Wednesday, October 27, 2010

sup with Gertrude?

I find it interesting that Hamlet delays conversation with his mother. Gertrude speaks very little in Shakespeare's play until Act III.  As I read I wondered how the plot would have shifted if Hamlet had communicated sooner with Gertrude about his feigning madness or about the murder of his father. When they meet in the closet, however, their conversation is intimate and intense...which reminded me, as we discussed in class, of the Oedipal Complex. In scene 4, Hamlet finally unleashes his rage upon his mother. What do you guys think of her role in the play? How was Gertrude significant?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I thought the discussion we had at the end of class today about suicide was really interesting. Personally, I believe that committing suicide is a very cowardly act. Life is very difficult but everyone must face it. They few who chose to end their time on earth are taking an "easy" way out. Death is inevitable and is not a choice but suicide is a choice. What do yall think? (Sorry, I know its not a very uplifting topic!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is Hamlet really mad?

Today in class, the issue of Hamlet’s madness arose. We discussed how he tells Horatio and Marcellus that he plans to act crazy and that they must not display any reaction to this. We came to the general consensus that Hamlet purposefully feigns madness in order to establish himself as a loose canon incapable of deviously plotting the king’s murder. The more I thought about this, however, I began to wonder if Hamlet truly is mad. It would definitely be logical for someone who loses their father, witnesses their mother marry their uncle, and then learns from a ghost that this uncle is a murderer to lose their sanity. Although Hamlet claims that his crazy behavior is an act, do you think he might really be mad?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shakespeare Adaptations

We mentioned briefly in class right before the break of the many adaptations of Shakespeare in modern time. The one reference that immediately came to mind was the movie with Amanda Bynes She's the Man that is based on The Twelfth Night. This is just one of the many references to Shakespeare in pop culture, what other allusions can you guys think of?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I thought the performance of Antigone was excellent! I especially liked Creon and Tiresias's conversation, which reminded me of Tiresias's words to Oedipus. Just as Oedipus's tragic flaw was his stubbornness in his pursuit of knowledge, Creon's downfall was his pertinacity and pride. Creon persistently tried to keep his power, resulting in his downfall, as well as the death of his family.

The Great Chain of Being

In The Elizabethan World Picture, Tillyard places a great deal of focus upon the Great Chain of Being. Although we were introduced to the idea of this Chain last year in Mrs. Klebba’s class, Tillyard provides us with inordinate detail of the specifics of this concept. The most interesting thing about the Chain I learned is the idea of how each inferior link possesses one value superior to that of the greater link above it. For example, beasts are more powerful than humans, and humans have a greater capacity to learn than angels. What do you find most fascinating about the Great Chain of Being?

Da Vinci's "Last Supper"

This is the picture the humanities class took last year. Since it's a tradition, I suggest we do this soon, in order to bolster our understanding of Da Vinci's oil/tempura painting.

Sacre Coeur

This is a photograph of "Sacre-Coeur" in Paris. Its architecture was probably influenced by Florentine domes. If I remember correctly, the inside of these domes were formed by squinches and pendentives, similar to the Duomo di Ravenna.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Elizabethan Age connected with India

While I was reading "The Elizabethan World Picture," Tillyard quotes Starkley when talking about the Correspondences which were rampant in the Elizabethan period. This quote of Starkley made me think of India's caste system: "To the head, with the eyes ears and other senses therein, resembled may be right well the under officers by princes appointed, for as much as they should ever observe and diligently wait for the weal of the rest of the body. To the arms are resembled both craftsmen and warriors which defend the rest of the body from injury of enemies outward and work and make things necessary to the same; to the feet the ploughmen and tillers of the ground, because they by their labour sustain and support the rest of the body."
Similarly, in Indian culture the mouth symbolized the Brahmin class consisting of clergy and teachers wielding religious authority, the arms represented the kshatriyas or warriors and administrators, the thighs symbolized the vaishyas, who were merchants and farmers/cattle herders, and lastly, the feet represented the shudras, who were the servants or enslaved peasants.
I thought it was interesting that there are such noticeable parallels between the Elizabethan and Indian cultures.

