Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Visitation" by Brad Watson

6th and 8th period:
What is your response to the story on the following levels: emotional, intellectual, artisitic, social?
Choose one or combine them all in your response.


  1. Lauren Vunderink--
    My emotional response to this story is simple sadness. I am sad for all the character's in the story whose lives seem to have been getting steadily worse and worse. I feel distressed for that I have to read yet another story about an anti-social “unique” individual who drinks and smokes a lot. I feel despondent for that little boy whose weekends are ruined by his morose father’s visits, and I feel forlorn that Loomis cannot appreciate the beauty of people, not just of rocks.
    Intellectually, I find that this story is very well read. It is set up so as to feel as though it is an expert from a book that people could actually enjoy reading, yet is get across its point very well. Of course, I am slightly exasperated with Loomis’s hopeless feelings, but I can appreciate the ease and delicacy of the delivery.
    As for my ‘artistic’ interpretation, I would have to mostly reference the paragraph on my intellectual interpretation. If by this question you mean to ask about the poetic or rhythmic success, then I would have to say “no”, there is nothing special about the flow. However, the scenes of Loomis on his balcony are the most detailed and artistically pleasing, which is interesting as those are the times when he is contemplating the misery of his situation.
    I dislike that Loomis has given up so much hope, although he does seem to function rather defiantly than most people. Hopefully someone reading this story who is in a similar situation will not be impacted in that they will give up hope themselves. This would be my social response. Personally, I am not moved to feel fear or compassion for the ‘gypsies’ since a few sides are shown of them, nor do I find my self morning my feable hopes of a happy life, so, if the author intended to impact society as a whole with this piece of work, he would be disappointed.

  2. Here is a link to the text:

  3. The social aspect of this story was the first thing that I noticed when reading this. I would imagine this scene is an ordinary one for many – separated or divorced parents dealing with sharing custody of a child. It is common in today’s society. Never having had to deal with such a circumstance myself, I can only sympathize with Loomis for his situation. It did invoke some sadness from me. Loomis is essentially a stranger from his son, only seeing him on brief occasion in a dingy motel. He is surprised at small things, such as when his son curses, because he is not around on a daily basis to notice. However, at the same time, Loomis is at fault for not taking action to remedy this issue – he gives up on marriage counseling with his wife and new girlfriend (his cheating being what started this problem) and makes no further effort to spend time with his son. In a sense, he has been the one to isolate himself, and therefore deserves the loneliness and disappointment he feels. His expectations were too high and unrealistic, thus he could only ever be let down.

    On an intellectual level, this story is reflective of much of what goes on in the world today. Many have become apathetic to their lives because of perpetual disappointment. The gypsy who reads Loomis’ fortune sees that Loomis has been let down several times because reality did not live up to his idealized expectations. As a result, he has resorted to drinking and smoking. Humanity today is often quite similar – after being let down, they lose the will to continue and instead self destruct. It is a depressing fact, yet true in many instances. For me personally, it raised the questions of how long optimism can last in the face of adversity, how high to set my own expectations, and at what point people begin to give up.

    This work can be seen as a lesson though, to continue to persevere and be optimistic in order to avoid such despair. I believe this is the most artistic aspect of the piece. The story is told in an ordinary way, with quotidian description and detail. Yet, a message is clearly communicated despite never even having been hinted at. The author is able to utilize the mundane in order to create a work that suggests anything but.

  4. "Visitation.” I feel that Watson writes truth as he portrays the character of Loomis – he is an accurate representation of society. At the same time, he deserves no sympathy. His attitude toward the world and others is depressing.

    Loomis is dislikeable (emotional). Watson writes that “One day he’d decided that he should marry, have a child, and he told himself that if one was open-minded these things could lead to a kind of contentment” (page 1). Loomis maintains a rational voice throughout this thought, indicating that a family is not significant. Although he wants one, these feelings are shallow, as his own happiness is more important. He convinces himself that these things would bring about this happiness and acts on this selfish reason. In a broader perspective, Loomis decides to interrupt someone else’s life (his ex-wife’s) to create joy. He does not reflect on feelings of love. Then, after he decided that it was not enough, or he submitted to his fear, he conveniently throws it away to have an affair. He proves that he is a selfish, cowardly person.

    The fact that he feels regretful to his son and their lack of communication does not make up for his selfishness. It actually supports it. Throughout his son’s visit, Loomis constantly reflects on his own emotions, his irritation at the people in the pizza joint, etc. He does not reflect on his son’s discomfort. While he may feel remorse toward his son, he is focused on his own distress in the situation. Loomis could be presented as a better person if he was regretful for his actions. However, he continually focuses on himself, leaving little room for sympathy.

    His behavior is reflected in greater society. “How all of this was possible, this life, how he might actually be able to do it. And yet whenever he had felt this he was also aware of the other, more deeply seated part of his nature that wanted to run away in fear” (6-7). Watson addresses human nature. Human condition is not set in stone. It is subject to change from outside forces. For this reason, humans are often uncertain about the world and their own circumstances. In receiving, there is the option of having it taken away. This is reflected in Loomis’s fear and our own. Loomis, fearing the depth of his emotional attachment, pulled away quickly. He separated himself from the possibility of hurt. This is also seen in contemporary society. Although it is not obvious, people withdraw to avoid pain. The condition of Loomis helped to characterize our own feelings.

