Monday, August 31, 2015

The Lion King

WARNING: Do not read unless you want your childhood to be ruined.

Cheyenne's post about The Little Mermaid in connection with 100 Years got me thinking about another childhood movie we have all seen and loved that is related to the book. The Lion King. From class the other day, we were told that many myths begin with the breaking of a taboo- the taboo in 100 Years being incest. The Lion King is also full of it. The main characters of the movie, as the title suggests, is a pride of lions. A pride "consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males." Mufasa, king of the Pride Lands and Simba's father, is the clear alpha male, or the one who would impregnate all of the other lionesses. As a result, Sarafina, Nala's mother, would've had to have been impregnated by Mufasa if she was going to be a part of the pride. Therefore... Simba and Nala, the lovers of this wonderful production, are related (they are half-siblings) and their relationship is incestuous. Then they have a child. IT'S THE CIRCLE OF LIFE!!! (Cyclical repetition of names, personalities, events, lineage, in 100 Years, and the birth of same-family cubs in Lion King).
If you open the link, you may have missed it watching this movie as a child, but this is clearly a sex scene when Nala and Simba are grown up and reunited after they haven't seen each other for so long.


As we have discussed in class the last two times, Melquíades and the things that he brings with him to present to Macando act as a crash course in what has gone on in the world from all the way back in ancient greece, It serves as a microcosm of time and technological development. While the transition took the rest of the world many centuries, Macando goes through it in just a few years. In a parallel way, Macando also sort of serves as a microcosm for all of Latin America. This reminded me of school and how we learn of all the people and developments throughout history in about ten years of life. This relates back to how Macondo is like a child, who has to go to school and learn before it can graduate and make its own history. I though it was interesting to think of Macando itself as its own life - especially since we were comparing Jose blabalabla (1) to God, or the creator.

The Little Mermaid

Whenever someone says, or I read the name Ursula in 100 years of solitude, before I think of the character I instead think of the octopus-like sea witch from the little mermaid. Because of that, I tend to think of Ursula as a villain, even though she really isn't, and is a pretty strong female character in the novel, even though she does engage in some slight to moderate incest. She gives birth to three healthy children, and, out of care for them, is the one who is finally able to find the route out of Macando. Since I felt kind of bad for thinking of her as a villain, I decided to look up what her name really means and found that it derives from the latin "ursa" meaning she-bear ( also its biblical ). I thought this was interesting in that Ursula from the little Mermaid was ferocious like a bear, while Ursula from the story is not. But Ursula from the story is like a bear in her tenacity and the way she cares for her children. Just thought that was interesting/

Macondo vs. Eden

Something I find very interesting is just how much Marquez alludes to stories from the Bible in 100 Years. He uses so many of these allusions to make Macondo almost seem "Edenic."
1) Jose Arcadio Buendia (I'm going to refer to him as JAB) comes to the area that is Macondo and establishes a space for living like God created The Garden of Eden for human beings to inhabit
2) When we first learn about the community, it is very new and untouched by outside influences, also like The Garden of Eden. There is no government and everyone happily works together in this sort of utopia society.
3) JAB is even seen like some God-like or "Adam" figure. He has taken social initiative and everyone has followed him to found Macondo and they followed him again when he wanted to open a way to put the town into contact with inventions. 
4) In the beginning, Macondo is so young that there are no names for anything yet so they have to point to things, like Adam was designated to name all the creatures God had created
5) JAB and Ursula picked up everything and left their original site because of JAB's sinning so Prudencio Aguilar's ghost could rest, similar to how Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden 
6) The first two sons of Macondo, Jose Arcadio and Aureliano, are similar to Cain and Able, the first two sons of Eden
7) Ursula is really the one who opens up Macondo to the outside world. This begins the acts of replacing natural things with technology. Ursula could be compared to Eve this way. Eve opened the world up to death and suffering similar to how Ursula did the same thing. If Macondo was not exposed to the outside world, it would have turned out a very different place for everyone. 
8) Ursula and her creating candy animals is very Genesis
9) Death has never visited Macondo, nor did death visit Eden
10) Outside influences lead to Macondo's demise. The knowledge the Macondians gain from the gypsies and inventions is similar to the "forbidden knowledge" Adam and Eve acquired- this knowledge led to their expulsion from Paradise.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


