Friday, May 23, 2008

Personal Reflection

I have to admit, I had the slightest clue about what I was in for the minute I stepped into period five English with Mr. Gallagher. I was suddenly immersed in the worlds of Camus, Berrigan, Shakespeare, Explications, and other authors, artists, and poets. I didn’t even know the word explication existed before taking English twelve honors. At first, I had a hard time with many assignments and elements of certain works of literature. However, as time passed, I slowly was making progress in my work. Soon writing became natural, and I began to fully understand topics such as author’s purpose. By experiencing the works of literature in class, one can learn important lessons that will remain throughout life.

Several works of literature read this year have given me a new perspective on certain ideas and have taught me important techniques needed for the future. One specific instance was when our class spent a good portion of second quarter reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. The novel focused on the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, who is in a constant battle with the Catholic Church and his inner demons. After reading Joyce’s novel, I felt I could understand many more elements of literature and use this knowledge in future assignments. For example, Joyce uses illusions throughout A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that reveal Stephen’s motives or an underlying message. After reading and writing about Joyce’s novel, I used newly learned techniques to pinpoint messages in literature such as illusions. I was surprised when reading and writing about Hamlet how many illusions and hidden motives I could pick out. My improvement throughout the year didn’t just start with “Portrait”. From reading an assortment of writers this year, one can learn what writers have to teach and their own meanings. For example, Albert Camus’ The Stranger ends with the message that all efforts and accomplishments one makes in life is futile since eventually death comes. Although this was the case for the protagonist of The Stranger, a further analysis of Camus may reveal that parts of the novel are a reflection of his own ideas and even experiences. Another work of literature, Ted Berrigan’s “Red Shift” was an interesting piece that raised question to whether the speaker of the poem was Berrigan himself. In class we learned that he actually created the poem by taking an article and crossing out random words, then filling them in with his own. What I learned from Berrigan was that one can create art with meaning out of anything. However, the truly inspirational poet that my class learned about was Charles Olson and watching Polis is This, a film by Henry Ferrini. I learned a great from Olson’s life, such as the impact of change in a place, a way of life, and the beauty of a familiar place. I feel I can walk away from high school with a new knowledge of the world around me. Reading Novels such as Camus’, poems like Berrigan’s, and Olson’s life opens up an array of questions. I

’d be lying if I said I didn’t dread the expected explication paper after reading a novel such as “Portrait” or The Stranger. Out of all the areas in English, this was the one I found most difficult. I could never seem to pinpoint the main idea of an explication, and my thesis statements never quite fell through. However, I improved my skills and proved a further understanding with the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man explication. It wasn’t perfect, but it showed my progress as a student. I incorporated author’s purpose into my paper and kept on track with my thesis. I was nothing short of shocked when I received my grade. It wasn’t the greatest, but it showed that I understood the concept of explications. Another paper my class had to complete was Tom Phillip’s Humument analysis piece. This assignment was not exactly an explication, but quoting from Mr. Gallagher, it was “one of my best thesis work”. The assignment was to analyze a page from Phillip’s Humument and create a thesis theorizes meaning behind the artist’s work. I suppose having art as one of my fortes gave me a slight advantage in this assignment. I first analyzed the piece, noted the colors, shapes, textures, and text used. I then connected these elements as symbols, analyzing each possible meaning they could have. The result was a solid paper, one of the few I’m proud of because it truly shows my growth as a student.

When I leave English twelve honors one last time, I’ll remember all that I learned from several authors, artists, and poets I was exposed to. Most of all, I will take with me Mr. Gallagher’s teachings and lessons about writing and reading about the characters, places, faces, colors, music, lights, sounds, and abstraction from the many people who created them. There was never a dull moment in period 5 English honors with Mr. Gallagher.

Living Outside the Shell

The audience applauds loudly as my fellow actors and I take our bows. The curtain closes, and I am out of character as run down the hall cheering without any dignity. I congratulate my friends and openly hug several of them. It was time for our celebration, a grand social gathering at the local Applebee's. As we leave the building, I strike up conversation with the others, laughing about our performance and generally acting like a normal high school teenager. With my friends surrounding me, I couldn't be happier.

It was a different story months before, and even years before high school. I lacked the friends like I have now. I was sheltered, timid, and afraid. As I entered fourth grade, my contact with my peers was the bare minimum. It wasn't that I preferred it this way. I wasn't able to socialize as well as the other students. Year after year, I continued to live as a hermit, finding companionship in few, and spending little time outside the familiar home and school. I never had close relationships with teachers in elementary school, figuring as long as I did as I was told, I'd be golden. Reading aloud in class was painstaking, as I stuttered only when reading the words. However, the most dreadful action a teacher could ever compel me do was to make a presentation to the class. My heart would race in anticipation, and I trembled as I held my poster or paper, staggering over my own words. Even in the beginning years of high school, I was still nervous talking out loud in class during a presentation or class discussion. Debates never took my interest, and I wanted little to do with the world outside my own.

