Global Lit.

October 18th, 2010


Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

This novel was a nice change of pace from some of the others we have come across thus far. I personally am a huge fan of this genre of novel, the graphic novel or fancy name for comic book.  This one, however, differed even still from others I have read.  Most other graphic novels I have come across are focused more on the action of the story rather than any deep underlying meaning. Not to say all graphic novels are simply comics, many are not and have wonderful metaphors that can be interpreted in meaningful ways. However, Persepolis, the story of a young girl growing up in a tumultuous time in Iran’s history, felt like an effortless read; not an easy task for a book with more “subtext” than actual text.  The words on the page are short and concise, much like the mind of our child narrator, 10 year old Marji, yet the topics they address are sometimes radical,  sad, and political, at times religious, often intense, and always surprising to a “Westerner” such as myself.  I imagine my experience of reading this for the first time, as I had little knowledge of the Iranian revolution prior to doing so, much like Marji’s experience. As she describes the shock and confusion of what is happening to the space around her, to her world as she knows it, as things are revealed  by her parents, friends or teachers, and even as she’s questioning all these things and more, I too share that with her.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to live your life for 10 years a certain, comfortable way and suddenly, as if adolescent isn’t difficult enough, you are thrust into a new set of demands and expectations with little say and no control.

In reading up a bit on this time in Iran’s history, one of the things that stuck with me, while a small detail in comparison to some of the horrors which took place, was that in 1976 the Shah angered Iranian Muslims by changing the first year of the Iranian solar calendar. Iran jumped overnight from the Muslim year 1355 to the royalist year 2535 (Encyclopedia Britannica).  This was staggering to me not only because it demonstrated the power and control that the Shah had over Iran, not only because it was one of many examples of how the Shah had little regard for what the people of Iran wanted, not only because it was another demonstration on behalf of the Shah to take away whatever previous “national” identity may have existed for Iranian people, but simply because how, if you are Marji for example, do you go from writing the date 3/15/1355 one day and the next day have to write it as 3/16/2535.  It just seems such an off putting, confusing, and difficult adjustment to make.

The Ruins Of Persepolis, Iran : this video has amazing shots of the ruins of Persepolis, although I may suggest listening to it on mute since the narration is slightly annoying. Either way you choose, enjoy!

October 8th, 2010

The Sun Also Rises

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

What makes Hemingway, Hemingway? The Sun Also Rises, considered to be the favorite word child by many Hemingway fans and critics, is a story without any real central conflict.  While many conflicts throughout the novel are presented, no one stands out as the ONE, if you will.  Instead of approaching the work in the kind of way one might expect, Hemingway instead presents two primary questions which readers are left to contemplate. The first is whether or not unconditional love is actually a sign of weakness or of  strength. The second is whether or not the sexual triumphs of a man are indicative of his level of “manhood”.  These questions seem to embody the overall theme of this work, which is focused on the characters internal struggles of power.

Now to get back to the question of “What makes Hemingway, Hemingway?”. In many other stories he has written, there tends to be a central dominating male character, often referred to as a “Hemingway Hero”. What makes The Sun Also Rises unique, seems to be exactly the null of my previous statement.  There are no dominating male characters here, all of the men in this story are in fact weak in some way.  Jake Barnes, the narrator and primary character in The Sun Also Rises, is an unnervingly weak representation of manhood.  Hemingway physically depicts Jake’s weakness through his war injury and subsequent impotence, however, his true impotence lies in his inability to control the woman he loves. Jake feels he is being viewed as a joke rather than a victim of tragedy; a perception which affects and changes his self-image throughout his life after the war. “Hemingway refrains from offering us a traditional hero in The Sun Also Rises, and with the absence of a strong leading man he forces us to question how essential traditional masculine strength is to a main male character” (Baker, Carlos,1972). By doing this, Hemingway, also forces us to consider whether our cultural assumptions about men and masculinity are properly defined. Strength and weakness are continuously addresses and weaved into the text throughout the novel and within the makeup of almost every character. Because of this, as readers, we have little choice but to accept the blurred lines between these two qualities, just as Jake was forced to accept his own fate.

Lovers Fight over Lady Brett : Click this link to see, in my opinion, one of the great scenes from the film adaptation of the novel.  I just love Jane Seymoure as Lady Brett!!

October 4th, 2010

The Waste Land – Take 2

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

In paying closer attention to the two sections of this poem I found most interesting, I was able to decipher a bit more meaning from it rather than looking at this piece as a whole (an exhausting and daunting task!).  In section II. A Game Of Chess, the dialogue I refered to in my earlier posts, is between a man and a women seemingly trapped within a relationship where they’re “pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door” (ll.138).   They’re only playing this game of chess to pass the boredom and time, what a sad and joyless life.  In the same way that the high society women is described as being smothered and imprisoned by her riches and belongings, this women seems to smother her lover to the point that he doesn’t even care to engage in dialogue with her.  So much so that in ll.110-139 she is basically talking to herself, he’s hardly interested in her rambling.  The language used with in this section points to a dualism between death by dehydration or a lack of water and that of death by drowning (the recurring reference to the drowned Phoenician sailor-the man with pearls for eyes).

My second favorite section is V. What The Thunder Said, where thunder is personified and given a voice.  I love the idea of this since I personally have always loved the sound of thunder.  It roars as if it has something important to say, or as my childhood friends mother would say, “thunder is the voice of God, a voice we can all hear clearly!” which interestingly enough seems tied to the allusion in ll.360 or so, when a “hooded” man, presumably Moses, is seen leading ” a hooded swarm” of people through an endless, dry and cracked dessert, on the word of the thunder, or God’s word.

