Q- How we see post-modernistic approach in John Barth`s short story & in what way?
John Barth's short story "The Night Sea Journey" is an example of a post modernistic approach. Postmodernism actually means, treating a thing or a character in such a way that is completely different from what it actually is. For example in this short story we first see a person talking, later we realise that it is a sperm who was the narrator in the entire story. Right from the beginning the spermatozoa addresses himself as a person who is in doubt, wonder & despair. The sperm narrating the story as human acts as an individual, but also as a carrier of genes & heredity. It is the purveyor of cultural heritage & also a human voice. From the title we first get an idea that it is must be a story taking place in some sea it must be thrilling also something against the laws of nature as it is night. But the night sea actually mentioned in the story refers to the flow in which the sperm travels. It is not a practical sea or the water body. The narrator admits his inability to take decisions. At some point of times, he feels very low & drowned towards the humanistic belief that swimmers have a maker in common. Here the swimmers refer to when compared with the real world are human beings. That common maker is God.
Q- Why does he employ a metafiction in it?
Metafication means the artificiality of any text by creating departing or parodoying from general novelistic conventions. As it is a post modernistic writing then it is obvious to be self conscious & illustrate metafication. It might happen sometime with us also that we are having such sensation such thoughts in our mind, it is so deep, that we could call it oceanic. Which means being in the sea or the water in the womb. The sea here referred to is the potential in every person's life. Potential of overcoming problems that are like a dark night which may create situations that ask u to surrender. This night sea leads to our inner self, not some heroic one who conquers everything, all the time, but deeper into one's original being. These are the paradoxical references that we see in this short story.
Q- what message he gives to the reader
Looking in deep self is the message given by the author of this story. Knowing ourselves, our weakness, strength, what we actually are, is very important. If we do not know our self properly we will never realise what we actually want from our life. Narrator meditates & rehearse to realise what his journey is up to. He contemplates he thinks why the world is the way it is. He questions on his existence that if he really exist, who is he? What is the purpose of his life? Is it only to merge identities with her.
Q-how you see his 'stream of consciousness' in this story
We see a great stream of consciousness in the story. The narrator is found to be conscious about his life in the entire store. He asks if he really exists who is he? what is the purpose of his life. He meditates & thinks is there some God who is the game planner & he is the one who is the creator of this world. In the starting of the story, he expresses to the reader that he has two aims only, firstly to rehearse & then to disclose about his secret hope. He comes up with several questions in the story. He wonders if the external world really exist, does the night sea really exist, his existence is just a dream or is it real? These questions in his mind, clearly illustrates the consciousness the narrator has.
Q-how does a reader would feel/react would to his subject and the way he carries the message
It is a short story with a post modernistic approach it might create some confusion in the minds of the reader at first. But later as it comes up with a wonderful message, it must be enjoyable for most of the readers. Understanding such a piece of literature can be a little tough as it has lots of metafications. And an approach totally different from the general stories. Understanding the meaning properly with proper abbreviations of life situations reflected by it is very important. Besides the wonderful theme, it contains for readers is an important point to remember. The ability of looking inside the deeper self is the main issue highlighted in the story. Which should be learnt & applied in everyday life. Two themes that dominate in the story is the doubtful & unknowing ability of existence of human beings & dilemma of the absurdity of an author telling the story of another author telling a true story & so on.
Q-observe and criticize his short story "Night Sea Journey,
The story "The Night Sea Journey" is criticised on the grounds confusing emotional swings of the narrator. Its journey into the world of mysteries of life, and then returns to the real world, the ordinary world. I feel it is a typical post modernism story. Because the narration style is totally different from the general styles. Infect at some points it was difficult to understand what the narrator is symbolizing.
Q- does he seek realism to represent in a new idea and how
Although this is a short story, it is a journey actually that consequently changes to several voyages. Voyages of exploring the real aim of one's own life, here it is the life of the narrator, the spermatozoa. The realism reflected in the story is about exploring the aim of narrator's life in the night sea journey. On reading "Night sea journey" title, we develop the idea of some factious thrilling story at night in the sea. Whereas it actual represents a person's tough times which are difficult to be dealt with. This fact could have been represented in a clear cut manner, as the problems in narrators life & how can he deal with them. But what the author has done is that, he has chosen sperm as a narrator in the story who narrates everything as an individual, a human being. His night sea journey reflects the journey of an individual's life & night specifies the problems occurring in a person's life. So altogether we see that the narrator seeks a realism in the story. But the author's way of presenting it to the reader is extremely in a different way with new ideas. Realising that the character we first assumed to be human is actually a sperm does not stop us from reading it further because the narrator (sperm), has human like questions in his mind & asks them like in the human voice that sounds very natural. It is a carrier of human genetics. Here the author does not reveal the idea of identity & heritage, but gives hints to accept it though with some uncertainties.
Q- Do we see multiple points of view or playful as in post -modernist paintings of the time and how does it relate, is there any artist resembles his writing style
As this story is a post modernistic type, the way in which it is understood by the reader might be different. In these types of stories, there are multiple points of view in which the reader may interpret it. Just like the paintings of those times, they can be interpreted by different people in different ways as they see it. One cannot control a person's thoughts & spirits. Where a person's thoughts take him by seeing those paintings is just like the post modern literature. Because it has many view points. One of the fellow post modernists of John Barth is Thomas Pynchon. He reflects the style of post modernistic style of writing of John Barth. One of the best novels of Thomas Pynchon is The crying of lot 49,
Q- How is his artistic style in this short story & do we see resolution of MIMESIS between the art and reality in his writing and if it is typical of Post-Modernism
We see the depiction of his art in his writing. As the name suggests it's a journey, we see it starting as an adventure hinting at something thrilling. But when looked at more closely, night sea journey is understood to be a depressed & low time which comes in almost every person's life when a person becomes vacillate. He has connected very well with the reality through his art in this short story. The reality of life could be explained by a human being also, but he has taken the level of narration to the level where a sperm is talking to himself, at the same time he is addressing the human beings he will become in the future. He has a hope that some unimaginable part of his will express itself. This new idea that john has expressed in his story shows his art of writing.
Q- What and who influenced his writing,
The primary influence to this writing was Jorge Luis Borges, Barth has acknowledged him a number of times in "The Literature of Exhaustion" specially. The literature of exhaustion is an essay written in 1967 by John Barth, another postmodernism example. Jorge Luis Borges was a story writer, poet & essayist from Argentina. His writings were full of fantasies. His famous books include Ficciones & The Aleph. Another influence to John Barth was Beckett. His full name is Samuel Beckett, he is a well known novelist & playwright. He is regarded as one the most influential writers of 2oth century. He is considered a modernist, sometimes a postmodernist. His most famous works include Murphy, Waiting for Godot & others.
Q- Who are his acquaintances & does he write differently than of his acquaintances (post modernist writers)
Other post modernistic writers of the time of John Barth include Robert Coover, Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Federman, John Hawkes, Lawrence Durrell & others. Most contrasted writers to his work include Cather & Hemingway (realistic writers), Theodore Dreiser (naturalist) & others. The best thing in John Barth as compared to the writers of his time is that, his writings display a fantastic art of post modernism as well as metafiction. His work is characterised by awareness of historical, literary tradition. His writings are commonly associated with more of traditional genres & classic subgenres. His work Lost in the fun house includes short stories, more experimental in their style. His work is seen to maintain a good balance between postmodern self consciousness & plot of the story
Q- Any similarity with "Midnight in Paris" or "Dolt", "Crying of Lot","Sloughterhouse 5", "Genaration X" together with their writers (comparing very shortly)
Midnight in Paris is a romantic plus comedy & somewhat fantasy type film written by Woody Allen & also directed by him. This movie contains themes of modernism too like The Night Sea Journey.
Crying of Lot is a novel by Thomas Pynchon. As mentioned earlier Thomas Pynchon is a writer of the times of John Barth, he is too a post modernistic writer. And crying of lot is an example of Post modernism literature. It is like a cultural chaos in the eyes of a woman; she is young & finds herself in a world disintegrating around her.
Slaughterhouse 5 is similar to “The night sea journey” in case of metafiction. Slaughterhouse 5 written by Kurt Vonnegut. He maintains a link between the reality & his writing with his metafication narrative style. It is a piece of literature referred to as anti war. Some quotes in Slaughter house 5 are excellent examples of Vonnegut's narrative techniques.
Generation X is a novel by Douglas Coupland. It is a narrative where some young people share their stories about themselves. It is a part of postmodern literature. Like in the story the night sea journey, a spermatozoa narrates his story, in Generation X some friends are seen narrating their stories.
Q-Exam his word association together with being precursor of Post Modernistic cause ' no questioning' of historical political forces of the time
The heritage through which the storyteller is passing is the biological information, the genes that is carried by the sperm & transferred to the egg, genes being transferred to the newly formed human being. This human being may also produce sperms & eggs. The narrator (sperm) calls himself his drowned friend. He says that after combining with "her" he achieves an immortality by forming a third being that is formed by both himself & her. He says that the immortality chain could end after any successive number of cycles. This is said in reference to the limited number of genes that have survived in each one, which has no guarantee that they will continue definitely. This heritage discussed in the story so simply not only biological, but it should be read in terms of human culture also. The theories of journey that the narrator discussion contains many number of philosophical & religious ideas. Even it might be the most absurd theory.
It was published in 1991 and it was the first novel by Douglas Coupland. It was his one of the most famous novel, partially due to its post modernism approach. This novel is a satire on socialism about three member, main characters in the novel namely - Dag, Andy & Claire. They have moved to California for the sake of freedom from this over commercialised world & introspect themselves.
It is a social commentary in the form of story. This novel is even criticised for being nihilistic for many reasons. Firstly, as in the first instance the characters deal with the discontents they had with their lives in the past & even in some destructive ways. They are completely displeased with their lives. They are seen spending more of their free time criticizing the world in which they live & then describing their own lives. Secondly, stories that they share about their lives seem to be totally devoid of all comforts. So the question arises that how successful will they be in coming up with some better alternatives for their ;life. It is filled with many references of pop culture. Thirdly, this story is pervaded by vanity & nothingness. This nothingness is particularly a topic common to all postmodern writings.
Gneration X is a story which questions on the idea, how far can oneself get rid from the condition put on him by his society & culture. The characters in this story seem to be living even below their own standards. All this seem to signify the negative side of postmodernism.
Merging identities & reference to love
The merging of identity which is represented shows the schizoid structured narration coming from the mind of the narrator. Merging of identities is represented even in the instance when the narrator tells about the shore idea given by his friend. Suddenly the ides of he- maker is rejected by the narrator & he then confirms the ides of a she - being. This is another post modernity example in the given text.
The swimmer has become old but he feels the same attraction & affection that others do. He has the realization of its source & thus appeals passionately. Actually the appeal is nothing more than his progeny's (to be) end of life by breaking this cycle. The swimmer feels he is caught in love & eros & he cannot break the cycle himself also. Love is a feeling for courageous ones. Whereas here we see that the narrator feels lost, he is not happy about the feeling of love in him.
The narrator admits that he is drawn close with the religious humanistic faith that human beings & every other thing is constructed by a common maker.The philosophical views of the narrator reflects the viewpoints in stories about Jonah in The holy Bible, in the writings by St. John & also in the narrative which contain the description of lives of Jesus & Buddha. Similar to all other archetypical form of stories, it reflect about the psyche of a human being.