled after the lady and she is not original at all. She even questions her own existence.

“…there’s a remarkable number of things needed to make an individual what they are. A face to distinguish…A voice you aren’t aware of…The hand you see…memories of childhood…All of that goes into making me what I am…Perhaps…I’m a replicant made with a cyborg body and computer brain. Or maybe there never was a real “me” to begin with.”

She wonders if her brain is programmed to think that she is contains a “ghost”, what sets a part a human and a robot (similar to a soul). Even though her brain may be created to think this way, she does not blindly follow the influences of her environment but questions them.

Kusanagi knows that if she wants to leave the life she has now she has the choice to do so but in return she would have to give up all of her memories and live as an empty shell. This is similar to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where everyone is programmed to think they are happy and are practically brainwashed to say certain phrases. Most of the people of London are just empty shells that the government fills with what suits their needs.

Science and Technology is a prevalent theme in Ghost in the Shell. Since technology has become so advanced, the lines between artificial intelligence and humans are starting to blur so comes the question: what can be considered being human?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Ethics in The Road
Everyone has a friend who says one thing but does another, a person whose actions are contradictory to his or her words. Imagine someone who is in favor of being green and keeping the earth clean. This person does extensive research before purchasing products so that when it comes time to throw them out most of his or her belongings can be recycled and reused by other people. The individual attends environmental protection meetings and is enthusiastic with spreading the word among friends. But at the same time that person smokes cigarettes and pollutes the air. The person believes that he or she is helping the earth by attending meetings and being present at rallies but does not realize that smoking is going against what he supposedly believes in. Similarly in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the father and son define themselves as the “good guys” but they do not help out the rest of the survivors. McCarthy suggests that law and ethics usually go hand in hand. For example, it is unethical to murder someone and it is also against the law to kill another human being. But in a world that has lost authority, ethics is also lost because each person has his or her own definition of what the morally correct thing to do when there is now law.
Cormac McCarthy was first inspired to write The Road when he visited Texas in 2003 with his son. He thought about what the area would look like in the future and saw “fire up on the hill”. The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is dedicated to his son. (Winfrey) The novel is about a father and his son wandering through the ashes of America after an apocalypse. The book does not explicitly show reader what the catastrophic event occurred, but allows the reader to imagine with meticulous descriptions of many disastrous scenes. They are traveling south towards warmer temperatures. They do not have much left except the road on which they travel on and each other. Since there is no animals or vegetation for consumption some humans resort to cannibalism. Throughout the book the father reassures his son that they are “the good guys” and they must find shelter from “the bad guys”, the cannibals. They have one firearm but only two bullets are loaded in it. The gun is their last resort in case they fall in the hands of the cannibals. The few survivors they meet they leave behind in order to save themselves and hopefully reach their destination. When it comes down to it they father will prioritize his son and himself over everyone else.
Throughout the novel the father constantly reminds his son that they are “the good guys”. He confirms “we’re ok…nothing bad is going to happen to us…because we’re carrying the fire.” (83) With this continual encouragement that they are upright and holding a supposed conflagration the father and son find the strength to keep traveling towards their destination. The father created a divide to separate him and his son from the supposed enemies. The label “the bad guys” consists of roadagents, cannibals, and anyone who could pose a threat to the man and his son. The man tells the boy stories about the old world and hope to try to keep fire alive in his son. They talk about the possibilities about a crow flying to Mars. The father says, “if you had a really good spaceship and you had people to help you I suppose you could go.” (157) The adult tries to instill hope in the child. Even in times of hardship the father teaches the son “This is what the good guys do. They keep trying. They don’t give up.” (137) When the man dies and the boy is found by a family who offer to take him in he asks, “How do I know you’re one of the good guys?…Are you carrying the fire? (283) When the boy runs into trouble in the future he still remembers his father’s words and keeps trying to protect himself and searching for the good guys.
