The Clash of Modernity and Humanity in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” What is more inspiring than music and murder? According to Joyce Carol Oates, who was inspired by three Tucson murders and Bob Dylan’s song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, there is nothing quite as stirring. The rise of technology as a nemesis of humanity is one of the most evocative ideas in America’s rapidly computerizing culture. Great fear thrives on the thought that these camps will insist on mutual exclusivity in an apocalyptic arena. In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Joyce Carol Oates engages the two in a power struggle to suggest that humanity will ultimately become our sole source of identity and support. From the boisterous radio to the “roaring” telephone, technology is a harrowing fixture both within this story and modern reality. Humanity is stripped of defining qualities until the last stronghold of meaning resides solely in the human heartbeat. The window of meaning closes inwardly towards the heart center as the badge of humanity. Technology has trailed the values of efficiency, callousness, and resolution into human life. But these emblems of modernity foster a growing sense of coldness in the world that is potentially lethal. The human condition, though wrought with weakness, represents freedom and life. The conflict between modernity and humanity is a significant influence on contemporary American literature. What makes this piece unique is the identification and analysis of a human coping technique that finds meaning in this conflict.
"The Clash of Modernity and Humanity in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”,"
Rollins Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 5
, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarship.rollins.edu/rurj/vol5/iss1/6