Thursday, April 3, 2008

Personal-reflective Essay

Going into the senior honors English class at the beginning of the year was a challenge to me. Writing the essays and doing all the work assigned was not an easy task to be accomplished. It was definitely not the same as a junior English class or any other class that I had taken before going into this class. Most of the assignments were new to me, especially the explications which I believe I gradually began doing better on as the year went on, though I did not master it. This is true for most of the assignments given to me during the year.

Explications were one of the hardest assignments I had during the year. From the very first one that I wrote until the last one I wrote, I struggled to grasp the concept. I would reread the paper given to us at the beginning of the year in order to try to figure out what I was doing wrong. I feel that after a few explications, I began actually explicating and not summarizing. I do not feel that I did a good job explicating though. I do believe I did get better. With more practice I feel I could write a great explication on any piece of writing. It would just take time like the time I used during my senior year. My improvement was gradual but I believe the struggle really helped me to try harder and really try to get the hang of writing the essay. It troubled me when I knew I would not do well on the explication so I would sit for hours trying to get the right words to write the essay. But since I did this over and over, some areas of the explication became easier, like integrating the evidence, but finding the deeper meaning and the authors purpose was somewhat and is still somewhat of a challenge for me. The improvement overall that I had with these explications was worth while.

Throughout my high school years, I can say that I never read as many interesting books as the books that I read this year. The books that were given to us to read this year were far different and far harder to grasp than the books that I had been used to. Books like The Stranger, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Hamlet were all different and interesting. Even though I found all these books interesting, understanding the meaning behind the text or just understanding the text in general was a task in itself. The Stranger was a short book but the character Meursault was one of interest to me. His emotionless state puzzled me which helped me focus on him greatly throughout the book. The two books, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young man and Hamlet were far more challenging to me. The text was hard to understand but I liked the stories. What interested me the most from these books were the psychoanalytical criticism and feminist criticism in the back of the books that we discussed in class. I had taken psychology before we had read these books and I knew about psychoanalysis but I had no idea that it could be applied to literature. The ideas that were brought up by the critics were amazing. I did not know that they could use the text in a way in order to find hidden characteristics of the characters in the books. Struggling to understand the text, to me, was something worth the wait because after I could read the criticism that had been written on it and understand how and where they might be getting their ideas from. Though I did not agree on all of the ideas brought up by these critics, it was still a learning process to see what others thought about the same book I had read. Being able to compare my ideas to theirs was something I found helpful.

Throughout my senior year in English class, I struggled with the new assignments but I got through them and did each and every one of them. I may not have started out as strong as I would have liked, I feel as though I learned more than I have learned in the three other years of English class combined. The new literature, ideas, artwork, and poems were new, challenging, fun, and a great learning experience.

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Blog

As I began reading Franz Kafka’s “Description of a Struggle”, I noticed his writing to be very different than any other author I have read. He constantly uses many long sentences instead of breaking them off and separating them into smaller sentences. Some stretch into a paragraph of their own which is very interesting. I’d also like to know how everybody feels about his writing style. Kafka also seems to use detail to show the reader more of what is going on. Throughout the story, it seems as if the protagonist, even though in a conversation most of the time with his “acquaintance,” focuses on the environment around him.

In the beginning of “Description of a Struggle” there are a few things that stand out to me and also confuse me. On the first page, the protagonist of the story is approached by a man that he refers to as his “acquaintance.” They begin talking as if they were very good friends even though he states they had just met the night before. “Then I saw my new acquaintance, somewhat disheveled and out of shape, appear at the doorpost of an adjoining room: but I tried to look away for it was no concern of mine. He, however, came toward me and, smiling absent-mindedly at my occupation, said: ‘Excuse me for disturbing you, but until this very moment I’ve been sitting alone with my girl in the room next door. Ever since half-past ten. Lord, what an evening! I know it isn’t right for me to be telling you this, for we hardly know one another. We only met on the stairs this evening and exchange a few words as guests of the same house. And now-but you must forgive me, please-my happiness just cannot be contained, I can’t help it. And since I have no other acquaintance here whom I can trust-’”(Kafka 9) The protagonists’ “acquaintance” comes to him to talk and get advice from.

Why do you guys think the “acquaintance” runs to the protagonist for advice even though they had met only the night before? Also, I’d like to know how you think he felt when this man who he does not know well at all decides to come to him and puts all his trust in him?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On-Demand Writing-Is being resilient or quick to recover in response to a challenge essential to success?