Rose Window

Over the summer, when I was in Paris, I took a tour of the Notre Dame. This is a picture of the rose window in the cathedral. Mrs. Quinet reminded me of this picture when we were learning about art in the Middle Ages.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Exit

Towards the end of No Exit, there was one particular scene that really stuck with me. When Garcin explains how he feels he is a coward, he states some of the basic ideas of existentialism. He asks, "Can one judge a life by a single action?" Later, he says, "I made my choice deliberately. A man is what he wills himself to be." Sartre speaks through Garcin explaining how man is defined by his actions and those actions are all personal choices he makes while keeping in mind the responsibilities his actions bear. From my understanding, Garcin is saying that what you think of yourself doesn't matter in defining yourself, your actions are the only important thing.

Love Triangle in "No Exit"

I really enjoyed reading Sartre's "No Exit" and observed a love triangle that I thought was interesting. Throughout the play, Estelle pursues Garcin, who seems intrigued by Inez, who loves Estelle. The pains of love can often seem like hell; we saw earlier in Catullus's poems how the pain of love can seem overwhleming. Sartre's assertion that "Hell is other people" manifests itself in the aches of unrequited love.

Five Themes of Existentialism

I think the five basic themes of existentialism are essential to understanding the foundations of the philosophy. Discussing point three of "humanism" specifically interested me. This is one of the first points in which man is the center of focus. The study of the individual is supported by the other theme that existence precedes essence, such that our essence or who we are, is constructed by our choices. Although the individual is highlighted, existentialism, when put into practice, often involves other humans and their own choices. I believe that our essences are somewhat dependent on the shaping of others' essences.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Being a Waiter"

The particular concept of "being a waiter" really intrigued me from today's class discussion, possibly, in part, because I am a waiter. The existentialist idea that one's actions are not defined by one's profession or identity but are instead directly dictated by conscious, free choices seems clear to me. However, there are certain actions in any given profession that you perform. There may be no overbearing force to perform any particular action, but certainly performing particular actions confers an advantage to the subject. For example, as a waiter, one of the actions I must perform is taking an order. I voluntarily choose to take the order, but I do so in order to keep my job. So "being a waiter" may not dictate my actions or who I am as a person but obviously directly influence my actions and choices. However, each particular waiter brings to the table, in this case literally, preconceived notions for how to perform the actions of a waiter. Though this may be in bad faith, a waiter acts as what that person conceives to be the duties and manners of a waiter by the simple declaration that he or she is a waiter. I would argue that this is indeed not in bad faith because these preconceived notions of the idenity of a waiter come from personal perception and experiences. Rather than one trying to be what one isn't, one is actually trying to be what one conceives he/she should become based on personal experiences and not through an inherent perception of what that identity is. The ideal form for a waiter is interpreted differently by each waiter and therefore each waiter has unique actions and makes unique choices. And this interpretation is a subset of personal experiences from a perspective that only that person has had. One learns to "be a waiter" from watching other waiters and judging their performances. So "being a waiter" is actually learned rather than something that appears from birth. And for that reason, though one may seem to be trying to be an identity for the sake of being that identity out of bad faith, one is actually being one's own self; it is inevitable.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marcus Aurelius in Providence

While studying for the art slides test, I realized that there is a Marcus Aurelius statue on Brown's campus. Moses Brown Ives Goddard (class of 1854) donated the statue, which stands at the top of Lincoln Field, behind Sayles Hall, facing Thayer Street. I thought this was interesting, as well as indicative of how Roman sculpture remains a part of our culture.
The statue intrigues me because even though Aurelius is portrayed as a powerful leader, he does not carry any weapons, perhaps showing his desire to be seen as a peacemaker.

Jean-Paul Sartre

I am intrigued by both Jean Paul Sartre and our discussion of him today, so I decided to further research his background information. Sartre was born in Paris in 1905 to an Officer in the French Navy and a mother of Alsatian origin. His interest in philosophy began in his teenage years after reading Henri Bergson's essay regarding consciousness. In addition to supporting the philosophy of existentialism, during his lifetime, Sartre served in the French army, fought in World War II, and was a political activist who embraced communism. The most interesting fact I learned about Sartre was that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October of 1964 and declined it. He died on April 15, 1980 from pulmonary edema in his native city of Paris.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I found Dali's post-modern artwork extremely unique and interesting. His eccentric talent also reflected the historic events of his time, such as the" soft construction with boiled beans" (as a premonition to the civil war). The one Dali piece that most of us are familiar with is the "Persistence of Memory", which invokes Freudian theology--causing us to question where dreams come from.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Purgatorio and Paradiso

