Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Literature I will prepare for the AP Exam

The list of books and other literature I am considering preparing for the AP exam include Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, Beloved, and possibly my independent study book The Grapes of Wrath.  I believe that these works will give me the best options to choose from when writing my essays.  They all deal with important themes and come from different times in history.  Oedipus Rex is a short play by Sophocles that is the perfect example of a Greek tragedy.  Hamlet By Shakespeare talks about the character, Hamlet's struggle to avenge his father's murder by his Uncle Claudius.  The novel, Beloved reveals how slavery can cause a family to be torn apart and turn on each other in the case of Beloved and her mother Seethe.  Seethe was forced to make many tough choices such as trying to kill her children to save them from slavery.  All three of these books deal with very important themes.  They all took place during different times and were written by authors of different times.  I feel like having books from different times is important as it shows that you are knowledgable with many different kinds of literature during different periods of history.

Oedipus Rex was my favorite

My favorite thing we read all year was Oedipus Rex, the play of the king of Thebes who marries his own mother and murders his own father all on accident.  I really enjoyed the story that this play told.  Although it was somewhat short and simple, I thought it portrayed themes that were relevant for the rest of the year.  For example, we recently heard of Oedipus again while reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  Tomas compares the Russians to the story Oedipus the King.  We also see the play sitting in the engineer's room.  Oedipus acknowledges his mistakes while the Russians do not.  I think overall that it is very interesting that a work from so long ago could have so much influence on other works of literature.  This is why Oedipus Rex was my favorite thing we read all year.

AP books

For the AP Exam, I know I will definitely write about the Color Purple, which was my independent study. I can always write about Celie's journey from a feminist perspective or from an african american perspective. Or intertwine the both. I think I can adapt it to pretty much any prompt. I also think I will review Beloved. I enjoyed the book and read it recently, so I think I can also adapt that to fit an essay prompt. It has very similar themes to the Color Purple, but is set in an earlier time period, and therefore is more about american slavery. Beloved also is largely about feminine/filial relationships. Finally, I'll review my notes from No Exit. We also talked about that recently, so it's still fresh in my brain. I feel comfortable with the themes of No Exit, aka existentialism and "bad faith". That way I'll have racism, sexism and existentialism concepts flowing through my brain. I'm sure one of them will be appropriate.

Favorite Novel

Well, it's not really one novel, but more of an author. Notes from the Underground was my introduction to Dostoevsky. In case you didn't notice by the fact that I chose to read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for my independent study project, I love his work. I mean, considering his work is translated from Russian, he has a smooth, flawless writing style. But my favorite part of his work is his characters. I remember reading a comment about Dostoevsky's work, saying that all his characters are fallen angels - which is true. Raskolnikov, who planned and succeeded in murdering two people, is certainly considered a good person who fell victim to his circumstances and intelligence. But in Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky successfully portrays the dislikable, but understandable Underground Man. His characters are complex and beautifully written and I;m reading the Brothers Karamazov over the summer.

Oedipus The Best

My favorite work that we have read this year would have to be Oedipus The King. I really enjoyed the whole Greek mythology/drama unit because I am generally fascinated by everything mythology. I also liked how well it meshed with the Humanities portion because the story was based off of the (assumed) history. I guess I like the mythic nature of it all and the fantasy aspect behind it. As far as plot goes I liked how you really have to think to wrap your head around all the different angles and tie off all the loose ends. 
P.S. I also liked how short it was. 

favorite text

My favorite thing we've read this year was The Eternal Lightness of Being. I liked it because it used accessible language and was actually enjoyable to read. I felt like I was learning and that my mind was "expanding", like I would with a more traditionally scholarly text, but it was by no means grueling. It was also interesting to read something about real human relationships as opposed to lofty philosophy or stuffy things written by scholars. I liked the history unit that accompanied the Unbearable Lightness of Being as well. Czechoslovakia isn't something that I would have learned about otherwise. It's also interesting to learn about communism from the voice of someone that experiences it from the inside. The book was modern, relatable, and odd- in a good way.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Carlo Maria Mariani