In class, we talked about the differences between history and myth and how Marquez does and excellent job in blending the two.  Throughout One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez does this by revealing allusions to history through the Buendia family and Macondo to explain and interpret the vague history of Columbia and the South American coast. We defined myth as a story with a concern for explaining an origin, usually transmitted orally and changed over time. This myth based history of Macondo was probably not completely made up by Marquez.  In the video, the Marquez based Macondo as a generic city in Columbia on the water. There very well could have been a city and family, founded on incest that became mixed up in the banana company and the war of 1000 days, with a founder married to his cousin. This concept could have already been discussed or have gone way over my head but I just wanted to get that out there. 

Friday, August 28, 2015


Time is an interesting concept. The theme of time plays a major role in both of our summer reading books. Obviously, it is huge in 100 Years of Solitude as it is explicitly mentioned in the title and it is also very prevalent in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Distinct comparisons and contrasts of the use of time can be drawn from each novel. For example, the biggest thing is probably time's repeating aspects.

To name just a few more examples...

100 Years:
-the future, past, and present are all inter-dependent
-time seems to cycle within the Buendia family
      -repetition of names and personalities
-some characters come back after death, essentially repeating life (ex: Melquiades)
-disorientation of time
-stories told from memory mixed in with current time (...eternally confusing the reader)
-time once "forgotten" (insomnia plague)
-some characters live for over 100 years (ex: Ursula)

Unbearable Lightness:
-eternal recurrence= events are repeated ad infinitum; Kundera's disagreement= our lives happen only once
-"happiness is the longing for repetition"
-linear, cyclical, idyllic time
      -distinction between time for human beings and animals
            -animals, like Karenin, experience time cyclically and come into contact with the same routines every day
            -humans, like Tereza and Tomas, only live life linearly with no chance of going back
-time setting is known (1960s-1980s)

Jeremy Bentham

Mrs. Quinet told us quite an interesting story today in class last period that I thought I would share with those who could not attend. To quickly describe him, Jeremy Bentham was the founder of modern utilitarianism. Long story short, it is said that his head was frequently stolen by students from Kings College in London as a "prank." The myth states that they used his kidnapped head for an "impromptu game of football in the college quadrangle." Today, the head is kept in "special environmental conditions" in the Institute of Archeology.  

Creole in Louisiana

Friday in class we were trying to figure out what creole means to Louisianians. I looked it up because I was curious. Wikipedia says: "The term "creole" denotes a culture which embraces the influences of French, Spanish, African and Native American peoples in Louisiana." That makes sense considering the butchered definition we tried to give in class. We all thought that creole referred to people that are further south than we are. Creole people are just like their food, if you want to use a bit of imagination! When we think of creole food we think of all different blends of seafood and spices. Louisiana Creoles are a mix of cultures, or spices if you will, too! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Insomnia Plague

