Monday, March 31, 2014

A Very Inaccurate First Impression

When I first started reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, I really had no idea what was going on. I figured it was supposed to be humorous (at least after Ian told me it was), but I felt like I wasn't being let in on the joke. Now that we've discussed part of Act 1 in class, I'm certainly relieved to find out that there's infinitely more depth to the play than I had originally seen.
I said in class that I had originally labeled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as Dumb and Dumber, and this could still be somewhat true. I felt like I was reading the script of a Charlie Chaplin film. Seriously, that's what I imagined. Characters waddling around aimlessly doing god knows what. I think this video accurately depicts what was going on in my head.
Needless to say, I'm very happy that my first impression was almost entirely wrong. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Will Define Us?

After writing my last blog post about Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, I was trying to come up with another topic for my next post. I'm currently, and finally, reading Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (yes, the one that was made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper). I'm only about halfway through, so I couldn't really come up with a specific topic regarding the novel. So I kind of looked over at my book shelf to see if I could find another novel to write about. I saw It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. The main character of Silver Linings Playbook suffers from and was hospitalized for bipolar disorder. The main character of It's Kind of a Funny Story was hospitalized for depression. 
The Lost Generation was still on my mind from my last post. I think most would agree that much of the literature that was produced by members of that generation can be characterized by disillusionment caused by World War I. That got me thinking, what will define or characterize the literature produced by our generation? Well, two out of the two books I thought about over about a thirty second time span centered around mental illness. Obviously, it's not like mental illness is a new thing that's special only to our generation. However, I thought for a moment, maybe the literature produced by our generation will be defined by it's willingness to break down barriers or to destroy certain stigmas within society, like the stigmas that have surrounded depression, bipolar disorder, ect. Like I said, this was only a fleeting thought, because then I thought, can't that define the literature of every generation in someway or another? 
I suppose there could be some defining characteristic of the literature produced in the last decade or so that I'm completely missing, which could potentially be quite embarrassing. Trying to look at things from the outside isn't necessarily easy. I must say though, I really hope the expansion of and dependance on technology isn't our generation's defining characteristic. That would be a bummer.

The Sun Also Rises & How It's Not Really Intimidating

For my independent study novel I read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Before actually reading it, I was a bit intimated- mostly because it's Hemingway. I mean you think Hemingway and then you think genius and then you're like wait I'm not a genius how does this work (that was pretty much my thought process in a nutshell). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my fears prior to actually reading the novel were completely wrong. 
I was extremely excited when I first started reading to find out that it was actually a story. Like a story with a beginning, middle, and end and everything. Has anyone else seriously been missing a traditionally set-up plot after reading Metamorphosis, Notes from the Underground, and even Beloved? I certainly have been. Essentially, The Sun Also Rises got bonus points for being somewhat straight-forward. 
Despite being mostly straight-forward in the narration itself, I will admit that it took me awhile to actually figure out what the point, or even the theme(s), was. Looking back after having finished it, it's a bit embarrassing that I didn't know from the get-go. I mean, I really should have gotten the gist of it just from the summary on the back. Though, I can't actually remember if I read the summary. Essentially, the novel focuses on the Lost Generation and the disillusionment of society following World War I. And I know that you're probably thinking how that is so overdone, and it may be. But I promise, there is a reason The Sun Also Rises has been deemed the "quintessential novel of the Lost Generation." And I also promise that Hemingway is not overrated.  
I think what struck me most about the novel is how different the lives of the main characters are compared to ours, or at least to mine. I mean for the most part it all felt so frivolous. At lot of times it seemed like they were just bouncing around from cafe to cafe, getting wasted, and talking but not actually saying anything. I guess that's why it took me almost the whole novel to really understand what was happening or what Hemingway was trying to say. They really were a Lost Generation. 
In short, I highly recommend giving this novel a go (it's actually pretty short). 

