Thoughts on Foe

I didn’t mind reading this story because it was quite short, but I really didn’t enjoy reading this book at all. After already reading Robinson Crusoe earlier in the year, the last thing I wanted to read was another story about Crusoe and Friday. Not that I didn’t enjoy Robinson Crusoe, I just wanted to read something different.

I don’t really understand why the author decided to write a “new” story that included elements from a very old story. Reading Foe felt similar to watching a poorly done sequel of a movie that did not need to be revisited. It felt like the majority of the story surrounded the fact that Friday was unable to speak because of his tongue being removed, and while that tid bit of info was interesting for a little while, I became uninterested pretty quickly. Too much time was spent on wondering what Friday was thinking during different scenarios, even though clearly we were never going to be able to get any insight into his thoughts. There was a glimmer of hope of seeing Friday express his feelings when Susan tried to teach him how to write, but even then, we still knew nothing about Friday’s inner thoughts. Basically, I thought too much of the book was filled with pages talking about Friday, who is an incredibly uninteresting character, because he seems to have almost no emotions at all.

I also don’t fully understand what was happening with the girl that claimed to be Susan’s daughter, or the woman Amy that accompanied her. Hopefully my questions will be answered in the lecture on Thursday.

This was one of my least favorite reads of the year, partially because I don’t enjoy reading fiction all that much, but mainly I just did not want to read a reworking of a story that we have all already read.

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Thoughts on Survival in Auschwitz

I come from a Jewish family, and I regularly attended synagogue and services when I was younger. Because of this my parents and grandparents have always placed an importance on learning about the horrors of the Holocaust, and have had me read quite a few books about the Holocaust in the past. Most notably I have read the story called Night by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor quite a few times. A few years after first reading his story he came to my synagogue as a guest speaker and it was incredible to finally see and hear the  man whose story hit me so hard in person. He had spent time in the grueling camps of Auschwitz and Buna, as well as Buchenwald.  Being able to put a face and a voice to the words that I had read previously was an indescribable experience, and it made me even more disgusted by, and interested in the Holocaust. There are not many Holocaust survivors still alive today, and I’ve been fortunate enough to hear a few of them speak about their tragic stories. Primo Levi was one of a very small amount of people contained in Auschwitz that survived, and he was able to survive due to a number of circumstances. Children, women, and the elderly were usually killed very early, leaving mainly young healthy men to work in the camps. As well as being a young healthy man, Primo was able to use his education to his benefit by gathering extra food rations to stay as nourished as possible. And he also was fortunate enough to fall ill at the perfect time, which actually ended up saving him, as Auschwitz was abandoned right around that time. I look forward to speaking about the story in class, as the Holocaust is something that I feel should be taught about in all schools.

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts on The Waste Land

Honestly this poem was extremely frustrating to read, and I’m sure others in our class agree. I found it interesting that he included allusions from many other sources in order to create something very new and personal, but at the same time the story itself jumped around from narrator to narrator and location to location, making it difficult to follow. After reading each section for the first time, I felt confused and lost. But after reading the sections again I was able to grasp the ideas a little bit better. I look forward to the seminar tonight as well as the discussion on Thursday in order to hear everyone’s thoughts on the poem.

I truly love rap and hip hop music, and I consider (certain) rappers to be incredibly talented poets. The best rappers are able to evoke emotions from their listeners, and share their personal stories, generally within a concise 16 bar per verse structure. And the truly great rappers are able to do all of this while demonstrating a smooth flow, matching their rhymes to fit the pockets of the beat that they are rhyming over, and setting themselves apart from the other rappers out there by having their own personal style and cadence. I love this type of musical poetry with a passion, but unfortunately I don’t feel the same way about poetry in general. I enjoy the artistic and creative aspect of it, but compared to poems that are laid over musical backgrounds, it just doesn’t compare to me.

I didn’t enjoy this poem very much because I felt like it was too difficult to relate to in any way, and I will continue to stick to the likes of The Notorious B.I.G. and Kendrick Lamar when I’m in need of a poetry fix.

 

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Thoughts on the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

I have already seen 1, if not 2, remakes of this classic story. So unfortunately I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading the story though. The remakes that I saw were modernized and made to be much more thrilling than the original, which happens with most stories-turned-movies.

