Friday, November 30, 2012
I find it extremely ironic that in Voltaire's Candide so many of the clergy and church figures are engaged in sexual actions, aka. "experimental physics". For example, the monk that Paquette is seducing is not supposed to be having sex, but he is and is engaged in acts such as that with his brothers back at the monastery. Also, the church figures seem to be corrupted in other ways than sex such as stealing and hoarding money. For example, the Franciscan friar that stole the jewels from Candide and Cunegonde was completely in the wrong to do such a thing. I could have understood almost anyone else but a church member stealing jewels and having sex when they are strictly prohibited.
In class the other day we discussed Voltaire's repeated attempts at bashing the Clergy throughout Candide and how he had previously gone to jail for it. One thing we did not discuss that I realized was that it seems ironic that Pope Urban X and Palestrina had a child, the old woman in Candide. I thought it was against church rules for a Pope or any other Clergy member to either be married or have kids. Since Pope Urban X is the father of the old lady, he therefore broke Catholic Church rules. Voltaire is bashing the Catholic Church by putting this in Candide.
I find it interesting that in both Montaigne's commentary and Voltaire's Candide there are aspects of the cannibals. This makes me wonder whether or not there were actually cannibals in the New World at this time. According to Voltaire and Montaigne there were. In Voltaire's Candide the cannibals exhibit characteristics that are almost admirable from the stand point of human beings, as some humans do not show as much compassion as the Biglugs actually allowed Candide and Cancambo to live after they rationally figured out that the two were not Jesuits. Montaigne, in his "Of Cannibals", uses the cannibals as a point to expound upon when he discusses how human beings are essentially worse than the cannibals in that they are extremely critical of people doing things different from what they are doing. I would imagine that some form of cannibals did exist out there in the South American jungles. What do you think?
I think that Locke's theory of Tabula Rasa (that everyone starts off as a blank slate and then is molded by their environment) could apply to Candide. Candide is shaped initially by Pangloss, who preaches his theory of optimism. Candide spends the first half of the book being naively optimistic. The naivety of Candide seems almost childlike, as though there are still remnants of his initially blank slate, but then he has also been affected by Pangloss's teachings. But then, as Candide ventures out in the world, he gains new experiences and listens to the philosophies of the old woman, Cacambo, and Martin, Candide's slate is shaped by them. At the end of the book, I think Candide learns from his own experiences and starts to form opinions of his own. He realizes that Pangloss is wrong and from observing the man cultivating his garden, Candide learns about life. Candide is shaped by his surrounding, but he also uses the enlightenment idea of experience and observation to express himself.
Posted by Linz A at 3:04 PM
Okay, I don't know if any of you have seen the TV show Go On (they had a bunch of commercials for it during the Olympics), but basically it's a TV show about a help group. The main character comes in and decides they should have a competition to see who has the most unfortunate story because all humans, when we hear people tell their sad stories, we are all secretly thinking our story is worse. I get the same feeling from Candide where Cunegonde says she is the most unfortunate being and then the old woman say "Nope, that would be me." Then on the ship Candide has a competition to see who has the most unfortunate story and he pays for the fare of the person who is most miserable (Martin). I feel like Voltaire is also making a point that while we hate suffering, we want our suffering to be worse than anyone else's.
Posted by Linz A at 2:56 PM
Candide and Martin seem to have philosophies essentially different at the core. They argue throughout their time together over just about anything. On page 222 they disagree on basically every question that the other asks. A quote that just about sums up their ideas can be found on page 235 when Voltaire writes, “Candide, who had been trained never to judge for himself, was much astonished by what he had heard; and Martin found Pocourante’s way of thinking quite rational.” Here Voltaire shows how Candide is more or less of an optimistic simpleton, while Martin agrees with Pococurante’s pessimism. Candide borrows much of his logic from Pangloss, no matter how flawed it may seem. So what do you guys think? and who do you agree with?
Why does Voltaire criticize organized religion throughout the book and then have Eldorado, a Utopia-esque society, seem like a religious place? He does halfway maintain this criticism by cutting out the popes and priests and bishops, but they still pray to God everyday. I think it would be interesting to see a place untouched by religion, and see if it is true when people say religion has cause many wars. I personally think that people would find something to fight about, regardless of whether or not religion is involved. But essentially why do you guys think Voltaire maintained this reference to God, and what do you think a place without religion would be like?