Kurt Vonnegut and the Anti-War Movement

Kurt Vonnegut harshly criticizes war in Slaughterhouse-Five in a similar way to Jasper Johns' American flags and map.  The book has no heroes; the protagonist is an indecisive coward and the only strong, courageous people are totally selfish and engrossed in their own heroics.  By writing a story in which the reader constantly hopes for somebody to step up and save the day and where the absence of any such hero is hilariously obvious, Vonnegut makes fun of the idea that wars are heroic just as Jasper Johns makes fun (maybe) of the related idea that America is perfect and homogenous by making maps in many colors or thickly textured flags in subtle hues.

Rauschenberg and Johns

During Mrs. Quinet's lecture on Wednesday, I kept trying to pair the artists she was talking about to the artists I had learned about a few years ago in art class. After seeing photos of Rauschenberg's and John's art, I remembered how much I enjoyed learning about them. They lived together and would collaborate on the strangest pieces of art.  For example, Rauschenberg would paint on his bed or they would paint on canvases the size of entire walls. Their ridiculous thought process is amusing, but very insightful and legit. I think I like them so much because to me it sounds like they just really enjoy pissing people off! I attached this video of an interview with Rauschenberg and it exemplifies his attitude and thought process. Please watch it, it's really amusing!

Minimalist music

I think the only artistic movement we talked about in class that has any close musical parallel is minimalism.  Mrs. Quinet also mentioned that minimalism was the style of the soundtrack for the Rothko Chapel video we watched.  Minimalist music, as she said, typically takes a few repeated sounds and overlays them in various combinations.  For example, here is a recording of Steve Reich's Music for Eighteen Musicians

There are eleven distinct sections, each based around a single metallophone melody.  Reich had previously used small ensembles and primarily layered patterns for rhythmic effects.  Here, however, he used a large ensemble to experiment with harmonics and layering different harmonies and timbres.  The effect he creates with choral parts gradually fading away is particularly interesting to me.  

For me, the most striking thing about minimal music is how completely different it is in goals and executions from the mainstream of contemporary classical music, which is still based around serialism and aleatory (chance) music.  Minimalism, rather than avoiding tonality and, let's face it, being deliberately impenetrable and difficult to listen to, experiments with effects that sound very familiar--the music is generally tonal, and the rhythms are simple, if complexly layered. It has immediate appeal and it produces an emotional impression (I think the latter is the point of music and exactly what is missing from Schoenberg, Cage, and so on).  

First Thoughts on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

I haven't even finished the first act of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but some apparent themes are showing up and I have really enjoyed the play so far.  One thing that was immediately apparent is the play's self-consciously fictional aspect.  R & G begin by discussing their impossible run of coin tosses (101 heads, or a probability of just under 1/2,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), which Guildenstern amusingly attributes to "un-, sub- or supernatural forces."  This line is supposed to remind us (or at least it reminded me) that indeed such forces are at work because the play is a piece of fiction.  A lot of R & G's confusion seems to arise from this: there is a sense of impending doom, and confusing, out-of-context events keep happening to them that only make sense with respect to parts of the play (I mean Hamlet) that they never get to see.  Their confusion, and the ridiculous, artificial and improbable nature of much of the plot (as represented by the coin tosses) all contribute to a sense of absurdity and pointlessness, which reflect R & G's role as buffoons and minor characters in Hamlet.

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger was definitely one of my favorite artists we discussed Wednesday in class. Although I did like the most of the Pop Art we discussed, especially the artist's commentary on society that was portrayed in the art, the way in which Kruger gets across her message is probably my favorite. There's something about the irony used by the many pop artists that didn't suit with me too well. What I like most about her work is probably her thought-provoking phrases she incorporates into her images. I feel like the ways in which they can be interpreted are endless. Probably one of my favorite of her works in a mural she did outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1989 for the museum's "A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation" exhibition.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Favorite Quotes from Brave New World

"There was a thing called the soul and a thing called immortality.
  But they used to take morphia and cocaine."

