close reading

In this excerpt from Tiptree’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” Doctor Tesla and other employees at GDX attempt to derive a name for the girl that P. Burke will soon inhabit. They discover that the “P” in her name stands for Philadelphia. The semantics girl then provides connotations of Philadelphia to justify using that name. The first connotation she provides is “brotherly love,” which is derived from the Greek meaning of the word. The next connotation she provides is the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of freedom in America. This is ironic, considering that P. Burke has now given up all of her freedom to GDX. The next connotation is the main-line, which refers to an extremely wealthy region of Philadelphia that was established in the 1800s. This also ironic given that P. Burke is not from a wealthy background. The connotation after that is low teratogenesis, which refers to abnormalities of physical development. This too is also an ironic connotation, given that P. Burke was describing as having very extreme genetic deformities. Given these connotations, Philadelphia seems to be a very inappropriate name for P. Burke, but ironically it seems almost perfect for the new conduit as they are all connotations that GDX wants to associate with her. The most important connotation that Philadelphia has is “blah-blah.” Philadelphia appears to GDX to be a bland name, it is does not seem cool, marketable, or sexy and therefore it is not going to aid them in advertising their products. 

After hearing all of these connotations to the name Philadelphia, they quickly reject it and begin to derive nicknames, reluctantly deciding up Delphi. Delphi is a good fit, it is short, sexy, memorable, and seemingly meaningless, all great qualities for advertising. However, the name Delphi is not quite meaningless. In Greek mythology, Delphi was the believed to be the site of the omphalos, a religious stone that was thought to provide direct communication to the gods. It is therefore fitting that this conduit is named Delphi, as she acts as a direct source of communication between the common people and the “gods” who run GDX.


One response to “close reading

  1. I like that you looked up the meaning of “Delphi”. This makes me look at the company’s choice for P. Burke and the robot in a different light


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