To my dismay, I had to be watched by a babysitter. I felt I couldn't be myself being constantly monitored by another, so I spent most of my time inside my imagination. If I wasn't day dreaming, I was drawing. My interest in art truly developed during this time, since I could express myself on paper. Despite my fondness in drawing, I generally disliked my time at the babysitter’s house. I decided to join an after school program rather than continue with the babysitter. My reason for leaving was because of her daughter was the complete opposite of me; loud, social, "popular" and she intimidated me. The after school program provided activities for students to take part in. It was there I discovered my passion for theatre. Acting as a character unlike oneself made me comfortable with others. Whether I was a Doctor Seuss creature or a crocodile, acting was an escape out of reality.
I continued acting as I entered high school. In front of the class I was weak and small, but on stage I was not Ricki; I was anyone or anything else possible. The stage gives the actors a powerful presence; we are leading the audience. However, as I matured, I realized the progress and changes I've undertaken. I have close nit friends, and openly speak to my peers about opinions, ideas, classes, or anything. I realized that acting could not hide me from the world and who I truly was. Slowly I began to accept my true persona, and I have truly created a less concealed presence. It's not until senior year that many students realize their calling, their dreams, and themselves. That is the case for me. Acting on stage is much more to me now than briefly escaping myself. I can only hope to continue my progress through my life, discovering new ideas and revisiting the old. As Shakespeare writes in As You Like It, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances..." It is my time to take center stage in life, and to strive for my goals. I will continue acting on stage with as much passion as I have speaking to my peers, standing at the same level in front of the class.

I continued acting as I entered high school. In front of the class I was weak and small, but on stage I was not Ricki; I was anyone or anything I wanted to be. The stage gives actors a powerful presence; we lead the audience. As I matured, I realized the progress and changes I've undertaken. I have close nit friends, and openly speak to my peers about opinions, ideas, classes, or even philosophy. I realized that acting could not hide me from the world and who I truly was. Slowly I began to accept my true persona, and I have created a less concealed presence. It was not until senior year that many students realize their calling, their dreams, and themselves. That is the case for me. Acting on stage is much more to me now than briefly escaping myself.

I can only hope to continue my progress through my life, discovering new ideas and revisiting the old. As Shakespeare writes in As You Like It, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances..." (Jaques, As You Like It). It is my time to take center stage in life, and to strive for my goals. I will continue acting on stage with as much passion as I have speaking to my peers, standing at the same level in front of the class.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lifelong influences on one individual can eventually arouse question and even doubt. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Joyce uses maternal symbols that dominate Stephen Dedalus' entire life from the time as young boy, his growing independence, and the ultimate abandonment of these forces to pursue art. Through close analysis of Psychoanalytic and Feminism Criticism, one can conclude the powers of these symbols and figures have on the protagonist of the novel.
Stephen’s struggle for achieving his artist potential begins at a young age where his mother begins to teach him about morality. The passage in which Stephen hides from Eileen begins as a seemingly playful teasing by Dante and his mother, but it is also the first instance where Stephen turns fear into artistic writing:
- O, Stephen will apologise.
Dante said:
- O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,
Apologise. (21)

According to the psychoanalytical criticism, “The loss of eyes is an image of castration, having been established by Oedipus himself” (Brivic, 281). The myth of Oedipus concludes with Oedipus tearing out his eyes when he finds out he married his mother and killed his father. Joyce uses the reoccurring image of torn eyes or distorted vision to bring light into Stephen’s
initial maternal struggle between his mother and his manhood. Stephen longs for his mother’s loving touch throughout the novel, and she is often compared to the blessed Virgin. Even with her motherly love, she is one of Joyce’s main catalysts that spark disorder within Stephen’s mind:
It is the “nice mother, however, whom Stephen recognizes as one of the women principally responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world and to the repressive strictures of middle-class morality. The first of the many imperatives that thwart his ego, “apologise,” is associated in his mind and vivid imagination with matriarchal threats. (Henke, 318)

Stephen’s introduction to Clongowes by his mother is the beginning of Stephen’s confusion and morality struggle. It is an important factor of Joyce’s novel that provokes Stephen to question the rules and expectations as an Irish citizen of the catholic faith.

