Peter Stilman– the REAL ventriloquist in City of Glass

Read my blogpost about Peter Stilman’s theories, it may help with your understanding of this post šŸ™‚

Anyone else noticed the similarities between Peter Stilma Jr. and Quinn? Ā The ending was slightly ridiculous to me and I asked myself at the end of the book- what exactly did it take for an intelligent writer like Quinn to become the huge mess that he is by the end of the book? I could not figure it out.Ā So I decided to take it upon myself, as the reader, to find out. Another reason why I love City of Glass– readers get to play detective too.

I skimmed the book a second time and I discoveredĀ these parallels of Quinn and Peter Stilman Jr. that were jumping out at me. (sorry I don’t have all of the page numbers)

In Quinn’s very first entry in his red notebook, he wrote: “My name is Paul Auster. That is not my real nameā€ (66). Does the sentence structure of this quote remind you of a time… say the time when Peter StilmanĀ Jr. ended his speech with “My name is Peter Stilman.Ā This is not my real name.”? What’s with the phrasing?? Well, to me…Quinn is off to a great start and ready to explore theĀ language of God.

Like in my essay, I don’t actually have concrete explanations for any of these parallels (which is really bad LOL).

One of Henry Dark’s (Peter Stilman) theories about the language of God is that it will be acquired as soon as mankind retreat into the pitch dark cubicles of this tower of babel where they will forget everything. Peter Stilman Jr is the product of his father’s experiment which as a result, causes him to lose his ability to speak. And Quinn…in addition to forgetting his agent’s name (196), his world tumbles into darkness(199) Ā and he ā€œfelt that his words had been severed from himā€ (200). Ā 

How about when Quinn buys a pen from the death-mute? It came with a label “‘LEARN TO SPEAK TO YOUR FRIENDS'” (84), could this be an indicator of the journey Quinn is about to embark on? One that requires him to learn a new language…the language of God perhaps?

I argued in my essay that Peter Stilman Sr. may have been the one orchestrating the whole episode. It’s either that or Quinn deciding he wants to transformĀ himself into Peter Stilman Jr. HAHA

the logic behind Peter Stilman’s theories?

Henry Dark aka Peter Stilman, has all these theories about the tower of babel, fall of men, fall of language that I got really confused about because he doesn’t link (or very vaguelyĀ he does) any of them back to how it would actually help with mankind learning the language of god.

When I say we in this blog post, I mean mankind.

The Tower of Babel was mankind’s attempt to reconnect with God, but it failed. Why did it fail? The main difference between the Babylonians and Adam and Eve prior to the fall of men (when men were perfect) is their knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to attribute it as the main cause of the failure of the Tower of Babel. So in order to reverse the fall of men and language, one must first forget all knowledge because the knowledge of good and evil is what separates us from God.

This should be done, according to Peter Stilman, by rebuilding the tower of Babel and retreating into the pitch dark cubicles. By going into solitude, like Jesus who spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness where he overcame Satan’s temptations, we will be able to learn God’s language because it would mean that we have gotten rid of the knowledge of good and evil.

Basically, we need to be like Jesus Christ to reverse the fall of language, which subsequently reverses the fall of men.

The author even acknowledges that Quinn is MIA by the end of the book, could he have ascended to heaven like Jesus after learning God’s language? Maybe? maybe not…this is getting a tad far-fetched hahaha, I know this conclusion is highly improbable but it seems interesting so decided to include it hahahah.

Till this day, I am still unsure of his theories and I don’t know if I’m the only one who is finding it hard to understand but this is what I based my essay on hahaha


Virtual panopticon

This is my take on panopticism in the virtual world. If you are on social media, you’ve voluntarily become part of a virtual panopticon. I think it is reasonable to say that Social Media is modeled after Bentham’s panopticon.

Just like the users in the cubicles in panopticons and of social media accounts can be singled out anytime. We’ll never know if you’re watched because that information is (at least on most social media sites) inaccessible to us. Even though this isn’t exactly like the power dynamic talked about in Discipline and punish per se because social media users can be both, but it is still important to note that a similar power dynamic is Ā observed between the watcher (watch-er? I d k) and the watched, in a sense that the former is powerful and latter powerless.

Based on personal, yet if I may say highly probable, assumption, the norm on social media that most users are inclined to conform to is the growth ofĀ the number of followers, likes, comments and engagement of this sort…which brings me to the next power dynamic…one I like to call ‘follower-following’, whereby power is measured by the number of followers.Ā These aren’t the only power dynamics on social media, there is another I feel is even more important of which I will expound on further into my blog post.


