To begin, I will show how Andy Weir is not original in his basic theme. By doing so, I will be demonstrating the Martian’s intertextuality. Intertextuality, according to Ong, is a result of writers not being in a literary vacuum. Andy Weir was familiar with similar stories when writing the Martian. As we discussed in class, the Martian’s basic theme is the stranded type. This was shown to be fairly common with examples like the Odyssey and Castaway. Other examples of this, to demonstrate my not being in a vacuum, are Lost, Dead Space, and The Last Answer by Isaac Asimov. The fact that this theme is not original is not surprising. It capitalizes off of basic human fears like loneliness, hopelessness, death by scarcity, and the futility of action. However, Weir is not a complete hack as his setting is fairly original. The Martian sets up an interesting twist of the old theme. In the vast majority of these stranded stories, the goal is to return to society. Because of this, many of the stranded characters focus on contacting society so that society can bring them home or finding a way to return on their own. The setting of the Martian changes much of this. Mark cannot simply build a spaceship to go home, so he has to focus on the contact method. HOWEVER, society realizes that Mark is in need of rescue early on. Mars is unlike an island in that it is far more difficult to get to Mars to rescue someone. This sets up a very interesting dynamic between Mark and society where the goal is to “Bring Him Home” and the method is tireless effort from both parties. Thus, Weir has set up an ironic dynamic of teamwork within a stranded alone story. Well done.
Moving on to the first part of this blog’s title, Mark’s secondary orality is stressed simply by the theme of the story. The hopelessness and loneliness often lead to the conclusion of no one engaging the story until after they die. Mark has this feeling many times. He only has true orality when he communicates directly with Earth. Prior to this, his logs seemed to be a scream into the void. But are they really? His extensive detail in his logs make it seem like he intends the logs as lessons for the people back on Earth (I feel like Mark might have stated this, but my memory fails me). The static nature of the logs would still make them unable to hold a dialogue, so Mark tries to be as clear as possible so that the future readers might learn from the mistakes and innovations that were made. In this way, he attempts to overcome the static nature of the secondary orality of his logs. I would also like to point out the irony in the methods that the primary and secondary oralities take place in. We commonly associate primary orality with oral dialogues and secondary orality with writing, but for many parts of the Martian, it switches. The secondary orality of his logs sometimes is in the form of an audio log, and his first primary dialogue with society is using a speak and spell type system.
This is the end of my thoughts on the Martian. Past this text will be my short rant on the people Ong describe as being against computers. Please do not read if you do not care.
My issue is with one of the points in the comparison made between Plato’s anti-writing arguments and modern computer haters. Plato’s point was that written works cannot be debated. The reflection onto computers does not really work. With the invention of the Internet, computers facilitate dialogues that could not really occur using speech. Thus, it seems that technology has come full circle and is now creating a new and improved way of speaking with others in dialogue.