Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Intertextuality at Its Finest

Since we will be discussing Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart next week, I wanted to update the blog design. This new picture is the cover art from the Roots' 1999 album, which takes its title from Achebe's novel. To add to the intertextuality, Achebe took his title from W.B. Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming," which I believe that you all read last year in Mrs. Klebba's class. I also found the following information about the Roots' album on Wikipedia: "For a limited time period, Things Fall Apart was made available with a choice of five different front covers. One such cover displays a photograph taken during a riot in the Civil Rights Movement era. In the stark black-and-white photo, riot police are seen chasing two black teenagers on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant. In 2005, this cover was included in the book, The Greatest Album Covers Of All Time by Barry Miles, Grant Scott & Johnny Morgan, and published by Collins & Brown."

It's undoubtedly a powerful and disturbing image.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I think it's intresting that Ros and Guil ask so many questions though few to none are actually answered. The game of questions was inresting, funny, and was kind of a reminder to me how frequently they misunderstand or miscommnicate. They sort of stumble through the play and to their deaths. Anyway, I found the game of question scene in the movie:

Quote to Ponder

When I came across this, I dog-eared the page because I thought this dialogue was very interesting. 

Pages 66-67
Guil: We only know what we're told, and that's little enough. And for all we know it isn't even true.
Player: For all anyone knows, nothing is. Everything has to be taken on trust; truth is only that which is taken to be true. It's the currency of living. There may be nothing behind it, but it doesn't make any difference so long as it is honoured. One acts on assumptions. What do you assume?

I agree a lot with the Player in this case. I truly believe that everything is based on trust especially when it comes to relationships with others. I don't think I've ever seen it better said when Stoppard writes of trust, "It's the currency of living."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interesting Scene

 One of the most interesting scenes from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern is when the two are watching the play The Murder of GonzagoWhen the two see the two actors who are playing the spies in the play, they do not recognize them. Rosencrantz gets really close to them and notices that they are very peculiar and swears that he has seen their faces before. Although the two are playing out the exact roles of Ros & Guild and even wear the same clothes as them, the two are still unable to make the connection. The idea of identity is a huge theme and these two men cannot even remember their own names. It is very interesting indeed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Butterfly Dreams (..what a cheesy title)

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but during one of his existentialist speculations, Guildenstern mentioned a short story about a Chinese philosopher that dreamed he was a butterfly, then was unsure that he wasn't actually a butterfly dreaming that he was a Chinese philosopher. I knew that I recognized that story from Mr. G's class in ninth grade. Actually I found it in my desk because I liked it so much that I kept it.....I'm lame. Anyway, the philosopher's name in Chuang Tzu (or that's one of the pronunciations). I've attached the story so y'all can all remember it too.

Ros & Guil

I thought Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead was quite an intriguing play. I liked how I could remember certain bits of dialogue from the actual Hamlet, for example when Hamlet called Ros & Guil "sponges". I thought a lot of the witty banter was pretty funny too, but I think that it would have been even funnier to watch because that sort of thing translates better on the stage. I loved having a behind the scenes look at why Tom Stoppard supposedly believed that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern died. I think Hamlet being the culprit in that situation adds another dimension to his character. He had trouble bringing himself to kill Claudius, but very little when it came to indirectly executing his own friends.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fight Club (á la Blaine Kern)

I looked back on the blog and found a really good post by Blaine last year. He compares Freud's system of the Id, Ego, and Superego with Fight Club. Tyler Durden is all 3 parts combined, just like all humans are. He says that Tyler Durden (Pitt) represents the Id, the pleasure seeking part of our brains. The unnamed narrator is the ego and superego, he tries to stop the Id from tearing his life apart. While the narrator falls asleep, Durden goes to work and since the narrator isn't conscious he cannot stop the Id from doing crazy things. In the end, the narrator essentially kills Durden by shooting himself. Blaine makes some excellent comparisons and if you haven't seen Fight Club, you really

If Not, Not - R. B. Kitaj

The name of the painting currently on the blog is If Not, Not and it's by R. B. Kitaj. It is very interesting and does have many similarities to T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. The painting has many separate parts which add up to make the whole. You can see an overwhelming notion of unhappiness. There are the effects of industry shown in the "river". There are fires and smoke in the background. The trees do not look healthy and there aren't many signs of life. The people are deformed and seem to be lying on the ground or even dead. The couple in the left seem to be carrying on a meaningless relationship. There are probably other similarities to Eliot that I missed.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I don't know about you guys, but I have always thought that of the characters in No Exit, Inez is the best of them. And not because I'm biased, having played her part. I think that she is at least honest with herself and everyone around her - even if at times she seems almost too brutally honest. She is the first to come forward with her crime which makes you trust her. She doesn't sugar-coat everything like Estelle or show insecurity like Garcin. She doesn't try to make excuses. I think that if I were in hell, I would want to be with someone like Inez, because God knows that someone as fake as Estelle or as self-centered as Garcin would get on my nerves reallllyyyy fast.