"He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather whisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk. Whisk -- and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where was Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk -- and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom -- all were gone. Whisk -- the place where Italy had been was empty. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk..."

"Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced."

"If one's different, one's bound to be lonely."

"'Oh brave new world!' Miranda was proclaiming the possibility of loveliness, the possibility of transforming even the nightmare into something fine and noble. 'Oh brave new world!' It was a challenge, a command."

"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand."

"But I don't want comfort. I want God. I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Emptied Gestures

Heather Hansen is a New Orleans-based artist who really puts herself into her work.

She begins by taking a mysterious stance on a huge, blank piece of paper. 

"With a piece of charcoal in hand, she lets her imagination come to life.

Next, she stretches her body over the white canvas... and something incredible starts to take shape.
She contorts, and glides over the canvas as the charcoal smoothly traces her every movement.
The way she moves is such art in itself that you almost forget what is being drawn.
Heather's goal is to "match her heartbeat with the beat of the universe."
The emotion that she puts into each piece is almost tangible, with the near-perfect symmetry of her work giving a physical form to the emotional balance she feels as she draws.
While most charcoal drawings come off as harsh and sharp, Heather's are soft and mesmerizing due to the lines being smeared gently by her skin.
The reveal of a finished piece is always emotionally charged.
Although her pieces are black and white, the nature of her art invites us to explore the gray areas that connect our minds and bodies.
And more importantly, it shows us that even when we are not as perfect as society would like us to be...
... if we dare to touch the world around us...
we can truly create something amazing."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Kite Runner

My independent reading book is The Kite Runner. The book is amazing, one of the best books I have ever read. It's both intriguing and educational. I'm so glad that I'm in religion this year because I understand the plot much more, especially since we recently had our unit on Islam. The book is about a boy named Amir who is best friends with a boy named Hassan. However, Hassan is also Amir's servant because he is Shi'a and Amir is Sunni. Shi'a muslims at the time were looked at as lowly creatures during the 80's in Pakistan, so Hassan was constantly bullied. One day, Hassan chases a kite down in a kite competition for Amir because Amir wants to impress his dad. As he's chasing the kite, a group of boys stops him and one of the boys, named Assef, rapes him. Amir sees Hassan getting raped but doesn't step in and try to stop the boys because he wants to impress his father by taking home the kite. This bad decision haunts Amir for the rest of his life.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Slaughterhouse-Five and Beloved

I have read about a third of Slaughterhouse-Five, which I have really enjoyed, and I can't help but see a lot of similar ideas to those of Toni Morrison in Beloved.  The main character, Billy Pilgrim, thinks that he has become "unstuck in time," meaning that he drifts back and forth between the past and future, starting with his traumatic experiences behind enemy lines in World War II.  He is apparently either senile or crazy (although since he is the narrator we don't know), because he believes all of this was explained to him by aliens who can see any point in time.  This allows Billy to distance himself from his traumatic experiences: every time somebody dies in the novel (which is absurdly often and usually under bizarre or ironic circumstances), he follows it with "so it goes"; for example, "Billy was given an emergency furlough home because his father, a barber in Ilium, New York, was shot dead by a friend while they were out hunting deer.  So it goes." This reminds me a lot of Beloved.  Again, he's trying to forget his experiences or change the way he sees them, and in the end it makes him dysfunctional.  Vonnegut portrays war somewhat like Morrison portrays slavery.  However, Vonnegut doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as Morrison and the style is completely different.

