Thursday, May 4, 2017

Beloved and Invisible Man

In Beloved, Toni Morrison sends a message to the African-American community to not allow the events of the past to restrict their future. Beloved's character represents a collective past of the "60 million plus more" that have suffered through the inhumane treatment in slavery. In my independent study book, Invisible Man, it seems that the narrator's struggle to achieve a bright future is not under his own control. It is not as simple as avoiding the past. Everywhere the narrator turns it seems that whites are still looking to take advantage of him. He is taken advantage of by being having to partake in a Battle Royal where he fights other black men for a chance to win money and give his speech to earn a scholarship. He ends up being able to give his speech, but the white men do not listen unless it is to correct him on belief in equality. Throughout the novel, the author Ralph Ellison makes it clear that whites view the blacks as more of a tool than human beings. Morrison also portrays this viewpoint when schoolteacher and the other white men witness the infanticide, instead of thinking of the horror of killing a child, they think of their "damaged property." Sethe never truly plans for a future, until she sheds the events of her past. In Invisible Man, the narrator is fighting more than just his past, but the power of the whites. Ellison focuses more on a general, national level of success, while Morrison portrays success on more of a personal level.

A reflection on the year

Overall, I really enjoyed this course. The novels we read were interesting and I feel like I will remember them for a long time. My favorites were Unbearable Lightness and Dante's Inferno. ULOB really made you think about the person you are. Dante was cool to read because it included bad people of his time. I also liked being able to create my own Hell. Of course, I can't forget HamLIT and "I am slain." I also can't forget about INCEST!!!! Not many of the books we read 2nd semester had any incest, which is kind of disappointing. And then there is, of course, art. I have actually seen some of the art we studied out in the real world. My favorite is the one that looks like Nicki Minaj and "Persistence of Memory." I'm sure there is some things I am forgetting (like Santa Pants). I'm going to miss our stressed-out study sessions at Joseph's house with meatballs. Cant wait to go to Bay St. Louis with y'all! Thank you Ms. King and Mrs. Quinet!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

chromatic abstraction

Personally, I am not a fan of artists such as Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. For example, Rothko's Green and Maroon is just two solid colors and a small stripe in between. As a viewer of this art, I get no satisfaction or deeper meaning that I feel inclined to interpret in order to enjoy the piece. The hues in this piece are intended to bring the shapes to life, but in an art exhibit, I probably not look at this piece for more that a few seconds, if that. Barnett Newman also operates his works in this way. For example, his Vir Heroicus Sublimis is a red hue with a few interrupting lines called zips in there. I do not see the creative expression and artistic ability required for these works, even if they are statements in order to stretch the definitions of art.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Earth Art

I think earth art was extremely interesting. Earth art was a unique and unconventional form of displaying art in a natural setting. Smith son and Guillbon both use landscapes, rocks, and environmental aspects to display art in outdoor settings.

Did R+G have a choice?

Not only can we ask ourselves this question about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's role in the failed trap against Hamlet that leads to their death, but it is also a question that they ask themselves multiple times. For instance, after they realize that they are on the boat heading to their death, they debate if they ever had a choice not to follow the messenger's call. They conclude that there must have been a moment when they could have said no. Even when they are on the boat, they could have left and fled, but instead they carry out the modified letter, even though it announces their death. Rosencrantz still cannot make his own decision and simply lets fate guide them, regardless of if he will die or not. Therefore, they had a choice, but their choices would not have changed anything because they still must follow the script of Hamlet.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Movie version

The actual act of watching the play made it a lot less confusing for me. Because it is a play, it is meant to be seen, not to be just read. The movie seemed to add more aspects of scientific inquisition, such as the hanging pots as Newton's cradle and an apple falling from a tree. I think that this added to the visual sense of how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are lost and try to find meaning and direction in their lives. Another interesting aspect in the movie version are the papers blowing across many scenes. The papers represent the script, but it could be either the script of Hamlet or of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I think it makes more sense that it would be the script of Hamlet, because Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are obviously restricted by the original script of Shakespeare's play.

Friday, April 28, 2017

R & G

I thought Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was very interesting, and very different from any play I've ever read. Before reading the play I was curious as to how a whole play was written based off of two extremely minor characters from another play. Stoppard masterfully structured the play to portray the two characters who exist simply through what is written about them in Hamlet. Overall, it is an interesting and effective way to comment on existentialism by Stoppard. R & G spend the whole play searching for meaning which they never find. Stoppard seems to also be saying that humans push forward to death, trying to give themselves meaning before it comes, but do have no right to be afraid of death, as no living person knows what it entails.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Media Art

I think that the art pieces I covered in this unit resonated a lot more with me than past units. The critiques of the way mass media affects society are very much still relevant today. For example, the feminist arguments that many of the pieces provide still provide great commentary today. Other pieces, like the Barbara Kruger piece included in this post, are very good critiques of consumer society and are still very relevant today.Image result for i shop therefore i am

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pop Art

In the unit of Post-Modern Art, Pop Art seemed stray the most from traditional art and those pieces from Modern Art. Pop artists often would just reconstruct something from pop culture, or even arrange basic objects into art. Pop Art was defined by Richard Hamilton as being popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, youthful, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and the product of big business. It surrounded pop culture and was a critique on commercialism and mass production. It proved how infatuated people were with celebrities and mass produced items. Andy Warhol was known as the leader of the movement for his paintings of items such as coke bottles and Campbell Soup Cans.

