Saturday, February 25, 2017
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 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.
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
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.
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
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 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
Did 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.