Lot's Wife

In class we talked about Morrisons biblical allusion to Lot's wife. She uses it to represent her characters' longing to remember the past. They know it isn't a good past and they try not to look back, but they can't help it. I looked on Wikipedia to read a few Jewish commentaries on why Lots wife looked back. (We mentioned all but one in class.) Here is what I found:

In Judaism, one common view of Lot's wife turning to salt was as punishment for disobeying the angels' warning. By looking back at the "evil cities" she betrayed her secret longing for that way of life. She was deemed unworthy to be saved and thus turned to a pillar of salt.[8]
Another accepted view in the Jewish exegesis of Genesis 19:26, is that when Lot's wife looked back, she turned to a pillar of salt upon the sight of God who was descending down to rain destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah.[4]
A Jewish legend gives one reason for Lot's wife looking back, and that was to check if her daughters, who were married to men of Sodom, were coming or not. Instead, she saw God descending in order to rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, the sight of God turned her into a pillar of salt.[4]
Another Jewish legend says that because Lot's wife sinned with salt, she was punished with salt. On the night the two angels visited Lot, he requested of his wife to prepare a feast for them. Not having any salt, Lot's wife asked of her neighbors for salt which so happened to alert them of the presence of their guests, resulting in the mob action that endangered Lot's family.[4]

Friday, March 21, 2014

Reaction to Beloved

I'd say Beloved is one of my top five favorite works we've read this year. I think the quality of Morrison's writing is enough to carry the novel alone. So many times when reading or during our dicussions I would just think "genius." Honestly, I feel like I'll need to read it at least 200 more times to pick up on all (or at least most) of the countless symbols, themes, and motifs. For me, every part of the novel told from Paul D's prospective or about Paul D's past were the most memorable. I still don't quite understand Paul D, or where he is I mean. I know his heart is a "tin can", but his actions say otherwise.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Importance of Names

Here's the symbolism of names within Beloved.

·       Baby Suggs
o   “Suggs is my name, sir. From my husband. He didn’t call me Jenny.”
“What he call you?”
“Baby.” (167)
o   After she was freed she took a name more personal to her.
o   Only thing she had left of her husband
·       Paul D Garner
o   “Shackled, walking through the perfumed things honeybees love, Paul D hears the men talking and for the first time learns his worth. He has always known, or believed he did, his value – as a hand, a laborer who could make profit on a farm – but now he discovers his worth, which is no way to say he learns his price. The dollar value of his weight, his strength, his heart, his brain, his penis, and his future.” (167)
o   The lack of identity
o   To whites, they are all the same
o   Their only importance is their monetary value
·       Halle
o   “God take what He would,’ She said. And He did, and He did, and He did and then gave her Halle who gave her freedom when it didn’t mean a thing. Sethe had the amazing luck of six whole years of marriage to that “somebody” son who fathered every one of her children. A blessing she was reckless enough to take for granted.” (28)
o   Halle could be seen to symbolize the word hallelujah.
o   Hallelujah conveys thanks for any blessing one might receive
o   I think Halle was a “hallelujah” to his mother and Sethe, because he not only bought his mother freedom, but also blessed his wife with having all her children by one man
·       Stamp Paid
o   “Born Joshua, he renamed himself when he handed over his wife to his master’s son. Handed her over in the sense that he did not kill anybody, thereby himself, because his wife demanded he stay alive.”(274)
o   Like Baby Suggs, Stamp Paid also created a new identity for himself
o   After giving his wife to his master, he figured his “stamp” was “paid.”
o   He paid for his journey to freedom through his wife
o   Morrison shows us how deeply slavery controls one’s sense of self
·       Denver
o   “She’s never gonna know who I am. You gonna tell her? Who brought her into this here world?” She lifted her chin, looked off into the place where the sun used to be. “You better tell her. You hear? Say Miss Amy Denver. Of Boston.” P. 100
o   Named after the last name of the whitegirl that helped deliver her
o   She was given an identity
·       Beloved
o   “They forgot her. Like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep. Occasionally, however, the rustle of a skirt hushes when they wake, and the knuckles brushing a cheek in sleep seem to belong to the sleeper. Sometimes the photograph of a close friend or relative – looked at too long – shifts, and something more familiar than the dear face itself moves there. They can touch it if they like, but don’t, because they know things will never be the same if they do.” (324)
o   She got her name from her tombstone
o   Her death was the result of her mothers love
o   It was the same mother that almost drove herself to death just to please her

o   In the end she doesn’t seem to be so “beloved” anymore, because she fades out of everyone’s memory just as quickly as she came in.