Post-modernism

Post-modernism differs from modernism in that it satirizes the seriousness of modernism by making use of irony. Modernism was more of a time for worshiping elite culture and acting superior and refined. Post-modernism was a reaction to this elitism and was enhanced by a more far-reaching media platform. It also carries a need for the viewer to interpret what the subject makes them feel and draw their own conclusions that differ from the ideas of others. It is less of the modernist belief in rationality and intellectualism and more of a satirical view of society.

The Age of the Skyscraper

As skyscrapers became more prevalent in cities around the world, architects sought out ways to make them stand out from other skyscrapers, while at the same time maintaining functionality. A building that is so high must has a certain amount of adherence to code and regulations, so architects were often limited in their ideas. Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright used angled exteriors to allow rooms to be less uniformed and confined. Also, the Seagram Building, built by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson is unique because it has an open bottom level and is basically on stilts. Therefore, you can walk completely under the building and it is more aesthetically pleasing and even has space for some gardens. The invention of ferroconcrete, concrete strengthened by wire and iron, allowed building to have more shape and protruding elements.

~Art~

I liked the art for this unit. It was fairly recent and I recognized a lot of the pieces I saw. I really enjoyed Persistence of Memory by Dali. I see that painting everywhere. It's very interesting. It's kind of dream like. It has some optical illusions too. I also like Pop art, which is still relevant today.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Independent Study

I hope y'all enjoyed your independent study books. I honestly couldn't put mine down, I enjoyed it so much. I spent all my time backstage during the play reading it. The thing I liked most about it was that the world the novel takes place in is just as interesting as the plot itself. The characters were all likable, and there were several twists that I just didn't see coming; it was very suspenseful at points. This is honestly the best book I have ever read. I hope y'all had a similar experience.

Causes of existentialism

The existential belief came to fruition during WWII because of a disenchantment with the way things were because of harsh conditions and high death rates. France did not incur these conditions as prevalently as other countries because they did not put up much of a fight and simply let themselves be occupied. French citizens felt weak because of their country's decision, which developed into a strong form of existentialism.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Beauvoir and Sartre

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre have a unique relationship in that they share similar existential beliefs. They were also soulmates and intellectual partners. Therefore, they shared the same existentialist belief that females are forced to lie because society makes them do so. This allowed their relationship to be more open and very different from other relationships at that time. It is interesting that these two people that share the same beliefs are actually an example that helps prove their point.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Exits and Choice

At one point in No Exit, Garcin bangs on the door and it opens up to him, but neither he, Estelle, or Inez make any effort to leave. Just a moment before, Garcin said that he would endure any physical torture if he could escape the mental agony cause by being alone in the room with the two women, but he proves himself wrong by not acting. Instead, he says that he wants to stay in order to convince Inez that he is not a coward and that his sin was unjust. This would go against the existentialist belief that we make our own choices and are defined by how we act because he is trying to put the blame on someone other than himself. Therefore, he is living in bad faith, just like Inez and Estelle. I think that since they somewhat know each other, they would rather be together in the room for eternity than venture out into the unknown of hell. It is clear that even in hell, they had a choice of whether or not to leave, and most likely decided upon the cowardly choice.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It was not a story to pass on

Toni Morrison ends Beloved in a very interesting way. On the last page, she repeats the phrase "It was not a story to pass on" twice and separates it by spacing it out of the paragraph. I like how this double meaning can signify two opposite things. Does Morrison wants us to not pass on the story of Beloved and the suffering of the collective African-Americans? Certainly not, instead, we must read it as "it was not a story to pass on," as in everyone should read it. We can easily see how passing on in terms of distributing the story of Beloved might be undesirable because of the supernatural and unfair consequences brought about by slavery, but I think that Morrison wants us the remember the sufferings of the slaves and learn from the past instead of forgetting it.

Beloved and things fall apart

Beloved and Things Fall Apart are visibly connected in the way that they include the past culture of African society. Beloved does so in a more reminiscent form, where as Things Fall Apart utilizes first hand details and the lead up to the arrival of colonial imperialism and the subsequent activity of slavery. To me, the concept of the ogbanje is most directly linked to the two. One of Okonkwo's wife's, Ekwefi, is cursed by an ogbanje. In Beloved, Sethe can be interpreted to be plagued by an ogbanje because of Beloved, who seemingly comes back from the dead. This goes to show that after becoming free in the United States, African-Americans still relied heavily on their past culture.

catch 22

For my independent study book, I am in the process of reading Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. This book is unique in that it not only constantly critiques war society, but also does so in an unconventional method. Many conversations between characters have a cyclical pattern and are very repetitive. Characters seemingly change opinion and perspective midway through the conversation. Most likely, the opposite of what you would be believed to expect happens. This reoccurring theme enhances the critique of war because it proves the inevitability and uselessness of war.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Levi Coffin

Without amazing people like Levi Coffin along the underground railroad, there's no way it would have been as successful as it was. Levi Coffin is a really good example. He was a white abolitionist in Newport, Indiana who dedicated his life to the movement of escaped slaves along the underground railroad. He helped over three thousand directly, but beyond that he also was influential in the escape of thousands of others. He provided resources to other guides so they could help people along the path to freedom.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Janey