The pair’s behavior is governed by what is right in their eyes. This is also reinforced by the fact that they are the good guys. Throughout the story the father and son’s priority is preservation, but the father’s attitude towards outsiders is not the same. The boy sees another small boy that looked about the same age as him in a house and worries about him. He ponders, “what if that little boy doesn’t have anybody to take care of him? What if he doesn’t have a papa?” (85) Even after his son’s tearful pleas, his father decides to leave the stranger behind. Another incident occurs while they are exploring the basement of formerly magnificent house. The people down there were “huddled against the back wall…naked…all trying to hide…a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt.” (110) The scene was horrific. These victims were being kept alive in the basement for the sole purpose of being eaten by the road agents. One of them was already half gone. After escaping the house of horror the boy wonders what fate awaits the victims and confirms his father’s reason for leaving them behind. He says, “They’re going to eat them, aren’t they? Yes. And we couldn’t help them because then they’d eat us too. Yes. And that’s why we couldn’t help them. Yes.” (127) Even after leaving them behind the boy worries about them and tries to justify their actions. Some time later all of our main characters’ belongings were stolen. After tracking down the culprit the man strips the thief, figuratively and literally, of everything he has including his shoes. He protests, “Don’t do this, man. You didn’t mind doing it to us…You took everything…I’m going to leave you the way you left us.” (257) In the end, due to the boy’s pleas, they leave clothes and shoes on the road where they found the man. The boy is compassionate towards the people who are not the “bad guys” and he wants to bring them along for companionship. The father will do what is necessary in his eyes to protect himself and his son even if it means that he is leaving other innocent people to meet their demise.
In each example, the pairs’ ethics are challenged and the father makes decisions that the boy does not agree with but cannot go against. When the son spotted a little boy the father made the decision to keep moving on the road. The boy cried, “What about the little boy?” (86) The son even tried to negotiate with his father that he would share half of his food with the little boy, but his requests were denied. In today’s world if one saw a little boy who seemed lost, the most common question to ask the boy is “Where is your mommy?” Trying to help out the child would be the natural thing to do. But in such a world where survival as become “natural” people are left behind. When the duo left the dozens of victims in the basement the boy felt remorse and attempted to justify their reasons for deserting the ones in need. He says, “We couldn’t help them because then they’d eat us too…And that’s why we couldn’t help them.” (127) The connection to the victim here is not as strong as it was to the little boy because the son could identify with the young child. When the father and son caught the thief with their possessions they took everything he had. The boy protested, “Just help him…He was just hungry, Papa. He’s going to die.” (259) The boy finally convinces his father to leave clothes and shoes for the thief. The boy has a heart for helping others while the man’s heart has grown hard and cold in order to face reality and protect them. This shows that even the father and his son cannot agree on what the “right” thing to do is.
In The Road, Cormac McCarthy conveys that in a lawless society ethics is questioned because of priorities. The son has a strong sense of being a “good guy” and is taught to run away from the “bad guys”. His father’s teachings about what to look for in a good guy follows him even after the man has passed away. The choices the father makes are dependent on what he thinks is the right thing to do. These selections are based on what is advantageous to the father and the son even though it may not benefit the rest of what is left of society. Throughout the novel ethics is applied to each person differently and there is such a clash because the father and son have different opinions about what the “right” thing to do is. Seeing as this is what McCarthy envisions for our future, if some sort of apocalypse occurs there may be a very small bit of hope in mankind. The fact that we do not know if the boy survives after the family takes him in is representative of the mysterious and unknown future.