This week’s reading on Discipline and Punish made me think about who is truly powerful when it comes to Social Media. Having been on social media for more than half a decade, and having done two internships in marketing and public relations, I find it hard to convince myself of the idea that Social Media is solely for networking purposes. It is very VERY commercialized. I am nearly 100% sure that most, if not all of us have been exposed to at least one product advertised using influencer marketing.

Benthamā€™s panopticon facilities surveillance and reform and we see exactly the same model if we dissect the process of social media marketing. Marketers are WATCHING us (the consumers), and then, they try to change us… They watch the way we respond to products, celebrities, global affairs. They see who we follow and find out what interests us. Ā Ultimately they attempt (and most of the time succeed with people weak like me) to ALTER our perception of brands and implement some sort of call-to-action to purchase their products. This is one of the power dynamics on social media that I feel isn’t very obvious but exists. Everyone on social media is powerless and vulnerable when it comes to social media marketing. Influencers have all the followers that I guess to some degree, make them powerful. But nobody is as powerful as the marketers

I’m not sure how coherent this blog post is but it’s kinda my brain dump moment hahaha




Plato’s treatment of the arts

I did my rewrite on Plato and realized how much Iā€™ve changed over the year pretty much since my very first arts one essay and I also realized (too late now) that a little bit of research goes a long wayā€¦itā€™s kinda like having a virtual arts one seminarā€¦pulling in new ideasā€¦but with people onlineā€¦and from the past century (the articles I used, I only realized after are from the early 1900s??)

In spite of his support for the use of music and stories of good men etc. in the education system mentioned in Book III, I thought that maybe Platoā€™s, after all, against the arts since he dedicated a whole chapter to it in Book X, on why it should be controlled, and he even goes to the extent of banishing poets.

After doing a bunch of research for my rewrite (trying to find articles that wonā€™t refute my main argument not gonna lie LOL), I found that like me, many find the disparity between his treatment of the arts in Book III and Book X confusing and people try to account for that by concluding that heā€™d forgotten the argument he had in the beginning.Ā Not that that is completely impossible, but this deduction is unbelievably simple and personallyā€¦I couldnā€™t buy into it. So I googled, strolled through the internet a bitā€¦and found two articles which provided somewhat feasible explanations for the discrepancy and interpretations of Platoā€™s treatment of the arts.

The first article talks about how there is no need to make sense of the difference because the issues Plato discusses in Book III and Book X are completely different, to begin with. Book III is about imitation in relation to truth while Book X is about the treatment of imitation. The second article talks about how Plato himself has misunderstood the effects of imitative art on our knowledge of reality. Plato is all about knowing the form, physical attributes of the object are more or less insignificant to him. Therefore, there is no call for worry because arts can, in an educative sense, allow us to KNOW the form. Both authors think that it takes time for the readers to decipher but Plato loves the arts.


History in Sebald’s Austerlitz

My question: How is the theme of the subjectivity of history reflected in the book

I wonder if there is a link between the way Austerlitz handle information about his past and the ending of the book. History is a huge theme in this book and I wondered if the ending was an indication of an underlying message, which I infer to be the subjectivity of history. First, I would like to say that my question is not concerned about addressing the ā€˜suspenseā€™ at the end of the book. Because, if we are talking about the suspense and what the purpose of the suspense is alone, without contextualizing it, the possibilities are endless. Rather, I think it would be more interesting to form a correlation between the suspense and the way Austerlitz handles information obtained about his past. By the end of the book the theme of history and how history is subjective really stood out to me. The narrator and Austerlitzā€™s teacher were the two responsible for constantly reinforcing it. The narrator mentions that there is no way to retell history at its truest. Hilary gives us a sense of the limitations of our historical knowledge. He tells us that there is little to no way we can fully understand history in a holistic manner because one, there could be missing pieces to the puzzle, or two, we judge historical events based on preconceived notions. History is not something that can be memorized and retold, unlike say the bible, where we can memorize its verses now and recite, word for word, exact to the original verses, in the future. Historical information retold today, are simply ā€˜renditionsā€™ of what they truly are because nothing can account for it in its entirety. With this context in mind, the ā€˜suspenseā€™ at the end could be an indication that Austerlitz will continue his journey on an endless search for historical truth. This is how I think the theme of historical knowledge is linked with the ending.

Are we real-life Gustls?

I think Gustl is very relatable. I, too, often have internal monologues. When I was a little girl, as the only child in the family, I was always kind of lonely. I would talk to my toys but as I grew older, I realised that that is actually very very strange. So I brought those conversations back into my head. It still seems rather abnormal, but technically it is just me thinking out loud, in my head, having internal monologues like Gustl. Internal monologues are nothing foreign to me.