Since we only read one of the three canticas of Dante's The Divine Comedy, I have been curious as to what happens in the Purgatorio and Paradiso. Therefore, I decided to research these canticas. I learned that the primary difference between the Inferno and Purgatorio is that the sins of souls in the latter realm are products of thoughts, motives, and intentions, rather than actual actions. In Paradiso, however, Dante explores the four cardinal virtues and three theological virtues. Here, the Pilgrim encounters numerous righteous saints, including Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter, and St. John.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another Harry Potter Connection

While reading about Cerberus in Canto VI, I was reminded of Fluffy, the three headed dog in "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

Date of The Publication of La Divina Commedia

Of the different sources I have read, the general consesus seems to be that Dante did not finalize his publication of La Divina Commedia until right before he died of malaria in 1321. However, different sources claim that he began public readings of his poem in 1312, and one source claims that he actually began releasing pieces of it as early as 1308, about the same time as his publication of De Monarchia.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Inferno

This illustration of The Inferno is more detailed than other versions we have seen, and it helped me to better envision each circle of hell. Since it's hard to see the illustration in this blog entry, I posted a link that will allow you see it better. Then, you can click on the image to magnify it.

Cleopatra's Suicide

I thought our class discussion of why Cleopatra was in the circle of hell involving the sin of lust instead of suicide was very interesting. I personally agree with what chrissy said, the sin of lust she committed before her suicide provoked the suicide itself, so therefore she was in the circle of hell involving lust. Although, as Ms. King said, every suicide is the result of an original sin, so why is Cleopatra the exception? I think that Dante must have thought that the sin that caused the suicide in Cleopatra's case was different. Maybe Dante could have related to something in Cleopatra's life? Or maybe Cleopatra's sin that provoked her suicide was less sinful according to Dante...What do yall think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Virgil's "Prophecy"

I found the reference in class today of Virgil’s “prophecy of Christ” very interesting and decided to research the topic further. As we discussed in class, Virgil did not foresee the birth of Christ, but rather referred to the birth of a redeeming king. The association between Virgil’s quotation from his Fourth Eclogue most likely became associated with Christ’s birth as intellectuals from the medieval period tried to make the non-Christian Virgil seem “pro-Christian.” However, in reality, the quotation just serves as an extremely ironic coincidence.
Below is the actual quotation from the Fourth Eclogue:
“Now comes the last age by the song of the Cumaen sybil; the great order of the ages is born anew; now the Virgin returns, now the reign of Saturn comes again; now a new child is sent down from heaven above.”

Dante's death (wikipedia is a beautiful thing.........)THIS IS BEING POSTED DURING OUR BREAK, NOT CLASS TIME

He finished the Paradiso, and died in 1321 (at the age of 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, possibly of malaria contracted there. Dante was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice in 1483, took care of his remains by building a better tomb.
On the grave, some verses of Bernardo Canaccio, a friend of Dante, dedicated to Florence:
parvi Florentia mater amoris
"Florence, mother of little love"
The first formal biography of Dante was the Vita di Dante (also known as Trattatello in laude di Dante) written after 1348 by Giovanni Boccaccio;[4] several statements and episodes of it are seen as unreliable by modern research. However, an earlier account of Dante's life and works had been included in the Nuova Cronica of the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani.[5]
Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante's exile, and made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honour the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.

Dante's Death Conflict

According to Wikipedia:

Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante's exile, and made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honour the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Design Your Own Creation...

"Do you design your own creation?"

Well, if this question is approached from the perspective that God ultimately is man's creator and is ultimately in control of whether or not certain people will find us, then no, one is unable to design his own creation--creation in this sense would mean one's life pathway. However, I see an inherent flaw in this view of God's involvement with man with the belief of free will. If God gives man free will, then he has burdened humanity with the responsibility of finding Him. Though God may aid humanity in doing so, he cannot ultimately have power over whether or not humanity does. If he does, then free will no longer exists. And as a result, humanity is unable to design its own course of life, its creation.

Yes, that is Daryl in front of the Colosseum. And yes, that is a nun taking a photo. The photo of the inside of the stadium shows the holding cells underneath the main stage (which obviously no longer exists). To demonstrate naval battles, they obviously flooded all the holding cells and above.