As Stephen continues his education at Clongowes learning morality from both the church and his mother, he begins to explore outside what matriarchal expectations have taught him and to transcend through art. Stephen is ashamed of his actions because of the church’s threats to mortal sinners, which brings a hiatus to Stephen’s own ideas and natural desires as a growing man. Wandering from morality begins as he attempts to write a poem about Emma:
The verses told only of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden luster of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when the moment of farewell had come the kiss, which had been withheld by one, was given by both. After this the letters L.D.S. were written at the foot of the page and, having hidden the book, he went into his mother’s bedroom and gazed at his face for a long time in the mirror of her dressingtable. (74)

Even after writing the sexual poem, Stephen incorporates L.D.S., which is abbreviated Latin meaning Praise to the Lord Always, a Jesuit motto. Psychoanalytic criticism defines this moment as a longing to be held by primarily his mother. This fixation about the mother is held
as abnormal in Stephen’s society. Thus Stephen hides the poem, knowing he’d receive disapproval from the society:
Though he regards her as a calculating temptress, he cannot touch her; and when he writes a poem about her, it is set between Jesuit mottoes and colored by “the maiden luster of the moon” (p. 74). The poem concludes with a parting kiss- a prominent image in chapter one – and after writing it, Stephen gazes at his face in the mirror of his mother’s dressing table. In Lacanian terms, this is the mirror of his mother. (Brivic, 287)

Stephen’s poem is a way for pleasing himself and an attempt to stay within moral limits, although even art cannot quiet the pressure of moral figures as the reader learns. Connecting to Freud’s theory of Oedipal complex, the poem and image of Emma reflected that of his mother. In order to be born, “impure” acts must take place. However, Stephen believes his mother is an “ivory tower”, one who cannot be defiled by sex. He ends up searching for something to fill this empty void. According to feminist criticism, art compensated for desires that were frowned upon:
Poetry offers aesthetic compensation for frustrated physical desire, and the stirrings of adolescent sexuality are deftly sublimated through an exercise in lyrical fulfillment. The artist’s mind is cold, chaste, and detached, like that of the virginal muse Diana, as his disciplined verses statically embalm the experience of romantic epiphany. The scene has been purged of reality and naturalistic detail, the participants vaguely depersonalized. Emotionally mutuality has been restricted to art: Stephen feels fulfilled, but Emma is left to pine in her nunlike cowl. Her desires are safely crystallized in Byronic verses framed by two Jesuit mottoes. (Henke, 323-324)

Using Jesuit mottos, Stephen tries to “desexualize” the poem in order to protect the pure, idolized Emma and to please what morality has taught him. Soon even art does not stop Stephen from having desires, desires which are according to the church, a feminine figure in Joyce’s novel, morally wrong and can even bring damnation to the soul. The church frightens Stephen so much that he begins to believe his growing desires that began with artist creation are wrong:
As the “jeweleyed harlots” of lascivious transgression dance before the boy’s fevered imagination, he feels horrified by the realization that he has besmirched the icon of his beloved Emma by making her the object of masturbatory fantasy: “The image of Emma appeared before him and, under her eyes, the flood of shame rushed forth anew from his heart. If she knew to what his mind has subjected her or how his brutelike lust had torn and trampled upon her innocence!” (p. 110). He feels that he has violated both Emma’s honor and his own code of chivalry, not to mention the rigorous ethic of purity enforced by Irish Catholicism. (Henke, 326-327)
Even if he physically isn’t touching the “pure” girls, he still feels like he is impurifying them. This may also lead to seeking out the prostitute since she is already impure, but this also leads to a greater guilt by sinning with another:
Unconsciously blaming the external disorder on his dirty thoughts, he strives to control “the squalor of his own mind and home” (pg. 81). But the compulsive “breakwater of order” that he has erected “against the sordid tide” (p. 97) is finally overwhelmed, and he is driven to seek release in vice. Joyce emphasizes Stephen’s feminine relation to paternal power by imaging the desire that drives him to lose his virginity as an incubus that penetrates his body (p. 98). (Brivic, 287)