Before today I hadn't really thought about how distorted memory plays such a major role in One Hundred Years of Solitude. By distorted I mean that the memory is modified by a specific person in order for it to evoke the reaction one would hope for. Hearing actual history through different perspectives (various people's memories) really helps the reader to understand what was going on at the time in Latin America. Off the top of my head I can recall three times the theme of memory really stood out to me in the novel--the insomnia plague, the banana company massacre, and the very end of the novel when Aureliano finally finishes translating Melquiades's documents. When I first read about the insomnia plague, I probably took it too literally. I wondered how forgetfulness could be an infectious disease because of the way Marquez makes it sound so real. Marquez also mentions how people go weeks and months without sleeping because of the "disease," which in reality is impossible. This may be a stretch, but I now think that the insomnia plague is a representation of the beginning of Macondo. The inhabitants aren't necessarily forgetful. Rather, it is the beginning of a civilization and the people must practically re-learn the ways of life. They even have to label things in order to remember what to call them. This relates to the very first part of the novel when Marquez describes how the people of Macondo had to point to things in order to communicate. Also, the lack of sleep relates to the entire community's enthusiasm and motivation to finish establishing their new home. They did not give up, were relentless, and hardly took breaks until they were somewhat satisfied. This motivation specifically relates to Jose Arcadio Buendia. He was sort of the leading factor in deciding the ways of Macondo. However, when Melquiades arrives, Jose Arcadio Buendia looses interest in the village and becomes focused on modern inventions and life outside of Macando's reach. In a way, Melquiades halts the founding of Macondo just as he stops the plague by bringing a potion to the town. This episode (the plague) involving memory is very important to understanding the actual history of the founding of Macondo. Although Macondo was not a real civilization, I think this is a good example of how Marquez uses aspects of memory to portray greater concepts.


I was scrolling through Instagram and this showed up on my feed. Strangely, I was suddenly  reminded of kitsch. Kitsch, "the absolute denial of shit," is to completely ignore the bad traits of human existence. This post, similarly, is completely ignoring the hard work that body does to expel waste.  God created shit, in a physical sense, not as something to be disturbed by, but a natural bodily function. This post highlights humanity's negative perception of feces, whether personified or in a normal state. Kitsch, like shit, cannot and should not be overlooked, because the bad/gross/raunchy aspects of human behavior are just as much human, if not more definingly human, than any other positive quality in man.

(Note: I’m terribly sorry if this makes anyone grossed out or uncomfortable it was just meant to be funny and a pop-culture connection. Also, Ms. King/Mrs. Quinet, sorry if this was too unprofessional.)

The Surgeon

Something that popped into my mind while in class was the fact that Tomas's supposed reason for sleeping around with so many women is because he wants to find their unique quality. This fact is exemplified when he sleeps withe the "giraffe" woman. The woman is described as "Clumsiness combined with ardor, ardor with clumsiness-- they excited Tomas utterly"(Kundera 206). This combination of ardor with clumsiness what Tomas finds unique about this woman. What aggravates me is that Tereza does not seem to grasp that Tomas does see her with an "I." Tereza struggles with her body throughout the novel by representing it as a strong hold against her soul. The soul, being what makes her an "I," or an different from all other bodies. When Tereza first sleeps with Tomas she thinks that she has found the man who will separate her soul and body, but as soon as she is introduced to his womanizing she decides that he does not see her as an "I." This is not the case, because I believe, through the text of the book, that Tomas does see Tereza as an individual body. Also to mention that he loves Tereza and allows her to break his strict rules for sleeping around by allowing her to sleep next to him, making her more special than the other women.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Recently my friend, who we are going to call Sarah, was bullied by a boy who we are going to call Nick. Nick, who is very strong physically, was bullying Sarah, a very small, weak girl, one night. Nick looked to all of his friends for support while bullying Sarah, but Sarah was strong and defended her self! Nick showed his weakness by joining behind his phone screen. This reminded me of Franz and Sabina. Franz who is strong physically, like Nick, is actually weak, and Sabina who is weak physically, like Sarah, is actually strong. Sarah defended herself and stood her ground while Nick hid behind a phone screen and called on his friends for support like the scared little boy he is inside. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Expelled from Paradise

We brought up in class today the fact that animals were technically never "expelled" from Paradise so why should they die like humans do. This idea really stuck with me and made me question so many theories and concepts. Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise and were therefore exposed to suffering and death. Animals, though, were never directly involved in their wrongdoings. But note the fact that Charles Darwin explains in "The Descent of Man" that humans and apes share a common ancestor. I suppose this would mean, assuming one believes in the theory of evolution, that animals were, in some way, expelled from Paradise, too, and that is why they do die. I know Darwin's theory came much later than the creation of man, but applying it to this notion kind of justifies why animals experience death and sickness.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shes up all night to get lucky

