Patricia Julian (071801) Com 12-G
The last chapter is composed mostly of emails that give us clues to what has happened to some characters, including Cayce, Voytek and Judy. Ultimately, it ends with a narrative in Cayce’s point of view.
This chapter may be short, but it holds a lot of interesting ideas and insights about our present world. I shall concentrate on three of those ideas.
My first idea comes from Magda’s letter. Apparently, Cayce has given some of her money to Voytek so that he can pay for his scaffolding.
I told him you said it had been given to you by Russian gangsters and you didn’t want to keep it, and he just stared at me mouth, open. (Then he becomes worried that it is not real…)
Strangely, Voytek doesn’t seem to care that the money came from organized crime. He was more worried that the money might not be real. However, Voytek is acting logically by worrying. The US dollars in Russia, as I had mentioned in class, are said to be 50% counterfeit. The article I posted in the forums mentioned:
Experts say that counterfeit dollars have attained perfection. About 560 billion dollars in cash circulates through the world at present. About 70 percent of this cash is used beyond American borders. The USA believes that Russia comes second (after the USA itself) from the point of view of quantity of dollar cash circulation. About 363 million counterfeit dollars were confiscated worldwide from 1929-1995. Only one-third of this sum was withdrawn from circulation in the States. The counterfeit dollar boom occurred in 1993, when 120 million counterfeit dollars were seized outside the USA.
It also said:
According to data from the Russian Federation Central Bank, Russian citizens have up to 25 billion dollars, and one-third of them are probably forged. US dollars make 97.5 percent of all counterfeit currencies in the world. The Russian Interior Ministry said that 42,352 counterfeit dollar notes had been withdrawn in Russia in 2002 - four million dollars, that is. There were 23,000 forgeries registered in 2002, but only 2,700 of them were exposed, since about 60 percent of counterfeit notes had been withdrawn from banks.
A photo from this site shows a man holding negatives that are used to print fake dollar bills. So that's what they use to make counterfeit money!
Counterfeiting and piracy of products are not new to this world. Counterfeiting of money, for example, is as old as money itself! However, with the continuous improvement of technology and the easy access to information (from the growing digitalization and the increasing access to technology), it’s becoming more difficult to know which is real or not real.
This article states:
As counterfeit crimes become increasingly sophisticated, the fakes become harder to detect. And it’s not just the consumers who are being duped - retailers can find they themselves unwittingly trading in counterfeit goods as well. Brand owners will not hesitate to prosecute offenders and innocence is no defence if you are caught selling counterfeit goods. Take the time to check the authenticity of the goods you are selling - if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!
I have one last thought on this idea, which I won’t expound on: Don’t you find it interesting that Russians are using US dollars to pay Cayce? This I believe has something to do about “globalization” being a euphemism of the “Americanization” of the world.
My second idea comes from Cynthia Pollard’s letter. The letter reveals that Cayce has given her mother the detailed account of her father’s day during 9/11. It was able to help Cynthia prove his legal death, therefore fixing their problems with the insurance and the pension. Cayce refuses to tell her mother where she got her information (because it did come from Russian organized crime). Her mother, curious, believes that Cayce had gotten the information from a spiritual source, Win Pollard's ghost. She believes Cayce was able to contact Win through EVP.
Once again, this points out the presence of spirituality in a seemingly secular world. Though there is no mention of Cayce and Cynthia’s religious beliefs, the two believe in souls and afterlife. Cynthia’s spiritual beliefs are actually a mix of two different things, ghosts and technology. It’s only in this part of time and history that we can find such a curious mix.
Here is a site that has embedded EVP recordings from 9/11. It's a bit scary, but interesting. You can visit it here.
Also, here is the trailer for the movie White Noise. It's not entirely related to the novel, but it's about two people who try to contact their dead loved ones through EVP.
My last idea comes from Katherine McNally’s email. It seems that Cayce has two theories on how she lost her semiotic allergy. The first is from critical event stress. It’s a logical theory, since Katherine tells her that there have been cases of panic disorders being relieved by that. However, the second one is much harder to understand or believe.
Cayce’s second theory attributes the end of her panic disorders to Soviet Psychiatric drugs, which she believes was fed to her by Dorothea. Unfortunately, Katherine has never heard of a case where a panic disorder was cured by a Soviet Psychiatric drug. In fact, these drugs actually do the opposite! According to her fellow psychiatrist, these drugs were used as tools for torture and should never have been used on human beings. She hopes that Cayce didn’t ingest too much of it.
Why are these drugs considered as tools for torture? Well, back in the days of the Soviet Union, dissidents and rebels against the government were sent to mental institutions to be “treated” for their mental disorders. However, many people believe that the government sent these dissidents to mental hospitals to discredit them and to punish them for their rebellion.
Unfortunately, their "treatment" consisted of being forced to take several drugs that induce severe pain, as well as other forms of torture, such as exposure to radiation. A more detailed description of this issue can be found in this New York Times article from 1988: Soviet Psychiatry Is Willing to Change, Up to a Point.
