Amy's Final Paper

Ever since 9/11, a particularly traumatic day for Cayce Pollard, she has watched her life change increasingly by the day. This day, which took place in the past, becomes the center of Cayce’s life. In fact, all aspects of Cayce’s life are somehow related to the past. After this day, Cayce is stuck in a position in which she needs to erase the traumatic past from her soul. While doing this throughout the novel, her life changes drastically. She gradually erases the traumatic experiences that exist in her soul since 9/11 by feeding her soul with art. Similarly, Nora has undergone physical trauma and copes with it by feeding her soul with the creation of art. Bigend, however, is convinced that souls and the past do not exist. He believes the function of the brain and the center of life should be focused around the body, which one subconsciously feeds through advertisements. This way of living for humans will consequently make him money in the present, while this advertising cycle will continue into the future. Where does the past come into play in his philosophy of life? It simply doesn’t. According to Bigend, the past can be completely erased from your life very easily. The footage that Cayce seeks, however, is much deeper than the advertisements that feed the body and Bigend’s typical commodified work. It is what Cayce and Nora use to heal their souls from the past they are stuck in. Throughout the novel, Cayce uses the footage as her mechanism of helping her disconnect herself from the traumatic past that exists in her soul, while Bigend has conflicting views and uses the present and future as his mechanisms for success.

In the novel, one of the major themes is the interpretation of history. The characters in the novel, particularly Cayce and Bigend, have opposing ideas of history and what will happen in the future. Cayce has a very abstract view of history. She believes that “[the past] simply won’t seem very relevant. (pg.59)” In other words, although it may be very difficult to do, history can become obsolete. Throughout the novel, Cayce tries to make her history become obsolete. Her history starts with her experiences on 9/11, when an immense amount of trauma occurred in her life. Ever since this day, however, she gradually moves into a traumatic free world. 9/11 may have been a terrible day for Cayce, but at the same time, it was the start of a new world for her. Along with Cayce being somewhat stuck with this past event in her soul, she seems to be a little stuck in the past in general. She really can’t seem to let go of certain past experiences in her life such as previous boyfriends and the Cold War, which are brought up several times in the novel. Furthermore, her clothing is all from the past, such as the Rickson’s. She really wants nothing to do with present, or apparel that is currently in style. Even though Cayce tries to stray away from the past, such as her experiences on 9/11, her life really is centered on it, and she wants nothing to do with the present, while having no expectations for the future as well.

In contrast to Cayce’s abstract view, Bigend simply does not believe in the past. He thinks that it is very easy to erase your past and to focus on the present and future instead. This is quite controversial over the book, as Cayce’s whole life is centered around the past only. She works to erase her past, and it is not as easy as Bigend thinks. Bigend believes that “we only have risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition. (pg. 59)” In other words, all that is important is the given moment. The brain’s impulses control our actions in the present, and Bigend believes that this pattern and cycle will continue in the future. This pattern happens to be on his side, because it has a connection with advertising and buying things. This makes him successful, and will continue to make him successful in the future. However, what happened yesterday, or a year ago, has no importance in his life or success.

Bigend has a very strong opinion about how advertising works. When Cayce tells Bigend that a certain aspect about the footage (that the segments are parts of a whole) is something she “knows in her heart (pg.71),” he does not think this is possible, as the heart is solely a muscle. In his opinion, it is her brain, only, that knows this certain aspect about the footage. Likewise, Bigend believes the brain plays a big part in advertising. He thinks that advertisements, such as logos, are released to the public and over time they subconsciously become familiar to the brain. In addition, people see these logos and they “make us buy things (pg.71)” For an example, a clothing company may advertise on a billboard. Individual brains subconsciously take note of the advertisement and some, eventually, buy the clothes from this company. Essentially, these advertisements feed their bodies by clothing them. The human brain is helping Bigend because it is triggering people to purchase items. Corresponding to the previous paragraph, all of this happens in the present. It is the advertising cycle and the brain’s impulses, which are the keys to Bigend’s success. Bigend seeks the footage, as he thinks it is “a work of proven genius (pg. 69),” and has the potential to please or “feed” the public. Bigend knows that if the footage becomes public, the cycle will begin, and he will, of course, make an exorbitant amount of money.