My favorite artist of the postmodern era is Carlo Maria Mariani. His work truly seems like "art" to me, while retaining the avant garde-ness that postmodern artists strive to achieve. While Rauschenburg and Rothko have very interesting pieces, their art seems to take very little actual skill whereas Mariani has the physical artistic skill of a master while simultaneously achieving the though provoking aspects of post modernism. For instance, his "Eclipse 5" (http://www.carlomariamariani.com/paintings/pnt16.html) takes a lot skill to paint, but it is still thought provoking. The background is modern, but the building the women jumps from is very classic. Because of the juxtaposition of classic architecture and modern architecture of the cityscape, the viewer finds it hard to place the woman who is falling into a time period. She is naked, and portrayed in a classic manner, yet she is jumping from a building which makes for a very un-classic painting since most classic paintings tend to portray either happiness, greek gods, or a particularly well known story. The women's clothing also produces and interesting juxtaposition as her toga hints and classical art, but since when did greeks or romans wear headbands?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Cremaster Cycle

Is anyone else a little confused bny the Cremaster Cycle?  I can't find much information on it, and watching the trailer certainly didn't help (but if you'd like to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xWtS9HsP4U).  This lack of information seems to be in part due to the fact that it was never really made publically available, and only a small number of DVDs have ever been produced.  This seems very elitist.  It also appears strange when put in the context of the mass media art that we've recently been discussing.
The art we saw in class yesterday was very interesting.  The way in which the artists portrayed their feelings was very abstract and really made your mind work.  You have to look below the odd surface to find the underlying meaning.  I particularly liked the painting Isis and Osiris because of the way the artist used mixed media.  It looked really interesting and made the eye look around.  The myth begin it about Osiris coming back to life really made the piece of art even more meaningful.

Pop Art as a social commentary

I think it’s interesting that Barbara Kruger uses her background in advertising in her artwork. I was looking at some of her work online and she reveals the irony, objectification and backwardness of society's view of women.  One piece has a picture of a beautiful, laughing woman and on top of her face in typed letters it reads, “Not stupid enough,” and around the borders it has written “Not good enough, not skinny enough, not nothing enough and not ironic enough.” I think she’s trying to show how ridiculous and judgmental the world can be, in an ironic way.  She also makes statements about the obscenity of consumerism and how people's priorities are messed up when it comes to material possessions.  In one work a little girl is sticking her tongue out and the caption says, “Money can buy you love.” In another, the caption reads, “I shop therefore I am.” To me, her artwork contradicts the purpose of advertising by reframing society’s perception of women and fighting gross consumerism. Her statements are clear, loud, bold, and down to earth.  I like her work a lot.

pop art

I really found the pop art interesting that we saw in class this week.  Pop art takes objects from everyday life and turns them into art.  For example, the Campbell's Tomato Soup can.  Although this pop art is simple and was not always popular and considered worthy of being art, I think the pop art is very unique and helps represent the thoughts of the people at the time.  Pop art was popular in the 1950s in the United States.  Instead of focusing on things that not as many people knew about, pop art gave people a chance to enjoy art that portrayed everyday life.  Everyone knows what a Campbell's soup can is and everyone knows about Coca-Cola.  Pop art really helped to get everyday ideas across at the time and show what feelings people had in general during the time.  For me, I thought it was cool to see art portray something that we are still familiar with today in our culture.  Many of the items pop art represents are still present in our culture today.  This shows what an impact small everyday items that people take for granted have had on US society.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Meme Before its Time?

Ok, so when we were looking at the pop art picture of the over-priveleged, barbie-doll, girl crying on her bed, it kind of reminded me of the The First World Problems meme of today. This meme is very similar to the pop art image in its likewise depiction of of a well off female crying over something melodramatic, shallow, and of little consequence to the entirety of her life. Additionally, the pop art image shares a common characteristic of this meme as well as every other meme on the internet: a caption either parodying or creatively explaining the image. In this case, the caption would be parodying the initial impression of shallowness we recieve as we view the well off female crying over something, but with no reason to really cry at all.