One thought that has been percolating in my head is: was Hamlet about Hamlet becoming a man and finding courage? Claudius insults Hamlet by calling his apparently excessive grief “unmanly.” I feel like that calling a prince or any man a girly-man would be extremely offensive for any time period but perhaps especially during Shakespeare’s time when gender roles were soooo rigid. Throughout the play Hamlet struggles with cowardice when he contemplates suicide and perhaps when he is about to kill Claudius. Then he has to test his strength against Laertes in a sword fight (would Freud have things to say about this pertaining to a man-part fight? I think so.) So this man-to-man duel is another piece of evidence that supports my case that Hamlet is about hamlet becoming a man and bucking up. Finally! he died, accomplished his father’s wishes and succeeds in dying, which he was too scared to try before. Then he was given a soldier’s funeral, which suggests that he ultimately succeeded in manning up, at least in Fortinbras’ eyes since he saw him as honorable and respectable enough to go through the ceremony.
The Enlightenment was a period of great self awareness. I think I remember us saying that the people of the time called the period the Enlightenment. I think the choice naming it the Enlightenment, instead of the Enlightened, or something of the sort, is important because “Enlightenment” suggests that they were continually on a quest for knowledge, they were enlightening themselves. They appreciated the constant growth/learning process and weren't arrogant about it saying they were the Enlightened Ones….though I do think a bit of confidence helped some writers and philosophers share their ideas.
On another note, perhaps the conquests in foreign parts of the world and information sent from the New World and the Far East to
Europe enhanced their own view of themselves. They began defining themselves in opposition
to other cultures they had not previously had contact with. They could point out the flaws in other’s
civilizations, and comparatively (at least in their minds) they were further
along intellectually, emotionally, scientifically, etc. By seeing different
cultures, they saw their own society differently. Social commentators could
either say that European society trumps others because "blah blah blah", and
others like Voltaire could point out that Europeans are just as corrupt as
others, even more in some case because "blah blah blah." In sum, European contact with foreign lands had
a strong influence on the way they viewed themselves.
I think Candid’s intellectual and philosophical view changes as he travels across the world, experiences new cultures, and meets other people. Before he was expelled from the castle, he lived a life of luxury and ease and deprived of suffering. It was easy for him to believe Pangloss’s theory of “best of all possible worlds.” Once he is banished he encounters manipulative soldiers that conscript him into the Bulgar army, presumably against his will. The wars and his exercise of free will cause him pain and suffering. He meets corrupt, selfish, cruel, arrogant, and hypocritical people harming one another for no reason other than for personal gain, amusement, or another. He begins to question Pangloss’ philosophy and gravitates towards the philosophy of Jacques, then Cacambo, the Martin and finally of the dervish. Candid maintains some of his naivety (he’s still centered on Conegonde and tries to cling to Pangloss’ theory) but I think it is lessened because of his experiences. He doesn’t seem to produce his own philosophy but he adopts, or at least listens to others and finds some of them reasonable, which is a step in maturity. His journey outside the castle inherently involves suffering and risk and Candid tries to understand the purpose of suffering. I think that because he fluctuates between different philosophies and seems to adopt another belief besides the original “perfect, predestined” Pangloss vision, he grows intellectually and philosophically.Ca
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
After reading the first 12 chapters of Candide, we have already had several instances of sinners being burned alive on the stake which is also called Auto-da-fé. For example, the two Jewish men were burned for not eating bacon and a man was burned for marrying his god mother. Montaigne in "Of Cannibals" talked about the Europeans' cruel ways of punishing by burning sinners alive. He completely disagreed with it and felt that burning people alive like it was done in Europe was much more barbaric than eating people once they were dead like it was done in the New World. It is interesting that we can see Montaigne's description of European barbaric punishment in action throughout the beginning of Candide. At the end of chapter 12 of Candide, we see the characters Candide, Cunégonde, and the old lady are on a boat to the New World. It will be interesting to see if anything is mentioned in the upcoming chapters of Candide of people being eaten by cannibals after they are dead in the New World like Montaigne talks about.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
After taking the multiple choice part of the "Hamlet" test today, I realized the importance of a character giving exposition. Without this background information it would virtually be impossible to know the reasons behind some of the things authors like Shakespeare write about. A person would have to be versed in almost all aspects of history to comprehend some things authors make allusions to. For example, Horatio's exposition on the preceding events in the beginning of the novel really come in clutch, because as readers we do not know some of the history behind Denmark's war times with Norway. Also, credit must be given to critics that analyze and expand the imagination of readers such as Tillyard in his critical analysis of Elizabethan times titled "The Elizabethan World Picture."
