Susan Blackmore's Conversations On Consciousness Analysis

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The question of being human, especially in relation to the act of remembering, is a complex debate that has no one true answer, as demonstrated within Susan Blackmore’s Conversations on Consciousness: What the Best Minds Think about the Brain, Free Will, and What It Means to Be Human (2005). This writing revealed that twenty-one of the world’s ‘great experts on consciousness’ (2) are unable come to a conclusive agreement on what it means to be human and the role of memories within this. This debate transpires within both Elizabeth is Missing (Healey, 2015) and The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Pearson, 2010), where the question of what it means to be human is predominant throughout. Does the fact that our two main focused characters both suffer from …show more content…
As suggested within Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology and the Brain (2003), ‘Personal narration gives continuity to self and meaning to action…is imposed on real event in an effort to re-present the self to others with a suasory purpose.’ (6) In order for the texts to convey a meaning, we must be presented with characters who have ‘continuity to self’, though as both our focused characters suffer from memory loss, this becomes increasingly difficult. However, I believe it is their continuity within their suffering, that allows readers to perceive them as real human beings, this is straightforward for Maud in Elizabeth is Missing but becomes controversial in regard to Jenna Fox- the debate of whether Jenna is human at all will be explored further along in the essay. Nevertheless, for Maud, it is the combination of first person narrative and the inclusion of heartbreaking minor details: ‘I don’t look up. It’s such a little thing- knowing where to put cutlery- but I feel like I’ve failed an important test. A little piece of me is gone’ (Healy: 60-61) that continues to convince the reader of her humanity, despite the fact that she is unable to remember; the feeling created opposes the suggestion that remembering is a vital element in being …show more content…
Although in Maud’s case, which will be explored shortly, the reason for her condition is relatively straightforward, though nonetheless heartbreaking, however, Jenna’s proves a little more challenging. Throughout the entirety of the novel there are minor indications that suggest Jenna is something other than ‘pure human’, but as the novel is first person from Jenna’s perspective, we do not learn the truth until it is revealed to her. This is slowly told through fragmented pieces, that both Jenna and the readers have to combine to reveal the truth, similar to how Jenna’s new technological body was assembled together. ‘Your body was injured beyond saving. We had to patch together a new one. Your skeletal structure was replicated…your brain, the ten percent we saved, was infused with additional Bio Gel…we scanned your whole brain and uploaded the information’ (Pearsons: 124); the explanation of how her newly created body was built, initially suggests to reader that she is in fact not human, at least not biologically, but the connection previously formed with the character prevents us from easily accepting this. This novel can be read as a bildungsroman., as it encompasses the psychological and moral growth of the character from her ‘rebirth’ until the

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