I was just watching a show that had a character that reminded me a lot of Teresa. They both felt that they were too weak for the people around them and ran away - like Teresa did when she went back to Prague to be in the land of the weak where she thought that she belonged. When Teresa returned, she was alone, but then ended up back with the same person that she was with when she felt she needed to run away. While in the show, she ran away to find people who cared about her and made her feel loved. In the end, by having these people around her who cared for her and loved her for who she was gave her the strength to go back and face what she had originally run away from. But in Teresa's case, she did not have the luck of being in the presence of someone who would lift her up like she needed. So instead she continually got worse. But when she had the affair with the engineer, Teresa gained a strange source of confidence for a short time. I believe this was because she found someone who found her attractive, and in return, she started to see herself as attractive. But unfortunately, that experience lost its validity when she realized that it wasn't genuine.  I don't believe that Teresa was truly weak. She was strong enough to leave her mother behind and support herself through this huge transition. Instead, I think she became weak because of Tomas's negative effects. He made her feel unattractive an unimportant, and she soon embraced it. I don't see how anyone could have been strong while staying in that situation. Teresa needed someone else to see the good qualities in her so that she could see them in herself.  From thinking of it this way, I now see Teresa in a different light. If she would have fallen in love with someone else, as the book reveals could have easily happened by chance, then she could have become a completely different person who was stronger, lighter, and less reliant on others. All of the different scales that Kundera uses to compare characters in the novel could have been shifted. So really, Teresa was just unlucky,
So here I am on my way home from Saints game this Saturday evening, writing my last blog post of the week. Sitting in the back of my dad's car I am still trying to put my finger on Kundera's concept of lightness vs. weight. I understand the difference between the two, yet I have a hard time actually deciding which lifestyle is better. Take weight, it is actually the more practical side of the spectrum. to have weight means taking up responsibility for ones actions. It may by more practical, but seems to be a more stressful situations. Tereza, who is known to be heavy seems lost with the world. Tereza is so bogged down by weight she can't have a content life. So does that make lightness the better solution?  In Tomas'  life, he has always had to take less responsibility for his actions. It appears to me much more laid back and relaxed, this could make lightness the better form of life. But Tomas also appears to be lost with himself both sexually and his family relations. He is too light to have a strong relationship with his wife or son. So I guess the question that lightness and weight pose actually asks which form of misery would a person prefer.

Friday, August 21, 2015

*Sad Face*

While reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera wrote that happiness is repetition, when speaking of Karenin, the dog. These words have stuck with me. Kundera starts off by rejecting Nietzsche's philosophie of eternal return, saying that human lives are linear and do not repeat themselves for all of eternity, this Linear movement is what makes humans unbearably light or in my terms without purpose. Karenin, on the other hand, gets repetition in her life, Kundera says this gives a life heaviness or for me a purpose.
Karenin and all animals were not exiled from paradise, as Kundera puts it, "dogs were never expelled from Paradise. Karenin knew nothing about the duality of body and soul and had no concept of disgust"(Kundera 297). Previously Tereza has shown her strained attempts to separate her soul from her body by looking endlessly in the mirror.  Kundera says that Karenin does not have to struggle with this rumination of self.
Karenin gets what most humans search for all their lives, happiness, this is why I find what Kundera wrote so powerful. The only way to be happy is to not be human, because humans cannot live in the same circular patterns as animals do, how Karenin does in the novel or how paradise in Genesis was, any attempt would be futile. Humans can never be happy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"A picture is worth a thousand words"