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Well, I was at quizbowl earlier today and one of the questions was "who is the beaumarchais character who, in the beginning of the opera, repeats his name over and over?" Well, of course, I immediately buzzed in and answered "Figaro" for 10 points. That made me even more interested in the character of Figaro, so idid some research. Figaro was the illegitimate son of Dr. Bartholo and his maid Marceline and he waskidnapped by gypsies who named him figaro. he was a servant in the house of almaviva which is how he became friendds with the count of almaviva. he worked with that almavivq family as a surgeon and the Barber pf Seville is a story of part of his life. Sory for my bad typing, it is the cast's fault.
The ghost appears to Hamlet to prevent him from insulting his mother to greatly. He doesn’t want Hamlet to hurt her. It is different from other appearances because he appears in front of other people and engages Hamlet in conversation, in front of his mother! Hamlet, Horatio, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz saw him then, now only Hamlet sees him now. His message to Hamlet is that he needs to be more “revengeful” and his anger should be sharpened by the innocence of his mother.however, my question is, why can Gertrude not see the ghost when Hamlet's friends can?
The Opera is not at all what I expected it to be. It was extremely long, however; I can not say that I didn't enjoy parts of it. It was comical at times, and sometime it was a bit over the top, however overall i liked it. I was absolutely amazed at the ability of the musicians and singers to be in sync in every possible way as music was an emphasis upon the singers' movements. I found a parallel, yet difference between operas and plays: While they both tell a story through actions, it was was interesting to see how at certain times when the actors wanted to emphasize the current part of the story taking place they would do it through their voices, while still acting. Whereas in a play, the emphasis would have been drawn out through facial features or body gestures. (I'm quite aware of the obvious difference between the two, but its intriguing to see how each performance expresses dramatic things in different ways)
Hamlet says he likes the way Horatio is very cool, calm, and collected about things and does not jump to conclusions. He methodically thinks his way through problems and analyzes things. Hamlet sees Horatio as different from himself because he simply jumps to answers and accuses people quickly of things, whereas Horatio would take his time and figure out the real reason why someone is acting the way they are. He want Horatio to observe Claudius with him, so that he does not falsely accuse him of murdering his father.
While reading, I started to wonder why Hamlet seemed to bash Gertrude so much when his Uncle Claudius was the one who killed his father. Throughout their encounters, Hamlet talks violently to her bashing her for basically committing a form of "treason" against his father and the former king. If I were Hamlet, I feel like I would have had more anger toward my uncle who actually committed the murder than towards my mother. I was wondering if this was just the time the play was written in and how women were viewed in society. Possibly people's feelings about women in real life at this time played a role in Shakespeare's writing of Gertrude in his play. I know in previous literary works we have read that women are viewed as adulterous. Maybe Shakespeare and people of the Elizabethan Era still shared some of the same views. What do you think?