Being resilient or quick to recover in response to a challenge is essential to success. One must be able to look back at their mistakes, get back up, and try again. This determination is key to success. Everybody fails. If they were to give up right then and there, success would not exist.
Failure comes naturally to everybody in the world. It is something that we all experience. But what makes people different in that situation is that some of us try again and again until we succeed. As humans, we are not perfect. Wee must be quick in response to a challenge if we are to succeed. This is the only way to be successful.
In the book, "The Life of Pi," a boy gets lost at sea by himself and with some animals. Over the time that he is lost, he attempts to find his way home many times without success. He was determined to find his way home so he continued to search for land and human life. At the end of the book, he finally makes it to land where people help him. This is a great example of determination and never giving up even in the face of failure and possible death.
On a smaller scale, another example is a student who is struggling in school. The student may have trouble throughout the course of the year but if he never gives up he will study and fight for the grade he wants. The student may fail a few times, but the act of getting up and trying over will lead him to success.
In order to succeed, one must not give up. Recovering from a challenge and continuing to work on it will lead to success. Giving up will obviously not lead to success. To reach success, one must learn from their mistakes and capitalize on them. They must take advantage of what they know to turn their mistakes around. Once this is done, the mistakes will not happen again. Success is what awaits from determination.

Notebook Entry - The Stranger

"The Old people's home is at Marengo, about eighty kilometers from Algiers, I'll take the two o'clock bus and get in the afternoon. That way i can be there for the vigil and come back tomorrow night. I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that. But he wasn't too happy about it. I even said 'It's not my fault.' I shouldn't have said that"(Camus 3).

In this passage we get a feel for the character Meursault. Right away we see he doesn't tend to think about things much. He skips around from subject to subject when he should really stick to one and analyze it more. Right after he finds out about his mother's death, he doesn't cry, instead he tries to figure out how to reach the home and tells the reader about how his boss reacted to him asking for two days off. It is clear that Meursault is not one to show emotion or one to analyze things to get a deeper understanding of it. He just moves on to another subject.

Hamlet Video Critique Act 3 Scene 1

In Alexander Fodor’s rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy, feelings of the modern world are brought up through the use of technology and young characters. Though Hamlet was written long ago, the video brings out a modern feel which can attract the young mind. Unlike the other two videos, it uses technology that was not available in Hamlet’s setting. Also, the characters used are young unlike the characters used in the other two videos which are older looking.

The video begins with the camera focusing on a voice recorder in a room which has bright lighting. Obviously this is something not available during Hamlet’s day. Before Hamlet’s Soliloquy begins, many things occur in which give the audience something to think about before the speech begins. After the camera angle moves away from the voice recorder, we see the main character, Hamlet, who will soon begin his soliloquy. After viewing the main character, the scene changes to where he is with a woman. The woman exists the scene and he bends over to kiss what seems to be a dead man. The camera changes back to the face of the main character but now the lights have gotten brighter than before. After, the camera moves back to show the main character and the voice recorder. He turns on the voice recorder and his soliloquy begins.

As the soliloquy begins with “To be, or not to be, that is the question”(55), the main character has a staring gaze. Deep in thought, he continues. “Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep-No more”(58-60) The faces of three teenagers are shown, including his own. They stand in a bright white room. They’re facing glowing green, also with a staring gaze on their faces. Alexander Fodor uses these lines with the scene of the three teenagers in order to show their innocence. They do not know of what troubles are being spoken of or when they will die. Two of the teenagers are girls. They seem to be staring at the speaker while the other teenager who is with them, who is the same person as the speaker, is looking down. He is looking away from death. The bright lights attract the girls.

The camera quickly switches to the speaker, then to a scene where what seems to be a dead man lays. A woman kisses him on the head and the speaker continues. “To die, to sleep-To sleep, perchance to dream”(63-64). The scene with the dead man shows that true sleep may be death where all pain is erased. Dreams come at a risk that the person may not come back to reality. The speaker then skips lines 65 to 68 and continues with line 69. “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely”(69-70) The scene switches back and fourth from these two scenes a few times, from the speaker to kissing the dead man. This is done in order to show what pain may cause. The dead man, no longer feels pain, while the speaker is left in the world and feels so much pain that he wishes he was not alive. He continues the speech, now the camera focusing on him. The camera gets closer and closer to his face and his eye. Half his face is visible when he says “Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all]”(82). This statement shows how being alive is the cause of pain for everyone including himself.

