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Critical Analysis of The Unseen

My biggest legitimate criticism of "The Unseen" is the author's contention that the forces acting on an individual which cause that individual to take on the characteristics of the unseen are purely external and beyond the power of that individual to change. "In reality, the reason for the chasm that divides the unseen from the rest of the students was created by something as simple as sitting in the wrong seat in 9th grade Geometry class." In an alternate universe, maybe! The likelihood of such a wholly insignificant CHOICE (portrayed here not as a choice but rather as fate) being the first event in the downward spiral commonly traveled by the unseen approaches nonexistence.

It is easy and convenient to blame one's present condition on some distant detail, the "significance" of which one was ignorant at the time. While doing so lessens the pain of regret and absolves one from all blame, it is false reasoning. How can the author seriously connect one's past choice of seating with a present existence of fruitless labor, social isolation, and self-consciousness? It simply cannot be done. A choice of such infinitesimal magnitude cannot bear the load of such a consequence! Clearly, the author would like it to be just that easy. This most likely results from a fear of vulnerability. To acknowledge a cause as a choice, and then to regret it, requires the admission of misused responsibility and fallibility–in short, that one feels vulnerable. It is not a comfortable feeling. But accepting no part as a factor of one's own development is just crazy. Staying with the given example, perhaps the author should examine more of the circumstances surrounding this scholar of geometry. Was he talkative? Did he volunteer much or give anyone a reason to notice him? Was he exceedingly smart? If so, supercilious? What was he like before that historic class? Did he have a record of reservedness? These questions should be answered before any legitimate revelation or generality is made.

The author's attempt in this essay is obvious: to portray the unseen as hapless, innocent victims of a cruel fate. Unseen or not, people need to account for their actions. I cannot account for any part of who I am today without at least including a choice that I made, at some point, on some level of consciousness.

If you're saying right now, "this guy doesn't believe in fate," I guess you're right. An interactive supreme being I do believe in. The idea that every moment from here to eternity is pre-scripted and followed to the letter? No, I have trouble accepting that.

As hard as the author tries to paint them as victims of circumstance, the unseen (who, as the author pointed out, are not so different from everyone else) are in as much control of their lives as everyone else, and who they become needs to properly be attributed to the choices they have made, their beliefs, their values, and various other factors in their personal development, not a simplistic and inconsequential scapegoat such as sitting in the wrong seat, years ago, in a class no one remembers.

-Matthew Care

Note to reader: Yes, I have returned, and with a work of such beauty and craftsmanship as to almost justify a year's leave. In all that time, thoughts were filling my head, but I never had the motivation to put them to paper. The process of composition recently and slowly began to trickle back to me. And then one day, a deluge, when a recent period of AP Calculus became the site of a series of heated debates ranging from politics to curriculum standards to Steve's views on the teenage social order. Ask anyone. By the time class was over, I hadn't done any calc, and I was breathing smoke. I realized something. Offering my insight to Steve, I said, "Sometimes I hate you. Sometimes I can tolerate you. Sometimes, I'm indifferent. But whichever it is, I've realized that my life would be boring without you. You can get me fired up like NO ONE else." That night my inspiration came back, and this is the product. Admit it. You missed the caustic banter between the two of us! Well, knowing this, I've prepared a treat for you all. Below you will find a series of sarcastic comments and minor irritations caused by Steve's essay. It's the kind of stuff I'm infamous for around here, but I hope you will not make you give less credibility to my formal analysis. It's just meant as some light reading. I wouldn't have published it if I thought it would detract from my integrity. Enjoy.

In the first paragraph...something's not right. What is unseen? The monster or the victim? And then the falling. Woh, Steve. We appreciate your attempt at imagery to emphasize your point as well as create a captivating introduction, but I'm sure you know what you're trying to say.

"Awe, you young whipper-snappers! With your alternative music and your potty mouths. Don't know the meaning of hard work, you don't. That's your problem! And you complain too much about being unseen. In my day we couldn't afford to be seen! I myself had to walk sixteen miles to school each day, unseen both ways! And it was good enough for me!"

Ninth-grade Geometry class–hardly seems arbitrary. Did anyone have geometry with Steve in 9th grade? If so, please contact me. I'd love to hear from you. If you remember where he sat, how he acted, who he talked to–anything that could shed some light on this obvious skeleton in the closet of Steve's soul.

Well, that's a nice little disclaimer there, about not including yourself. Regardless, who still thinks Steve is just subtly asking for pity and attention? Come on, I can't be the only one!

Steve, I believe that I speak for all of your friends, acquaintances, and people who know you when I say that we don't appreciate being used as obvious examples (obvious because, let's face it, you don't have many friends, and everyone knows who you talk to the most) in your oh-so-comprehensive thesis.