On a broader scale, today's internet memes function just as pop art did.


One of my favorite post-modern artists is Robert Rauschenberg. Mrs. Quinet mentioned him briefly in class today, but didn't show any of his work. Rauschenberg is a Texan born artist that was drafted into the Navy where he worked as a neuropsychiatric technician. Later, he enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute and began his artistic career. He is famous for his paintings and "Combines", in which he arranges found objects to form installation pieces. He worked in a variety of mediums, including painting, printmaking, sculpture and even performance. He has been deemed by some critics as a "neo-dadist". Personally, I love his work, especially those that involves image transfer. He was a pioneer of 20th century collage and mixed media pieces. I think his stuff is beautiful, intriguing and inspiring.
Here's a video with some of his work. I have no idea why Here Comes the Sun is playing in the background. It seems extremely inappropriate. But just mute it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Differences in the movie

Well as we all know the movie was significantly different from the book in quite a few ways. The directors kept out a bunch of what I though were important parts. We did talk about how those parts may not have "flowed" was well in the film, but I think they could have made them work. The Cambodian Grand March in the novel was one of my favorite scenes, and I thought it was important. It showed how Franz never really got what he wanted and that he died essentially under control of the person he hated. Franz wasn't a big character in the movie so I sort of understand why they excluded this scene. Another part they kept out was Teresa and Tomas going back to the train station to get her suitcase. This would have shown how she was committed to him and left all she had for him. It also would have shown Tomas's reluctance towards commitment. One thing they added was the part when Tomas saw Teresa in the pool, as we talked about in class. This adds to the story of how they met and stuff. Overall it was a weird but pretty good film.


When we read the book, I thought I had a pretty good sense of the timeline of Unbearable Lightness of Being. Then, we watched the movie and I was like "Whoa. Got that one wrong!" I'm not sure if it was me or the movie taking liberties since it would be easier to tell the story in a coherent timeline. One of the things I was confused about was the photography session between Tereza and Sabina. I thought it happened before they went to Switzerland, but in the moving it happened during Switzerland. Did the movie change that or did I make it up in my head? I don't know. The Unbearable Lightness of Being certainly makes use of time; however, the sense of timelessness suits the book, since with the confusion of time (learning about Tomas' and Tereza's death before seeing it) causes the weight of time and knowing it's limited disappears.


Kundera's comparison of animals to humans has many moral, and sociological implications. One, that animals are less powerful than humans. Two, that they have less dignity. They can poop without questioning their bodily functions or their relation god's bodily functions. Three, Karenin seems to be the most selfless being in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Tomas hurts Tereza, Tereza hurts Tomas. Franz hurts Marie Claude by having an affair, Marie Claude drives Franz insane. But Karenin is always nice, and as Teresa points out in the movie, she is not forced to love Karenin. She loves Karenin for 'better reasons'. I think the same idea is true in reverse: Karenin loves Teresa and Tomas for who they are, and for their companionship- not for sex, love, or Platonic reasons like Teresa and Tomas's relationship.

movie versus book for unbearable lightness of being

The movie for the unbearable lightness of being did a wonderful job including people's inner thoughts through dialogue. However, a lot of the novel's meaningfulness was lost in the movie. If I hadn't read the book, the meaning of lightness versus weight would have been hard for me to comprehend just through the movie. I like the portrayal of Tomas by Daniel Day-Lewis. Tomas seems rather cold-hearted at the beginning of Kundera's novel, by Lewis does a good job showing Lewis's inner conflict between his sexual impulses and his love for Tereza.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The (not so) Grand March