  5. This story caused me to feel very sad because I believe that Loomis’ situation is merely a magnification of most people’s life – banal, pointless, and unsatisfying. While most of us in society attempt to look at our lives in a positive light, there is always a certain time when we come to the realization that no matter how hard or for how long we struggle for our goals, we will never be completely satisfied. As soon as we achieve something, we are immediately gripped by the urge to make further achievements, to do even better. As the ruler of our planet, blessed with intelligence and self-consciousness, we are all idealists like Loomis, in some sense. We strive for eternal happiness and contentment. Loomis is no different from the others in his society, except for he understands the impossibility of human ideals, the drive for unachievable perfection. Others utilize religion to blind themselves with this illusion. They create utopia-like environments such as heaven, which give them hope and purpose, as well as cushion them from the truth. Loomis on the other hand is a pessimistic and atheistic character, constantly “aware of being despair.” Because his mindset is “socially unacceptable,” he is forced to wallow in his depression and pessimism in solitude.

  6. Instead of feeling sadness for Loomis’ situation in life, his bleak outlook irritated me. Loomis is an emotionless person much like Meursault from The Stranger, caring nothing about the positive aspects in life. Loomis is “always disappointed by ordinary life, which of course is boring and ugly.” He lives only for the physical sensations in the present time for which he steps outside to smoke a cigarette or drink a plastic cup of bourbon. Loomis even left his wife to be in a relationship that he had “no faith…would work out any better than the old one” because of his boredom.
    I am annoyed by his lack of attempt to get to know his son better. He remembers how “he loved this child more than he had ever loved anyone in his entire life,” yet Loomis still allows for the silence between him and his son to break them apart. Loomis can only focus on how these relationships “could only end in catastrophe.” His negative point of view is his downfall. Without the constant need to make his life less dull, Loomis could have maintained some sort of happiness. He previously believed that marrying and having a child could “lead to a kind of contentment, if not to exuberant happiness.”
    This short story reflects the lives of many people in our society. There are many people like Loomis who see no meaning to life, where living by physical means distracts them from their boredom. In many cases, the children of divorced parents are estranged from one of their parents. In the story, the little boy has no connection to his father except for a weekend at a cheap motel and McDonald hamburgers. It’s sad that this precious relationship is squandered because of the father’s lack of communication, which just mirrors what goes on everywhere in the world.

  7. In Watson's "Visitation", the main character Loomis is an individual who encounters much despair by his attempts to avoid such aguish. The isolation between Loomis and his son adds to the overall misery of the short story. Despite his negative experiences, I do not feel sympathy for Loomis for he brought everything upon himself. If Loomis did not associate with another woman while married, his life may have satisfied the one he percieved for himself, a peaceful, content life. One question comes to mind in regards to Loomis' alleged affair. If he wanted to avoid all despair, what would he involve himself in an affair? This ties into Loomis bringing despair upon himself. First of all, not everything goes according to plan as much as we believe it should. In the beginning, Watson describes the planned life of Loomis as percieved by Loomis himself. Based on Loomis' depressing experiences and unfortunate mishaps,the reader comes to realize one cannot plan his/her life for he/she does not know what obstacles are in place. In general, since when do people know what is best for them?

  8. In many respects, until the message of the story was reached, I could think of Loomis in no terms other than as a modern version of Meursault. The thought came to me almost immediately upon reading the third sentence of the story, "Most of his troubles had come from attempts to deny the essential hopelessness in his nature", which stirred up memories of Meursault's realization in prison about the inevitability of death. Upon completing the story, however, my opinion on this matter changed entirely because the end does much to redefine his character. Up to that point, he has been stuck in the present, moving from one event to the next without much consideration like from the beach to the pizza parlor without thought as to what those actions say about him. He has the certainty of rhythm- he will fly to California to see his son and they will stay at the same motel and do a couple things from a limited list of possible activities until he must go and the cycle starts over. It is a life build on regularity. Yet, when he has returned to the room after the gypsy's reading, Loomis states that "He couldn't imagine what would come next", which is curious given that nothing has changed in his life and the cycle will go on. The only way to resolve this apparent conflict is to understand, as Loomis seems to, that regularity in habit does not require stasis in conditions. The world in which he carries out his life is changing as his son grows up and his wife becomes ever more distant, but he cannot change with the world and this creates uncertainty.

  9. I concur with some of the previous statements in that I feel little sadness for Loomis himself, but I do regret the culture that has produced a character like this--one conscious of its own ridiculous, obdurate in regaining direction, intent on wallowing in its miserable heights. Loomis, in existentialist terms, has taken on the quintessence of passivity: his hopelessness, being persistent, is naturally perpetual--"essential," as the story puts it. He has completely abandoned responsibility for himself, like Aeneas in Carthage or Antony in Egypt--lacking, of course, a woman.

    Existentialism is both a modernist and a postmodernist movement, but this is a postmodernist situation. Postmodernism tolerates the absurd because it recognizes absurdity as inescapable. Nothing *really* means anything except insofar as we invest it with something. Loomis' straying in having "taken prescription medicine, engaged in periods of vigorous, cleansing exercise, [and] declared his satisfaction with any number of fatuous jobs and foolish relationships" demonstrates Loomis' acceptance of his own absurdity: he is here, without purpose or meaning in himself, and he will not make purpose or meaning for himself.

