Saturday, March 29, 2008

Madame Bovary Post 2

This passage is when Emma went to talk to the priest about her suffering.
“How are you?” he went on.
“Not well at all,” relied Emma. “I’m suffering”.
“So am I,” said the priest. “These first hot days make you feel terribly faint, don’t they?...”(97).
The Priest and Emma continue you to talk while he never addresses Emma’s suffering. Finally the priest returns to preparing his boys for their First Communion. Emma hears the priest talking to them. Emma could “hear the booming voice of the priest and the lighter voices of the children:
“’Are you a Christian?”
“Yes I am a Christian.”
“What is a Christian?”
“A person who, having been baptized…baptized…baptized”(99).
This passage is interesting because it is the first time in the story when Emma chooses to tell someone about her suffering. The priest does not quite understand that a woman may be unhappy with her marriage and unhappy doing house chores. I feel that Flaubert puts the priest in this chapter to reveal that during this time period women were not expected to suffer and they were thought to always be perfect. Emma is the exception to this society and she wants more than this society has planned for her. I looked up the name Emma and found that it means “whole, or universal”. Flaubert possibly named her “Emma” to show that at this time there were many women feeling this way and that Emma’s story is “universal” and that many women can relate to it.
At the end of the passage as Emma’s leaving she hears the boys say that a Christian is someone who has been baptized. This must have meaning because baptized is repeated three times. I feel that this passage reveals that the French Church and society at this time were backwards. A Christian is much more than someone who is baptized and that reveals that the priest and the church are not correctly teaching these boys.

“The whitish light coming in through the windowpanes wavered as it slowly died away. The furniture, standing in its usual place, seemed somehow more motionless, and lost in the shadows as in an ocean of darkness. There was no fire in the fireplace, the clock was still ticking, and Emma felt vaguely amazed that all those things should be so calm when there was so much turmoil inside her. Then she saw little Berthe between the window and the sewing table, tottering in her knitted shoes as she tried to approach her mother and take hold of her apron strings”(100). Emma tells her to leave her alone and than she shoves “her away with her elbow. Berthe fell at the foot of the dresser, cutting her cheek on one of its brass ornaments. She began to bleed; Madame Bovary rushed over to pick her up”(100).

This passage reveals the pain and suffering that Emma is feeling. I like Flaubert’s word choice in this passage especially when he says that she is “lost in the shadows as in an ocean of darkness”. The fact that Emma is wondering why everything else in her house is normal while she is suffering reveals her selfishness. She feels that just because she is hurting that everything and every one else must feel pain as well. Than Emma becomes so worked up that she takes all of her stress and pain out on her poor daughter. She ends up hurting someone else due to her pain. Also I looked up the origin of the name Berthe and it means “famous or bright”. I found this interesting because it seems that this baby is the only “light” in Emma’s life, but instead of embracing and loving the baby, she hurts her.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Right to Choose

There are a myriad of activities which activate the imagination and allow one to leave their reality. Reading, along with acting or watching a movie, is one of the many activities that stimulate the imagination. As one begins to read a book the words jump out of the pages and suddenly create people, images and ideas. These creations that come from books enable one to reevaluate their lives and cope with struggle, by entering a world full of fiction. In Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, books are essential. Dr. Nasfisi and her seven girls read literature to escape their reality. In the following passage Dr. Nafisi suggests that the challenges and actions of females in works of fiction are similar to the seven girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran as well. Azar Nafisi suggests this by analyzing the Western novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and connecting Austen’s writing style to the overall feel of her book also revealing how the events in the novel connect with the girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran. Also, this passage reveals that the writing style of Austen is similar to Nafisi in the way that she creates her characters and their personal situations. Dr. Nafisi uses this great work of fiction to reveal that the characters in Pride and Prejudice share similarities with Dr. Nafisi’s seven girls.

The passage begins with Dr. Nafisi discussing the novel Pride and Prejudice. She says, “…there is seldom a physical description of a character…”(305), “yet we feel that we have seen each of these characters and their intimate worlds; …”(305-306). This first sentence suggests that although Austen does not necessarily describe these characters physically, one is able to recognize them as people they are familiar with in their every day lives. These characters come alive and become a part of the imagination. Also, Austen’s style is similar to Nafis’s in the fact that they both have the ability to create characters and make the reader feel as if they know them. After the first chapter of Reading Lolita in Tehran, the reader already has a feeling for each character and is able to relate one of the seven girls to someone they know. Nafisi continues to write that “we can see Elizabeth’s reaction to Darcy’s denunciation of her beauty…”(306). The word “see” in this line suggests that Austen’s writing creates an image or paints a picture for the reader and once again taps into their imagination. The image that Austen is creating is through her use of “different tones”(306) and “words that become haughty and naughty, soft, harsh, coaxing, insinuating, insensible, vain”(306). This sentence reveals the wide range of emotions that can be associated with words in a story and how they create characters. Nafisi is suggesting that creating tone is an essential part of literature and allows one to understand these characters. Nafisi than says that Austen’s “sense of touch” is missing from her novel and that it is replaced by “…a tension, an erotic texture of sounds and silences”(306). Once again Nafisi is revealing to the reader how Austen is creating these characters. In Pride and Prejudice the main characters, “Elizabeth and Darcy are placed near each other…but in public places where they cannot communicate”(306). This scene full of “frustrated tension”(306) is similar to the lives of the girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran. The girls are almost always in situations where they want to speak to a member of the opposite sex but cannot because they will be reprimanded. They live with this fear and struggle to escape it. Nafisi than begins to discuss the party scene of Pride and Prejudice which takes place at Elizabeth’s house. Elizabeth is filled with anxiety and wants time alone to speak with Darcy. Nafisi discusses the scene and Elizabeth anxiously pouring tea until Elizabeth finally says, “‘if he does not come to me, then, I shall give him up forever’”(306). The reader sees how anxious Elizabeth is and how this one sentence creates tension and makes the reader want to know what will happen next. Finally, Darcy approaches her, but a girl says to Elizabeth, “‘the men shan’t come and part us…We want none of them; do we?’”(306). Darcy than moves away and he and Elizabeth watch each other all night. Nafisi pulls out these suspenseful scenes in Pride and Prejudice to reveal how Austen is creating the relationship between these two characters. This is also a scene related to the girls in the story. They are always discussing men and love and can easily relate to Elizabeth. After discussing this scene Nafisi reflects on Austen’s writing saying that she “manages to make us aware of the most intriguing aspect of the relationship: the urge, the longing for the object of desire that is so near and so far”(306). Nafisi is explaining to the reader how Austen creates this imaginary world of fiction. She continues to say that Austen is “more interested in happiness than in the institution of marriage…”(306). Nafisi reveals that Austen’s characters are interested in love and being cared for. This is another aspect of Austen’s novel that the girls in the story can relate to. The girls in the story are constantly discussing marriage and discussing their troubles with love. This is one of the aspects of Austen’s novels that Nafisi is interested in and is why she chooses to discuss this book. Nafisi continues to reflect on Pride and Prejudice, she says, “boundaries are constantly threatened by the women in Austen’s novels, who feel more at home in the private than the public domain, the domain of heart and of intricate relations”(307). The girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran also feel more comfortable in their private secret literature classes than almost anywhere else. Nafisi is making the connection that women, despite the time period or situation, are similar because they have struggled and continue to struggle. Nafisi says that Pride and Prejudice “placed the individual, her happiness, her ordeals and her rights at the center of the story”(307). Similar to Pride and Prejudice, in Reading Lolita in Tehran the story revolves around these seven individuals and their rights and happiness. Nafisi goes on to say that “women created the complications and tension which moved “the plots forward”(307) in stories. She also says that many novels “put at the center of attention what Austen’s novels formulate: not the importance of marriage but the importance of heart and understanding in marriage; not the primacy of conventions but the breaking of conventions”(307). This quotation reveals that women have played a vital role in literature and without their struggles there would not be anything to write about. The girls in Nafisi’s story similar to these Western novels are going against the norm of their society and are making changes for females. Finally, Nafisi states, “These women, genteel and beautiful, are the rebels who say no” to their, “silly mothers, incompetent fathers, and the rigidly orthodox society”(307). Women in literature fight for what they believe in and go against the life style which has been created for them like the girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran. These women, “risk ostracism and poverty to gain love and companionship.”(307). These women act this way in order to “embrace that elusive goal at the heart of democracy; the right to choose”(307). Female characters in Western novels took risks and crossed boundaries in order to have freedom and rights as women. The girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran also take risks without even knowing it. The fact that they attend secret literature classes and study Western novels makes them courageous women who are doing something that their rigid society frowns upon.

Dr. Nafisi uses Pride and the Prejudice, along with other Western novels to reveal how women have struggled with marriage, parents, and society through the ages and deserve the right to choose. She also uses Austen’s novel to reveal the similarities between her novel and the girls in Reading Lolita in Tehran. They both struggle to find their identity, to find love and in the end to have the right to make their own decisions

Madame Bovary Blog

I chose this passage because I liked the way that Flaubert paints this scene which contains symbolism.

“The moon, dark red and perfectly round, was just climbing above the horizon, beyond the meadows. It rose swiftly behind the poplars, whose branches partially hid it like a torn black curtain, then it appeared in all its elegant whiteness, lighting up the cloudless sky; finally, moving more slowly, it cast on the surface of the river a large patch of light which glittered like an infinity of stars; the silvery gleam seemed to writhe all the way to the bottom of the water like a headless serpent covered with luminous scales. It also remembered a monstrous candlestick with molten diamonds streaming down its sides. The soft night enveloped them; the spaces between the leaves of the trees were filled in the dark shadows. Emma, her eyes half-closed, breathed in the cool breeze with deep sighs. Lost in reverie, they did not speak. The sweetness of earlier days returned to their hearts, as abundant and silent as the flowing river, soft as the fragrance of the lilacs, and it projected into their memories longer and more melancholy shadows than those cast on the grass by the motionless willows. Often some prowling nocturnal animal, a hedgehog or a weasel, would rustle through the foliage, and occasionally they heard the sound of a ripe peach dropping from one of the trees along the wall”(171).

I find Rodolphe to be a pathetic person who just uses women and to feel love but he leaves them so that he will not feel the struggle and pain that companies a relationship. This passage is at the end of the chapter before him and Emma part for the night. They are suppose to run-away together in the next chapter. The imagery of this passage is incredible and Flaubert’s writing flows beautifully. The moon is glowing beautifully but the “branches partially hid it like a torn black curtain” revealing that Emma and Rudolphe’s love, although once beautiful will not last. I love the image of the “the silvery gleam” of the moon “seemed to writhe all the way to the bottom of the water like a headless serpent covered with luminous scales”. He is comparing the list of the moon to a headless serpent which must symbolize something. I may be reading into this too much but serpents are thought of to be the devil, which began in the story of Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit and she did, causing everyone in the world to suffer. The fact that such a beautiful light is being compared to a serpent or “devil”, suggests that this love is false and revealing that it is a sin. These are things that the reader already knows but I think it is cool how Flaubert incorporates these subtle details. Also the serpent is headless and has no eyes which may suggest that Emma is “blinded” by Rodolphe and is letting him deceive her. Flaubert continues to write about the glow of the moon which reminded them of a “candlestick”, which is interesting because candles melt and burn out, suggesting that Emma and Rodolphe’s relationship will die. Towards the end of the passage they become enveloped in their thoughts and “often some prowling nocturnal animal, a hedgehog or a weasel, would rustle through the foliage, and occasionally”… “a ripe peach” would fall form the tree. This last part reminds me of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden where they sinned and caused suffering. The weasel, a sly creature may represent the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the peach may symbolize the apple. I also found that a peach has been called a “Persian apple” which reveals that it may connect to Adam and Eve. Overall I feel that Flaubert is comparing their relationship with Adam and Eve to reveal that they are sinners and they will eventually suffer from avoiding their destiny and by not resisting temptation

A Different View

Golden, glowing sun on the water
1915, 21, his first time to see this view
which changed his view of life
different from the urban city scapes
and all that jazz

This is not his place but
part of his place
and his art

Puffy clouds dangling form the sky
over Cape Ann
where they fell in love
Red, red, red tiny cottage
filled with passion, Sloan and Cornayer
learning from their love of ART.

Ropes, fish, nets,
barrels, wood, bricks,
sails, details important to this view
which enhanced his optical geometry

The sights are seen,
but sounds inaudible
just as The Masses
wanted to speak out but voices went

The colors brightly speak,
reveal a new perspective
the average man may not see this way
But that is the purpose of art
To inform the living of life

Henri would be inspired as he inspired
so many to discover
1943: The view is different
This is true for “I paint what I see in America, in other
words I paint the American scene”.

A Different View

The picture of the “Gloucester Wharf” by Stuart Davis is vibrant and full of color. Davis is mentioned in Polis is This due to his beautiful paintings of Gloucester. The painting, “Gloucester Wharf” is eye-catching and rather different from how most people view Gloucester. The poem titled “A Different View” is inspired by this painting and also the life of Stuart Davis. Stuart Davis is an incredible artist, born in Philadelphia, who later in life found inspiration for his paintings in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The poem is titled “A Different View”, because Davis’ artistic style portrayed Gloucester in a new way and also this view of Gloucester allowed him to shape his artistic skills in a different way.

The first verse of the poem describes the “golden, glowing sun on the water”. There is a warm golden color in the picture which gives a feeling of happiness and peace. The next line states, “1915”, which is the year when Davis first visited Gloucester and he was “21”, at the time. The rest of this stanza reveals how Gloucester , “changed his view of life/ different from the urban city scapes/ and all that jazz”. Davis, later in life paints city scenes inspired by jazz music and the Gloucester landscape is much different and has a different feel. The second stanza is connected to Olsen’s belief that people are their geography. The line states, “This is not his place but/ part of his place/ and his art”. This means that although he was not born or from Massachusetts it is still a part of his being and obviously is found in his art.

The first verse of the third stanza simply describes the puffy clouds in the distance which are over “Cape Ann”. Cape Ann is a part of Gloucester and is where Davis spent most of his time painting. The next lines state. “where they fell in love/ red, red, red, tiny cottage/”. While living in Gloucester in the summer Davis shared a red cottage with other artists such as John Sloan and Paul Cornayer mentioned in the lines after. These two artists became extremely close with Davis and were his close friends while living in Gloucester. Also red is written three times because the cottage is red but also because there are many vibrant red colors in random parts of the painting. All of these artists loved this place and how they were learning from their art as well as each other. Art is capitalized because their art plays a huge role in their life. The next stanza lists the words, “ropes, fish, nets…” because these are some of the objects in the picture and also Davis believes that every object, no matter the size is important. The last verse of the fourth stanza states, “which enhanced his optical geometry”. Optical geometry is a style of painting that Davis uses and the atmosphere and landscape of Gloucester allowed him to improve his style.

The fifth stanza is describing how one can see the painting but not hear what is going on in the actual painting which relates to The Masses. The Masses is a socialist journal which believed that the U.S.should not join with the allies after World War one. Davis drew covers for the magazine along with other famous artists of his time. But their voices were “unheard” similar to the sounds in the painting, because the journal was forced to shut down due to its unpatriotic messages. This painting “reveals a new perspective” and is not how the “average man” views Gloucester. The last two lines of this stanza state “but that is the purpose of art/to inform the living of life”. This statement is something which Davis believed and by painting Gloucester in such a different way he made it recognized. The last stanza describes “Henri” or rather Robert Henri who was Davis’ first teacher at in art school in New York City. Davis says in an article that Henri forced you to look things up and “discover things” on your own. The last three stanzas state “1943: the view is different that is true for I paint what I see in America, in other words I paint the American scene”. “1943” is the year of the summer when Davis stopped returning to Cape Ann in Gloucester. This view was different from what he was used to and allowed him to become a different artist by using the beautiful Gloucester landscape. The last line “I paint what I see in America, in other words I paint the American scene”, is a quotation from Davis which reveals that he painted to capture the beautiful parts of the American landscape and the American culture. His goal was to show people their life and how they lived and that there is more than one way to view a situation.

I wrote this poem because I love art and was inspired by Davis’ painting as soon as I saw it in the movie. I was attracted to the many different shapes and colors which are in many of his paintings. While writing this poem and researching Davis I found that there are many things that Davis and Olsen share in common. They are both artists who produce art to reveal new ideas and beliefs to the world. Davis and Olsen both share a love for Gloucester and in their art they reveal Gloucester’s natural beauty that often goes unnoticed. This project has helped me realize how art is a part of our being and that all artists and people are in some way connected.

Blinded by the Truth

There are times in life when one becomes completely overwhelmed by the intensity of a situation and leaves reality. These situations allow the human senses to become sharpened and discover things that one would normally not notice. In two passages from The Stranger, Albert Camus suggests that the intensity and blinding quality of the sun cause Monsieur Meursault to enter a dream-like state and ironically discover the truths and reality of his life. By the end of the first chapter, Monsieur Meursault is at his mother’s funeral and buries her and by the end of the first half of the book he murders an Arab. Both passages deal with death which is a topic that is difficult to accept and understand. Death makes people start to question their own lives and try to find the purpose in living, even though, in the end everyone will die. Although Meursault does not want to acknowledge or does not seem to care about the death of his mother or the fact that he is killing the Arab, the intensity of the sun consumes him and enables him to realize the truth in his life. Camus suggests this through his use of imagery of the sun and imagery of the eye and blindness. The imagery of the sun reveals when Meursault’s senses start to become acute and make the reader feel as if he has entered a dream-like state. The imagery of the eye reveals the qualities of Meursault that make him a tragic hero which is connected to the mythical story of Oedipus. Also, his use of diction contributes to the feeling that Monsieur is in another world and has left reality.
When Meursault is on his way to bury his mother, the sun is beats on him and makes him exhausted. Up until this point in the story Meursault has not come to terms with or has acknowledged his mother’s death. While walking to bury her he is completely overwhelmed and says, “…everything seemed to happen so fast…that I don’t remember any of it anymore”(17). Meursault’s short and choppy sentences suggests that he is leaving reality and entering a dream-like state. He continues to say, “Except one thing...”(17). This one thing that he recalls is a statement that the nurse made about the heat. She says, “‘If you go slowly you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church’”. This quotation is a metaphor for life and reveals that in life there will always be consequences. Although one may try to avoid certain things such as “sunstroke”, in the end one will “catch a chill inside the church” or suffer. This suggests that although Muersault may try to avoid acknowledging his mother’s death it is unavoidable and the end result will be feelings of pain and guilt.
Meursault responds to the nurse by saying, “She was right. There was no way out”(17). Meusault agrees and believes that life is inescapable and the intensity of the sun is revealing the reality of his situation. He finally realizes that his mother has died. Monsieur continues on and begins to observe objects and people around him. Once Maman’s “fiancé”, Perez, catches up with the crowd, Monsieur notices, “big tears of frustration”(18), running downs his face. He than says, “They spread out and ran together again, leaving a watery film over his ruined face”(18). Camus creates this image of Perez over come with sadness for Maman. He is blinded by his tears and Monsieur observes this perhaps because he has difficulty expressing his own emotion. Perez may be compared to the mythical prophet Teiresias who is blinded but is given the gift of prophecy to make up for his blindness. Although Perez may appear to be suffering through Meursault’s eyes, in reality Perez knows the truth and is suffering because he is mourning the loss of someone he loved. The fact that he had the chance to love another human being is his gift and this is something that Meursault has yet to experience.

Meursault in the second passage also becomes blinded by tears but for a different reason than Perez’s. Meursault’s blindness is from trying to avoid his destiny and not accepting the truth in his life, similar to the mythical character Oedipus. Oedipus blinds himself after he tries to avoid his destiny and fails miserably.
After Meursault finishes observing Perez he begins to describe specific objects around him. As he watches, “the blood-red earth spilling over Maman’s casket,” and “the white flesh of the roots mixed in with it…”(18), it seems as though he is realizing that his mother is finally gone. Monsiuer’s diction is so specific and gives the effect that although he is not expressing any emotion he is fully aware of his situation and is finally saying good-bye to his mother. Monsieur continues to list random things such as, “voices, the village,”(18) and “waiting in front of the café”(18). Meursualt’s diction once again suggests that he has left reality. He is listing random things that have nothing to do with the death of his mother. Also, the staccato feeling and rapidity speed of his words make it seem as if he is overwhelmed and that his thoughts are scattered. In the last line of the passage Meursault finally says, “…and my joy when the bus entered the nest of lights that was Algiers and I knew I was going to go to bed and sleep for twelve hours”(18). Meursault is happy to leave the cemetery and wants to leave this “dream world”, which is ironically filled with realities and truth. He seems to be put at ease when the train arrives and wants to go into his own bed, where he will return to avoiding his destiny or the truths of life. In the second passage he will discover the consequences of avoiding his destiny.
Monsieur decides to walk alone on the beach in the second passage, after previously leaving the beach to avoid the Arab, who is stalking his friend Raymond. . Raymond returns to the beach house to be safe, but Monsieur chooses to go back to the beach alone with a gun. The second passage, similar to the first, takes place on a scorching hot day. Meursault returns alone to the beach and is intently watching the Arab. As Meursault contemplates leaving the Arab and returning to the beach house he says, “But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back”(58). Meursault’s diction and personification of the beach gives an image that the intensity of the sun is weighing heavily upon him. The beach is being personified and it is “throbbing in the sun” and is “pressing” on his back. Once again he leaves reality due to the intensity of the sun and it is not allowing him to leave the beach. He is unable to avoid his destiny and the truth has to be revealed. As Monsieur comes closer to the Arab he says, “The sun was the same it had been the day I’d buried Maman”(59). This quotation suggests that, similar to the other passage, Meursault enters his dream world and the sun is forcing him to face the truth which he wants nothing to do with. Eventually Meursault comes closer to the Arab, when finally, he “drew his knife”(59) and “held it up”(59) to him “in the sun”(59). Monsieur now realizes that he could be killed and becomes nervous and is sweating profusely. He says, “…the sweat in my eyebrows dripped down over my eyelids all at once and covered them with a warm thick film. My eyes were blinded behind the curtain of tears and salt”(59). Similar to Perez in the first passage Meursault is blinded by tears. Meursault’s tears of blindness differ from those of Perez because his are not created by truth but are created from the avoidance of truth. Meursault can easily be compared to the mythical character Oedipus. Oedipus, a tragic hero, ends up poking out his eyes and causing blindness because he avoided his destiny. He tries to avoid consequences in his life, just like Muersault, and in the end is punished. Meursault always takes the easy way out and never actually suffers because he is not willing to take a risk and accept the truth. These are the qualities that make him a tragic hero. The fact that he avoids his destiny and does not accept reality, brings him a life filled with tragedy and pain. Now the truth is revealed and there is no way he can go back.
The Arab begins to slash at Meursault and all he can “feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing”(59) on his forehead. The moment on the beach continues to intensify as the sun continues to pound on Meursault. Eventually, “everything began to reel”, and “the sea carried up a thick fiery breath…”(59), and it seemed as if the “sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire”(59). The diction and imagery of these quotations reveals that this dream world is progressively becoming more intense. The fact that pure rain is turning into fire suggests that Muersault has lost all control over his life and his destiny is taking over. Monsieur’s body begins to tense up and he starts to grab his “hand around the revolver”(59) and finally “the trigger gave”(59). Meursault shoots the Arab and he slowly returns from his dream world back into his false reality. He finally, “shook the sweat and sun”(59).Once the sweat and sun have left his body he has officially left his dream world and must face his actions. He than says, “I knew I had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of a beach where I’d been happy”(59). The longer structure of this sentence compared to the previous short sentences suggest that Monsieur’s actions are becoming less intense and are slowing down. This is another sign that he has left his dream world.
Meursault tries, throughout the story to avoid suffering and truth and in the end he is basically receiving his “chill inside the church”(17), for never accepting the truth. He continues to shoot four more times and than admits that “…it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness”(59). Monsieur is taking in the fact that he has taken another’s life. All of his life he avoids suffering and his destiny and it came back to him in the end. He finally admits that he is unhappy and realizes that he must now live in his false reality which he has created.

In The Stranger, Albert Camus succeeds at creating a tragic hero who lives in a false reality. Monsieur Muersault only discovers the truth in life when he goes into a dream-like state. The intensity and clarity of the sun allows him to travel into this state and see things in his life that he normally would not see. Meursault, like Oedipus was “blinded” because he does not accept his destiny and in the end creates his own tragic life. Inevitably in life there are events and situations that one many try to avoid, but the truth is that one needs to realize the reality they live in and accept their destiny. Muersault realizes this too late. He avoids feeling any emotion about his mother’s death or anything for that matter. He thinks that he will live peacefully by avoiding his suffering, but he shatters his peace and takes another’s life.

Finding My Voice

Running upstairs to my room and closing the door. Put on my favorite CD. Grab my hairbrush, while glancing at my reflection. Performing in front of millions right there in my room. The music fills me with joy and as Celine starts to belt the high notes I feel an indescribable feeling and the hairs on my arms stand on end. I was no longer the shy introverted Angela but the outgoing strong Angela who knew what she wanted. Up in my room I realized that if I could make people as happy as I was singing and performing then my life would be complete. There was nothing that brought me greater joy than singing. Little did I know Puccini’s “La Boheme”, would be the next CD in my stereo.

My family discovered my love of singing and soon after I started voice lessons. My first lesson is still fresh in my memory. As I walked into my teacher’s house I was filled with nerves because the only person I ever sang for was my mother, if she was lucky. The first thing my teacher asked me was, “Do you know why pencils have erasers?” I quietly stated the obvious, “So we can erase things.” She said yes and assured me that it was okay to make mistakes. We sang through a song that she gave me and although I was scared I sang. I liked the lesson and attended every Friday, but as the lessons progressed I wasn’t as happy. My teacher was training me classically and I didn’t love it. I wanted to be the next pop-star diva, not an opera singer. Luckily my family encouraged me to continue and things started to change. About four years later I remember the day when my teacher gave me Susana’s Aria from Le Nozze di Figaro, just to work on. As I slowly learned the recitative my lips wrapped around the Italian language and I fell in love. As I reached the higher notes my voice felt strong and so did I. I had reached a new place on my musical journey. Discovering my love for opera and singing in different languages was a breakthrough.
The summer of my sophomore year in high school I was accepted into the Boston University Tanglewood Institute for young instrumentalists and vocalists. I was extremely excited but had no idea what the summer would entail.

After arriving at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute I kissed my family good-bye. As they left I was sobbing because I was completely overwhelmed with the events of the next six weeks. The voice students had to re-audition for the voice faculty on the second day of the program. As I walked into the West Street theatre to re-audition I was scared and wanted to make a good impression. After I recited my name and the title of my song I looked at the pianist to start. The music began and I opened my mouth to sing. The notes slowly stumbled out of my mouth and my nerves got the best of me. At the end of the audition I left the theater and burst into tears. I felt that I didn’t do my best and I was also intimidated by all my peers who went before me with such unique and mature sound. Although I wanted to give up I told myself that my love for music is too strong and that I had worked too hard to just give up. I worked hard in all of my music classes and lessons and finally it was time for my final recital. For the second time I walked into the West Street Theatre but this time with confidence. As soon as the music began I entered a new world. The music took me to a peaceful place as the notes danced out of my mouth. I felt grounded and strong on the same stage where I had stood nervous and shaking just five weeks ago. The music ended and as I bowed I knew that I had changed for the better. I than realized that it does not necessarily matter how great of a singer one is, but rather how much drive, passion and perseverance one has.

Music has always been the one thing in my life that has allowed me to communicate my deepest thoughts and feelings. Every new art song or aria that I learn is a challenge and learning experience and allows me to grow as a person. Music connects me to people and every time I sing my goal is to inspire or help someone through my performance. Singing helped me discover who I am and what I am capable of. Whether it be singing alone in my room or at BUTI my passion for music will never die despite the struggle and perseverance that accompanies a career in music.

The Maternal Artistic Connection in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Art and language are two things in life which allows one to communicate fears and confront issues that otherwise would be unmanageable to deal with. Art and language also change and evolve with one’s growth and experience. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce suggests that the main character Stephen transitions from child to adolescent artist due to his longing and fixation with the womb and maternal figures. Stephen’s unconscious reason for becoming an artist is due to his fears of leaving the “womb” and wanting to be nurtured and comforted by his mother. Joyce suggests this by having Stephen write or recite poetry when he has fears concerning his mother. According to psychoanalytical psychologist Freud’s theory of repression Stephen uses his consciousness to discard of unconscious thoughts which are unacceptable. According to feminist critics, Stephen’s passionate unconscious thoughts about his mother cause him to feel guilty and fearful, and therefore produce art. Stephen uses his art to avoid his fears and tries to separate his desire for women and art, though they are very much connected. The following passages reveal different stages of Stephen’s evolution: during his youth when his fears are unnoticed, during his early adolescence when he actually uses poetry to ease his fears which concerns his mother, and finally, Stephen noticeably uses art in connection with the longing for the womb and his mother.

The first passage begins the first chapter. There is a quotation before the first paragraph which states, “Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes”(20) which translates to “And he applies his mind to the unknown arts.” The rest of this line, which is not written in the book, is “…and changes the law of nature”. This quotation suggests that Stephen will use his art as a way to “marry his mother”. This is act of incest is against the laws of nature and is not meant to occur. Through his writings and poetry Stephen can unconsciously access his feelings towards his mother. Also, psychoanalytic psychologist Freud believes that the artist is “one urged on by instinctive needs that are too clamorous”( Freud 314). According to Freud Stephen is an artist due to his unresolved maternal issues. The first passage begins with “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming…down along the road…his father told him that story”(20). Stephen is a little boy in this passage and this story is read to him by his father. The male parent is “…awakening a sense of individual identity at a moment when language establishes a gap between subjective desire and self -representation”(Henke 318). Stephen’s father reads him this story and in a way opens him up to the world, which reveals to Stephen that his father has a certain level of power and authority over him. Stephen’s father than “looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face”(20). Stephen than observes the difference between his “hairy” father and his “nicer smelling” mother. Stephen establishes a distinct difference between the paternal and maternal figures. Stephen “was baby tuckoo…he sang that song. That was his song”(20). Many feminist critics believe that, “by virtue of receiving a forename Stephen is able to enunciate himself as a subject of discourse and to gain access to narrative representation”(Henke 318). Stephen discovers for the first time, the power of words and it allows him to establish his place in the world and in a sense is the first time that he becomes independent of a parent figure, without knowing. Stephen than reflects on song lyrics about “…the wild rose blossoms on the little green place”(20). This silly song about roses and grass is a way for Stephen to express himself and push out the unconscious fear of his paternal figure. This song allows Stephen to be a child and not be concerned with any other issues in his life. Stephen than remembers the first time he “wet the bed”(20) and the “queer smell”(20) after his mother put on an “oilsheet”(20). Stephen is now old enough and “ has passed beyond being changed , but he wants to return to it”(Brivic 280) he wants to have his mother “wipe off his parts, an action that is omitted but inevitable” (Brivic 280). Stephen unconsciously wants to be taken care of and nurtured by his mother. His mother, who had a “nicer smell than his father”… “played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe for him to dance”(21). Stephen’s mother is clearly a nurturing female but is also “…one of the women principally responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world…”(Henke 318) which Stephen discovers later in his life. Stephen than dances and sings “Tralala lala tralala tralaladdy”(21). The nonverbal language of Stephen’s singing reveals that he is in “…the preoedipal stage, in which the child at first does not even recognize its independence from its mother” and “ is also a preverbal stage, one in which the child communicates without the medium of language…”(Lacan 268-269). As stated above Stephen is using these words and silly rhymes to unconsciously detach himself from his mother. James continues to describe another one of Stephen’s memories about his childhood. He remembers Uncle Charles and Dante as they clapped with the music and also reflects about his neighbor Eileen. When they “were grown up he was going to marry Eileen”(21) than Stephen “hid under the table”(21) and his mother said, “O Stephen will apologise” (21). Although not clear to the reader, “Stephen is being punished for wanting to play the role of the father…the minor relationship with Eileen serves as a screen for a deeper mother love…”(Brivic 281). Dante, a maternal figure, than begins to tease him and says, “O, if not the eagles will come and pull out his eyes,”(21). Freud believes that “the loss of eyes is an image of castration, having been established by Oedipus himself”(Brivic 281). Dante is threatening him and he is now afraid of her. Also, “…the idea of castration starts to be important during the phallic or oedipal stage…the child at this stage develops a strong desire, for genital contact with the parent of the opposite gender, desire that is forced out of consciousness by the fear of castration”(Freud 281). Stephen turns this maternal threat into a rhyme, “Pull out his eyes, Apologise, Apologise, Pull out his eyes…”(21). Stephen “ …deals with his threat by turning it into poetry, focusing on the formal qualities of language…”(Helene 281). Stephen officially uses words and poetry to push out his fear of castration and not being comforted, but rather scolded by his mother and Dante. In the next passage Stephen will find a deeper connection with his art after his loss of innocence and uses poetry to avoid maternal fears and sadness.

The second passage takes place during Stephen’s adolescence. He is now more experienced and has felt new emotions and desires. Stephen is at a bar with his father and some of his father’s childhood friends. Stephen watches, “as his father and his two cronies drank to the memory of their past” (94). Stephen is now observing his father drink and socialize, when in the first passage his father was reading him a story about a “moocow”. The innocence that Stephen use to have is gone and the relationship between him and his father is tarnished, now that he knows that his father too was once a young boy who lost his innocence. Stephen feels that “his mind seemed older than theirs…”(94) and “no life or youth stirred in him as it had stirred in them”(94). Stephen realizes that he has never had friendships or “filial piety”(94) like his father has and feels that he is older than his father and his friends. He has always been consumed with the art of writing and school and has not formed close friendships. Stephen’s “childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys…” (94). Stephen has lost his innocence and the ability to love the simple things in life such as silly children’s songs and his father’s stories which brought him joy as a child. Stephen feels like he is “drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon” (94). Joyce compares Stephen to the moon to suggest that he is lonely and his emotions are forever changing similar to the cycle of the moon. Stephen than recites the first three lines of a poem and says, “Art thou pale for weariness/Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,/wandering companionless…?”(95). The three verses of this poem connect with Stephen and his place in the world at this very moment. Stephen once again, similar to the first passage uses poetry as a way to escape his unconscious fears, but this time on a deeper level. He fears the power of his father and feels alone and distanced from his mother. Stephen unconsciously believes that he is closer to returning to the care of his mother but “he senses dissatisfaction and emasculation arise linked to father figure …”(Brivic 290). These three verses suggest that Stephen “is pale for weariness” because he has climbed “heaven” and gazed on the earth or rather has seen the world from a beautiful place, but now knows that the world is filled with sinful things which have caused him to lose his innocence and want to return to his mother for comfort. Stephen repeats these lines “of Shelley’s fragment”(95). This poem is titled “To the moon” and Stephen finds comfort in this poem because it is relating to the moon which represents a maternal figure. Stephen has always had his mother to care for him but now his father is drinking with friends and he is left alone. Stephen no longer is being nurtured by his mother and feels lonely without the comfort of a maternal figure. The poem’s “alternation of sad human ineffectualness with vast human cycles of activity chilled him: and he forgot his own human and ineffectual grieving”(95). This sentence reveals that this poem makes Stephen realize how lonely and purposeless human’s lives can be, yet the poem allows him to forget about his own grieving and sadness and serves as a maternal substitute. This form of art or poem takes him to a new place and allows him to forget the feelings of sadness in his life. He has now come full circle and his passion for the art of words is now realized, compared to the first passage when it had just begun. In the third passage Stephen’s ideas about women and art become noticeable and even more connected.