Upon first reading Beloved, I did not make the connection between the Bodwin's housekeeper Janey and the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. On first impression, it was just a normal name that was decided upon by the author's choice. Now, I am aware of the significance of the name in relation to Morrison's purpose of the novel, which is most likely interpreted as civil rights and issues of the post-war era. Many remnants of these racial issues are still seen today, so this topic is certainly relevant to today's readers. This hidden meaning can have some comparison to the hidden signals that slaves used to communicate with each other in order to plan escapes. I think that by adding the aspect of this name, Morrison has included another dimension of her already intricate novel that makes us think in more detail about her intentions.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Paul D and Stamp Paid's Community

Paul D leaves 124 because Stamp Paid tells him the story of how Sethe killed Beloved and tried to kill her other children. Afterwards, we find out that Paul D  has been staying in the basement of the Church of the Holy Redeemer. When Stamp Paid learns of this, he is offended that no one from the community has offered to help him and bring him into their own homes. In reality, the preacher had offered Paul D his help, but Paul D wanted to stay in the church. Stamp Paid offers the hospitality of himself and his whole community to Paul D. I believe he offers this because he feels guilty that he told Paul D about Sethe's past without thinking about the effect it would have on Paul D and Sethe. Also, the importance of the tight-knit community that helps out each other is clearly seen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Escape Plans

It is interesting to see the various codes and secret signals that slaves created in order to communicate escape plans. Some strategies, like the quilt code, seem more elaborate but less likely of being discovered by whites and slaveowners. The quilt code would be a great way to relay directions, except it is harder to make a quilt than say sing a song, and the slaves have to be able to decode the quilt. Song seems to me the easiest way to communicate plans, but some of the songs seem like they'd be easily figured out by whites. Some of the lyrics are somewhat obvious and could have made whites suspicious of slaves running away. For example, "Follow the Drinking Gourd" clearly implies directions. It is still amazing to see how effective these songs were  in helping many slaves run away to freedom. I wonder how many whites did not pick up on these songs, maybe they were not paying attention or were not around when they were sung. The slaves seemed to be very strategical in how they formed escaped plans and how they communicated directions to other slaves.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Was Stamp Paid right?

Stamp paid tells Paul D about the event in which Sethe killed beloved and severely injured her other children. He even provides a newspaper clipping to prove his story. Upon hearing of this, Paul D leaves Sethe, comparing her to an animal with the line, "you've got two legs, not four." Later on, Stamp paid feels guilty for causing Paul D to leave, but is he in the wrong? While telling the truth did have bad repercussions for Sethe and Denver, whom Stamp Paid is very close to because of his link with Baby Suggs, but isn't it also important that Paul D knows the truth before he starts a family with Sethe. I don't think there's a right answer here, what do y'all think?

Welcome to the Jungle: we got slavery and death

I think that the metaphor of the jungle in order to compare the whites' view of blacks and how it affects the whites is very appropriate. This shows how despite what black people did in order to prove that they were human, whites only saw them as more and more animalistic and thought that they needed slavery to keep blacks in check. By tangling up the jungle, the whites had actually let the jungle spread inside of them and change them into more violent people than even they wanted to be. The jungle imagery also draws the link between humanity and animals, which is another major theme.

Spirits

The voices that Stamp Paid here's when he tries to knock on Sethe's door represent all of the dead blacks who have suffered and were not permitted to have livable lives because of slavery. Stamp Paid remarks how Baby Suggs is a rarity because she dies in bed and was free, but she did not even have a livable life due to Halle's disappearance and Sethe's somewhat successful murder of her own children. Even the most educated, well-mannerred blacks suffered the same fate in the long run. This is the same way that Baby Suggs felt after she tried her hardest, but the whites still came into her yard.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beloved is Mine

One of the most important themes in Beloved by Toni Morrison is the wrongness of people possessing other people. Therefore, there are many references to possession in more ways that just the most evident example of slavery. For instance, in the love triangle between Beloved, Sethe, and Denver, Denver feels she possesses Beloved, but Beloved feels that she is controlled by Sethe. When Paul D debates whether to knock on their door or not, he hears the hasty voices of what we later know are dead slaves and other African-Americans who have suffered. The only word that he can distinguish is "mine" which obviously shows possession and proves that these voices are blacks who have suffered because they were bought and sold through slavery.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On Beloved Being the Baby Ghost

Honestly, with the evidence we are presented in the novel, it could go either way. Of course the name would lead us to believe that she is, but it goes a lot deeper than that. If we are looking at this from a completely realistic point of view she cant be the original Beloved, because dead things just can't come back to life. On the other hand, there is definitely something supernatural going on here. We see Sethe peeing as if her water had broken when Beloved appears. Beloved shows superhuman strength and seemed to pop up seemingly out of nowhere. On the other hand, her past could be explained by her being kept in captivity. At this point, with the evidence we have been presented, it seems more like its up to the reader to interpret just who beloved is.

Halle

A lot of y'all seemed to think Halle was kind of a scumbag for not following Halle. I can see where your'e coming from, but I have to disagree. Put yourself in Halle's shoes for a second. I know he has obviously caused Sethe great pain, but that's not necessarily his fault. Running away was a very hard thing for slaves to do, and could EASILY result in death. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Also, I don't know how many of y'all remember the PTSD project we did last year, but PTSD also applies to those who witness a traumatic event, especially when it involves a spouse or a family member. So it is very likely that Halle could have developed severe psychological problems from seeing that happen to Sethe. Obviously Sethe's experience was much more traumatic, but they are two different people with two different minds, and we have witnessed firsthand how mentally strong Sethe is. It is unfair to judge them in the same way.