Slave Quilts

Here's an example of a slave quilt. I like how elaborate it is. It's interesting how creative the freed slaves were to come up with an idea like this. 


Since Ms. King said I could talk about twerking, I’ll take her up on that offer. For those of you who are not familiar with twerking, it is a dance form that basically involves shaking your (as Kincy would hate to put it) anus. You can either twerk while squatting or if you want to be adventurous, twerk with your legs thrown up on both walls. Recently, twerking has received a lot of attention from Miley Cyrus. Some people even credit Miley Cyrus for the invention of twerking. However, we all know that nothing Miley does is original. Now, I still think Miley knows how to entertain and can actually sing (if you don’t believe go watch her youtube video of her singing “Jolene”) but I don’t think she is that original. Everything she does has already been done by artist such as Madonna and Britney Spears. It’s a major misconception to think that Miley invented twerking. New Orleans is the true birth place of twerking. If you don’t believe me, go and watch “wally world” (filmed at the Walmart on Tchoupitoulas). Twerking arose in New Orleans in the early 90’s along with Bounce music. If you walk by Congo Square during Jazz Fest you can catch a glimpse at some twerking and listen to some Bounce music. During her concert earlier in the week, I was happy to hear Miley admit that she learned how to twerk while in New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

3 Fun Facts about Beloved

In 1987 Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize.

Beloved was made into a major film in 1998. Oprah Winfrey played Sethe and Thandie Newton played Beloved.

I came up with this one myself-
Toni Morrison earned an undergraduate degree in English at Howard University and later became and English teacher their. Maybe that is why she named one of Sethe's children Howard...?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jacques Lacan

Mrs. King mentioned Jacques Lacan's theory of the "mirror stage" in connection with Beloved. I don't know much about Lacan; however, I have read some articles about him and a lot of references to him.  The Mirror Stage is when, at around 18 months old, a child can begin to recognize herself or himself in the mirror, signaling, according to Lacan, the formulation of what the child thinks of as a separate, individual self.  In Beloved, of course, Toni Morrison writes a lot about identity, consciousness, and childhood.  However, what always strikes me in anything to do with Lacan is how much of a complete, barely disguised charlatan Lacan was.  Maybe my views should be taken with a grain of salt, since they are informed to a large extent by Alan Sokal (look up his paper "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", which is one of the most depressingly hilarious things I've ever read).  However, I think a lot of the problems with his work are just blatantly obvious: for one thing, despite his lack of any scientific background, he uses a veneer of technical terms in nonsensical ways; for example, he compares i, the square root of negative one, to the penis, and often claimed a medical degree of legitimacy to his therapy, without subjecting it to any scientific studies.  His writings is often criticized for being obscure to the point of meaningless.  He also cultivated a cult of personality in certain French academic fields wherein many academics took his writings as dogma.  Perhaps most undeniably and damningly, he was terribly unethical in his therapeutic practices: by the end of his career, he was charging for 50-minute sessions but spending only a few seconds with each patient, sometimes shouting incoherently at them or simply talking to them without listening as in traditional psychoanalysis.  While Lacan has some philosophical justification for this (namely, that it reminds the patient that the analyst can have control over the time as well), it is hard to imagine that it was actually helpful for the patients, and it did mean that Lacan had a very profitable and not at all time-consuming practice.