A Vacation Gone South

Part 1: A Vacation
My boyfriend and I had decided to go on a little vacation. Summer was nearing and we both put in a request for vacation dates. We currently live in a cute little apartment in Astoria. He works for the MTA five days a week from 2 to 10pm and I work in an office from 10 to 6. Because of our schedules we don’t always have time to see each other. He seems to be more tired and out of it lately. I wonder if something happened. Hopefully this vacation will bring us closer because I sense we are drifting. We decided to go to Hawaii. I have always wanted to visit Hawaii because it is the only state that is an island. Neither of us has been there and the atmosphere there seems to be more relaxed than it is here in New York.
Part 2: A Tumble
We finally landed in Hawaii. The temperature was high and we could see the blue ocean sparkling. After dropping off our bags at the hotel we decided to have dinner and call it a night. With the itinerary I printed out, tomorrow will be a long day. The next day we rented a small boat and paddled out to the ocean. The sun was high in the sky and the waters were clear. It was great. Suddenly the boat started to rock and flipped over! I treaded in the water and looked over to find my significant other missing. Panic and dread filled me. Where did he go? Is he alright? What happened? I put my goggles on and looked underwater. I saw him moving deeper and deeper into the ocean. I swam after him.
Part 3: A Glimpse
I dived down to the depths of the ocean and saw him drifting towards a cluster of caves. After a minute underwater I had to resurface to breathe. I sucked in extra air and dove down again. I caught up to him and noticed that his eyes were closed and he was not fighting for air like he should be. He looked peaceful like he was in a deep sleep. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly creatures were among us. They looked human from the waist up but they also had tails instead of legs. By the time I noticed, they had surrounded us. Due to shock I lost the air in my lungs. With my last bit of strength I took my partner’s hand.
Part 4: A Transformation
I must confess I do not know how much time had passed. I was lying face up on a table of some sort. My body had just awakened from a restorative sleep. I could hear high-pitched squeaks and squeals, which my ears adjusted to quickly. I kept my eyes closed just to observe the environment with my ears. I heard two voices discussing what to do with the newcomers. I tried to stretch out my toes and realized I was unable to. I didn’t have toes. I didn’t have feet. In fact I didn’t even have legs! Instead I had a tail. I had somehow transformed into a mermaid! I opened my eyes and looked around. I had been placed on a table made from sponges. The walls that surrounded me looked like the tentacles of a sea anemone. I felt safe but also lost at the same time. Where did they take him? I quickly got used to moving around with a tail. It was like doing the dolphin kick in swimming class but all the time. As I was practicing two figures, presumably doctors, entered into my so-called room. They explained that my partner and I were almost couldn’t be saved but we were lucky. They talked about some complicated scientific medical procedure that allowed them to turn us into mer-people. It sounded like black magic to me. They directed me to my partner’s room at my request. There he was lying on the sponges. His face was as serene as the last time I saw him. It seems that he hasn’t woken up yet. I took his hand in mine and to my surprise he woke up.
Part 5: A Decision
Now an important decision had to be made. Should we attempt to travel back to our original homeland or explore this new underwater Atlantis-like place? I still didn’t understand how both of us could “breathe” underwater. Maybe the doctors said something about that in their long explanation. My boyfriend said that he wouldn’t mind staying and studying the area since we are still on vacation even though this was not the kind of trip he expected. I agreed that exploring the region would be interesting but what if we want to go back to land? What about our jobs and families? There were so many things that were just up in the air. I finally decided to stay. Now we need to learn about this species before anything else.
Part 6: A Lesson
One of the doctors volunteered to tell us about the mer-people of Melloasis, which is what they called their society. We learned about the elders who lead the villages and the equality of all citizens. Similar to communism they live as a community without using money and everyone does their role to keep the place going. There are hunters, doctors, caretakers, and their jobs can switch at any time. The flexibility of job positions seemed interesting. If each mer-person was able to choose a job that he or she wanted how would they make sure that all jobs were filled? Each mer-person takes as much food as needed and everyone is generally happy. Since the young are raised communally they do not have the same type of attachment as humans do. I was taken aback by the idea of having numerous partners even though I understand that it is a way to keep their population at a stable number. My partner and I just didn’t concur with the notion but we had no complaints since the mating season was already over. Melloasis is very green place. Everything the mer-people use can be recycled and they try not to disturb the nature and other creatures among them. The doctor explained that it is their society’s responsibility to maintain harmony with nature by not doing anything beyond preservation. This seemed like a great place to be and almost like a utopia.
