Looking at Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby through a techno-critical lens can be quite the challenge. On the surface, there are some obvious aspects of technology. These are the automobile, and the telephone. The latter being a less blatant element of technology in the novel than the former. But before I examine the obvious ones, I would like to focus on a technology we are introduced to in the opening pages – it can also be found in The Jungle – of the novel, that is, banking.

Nick reveals that he, “bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood on my [his] shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew” (8). This reference to the banking technologies of old, and if compared to the current changes in banking, makes me think about the evolution of that technology. Early aspects of banking were physical. The banks accounted for the cash you deposited in reality. Banking now days is arbitrary. By that I mean, we are given debit cards and our funds are kept on a digital system, in a sense. This goes for investment banking, as well. The evolution of this particular technology has changed the rules of the ‘banking game’, and given bank owners opportunities to make new profits with the digital cash, or shall we say, credit, without any physical cash leaving the banks. Investors can channel the money of numerous accounts, and cycle them through various investments, almost instantaneously. Maybe, this is why the bankers found it so easy to gamble with our cash, to then stick their hands out for a bailout, which just wreaks more havoc on an already flawed system. Leaving behind politics, though, let me bring our attention to the automobile and telephone technology in the novel.

“He saw me looking with admiration at his car,” (68) Nick observes. Like today, a car doesn’t only get you from one place to another, but it stands as your reputation to some people. The car was a symbol of power, prestige, and class-status, of course, depending on the vehicle you owned. It’s like when we see a Jaguar and a Mercedes, we’re automatically thinking wealth, as oppose to seeing a Honda or a Toyota driving pass us.

And of course there is the telephone, which allowed for information to travel instantly, well almost instantaneous. It was the phone that allowed Gatsby to conduct business miles away from the areas that he was supervising or controlling. Nick states, “Almost at the moment when Mr. Gatsby identified himself a butler hurried toward him with the information that Chicago was calling him on the wire” (53). The novel suggests that he was a bootlegger, but one can’t be certain. Regardless, he was conducting some type of business from a long distance and this was made possible through the telephone. The telephone was more efficient than a letter, in time of delivery, and privacy, but of course that has changed with wire-tapping capabilities. Moreover, even telecommunication technology evolved, the cell-phone is a testimony to that. I could only imagine on what’s going to replace the cell-phone…

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