From all three videos, Alexander Fodor’s video is the best interpretation of the lines from Hamlet’s soliloquy. The use of images of a dead man, light, and teenagers shows the audience what the speaker is saying. The light symbolizes life, the dead man symbolizes death, and the teenagers symbolize the people who are suffering through life. These images connect better with the newer audience for it uses more modern ideas for its image than the other videos.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

College Essay

June 2nd, 1995. This is the day I finally turned 5. Though it was such a long time ago, it is not something easily forgotten. That year I would begin attending school at the Hugh R. O'Donnell Elementary School in East Boston, Massachusetts. The first day of school, just like for everybody else, was nerve racking. I did not know what to expect from school. But as time went by it became a daily routine. “Tenes que hacer bien en la escuela.” I would begin to hear this from my parents from the day I began attending school until even now. “You have to do well in school.” Of course, I did what I was told, not necessarily knowing it was all meant to prepare me for this point in my life.

“Vamos hacer todo que puedemos hacer para que tu vayas a la Universidad.” That’s what my parents would always tell me as I got closer to finishing high school. “We will do everything that we can do so you can attend college.” My parents always have told me they will support my desires to attend college. Attending college has always been a dream of mine. Going to high school has all led up to this point. This is my present to my parents after they have sacrificed so much coming to the United States from El Salvador in order to give me this opportunity that I have in front of me now.

June 2nd, 2000. This is the year I turned 10. It is the year that I would change schools. I left the Hugh R. O'Donnell Elementary School and went to the Ferryway School in Malden, Massachusetts. I had to leave the city I grew up in and all my friends. It was a hard shift but I knew it was for the best. East Boston was not the best city for a child to grow up in but it was where I grew up for half my life. My parents always had a reason for everything they did. “Queremos que tengas la oportunidad que nosotros no tuvimos.” The move was based on this statement that they would always tell me. “We want you to have the opportunity that we did not have.” My parents thought being in a better environment would help me. The way I see it, the move helped me grow up and I thank them for this.

June 2nd 2007. Here I am now at age 17. After 11 years of my life it is finally my senior year and I have to begin applying to colleges. Everything my parents have told me and have done for me has brought me here. My dream of going to college and my parents support have both helped me go through the struggles I faced throughout school. The support still continues to help me get closer to my dream. I still hear the same things my parents have been telling me since I was 5. Even though I have heard them so many times I still feel inspiration in them. I am close to making my dream come true.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pieter Bruegal - "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"

In the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel there are many colors and details that stick out. Colors seem to vary throughout the painting. In the far end of the picture there seems to be more bright colors than dark colors and in the area of the painting that is closer there seems to be darker colors than bright colors. Also, I noticed that there are a lot of things going on at the same time. There are four people in the painting doing different things in different areas of the painting. There are also a lot of different land masses.

The first thing that catches my eye is the man plowing. He is the farmer that is working on the land around him. He is wearing a bright red under shirt and another grey piece of clothing over the red under shirt. From his clothing it seems he is part of a lower class. He is plowing with what seems to be an ox that is connected to a wooden plow. He seems to be very concentrated on his work. He is working very hard on the land around him. He is looking down at the ox, paying attention to what is going on so no mistakes are made. The man is also holding a whip which he seems to be using on the ox to keep control of it. They both seem to be working together to create a garden of sorts. It seems to be very detailed and wavy looking. Behind the man who is plowing, there seems to be a sheep herder. He seems to be working and resting at the same time. He looks tired and it seems as if he is using the long stick in his hand to help him stand up. What seems to be weighing him down is the big bag on his back. He is standing next to his dog which he would use to round up the sheep that are all around him once he feels it is time to get them together again. Both the man and the dog seem to be looking up at the sky, concentrating on something else other than their work. The sheep pay no attention to both of them and continue walking around and eating. All the sheep are white except for two of them which are grey and stand out when they are around the white sheep. To the right of the sheep herder there is a man sitting down on the edge of the land before the water. He seems to be leaning over, looking for something. He may be fishing but it seems as if he is just sitting there, passing time by the dark greenish blue water. He seems to be looking at the man who seems to be waling his feet in the air. He seems to have just fallen into the water. Nobody seems to be paying attention to the man in the water who needs help. Even though his man needs help everything else seems to be going with the natural flow of things. The ships in the water are going to the direction of the city. In between the city and the land that all the men are on there is a small island that is isolated from everything. It looks very small but it also looks as if it is somebody’s home. In the far end of the picture the sun seems to be rising but it is already shining bright. It is illuminating the land around it.

The title of this painting is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.” The man who is kicking his feet in the water is Icarus who has just plunged to his death after flying too high in the air with the wings his father Daedalus has made. This is in the picture because in the story, “The story of Daedalus and Icarus,” Daedalus and Icarus are on an island, away from other people, as punishment. Daedalus has had enough of being a prisoner of the island so he creates wings that are meant to fly both of them off the island and away from their prison. After Daedalus has created the wings, he warns Icarus not to fly to low or he will fall into the water or too high or the sun will melt his wings and he will fall and crash. Icarus does not seem to listen to his dad and flies high in the air. The sun melts his wings and he falls to his death. In the painting, this is what seems to be going on. Icarus has just flown off the island and is now crashing into the water below him. The island that he comes from is also in the painting. The island is the one in between the land masses that contains the three men and the city. The men who are standing around working or sitting around are the three men in the story who look up at Icarus while he is in the air and believe that he is a god of sorts. The title of the painting directly connects with the actual story. What happens in the story seems to be happening on the picture as well.

Overall, the painting and the story go together as a whole. They both explain the lessons learned in the story. One must have a balance in life or else they will be lead to their fall. Icarus did not keep his balance to her fell to his death. In his case it was literal. The sun is usually a good and helpful element to life. In the painting it is there to help everybody work and get things done. It is there to shine light on their hard work. But it is also there to play another role. It is what causes Icarus’ downfall. The sun which is always seen as a good thing now has created trouble. That is what has made the sun ironic.

Hamlet's 2nd Soliloquy 2:2

Act 2:2 Hamlet’s Second Soliloquy

In Hamlet’s second soliloquy we get a better understanding of Hamlet’s views and feelings. Many tones are presented by Hamlet’s speech. He feels worthless for his lack of taking action of everything that is going around him since he has not accomplished what he feels he needs to do. He has a promise with the ghost but he has not fulfilled it. Hamlet continues to talk and his self-pity is evident. Fulfilling his promise has not been his first goal. He has been thinking more of what has been going on with Ophelia and also with himself.

At the beginning of Hamlet’s second soliloquy, he has finished watching one of the players acting out a scene of a play that was full of emotion. This reminds Hamlet of his own lack of dedication at fulfilling the promise he has made. He also feels that it is "monstrous" (531) that the player "in a dream of passion" (532) could put so much emotion into the piece that he even cried "all for nothing" (537). Hamlet is amazed at what he has just seen but feelings of worthlessness come to him. He sees the player acting out the play with more emotion and more feeling than what he has been willing to set forth at getting revenge for his father’s death. He feels he should be putting forth just as much emotion as the players are into their play since he loves his father and is mourning his death even after everybody else has seemed to moved on. "No, not for a king, upon whose property and most dear life A damn’d defeat was made"(549-551).

Claudius, the new king and Hamlet’s uncle, killed King Hamlet so now he suffers in hell because he did not have a chance to confess his sins. Even after Hamlet finds out of all of this and of everything that has happened to his father, he does not stir. He seems to simple talk of what he will do with “words, words, words” but does not act upon any of them. Hamlet’s uncle is very much evil to him but he is also like his uncle since he does not stand up for his father’s cause. He explains his weakness to take action to and stand up for the cause. “But I am pigeon-liver’d, and lack gall”(557). Instead he pities himself and watches his uncle continue to be kind.

At the end of the soliloquy, Hamlet comes up with a plan that will unveil his uncle’s sins and what he had done. This is the first step towards taking action that Hamlet has taken since promising the ghost that he shall revenge his father. Even though this is his first action, it is not what the ghost wants him to do. This is a plot to determine if the ghost is telling the truth by attempting to see if his uncle is truly guilty of his father's murder by having the players act out a scene where a son’s father is killed and he seeks revenge. Through this, Hamlet’s view of the ghost changes. When he had first met the ghost he felt he was sent as good. Now his thoughts lean toward the ghost possibly being a devil. “The spirit that I have seen May be a [dev’l], and the [dev’l] hath power T’ assume a pleasing shape”(578-580) He also feels that the ghost may be out to punish him for being weak. “and perhaps, Out of my weakness and my melancholy”(580-581). This is why he decides to follow with this plan in order to find out if the ghost is telling the truth which also shows his selfishness.

The plans he has created is there in order to help himself find the truth behind the ghost. It will not fulfill the promise. What he has promised is to kill his fathers murderer. He continues to feel worthless for he has not done what he was asked to do.

Cat's Cradle Filler Chapter 126.5

Chapter 126.5

I was not sure if I should go back to Bokonon and talk to him about everything that has just happened. I am not sure if I wanted to know what he thought for he could hold the ending of The Books of Bokonon.

“Should we go check on Bokonon” I asked Newt.

“I am not sure he seems like he might be busy.”

“How can you be busy when the world is over?”

I did not move from that spot for quit awhile. For some reason I was not sure if I wanted to know what he was going to say about everything that has just occurred. It seemed like the end of the world and if I went to him he would convince me it was.

“What will we do if we decide not to talk to him” asked Newt.

“I do not know.”

“After everything that has happened are we ready to face him?”

Once Newt asked that I was sure I was ready but I was not sure if I even wanted to talk to Bokonon. I guess I was his follower but should I follow him to the end of the world? Should I change my stance and become a leader? Could I even lead?

I wasn’t sure what to think about Bokonon after everything that has happened. The world is coming to its end and people are dieing all over the place. Bokonon was there for me to find comfort but how could I find comfort when the world is in this predicament. For the first time I began to challenge Bokononism.

A part of me wanted to believe we would get out of here alive but then that would probably be a lie. I was tired of following lies. I wanted to get out of all this alive but could I do it myself?

All the thoughts of Bokonon came to mind and I thought about each and everyone of them. I know I have mentioned many in this book so I won’t mention anymore but I felt like asking Bokonon something. I felt like clearing up everything.

“I think I might go talk with Bokonon.”

“If that is what you want then you should.”

“I will go back but I want to think a little.”


Newt didn’t have much else to say than that. I guess it was fine that he did not have much to say because I wanted to make this decision myself. I wanted to be able to show that I can decide things myself instead of listening to somebody else tell me what I will do like any religion.

“Let’s go back to Bokonon. I have to talk to him” I told Newt.

“That is fine, I will go with you.”

As we started to go back to Bokonon I was thinking about what I was going to ask him. I did not really have a life saving question in mind but it was definitely something that may lead Bokonon to reveal something to me that no other Bokononist has heard before.

I was getting closer and closer to him. I was thinking too much of all of this. Newt did not seem very troubled like me. He seemed to be calm even though we had just witnessed the end of the world, or close to it. I loosened myself up and went to him. The world was over and I should accept it. Now, I guess, would be a good time to see what Bokonon would tell me. I was ready to talk to him now.

James Joyce Critical Essay

In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” James Joyce uses memory and different beliefs in order to lead Stephen Dedalus into a life where art is dominant over any other figure in life, placing him into a state of solitude. Throughout his life his influences change. Mr.Dedalus, his father, influences him with politics and believes that it is the future of Ireland while other characters like Dante believe strongly in the Church’s power over Ireland and believes it should not be challenged by anyone or anything. Both sides argue against one another and view things their own way. Other influences on Stephen immerge as he reaches manhood to develop his own thoughts and ideas.

Stephen Dedalus is constantly around the ideas of the church and of the ideas of political figures such as Parnell. Obviously, everything around him is greatly influenced by the Catholic Church, including himself. People around him are very devoted Catholics and are very strict on the ideas that they follow. But his father, Mr. Dedaulus, is political and is one who believes that the government should be run separately than the church. Stephen, split between these two ideas does not lean to any side. The memories of these ideas are both inscribed in his mind which creates a relationship that pushes him away from society and its offerings and closer to art.

Parnell and politics versus the Catholic Church was part of an argument that Mr. Dedalus, Mr.Casey, and Dante had one day during dinner. “‘I’ll pay you you dues, father, when you cease turning the house of God into a pollingbooth.’ ‘A nice answer, said Dante, for any man calling himself a catholic to give to his priest’”(Joyce 41). Dedalus along side Mr.Casey, believe the Catholic Church should not be a part of the government. They see the Church as a bad influence on people’s judgment when it is time to elect people into office. Dante disagrees. “‘It is religion, Dante said. They are doing their duty in warning the people’”(Joyce 41). Her belief is that the Catholic Church should not be questioned whatsoever. She feels they are warning people but the men see other wise saying “We go to the house of God, Mr.Casey said, in all humility to pray to our Maker and not to hear election addresses’”(Joyce 41). This conversation continues and becomes very argue mental creating a mimic of society. It is a very touchy subject for them and the people in Ireland. Though it is not stated, Dedalus and Casey seem to blame the Catholic Church for the death of Parnell. They saw him as the future leader of Ireland to help the people get out of the struggle that they go through on a day to day basis. He was a very important figure to them. Joyce places all these talks about Parnell and politics to show the reader that everybody is torn into two sides of this subject, even friends and family alike. Though they are at dinner, an argument arises which seems to get intense that Mr. Dedalus and Mr.Casey try to end before it gets out of control but Dante refuses. She is too shocked by the words coming out of their mouths over the Church.

Stephen, no matter where he is, is constantly hearing things about Parnell and politics even though he may not understand all of it so clearly. This is brought up constantly by James Joyce in order to emphasize the importance and the influence this had on everybody’s ideas. Not only is Parnell shown to us by Joyce but he is also shown to Stephen in order for him to know the truth of everything going on around him. While he is walking with his father he realizes he cannot remember much of his childhood but remembers a few names. “‘The memory of his childhood suddenly grew dim. He tried to call forth some of its vivid moments but could not. He recalled only names: Dante, Parnell, Clane, Clongowes’”(Joyce 92). Out of the names he states, Parnell is one of them. This further emphasizes that Joyce is showing the important of politics more and more. Parnell is a significant character since he did play a great role in Ireland even when the Church seemed to go against him. Stephen continues by saying “‘Parnell had died. There had been no mass for the dead in the chapel and no procession. He had not died but he had faded out like a film in the sun. He had been lost or had wandered out of existence for he no longer existed’”(Joyce 92). Joyce bring this up because it shows how the Catholic Church tried to get rid of all the ideas Parnell had brought up by even going as far as pretending that he did not existence. Parnell was a big threat to the Catholic Church’s power so his existence was erased. He still remained remembered though, even by Stephen. The Church’s attempt did not seem to work.

Even though politics and church lead Stephen to different ideas and beliefs, they are opposing forces are these forces are necessary according to psychoanalytic criticism. “Art is built on the same drives, conscious and unconscious, that operate in life”(Lesser 59-144). Thought the beliefs in church and state are against each other, both are required in order to have a balance. Stephens’s ideas are shaped by both politics and the church. If one were to be absent, he would not have developed into who he is. Art would not be what he pursues if politics was not shown to him at a young age. He could have ended up as a priest or anything in relation to the church. “Nor is it true that art ‘cannot awaken…an emotion which is kinetic’: there is no such thing as nonkinetic emotion, only emotion whose kinesis is relatively weak or indirect”(Lesser 59-144). Stephen’s emotion toward art has always been there and is just getting stronger with these ideas that have been around him since he was a kid. As he started to grow older, other ideas were taken in by Stephen. Anything he would hear he would take in. Now grown up, the ideas have been filtered and transformed into it’s own idea which is art which is why “Art is built on the same drives, conscious and unconscious, that operate in life”(Lesser 59-144). The relationship between politics and church has created art. But to Stephen, art is much more than what his father and other people see it as. Art is life to him so the balance is there for the sake of his future and his passion. “If this balance is not achieved and drives obtrude in such a way that they violate truth, morality, or some other function of psychic balance, the work is dismissed as pornographic or didactic, cheap or prohibitive, untrue or unhealthy”(Brivic 293). Life, or art, without one side to balance itself out, cannot exist. It must coexist with its opposite in order for it to arise. With this, Joyce shows that there are always two sides to everything. Stephen has his art but is opposed by church and politics since it is its own form of freedom. Stephen does not need the church or politics. In fact he does not even want them. He simply needs art and only art in his life in order to live in this world. His preference of having art over having anything else is strong. Art is the dominant figure in his life. It is what helps him choose his path in life, all because of the ideas he was introduced to as a child.

Dominance of the church in Stephens mind started out when he was a baby because of society and his family. As he grew older and could understand conversations that others had, politics became another influence which changed his views on the church. Politics did not take over church but instead formed new ideas and new desires in life. Out of these two influences came his love for art. Art is seen is feminine to his father and is not accepted by him at all but Stephen follows what he knows is his calling in life. Joyce places him in a position where art is really all he can look at and see perfection in order to show that people are not perfect and Stephen knows this. Stephen attempts to see other people as perfect and pure, like his mother, but in the back of his mind he knows that this is not true. These ideas are there so he can balance out the corrupt with the “pure.” Since his mother is not exactly pure and nobody else is, he cannot turn to people for his search of perfection. Objects are all he can really see as being pure to him. Whatever he creates in his mind is pure since it is what he has been searching for since he was a little. His mother was his first imagine of perfection, then he met other people throughout his everyday life and finally began making up his own people in his mind which he saw as perfect. And they could be perfect or they could be the opposite of perfect since they were all his creation, his art.

Stephen’s desires are also seen as his art according to feminist criticism. “In sociological terms this attractive young woman, approached and courted, might well threaten Stephen with the kind of domestic entrapment associated with Catholic marriage”(Henke 329). Joyce makes Stephen create many women which he sees differently but a few of them are there to help with his sexual desires. These desires trap him in a “catholic marriage” where more art stems from. He is stuck with these desires just like he is stuck with the art that he creates since they are a part of him and without them, he is not Stephen. He begins to have more desires than ever before, mostly sexual, since his sense of purity for women is there. When he sees certain women he cannot help but have certain thoughts and desires about them. It is in his nature to think these ideas about them. These desires are always around him, “The aspiring poet knows that he may not look but not touch, admire but not speak. He glorifies the wading girl as angelic muse but never actually approaches her in the teeming ocean waters”(Henke 330). These ideas that Stephen thinks of, which include sexual feelings to the women that he creates, are not acceptable in society. His art is unacceptable to his father. The unpurification of these ideas are not what Stephen wants to do. He wants to avoid being the one to take the purity of these women or anybody else. He has no problem having sexual thoughts of women who have already lost their purity but is afraid of taking purity from those who still have it. “…Stephen is determined to control the world of physiological process by freezing life in the sacrament of art. His ‘spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus’”(Henke 330). He wants everything to be as pure as they can be and as untouched as they can be which is influenced by his ideas and beliefs in the church. People should remain in state of purity and not change. Those people who are not pure are still easier for him to deal with since he will not be afraid of taking away their purity. He is not afraid of losing his purity because he is no longer pure. He already lost his when he went out with the prostitute. “His response to the girl is exclusively specular, as he takes refuge in a masculine, visual, sexual economy and sublimates tactile and olfactory drives that would move him toward sensuous contact”(Henke 330). He does not approach but instead admires from afar. He admires the beauty that he finds when he looks in his desires and art because of their purity. He cannot take the purity away from his art. It is something that he has created to always be the way it was made to be.

Perfection is something that does not exist but Stephen consistently searches for it in the people around him and in art. In the people that he socializes with, he cannot find this perfection that he searches for so he creates women who are perfect to him. He sees his mother as perfect, though he did not create her of course. The search for perfection drives him away from everything but art because he can make art into anything he wants whenever he wants. It is something that he has control over unlike the people around him which he can do nothing about but helplessly look at. Joyce makes Stephen search for this perfection so he can find art which ends up Stephen without the companionship of anyone. Stephen’s solitude is the only way he can reach art so he decides that being alone, away from any other distraction, is the best idea for him. He knows art is his calling so he does what he has to do in order to reach the goal that he sees in front of himself. By reaching his art not only is he reaching what he would love to do but he is also reaching perfection. Perfection may not exist but he can create anything and say to himself that it is perfect because his ideas are what he wants them to be.

Art is everything to Stephen; therefore nothing else to him is important. This is why he enters a state where he is alone and is accompanied by nobody, only art. He sees politics, religion, and society as setbacks from his art. Joyce shows how these ideas that are influential in a person’s life can lead anybody into any path that they want to follow. It all matters now how the information is seen as. Stephen’s ideas created love for art. Stephen Dedalus attempts to “fly” away from these setbacks in order to take advantage of art and what it can bring to him. He needs to focus on art and only that so nothing else can get in his way of creating figures in his life in which he sees as perfection.

Joyce uses Stephen Dedalus’ last name in order to show his “flying” from the setbacks that he faces all around him. Dedalus relates to the story about “Daedalus and Icarus.” In this Greek mythology, Daedalus and his son Icarus are trapped on an island and cannot escape off of it. Daedalus creates wings and plans on using them to fly off the island. Icarus decides to try it himself and ends up falling to his death. This defiance of the God’s ends up in Daedalus’ son’s death. In relation to Stephen, he uses his “wings” to “fly” from everything he believes is causing him trouble. As he is retreating from all these troubles, he finds him self alone. This is in sense the death of society around him including his family and friends. Though Daedalus may have wanted to get revenge for the loss of his son, Stephen is glad to leave everybody and everything else behind in order to be alone with art. This is the only way he can finally do what he was born to do.

With people around him and with their ideas as a distraction, art cannot be “born” in his mind. Art is his children. By making art Stephen’s children, Joyce shows his inability to be with a woman, not because of his sexual preference, but because of his need of purity around him at all times. Since his sexuality cannot take the purity of anybody else, his sexuality is expressed through his art which in sense create them as his children. His mind is full of ideas that end up as his art and beauty. It could be said that his mind is impregnated with all these ideas waiting to be born. He does not need anyone to create these ideas just like how the Virgin Mary had a baby. Art is placed there by the Holy Spirit which has been a topic he has been around for almost all of his life because of his family and society. Though the Virgin Mary was the symbol of purity in the bible and religion, Stephen can still be seen in this light even though he is not exactly pure like the Virgin Mary was when she had Jesus. Stephen, himself, may not be pure to be exact but the ideas that he brings fourth and creates with art are. His ideas are far from being corrupt and evil. He is even afraid to take the purity of women that he meets including the ones that he creates in his mind. Joyce puts Stephen in this light to show that Stephen has purity in his heart even though his purity was lost when he was with the prostitute or even before that when he began having thoughts about women that he thought he should not have. Joyce not only shows that Stephen has purity in mind, but he also shows that he is unsure of anything that is not pure. Since people in society may not be pure, his art is. This is the only object that he can tell is pure because he is the one who created to be that way. He is the one who thought it up himself so it would be like that forever. Stephen cannot and will not take away the purity from the ideas and art that he has created.

James Joyce’s constant ideas of Parnell and politics are mentioned to show the influence that politics has on Stephen. In Ireland, politics and church both had very distinct ideas that opposed one another. Society was split between both. People are not being split between the two. They pick one or the other and feel very strongly about it like Mr. Dedalus with his politics and Dante with her religion. Both were one sided people. Stephen took both ideas which became the basis for his ideas on perfection and purity. From this, art became his passion which he follows when he realizes it is what he was born to do. Art is his way of having purity and having perfection in his life.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tom Phillips, A Humument: Page 18

On page 18 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips suggests that art is the balance which keeps humans in the real world and not in the dream world. He uses reflections of the writing in order to portray the different sides to reality. The clear side being reality and the unclear, background of the painting, representing the dream world in which is uncertain to people. Also, the colors which are used are many shades of yellow and orange in which seem to transcend and become darker as one looks deeper in the painting.

What one’s eyes are drawn to first in the painting is the orange steak which begins from the top right and continues down to the bottom left. This is one of the darkest parks of the painting and it is also the part of the painting in which the writing is on. The writing follows the steak from top to bottom and for the most part stays within the orange streak. One’s attention then begins to slip into the background of the picture. What is seen is more writing which varies from being in different positions, even being upside down. Most of what is written is not easily readable because they seem to be darkened and smudged but some parts can be distinguished to be the same writing that follows the orange streak.

The background imagines, which are darker, are opposites of the imagines which seem to be closer to the viewer of the painting. The background is dark and hard to distinguish. The imagines that seem to be in the front are brighter and easier to look at. The darker yellow versus the brighter yellow are contrasting colors which represent two different sides to art, the world, and people’s minds. The darker colors show the uncertainty people retain in their thoughts and the brighter colors represent what people know and feel comfortable with.

People tend to be scared of what they are uncertain about. They like to know everything that is going on around them. Knowing one’s surrounding helps them feel comfortable with where they are and what they are doing. The background of this painting is created in order to keep the viewer away. The painting in a sense helps keep the viewers from venturing off into the dream world that is created. The viewer instead stays in between the boundaries created by the orange streak which is the brighter part of the painting. This is where the words lay. This is where the viewer gains more knowledge of what is going on and therefore is more comfortable.

The writing begins on the top right of the orange streak. “Venture on a piece of sleep I am going to shut the door, art…” The door represents two sides of reality and the dream world. Sleep is mentioned and while one sleeps they dream. Possibilities are endless in the dream world. Whether it’s literal or not, uncertainty is not widely accepted. Art on the other side shows the reality of the world. Feeling comfortable with oneself and one’s surrounding is ideal. But sometimes other items draw us to what is unknown. “As an art curiosity art surprise begins to rest in sleepy gold initials…” The curiosity may bring people closer to the unknown. But of course fear can outweigh it, causing people to retreat. Art with its “gold initials” show its value. Being a part of everyday life and helping people have a balance has created it into a valuable necessity, affecting many people. “thus toge that gentleman in the passage of time was, indeed, the English- the English.” Now, toge, the main character is mentioned along with time. Time could be seen as bad, good, or possibly neither. Here, time represents how one can spend all their life in the dream world and not in reality. Living in the dream world is not what people may want. Though it may seem good being able to live in a dream surrounding, reality does not disappear. The affect of reality can be damaging if not handled properly, thus the dream world having a bad affect on anybody. But art, or the bright colors in the painting, help maintain people in reality so one does not end up in a world in which they believe is true but is actually a dream.

The painting overall is created in a way that darkness is kept in the background and brightness is brought foreword. Darkness is unwanted so it is kept as far away as possible. The bright colors shine with great affect, drawing viewers closer to it. As the viewers are drawn to the bright colors, they go away from the dark colors. The paintings goal is achieved by fear for the unknown. Being comfortable is what people like to feel and it is what the bright colors bring them and it is what keeps them in reality.