    I would like to take this time to critique some comments made by my predecessors. First, Loomis is not antisocial. He may not be *successful* inside social constraints, but he is not outside the realm of social acceptability. He seeks out social relationships and engages in social actions. He appears also to be successful at this, given his affinity for relationships, no matter how foolish. He, therefore, fails the psychological test for antisocial behavior: he is not hostile or resentful of society at large--only of himself. He does not even suit the colloquial definition of antisocial behavior, which inclines more towards asociality: once again, HE SEEKS OUT RELATIONSHIPS.

    I should also like to counter the claim that he is "'unique.'" He is neither unique nor "unique." In that he smokes, drinks, and is divorced not only from his wife but also from the more involved aspects of reality, there is nothing unique about him in a postmodern society. In fact, the only thing unique about Loomis is that there is nothing unique about him. That he is not "unique" rises from the story itself. Loomis' character is conspicuously devoid of characterization. Omission is STILL not an accident: Loomis is not a character because he does not have to be. Loomis is an idiom for postmodern meaninglessness, and so he is not "unique": if anything, he is ubiquitous!

    I concur with the assessment that Loomis is at fault for not taking action regarding his own problems. Again, this is the quintessence of existentialist passivity. This also yields that Loomis is an idiom, not a character. I disagree, however, with the following statement that Loomis aimed too high in life. As a matter of fact, it would seem that he did not aim anywhere at all. The Loomis idiom is stunningly like /der letzte Mensch/: one seeking out only the placation of his basic needs and the occasional pleasure. He is utterly frustrated in the latter and thus is frustrated as a whole human being.

    I should also like to rephrase the statement that Loomis' outlook is depressing. "Depressing" is our expectations projected onto Loomis. "Bleak" is so as well. Living Loomis' life, Loomis is not depressing or bleak: he is simply meaningless. The metaphysics of meaninglessness could be argued endlessly, but, in reality, there are many who have delighted in their own pointlessness (viz. courtesans?) I find it interesting also that the same person who mentioned his bleak outlook also called him an "emotionless" person. Loomis does not lack emotion. The range of his emotions may be muted by the cognizance of his own meaninglessness and sense of futility, but nothing is missing upstairs: he expresses jealousy, a certain flavor of love, contempt, and regard for standard. Loomis is not lacking in emotion. Neither is he anything like Mersault: Mersault is the poster boy for radical materialism in that he rejects almost anything concerning ideas, preferring instead himself as a physical being. If anything, Loomis is a radical idealist, both in the sense of believing in something better (cue postmodernist meaninglessness) and in the sense of considering ideas driving forces--love MATTERS to Loomis, unlike Mersault.

    That being said, I concur with the analysis that Loomis is representative of most people's lives and that these lives might be considered "banal, pointless, and unsatisfying." Existentialism would certainly incline us to think so.

  10. I had a mixed emotional response to this story. Part of me felt sorry for Loomis and his son, and half was frustrated at them. I pitied them because they had such a tenuous relationship with each other and with the rest of the world. Though they deserve happiness as much as anyone else in the world, they just couldn’t enjoy it. This fact was what frustrated me, though. They were clearly dissatisfied with their lives, but did not choose to do anything about it. Loomis quit counseling to heal his relationship with his various partners, and seems to visit his son more out of habit than because he enjoys his presence. This exceedingly dull existence seems undesirable to me, but neither of the characters, though at least Loomis complains about his misery, do anything about it. This, to me, was more than a bit vexing.

    On an intellectual level, I was, upon receiving the story, interested to see the world through a view that I am not myself familiar with. At the beginning of the story, I was eager to see how the writer would portray life from this viewpoint, but I was disappointed early on for reasons I have already explained. This attitude of being displeased but unwilling to change anything only served to remind me that this was not an existence I want to practice.

    As for artisitic (is that how we’re going to spell it now?) responses, I was interested that the author was able to fit so many of Loomis’ life experiences into such a brief story. Though the entire narrative took place within two days, and managed to include a good amount of detail about this time, but also described many outside experiences that had relevance to the story. This inclusion of so much detail both from within and outside the current narrative was something that I admired for the writer’s skill.

    I didn’t have much of a response on the social level except for reaffirming my belief that such a dull existence where one refuses to see the good in other people is an unsatisfactory way to lead one’s life, and that there are certainly better ways to exist. Loomis’ relationships with others always seem to lead to his unhappiness either at himself (such as with the “gypsy” woman) or them (such as with his wife), for not living up to his expectations. Though it may be difficult to see past the small disappointments to the better characteristics of others, the fool just needs to deal with it.

  11. While there are certain standout politicians, actors and pop stars to whom society enjoys looking up to or looking down upon, the expectations for the average person are confined to a smaller sphere. Nice family, moderately successful career, suburban house, shiny cell phone – measures of stability and achievement for the modern human being. Loomis of the “Visitation” is unable to connect to the norms, though “he had tried to adapt, to pass as a believer, a hoper” for this particular version of happiness. Instead, he is thrown in to despair once more after failing to become content with average contentedness.

    Loomis entered marriage fearing the divorce he seemed to know was inevitable. I had to sympathize with him when the fear became real. It is clear throughout the text that though he has no other true drive in life, Loomis cares deeply for his son. He wants the boy to be happy and tries his hardest to be a decent father figure even though they see each other only on motel weekends. However, such a goal contrasts with a man who otherwise believes in the “viability of nothing.” It’s an attitude that makes failure the only option.