By using Emma other than in his poetry and artistic imagination, he feels that he is defying the morals in which he’d always been brought up upon. Stephen seeks out other girls in his imagination to receive approval from his father, according to psychoanalytical criticism. Eventually, he reaches art. These symbols placed in the novel by Joyce temporarily put an end
to Stephen’s fantasies because of the fear of eternal damnation and rejection. After a period of time refraining from art and desires, Stephen begins to wander from the moral path created by the female higher powers in Stephen’s life. Just like a child who grows into a young adult, Stephen too has his own ideas and opinions and wants to escape. After being visited by an “aesthetic muse” in the form of a beautiful woman, Stephen wants to pursue an artistic life. However, he has to escape the forces that imposed their ideas of morality. These forces included his mother, the church, and the country of Ireland. Stephen first expresses his epiphany to Cranly:
Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning. (218)
Stephen’s abandonment of his country, mother, and church begins with the sense of betrayal from his mother according to psychoanalytical criticism:
While Stephen is preparing to strive for union through art with an idealization of the mother, in the last third of the novel he is renouncing his real mother and her surrogates in life. In chapter four he begins to have a growing feeling that his mother is betraying him by her devotion to the Church: “A dim antagonism…darkened his mind as a cloud against her disloyalty: and when it passed…he was made aware dimly and without regret of a first noiseless sundering of their lives” (p. 150). Stephen’s “dim” feeling that his mother has betrayed him follows what Freud sees as a universal tendency of adolescents to blame their mothers for infidelity because their mothers have given themselves to their fathers. (Brivic, 294-295)
According to Freud, boys go through stages of development, one of the final stages being the Oedipus complex, a desire to terminate the father to receive all of mother’s love. Stephen believes his mother is an ideal woman. In order for approval of his father and society, he creates other female figures that are in the image his mother. When put into an all boys catholic school,
he feels that his mother has taken away his sanctuary and exposed to a dominate, male society. Thus explains Stephen’s abandonment of his mother. After experiencing the bid-woman, Stephen decides to leave all matriarchal powers:
Having magically transmuted the power of the female into a static object of aesthetic contemplation, Stephen is once again accosted by ubiquitous reminders of Mother Church and Mother Ireland. He feels compelled simultaneously to reject all three mothers – biological, ecclesiastical, and political. His refusal to take communion at Easter is as much a gesture of rebellion against a pleading Mary Dedalus as it is a rejection of Catholic authority. The image of woman metonymically absorbs all the paralyzing nets that constrain the potential artist. Unlike his companion Cranly, who glorifies mother love, Stephen resolves to detach himself from “the sufferings of women, the weakness of their bodies and souls” (p. 216). In casting off the yoke of matriarchy, he asserts his manhood in filial collusion with Daedalus, his classical mentor. (Henke, 331-332)
The reasoning behind the fantasies Stephen has not only stimulates his art, but they were a way of escaping the real world. When realizing matriarchy was debilitating his artistic ability, he no longer needs their moral guidance and flees from all. Joyce emphasizes Stephen’s escape with the use of Daedalus, his last name as a symbol of the myth of Daedalus. Daedalus defies the gods and is sentenced to exile on an island. He soon flees from this land, much like Stephen flies from Ireland. Joyce successfully uses this illusion in his writing to connect with Stephen’s escape from morality and maternal figures:
Throughout Portrait, Stephen manifests a psychological horror of woman as a figure of immanence, a symbol of unsettling sexual difference, and a perpetual reminder of bodily abjection. At the conclusion of chapter five, he prepares to flee from all the women who have served as catalysts in his own adolescent development. His journey into exile will release him from what he perceives as a cloying matriarchal authority. He must blot out from his ears “his mother’s sobs and reproaches” and strike from his eyes the insistent “image of his mother’s face” (p. 199). Alone and proud, isolated and free, Stephen proclaims joyful allegiance to the masculine fraternity of Daedalus, his priest and patron. (Henke, 334)

Stephen flees Ireland and all other maternal figures to further develop his masculinity and pursue art since female influences had ruled his entire life before. Joyce makes it clear that these maternal figures are the sole cause of Stephen’s inability to reach beauty through art. Feminist criticism makes Joyce’s motivation clear: “In a tone of gentle mockery, Joyce makes clear to his audience that Stephen’s fear of women and his contempt for sensuous life are among the many inhibitions that stifle his creativity” (Henke, 335). In conclusion, Joyce’s maternal symbols take a toll on the main protagonist Stephen Dedalus and his progression through life. Throughout his life, Stephen is being told what to do, what is right what is wrong, and being dominated by a matriarchal society. As he gets older, he wants to decide what is right for himself since he is confused by what the church, his teachers, mother, and society tell him. Because of these morals, Stephen only sees women as either pure or sexually approachable. To escape the constant influences and desires, Stephen uses art to transform them into beautiful renditions of his mind. When all of the influences overwhelm him, he abandons his morality mentors and flees them all entirely for the pursuit of art. Through psychoanalytical and feminine criticism, each event can be analyzed to find Joyce’s deeper meaning within the passages, such as Stephen’s Oedipal love for his mother. Joyce also balances out the opposing forces in the novel. For example, there is the Virgin and prostitute, Paternal and Maternal, and darkness and light. Without these opposing forces, the novel would be either didactic or pornographic:
At the dawn of infantile consciousness, Stephen interprets the external world in terms of complementary pairs: male and female, father and mother, politics and religion, Davitt and Parnell. Baby Stephen’s cosmos is organized in binary structures that set the stage for a dialectic of personal development. He perceives his father as a primordial storyteller who inaugurates the linguistic apprenticeship that inscribes the boy into the symbolic order of patriarchal authority. (Henke, 318) With these factor’s, one can fully understand the deeper meanings of Joyce’s symbols in the novel.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Research Paper Step 4

Max Ernst was an artist of the twentieth century whose paintings incorporated ideas such as Surrealism, Dadaism, and his own ideas based on experiences and historical events. As an artist, he focused on paintings, sculptures, and poetry. His paintings are particularly interesting because many involve his creations, mythology, and current events at the time. Three paintings I am mostly interested in are The Virgin Chastises the infant Jesus before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Éluard, and the Painter, L'Ange du Foyer, or The Fireside Angel, and Die Versuchung des Heiligen Antonius.