Confused about Beloved

So I am believe that Beloved is definitely the reincarnation/embodiment of the Baby Ghost. Her description makes her seem like a baby, which makes sense because she didn't have time to grow up. However, if she's been dead all these years and hasn't experience anything, how does she know what sex is? And why does she feel the need to steal her mom's man to get it? Why does Paul D feel its ok to sleep with his lover's "dead" child?

Beloved and Denver

Denver feels a maternal connection to Beloved, but Beloved mostly only cares about Sethe. Denver would do almost anything for Beloved because Denver has been lonely all this time and because she is possessive to the point of obsession in regards to Beloved. Therefore, when Beloved momentarily disappears into thin air in the cold house, Denver freaks out because it is almost like she has lost her self. Denver has committed herself to caring for Beloved's needs to the point that she has lost her own identity. Instead of Denver possessing Beloved, it is quite the opposite in this part of the novel. This development is evident because instead of doing whatever Denver tells Beloved, she starts to argue with Denver and says that Denver cannot control her. Therefore, Denver has lost her power in the situation has lost her self by association.

Tired of Running

Early on, when Denver suggests moving away from 124 to escape their isolation caused by the Baby Ghost and Sethe's reputation, Sethe says she is tired of running. Through flashbacks, we see all the running that Sethe and later Paul D went through to gain their freedom. Sethe almost died in her escape from Sweet Home as she was exhausted from walking while very pregnant. Sethe probably would not have made it if it weren't for Amy Denver. Paul D narrowly escaped jail with the other prisoners due to a miracle of constant rain. Without the help of the Cherokees he runs in to, Paul D probably would have never survived to make it to 124 either. These two have been through so much, being a slave on Sweet Home and their lives after, that 124 is a point where they can actually feel safe for once. Denver does not understand the pain that her mother has been through, and to Sethe, the Baby Ghost is nothing compared to her journey to get to this point.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Beloved's Plans

When Denver saw the white dress with its arm around Sethe, she thought it must mean that the Baby Ghost had plans. After Paul D got rid of the Baby Ghost, it never returned, except Beloved arrived. It is clear that Beloved is a human embodiment of the Baby Ghost, even though Denver is the only one who realizes this. However, so far it is unclear really what Beloved's plans are. She has shown that she hates Paul D, possibly because he rid the house of her presence. Beloved starts moving where Paul D sleeps, and eventually forces him to have sex with her, which opens up his "tin can" of a heart, exposing the "red heart" inside. While it is not clear what her full intentions are, Beloved has begun to effect and control Paul D. Beloved also appears to love and obsess over Sethe, but at the clearing it is suspicious that she could have been the one choking Sethe. It is interesting because Sethe is believed to have murdered the baby by cutting its throat. Beloved has made herself a part of 124, as she was before in the form of the Baby Ghost, and no one seems to suspicious of her actions. Denver is the only one who realizes she is the Baby Ghost, but would do anything to keep her around. It is unclear of Beloved's plans so far, but Paul D and Sethe may be in trouble.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Fall

As we discussed, Okonkwo is the protagonist of Things Fall Apart who is driven by fear. He fears that people will think of him as weak and thereby equate him to his lazy father. He also worries that his sons will turn out "feminine" just look his father. When the British come in the picture, they start peacefully and pretend they only wish to help the natives. However, they slowly dominate the land by incorporating churches, schools, hospitals, and a trading post. This causes the tribe to be broken up because many decide to participate in British affairs. The British aid in all of Okonkwo's worst fears coming true. They are the ones who drive an already disillusioned Nwoye out of his tribe by presenting Christianity to him thereby making him leave his tribe. Also, Okonkwo is disturbed that his kinsman refuse to fight the invaders and he kills himself as a result. He can not handle the lack of masculinity among his own people especially his son and he sees no alternative. In this way he ends up just like his father, in the Evil Forest and his life work all amounts to nothing in the end.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Appeal of Chistianity

The central theme of Things Fall Apart is the impact of Christianity and why it was effective in converting the indigenous of Africa, especially centered around the Igbo culture. The most detailed example given by Achebe is Okonkwo's son, Nwoye. Nwoye converts mainly because he does not understand why the twins that he saw in the forest must die. Also, he is greatly hurt by the murder of Ikemefuna. Both of these were because of the traditional gods of the Igbo. Instead, Nwoye is attracted to Christianity because the Christian God is a more forgiving god than the Igbo gods, who are feared by all. Nwoye, is not attracted by the logic of Christianity because concepts such as the Holy Trinity are hard to understand. Instead, he is attracted by parts such as the music and acceptance because he feels the deaths of the twins and Ikemefuna were unnecessary. Others converted to Christianity because it offered hope for improvement of the future through better education and advanced medicine.