Trigger Warnings

Listening to the NPR program On the Media earlier today, I noticed that Things Fall Apart and Beloved were mentioned within a few words of one another.  The context was a report on "trigger warnings"--notifications, most common in feminist blogs, before potentially disturbing material that the material contains such-and-such type of disturbing thing; for example, "Trigger Warning: This content deals with homophobia and hate crimes."  The idea is to ensure that nobody suffers a traumatic memory upon reading the material, or making sure they avoid "trauma triggers." On the Media more or less always takes the stance that the media should be able to say anything worthwhile to as large an audience as possible, so they said that trauma triggers are unnecessary and counterproductive because they are intended to make people avoid material that might be outside their comfort zone (I definitely agree.)  Two examples they gave were Things Fall Apart and Beloved: Things Fall Apart because of the racism and colonial violence it portrays, and Beloved because of all sorts of sexual violence, racism, physical and emotional abuse, and so on.  Of course, there are no trigger warnings in these books, but the report said that the principle of trauma triggers seems to imply that works like these should be avoided by those who might find them unsettling, when in fact the entire purpose of them, and especially of Beloved, is to discomfit and disturb the reader.  PTSD, memories, and in fact "trauma triggers" are all salient in some form in Beloved, so I think that it is interesting that some people think that some of the people to whom Beloved is in fact most relevant should avoid it for that very reason.  I think the debate itself is even reflected in the book, with Sethe and Paul D often actively trying to forget their experiences, when in fact they cannot live worthwhile lives without accepting them.  It seems like Toni Morrison and On the Media were both essentially saying that it is worth the risk of offending somebody or "triggering" the recall of a traumatic memory to ensure that we can freely talk about potentially disturbing things.

"Pleasantly Haunted"

This is a NPR interview with Toni Morrison from 2011. She discusses her take on ghosts, as well as how her own experiences influenced her novels. Her take on spirits is definitely unique. She says, "I think of ghosts and haunting as just being alert. If you are really alert, you see the life that exists beyond the life on top." She also discusses how she never recognized how her own experiences had influenced her work. She actually says she's "loathes" people who ask if her characters represent her or her life. In fact, she had actually seen a ghost walking out of the Hudson River (5:30 on the interview). Ring a bell?

Friday, March 14, 2014


Lately, I've been acquiring a ridiculous amount of knowledge on government use of censorship in Lebanon (#MUN). Today, Ms. King mentioned how The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Beloved  have both previously been banned in the U.S. I thought I'd share some things that are currently banned in Lebanon and why. "Puss in Boots" is censored for being "obscene and immoral." For Lebanese audiences, the title was changed to "Cat in Boots." Ironically, I just typed "Puss in Boots" into Google and it's blocked at StM. Nirvana is banned for the reasons of "witchcraft, Satanic." "The Nanny" is also banned. The reason simply being "Jewish."

I would like to point out, however, Lebanon houses countless religiously, politically, and ethnically diverse communities within their borders. The government in Lebanon makes it one of their top priorities not to offend any of the groups. As you can imagine, it's a slippery slope.

And there is today's Lebanese current affairs breakdown.

Amityville Horror

The story line of the movie Amityville Horror with Ryan Reynolds that I talked about in class the other day reminds me a lot of the story line of beloved. The movie is based off of a true story in which a boy killed every member of his family. In the movie Ryan Reynolds and his new family move into a house and they find out that all the members of a family living previously in the house were murdered. The house is haunted and causes Ryan to try and kill the family. I won’t give away the ending, but many similar aspects of the movie remind me of “Beloved”. A parent figure tries to kill his or her kids. The house is haunted and terrorizes the family members. There is evidence of slavery and physical abuse in both. The ghost was a man who would torture his slaves.