Part 7: A Misfortune
We decided to go explore the childcare center to see how the caretakers work. The childcare center was tucked away in one of the corners of the cave. Inside the caretakers watch over the newborns as they lie on beds of seaweed. When the young ones wake they are fed plankton and other small fish. They interact with each other and play with shiny objects or trinkets. The caretakers take note of which object or objects a particular mer-baby plays with and how he or she interacts with the other children. This is taken into account with the caretakers have their meeting with the village elder about which role each mer-child should fulfill when he or she turns of age. My partner decided that we should see how the hunters catch fish. We made our way outside the cave and watched the hunters from afar. They were both mermen and mermaids. Some used a net composed of seaweed and others used driftwood as hunting spears to collect their fish. The strength of these hunters was impressive seeing as they were able to carry all the fish they collected and drag them back inside the cave. While we were observing the hunters, I suddenly heard a grunt from my partner. I looked down and his tail had been pierced by a sharp piece of driftwood. His scales started to turn a shade of red. I pulled the driftwood out and threw it away. I spotted a dangerous looking fish in the distance. It started swimming this way and I realized it was a shark. All the hunters started to head back into the cave. With all my strength I pulled my partner into the cave. A stream of red liquid followed us. The hunter who accidentally threw the spear in our direction apologized and asked what we were doing in the line of fire. Before we could answer the two doctors from before appeared and pulled us away saying they had to clean out the wound.
Part 8: A Problem
The doctors brought us back to the place where both of us had woken up. While one of them dressed the wound the other asked me what happened out there. I communicated that we went out to observe the hunters in their roles and one of them accidentally speared my partner. A report would have to be made to the elder. I asked about their policy on outsiders. The doctor told me they never had any outsiders. They were five self-sufficient villages that were just trying to survive in harmony with nature. I asked about the scientific process they used on us. The answer was that it was an experiment to save our lives. Since we were not born in Melloasis we are not instinctively inclined to appreciate nature. The elders may believe that we are a danger to the mer-people. I asked what happened to a mer-person who did not appreciate nature. He or she is exiled. The other doctor and finished dressing the wound. I told my partner that we might be exiled from this society. He replied that if that were the case then we would need to turn back into humans and return to our homeland. We asked the doctors if they could reverse the process. They told us they would look into it but there were no guarantees. Suddenly an older mer-person arrived and the doctors introduced the elder of their village.
Part 9: A Command
The elder looked at us and told us the hunter made a report about us. I told the elder that we were observing the hunters and my partner was hurt in the process. The elder studied us and asked if we were from another village. I replied that we were actually humans who have been turned into mer-people by the two doctors. The elder was taken aback and glared at the two doctors. The elder explained that the right thing to do would be to change us back to humans to keep the balance with nature. Either that or exile because we do not have the strong appreciation for nature that the other mer-people have and we led a shark near the cave opening. Either way the elder wanted us to leave.
Part 10: A Fabrication?
I guess it would make sense that they would want us to leave. We are outsiders and they have their whole balance of nature thing. We talked it over with the doctors and they decided to try to reverse the process but they were not completely sure that it would work. The experiment began on both of us simultaneously. And I was out. I awoke to my partner calling my name. I opened my eyes and saw the sun’s bright rays. I felt sand under me and stretched out my toes. My boyfriend breathed a sigh of relief and hugged me tightly. I thought you would never wake up. I asked him what happened. He said that we went out to sea on a boat and I wasn’t paying attention and fell into the water. He brought me back to the beach and tried to revive me. For a while I was unresponsive. I coughed out some water but didn’t do anything else. He was very worried. I asked him about the underwater society. He looked at me like I was crazy. I think you need some rest.

