Last-minute follow-up to Transmission

There’s still so much to discuss in relation to Transmission, so I thought I’d write a quick post in case any of you wanted to continue the conversation. I know some of you had questions about the ambiguity of the ending, the possibilities it opens up, and the unexpected directions it leads us (Gaby’s possible suicide for example), so please add your comments and questions below!

For me, the reversal of roles, the hope that  is offered Arjun through his spectrality and disappearance into the “machine,” so to speak, works to unsettle our expectations of the precariat and the privileged. We see Arjun acquiring the flexibility and mobility that global elites exercise by becoming a ghost, escaping, allegedly, into Mexico through the California border. The sound bites and excerpts of recognizable news media outlets that attempt to trace his whereabouts (256) pull Arjun from the imaginary world of the text and places him in a real and recognizable media ecology that draws upon our knowledge of global news publications. This disturbs the fictional nature of the narrative. The blurring of fictional and real worlds complicates Arjun’s open-ended conclusion. This conclusion further opens up a host of possibilities suggesting that through precarity can come agency.

And at the same moment that Arjun accumulates the ability to move, we see Guy lose his. The Pan European Border Agency (PEBA) that Guy hopes to work for, ironically becomes the institution that misidentifies him as an Albanian, “failed asylum seeker,” and “suspected pyramid fraudster,” which results in his deportation–a fear that Arjun struggles against his entire time in the U.S.

Additionally, the ambiguous endings and the potentials that are offered for Leela and Arjun through their disappearances, Gaby’s possible suicide, etc. that all happen because of the informational disaster of “Gray Day” seem to warn against our reliance on networked technologies, and also point to the ways in which we are connected with others outside of our own visible spheres. It offers a kind of hope through catastrophe, materializing, but also making fantastic, the things we imagine and desire for these characters, and possibly our selves in this world where everything is increasingly virtual (our identities, our capital, our contributions to the public sphere) but nonetheless real. Maybe?


Also, I wanted to share this video, in relation to PEBA in the novel. This is a controversial ad published by the EU last year. I’m sure you guys will have plenty to say about this…

Would love to hear any additional comments, questions, provocations, etc….


3 thoughts on “Last-minute follow-up to Transmission

  1. Well, in regards to the video, it reminds me of the conversation that Guy and his fellow business associates talk about how America is able to promote itself and the European Union does not. Clearly the video is using an American work of art, “Kill Bill.” However, what are the makers of the video trying to convey? A “white” women is seen being attacked by people of color? And the only solution in the video is to “multiply” “whiteness” to confront these people?

  2. And secondly, In response to the end of the novel, i would like to suggest that the ambiguity of this work, and its tone, is in direct contrast to “Arch at the End of the Rainbow.” As readers we were given a neat wrap up to the lives of the characters. However, in “Transmission,” no such wrap up was given, and I think the novel was better for it. In a novel that speaks to communication, loss and “moving beyond,” Transmission lets the reader decide for themselves– through the authors use of tone– how lives will end up, wether the author was successful in his “transmission” of his ideas.

  3. Ok, so after watching that EU ad. I am just wondering who these other men are representing, other races? continents? nations? The use of stereotypes in this commercial is quite prevalent (the Oriental, the Arabian, the African) as well as the representation of nations as being in a sense ‘threatening’ to the EU, but in the end if the EU regains control, sustaining an immense population of EU citizens (control of dominant White population) they are able to rule the world/ (like the nazis wanted – not suggesting they have the same intentions) or are they implying to make peace with these other cultures/countries as they end with a yoga sitting posture while the ‘others’ kindly & gently disappear..?

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