I find it interesting that Hamlet debates suicide, which at the time would seem like a "no-go" for many people because of the religions they believed in. I think Hamlet, being a noble lord and prince, should be the last person to consider suicide because he could always have some servants do something for him. Hamlet debates on which is nobler, to live and fight, or die and give up. So he is essentially questioning suicide and asking about it as a way out. He compares death to a dream and sleeping and comments that a dream could be a nightmare, or a good dream, but we don’t know which, and this is why most people do not commit suicide; they are afraid of what might lie ahead. He also goes into a dualistic analysis of humans, saying that the brain thinks and the body acts, and sometimes his brain thinks to much because he cannot bring the courage necessary to kill Claudius. This speech is different from the others in the fact that he kicks himself for not killing Claudius, whereas in the others he does not talk directly about his plans for killing him.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
"Get thee to a nunnery." I was kind of confused by the phrase when I first read it, so I googled it and found a discussion forum that talked about the meaning of the phrase. There were multiple interpretations. One person brought up that in Shakespeare's time the word "nunnery" had two meanings: 1) a convent 2) a brothel. Well, those were two very different meanings. So either Hamlet was telling Ophelia to turn to a life of chastity or he was degrading her and calling her a common prostitute. Either way, the phrase means that Ophelia should never marry and have kids. Another person talked about how Hamlet had realized that Ophelia was deceiving him for the sake of her father and the king, and he was enraged at her for siding with his enemy. Insulting Ophelia by telling her to go to a nunnery (I'm assuming this is the brothel interpretation) is the offended and betrayal Hamlet lashing out at Ophelia. Then, another interpretation said that Hamlet was seeing his mother (who married her husband's brother and murderer) reflected in Ophelia. His rage against Ophelia is actually his rage against his mother. Also after seeing his mother's remarriage, Hamlet loses all respect for marriage and now has no desire for his beloved Ophelia to marry him or anyone else.
There are so many interpretations of that line that I wasn't sure which one was right. I think it is a mixture of all the factors that causes Hamlet to say this. What do you think?
There are so many interpretations of that line that I wasn't sure which one was right. I think it is a mixture of all the factors that causes Hamlet to say this. What do you think?
Posted by Linz A at 7:55 AM
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Hamlet Senior was murdered by his brother Claudius while he was in a garden laying down. Claudius came and poured poison in his ear to kill him. This sounds a lot like two biblical stories that we are all familiar with. The first is the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. A serpent came and told them to eat it. Claudius also blames Hamlet's death on a serpent that bites him in the garden. The other biblical story this reminded me of was Cain and Abel. Just as Cain killing Abel was the murder of one's brother, Claudius also murders his brother. I found it interesting that the play of Hamlet included elements that reminded me so much of Christian Biblical stories. It made me wonder how much religion influenced Shakespeare in his writing.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
In class the other day we talked about the human condition and how it originated from the original sin of Adam and Eve. This got me to thinking. I started to wonder whether or not the four humors would have come around without this fall on Adam's and Eve's part and their original sin. Apparently the four humors, melancholy, phlegm, blood, and choler, determine a person's personality. So, if it had not been for Adam and Eve, would there have been no humors? Would people all be the same today? Would people have unique personalities?
In Act I, scene v, Hamlet Jr. learns the truth behind his father's death (Hamlet Sr.). I find it ironic that this tragedy is not just your average tragedy, in fact it is a revenge tragedy. A characteristic of a revenge tragedy is that the character had no part in making his own tragedy, and he must respond to something that someone else has done, causing a tragedy for the unsuspecting character. I find this a very intriguing aspect of Shakespeare play and I also believe that this was one of the reasons why lords, kings, and queens alike loved his dramas so much...because they're very catchy and keep your attention! I believe part of this interest comes from the particular characteristics of a revenge tragedy. They are unique and different from you're everyday, I-can-guess-what-happens-next drama.
On page 21 of Act 1, Polonius gives some last minute advice to his son Leartes before he leaves for
France. He said something which I thought I had heard
before: “to thine own self be true.” I think that’s a famous line. I think this resonates humanistic ideas and
individualism because it suggests that you first have to have some self
awareness (know who you really are and what you really want) in order to be true
to yourself. The rest of his advice is
about self control and being good and just to others. I think it’s kind of
interesting that he doesn't blatantly quote the bible or say something like: “remember
to say your prayers,” or “Remember to go to church.” Although his advice may have some grounds in
the bible, his advice is really universal for anyone in I think any society. Any other takes on Polonious’ advice or
specifically about “to your own self be true?”
When I think of the great chain of being I think of a ladder. The ladder very ridged, and defined. The king is at the top, supported by god, and everyone else is below him in a hierarchy going from beggars to lords. There was some fluidity within English society though, and people were able to improve their social and financial circumstances, especially with the rise of the merchant class. When the fluidity of society is juxtaposed with the great chain of being, the two seem to be opposites. But the fluidity of society did have a mold. A beggar could become a farmer, and a farmer could become a merchant, but not anyone could claim the throne, and not anyone could possess a title of nobility.
As we discussed in class in the past week or two, the role of light in art was one of the main things that grew in the renaissance period. Cimabue, Giotto's mentor, did not really use much light at all, but then when you look at Giotto's art, you can start to see a source of light in his artwork. Then, when you look at Massaccio's Expulsion from the Garden, there is an obvious source of light and an obvious use of perspective. Then, continuing on the Michelangelo and Raphael, the use of light is basically perfected. They both used it masterfully, and to see how much art changed in 2 centuries is quite amazing.
Last year, I remember one of the themes of Macbeth was “What does it really mean to be a man.” In the first act of Hamlet, I found 3 pretty strong examples of manhood. First, Claudius thinks Hamlet’s lamentation over his father is excessive and “unmanly.” According to Claudius, Hamlet’s behavior is evidence of his weakness. This would have probably been a really offensive insult to Hamlet. Later, Horatio says Hamlet Sr. was “a goodly king” and Hamlet says “he was a man…I shall not look upon his like again.” If I am interpreting this quote correctly, he was one of a kind, which speaks to his upright character. Finally, after Hamlet learns that Claudius killed his own brother (King Hamlet Sr.) and then married his sister-in-law Gertrude, which was incestual, Hamlet degrades Claudius by calling him a beast. He dehumanizes him and doesn't see him more as a cold-hearted beast than as a respectable man.
Kind of interesting the differences between the middle ages and the English Renaissance/ Elizabethan Era. I really see the most dramatic change, however, regarding the idea of revenge, an idea welcomed and obligatory, if not mandatory during the middle ages, dating back to the classical ages. During the Elizabethan Era however, revenge was wholly frowned upon, as reflected in the great care put into justifying revenge in literature and popular culture when the opportunity presented itself.
The four humors in English Renaissance were each considered to be embodied by a respective body fluid and our unique personalities were the results of the many different concoctions of these fluids in our bodies. To the greatest degree, there was also an attainable ideal state, in which there was perfect balance and harmony between each body fluid in relation to the body and each other. Likewise, chronic emotions were supposedly derived from the fluids and optimal emotions were similarly suggested upon. Interestingly enough, the sensation we know as ecstasy is one of these optimal feelings. But it is also reminiscent of the neoplatonic view point of transcending reality to momentarily come in touch with god. Such was ecstasy that one's happiness was no longer any derivation of happiness, but instead superseded all joyful rapture as a true form of bliss, considered god-like or angelic.
In class, we discussed the four, or five, elements that compose of objects, beings or things, animate or inanimate, that make up the great chain of being. These elements, air, fire, water, earth, and ether, perhaps coincidentally were what the ancient philosopher, Aristotle similarly presumed to maker up the objects and world that surround us. He believed that ultimately, all things were made of fire; the implication can therefore be made that he placed fire above all else, as did the great chain of being in the english renaissance. Similarly, he suggested that fire resides at high altitudes and that earth, considered the lowest element hierarchically, was also the lowest element literally.
I was studying the 3 statues of David that we looked at by Danatello (1430), Verrochio (1472-1475), and Michaelangelo (1501-1504), and began to wonder why all three had very different influence (which is unsual since the statues by Danatello and Verocchio were both made during the Renaissance peirod in Florence, and the statue by Michaelangelo was created during the Italian Renaissance which was highly impacted by Florence as many of the artist simply flocked their after Florence was taken over in 1494). Why are these three statues so different? For example, Michaelangelo's "David" has a very Hellenstic influencee to it given the idealized body, where as Verrochio's "David" is realistic in the actual size David would have been and has a more classical influence.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Since we were talking about the Great Chain of Being in class and how fixated Elizabethan era was on order, I was thinking about how Dante's Inferno also contains a strict order. So, even though there is a time gap between Dante's Inferno and Queen Elizabeth's reign, the value of order is still present. Dante's Hell contains nine circle, with each circle containing a certain type of sinner. Even Dante's writing style (terza rima) is extremely ordered with a specific rhyme scheme and a specific meter. As Ms. Quinet said in class, there was no sudden change from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Elizabethan era still contained strong medieval influences.