On so many levels do I find Gustl relatable. I do agree that he has some attitude problems but that being said, I find it hard to deny how much of me I see in him. In fact, I think most of us are like Gustl. We are similar not in our personalities per se but the way we handle crisis.

Let us imagine that a son accompanies his mother on a grocery store run on behalf of his father who is still busy working. Imagine the son sitting in the passenger seat next to his mom who is driving. A reckless drunk driver crashes into the right side of the car where he is at. The first response his mother might most likely give will be to blame herself. And once she realizes that she had technically, nothing to do with the accident, she starts blaming other people like her husband, for example. I think we would all agree that this scenario is very much possible. I also think that it is similar to Gustl’s situation.

The baker points a knife at Gustl. Gustl uses his own abilities to rationalize something that did not even arise because of him. Therefore, when he starts to realize that he can do nothing to rectify the problem, he starts to put the blame on other people. This may seemĀ selfish of him, but I think that it is a normal human response.

Overall, I find that Gustl deserves our sympathy. He is an Individual brainwashed by the norms of the environment he was in. But besides that, we do see that even with his ranks and everything, he is still very much like a regular human being.




Was Nathanael really just imagining things?

Reading the sandman, I pondered a lot about whether the account given by Nathanael about the sandman was real. I wondered a lot about whether those scenes of ā€˜memoryā€™ were pieced together by his subconscious out of fear. As human, I think most of us would agree that we sometimes create our own versions of reality. We recall places we think we have been when we actually havenā€™t, or people in our lives that probably did not even exist. This phenomenon is what is termed Confabulation. According to Google, Confabulation is a ā€˜disturbance of memoryā€™, when our sub-conscious fabricates memories. Basically, in short, we imagine things.

Confabulation is also known in a more contemporary sense as the Mandela effect. It was coined when a bunch of people misremembered the death of Nelson Mandela. They had, for some uncanny reason, a common memory of the Mandelaā€™s death in the 1980s. (He died in 2013)

In lecture, we learned that our brains constantly strive to make sense of the things we see. This is why the technique of negative spaces in design works. Contrary to what our brains tell us, the picture below is not actually a picture of a cow. It is simply a picture of a few random shapes. What our brain does is make use of the space around these random shapes and conclude an image of a cow. (Taking a closer look, I am no longer seeing random shapes. How tricky, I now see a dog, rabbit, cat, and two other animals that I cannot make sense of)

(I can’t upload the image here due to copyright reasons, but you may check it out here)

As you can see, we are always seeking to rationalize what we see. Nathanael attempts to make sense of his fatherā€™s death and does not succeed. His fatherā€™s death clearly left an irreparable damage on him. His desire to identify the culprit of his fatherā€™s death was brought upon by his desire to put closure to it. Confabulation comes perfectly into place, a negative memory of sandman that justifies his accusation of the sandman. The sandman was made the scapegoat to his irrationalities. Therefore, I am rather skeptical about Nathanaelā€™s account of the sandman because I think there is a possibility that Nathanael is falsely accusing poor sandman.

Why Rousseau has to rethink his argument.

In my essay, I disagreed with Rousseau. I found that his opinions were not valid nor well justified, and overall too thin to persuade me that the savage man was, in fact, happier than us, civil men. I felt that it was irrelevant for him to compare the savage man to the civil man especially because of the several very important external forces that delegitimize his claim.

The savage man, is to him, happy because he has fewer needs. Us, on the other hand, are unhappier than the savage man because we have more needs. To be fair in the comparison, we have to ensure that the only thing differing between the savage man and the civil man would be the number of needs. But life is never ideal. There are a lot of things, besides the number of needs,Ā  that we need to look at when we analyze Rousseauā€™s hypothesisā€”how easily can these needs be fulfilled, the environmental forces that affect our perception of ā€˜needsā€™, how educated we are, how technologically developed we are, how we define needs and most importantly, how we define happiness. I found it difficult to comprehend this concept because I find that happiness is not constituted plainly by the number of needs. Further, I find that most ā€˜needsā€™ that we think we need, are not true needs, just ā€˜wantsā€™ that our brain convinces us we need. Ā So technically, it is unjustified to compare the savage man, one with true needs, to us, civil man, with artificial needs.