Painted in 1926, The Virgin Chastises the infant Jesus before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Éluard, and the Painter was a controversial piece painted by Max Ernst depicting The Virgin Mary turning over the baby Jesus and slapping him. The first thing I noticed about the painting was that Mary is wearing a bright, crimson red dress with the bottom half a dark, almost blue green hue where the child is being beaten. The Virgin Mary is usually depicted wearing light blue, or white garments which could represent purity. However, the Crimson red of Ernst’s Mary is the most vibrant color in the piece, and it sends out a sense of violence. Red is also a color that associates with anger, passion, blood, and sin, all qualities one would not associate with The Virgin Mary. Another noticeable aspect of the piece is the turned over infant Jesus. Around the infant’s buttocks is a more pinkish hue where one can presume is where the child is being hit. The child also has blonde, curly hair, and a fair skin complexion. The infant is also lying on the part of Mary’s dress which is blue, and his hand disappears in the folds between her legs of the dress. Although the title indicates that Jesus was an infant in the painting, the size of him in the actually piece is much larger in comparison to an infant. Both Mary and the infant have halos, however, the infant’s has fallen off. In the background, three faces are seen in the window, watching the chastising of Jesus. Their facial expressions seem to show lack of interest, in fact, one of the witnesses is facing the opposite direction of the action taken place. Their faces match the duller tones of the walls and background of the scene. Overall, it is a striking painting that raises many questions.

L'Ange du Foyer is another intriguing piece by Max Ernst. At first glance, the image looks like a dancing bird like creature. The background depicts a flat plain with a mountain range for in the distance. Like the first picture, the background has a duller tone than the creature in the foreground. The beast is painted with many vibrant colors, the head being a white with tints of yellows and browns, arms and part of body a red – orange, one leg orange, the other a dark blue, one arm forest green, the other a burnt orange, the veil between its legs an orange cream color, and the strange appendage which resembles a smaller beast a forest green. The creature is made up of several parts; a closer look reveals it comprising of different human and animal parts, much like the mythical beast, the Chimera. The head of the creature resembles that of a bird with long, jagged teeth. Its eyes, pose, and facial expression seem to reveal glee. Its right foot, left to the viewer, has a hoof as a foot, while the other resembles a shoe. The painting is definitely abstract; features indicating this is the shapes, colors, and position of the images. Ernst’s brush strokes are very loose, and it seems to create a wave – like image on the beast, as if its garments were flowing in the wind. The creature doesn’t seem to take on any familiar shape or form, and seems to flow with the wind. The creature attached to the main one has no familiar shape as well. It seems to be an amorphous figure, with a hand that has seven fingers. The shape is almost like fire, no real shape, or even resembling water, or wind.

The final piece of Ernst’s pieces I looked at was Die Versuchung des Heiligen Antonius. There is a great deal of activity going on in the painting. The foreground has many demonic looking creatures, and the background has some as well, only a few have a womanish figure and features. The overall color scheme is darker than the previous two paintings observed before. Many blues, purples, and dark reds are used in the painting. A pool of water is seen in the background, and one can presume that it is part of a possible ocean. One intriguing feature of the painting which is surprisingly easy to miss is the man dressed in a red – orange robe lying horizontally being tormented by several small creatures. The man’s face has a long beard and short hair, resembling perhaps a Greek hero. The man’s facial expression seems to reveal agony, while many faces of the monsters reveal hysterical laughter and amusement. Some of the figures resemble real animals, such as the turtle type, several birds, and even a horseshoe crab. Others look like they had come from a hellish place, looking more demonic than natural. The agonizing man is surrounded by two walls of these creatures. In the background, just above the crystal clear water, stands a womanish figure entangled in serpent like roots, or maybe another type of monster. Another image difficult to see at first is the woman on the far right standing on a type of pedestal, arms outstretched while watching the man being tormented by the tiny creatures. Like the one before, this painting has a realistic background, geography wise, with well placed water and mountainous images in the distance, yet it incorporates these almost abstract images, as if its straight from a fantasy, or myth.

What does Max Ernst want the viewer to see in his paintings? Each of these paintings raises many questions about his life, his experiences, and his ideas when painting each individual piece. Diving deeper into his life maybe one way of figuring each piece of work out.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

On Demand: Midterm Test

Mr. Gallagher gave us quite a scare with this one. I stayed up later than usual buried in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man only to find out the test did not have anything to do with james Joyce...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

DJ Hamlet 3:1 Diction and Character Motives


Ophelia: "What means your lordship?"
Hamlet: "That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty" (lines 105 - 107)

Shakespeare's use of puns creates several meanings to these small lines. Ophelia could simply be saying "What do you mean?", "What are you talking about" or "What does your position of power mean to you?"

Honest on the footnote means chaste, which means morally pure or abstaining from sexual acts. However, honest could mean something else in this context. Honest could mean truthful, and Hamlet could be trying to pry the truth from Ophelia, therefore, he could know that she is being dishonest by working with Polonius and Claudius.

Chaste = Virginity = Artemis Goddess of the moon = Lunacy

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blog Work - Group Reading

How's everyone's reading going? I really enjoy this book so far, and I have a passage on page 26 I'd like to connect to.On page 26, the very last paragraph before chapter 8, the author writes how her and her students created their own worlds outside their own, strict life as women in Tehran. She asks an intriguing question: "Which of these two worlds was more real, and to which did we really belong?" (26). I connected to the fact that, and this may sound crazy, but that I too live in and out of my own created realm, a place where I belonged when in the real world I didn't. What do you think the author means by her question? Is it wrong to have such independent thoughts about being somewhere better? These women had to have their own worlds because in their society, there wasn't much else they could have to call their own.

November 27, 2007 9:50 PM

I agree with your ideas Eddie on how the girls live an illusion and are free to express themselves within the safe walls of Azar's home.

After reading the part "Lolita", I am now interested in reading that one too! But anywho, as Azar describes the novel "Lolita", I couldn't help but compare the girl Lolita's trapped life to the girl's lives outside Azar's home. Both parties are forced into a tyrancy of men, and bot parties long for a world outside their own. Yassi on page 32 is depicted as Azar tells the reader about her life. Yassi in my opinion is most similar to "Lolita". "All her life she was shielded. She was never let out of sight; she never had a private corner in which to think, to feel, to dream, to write. She was not allowed to meet any young men on her own" (32). Yassi also is the only one to wear a veil in the safety of Azar's home.

All the characters suffer in a way, and all have the situation where they cannot be free outside their sanctuary of novels.

November 29, 2007 6:46 PM

I agree with Doris' last post in that the author describes each character as they enter her home. If you notice as it draws the end of the first section, the characters are becoming more defined. For example, one finds out stories behind each of the characters and how their lives before and outside Azar's home and how it has affected them. For example we find out how Mashid is jailed in the first place and how this effexts her views.

I think the author describes each girl's entrance to give a sense of character to each. She is showing how these aren't just under priveledged girls living in Tehran, but women who have been through alot and all share the common longing of being free from restraints.

December 1, 2007 10:21 PM

Hello all. I Hope we're up to date with our reading. Those who haven't posted, please do so we can hear aout your opinions and thoughts.

Anyways, I'd like to pick a passage that I think is very powerful, and portrays a very important theme in the novel. The passge is on page 103, bottom paragraph and it begins with "I told him about my grandmother, who was the most devout Muslim I had ever known, even more than you, Mr. Bahri, and she still shunned politics, She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of her sacred relationship with God, had now become an instrument of power, turning women who wore them into political signs and symbols. Where do your loyalties lie, Mr. Bahri, with Islam or the state?" (103). Throughout the part of "Gatsby", political events occur, and anti-American ideas form around Azar's world. But how does the state influence many to burn American flags when Islamic women are subjected to a life with limited rights? How can the state turn a symbol of their people's faith into a tool of power?

I also chose this passage because it portrays the author, relating to her grandmother, how strong of a woman she is standing against men in her society. She realizes how the state is using women for control of the people, and in many ways, the author is a rebel.

December 5, 2007 8:58 PM

At the beginning and middle of part Gatsby, Mike Gold is mentioned several times by the author. I looked up information about him, and figured that his life and works are well worth mentioning and have a great deal of connection to the novel.

Mike Gold was a Jewish, American literary critic, who was part of the left wing. Left wing is a political term which refers to the political ideals that states the importance and priority of achieving social equality through numerous rights of citizens, as opposed to private, individual interests, a traditional view of society, represented on the right policy. In general, the left-wing tends to uphold a secular (state separate from church) society, egalitarian (equal) and multicultural.

On page 107, the author mentions a passage from Mike Gold's "The New Masses". "The New Masses" is a publication of leftist works and it set up radical theater groups. I believe the author mentions Mike Gold in the novel because his ideals go along with the author's struggle in a society where it seems to hold traditional, religious values which are used against the people, especially women.

December 9, 2007 10:34 AM

I'd like to look at a few passages on page 169, starting with the very first paragrapgh. "This was when I went around repeating to myself, and to anyone who cared to listen, that people like myself had become irrelevant" (169). Then she goes on to explain what it means to be irrelevant. "The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure is familiar, but the door is now metal instead of wood, the walls have been painted a garish pink, the easy chair you loved so much is gone. Your office is now the family room and your beloved bookcases have been replaced by a brand-new television set. This is your house, and it is not. And you are no longer relevant to this house, to its walls and doors and floors; you are not seen" (169). This first passage is interesting because the description of becoming irrelevant connects to the fact that Nafisi is losing all items precious to her, such as freedom to teach American literature, freedom to not have to wear the veil, and her profession. Its as if Tehran, her once called home, is becoming an unfamiliar place wear her feelings and others do not matter anymore due to the changing rules of the society, thus becoming irrelevant.