Posted by Linz A at 7:11 PM
According to the chapters about order and the Chain of Being in the Elizabethan World Picture, the Middle Ages represented a time of great spirituality. Knowing this makes Dante's theology and beliefs while writing his epic, The Divine Comedy make a lot more sense. Dante clearly demonstrates his strong belief in Christianity throughout the Inferno canticle of The Divine Comedy. He claims that the only way to make it to paradise is through God. The Divine Comedy, more specifically, Dante's Inferno displays such spirituality because it was made during such a spiritual time, the middle ages. We will next be reading Hamlet, which was written during the Elizabethan Period. The Elizabethan World Picture warns us not to assume that the Elizabethan Period is solely about humanism. It claims that the Elizabethan Era is actually also very spiritual and picks up where the Middle Ages left off. It will be interesting to see if Hamlet displays spirituality due to being written in the Elizabethan Period.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Reflecting on all of the art we have studied so far this year, i notices a really drastic change in the use of color from the Greek times to the Renaissance. In the Greek times, though we can no longer see it, the colors they used were bold colors like red and blue and purple. Though it has faded away by now, they painted their temples with these colors. When the Roman time came, color changed a bit. Though most Roman art was sculpture, the Roman paintings used more shades of color and experimented with it a lot more. Finally, during the Renaissance times, the use of color changed drastically. Artists really started to experiment with color, mixing different hues and really creating a new style of painting. And then comparing the renaissance art to today, color had been continually experimented with and has changed completely over the ages.
Friday, November 2, 2012
Layer's of hell epitomize humanity at its worst-its absolute worst. You can't really be "more lustful" than a lustful sinner within the Lustful layer of hell. The concept of having a perfect, or in this case anti-perfect form of an action, or object, or even person is very neo-platonic. Just as Plato had perfect forms of humans, or art Dante has "perfect sinners" so to speak. You cannot get lower than the lower depths of hell. Lucifer is bed-rocked into the ninth layer of hell, and he cannot be moved. The adaption of Plato's concepts by Dante, whether purposeful or not, represents the adaption of classical literature by early Italian Renaissance writers.
I think it is sort of comical how the Medici family came to get their name. Apparently they were "medics" and helped bandage people up and fix their wounds. Because of this their family shield was in turn red and white, which stood for the blood and bandage. The red referred to blood, and the white referred to the white bandage they used to bandage up the people. They were essentially doctors for people, and later in their lives they continued to provide for their citizens as they did when they first came into being. Like doctors, as signoris of the Florence, they provided for their citizens in money, trade, and exports. Even though they were not literally doctors later in their history, they still acted as such for their beloved Florence.
In his Inferno, Dante represents society in some interesting ways. Through the sinners we meet and the people he talks about in his Hell, we see that men played a large part of society but were maybe not always the most clear-minded thinkers. We see men from the church, but they are usually not always the best role models, merchant and business men, religious leaders, political leaders, military leaders, and rulers of cities, those who are misguided by women, and writers dabbling in Epicurean philosophy. All of these people and their actions, of which is way to much detail for me to go into in a blog post, give the reader an insight into what society was like and what Dante saw. Dante also gives the reader insight into the values and beliefs that were held at the time through the actions of his sinners and the beliefs that previously held and still hold when in conversation with Dante.
In Dante's Inferno the Canto XXII talks about Mahomet, better known as the Prophet Muhammad to the modern day person, and I believe that he can represent two different things. First off, he represents the religion of Islam and how this was a diversion from traditional Christianity. In Dante's Hell Muhammad represents those people who followed the branches of Christianity and those who followed a different religion all together. He can also represent a schism between the church and society, a secular society.
Each period has its own style of artwork, which influences the next form to come, however it seems to me that each period has a distinctive style in their interpretation of a "perfect representation" of figures. Starting with the hellenistic period which believed in ideal forms and rationalism, then to the hellenic period that was focused around realism, to Roman period which combined characteristics of the periods before and used pictorial images to represent figures along with a focus of family life, and finally the Renaissance period that depicted divinity with vanishing points and emphasis on light as a metaphor for the greater being, shows how each era had an ideal way to depict the beliefs at the time. I find it interesting how the social circumstances of the time influenced the type of art work created and caused it to progressively change.