    It is a heartbreaking situation to see the only person one loves becoming emotionally distant. By the time of the short story, Loomis is already losing contact with his son. His son watches hours of anime while Loomis drinks. They barely converse. Loomis tries to make an effort but he has no idea how. That is despair, the knowledge that there is no way out of a dead end, and desperation, when one tries everything for what they know is impossible. “Visitation” has Loomis embody both, and it may be a story too often repeated in separated families.


  12. On an emotional level, “The Visitation” just makes me sad. Loomis is, as the gypsy tells him, a “ghost.” He is the mere shadow of a father--only spending time with his son out of a sense of duty, not because of any real enjoyment. Although he denies that he is “a believer, a hoper”, the fact that he tried enough to get married and have a child shows a subconscious longing for happiness and contentment. But the world cannot satisfy his dreams, and so Loomis sinks so deep into despair that he seems unable to escape.
    As the story began, I was sympathetic to Loomis--he must travel to an entirely different state to see his son, and only once every three weeks. But as it continued, I began to feel more and more upset with the man. He acknowledges his “ineptitude as a father”, but makes no move to change that, instead drinking heavily even while he is spending time with his son.
    I feel most sorry for the boy. The life he has led so far has turned him into a “ghost” just like Loomis. He, too, lives on the edge of two worlds, the one with his mother and “Uncle Bob” in their basement apartment and the other with his alcoholic father in a motel room. And, unlike Loomis, he has little say in the matter. The boy was even born a “very sick” child, straddling the two worlds of life and death, a precursor of what was to come.

  13. The depressing and pessimistic tone is evident within the first paragraph of the story. Most of the story revolves around how Loomis perceives himself in terms of fitting in with society. In this social sense, Loomis is alienated from the rest of the world, specifically his own family. Through the divorce and depression, Loomis can merely recall times when living with boy's mother had "seemed happy". His visitation allows Loomis to acknowledge the fact that he is pathetic in one more way. The dinner at Pizza Port provides a perfect example of Loomis' feeling of solitude, and how he "felt no affinity" for any other people in the vicinity.

    Emotionally, Loomis' grasp for power is quite normal in the modern world. His fall to the depths of depression feed into the need for power which he struggles to attain. Watson juxtaposes this scramble for power with the exasperated circumstances that precede it. Loomis explicitly states his powerlessness several times, reinforcing the idea that he is hopelessly lost in his own expectations of what a good parent should be.

  14. For whatever reason, I felt a deep connection between myself and Loomis. Perhaps it is his bleak life in a dingy hotel room, struggling through severe depression as he tried to raise a son who has little faith in his capabilities as a father, and a wife who avoids him at all costs. The great question is whether or not he had brought this upon himself, or if all his suffering is merely circumstantial. His living situation is almost surreal, reminiscent of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. It is a world of relentless oblivion, lived offside a highway whose traffic streams past him, unaware of his existence. The situation is nonetheless believable in its presentation, but everything becomes detached through the eyes of Loomis. Even the narrator is detached from Loomis’ perspective, even though the story, in theory, should be told entirely from his point of view. The world comes into focus in parts of the story, such as the encounters with his son, but Loomis is constantly attempting to “get away from it all” by drinking, smoking, and letting the world go on without him. The most captivating point of the story is the last scene with soothsayer looking into his heart. The interaction brings light to Loomis’ existence in which he describes the encounter as “though he’d just been through something physical instead of emotional.” Afterwards, his world comes into check and not even his own room seems familiar. Instead of shutting the world out, it suddenly comes into focus and makes him realize the true tragedy of his situation. From looking at his son sleeping, he contemplates his existence and how he got there, why it had to turn out the way it did, and more importantly, what would happen next.

  15. There is a separation between the aspects of this story as mentioned in the question for the blog post, however, it seems the aspects are grouped in a particular way, important to the analysis of the story. The artistic aspect seems limited to the writing, in that Loomis' is not the most creative, spontaneous person, and however, in actuality it is simply a manifestation of Loomis' imagination. The intellectual aspect seems to be the more logical and formal version of Loomis' consciousness (the opposite of artistic), and together these two aspects form Loomis' thought process, whereas Loomis' interactions with the outside world are presented through his emotions, and obviously, his communication with the real world.

    Now, as aforementioned in above posts, Loomis’ dependency on repetition seems to override his senses, and his submission to his “inclinations” leaves him “powerless.” Through the course of the year we have read selections, but so far, no character has really compared to Loomis, because his philosophy is new altogether… While Camus had a very absurdist/existentialist (initially) view, that is the closest comparison, however, Meurseult, was much to reserved, and not close to as free thinking as Loomis. The story begins and Loomis is fully aware of “the essential hopelessness in his nature.” “He had tried to adapt,” yet Loomis has always been in an emotionally and self-aware state, as he has “been painfully aware of his own despair for most of his life.” Loomis’ difficulty with passing “as a believer, a hoper,” is derived from his incompatibility between his emotional disconnect and his social incapability. His intelligence and imagination do not hold him back, but just as he is an introvert in his mostly self-noted monologue, his incapacity for spontaneity, or rather, anything other than a boring, motel routine, he cannot fathom breaking out of anything normal, and as Thomas said it above, “nothing has changed in his life and the cycle will go on.”

