Robert Wells's Reviews > The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
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's review
Nov 11, 2008

it was amazing

I’m going to try a different approach to this. I’m going to toss out words or thoughts that come to me as I recall this novel.

questions of self, such as are we who we think we are, and the key word here is think. Does the conscious self come from within, or is it merely an echo?
stories and narration – do humans live the story, that is, do we need to see or hear something before we incorporate it into our own self. Powers uses the mockingbird to demonstrate this in the novel.
is who we are dependent upon what others think, and if so, what happens when what others think, especially those with whom we think we “know” what they think of us, begin to see us or think of us different? does this transform our own self?
can science ever provide an answer to how conscious is formed and thereby give us an insightn into the self, if indeed the self is a form of consciousness.
- I feel that somehow this has the possibility to all come back to language. In many ways we do form narratives with which, or within which, we conduct our lives, and these narratives are formed outj of thoughts in a language. But, my question is are these “thoughts” produced by a chemistry within the brain that we only attempt to name and distinguish with our various languages.
Are we that far removed from animals and their migratory patterns?
- should we live our lives in perpetual doubt? question all and never take for granted what we determine to be “real?”
memories as a maker of self.
- can we imagine new memories and thereby change the core of our self?

See Roland Barthes’ The Structuralist Activity
- Barthes argues humans are not so concerned with the meanings of things as such, but instead we are interested in the fabrication of a meaning; it’s not what it means, it’s how we give the thing the meaning.

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