Teenage Wasteland

Okay I had a hard time finding something to blog about this week, but then I remembered something I had been really curious about when we first started reading The Waste Land. I lovee that song Baba O'Riley by the Who (some people know it as Teenage Wasteland). A lot of you have probably heard it because its often played in movies. Anyway, I was curious if that was a reference to T.S. Eliot's poem. With some research I found that some people think it is, and some say that the correlation does not go beyond sharing a common word (they even spell wasteland differently...) However, I think that the lyrics in Baba O'Riley kind of sound like they're dealing with trying to get out of a depressed state of mind (..maybe ennui or something too?)

The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older.

Striving to be happy and find human connection before you get too old sounds like something that is dealt with  in T.S. Eliot's poem. Maybe there is a correlation. ...Also they might have used wasteland as a play on words with the term "wasted". I don't know, tell me what you think.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Benjamin Franklin, but much more racy

So really not Benjamin Franklin at all. Actually basically nothing in common. Nietzsche often wrote these really just kind of racy aphorisms. I found a list of some of them that I think pretty accurately describe Nietzsche's philosophy and ideas. (Sorry the site seems a bit sketchy... it's mostly just the really creepy picture of the guy on the home page)


So I found this pretty cool video about Sigmund Freud. It kind of seems like it gets cut off at the end but it's still pretty good. In the video they basically talk about Freud treating himself. He wanted to find the root of his own problems such as his fear of traveling, tendency to faint around talented male friends, and smoking addiction. He would use the "talking cure" and free associations of all his thoughts. I think it is pretty cool that he was able to self-psychoanalyze. That takes some serious honesty about yourself. However I don't self-psychoanalyzing may always be good. Think about the way Underground Man thinks. He is constantly thinking about himself and analyzing himself which caused him to cut himself off from the rest of society. Although Freud may not be an Underground Man, the implications of self-psychoanalysis could be dire. In my opinion this may be a simple as why generally lawyers refuse to defend themselves or better yet why doctors generally refuse to treat themselves. What do you think?

Monday, February 13, 2012

which is worse?

It occurred to me today while we were reading No Exit that, at least to me, hell-hotel would be ten times worse without other people there. Maybe it's because I missed something or maybe because I'm personally not an existentialist but it seem like hell would be way worse if you had to sit in your room by yourself. I'd rather be in hell-hotel than swap places with Gregor for instance, who has to sit alone in the dark as a large bug while his family slowly grow to hate his very existence. Hell-hotel doesn't seem all that bad to me, it's incredibly awkward and I definalty wouldn't want to check in there, but it seems a little more like a never-ending Coen brothers movie than eternal condemnation...

(Barton Fink, a Coen Bros movie, is set partly in this hellish Hotel so hot that the wall paper glue kind of melts and the paper slides all over the place. Eventually the entire place sort of becomes an inferno literally and figuratively. Even though Sartre is an incredibly writer and play write, and even though I really liked No Exit, I can't think hell-hotel without a visual of John Goodman... that's not to say I didn't think No Exit was the bomb though.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

No Exit / Existentialism

Existentialism is a pretty crazy "philosophy" in my mind. It's hard for me to relate to the idea that one is responsible for everything that happens to them in their life. I often blame other people if I don't feel like I had any part in the situation. Existentialists say that worldy desire was futile and to me that just doesn't make sense. Why can't one life his life as he pleases? Sometimes people make a decision in the spur of the moment and I don't think that they should always be held responsible for that. People aren't perfect by any means.

Friday, February 10, 2012

No Exit: Set

I think that visualizing the set is very important when it comes to reading a play. Here are some images I pulled up of the set of No Exit. Ours looked very different when we did it, but then again, no two sets are exactly the same. We created a creepier version of the "Hell Hotel" that Garcin, Inez, and Estelle inhabit.

I kind of love the minimalism of the second one, but then again, it pretty much left out the whole Second Empire drawing room thing...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 21st Century Waste Land

Today in class while we were discussing The Waste Land, Parker pointed out that Stephen King often references the poem. This made me curious and I began to wonder what other modern things reference The Waste Land. I did a google search but it mostly gave me things that influenced Eliot and not vice versa as I'd hoped. However, after some fishing (pun intended) i found a decent website that told me that many 21st century punk bands draw inspiration from The Waste Land. Who would've thought?