So far this week we have discussed the dangers of “artistic expression” for those who produced films, literature, and art during the totalitarian regimen, but we have not yet discussed photography, and specifically Tereza’s in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Although Tereza is considered to be the most “fragile” in the book, I would like to point out her immense strength and bravery as she risked her life to take the pictures of the Russian soldiers, unafraid of the consequences. Kundera even goes as far as to say that these days “were the best of her life”. I believe that this is because her photography was her own personal form of “artistic expression”. When she was focused on capturing these historical images nothing else really mattered. An interesting quote I found by Hana Píchová says that Tereza “is motivated by a determination to preserve a fleeting moment of history and cultural memory”. I think that by capturing these ugly images of the Russian soldiers, she is highlighting the negativity of the regimen (which was exactly what the regimen was trying to suppress through its censorship). What do you guys think?

Czech Background

It's super interesting for me to learn about all of this Czech background in literature, film and politics  considering the Czech influence in my family. Although I don't actually have any Czech in my blood since my great-grandfather married into the family, I still find it to be a very important part of my life especially since that is the entire origin of my name. My great grandfather's last name was Belinsky in Czechoslovakia and when he came to America he dropped the "-sky". It was especially interesting finding an article about a literary critic, Vissarion Belinsky, while researching for this project. In a very distant way, he could very well be related to my great grandfather. To think that someone possibly related to me could have been a prominent literary figure in Czech during this time is amazing. It'd be truly great if my great-grandfather was still alive and I could've had a first hand account of some of these events. That would've added a whole other level to the classes research and insight.

Censorship in The Unbearable Lightness

I think the role that censorship plays in The Unbearable Lightness of Being is really interesting. The reader can understand censorship in two different ways through the characters of Tomas and Sabina. Tomas does not want to compromise just because of the rules of regime. He refuses to sign a statement in which he is asked to renounce what he had said in his article. He is proud of his publication and does not want the communists to gain the satisfaction of a "victory" over him. Later on, when he refuses to sign the petition, it is not because he no longer supports the cause, but because he wants to protect Tereza. Sabina takes a more indirect approach on her "rebellion." (Not that either one of them necessarily rebel against the regime, but they both have the motivation to refuse conformity to ideals they do not believe in). Sabina, rather than openly displaying her thoughts like Tomas, disguises them underneath what the communists would want to see (a sort of "Soviet propaganda" like in the films of the Stalinist era). Although both of these characters stand up for their own beliefs in different ways, they both represent Czech society in times of censorship. As we learned today about film and literature, authors and directors employed samizdat writing and complex subject matters in film in order to strategically avoid censorship laws. The rest of the population advocated for these sorts of freedom of expression and supported writers, directors, artists, and anyone else who could voice such views. And so, Tomas and Sabina, through their two different ways of approaching censorship restrictions, represent the entire community who desire to live in freedom and not be held back by the overwhelming presence of communist values.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The reader knows that Kundera rejects Nietzsche's myth from the very beginning. This being said, I believe Kundera is somewhat of a hypocrite. Kundera uses the characters to explore the different paths he could have or might have taken as well as the different possibilities he could have realized- it is an experiment of some sorts. There are several instances of repetition throughout the novel; for example, Part 1 and Part 2 basically tell the same story but from a different narrative perspective.The same patterns such as these are recurring, forcing the idea and presence of eternal recurrence upon us. Like Ms. King said, Kundera has the advantage of recreating different possibilities with these characters through the repetition of their stories. Therefore, if Kundera really disagreed with Nietzsche so much, why would he constantly write about such repeated stories and patterns? If things in our lives really happened only one time as Kundera wants the reader to believe, wouldn't he have just written the story only one time?