  16. This story intricately illustrates the somewhat paradoxical parental traits humans acquire when they have children. Throughout, Loomis said how he never really wanted to get married and seemed always to be running from something (commitment?). The parental nature is an inherited trait that was selected over time to preserve the continuation of a species and has become a remarkable aspect of human nature that will drive one to do things they never thought for their offspring. Loomis says ‘he felt that he loved this child more than he had ever loved anyone in his entire life’ even though ‘he was also aware of the other, more deeply seated part of his nature that wanted to run away in fear.’ But no matter how much he hates the predicament he’s found himself in there is nothing he wouldn’t do to spend time with his son. In almost every situation, Loomis becomes increasingly aware of his surroundings and how they could possibly effect his son. From the gypsies pulling up in the car, to his son merely waiting outside the pizza parlor, Loomis is afraid something, never specifically stating what, will harm his son, like all parents. The tone of the piece suggests that Loomis doesn’t think himself a good parent for making the parenting so hard with the divorce, but by the way he cares for his son, he isn’t as bad as he thinks he is.

  17. hmmm... that last post was for Amanda, i guess katie was on my computer?

  18. My initial reaction to "Visitation" by Brad Watson was one of surprise. I was struck by how intimately I began to understand the father and the complexities of his life - which ultimately are not complex at all. Lately, I have been contemplating the depth of others. Each person's ability to understand themselves as well as the world around them. This affected my reaction to "visitation" because many times people are not aware of the thoughts that are going through other people's minds. In this case, the father is some divorced schmuck, some middle class american with an office job who stays at cheep motels while visiting a son he fails to connect with. Without this insightful story, many people would not think twice about the father's situation or any other person like him for that matter. It is not until Watson begins to reveal a more intimate side of the father that one realizes that he is conscious of himself, of his actions and he is completely aware of why he has gotten to where he has. This intimate side of the father is raw and blunt, he does not fail to speak truthfully and objectively about his son and his feelings toward him. For me, "visitation" served to enforce the idea that there is an essential part of human nature that is keenly aware of its surroundings.

  19. My reaction to this reading as it relates to society is that it is a detailed and accurate rendition of a sizeable group of people's positions in life. Loomis' relationship with his family is a tragic one, but certainly not uncommon. It is reasonable that a failed attempt at marriage would turn out this way.
    Loomis appears to live life as he feels he should, without being too deeply affected by a sense of right and wrong. He thought that it was time for him to get married, so he did. He probably decided to get married before even finding a woman. As a result, he married a woman simply because she agreed to it, instead of the reason being an intense love for her, among other things. He seems to live life constantly trying to convince himself that it is meaningful, and trying to fit the mold that society has set, whereas he should be searching for his personal niche, to separate him from the rest and find a job or hobby that he is interested in.
    The artistry in this poem is similar to that of many realist painters. The beauty of this reading is that it is such an accurate recreation of the lives of many. It is an admirable example of Brad Watson's abilities as a writer and artist. If I had not read this, and someone were to tell me of a man named Loomis and sum up the reading in a conversation, I would certainly believe he was real, and I would certainly feel sympathetic, which shows just how masterful Watson is at recreating the world around him through literature.

  20. My emotional response to "Visitation" was confusing, because while I certainly felt some degree of pity towards Loomis, I knew at the same time that he was an unlikable, socially unacceptable individual, who arguably deserved the hard times he was going through. On top of these feelings, I related to some aspects of Loomis' emotions. As the narrative progresses, the reader gets a clear view of the thoughts and feelings going through Loomis' head. While he appears to be a jerk, his actions seem almost justified because the reader sees all of the thoughts going through Loomis' head. This makes it much easier to relate to him.
    The end of the story is especially interesting, because until that point Loomis had been living a repetitive life, especially the aspect of his life that included flying to California once every three weeks. At the end of the story, he finally doesn't know what will happen next in life. This only happens after he comes to terms with the choices he has made earlier in his life.

  21. I thought that "Visitation" was a sad story, but mostly because of the fact that it's so true in our society. With the divorce rate higher than ever, and more and more people being diagnosed with depression, I can see Loomis in a lot of people I know.
    In today's society, people make choices based on what they think is expected of them. People propose because they feel it's the next logical step in a relationship, not because they know they want to spend the rest of their lives with this one person. Kids are going off to college and flunking out because college isn't the right place for them, but try to place the blame not on themselves, but on the specific institution. This need to fit in with everyone around us makes us lose what makes society function. By placing everyone on a track that's been set for them since before they were born, kids lose the power to exercise their own voices. Parents are making the decisions, and students just going along for the ride.
    This type of attitude is clearly represented in Loomis's character. He gets married and has a kid because that's what's expected of men in America---get married, have a family, be successful in your work. Loomis, while he has achieved these things, is an example of how wrong things can go. By jumping into this life he wasn't really sure he wanted, he set himself up for failure, something I see as remarkably sad.

  22. On an emotional level, I feel sadness reading this story. The father is disheartened and full of despair from the loss of his son and has steadily lost everything else that had been considered important to him. To not only have important people taken away from one, but also have life deteriorate further from there is something extraordinarily depressing to read about. His son doesn’t even seem to react to his father’s presence, their first day together in the story consisting of his son watching TV and the father himself smoking and watching some woman who cannot control her children. His hopelessness comes out of the very words Watson writes. “He’d been painfully aware of his own despair for most of his life. Most of his troubles had come from attempts to deny the essential hopelessness in his nature.” In a way, I am reminded of Meursault who speaks rationally, but his actions are slightly bizarre. The staring at a mother is a quite strange when he could be with his son. Just like Meursault who logically reasons out everything and tries not to attach emotion to anything, the father deals with things rationally like the loss of his son. The only difference is the father recognizes that he used to be in despair and even now he is hopeless. Furthermore, the more I read of this father, the more selfish he appears. When he cheats on his wife, the way he speaks in his mind seems uncaring, as if his actions weren’t that bad and he didn’t deserve the punishment he serves now. His wife has already left him and yet he still looks for her or questions her presence and, in a way, seeks to shake up her world of peace that is away from him.

    From a perspective of one from a divorced family, I can only understand the child’s feelings. The lack of emotion when he goes to see his father is understandable in that when one has been away from their other parent for so long, they become insensitive to their emotions and care far less than they may normally. After Loomis checked in at the motel, they went straight to their room and watched television for a while. Lately, his son had been watching cartoons made in the Japanese anime style… His son sat propped against several pillows, harboring such a shy but mischievous grin that Loomis had to indulge him.” I also sympathize with Loomis in that his son does not put in the effort to bond with his father, but at the same time I feel that Loomis, in his attempt to bring them together with mindless activities, seeks to find the easiest way out. He spends money as if he loved him and acts as if the effort and time that he puts into fun activities with his son is an expression of his love. In reality, I would believe that if Loomis put more effort into understanding his son, communicating and learning more, Loomis and the son may be more pleased with the relationship between them. It would be more than monetarily based and they could probably find more in common and both be happier when seeing each other. So it is a little hard for me to feel completely disappointed in the son because Loomis could also exert a little more effort in their relationship. Maybe then, Loomis would be less shocked when his son cursed or when his son found those creepy Japanese cartoons amusing. Loomis seemed to have brought all of this pain and despair onto himself in that he alienates himself from his own family and from outsiders.

    I really liked this story, far more than Araby, because it was something that was more relatable than the seemingly alien neighborhood the main character lived in. The lesson Watson discusses in this story is something anyone can learn from. It’s all about humanity and the human character. Our emotional attachments or lack thereof continually change us as people and affect us continually. Everyone fears rejection, mental and emotional pain, and sadness so we all shirk away from human relations for fear that inevitably we will all get hurt. Often people alienate themselves to preempt this emotional pain, but I believe that Watson promotes a more positive message in this. Within this hopelessness, one can still be happy. One can be optimistic and hope for the best. The past can allow them to change their future and aim for something far happier. One must always stand up to the obstacles they suffer through and push past the depressing sad parts of life.

  23. Having to read Loomis's description of his day to day life while visiting his son was really depressing. Reading countless depressing sentences made it hard for me to think positively and my mood just began to drop more and more. As I read the story, I began to compare this man to other people and even to myself.
    When I considered how this man thought and I compared him to others, my initial though was that he is different than others and it is uncommon to be that way. Then I began to wonder how you can really tell what a person is like by looking at them. As far as i know, the majority of people in this world feel the same way as Loomis but, like Loomis, they try to act casual on the outside and others can't tell that they are really like. next I thought of an even more likely possibility. Perhaps all people feel that life is boring and pointless until they encounter someone or something that gives them a reason to enjoy life more. For Loomis, his wife and child were never quite sufficient enough to keep his interest and/or entertain him.
    When I compared him to myself, my first thought was that I am very similar which I would not like to believe. When I progressively became depressed from reading the story, I realized that if I was really the same, I would already have been depressed and the story would not have that effect on me. I realized that I really do have fun, it is just when I am irritated or bored that I begin to think like Loomis. That would mean that most people are not likely to be like him because there are always a few little things that make you laugh. It is only when in a bad mood that one reverts to this state of mind. Then again, you can never tell by looking at someone.

  24. My immediate reaction to the situation in "Visitation" was sadness. Not only was the tone sad and hopeless, the plot generally indicating social isolation, and the depiction of the characters brutal, but it ended on a particularly sad note. Loomis' description of his everyday life was dull and seemingly pointless, except when he got to visit with his son, and even then it was awkward and therefore sad. At first I felt sorry for him, but then I realized that there was no reason to. Every trouble of his was brought in by only himself. His marital problems were his fault, as was his unemployment and the lack of communication between Loomis and his son. And to make it worse, I don't think that this situation is extremely uncommon.
    Divorce is a common thing. It is also not unusual for parents to have trouble with relating to their kids. I have always been on onlooker though, and I'e always assumed that it is the parents fault because they don't care and they are neglectful towards their children. After reading this story though, I see it from a different point of view. Loomis loves his son as much as any parent loves their child, he just does not know how to express it because of internal troubles.
    Everyone has the feelings that Loomis expresses. Life is pointless and often ends up in disappointment, but whether or not you choose to dwell on that will determine whether you end up happy, or whether you end up like Loomis and the Gypsy woman in the hotel.

  25. Upon first reading Watson's "Visitation," I immediately thought of Camus' _The Stranger_, as both stories center around a character completely devoid of hope. While this analogy is true on an emotional level (both create, at least for me, an atmosphere of depression and despair), I found that in terms of motivation, Meursault and Loomis had little in common. Meursault ignores society's rules when they don't suit him, refusing to display grief when he is expected to do so, while Loomis' every action seems to be traced back to his desire to fit into his own societal niche: the latter "trie[s] to adapt" to society's expectations despite his depression by taking prescription medication and settling down to have a family. Loomis also displays open emotion and is "astonished" when he sees the way the gypsy woman treats her children, while Meursault passes no judgement on Raymond for his abuse. Ultimately, however, despite Meursault's lack of emotion, he is granted an epiphany and a purpose by accepting the absurdity of his life and death. For Loomis, on the other hand, there is no such revelation, resolution, or redemption. Intellectually, then, my response to each story is quite different: _The Stranger_, though somewhat saddening, leaves me with a slight sense of hope and purpose, while "Visitation" leaves me simply with an ability to empathize with the character, but no sense of how to live my life.