The Grand March was an epic fail.  About 500 people had traveled from Europe to Cambodia to give aid to those in need and they had to just turn around.  The effort was futile.  The doctors im sure really wanted to help out, but the rivaling nations involved (france and American in particular) were more concerned with their own appearance. Franz’s perception of the blood (from the reporter that stepped on a mine) consecrated the flag. I just thought that was odd. Then it seemed that he had a desire to fall, or basically had a death wish when he considers running onto the bridge. Perhaps he wants to be a martyr, perhaps he wants to make Sabina proud. Then it turns out that he's too cowardly to do anything valiant. he attacks a man that the reader doesnt know much about and then he gets mortally injured. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tereza and Her Desire to Fall

The narrator tells us that Tereza has a desire to fall, even though she fears death. In class we decided that she might be desiring death, even though she is not actively seeking it. We found a few points in her life that might have caused this "desire to fall", however, I believe the main reason is due to the fact that she was not really valued as a child by her mother. Tereza is looking for someone to fill this void in her life, and I believe that because of this she attaches herself to Tomas. 

However, this void is still there and she feels this "lack of worth." Death, she might think, would be light in a sense, but then again it could also be heavy in way. Death might symbolize the middle ground between light and heavy and it could symbolize peace, the peace she is looking for to fill the void in her life. Also, since Tereza is so obsessed with her body, she might want to die in order to get rid of her body (soul body split) wherein she would be separated from her body. This desire would certainly represent the motif of soul body split in the novel. 



To me, kitsch means pretty much what Kundera says it is, “shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist”. This does not literally mean that shit/poop/feces does not exist. I think kitsch holds a lot more weight (how punny) than just meaning excrement. Kitsch refers to all the horrible, nasty, uncouth, mean, derogatory, unacceptable, disgusting, mean, unkind, violent, and negative things that pervade the world that humans live in. It can mean anything that makes life difficult or that makes humans undergo the trials and tribulations that make life, well, life. Without these kitschy things, life would be perfect and probably be boring, however the kitschesque things in this world make things different and unique, adding to the diversity of experiences in reality. So to me I think kitsch is not necessarily a bad thing in people's lives and keeps things interesting. I do not believe it is as much of a burden as people in the novel think it is. Sure it's a burden, but it is what keeps you working hard in life and doing things to try and relieve yourself from this kitsch. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Does Tomas compare to Oedipus as well?

After watching the movie today, I began to think does Tomas compare to Oedipus as well?  We originally said that Oedipus compares to the Russians and Tereza.  The Russians lead to the destruction of a city and Tereza abandons her family just like Oedipus.  However, as I think more I think Tomas displays some of Oedipus's characteristics as well.  For example, just as Oedipus has affairs with his family, Tomas is always having affairs as well.  Tomas also has a need for control and power just like Oedipus.  Tomas yearns to be in control of his life and his relationships.  He feels free to have many relationships at one time and not commit to one person in order to live his "light" life.  Oedipus thought he was doing what was best for Thebes when really he was causing pain for a lot of people.  Tomas with his affairs hurts Tereza who genuinely loves him.  Oedipus dies at the end of the play just like Tomas ends up dying.  I found this comparison of the two interesting.  What do you all think?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Significant of Tomas's Profession

My understanding of Tomas's character developed much more after reading part 5. I find his profession as a surgeon significant to his character as a whole. The book explains that being a surgeon is dealing with the "outermost border, where the human makes contact with the divine."(193), and hence this profession fulfills Tomas's desire to have complete possession of the world. Tomas pursues possession of the world through his womanizing so he can uncover the uniqueness of each woman which is hidden from the world. Tomas is once again acting as a surgeon as he deal with the hidden aspect of women that is unknown to the world - their inner sexuality. Each woman Tomas has sex with is an accomplishment for him as he metaphorically dissects their character with his imaginary scalpel. We can see this clearly after he comes to three conclusions after having sex with the odd woman.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The use of photography in the novel is interesting to me. Some people say that photographs are objective and simply mirror your surroundings, however I don’t think photography is purely an objective art form.  Photo journalists and artistic photographers all have a message or objective, if you will, when they take a picture. In Tereza’s case, she documented the Russian invasion because that was important to her and she photographed Sabina in the nude probably to satisfy some sexual/emotional need. Photography is an art form because the person behind the camera chooses the subject of the picture and they have to arrange the subjects, time it correctly, consider lighting and so forth. Tereza probably didn’t want to photograph the cacti because they didn’t mean anything to her, she felt she was doing something important with her pictures of the Russian army since she was capturing the anxiety and emotions of the occupiers and the occupied. she was trying to provoke emotions or enlighten the rest of the world that the situation in Czechoslovakia, especially in Prague, had not calmed down. It might be the most realistic portrayal of the world we have but it is not purely objective. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Unbearableness of Lightness