In the next paragrapgh, the author questions what do the irrelevant do? The last sentence connects to the beginning of the novel, Lolita, and how she manages to keep her dreams and beloved items. "Or they will escape inwardly and, like Claire in "The American", turn their small corner into a sanctuary: the essential part of their life goes underground" (169). That is exactly what Nafisi does; she creates a day where her best female students can escape the reality of their lives and dwelve into a world of fiction.

December 12, 2007 9:22 PM

During James, there is one passage where Nafisi is reading her novel, "Daisy Miller" in the middle of the night while explosions could be heard in the distance. Naturally, Nafisi is fearful of her life and her family's. However, while reading the novel, she picks out a passage that seems to alive some of her fears. "And in a scene I will always remember-not only because of that night-Daisy tells Winterbourne: " 'You needn't be afraid. I am not afraid!' And she gave a little laugh. Winterbourne fancied there was a tremor in her voice; he was touched, shocked, motified by it. 'My dear young lady,' he protested, 'she knows no one. It's her wretched health.' The young girl walked on a few steps, laughing still. 'You needn't be afraid,' she repeated' " (187). I picked out this certain passage because I believe it's significant to Nafisi's life after the revolution in Tehran that takes place in James. In the beginning section, Lolita, Nafisi seems to show no fear in reading forbidden western books with her students. I believe part of this is because of that night, reading her fiction novel that gave her strenght and to not be afraid. This goes along with the other students as well, since when reading fiction, their lives under the state mean nothing as long as they are into a good book.

December 13, 2007 6:51 PM

In Austen, the final section of the novel, I want to look at a passage, that like many oher posts, deals with how in the society treats women as inferior.

Page 259 starting with " 'How about a temporary marriae?' " up to the following paragrapgh " 'She isn't forced into it' ". In the passage, Nassrin refers to the law which allows men to have many temporary marriges in order to have their needs satisfyed when their wives couldn't comply. I'm going to agree with the "reactionaries" who believed that "the temporary marrige is a sanctified form of prostitution" (259). One can't help but notice the irony in this passage concerning Islamic rule. According to their rule, prostitution is punished through a variety of methods. Yes their law allowing men to have temporary lives would be equivalent to adultery, something else which is punishable. The law complies with men's sexual needs but debilitates a woman's rights of freedom.

December 20, 2007 8:57 PM

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Humument" Blog Post

On page 210 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips suggests that music and poetry can be used to create beauty out of an ordinary image or idea. Phillips uses two main colors for this piece: black and a very light tint of grey, which indicates the two factors, music and poetry working in harmony. He also uses patterns with his shapes, suggesting the rhythm of both arts. The most prominent feature, the flower, is the main subject of the piece, as it is surrounded by the numerous patterns.

Before any text, there are numerous vertical black lines that go across the page. Phillips places these lines close together, creating a vague image. The lines can be described as having a repeated or pattern-like quality to the general space they use. The continuous vertical lines imply that the subject of the piece will involve having patterns or rhythm to it. The text then begins at the end of the vertical line pattern, and below it, an array of other shapes take place. Corresponding to the text, the lines could also be the beginning of a story, told by the rhythm and patterns that follow, much like how a poem or song’s rhythm may describe its subject or subjects. Following the text, a series of shapes within one another are vertically placed in a large light grey rectangle. The smaller shapes are all within circles, which may be symbolic for eternity, since a circle has no beginning, nor end. The first circle contains a square that is tilted in a way such that its for corners point North, South, East, and West. The second circle contains a smaller circle, followed by the third which holds an oval, and then the fourth with a square. The fifth one has the same shape as the first, and a seemingly sixth circle looks to have the same qualities as the second. These shapes placed by Phillips suggest that there is a continuous pattern between these shapes. This is another pattern that suggests that the subject of the piece is music and poetry, for both have this quality to them. The piece seems to end with the image of a flower. The flower has the same color patterning as the rest of the page, yet it is the most beautiful image among the lines and common shapes. It is Page 21’s most prominent feature because of its distinct shape, shadows, and highlights. The flower is surrounded by different shapes and patterns, referring that the piece is the song or poem about the flower. The final text is also in the middle of the flower, signifying its importance.