For kicks and giggles I researched what supposedly happened the night of the crime in Amityville.   Here is a summary of what happened from

During the 2000 interview, the details of the hours leading up to the six killings emerged. The DeFeo household had been in a frenzied state during the evening of November 12, 1974. Butch's father, according to Butch, routinely abused his family. After that evening's tirade had settled down, Butch, his 18-year-old sister Dawn, and two of Butch's friends proceeded to get "high" in the basement.
Incensed that her father was preventing her from joining her boyfriend in Florida and worn out from the years of physical abuse, Dawn DeFeo approached her older brother about killing their parents. Butch initially refused. After a culmination of drugs, alcohol, and desperation over the next few hours, Butch finally gave into Dawn's ghoulish request. Employing his two friends, Butch and Dawn left the safety of the family's basement and headed for their parents' bedroom on the second floor. It was around 1:00 a.m. on November 13, 1974. While one friend waited as a lookout, the other, with his Colt Python, followed Butch, who had armed himself with a .35-Marlin rifle.
A votive candle burning on the father's dresser, the second-floor bathroom light, and a military-style flashlight that was later recovered by the police on the brown recliner in the hallway outside of the master bedroom was their only light source (See Crime-Scene Gallery).
The parents were attacked while they lay in bed. Mr. DeFeo, however, was able to struggle to his feet to attempt a counterattack on his assassins. A second bullet struck him dead before he was able to reach his target. Louise DeFeo lay in bed, moaning for help, as she slowly bled to death. A second bullet would silence the woman for good.
Although the original plan called for the younger children to be taken to the grandparents' house in Brooklyn, Dawn, according to Butch, killed them to eliminate the children as witnesses and potential threats. Butch claimed he was not in the house at the time of the children's murders, but giving pursuit to one his friends, who had fled the scene, in order to lure him back to assist with the cleanup. Even while feigning insanity at trial, Butch DeFeo never admitted shooting the children.
One can only imagine the horror on Marc's and John's faces when their big sister entered their room with a rifle. Dawn callously ordered the boys face down. A clue that the DeFeos were awake at the time of the murders rested in the final position of Marc DeFeo's body. Because Marc had suffered a debilitating injury from football, he was forced to sleep on his back. Yet, he was shot face down in bed. The prosecutor confirmed this fact at the DeFeo trial.
The next room Dawn entered was Allison's. Standing at the doorway, Dawn raised the rifle, taking aim as Allison slightly raised her head before looking into the muzzle flash. Death was instantaneous, as the bullet impacted Allison's left cheek and exited her right ear. Allison's wounds were meant to disfigure the beautiful girl.
Butch, upon his return and enraged at the senseless murder, confronted Dawn DeFeo in her third-floor bedroom. After briefly wrestling for the gun, Butch got the upper hand and slammed Dawn against the bed knocking her out. As she lie unconscious on her bed, Butch placed the back of the rifle to Dawn's head and fired. The murderous spree had finally ended, but the cleanup had just begun.
To me, the image of the tree on Sethe's back is the most shocking image in the novel. I keep imagining the scene in 12 Years a Slave when Solomon is forced to whip one of the female slave's back. To me, that was the most disturbing scene in the entire movie. It's hard to imagine a lifetime of such abuse. If anyone hasn't seen the movie, I recommend it. It was probably one of my favorite movies released this year. (along with Dallas Buyers Club).

The Color Purple

For my independent study project I chose The Color Purple.  I've seen the play once before and am now very excited to begin reading the novel. I think it will be interesting to read The Color Purple while we are studying Beloved. Both focus on African American women and the struggles they face in society due to the color of their skin. The novel initially takes place in Georgia and follows the life of an young girl, Celie, who is abused and raped by her father, Alphonso.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two Towels & Two Naked Frenchmen

So I was casually scrolling through Tumblr and happened across this masterpiece.
Anyone else think this needs to be in every art history book in the next 10 years?

Between Two Ferns

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, Zach Galifianakis "interviews" President Obama. It begins humorous as the two insult one another. However, it later turns into Obamacare propaganda, which I found a shame. I did appreciate the good humor throughout it. What do ya'll think? Is this video further evidence of Hollywood's liberal bias? If so, what's the point of comedy if it's deferential to authority? Or would you say it was all good fun, and not worth all the current hype?

"What should we do about North Ikea?"