I might be totally missing the point here, but that's my two cents on the matter.
The idea of eternal recurrence is fascinating. It seems logical that in an infinite span of time - with finite amount of ways for matter to exist and for actions to take place - anything that has happened will happen again, in the same chronological order. However, I don't think that this is necessarily good or bad news, or that it makes our lives any more or less meaningful. Even if our lives will be relived some time bazillions of years from now, there doesn't seem to be a reason to believe that our consciousness will accompany the new bodies that look exactly like us, or even exist at all (from a non-religious point of view). Of course, it is silly to read too much into such a metaphysical concept with the intention of proving it with tangible facts, but even if eternal recurrence is taking place in the universe, we would only live once anyways, for that it is not the material that builds our bodies or the chemical activities that make up our thoughts that matters, but the consciousness or "soul" so to speak.

Sabina's Art

Sabina describes her life as a series of betrayals and her art is no exception. Sabina is painting at a time of extreme government censorship over both art and speech. The only form of art accepted at this time was “the strictest realism” which consisted of paintings most closely representing every day life with no paranormal or mysterious elements to them. Sabina, on the other hand, becomes inspired when a drop of red paint falls on one of her paintings, and begins a series of paintings called “Behind the Scenes”. Kundera explains, “On the surface, there was always an impeccably realistic world, but underneath, behind the backdrop’s cracked canvas, lurked something different, something mysterious or abstract.” (63) Sabina's paintings consisted of things we may see everyday, such as buildings or landscapes, with something mysterious and incomprehensible underneath. This is the opposite of what was acceptable art at the time as the communist regimen did not want what was “behind the scenes” or in the cracks to show through.
As I thought more about Sabina's paintings I wanted to find an example of what they may have looked like. While searching for paintings I came across some interesting images of street art. Although these images are not paintings, I felt that they captured the same idea that Sabina’s paintings would have. The world as we see it on the surface, with something mysterious underneath. These images helped me to better visualize the two themes or two worlds Sabina’s paintings would have depicted, which is why I thought that I would share them with y'all. 


What happens only once?

Today in class we talked about Kundera's denial of eternal recurrence and the idea that "what has happened only once might as well not have happened at all." Within those limits, I somewhat agree, but at the same time, even if there is no eternal recurrence, who is to say that each occurrence really does only happen once?  Even if it is only one action, occurring at one time, does it not occur to all the people involved as separate occurrences? Each person perceives that moment differently and it is recorded into all of their minds.So then, should its weight be measured by how many people experienced it? That occurrence still has no effect in the big picture. But another thought occurred to me, I have often heard my teachers say "history repeats itself." The world almost works in cycles of peace and war, internal and external strife. So towards which side of the argument does that point? The side that none of those instances mattered, that they happened similarly just by chance, or some deep seeded algorithm for humanity, or- have those occurrences influenced us in someway, have we learned from those mistakes, or are we attempting to improve upon events of the past? If the latter is true, do these occurrences only hold weight if they are recorded, or referenced to make choices in the future? After thinking this through I decided that I do believe in eternal recurrence. That each instant recurs to affect another, and by that, lives on to affect the next and the next. Each instance holds its own individual weight, and it moves through time collecting more weight with each choice it affects. Because if these occurrences were weightless, and our lives are simply collections of that around us, then we too  would be weightless. That is something I cannot believe; for my body, thoughts, dreams, choices, and sometimes my eyelids, feel far too heavy to be weightless.


Kundera opens the novel discussing Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence. As I said in class today, Kundera is concerned with the idea that humans only get one chance in life and we don’t have the ability to go back and edit our decisions, suggesting that human existence doesn’t matter in the end. Kundera writes, “If we have only one life to live, we might as well have not lived at all.” I disagree with this statement. If we believe in eternal return, life is "heavy" because knowing that we will not come again makes our lightness unbearable-- but why does it have to be this way? Why would this knowledge afflict us so negatively? If we know we are going to die eventually and won't have the chance to be a part of something again, why not make the most out of the life you are currently experiencing? As the musical artist Drake so famously said, "You only live once." Wouldn't you appreciate your life even more if you were told tomorrow you would never live your life how it is again? Life is what you make it, so instead of wallowing in the unbearableness, you should embrace the knowledge of imminent death and live life to the fullest every day. What do y'all think?