The colors, shapes, and patterns are not the only features to Phillip’s piece. The text also suggests that music and poetry can describe something ordinary in a distinguished manner. After the initial vertical line pattern, the text begins. The narrator begins by telling the reader information that seems irrelevant to what he or she actually intends to enlighten the reader of. However, the narrator continues by suddenly changing the subject. “I married; and each time I’ve made thirty per cent on what I paid for it. Listen – shall I tell you one little good story?” This matches up with the initial pattern since it is the exposition of a song or poem, much like the image as a whole starts out with the simple vertical lines. The second piece of text is a compile of words from the original text, which are not in order as the first piece is. The first “sentence” says “The allusion Anacreon”. Anacreon refers to the Greek lyric poet who was notable for hiss love songs, drinking songs, and hymns. The use of the lyrical poet in Phillips piece suggests that the main topic revolves around an idea pertaining to a song or poem. The text continues with “To versational lyre called by a euphemism, amatory; and successful experiences were now poured into the Englishman’s ears…” The final piece of text is found in the middle of the flower. “The mere sound of the colour of a flower” suggests that the flower’s physical attribute is described through music. Basically the text states that in reference to Anacreon, his indirect meanings through musical poetry pertaining expressions of love and stories told to the character, perhaps the protagonist, could also be used to describe simple objects to create a beautiful piece of art.

In conclusion, Phillips use of patterns, harmony, and lyrical references are describing how poetry and music illustrate their subjects. Phillips ability to create meaning is clearly shown through his art.

"Red Shift" Explication - Early Work

Poetry often features unwritten meaning and messages. Poets often portray these meaning using clues. Clues such as describing the setting as colorless and cold may suggest that the speaker is lonely or depressed. In the poem "Red Shift", the poet Ted Berrigan suggests that the speaker is nearing the end of his days because of the fact that he uses clues such as setting, human reaction, denial, and acceptance.
The poet uses the setting and the speaker's reaction as a way to signify death drawing near. For example, the poet writes that "The air is biting, February" (line 2), signifying that it is the dead of winter, everything is cold and lifeless. Death is often associated with winter; therefore, the writer uses the winter setting to signify death. The speaker is also very bleak, describing the desires of life to be "burning". "Love, children, hundreds of them, money, marriage ethics, a politics of grace, up in the air, swirling, burning even or still, now more than ever before" (lines 15-18). The speaker seems to have lost all of that, indicating that those desires are no longer needed, since they will lose them anyways.
Often times, people reminisce about the past when they know their short for time. The speaker in the poem seems to be lost in the moments of his life throughout the poem. For example, "The Calvados is being sipped on Long Island now twenty years almost ago...” (Lines 10-11), is a direct statement of a memory that is apparently from 20 years ago. Another example is how the speaker talks about the various people they've known. People often think back to those who have impacted their lives, especially nearing death. Denial and then a realization of fate is written by the poet to signify the speaker's inevitable doom. The poet shows the speaker's denial of their demise by writing "I'm 43. When will I die? I will never die, I will live to be 110, and I will never go away.." (31-32). Although the speaker doesn't admit their fate at first, they then reference them self as a "ghost" or "spirit", as if they are already dead. "You will never escape from me who am always and only a ghost, despite this frame, Spirit who lives only to nag" (32-34). Finally, the speaker accepts his fate in the last lines of the poem. "Alone and crowded, unhappy fate, nevertheless I slip softly into the air..." (40-41).
In conclusion, the poet uses many words, metaphors, and symbols to show that the speaker of the poem is knocking on death's door, reluctantly,\nand almost regretfully. Thus ending the poem with a melancholy mood that shows the reader that the speaker accepts his fate, and death is drawing near.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Here I am at his house, staring at the shattered picture frame
The air is tense, and I am alreadyon the way to escape out into the streetscape
I drink some cold water sitting on the counter which alters moods
and seems to have given my thoughts time to settle and to sink
In. The streets look for a friend, a sign, or me, I myself am weak and I'm sorry, I just can't leave, Its just too difficult to do, too difficult on me. I think
through it, them, as
we laughed together sipped on coffee at the shop now
4 years almost ago, and the man who came in every morning , making the same order, listening to stories & telling.
Who would have thought that I'd be here, nothing
complete and have lost almost, everything
And everything that had ever mattered, love, passion, life, mentality goes,
Up in the air and bursts into flames when I need them, now more than ever before?
Not that you ever cared for me before, at age 16, in the drenched, weathered coat
eyes penetrating into the depths of your soul
& crying in shame. Not that kid who never made it past preteen, who was
going to have to go, careening into the cement structure so, To die, & to never mature, to live, to love, imagine so to go.
Not that lover who from very first meeting
I would never & never want to live without until we are buried
into the earth inside our caskets & so demanded
To love & who will never leave me, not for money, nor religion,
nor even the pretty girl next door which is
Only our human lot & means everything. No, not her.
There's a song, "Join Me In Death", but no, I won't do that
I am weary. When will I die? I will never die. I will live
To be absolete, & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
who am always & only a woman despite this primal rage. Spirit
Who lives only to weep.
I'm only one person, & I am heart broken, & I didn't expect to be betrayed
I came into your life to be your only one,
the only muse,
the only one you see
Now its over & I guess thats just fate, nevertheless
I will always see only you
The world's riches and beauties mean nothing anymore.

"Red Shift" poem assignment, my Favorite work