Right below is a photo of a Russian activitist who came from one of those psychiatric wards. On the left is a photo of her before entering the ward, while on the right is a photo of her stay in the ward. A more detailed account of her stay can be found in Russia: Is Coercive Psychology Staging A Comeback?
After seeing the awful effects of Soviet psychiatry, it would then seem very ironic if Cayce was indeed cured by Soviet Psychiatric drugs. It's because it means that she had ingested something that was supposed to make her feel worst (perhaps damage her permanently or kill her), but it has instead done the opposite! Yet, it is actually very possible. After all, when Cayce had ingested the drug, she was supposed to act like Dorothea’s puppet. However, she had a paradoxical reaction and started beating Dorothea up instead.
Interestingly, studies (such as this) have shown that people do have paradoxical reactions to Flunitrazepam, which is the systematic name for Rohypnol, the drug which was supposedly fed to Cayce.
The study states:
Paradoxical reactions including agitation, talkativeness, confusion, disinhibition, aggression, violent behavior and loss of impulse control may, however, occur in some subjects.
This is Rohypnol, the "date-rape" drug that was originally meant to cure insomnia:
If we were to view it in a different way, it can also be seen that the drugs had probably damaged her permanently by perhaps taking her talent in knowing whether a trademark would work. However, whether this has happened or not has not been confirmed in the novel. Finding out would entail sending Cayce to work, which is something she isn’t eager to do after a long and stressful quest.
Additional Chapter Annotation
Prepared by Gen Gabionza (071440) Com12-G
Besides what Pat has mentioned, it is also important to take note of the letter from Jennifer Brossard of Blue Ant Tokyo. In this letter, Jennifer says that Judy Tsuzuki, who was referred by Bigend, will be working for Blue Ant Tokyo. But what is more interesting is when Jennifer says
Her enthusiasm for the city (and her boyfriend!) is completely engaging…
Here, it can be assumed that the boyfriend being referred to here is Taki. Going back to the previous chapters, Judy and Taki had met through the internet and had gotten to know each other via e-mails.
Technology has definitely incorporated itself into the different lifestyles of society. Due to our continuous dependence on it, online relationships, which used to be considered as taboo, have slowly started to become acceptable in society. If you search "online dating" on Yahoo! or Google, it is quite surprising to see hundreds of links to sites that offer online matchmaking services. Because of this, more and more internet users rely on the online dating to meet new people, even if it’s easy for them to be deceived. Just like in Judy and Taki’s case, there was deception on Judy’s part. However, what’s interesting is that their relationship worked, as indicated by Taki now being Jody’s boyfriend, even after they have seen each other in person. There are a lot of studies done on online relationships, and many come up with different conclusions. Some conclude that online relationships work, such as in this page which says:
Relationships that begin online can and do move offline, while keeping some online communication. People can and do achieve couple happiness and stability, and longevity after meeting online. The greater bandwidth and pleasure of physical proximity at some point becomes important if a relationship is going to sustain its participants. Transition to offline is aided by honest and thorough exchange of information, thoughts, and feelings. The deep foundation built upon online in communication methods can remain with the couple when they move mainly to RL relating. In meeting online, the more important shared thoughts and emotions are, and the less important are sheer looks. More durable relationships may result from the focus upon non-physical factors.
Another article, however, disagrees and concludes that online relationships don't last. It says:
… Apparently people end up choosing unsuitable partners and forming emotional bonds before meeting in real life and then it goes downhill quickly after they meet…
Online relationships are good for online interactions only. The moment you turn them offline by personally meeting the person, you get a shock of your life.
Simply because you had already made a mental picture of the person concerned, and the reality never matches imagination!
Besides these letters, Margot also writes to Cayce. This letter is the first clear implication that Cayce and Parkaboy ended up together. It can be seen in the following:
I remember him: You used to say how funny he was, on that website. And he's not gay? A music producer from Chicago? And not, I take it, a Lombard?
Cayce and Parkaboy's case is another example of an online relationship which apparently bloomed when they met each other in person.
Margot also tells tells Cayce that she has just seen Bigend, referred to as "Lombard of Lombards," on CNN:
Have to tell you I saw the Lombard of Lombards himself on CNN yesterday. He was between some Russian zillionaire and your Secretary of the Interior, and looked as though he'd just devoured the entrails of something clean−limbed and innocent: entirely pleased with himself.
It can be said that this is how Bigend looks because he was able to accomplish what he wanted through the assignment that he assigned to Cayce.
Another idea that can be picked up from this chapter is in the narrative after the mails. Here, it says that Cayce and Peter had visited Stella and Nora in Moscow and dropped by Damien's shoot on the dig. Here, it says:
…and where she'd found herself, out of some need she hadn't understood, down in one of the trenches, furiously shoveling gray muck and bones, her face streaked with tears. Neither Peter nor Damien had asked her why, but she thinks now that if they had she might have told them she was weeping for her century, though whether the one past or the one present she doesn't know.
From this, it can be said that the action of digging that Cayce did symbolizes her search for her father. Even though this dig is a different place (not New York), it has a similar atmosphere which may have given Cayce the feel of being where her father had died. Ultimately, her tears may symbolize that she has finally accepted that her father is really dead and gone.