Sabina says that the source of her melancholy does not come from the heaviness of a burden, but instead and unbearable lightness of being. While this statement addresses the fact that being light is perhaps an unhealthy lifestyle for Sabina, it also gives insight into the title of the book, which then poses the question: what makes lightness unbearable? Well, my take is that lightness is unbearable because it implies a lifestyle where there is nothing to bear. Lightness is unbearable because there is nothing to bear, because it creates a void in one's life. Lightness hence introduces an individual to his or her despair in a way opposite to heaviness, which ironically, we equivocate with an unbearable burden when in fact that burden is only seemingly unbearable. Seeing it this way, I think living heavy has a few advantages over living light, because at least you can feel the weight of your life and experiences rather than nothing at all. Likewise, this relates very closely to all our discussions of the nihilist and existential components of this novel.

Sabina's Lightness

Throughout the novel, Sabina leads a very light life, however sometimes she tiptoes on the brink of a more heavy one. She has a chance with Franz to really commit to something and become more heavy in her ways. However their misunderstandings lead Sabina to abandon the possibility of their real love. She instead runs away and leaves Franz estranged from his wife and without his lover. Sabina is never willing to make a commitment unless she knows it is right, and she never thinks that it is right. Next, when Teresa and Tomas's son calls Sabina to let her know that they have died, Teresa regrets her decision to leave. She feels that Teresa and Tomas had a perfect life and that she wanted it too. This shows how she is ever on the brink of a heavy life, but that she stays light, never willing to make a commitment.

Laughter in TULB

I feel like there are many instances when laughter has a negative relationship with characters in TLUB, more specifically Teresa. She was always haunted by her mother as she harassed Teresa with her obsession with the body and being naked. Also when she is dreaming about the pool dream the people dancing around the pool are laughing when someone gets shot. Usually we envision laughter in a positive light, but 
 these are two very disturbing examples of the disruption it causes in Teresa's life. There are a few other examples of this in the novel, has anyone noticed any others that I'm missing?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tomas compared to Sabina

I feel like Tomas and Sabina each learn lessons in ULOB for different reasons.  Tomas at first refuses to be tied down to a single relationship after his divorce.  However, after he meets Teresa he finds it impossible to think about anyone but her and feels what it is like to care for someone in a relationship.  Sabina, however, is considered "light" throughout the entire story.  She does not commit to one person throughout and is known for her affairs with Tomas.  Sabina also at the end of the story gets a chance to tie herself down to one relationship when Franz leaves his wife to be with her.  However, Sabina determines that she cannot commit to one man and simply leaves Franz to continue on her "light" way of life.  Tomas learns that lightness is truly unbearable while Sabina prefers lightness in life.

Words Misunderstood

Part 3 is called Words Misunderstood. It is almost like a dictionary of concepts that cause some sort of miscommunication between Sabina and Franz. I think this is a very progressive/modern way in which Kundera chooses to write.  I believe that this section says that sometimes, through the miscommunications that people have, it allows them to communicate on a different level, in a way. It also might distort the way they view themselves or other people. This ambiguity of language, such as words or sayings that people interpret to mean different things, lead to misunderstandings and arguments between people because they see things interpreted in different ways. It, for example, leads to the break up between Franz and Sabina. Words do not have concrete meaning. In an abstract, ever-changing society, the definitions of words are also abstract and ever-changing.