10:04 Ben Lerner Part: One

Within part one of Ben Lerner’s novel 10:04, I found the relationship between the unspecified narrator and Alex fascinating and immensely satisfying. I found it particularly intriguing on how social media and media in general could be related to the problem the two have interacting with each other while holding eye contact. Ben Lerner could be hinting at the idea of younger and future generations struggling to interact and effectively communicate with one another. “Maybe she broached the subject at the museum and not over coffee or the like because in the galleries as on our walks our gazes were parallel, directed in front of us at canvas and not at each other, a condition of our most intimate exchanges; we would work out our views as we coconstructed the literal view before us. We did not avoid each other’s eyes… but we tended to fall quiet when they met” (8). In today’s society, I see often individuals struggling with face to face confrontation, however, if over a comment online or text via phone, individuals can be particularly more genuine with his or her “real” self. Clearly, the reader can tell from the text in part one, the narrator and Alex have an strong and developed relationship. At times, I felt they have feelings for each other which go beyond the lines entailed by being “best friends.” Especially as she wants the narrator to be apart of her pregnancy in such a large capacity. However, despite their closeness and intimate connections even, they both struggle to look one another in the eye and have a full conversation with true depth. The narrator’s relationship with Alex spoke volumes to me, despite the greatly complex plot surrounding it. I felt most connected with the characters and the relationships between one another.

2 thoughts on “10:04 Ben Lerner Part: One

  1. I also thought that the narrator’s discussion of the gaze was really interesting, especially in light of how it’s impacted by the presence of media in everyday life. Over the weekend, my dad tagged me on Facebook when he shared an article from The Atlantic called “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” (my dad’s choice to interact with me via a public posting on social media is a whole other conversation). The article focuses on generation “iGen,” but I think all of humanity experiencing this radical rise in new media is affected. TLDR: smart phones are making us lonelier, more depressed, and decreasing our drive for independence and social interaction. Jean M. Twenge, the author of the piece, notes, “In the next decade, we may see more adults who know just the right emoji for a situation, but not the right facial expression.” This tendency seems to be borne out in Alex and the narrator’s discomfort with talking face-to-face, “We did not avoid each other’s eyes…but we tended to fall quiet when they met.” Is this discomfort with eye contact influenced by technology, especially smartphones, as media?

    Here is the article if anyone is interested: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

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  2. I agree, I feel as though throughout the entire sections of this novel there is never a moment of relaxation when there is interaction from person to person, not screen to screen. I felt as though the entire story was piecing together different tweets, instagrams, Facebook posts, and texts to summarize the thoughts and actions of the characters. While each event unfolded, there was another event or story that was more important and needed to be shared with the reader before it was forgotten. We continually pose and post for moments we never want to forget, yet if we live in the moment, our minds, not our computers, will do the remembering for us.

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