Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Tone of the Future

The Circle, by Dave Eggers, is a book so beloved by Emma Watson that the young actress starred as Mae Holland (the protagonist) in the film adaptation.  As a forever faithful fan of Emma, I read the techno-thriller, researched it, and then hit Studio Movie Grill on the premiere night of April 28th.  The first page of the novel unleashes dignified fountains, glass buildings, and Californian hills - a typical image of modernism.  However, beyond the opening, this book depicts the future in a very realistic, almost rustic fashion.

Unlike many dystopian settings (which appear perfect to the naked eye), Eggers shows some tarnish of his fictional world from the beginning.  For instance, Mae was raised in Longfield, "...a small town between Fresno and Tranquillity, incorporated and named by a literal-minded farmer in 1866. One hundred and fifty years later, its population had peaked at just under two thousand souls, most of them working in Fresno, twenty miles away. Longfield was a cheap place to live, and the parents of Mae's friends were security guards, teachers, truckers who liked to hunt" (22). 
Eggers likely located Mae's hometown between Tranquility and Fresno (both in California) because the word Tranquility draws attention to the slow pace of Longfield and Fresno is characterized by a semi-arid climate (which is suitable for farming).  The mention of 1866 (which predates the start of World War 1) paints the image that Longfield is frozen in antiquity.  The total census of almost two thousand is lower than the student population of many contemporary high schools, and the continued need for ordinary professions and hobbies (such as security guards, truckers, hunting) makes the future seem more relatable to the present.

Eggers' world is unique in that its modernism has one single hub - The Circle - and this modernism only reaches the general population through technology (tracking and camera products). This is similar to the present day, where companies such as Apple and Google (which also have headquarters in California) reach the general population through products such as iPhones, Google Maps, etc.  The author accounts for the fact that in the future, our world will still need farms, teachers, and humility (in contrast to science fiction movies that show whole world covered in skyscrapers with service-performing robots).  Egger's use of this rustic and realistic setting, reminiscent of our actual world, makes the story more relatable and believable.  


2 comments:

  1. I really liked that you compared "The Circle" to Apple or Google because it really helped me understand the concept of this book and peak my interest. I also enjoyed when you talked about how this dystopian story is more relatable and realistic compared to the typical, too perfect dystopian tales.

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  2. How did you feel that the movie compared to the book? Was Emma's portrayal of the character similar to what you imagined?

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The Tone of the Future

The Circle , by Dave Eggers, is a book so beloved by Emma Watson that the young actress starred as Mae Holland (the protagonist) in the film...