  26. At first glance, Loomis seems to be stuck. He has gotten nowhere in his past, and his only kid isn't at all enthusiastic about the living conditions that he is forced to put up with. Many people have expressed sadness towards Loomis, and he is indeed a pitiful character. However, I do not feel as much saddened by Loomis as I am regretful. As a human being, Loomis deserves as much respect as the next guy. Unfortunately, those demands are nowhere near met as Loomis is emotionally pounded three times in the story, all by people whom Loomis does not even know. The story includes the depressing line, "Loomis was unsettled that someone he’d never even been introduced to could hate him so much". Apparently, respect is not necessary in society. Inferences are made by anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anyone. Perhaps this is the underlying engine for such emotional responses, but they clearly do not make up such a pitiful character as Loomis. He is pitiful because he dug himself into a hole, a hole too deep for him to get out of. His depressing state is his own doing, or perhaps a combination of himself and others. The fortune teller says, "I suspect others in your life disappoint you..." and Loomis replies with the hypocritical thought, "It was true. No one had ever been good enough for [Loomis]". He is blaming others for his demise, yet he is the one that disappoints. Therefore, the pitiful nature of Loomis is not due to the character of man, and should not be considered in the emotional response to this character. All that is left is the angering statements, the stinging, stabbing, flailing offensive comments directed at randomly passing people, or perhaps not so random. The third time Loomis is disrespected is from the people in the van who ask for twenty dollars. The reason regret fits in better than sadness is because Loomis is not being harmed physically, and his feelings get a slight beating. Loomis' own destiny, fate, etc. brought him across this path, the path to be constantly offended by passersby. I can regret his being there, for he has done no wrong and does not deserve the emotional punishment.

  27. Any good protagonist is always easy for the audience to identify with. This is most certainly the case with Loomis. As with Araby, the audience's view of the events that are unfolding in Visitation are skewed by the narration and perspective of the protagonist. Simply put, while Loomis is acting less and less like a nice person, it is difficult for the audience to see as one will never see themselves as mean, and thus, the audience behind them never will either.
    Also, this can certainly be related to current areas of the world. While it may not be as frequent in Austin, divorces are very frequent across the U.S. There are so many harmful effects on the life of a child from divorce that this one story cannot mention a fraction of them. While this story is definitely pertinent to current times through many different ways, divorce is probably the most harmful.

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  29. Overall the story is very depressing. A man starts his life off thinking the worst of life and maries to try to achive happiness. Only to become worse off with an ex wife and child who live far away. I also believe that the father is the one beinng "visited" in this situation. Even know he is the one travelling. He compares the courtyard to a prison. Well I believe that the dads life is a prison, filled with regret, sadness, and obligation. Visiting his son is a routine to him, and he realizes that the time he's spending with him is not enough when trying to raise a child. But can't do anything more because of the circumstances. Hes situation is his prison. He then realizes that his son sees "uncle Bob" as a father figue while he is away. Further hurting his ego, and further worsing his social and emotional situation.

  30. I find that overall, this was quite the sad tale. All that ever happens throughout the story is bad, such as the man's Loomis' divorce, the helicopter almost crashing, and so forth. He is left alone most of the time, to drink, smoke, and reflect on his life. Even when he does visit his son, it is depressing, and he can't convince his son to have a good time around him. Even when they go to a pizza shop, which would normally be a place to hang out and have fun, his son decides that he doesn't want to be with his actual father, rather, he tries to avoid him to the extent that he actually leaves the shop, as if embarrassed to be with his dad. Also, the motel he always goes to is decaying, physically and mentally, as the patrons get angrier and more upsetting, the building itself in falling appart.

  31. yo homies this is a shout out to the people wonderin how i feel bout the visitation. (by anton plauche):
    I definitely felt emotionally sad after reading this story. Actually pitying would be a more accurate term. I felt sorry for Loomis becasue of the life that he had to lead. I think that the text was quite well written because one could actually almost feel the sadness within Loomis, it was almost tangible. Perhaps the sadest part of this story is the fact that we know Loomis has such good intentions. He tells us that he wanted to spend the whole weekend having quality time with his son, he just cant physically do it because his pain is so overwhelming.

  32. Having read the Watson story, I drew several parallels between the pitiful father Loomis and our previous friend, Gregor Samsa. Both acted only for the best of their family. Gregor had attempted to salvage his parents from their debt to the banker, Loomis attempting to make his son's upbringing as natural and enjoyable as possible. However, in attempting to perform these tasks, both only follow the expected social norms and their perceptions of the moral code of the Other. Neither live within a familial social circle, as loomis has been divorced, and Gregor has been shunned and unofficially exiled. Both are resented for their existence, despite their previous usefulness and love. Finally, both become only hollow shells in the end, gregor dying a crusty, thin roach and loomis realizing he is not a true father, he is only a machine that attempts to act as a father, a human indifferent to the situation but its benefits and expenses, attempting to be a good father, but in his existentialist conscious realizing he only married to be happy and now the divorce has only made his fatherhood strenuous and taxing. neither character is bad nor good, but rather the outsider, the other, who must confront the world in terms we cannot comprehend and must impossibly attempt to comprehend the world through our eyes. They are living machines, controlled not by their moral compass, for it is arguable that they have any, but rather a perceived and second-hand account of right and wrong.