Akunna Matata

When the British first come to Umuofia, Mr. Brown is the priest who tries to convert the indigenous. Mr. Brown is very considerate and tries to immerse himself in the Igbo culture and values. He often visits Akunna, one of the leaders of the clan, and holds discussion centered around each religion. Mr. Brown is civil in his approach and attempts to learn the Igbo beliefs and use them to help convert the indigenous. Mr. Brown is respectful and avoids conflict by reaching out to Akunna and building a relationship. Mr. Smith, the priest who replaces Mr. Brown, is the complete opposite. Achebe uses the names to symbolize race, Brown representing someone more accepting of the African people and Smith, a common white name, to represent someone strict to British beliefs and white supremacy. Mr. Smith kicks out some converts for minor offenses and rules with a heavy hand. He views the indigenous as inferior and in need of the British as the only way to progress their civilization. Achebe juxtaposes the two characters, Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith,  to show how the British should go about trying to convert people, versus how they actually did.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

RIP Okonkwo

Okonkwo's whole life revolves around trying to be nothing like his father. His father was lazy, in debt, and died a disgraceful, "feminine" death. Okonkwo is strong, hardworking, and aggressive. He build up a reputation as a well-respected and intimidating leader of the clan. However, things fall apart for Okonkwo as a result of the British. He wants to go to war with them, but the rest of the clan is hesitant. Okonkwo is pushed to the limit and kills one of the District Commissioner's messengers, but non of the clan responds or rallies around him. Okonkwo chooses to kill himself, dying a "feminine" death just like his father. Okonkwo represents strict traditional values of Igbo culture, and the British break him down just like they do the culture.

Allusions to the Europeans

We learned about many allusions to the European conquest of Africa in this unit. The Man and the Elephant is an allegory for the European invasion. A man (the natives) keeps building huts, but the Kings of the Jungle (the Europeans) keep taking them. Finally the man burns them all. Also, in Things Fall Apart, there is a locusts swarm. But I didn't understand why the people were happy about it. Why would the natives rejoice if the locusts are supposed to represent the Europeans?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

That Ending though

Achebe ends his book in a strange way. The entire book is from the prospective of the native, but the last paragraph is from the prospective of the District Commissioner. He is going to right a book about the conquest of Africa called The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. He is going to include a paragraph about Okonkwo. This is weird because the whole book is about Okonkwo, and the commissioner is going to cut it to a single paragraph. This completely cuts out everything about the Igbo culture and their feelings about the Europeans.

Women in Africa

Women in the African tribes were very disrespected. Okonkwo even wishes his daughters were sons because males are more valuable. It was common practice for wives to be beat. A man's wife ran away to avoid being beaten, so he brought his case in front of the egwugwu. He thought it was totally unreasonable for her to run away. He didn't even want her back; he just wanted the bride price. The egwugwu said the woman must go back to her husband, but that he cannot beat her. The townspeople were shocked that such an "insignificant" matter came in front of the egwugwu.

Friday, February 17, 2017

colonialism

Image result for europeans as bad in africaDid European missionaries and colonists in Africa really believe that everything they did really was for the benefit of the natives of Africa? During the late 19th century and early 20th century, all of the major powers of Africa fought to control it for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the different groups in Africa. At this time period, it is easily discernible how the varied African cultures would seem inferior and primitive compared to the industrial and technological conditions in Europe. The European's did not see major aspects of their society such as these factories, they saw the agricultural techniques of Africa as very inefficient, they did not see much of a written language, and to top it off, the African culture as a whole was completely different to what most Europeans had ever seen. Countries such as Great Britain felt that they were even more superior because they had recently abolished slavery, and there was very evident examples of slavery in Africa. What the Europeans did not understand is that all aspects of the different African societies had their own rules and civilized basis for these practices that Europeans saw as arcane and savage. For example, only prisoners of war and criminals were taken as slaves in some places, and slaves had normal rights and could even have their own slaves under them. The Europeans did not delve deep enough into the culture of Africa, and simply judged it based on first impression and said it was wrong because it was different. 

Achebe's intentions

Okonkwo's personality traits provide an almost counter-intuitive view to what we believe are Achebe's intentions in Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo is somewhat of a bad role model if Achebe tries to paint his people as civilized contrary to what the Europeans have written about them. Instead, the character of Okonkwo is used to prove that some people are traditional and brutal somewhat like the stereotype, but most of the natives disapprove with his actions. Therefore, the interactions between Okonkwo and his peers are most important. If Achebe writes in English with the purpose of tailoring to both European audiences and also the young in his country, then the inclusion of flaws in his society not only makes his account seem more realistic, but could be a way that he can improve the future by influencing the young readers of his country.

Picasso predicted the future

i was looking at Les Demaiselles D'Avignon and noticed something familiar. In the bottom right hand corner, there is a woman squatting. This woman bears a striking resemblance to Nicki Minsk's Anaconda album cover. I have censored the album for decency purposes, but I think they are almost identical. Even the facial expression is somewhat the same. See for yourself.


Hindu

I really like the Hindu scripture we've learned. Hindu has always fascinated me. Its a very peaceful religion with a concrete way of reaching paradise when you die. I like that they have many gods but they are all a part of Brahman. They believe in the soul and reincarnation. However, I don't like that they let their religion define their caste system. I believe in full separation of Church and State, probably because I am American.