The following section contains, in my opinion, the best imagery within the poem:

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink 335
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit 340
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring 350
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock 355
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
September 29th, 2010

The Waste Land

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

Wow, that’s all I can say right now.  I’m a little overwhelmed at trying to find particular meaning in this poem.  I did take note of the many allusions within the story, some of which I think I know and others that I’m still trying to link or find out.  There is a lot of death and rebirth imagery present which I find both beautiful and jarring at the same time.  The images of old dried up, rattling bones is one I find wonderfully haunting! For me the most interesting part of the poem takes place in the II. A Game Of Chess section.  Here, at about line 110, a dialogue begins, seemingly between 3 people but I’m still not entirely sure if it is 2 or 3 people, the 3rd is perhaps some inner voice of one of the other 2 characters.   I found this link which has been helpful in trying to piece together the various allusions, images, and in translating the lines which are in a different language; please check it out if you feel the same way I do about this piece: Exploring The Waste Land

September 27th, 2010

The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

Check out this link which has an animated depiction of the poem:    Prufrock

Or for those of you who are PortisHead Fans: elliot vv portishead

Blog: T.S. Eliot “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”; consider the line “And would it have been worth it, after all”:

The character in this poem, Prufrock, fears being rejected by women who “come and go talking of Michelangelo” so much so that he questions whether or not it’s even worth it to approach them.  He’s not willing to take a leap of faith that perhaps something wonderful may come out of the situation.  He admits that in many ways he yearns for that kind of relationship, for the love and affection of a women, yet he also remarks  “I have known the eyes already…the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, and when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall…” He feels like a collected and preserved insect, he fears being pinned down by “the eyes” of women and so to protect himself he simply dismisses them all together. He thinks he already knows it all, has seen it all ( as he has imagines and describes throughout the poem).

Prufrock is suffering from a dichotomy within himself.  He wants what he fears yet fears what he wants, and in this endless cycle of self-sabotage, he time and time again,  paints a blanket of comfort and denial under which he can hide from reality.  The reality that he may die old and alone.

Prufrock is like the lonely men in shirtsleeves, who lean out of their windows, smoke pipes, and watch the world outside and below pass them by.  I imagined their pipe smoke producing this “yellow fog” which creates  this cat like haze over the city, rubs itself on objects throughout the empty streets, eventually curling up and falling asleep alone. This timid cat  also serves as a metaphor for Prufrock.

When I think about the line “and would it have been worth it, after all…” these words resonate with me and, I should think, for anyone who has ever taken a chance on love.  You may wonder to yourself will it all be worth it in the end, but the truth is, it’s always worth it.  If you are not open to experience, then you close yourself off to the possibility of achieving  success and happiness .

September 23rd, 2010

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

WB Yeats Reads \”The Lake Isle Of Innisfree\”

Please check out the above link which has audio of WB Yeats reading this poem!!!

The poem which I most enjoyed reading was “The Lake Isle  Of Innisfree”, not for any reason other than it sounds, and looks,  like a place I would like to go.  To just be there, live off the land by building my own cabin “of clay and wattles” with “a hive for the honey-bee, and live alone in the bee-loud glade.” The tranquil rhythmic structure of the poem feels much like the sound of soft waves breaking on the shoreline.  The lull of the speakers voice, which guarantees “some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow…”, reassures me that I will partake in a bond with nature that which will soothe me, that is of course until the last two lines of the poem which remind me that I cannot stay forever 🙁

September 14th, 2010

Achebe and Conrad

Posted by mea1234 in Uncategorized

While reading Achebe’s essay I found myself torn: while almost every “travel narrative” has racist undertones and involves a slue of prejudicial terms and names for those involved in the story, and while I don’t necessarily condone or agree with these types of classifications or divisions amongst people based on race, would the story(s) being presented have the same sort of genuine feel without them?

While, as Achebe discusses Conrad and “his inordinate love of that word (nigger)…and his fixation on blackness”, is at times jarring, enough so that the pages of my copy of  H.O.D. has it or something like it circled more than 30 times within the second chapter alone, these choice words, none-the-less, help to describe not only what this European is seeing before his eyes for  the first time, but also what this man is seeing within himself and his “civilized” fellow men, mainly Kurtz.

Achebe presents a strong argument  when he points out that using Africa as a setting has a particular effect; “Africa as a metaphysical battle field devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril.” He further goes on to ask if “a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art?”  He of course says no, however I feel differently.

While Conrad does drive home the image of these bronzed or blackened savages, he is also conscious to point out within the text that what is really black is the way in which “conquering nations” conduct themselves within these territories. Conrad, or more conceivably Marlow tells the story, most likely, as any European would upon seeing these things for the first time, a sort of ignorance is bliss if you will.  That is not to excuse some of the blatant racism, however this narrator is a product of his environment.  I think it is important for us as readers in a very different time to understand what was socially accepted then and what the opinion of the masses at this particular moment in time may have been.  For if we lose that, as the old saying goes, history may be doomed to repeat itself.  Much how I felt when Bill Cosby bought the rights to “The Little Rascals” and stowed them away insisting that they never be shown again because of the racist nature of the show.  To me that was doing society a great injustice, it was a moment in history that is now being left out.  If it was accepted by society at the time, enough so that families gathered to watch the show together, then we as a society today should have the ability to view it as such.  Racism is no doubt changing, not necessarily disappearing, in many ways.  We still however owe it to ourselves and for those who follow us to paint a realistic portrayal no matter how ugly that may be.

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