Biosphere II

Biosphere II was a real-utopian community for about 3 years. It is located in Oracle, Arizona. It is named Biosphere II after out planet Earth, which is the first biosphere. The inventor/director or research is John Polk Allen, a ecologist and engineer. He is now the Chairman of Global Ecotechnics Corporation. After being owned by different companies, five biome areas were created in addition to an area for human habitat. Two missions that included about 8 people were conducted in 1991 and 1994 to test survivability and whether a small community could develop and live in a self-sustaining colony.

The first mission in 1991 was not so successful. By 1992 members had lost weight because of low food production and the oxygen levels were low. Chickens were not producing enough eggs and pigs were eating the biospherians’ food so the farm animals were eaten instead. Also there were rumors that they smuggled food from the outside. The second mission only lasted 6 months because of management disputes. Now it is a scientific research institute for the University of Arizona.

Some of the course themes include Ecology, Economics, and Science and Technology. Recycling is a key part of living in Biosphere II. Each person uses the same water and recycles all their waste. Using half an acre of land to grow food, they also keep the land fertile and only use non-polluting pest control methods. Each person is assigned different tasks to fulfill. These tasks include researching within different biomes, coordinating the technical system, planting and harvesting crops, and preparing meals. In Biosphere II, technology is used to control the systems such as waves, waterfalls, temperature, and humidity. The biospherians conduct research on how to restore endangered habitats by using their controlled environment. They try to find out how different elements affect the land.

Information from:
Images from Google


Metropolis is set in futuristic utopian-like society where the residents are living carefree lives. They have skyscrapers and fun leisure activities and have no worries. They know little about the ones who work to keep their city this way. The Master of Metropolis is a man named Joh Frederson. One day his son, Freder, catches a glimpse of a beautiful woman and discovers the underground world of the working class. He is quick to turn against his father and wants to help the working class. Joh Frederson ruled Metropolis as a dictator where everything he said was absolute. If he wanted another building to be constructed the workers would have to work overtime to complete this task. While the working class worked underground all day, Freder and other wealthy individuals enjoyed themselves at the “Club of the Sons”. It seems that if you were born into the “right” family you could have a carefree life. The working class was unhappy with their situation and that nothing was being done to improve it. The whole Metropolis is like a large body. The Master of Metropolis is the mind, he requests projects to be done, and the workers are the hands, they do all the work. A common ground was needed and it was said that the mediator between the mind and the hands is the heart. They looked up to a woman named Maria because she predicted that one day a mediator would come to settle their differences. It could be said that Maria is an embodiment of religion because she instilled beliefs in their mind of this mediator. The working class would listen to every word she said. This was the reason that Joh Frederson created a robot in her likeness to try to “control” his workers. You would think that the future workers would have more robots doing their jobs for them. What I found was interesting was that on the surface Metropolis looks like a utopian society, but underneath lies a dystopian society. This reminds me of Lost Horizon by James Hilton geographically because Shangri-La is is hidden utopia within a mountain and usually mountains are quite an elevation off the ground. Once the citizens descend the mountain they realize they will sooner die. Shangri-La is ruled by the High Lama but he does not command his population. Most of the citizens do not even get to see the High Lama. Other than that if you lived within the utopian section all your life, you would not know that there was anything else.

From Bacon’s New Atlantis

The quote I picked is “For the children of such Marriages, are not admitted to inherit above a third Part of their Parents Inheritance…”. I found it interesting that if your parents didn’t approve of your partner you would receive less inheritance. I didn’t think there would be a monetary loss if parents didn’t approve. But here it’s sort of a law.

We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel

The lyrics of this song mention many  people, places, and events that are significant in history. Most of these words bring a negative image to mind. Some examples are, “Richard Nixon…H-bomb…Children of Thalidomide.” Richard Nixon was one of our presidents and he was involved in the Watergate Scandal which led to his resignation. The H-bomb, or hydrogen bomb,  is a device which is far more powerful than the  atomic bomb which was dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima and injured many civilians. Thalidomide was a drug that pregnant women took to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. Consequently, this drug had an adverse effect on their children. In the chorus, Joel mentions a fire that has constantly been burning. He says, “We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning…No we didn’t light it But we tried to fight it.” The happenings mentioned above can be considered “fires” that have had a negative effect on the world. The whole world has dystopian occurrences and the people in it are just trying to find a way to live and find happiness in it. In the music video there is a family going through their years and they are affected by many of the occurrences but they also have their happy moments.