In Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, is the apparat controlled by the bipartisan party or by self? Specifically on page 38, is Eunice's father entering data about his family's last eighteen months income, or is he required by the government?
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In Gary Shteyngart’s novel Super Sad True Love Story, the ubiquitous apparat is the author’s futuristic version of today’s iPhone; it serves as both a means of communication and a source of nearly-infinite information regarding virtually every other human being. As Shteyngart himself described his satirical symbol of America’s almost psychotic obsession with social media, ranking systems, Internet surfing, and prying into the business of others:
“It’s a wonderful invention that ranks everybody. When I enter a bar in downtown Manhattan, my entire history is broadcast to everybody, and immediately everyone knows I’m the eighteenth ugliest man in the room but I have the fourth-best credit rating.” [http://www.thenation.com/blog/162097/gary-shteyngart-interview#]
In short, the apparat is a consumer electronics item that represents the evolution of the current-era’s pocket computer/phone. It is controlled by the individual consumer, but allows all other owners to peer into one’s personal history.
With respect to references to Eunice’s father in page 38 of Shteyngart’s novel, the financial data to which Lenny refers is an extension of the total transparency to which the masses of the author’s vision subscribe in this new era of social networking and personal marketing. “Sam Park, DPM, the violent podiatrist’s” financial data is available for viewing (“I sensed the diminution of the father’s income, and I wanted to learn more. My retro apparat churned slowly with data, which told me that the father’s business was failing. A chart appeared, giving the income for the last 18 months; the yuan amounts were in steady decline since they had mistakenly left California for New Jersey . . .”) because that’s the extreme to which Shteyngart has taken his readers. His is a dystopian society of the not-too-distant future, and today’s obsession with cell phone/computers and social networking is tomorrow’s apparat.
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