Friday, February 10, 2017

transformation is reincarnation

The idea of eternal life through reincarnation is very prevalent in Eliot's The Waste Land. Reincarnation relates to the Biblical concept of Heaven and other religious concepts of afterlife. It also involves the fertility of the land because of the hope that the land will be restored to its previous fertile state. The inclusion of Tiresias relates to the idea of transformation because he was turned into a woman and then back into a man. This state of being in between a man and a woman is very similar to the in between state of Purgatory. Transition as it relates to Eliot's time period and background frequently comes up in Eliot's allusions. Therefore, transformation and reincarnation go together to prove Eliot's criticisms of the time.

Water is life

T.S. Eliot uses water as a symbol for life and rebirth throughout The Waste Land. It makes sense because for one water is necessary for life, but also baptism, a form of  "rebirth", includes someone being washed with water. Eliot's "waste land" is barren, having no water, and is therefore lacking in life and also spiritual rebirth. Eliot seems to be criticizing humanity for not having a sense of motivation or appreciation for life. Water is a major symbol in the poem, and the rain in the end seems to offer hope for humanity. The beginning of part five starts by saying there is rock and no water. This could mean that society focuses too much on material possessions and is missing a sort of spiritual rebirth. In the end when the thunder speaks and offers a solution, the rain comes, providing new life. I think Eliot is issuing a call for action to save humanity from this barren "wasteland" and create a newly inspired society.

Dada is poopoo

I don't like Dadaism. Its very strange. For example, Duchamp's Fountain is just a urinal. That is not art. That is a urinal. It is a thing in which men urinate into. There is nothing pretty about it; its just a porcelain toilet with "R. Mutt 1917" written on it. Even though there is a water spout, its not a fountain. "Water" goes into a urinal, not out. Why would anyone want to display that or look at it? I'm glad it got denied from the Society of Independent Artists.

Abstract Art

We've seen a lot of abstract art in this unit. To me, it seems that the 20th century was the rise of abstract art. For example, Nude Descending a Staircase #2 is extremely abstract. The figure is barely recognizable as a human. To me, it looks like a long beige stick in multiple positions. I think the point of abstract art is to interpret it on your own. A lot of people look at that painting and don't see a nude person walking down the staircase, and the artist knew that. Abstract art is still prevalent today. In Kenner, there are many public art figures. There are statues that don't always look like what they are representing.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tarot Cards

Eliot's use of tarot cards in The Wasteland is really interesting. I think it is somewhat strange that he used them because it seems really obscure to the average reader, but this may have been different at the time. Nonetheless, tarot cards are a way to tell the future in a very concise way using symbols. It could also be seen as against Christianity, which is a common thing in modernist writing. Below are  the cards used in The Wasteland.

Modernism

In doing research on Modernism, it was interesting to discover how significant both WWI and WWII were on the writings of the time. It seems as though the period prior was filled with optimism and nationalism. However, after the wars, people began to distrust and resent the government and take solace in releasing their emotions of anger, frustration, and resentment in their narratives. Stories began to focus on the POV of stream of consciousness and the psychological aspects of the human mind. Freud and Einstein were two impactful men who spearheaded some of the major characteristics that now are defining components of Modernism.

The Four Seasons

The juxtaposition that Eliot so frequently uses in The Waste Land is also evident in his depictions of the sea sons. He begins the work by saying that April is the cruelest month, and then talks about positive memories of winter. Normally, we see April as a symbol for happy times and for life, and we see winter as death, but Eliot does the opposite of this. Memory has a big role in this depiction. According to Eliot, winter is able to make people forget about the bad memories of the past, but the past is uncovered when spring comes around and the snow melts. This also has to do with the speaker of this stanza, because she fears her past.

Eliot the Prophet

In my research of Eliot's allusions to the Bible, I found it very interesting that some critics find Eliot uses The Waste Land as his own sort of prophesy. Eliot alludes to "The Call of Ezekiel" in which God refers to Ezekiel as "Son of Man" and asks him to go to Israel and to speak the words of God, and to not rebel. In the poem, Eliot or the speaker is assuming a God-like status, and regards the reader as an unknowing, and rebellious people. During modernist times, people looked to rebel against establishment values and beliefs, and explore new ways of thinking. Eliot could be sending a message here to saying that though technology is improving and humans are searching for knowledge, that humans know hardly anything at all, and only God can reveal the whole truth. The poem is considered as having a prophetic tone, and seems to be Eliot's way of guiding humanity out of the desolate "wasteland" that they are in.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A multitude of allusions

In The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot fills nearly every line with some sort of allusion or another. This makes it very confusing for people of this time period unless we utilize the footnotes. During the actual time that this was written, I believe that readers could more easily understand many of these illusions, but not all of them. Eliot Alludes to works ranging from the Bible to Baudelaire, Dante, Ovid, and Virgil. Not only does he refer to these writers, but Eliot also alludes to specific events that have happened throughout history, such as the battle between the Romans and the Carthiginians. I believe that Eliot makes use of past works and events in order to try to approach and solve the problems of the world during his time, such as war.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is defined as wanting social institutions restructured for the greater good of the most people. People are free to seek their own pleasure and to avoid pain, which will in turn promote progress in all aspects of society. The most important phrase that came out of utilitarianism is that people will act in their own "rational self-interest." Utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, and Fourier believe the man is generally good by nature. In contrast, Dostoevsky believes that man cannot be governed by such rules and generalizations as this and will act however he or she wants to act. Whether or not utilitarianism can be seen as fully or even partly true is impossible to tell with any degree of certainty. One thing that we do know is that if people act in their own self-interest, which they often do, then the world should be a better place because of that according to utilitarianism. I do not believe this tenet of utilitarianism to be true because self-interest can also be associated with greed, spite, and malignant behavior that culminates in negative results for other parties in addition to the individual. Emotions play a big role in defining self-interest, but it is hard to form a philosophy based on something that people may not even know themselves. Who is to say if we are acting in our own self-interest or not if we do not know what that self-interest is? And why would we do anything different if we knew exactly what we wanted?