  33. I felt this piece was extremely depressing, not only because the main character leads such a seemingly pointless life, but more because this life is such an obvious representation of millions of others’. Loomis is similar to so many other average citizens because all of us, at least at one point in our lives, relentlessly strive for something we cannot achieve. While most of us understand the reality that many of our biggest dreams are unattainable, we still lead ourselves along, in a sense, and push ourselves in an attempt. However, Loomis is different than the average dreamer in that he acknowledges that such attempts at his greatest dreams – including simple and utter peace and happiness - are pointless. Unlike many people, who depend on false hope or religion to maintain belief in the possibility of their dreams or happiness, Loomis’ atheist, pessimistic values lead him to depression.

  34. At some times I feel pity for Loomis’ character but at other times I became frustrated with his innately submissive character. The narration at the beginning of the story claims that Loomis “had been painfully aware of his own despair for most of his life,” and I am annoyed by the fact that instead of trying to find solutions to his problems, he only wallows in self-pity even more and more.
    He knows that before taking his son to the Motel that he will not be able to cope with him and stops by for a bottle of bourbon—which will only increase his suffering with self-destructive habits. Even after many therapy sessions, three different counselors and AA he has not cured his own problems. At this point, we transcend feeling pity for Loomis and despise his laziness.
    In some ways, this may be the life he wants to live. When he married he thought he might find “exuberant happiness” but instead is now living the “nightmare” he wanted to avoid. The Gypsy tells Loomis that he has “no real energy” or “passion” and tells him he is an “idealist.” He lacks the moral character and support for what it takes to be a father, let alone sustain himself. He can not even surmount the social awkwardness with his own son and have an actual conversation with him. Loomis’ story is indeed sad, but he has let his own life fall to pieces, continues to wallow in the broken shards of such, and does not do anything to fix it.

  35. This story started out as a common social scenario in America-—a family separated by divorce with the parents sharing custody of the child. A scenario that everyone knows of, and that many have experienced first-hand. Most of this story I found to be boring, the kid goes with his father to a motel for his father’s amount of allotted time with his son, and though his father is a drunk and a pessimist, he still tries to keep the kid happy. It just seems like suck a common and predictable story, a story that I could easily see happening in real life. Though I guess that could be one of its appeals, that it is so down to earth, so believable. I just didn’t like it, and I didn’t find its plot that interesting, at least not until the end.
    The ending of Visitation was the one part of the story that made it interesting. The “Gypsy woman” that didn’t seem so important to the plot at the beginning of the story finally had her part. Something I wouldn’t have expected since they didn’t make much mention of her. When she read Loomis’s fortune, she didn’t so much tell him his future, she merely analyzed him and told him what, deep down, he already knew. And through someone else’s view, Loomis finally realizes the truth about how much of his life he is just wasting. This sort of realization is the kind that people in the same situation as Loomis rarely have, that they are an irreplaceable part of their children’s lives, even if they are divorced. I think what Watson is trying to say is that we cant just escape our problems by ignoring them. We cant just be pessimists to hide the fact that we made a mistake, cant just blame everything else, we have to own up to our mistakes. And we can’t just dwell in sadness permanently to avoid responsibility.
    The ending defiantly made this story worth reading, though it was extremely slow. If it weren’t an assignment though, I probably would have put it down after the first couple of paragraphs.

  36. Overall the story creates a gloomy feeling towards the reader, in this case me. The character is completely hopeless and on that note "Visitation" reminds me of the strangers and how the theme of the story revolves around a character who is deprived of happiness more or less by them and by society itself.

    Not only did the overall tone of the story tend to be depressing it also created a sense of self isolation from the rest of the world, he even feels deprived of happiness when his son visits, they just don't connect with eachother creating awkwardness between them. His inability to communicate with his own son, is very depressing and at the end makes him feel more lonely. I don't feel sorry for him as someone might, because his lack of employment and of communication is caused only by him and his actions. And to be quite honest, I know people who are in similar positions as he is, but in some cases their mentality is so weak that they refuse to do something to improve their lives. Like Loomis inability to show emotion is like forgetting to talk, thus everyone around you looses the ability to really get to know you and you feel unloved and not needed. Nonetheless Loomis divorce is common just some people learn to cope with it better than others, depending on any side troubles they might have. But I still believe Loomis has the chance to be happy but he chooses not to be.

    From Maria Orozco

  37. Everything about this story is heartbreaking. The fact that Loomis and his son have a worse relationship than the crazy "Gypsy" family does with their kids is what affected me the most emotionally. That barrier between them, their empty conversations and the son's apathy towards his father's efforts to connect with him destroyed any chance they have of getting closer. Loomis's negative attitude towards life doesn't help his situation much either, and it doesn't seem like he's ever going to change. Everything in the story points to a hopeless future - Loomis's unwillingness to change, the Gypsy lady's predictions and his constant fear and anxiety based on insignificant events. This character is completely lost. He is trapped between two worlds, like the Gyspy lady said. A world of dreams and ideas that hold him back and destroy his relationships, like the lady he had an affair with, and his high expectations for people in his life. The other world, reality, is the world where these people will never meet his expectations, where he will never find peace within his life. Everything he experienced seemed so surreal, like a blur that he just floats through because he sees no real point in what he does anymore.