The last passage begins with Stephen awaking, hearing music with his soul “all dewy wet”(193). In the passage previous Stephen encounters a girl whom he is attracted to and the next day awakes in such a manner which suggests that he has had a sexual dream. It is interesting that Stephen hears music when awaking from this erotic dream because he often describes poetry and words with music. This suggests that “his ideas are dictated by his desires to build an intellectual edifice to shelter him from neurotic anxiety, an art to fulfill a maternal function”(Brivic 293). Although Stephen often argues that art does not trigger desire or a kinetic emotion, in this case it seems as though he feels the same way about art as he does about females: desirous.

Stephen “lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music”(193). Stephen is clearly content and at peace with himself. Stephen’s “soul was waking slowly, fearing to awake wholly”(193). This quotation alludes to Stephen’s feelings of comfort and warmth of his mother’s womb. When babies are first born they cry because they are exposed to the air and are uncomfortable, and Stephen “fears” leaving this dreaming state or “womb”. Stephen than says that “The night had been enchanted”(193) and “he had known the ecstasy of seraphic life”(193). He than asks himself: “Was it an instant of enchantment only or long hours and days and years and ages?(193). These quotations also suggest that Stephen is symbolically leaving the womb due to the fact that it was night time and dark which relates with the womb. Also, the fact that he remembers this feeling from years or ages ago suggests that he remembers this feeling from when he himself was in his mother’s womb. Stephen is than struck with inspiration and says “O! In the virgin womb of the imagination the word was made flesh” and “an afterglow deepened within his spirit, whence the white flame had passed, deepening to a rose and the ardent light”(193). Stephen alludes to the Virgin Mary, the purest of all females and states that words were created within her womb, revealing that his love for words is deeply connected with his mother and her womb. He is “lured by that ardent roselike glow the choirs of the seraphim were falling from heaven”(193). He than listens to the choirs of fallen angels and states verses of poetry: “Are you not weary of ardent ways lure of the fallen seraphim? Tell no more of enchanted days” (193). In these verses Stephen is “calling on women to give up their traditional role of temptress and free themselves to face reality”(Brivic 294). Stephen wants to be able to have a normal relationship with a woman because in the past and present he is has difficulty understanding women and the role they play in his life. These “verses passed from his mind to his lips, and, murmuring them over, he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them”(193). Stephen once again finds a connection between his desire for art and women, more specifically feelings of the womb and his mother. Stephen continues to recite the poem: “Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze and you have had your will of him. Are you not weary of ardent ways?”(194). The reference to eyes, according to Richard Wasson has “phallic value… throughout the novel generally being either aggressive and piercing or defeated and downcast”(Wasson 283), suggesting that woman’s intimacy and maternal characteristics have also hurt Stephen and “set his heart” on fire because he has become too dependent on them. As mentioned in the first passage, Stephen now also views his mother as “…one of the women principally responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world…”(Henke 318) and he finds it difficult to live independent from his mother. Eventually the rhythm dies away and “Above the flame the smoke of praise goes up from ocean rim to rim tell no more of enchanted days”(194). Than Stephen’s “lips began to murmur the verses over and over again; then went on stumbling through half verses, stammering and baffled; then stopped. The heart’s cry was broken”(194). This passage reveals that after Stephen has symbolically left the womb he is somewhat agitated and uncomfortable. In order to relieve himself of his discomfort he recites the lines to himself over and over , similar to the way that a mother rocks a baby when they are crying. Stephen uses his art or rather words to substitute as a maternal figure which calms him and stops his “crying”.

In the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce reveals that Stephen has transitioned from child to artist due to his fixation with maternal figures and the womb. At first Stephen is a young innocent boy who finds joy in reading stories yet as he grows older his unconscious fears related with his parental issues take control of him and he uses art to avoid these fears. As Stephen grows his art becomes more and more apart of his daily life. More experiences with women lead to more suppressed unconscious fears which lead Stephen to immerse himself completely in his art.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche: Pablo Neruda

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo: "La noche está estrellada,y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos."
El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.
En las noches como esta la tuve entre mis brazos.La besé tantas veces
bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Pensar que no la tengo.
Sentir que la he perdido.
Oir la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla
.La noche esta estrellada y ella no está conmigo.
Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.

Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.Mi corazón la busca,
y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.Nosotros, los de entonces,
ya no somos los mismos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero
cuánto la quise.

Mi voz buscaba
el viento para tocar su oído.De otro. Será de otro.

Como antes de mis besos.Su voz, su cuerpo claro.
Sus ojos infinitos.Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.

Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.
Porque en noches como esta la tuve entre mis brazos,mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque este sea el ultimo dolor que ella me causa,y estos sean los ultimos versos que yo le escribo.