Lots & Lots of Trains!

It was interesting to see how many different artists painted trains into or related to their pictures during this time period. In the majority of these works, the trains seem to be menacing or ominous. This depiction of trains provides insight into the viewpoints of this time. The invention and mass expansion of trains changed the world from being a wide, mostly pastoral landscape, to a more urban and industrial place. This marked the migration of vast amounts of people from secluded farm areas to cities in search of jobs and better lives. For example, in Thomas Talbott Bury's Liverpool and Manchester Railroad painted in 1831, the train station is the center of life for the people and takes up most of the visible  space in the painting. You can see the smoke that comes from the train station that proves that the world was becoming more industrial, but it does not necessarily have a negative connotation because people were not aware of the negative effects of smoke on the environment. Claude Monet also has a piece in which the train is a dark, menacing form with yellow eyes. In contrast, another of his pieces has the train in the distance and focuses more on the natural landscape. This can be seen as less malignant, but still contrasts the natural imagery.

Smokey Joe of Arimathea

I enjoyed researching and presenting on Joseph of Arimathea, especially since we share names. Also, I thought it was interesting how a story that combined religion and mythology could be misinterpreted over the years to actually being seen as a real religious story. This goes to show how many religions rely on word of mouth to pass on their traditions and stories. The legend originated when French author Robert de Boron wrote Joseph d'Arimathe, which blended the biblical character of Joseph of Arimathea with the mythology surrounding the Holy Grail. It can be hard to understand why such a story can be all of the sudden considered true such a long time after the original Biblical stories occur. This was due to the lack of easy communication between cities and regions in the times before and after around 1300 A.D. I believe this misinterpretation would not occur today because of the widespread availability of news through technology.

Bran the Blessed

The story of Bran the Blessed is fascinating to me. First, he was a Celtic deity and British King known for his role in the second branch of the myth Mabinogion. After he was mortally wounded by a poisoned dart, his severed head was the buried in London as a symbol of protection for the kingdom against invaders. One interesting fact is that the head continued to talk even after it was cut off...(freaky!) Bran was considered to be the god of creation and regeneration which is why his cauldron is significant because it represents eternal life. Overall, his impact on the people was evident and his story is quite interesting to read about.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Theosophy

I find Theosophy fascinating. They believe all world religions originated from one called Ancient Wisdom. Their symbol combines all types of familiar modern day religious symbols. They are accepting of people from all backgrounds and beliefs. They believe each religion has elements of Ancient Wisdom but have been manipulated. Theosophy aims to find God by finding the truth. They have schools and camps dedicated to learning the truth.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Symbolic rooms

The orientation of Gregor's room is central to the plot of Kafka's novella. His room has three different doors in it that lead to different areas that each family member resides in. He likes to always keep every door locked. Therefore, he is seen as the central figure in his family, and he also feels pressure from his family. This pressures continues to the point that he is overwhelmed from all sides, both literally and symbolically. His sister always listens in on his room, and both his mother and his father give him no privacy. Gregor seems to enjoy this attention because he likes to support his family, but he also resents both the situation he is in and his job. Therefore, he limits this attention by locking his doors. After his metamorphosis, he loses his role as chief money maker for his family, which also coincides with the unlocking of all of his doors. At this point, he has lost the attention that he had previously won through working so hard, so he opens up his room only to find that his family barely cares about him anymore. Therefore, Gregor's room had a more positive connotation at the beginning of the novella, but certainly takes on a directly negative view at the end.

Impressionism in Art

I really enjoyed looking at the artwork Ms. Quinet displayed in class yesterday, specifically the impressionists' paintings. One significant detail of Impressionism is that it represents a moment in time. Often, paintings look as if they're in motion. It is similar to photography in the sense that at any moment, the scene could change. I thought the usage of light and contrast were interesting as well. Also, nature was vividly depicted in several of the pieces we looked at. I think all these aspects really contribute to the uniqueness of Impressionism.

Gregor's job in The Metamorphosis

In our class discussions this week, my group was assigned to find quotes on Gregor's job. As a traveling salesman, Gregor is never in one place. This prevents him from forming true and meaningful relationships with people and leaves him feeling empty inside. Gregor is seen by his family as more of an economic resource or "tool" like Rickeia mentioned in class. Instead of his family caring about his emotional stability and health, they worry about his inability to provide for them. This results in the resentment and disregard the family feels towards Gregor once he turns into a beetle; this forces the family, specifically the sister and father, to go out and get jobs which they  never had to do before. I think it's a significant point to notice that Gregor was the provider for the family, not his father, initially. Stereotypes often expect the oldest male of the house to be the breadwinner, but that is not the case in this novella.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Multi-Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis gets its namesake not only from the physical metamorphosis of Gregor from human to dung beetle, but also from less evident metamorphosis of the people and world around him. The prime example of this external metamorphosis is the feelings of his family. This metamorphosis happens even before Gregor is transformed into a dung beetle. He is forced to work as a salesman against his will because he needs to repay the debt that his father has accrued. From the moment he takes that job onward, his family sees him as less of a human and more of a tool or creature under their command. His father even lies to him about their finances so that Gregor works harder at his job, even though this would mean Gregor has to spend more time doing something that he hates. Despite all of this, Gregor remains loyal to his family even after his metamorphosis. He is happy to find his family has been holding back money, so that they can pay for living without his financial support. The actual metamorphosis of his family occurs more in Gregor's mind than in the actual family. By the end of the novella, Gregor realizes that his family thinks of him as a bug and does not care for him anymore. His last act is to selflessly die in resignation.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Baudelaire: weird or cool?