This is so great! It's a little segment from a Superman cartoon. It actually refers to some of Sarte's ideas such as the idea the death is inevitable and the necessity to create something out of one's life through the choices one makes. Be patient more of the direct Sarte references are toward the end.

Monday, February 6, 2012

No Exit!!

I'm very excited to be starting No Exit soon. As all of you know, I am quite familiar with it. To give you guys a little background on it, No Exit is an existentialist play by the French playwright Jean-Paul Sarte. It's creepy and sprinkled with dark humor so I think many of you will find it entertaining. The premise is that three characters (two women, and one man), after dying, are brought individually to a hotel room by a mysterious valet. This is their hell where they will discover that it is quite possible for one to suffer, without the use of flames or torture-devices. Especially those who are very self-conscious...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Waste Land

So I read that while Eliot was working on The Waste Land, he had a "nervous breakdown" and took a leave of absence from his job at a bank. He then took three months in which he primarily worked on The Waste Land. Later he showed an early version of his poem to Ezra Pound and they worked together to cut the poem almost in half. The first lines of the poem didn't originally begin the poem and instead started on the second page of The Waste Land. Eliot is definitely different than all the other poets we've read and his complex lines make him an extremely difficult author to understand. His work is truly interesting.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


So after reading Weston's reference to Ridgeway's idea that religions began as ancestor worship, I would have to say that I and not sure if I agree with Ridgeway. I wanted tO share a personal anecdote. My dad is te religious one of my immediate family. He always prays briefly to his small mantle set up with pictures and wood figurines of te various gods of Buddhism. However on the adjacent wall is a picture of my deceased grandfather. My dad doesn't pray to him, but he always pays his respects after he prays. I don't think it is ancestor worship, but simply reverence like the idea of someone visiting a grave.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Picasso is a badass

"Everyone wants to understand art. Why don't we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can't explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree." -- Picasso

I found this quote and it makes me happy; I feel like I doesn't necessarily matter what "school" or "-ism" painters and writers belonged to so long as they had something to say. Picasso is a badass.
I watched this Bob Dylan documentary thing this weekend just because it popped up on Netflix. There was a scene in there where Bob wrote "When The Ship Comes In" then asked Joan Baez (I think??) what she thought it meant. She kind of gave him an answer and then he was like 'cool, I just wanted to see what people were going to think it meant. I don't know what it means, I just kinda wrote it.' (Not a quote; just me peiceing together something I remember) He sort of emplys the entire documentary that he makes music mostly because he wants to, mostly for himself (well at least the later stuff.) And at the risk of trying to analyze a man who shouldnt be analyzed, who defys analysis, Bob Dylans attitude towards critics kinda came to mind when I read this Picasso quote. Maybe you buy this and maybe you don't.

"It is a test (a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively), that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood." -- T.S. Elliot

I feel like art from an artists perspective might be different from maybe art from a critics perspective. Art and writing go together in unexpected ways; they can really complement each other, like separate instruments in a single band. It seems like lot of what makes art, art sort of defies explanation. Basically what these two quotes bring to mind is how even when like when we read T.S. Elliot I at least can kind of get bogged down with allusions etc - what these quotes bring to mind is the inherent beauty of the thing. I'm not saying allusions aren't important or anything but the poems poemness maybe doesnt come strictly from allusions. It's just beautiful, even just to hear the thing read aloud w/o really understanding you still get the emotional gist of it or some reation of somekind at least... If there were galleries for poems this would hang on the wall. This awesome awesome writer, Billy Collins, wrote a poem about teaching poetry... he said that he wants his students to "waterski /across the surface of a poem/waving to the authors name on the shore." but he writes that all they want to do is understand a poem at all costs, "But all they want to do/ is tie the poem to a chair with rope/ and tourcher a confession out of it./ They begin beating it with a hose/to find out what it really means."

sorry if this post is really kinda a modge-podge of quotes and stuff - I'd like to lie and say I did it on purpose to get in the whole fragment/collage/cubeism spirt but really I just got lazy.

The Myth of Hyacinth

Hyacinth is a divine hero from Greek mythology. He was a beautiful boy and the lover of Apollo. Zephyr also admired Hyacinth. One day Hyacinth and Apollo were throwing discus. Apollo hit Hyacinth with the discus and he died. In some versions Zephyr blew the discus off course in order to cause the death of Hyacinth because he was jealous of Apollo. When Hyacinth died, Apollo didn't allow Hades to claim the boy; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood.