26 June 2017

[Review - Part 2] THE CIRCLE: We Are Not Meant to Know Everything

Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publishing year: 2014 (Open-Market Edition)
Number of pages: 497
ISBN: 978-0-8041-7229-5
Genre: science-fiction, dystopian fiction
Price: IDR 122,000 (at Periplus)

kayaking alone: the moment when Mae became “human”

Mae loved kayaking alone sometimes.
She guessed at it all, what might live, moving purposefully or drifting aimlessly, in the deep water around her, but she didn’t think too much about any of it. It was enough to be aware of the million permutations possible around her, and take comfort in knowing she would not, and really could not, know much at all. (p. 272)
At that moment Mae apparently came back to her senses. She realised that she “could not know much at all”. This made me think that maybe the moment when Mae on her kayak on the sea is a symbol used by the author to show how calm the life is if you’re not connecting to the internet. The beauty of nature; the seal stared at you and you stared back solemnly, silently; the dark that made you invisible from others who maybe were also in that part of the sea; the time you made with yourself. In that brief of time, Mae became human again.
She didn’t move, and the seal didn’t move. They were locked in mutual regard, and the moment, the way it stretched and luxuriated in itself, asked for continuation. Why move? (p. 81)
But, ouch, the SeeChange camera apparently was installed in that coast too. From that camera, Mae was seen using kayak illegally, and it drew her to deal with the police. I think maybe this symbolise the inevitable reality that this moment without internet will soon be engulfed again and again by the power of internet itself.

mercer, let’s see if there was a chance for your bringing Mae back to her senses

Mercer, Mae’s ex-boyfriend, was the one who first confronted Mae boldly and sharply.
“It’s not that I’m not social. I’m social enough. But the tools you guys created actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. […] It’s like snack food. […] You’re not hungry, you don’t need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you’re pushing. Same thing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent. And you calibrate it so it’s equally addictive.”
(Mercer, p. 134)
Mercer was trying to bring Mae to her senses, but all bounced off. Sadly, later he was bullied by the netizens who were at Mae’s side.
“And you willingly become utterly socially autistic. You no longer pick up on basic human communication clues. You’re at a table with three humans, all of whom are looking for you and trying to talk to you, and you’re staring at screen, searching for strangers in Dubai.”
(Mercer, p. 262)
*Ha! That kind of thing is really happening now in real world.
“You know how I spend an hour every day? Thinking of ways to unsubscribe to mailing lists without hurting anyone’s feelings. There’s this new neediness—it pervades everything.”
(Mercer, p. 134)
*What Mercer said above is so true happening now, when unfollowing one’s Instagram account can hurt her/his feeling. The act of following one’s account only when she/he did a giveaway and then unfollowing her/his after the giveaway ended is considered to be rude. Is it so? Maybe we’re just being too sensitive after all.

when democracy becomes mandatory, is it still democracy?

Gradually, the Circle began to interfere in affairs of state, like voting. And yeah, it was Mae’s idea that encouraged the Circle to take over that very public act (p. 394-395). Previously, the Congresswoman Santos was the first elected leader who decided to become transparent.
“You’re either transparent or you’re not. You’re either accountable or you’re not. What would anyone have to say to me that couldn’t be said in public? What part of representing the people should not be known by the very people I’m representing?”
(Congresswoman Santos, p. 210)
But, yeah, it’s true that you will “behave differently when you know you’re being watched, and when you’ll be held accountable, and when there will be a historical record”. So maybe it was true that SeeChange—Bailey’s surveillance cameras, also the one that was used by transparent people—would eliminate most crimes because everyone would watch she/his behaviour out. But it also meant that everyone could be pretending in things she/he knew being watched. Didn’t it?
And then, as the Circle suggested once the voting system was ready to be tested, “Democracy is mandatory here!” (p. 406), I was wondering… When democracy becomes mandatory, is it still democracy?

the shark

The shark, first appear in Book II as one of the near-translucent sea creature brought by Stenton (one of the Three Wise Men) to the Circle. They were placed in enormous aquarium and the feeding time was a real show to Mae’s viewers, especially the feeding of the shark. I thought that the shark and its terrible constant hunger symbolised the Circle itself. The Circle which was always hungry to control the whole world.
“The fucking shark that eats the world.”
(Kalden, p. 484)

other thoughts

“Actually, I don’t know if we should know everything.”
(Annie, p. 439)
This novel brought on me the anxiousness of future world with the very fast advancement of technology. On one side, I, of course, support that advancement but on the other side, I am anxious that we humans will one day be controlled by our creation. Even now, the symptoms have been observably. Internet, via our gadget, has controlled us. I became care so much in the number of likes I got on my posts on Instagram—more than I care about if someone I am interacting with in the real world likes me or not.
Though, I think that some technologies developed by the Circle are indeed useful. From all the of them, I’m very fond of the health monitor bracelet, but without the feature to share the personal health information to the cloud. I need privacy. And, you know what? I loathed Mae’s character, except when she did kayaking—it was when she was “so human”. Ah, I’ve gotten pretty confused about how old Mae was in this story.
Bailey: You’ve known our beloved Annie a long time?
Mae: I have. Since sophomore year in college. Five years now.
Bailey: Five years! That’s, what, 30 percent of your life!
(p. 281)
*Ha, 30% of Mae’s life? So, up to that moment, Mae had lived for 50/3 years or about 17 years? I’m sure that Mae wasn’t that young at that time!
Besides that, I regretted that I watched The Circle’s movie trailer before I finished reading the book. My mood had been sunken right before I saw Kalden in the movie. Kalden’s physical appearance in the movie was in no degree resembled the one I imagined when reading the novel. I imagined that Kalden looked alike L on the Death Note. Kinda freak; he was the type of person who sit before his computer for a long time. But, John Boyega, the one acted as Kalden, was so far from the image of a freaking genius who was also socially-awkward.
Source: The Circle Movie Trailer #2
Mae was almost at the bathroom door when she saw a man, in skinny green jeans and a snug long-sleeved shirt, standing in the hallway… (p. 91)
His eyes were dark, his face oval, and his hair was grey, almost white, but he couldn’t have been older than thirty. He was thin, sinewy, and his skinny jeans and tight long-sleeve jersey gave his silhouette the quick thick-thin brushstrokes of calligraphy. (p. 92)
*Look, you can see much physical differences, right?
I hoped that there was a disclosure about what the darkest secret of the Circle was, but nothing. Yeah, it was manipulating humans using SeeChange and many other its social-media-based technological products, but that's not the secret I expected as secret. This was just too frustrating, like what our main character—Mae—did to me. She had been so blind all the time because she was easy to be provocated. But, thank God, there was Mercer, whose opinions are corresponding with mine.

“We are not meant to know everything. […] Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the  mysteries of night and the clarity of day? You people are creating a world of ever-present daylight, and I think it will burn us all alive. There will be no time to reflect, to sleep, to cool.”
(Mercer, p. 434)
 Finally, I decided to give this novel:
my rating

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