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Individual Identity in Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer

Individual Identity in Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer

The idea of self, an individual authentic unique identity, seems to be constantly questioned and challenged in Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer. We are presented with several portraits of artists, writers and would be writers, whose notion of self is in some significant manner tied to their art. Rather than knitting together a unified (rehabilitated?) concept of self, aesthetic creativity, art, complicates and further problematizes the issue of identity. Art simultaneously undermines and underscores insights provided by a supposedly seamless master narrative. The creative impulses and ideas which inspire an artist to create may have little or nothing to do with the meaning or meanings assigned to the art itself by a virtually endless chain of interpreters. Writers are thus distanced from their texts at the same time an audience, a reader, is constructing an identity for him/herself and for the author based on the text.

Nathan Zuckerman, the narrator, is motivated to become a “great” novelist because in part of his romanticized notions of writing and writers. His identity becomes entangled in the works of E.I. Lonoff. Nathan rejects the pleas of his father to place his identity as a member of a family and as a Jew above his identity as a writer. Evoking Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, Roth’s Nathan Dedalus places his identity as an artist above other concerns. He seeks a new intellectual/spiritual father in Lonoff. First from Lonoff’s writings and then from the personal encounter with Lonoff himself, Nathan hopes that by emulating Lonoff in all aspects, he will become more like the idealized identity he has created as his goal.


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…sentative of a larger group, concept, or commodity. This fracture first promoted by her writing is a source of both hope and agony.

Amy seeks meaning from within her fragmented existence. Where Nathan is brought to the edge of this discovery as the novel progresses, Lonoff retreats from it. Literature is adept at describing and cultivating a fragmented sense of identity; it can motivate others to actions/extremes never sought by the author. Put simply, art encourages interpretation. As writers, each of these three characters is aware of the fact that unity or singularity of interpretation is rarely (if ever) achieved. When also applied to an individual identity such interpretive freedom/ambiguity can be the source of both strength and despair. The notion of self, though perhaps less whole by the end of the novel, still houses a potential for meaning.

Essay on Internet Privacy – Carnivore, and the Power Of FBI Surveillance

Carnivore: The Power Of FBI Surveillance

Abstract: This paper provides an analysis of the privacy issues associated with governmental Internet surveillance, with a focus on the recently disclosed FBI tool known as Carnivore. It concludes that, while some system of surveillance is necessary, more mechanisms to prevent abuse of privacy must exist.

Communication surveillance has been a controversial issue in the US since the 1920’s, when the Supreme Court deemed unwarranted wiretaps legitimate in the case of Olmstead v United States. Since telephone wires ran over public grounds, and the property of Olmstead was not physically violated, the wiretap was upheld as lawful. However, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling in 1967 in the landmark case of Katz v United States. On the basis of the fourth amendment, the court established that individuals have the right to privacy of communication, and that wiretapping is unconstitutional unless it is authorized by a search warrant. [Bowyer, 142-143] Since then, the right to communication privacy has become accepted as an integral facet of the American deontological code of ethics. The FBI has made an at least perfunctory effort to respect the public’s demand for Internet privacy with its new Internet surveillance system, Carnivore. However, the current implementation of Carnivore unnecessarily jeopardizes the privacy of innocent individuals.

There is considerable utilitarian value in extending privacy rights to the Internet. The fear that communication is being monitored by a third party inevitably leads to inefficiency, because individuals feel a need to find loopholes in the surveillance. For instance, if the public does not feel comfortable with communica…

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… best way to establish this balance of power is by requiring the FBI to have the ISP’s perform the searches themselves.

Works Cited

Kevin W. Bowyer. “Ethics And Computing”. IEEE Press, New York. 2001. (142-143).

Patrick Ross. September 2000

Patrick Riley. Fox News. July 11th, 2000

Donald M. Kerr. FBI. September 6th, 2000

IITRI. November 17th, 2000.

Thomas C. Greene. The Register December 19th, 2000

Chris Oakes. Wired News.,1283,37470,00.html July 12th, 2000

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