Narcons and Ethics

In class, we talked about how the Narcons are almost human like because they have emotions and can lie. We also talked about how Narcons seem to be like the subconscious. The characters in the book are not aware that they are there. Well almost no one is aware they are there, Xanther seems pretty aware that something is there.

My thought process going through the Narcon section in the middle of the book was that there are these seemingly computer programs that have human intelligence somehow controlling the actions of the characters in the book, or at least have a say in the actions of the characters in the book. We have not really talked about the ethical dilemma this brings up. How do people feel about having this computer program (technology) basically controlling the world we are getting to know within this book? What does this say about how society is progressing?

Another earlier post that I read talked about when we find out that the Narcons are really the best part of the characters we are learning to love that it was disappointing but at the same time was not. It seems like society is moving towards it being more believable and okay for something like this to happen. Are we moving towards that? Is society moving towards basically a person’s “being” living on a computer for all eternity?

As a Genetics major, I am required to take a Science and Values Philosophy class at Clemson to discuss the morality of science and technology in advancing society. I remember during this class that the topic of the conscious being uploaded to a computer to essentially make someone live on infinitely. In a room full of science majors the idea seemed cool but at the same time terrifying. It was terrifying because the thought of computers ruling the world came to mind but it was cool because the thought that it was even possible seemed intriguing.

I have spent a lot of time confused reading this book, but it was not necessarily about what was going on within the storylines of the book that confused me it was more of what is Danielewski trying to say behind the story. From his other books, we can tell that he is gifted and he thinks differently than most, but there is always reason to his madness. Now with this book I begin to wonder what types of questions lie beneath the already confusing universe he has created.

Can we perhaps even start talking about how the idea of Narcons is so familiar yet foreign? Is it even ethically okay for Narcons to exist? If Narcons are animals, could they be the kitten, and if kittens/cats are associated with evil things then is Danielewski saying that this type of technology could potentially be dangerous?

All of these questions and more keep popping up as I read the book and as I get closer and closer to the end the idea of all seeing technology doesn’t seem as farfetched to me because it seems that we as society is already making it that way with how much we post about ourselves and our lives on the internet.


2 responses to “Narcons and Ethics”

  1. bnacuesta says :

    While I don’t think that an apocalyptic/action genre that questions the safety of conscious technology is necessarily original, I do think that Danielewski’s concept with the NarCons is pretty unique from what we have previously seen in entertainment. Typically, the technology is an entire robot or perhaps a server that controls all other forms of technology and rebels. With the NarCons, it is as if they are integrated within us (humans) and we created the NarCons just as much as they shape or, at the very least, explain our thoughts. With only one volume, it’s impossible to say where Danielewski is heading with this, but so far the intent of the NarCons does not seem to be malicious. At least not yet. The common denominator in the genres involving conscious technology is rebellion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will rebel in a way that adversely affects the human characters.

  2. Lauren Craig says :

    I like the idea that the Narcons are the animals. This would explain why the main Narcon is so fascinated with Xander.

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