Rousseau is arguing on the fact that needs have a direct correlation with happiness. In my essay, I talked a lot about how the term ā€˜needsā€™ should be broken down to prove that Rousseau was in fact, comparing an apple to an orange. Ā Today, I shall once again, attempt to rebut his hypothesis

Assuming I only had one need in addition to breathing, eating and sleeping, which is a good-looking husband. Technically, I would have the same amount of needs as a savage man (I swapped out sex for a good-looking husband). However, will finding a good-looking husband really make me happy? (no.)

There are many things in the civil life that make me almost completely certain that the civil man is happier than the savage man. The one that stood out to me most would be, human interaction. There are a lot of ways we can go about explaining why human interaction makes us happy but a recent scientific study reported that the more people we interact with, the happier we are, or at least we feel we are. This is so because it creates a sense of belonging in the community and the acknowledgment we get from other members of our community makes us happy. This is key because savage man does not get the human interaction we can get. They barely cross paths with the same person twice because of how scarcely spread out they are.

All in all, I am still, till this day, unconvinced by Rousseau and this blog posts is to supplement my essay in shaping my argument.

What do you think of Meng Zi’s mom?

Meng Ziā€™s mother is, to many, Ā ā€˜Mother of the era (of Mengziā€™s time)ā€™ because of her dedication as a mother.Ā She knew that the environment would be one of the most important factors to Ā Meng Ziā€™s growth and organized three major moves until she, along with Meng Zi, finally settled in a place she felt was best for his learning. It was impressive because even though most people are aware of the importance of the environment in a childā€™s upbringing, not many actually do anything about it. In addition, she was a single mother and she had hence, double the load.

Children learn through mimicking and therefore, most parents are careful not to behave in age-inappropriate ways. They do their best to exercise good manners and treat people the way they want their children to treat others, so as to groom one who is thought of as ‘well brought up’, and likable. Ā 

Many of us have high expectations of the environments and social circles we wish to raise our children in. I have heard many stories about parents going to extremes just to make sure they give their children the best homes, best schools, best social circles. Parents who want their daughters to be ballerinas, send them for ballet lessons. Others who want their children to be musicians send them for Piano, Violin, Saxophone, Drum lessons. Ā Some who wish for their children to become doctors organize weekly excursion trips to the different science museums to build their exposure in the science field. (The one I found most fascinating was about non-Christian parents sending their children to English churches because bible study, apparently, improves English.) I have heard just about any and every possible case of such extremity under the sun.

Even though I am not a parent, nor am I great at parenting, I do think that these parents are missing out on the essence of educating the young ones.Ā  Children should be nurtured according to their passions and interests they were gifted with. Only then will their gifts be brought true justice and will the child truly enjoy learning. But all of a sudden, the hopes and dreams these parents have of their children claim precedence over and suppress their interests and hobbies.Ā 

In the past, going to school and doing well at it would mean that you are en route a career as an official or like Meng Zi, an educator. But what if Meng Zi wanted to be a butcher, an actor, a technician? I am conflicted by my contradicting perspectives of this story. I do see the importance of the environment of a childā€™s upbringing and I respect well-prepared parents for their investments but I feel that Meng Ziā€™s motherĀ is encouraging domineering parents and unhealthy parenting.

My name is Nicole Ng

Hi everyone,

My name is Nicole and this is my introductory post! I did this before but for some unknown reason, I can’t seem to access the old site that I created. So this is my new website!

Here are a few fun facts about me: I am a UBC student in the Arts faculty. A big fan of acting, singing, dancing, content creation even though I don’t have much experience in any of these except for the last. I am from Singapore. My Chinese name is literally my English name. I am the only child in my family. That’s about as interesting as I can get.

I came into Uni thinking of majoring in Poli Sci but POLI 110 changed my mind. I am now looking at majoring in another one of my loves, History! Actually, it’s a funny story why I now have my mind set on History. I was reading old diary entries, and I came across an entry I wrote while I was in Japan earlier this year. Turns out I had a ball of a time at one of the museums I visited and had documented my enthusiasm in that entry. I came to an epiphany: ooooh my passion does lie in History.

I have also been (a lot) more interested in humanities than in Math and Sciene and I do better in humanities. I enjoy discussions, not contributing to them per se, but listening to what other people have to say. I enjoy collecting insights but not really giving my own. I would perhaps enjoy it if I was good at doing so, but I am not. I hope that Arts one can force me out of my comfort zone, make my brain a little bit more active, and build my confidence in countering arguments.

Arts One has been really really awesome so far! I get to learn and connect with so many like-minded ones. My seminar, tutorial mates, and Professor Christina have created a very safe space for me to share my thoughts on things, regardless of how controversial.

Thank you for accepting me into this Programme!!


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