The footage for Cayce, however, is not a mechanism for making money. To her, it is much deeper than that. In fact, FFF is therapy for her, as it is the solution to erasing her traumatic past. When Cayce is asked to find the creator of the footage so it can be released to the public, she knows that Bigend “is the force behind Blue Ant. The genius at what he does (pg. 102)” and wants to commodify it for his own good. Cayce also knows that FFF could be destroyed and she would no longer have this coping tool if Bigend gets his hands on it. So why does Cayce agree to do it? There is no exact answer, but t is almost like she was made to find the creator, because of the strong impact it had on her life. Even though there could have been several consequences to Bigend getting a hold of the footage, it needed to happen in order for him to realize that it was created to seek a soul, and not for commodification or for his own good.

Cayce and Nora have a lot in common in that they have both experienced an immense amount of trauma in their recent pasts. Opposed to Cayce, who has undergone mental trauma, Nora, has undergone physical trauma. Just like Cayce, trauma has left Nora in a position in which her soul has been weakened, as “the explosion of a ruthlessly simple device has been flung into the very center of Nora’s brain. [Her wounds] are now emerged, accompanied by the patient and regular clicking of her mouse, the footage. (pg. 316)” In other words, in order to cope with the trauma that still exists within and to strengthen her soul, she uses the creation of the footage to discard the trauma. Nora continues to make the footage over an extended period of time so her past becomes fully erased from her mind and soul. It is quite a coincidence that the footage Nora creates to heal her soul is being watched by Cayce, who uses it to heal her soul as well. Nora and Cayce are both evidence that Bigend is in fact wrong about wanting to commodify the footage, because it has made such a big impact on their lives. Furthermore, Nora is a representative of only a soul, without a body. Nora is a very successful person with a somewhat disabled brain. This completely contradicts Bigend, as a brain is completely essential in his life and for his success.

Although Bigend has conflicting views with Cayce, he is eventually proven wrong. This occurs after Cayce has accomplished her personal goal of meeting Stella and Nora. Her own goal was much different from Bigend’s or Blue Ant’s, as she did not want to meet the creator for corporate purposes. After Cayce meets the creator, witnesses and watches her produce the footage, the feeling that she receives is one that she can hardly explain. I believe that this feeling is Cayce being one step closer, if not being finished, with the process of abolishing the trauma that lived with her from her past. Cayce feels “she lives now in that story, her life left somewhere behind, like a room she’s stepped out of. Not far away at all but she is no longer in. (pg. 303)” Cayce believes this is way too far out of Bigend’s spectrum of understanding, as he solely wants the footage for marketing purposes and money. However, in Russia, even Bigend ends up realizing the immeasurable effect that the footage has made on people’s lives, especially Cayce, one who he respects and admires greatly by the end of the novel. He notices that the footage does not deserve to be commodified and turned into money, which was his previous belief.

Throughout the novel, Cayce’s life seems to be centered on history and her past, while Bigend’s life seems to be centered on his present and future. More specifically, Cayce lives her life in the past, but tries to stray away from certain aspects, such as the trauma she experienced on 9/11. Bigend, on the other hand, lives his life striving for success in the present, while focusing on the future as well. In addition, Cayce’s life is centered on her soul, while Bigend does not believe in a soul, and thinks the brain is the center of life. Cayce devotes herself to the footage in order to throw away her history and trauma that exists in her soul. Bigend, however, wants to commodify the footage to make his success, and this is where the two characters conflict. The footage is much deeper than Bigend’s desire to commodify it, because it is what Cayce uses to make her history obsolete. In addition, Nora creates the footage in order to cope with her own trauma. Moreover, she exists with only a soul and a damaged brain. According to Bigend, life cannot go on without a functional brain. Nora proves him wrong, because she is a representative of a soul alone, and, ironically, is producing the work that Bigend tries to get his hands on. Because of these reasons, Bigend is proven wrong abandons his old beliefs in Russia.

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