My feelings about Baudelaire are mixed. I think his fascination with evil is pretty cool, but the way he writes is strange. He made a whole poem about a carcass and told his lover she was going to end up rotting away just like the carcass. He also uses stark juxtapositions like life vs. death and grossness vs. attractiveness. His imagery helps relate the image of an animal carcass being over taken by animals. Some of his imagery is disturbing, which furthers my dilemma.

Freud's Power of Deductive Reasoning

Most of Sigmund Freud's conclusions about the workings of the mind, civilization's struggles, and other aspects of humanity come from deductive reasoning. As a doctor who greatly advanced the study of mental disorders, he was an expert at unveiling what is not visibly clear. For example, in the story of the woman who goes to the market with her cook, Freud deduces that the woman's dream has sexual connotations and is consistent with other patients who were childhood victims of sexual attacks. Whether or not you believe Freud's ideas, Freud was certainly a very abstract thinker that helped promote progress in society and move the thinking of his time away from the Enlightened ideas of the 19th century.

Baudelaire vs. Dostoevsky

I enjoyed the Baudelaire readings better than Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. Both criticize human nature and believe that people are hypocrites and go against "real life." Baudelaire uses darker imagery that is similar to the works of Poe. This use of death and decay makes Baudelaire's writings more compelling than Dostoevsky's. Also, in Notes from Underground, the Underground Man's inability to take action and participate in society makes the story seem to meander along instead of proving a direct point. I believe that the short excerpts from Baudelaire are more direct in the negativity of human nature and the imagery that he utilizes and therefore serves its purpose better.   

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just to talk about incest

In class, Mrs. Quinet gave us a few passages from Freud to read. He talks a lot of sexuality and the subconscious mind. Wasn't he also the guy who coined the term "Oedipus complex"? He states that a young boy subconsciously wants to kill his father and sleep with his mother. I'm not sure why he thought this was true, but he seems to be very interested in the psychology of sexuality.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Can Underground Man just like, chill for a sec?

Underground man makes me cringe. His social interactions give me second-hand embarrassment. The novella is somewhat difficult to read, not because of the elevated language, but because of how much I dislike underground man. I understand that the author is trying to prove a point about humans acting against their own self interest, but underground man goes too far. He does not understand social cues and even goes so far as to stalk an officer merely so that he can walk into him. I suggest that underground man is lman is purposefully acting against his own self interest in order to fuel his own pitiful self-hatred.

19th Century Liberalism vs Modern Liberalism

I think it is really interesting that laissez-faire capitalism was a liberal idea at one point. By modern liberal standards, a fully free market system would be a ridiculous idea. Nowadays, liberals are generally in support of government regulation in many areas, particularly involving the environment. The conservatives are usually against government regulation. Today's liberalism is a lot closer ideologically to socialism.

Friday, January 6, 2017

no pain no gain

One of the key tenets of the Underground man's philosophy is that it is human nature to sometimes go against what is rational and instead do something that causes pain to themselves simply because humans want to express individualism. The piano key or organ stop metaphor is one of the most evident examples of this. People want to prove their humanity instead of being like a regulated machine. This leads to acting against their own self-interest even in situations in which they are aware of what will benefit them. Dostoevsky uses this to criticize the view of his time that people will act in their own self-interest if they become aware and that this self-interest will benefit society. Here, we can directly see how the persona of the Underground Man is created to criticize such ideologies such as liberalism and utilitarianism.

The Underground Man's mindset

The Underground Man makes some good points in Part I, and Part II shows the background that influenced his mindset. In Part II, the Underground Man appears to have a false sense of reality, which may cause some people to question his validity. Throughout his life, the Underground Man had fantasized situations without actually acting on them. For example, becoming friends with his classmates and the officer who ignores him. This sense of fantasy is referenced in Part I when the Underground Man says this sense of fantasy is what prevents everything from being rational. The Underground Man's mindset is not rational, but shows to hurt him in life. At his current stage in life he seems to have accepted his isolation and chooses to continue to loathe himself even though it only hurts himself. Out of spite he defends his viewpoint and defends the sense of fantasy as what makes him superior to everyone else. Part II makes the Underground's Man points in Part I more questionable as to whether he is mad or simply just defying rationalism.

UM

The Underground Man is really aggravating. All he does is complain. He complains about romanticism, other countries, other people, even his own ailments. He says he's sick, but he won't go to the doctor or do anything to help himself. He even says he hopes his liver hurts even more. He causes a big drunken scene at dinner. All he does is embarrass himself and then wonder why he's alone. What's his problem?