I wrote a paper in High School about dissociative identity disorder, and it seems like a particularly scary and uncontrollable issue. Where-as in this story Dr. Jekyll is able to control his transformations to a degree using a potion. I’ve always been curious how the legal justice system treats murder cases involving attackers claiming to suffer from dissociative identity disorder. I’d assume that they would test their sincerity as much as possible, and potentially place them in a mental facility.

I also found it hard to believe that Utterson was able to hold off from curiosity and wait until after Jekyll’s death to read the letter than was given to him by Lanyon. Also, while I understand that Lanyon was likely terrified watching a physical transformation take place in front of his eyes, it seems like dying of shock and terror is an exaggerated response…

I’m looking forward to more deeply investigating the story with our class, and I definitely enjoyed having this book on the reading list.

 

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Thoughts on the Genealogy of Morals

After having some issues understanding some of Nietzsche’s ideas that he introduces in the book, I finished reading it and definitely found his ideas intriguing. I understand that the words “good” and “bad” can have very different meanings to different people, and I’m sure there’s more to the argument that maybe I just didn’t fully understand, but I felt like that was a pretty simple concept in itself…

I was also interested by Nietzsche’s idea that maybe it would be incorrect for a lamb to blame a bird of prey for attempting to eat them, because that is basically all a bird of prey does. By looking at simple grammar, it is made clear that birds of prey are called as such for a reason. Just like how lightning cannot exist without the flash, a bird of prey cannot exist without preying.

I found plenty of points in this book interesting, but there are also definitely parts where I need some clarification. For example, I don’t have a great grasp on the transition from master morality to slave morality, and a few other ideas brought up. I definitely enjoy these types of readings more than I like reading the fiction novels, because in the fiction novels I feel like they are very straight-forward, and don’t really need much clarification or discussion. But with books like these, talking about the ideas presented in the book with people after you read is crucial to fully understanding what Nietzsche meant to get across. Looking forward to hearing other people’s thoughts and also getting my own questions cleared up!

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Thoughts on Frankenstein

Before having read this story, my only mental image of Frankenstein was a green monster who yelled unintelligibly and chased people around. But clearly the story has more much to it. It is interesting to look at this book and attempt to identify who the true monster in the story really is. The “monster” could be classified as a monster because he killed people, or because he is an outcast from society. But is he really the monster? Or is Victor the monster for creating such a creature? Victor decided to play the role of the creator, and made a beastly-looking animal without thinking about the potential consequences. Victor neglected to realize that any humanly thing, no matter how grotesque, will benefit from or even need some sort of companionship.

Victor created this monster and practically abandoned it out of fear. Between being cast off by society and also finding Victor’s notes about his disapproval of his existence, the monster felt isolated and lonely in the world. In my opinion, Victor Frankenstein could be classified as even more of a monster than the “monster” himself. He went against the rules of nature and created his own human, and then allowed the creature to roam free and kill people that he cared about. And was also too afraid of being labelled as a lunatic to fess up and tell people what he had done, even allowing someone else to be executed for a murder that he had an indirect hand in.

I found it interesting that the monster was able to pick up on the human’s language so quickly, and seemed to actually be a moralled person who later regretted his monstrous ways. I found the story as a whole very interesting.

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Thoughts on the Discourse on Inequality

I really enjoyed reading Rousseau’s thoughts on the origin of inequality, and the way that his ideas differed with those presented by Hobbes. Though I didn’t find the discourse particularly easy to read or even fully comprehend, Rousseau made it clear that he did not believe that political and social inequality was in human’s nature. He believed that physical inequality is natural, which eventually led to some people collecting more resources than those physically weaker than themselves. In order to protect their possessions, those with the most ‘stuff’ created laws to protect their resources from those who are not as well off, which marked the creation of political and social inequality. Until our minds began to grow and advance, social inequality was not in our nature. After social stratification began, humans tried to legitimize inequality by creating laws and sectioning off property.

Hobbes felt that in nature, humans were violent savages, whereas Rousseau believes that we became more savage as we progressed and grew as a race. I’d say that I was more compelled by Rousseau’s ideas. I thought it was interesting when he explained his feelings on laws. He was convinced that laws helped create certain evil passions, and that if humans in nature could be good without laws, then maybe it is laws themselves that make people bad.

Though I know that many people in the class have been arguing for books written by authors from more diverse areas or periods of time, or more books written by women, I’ve found all of our readings to be pretty interesting and mind-opening. After never really reading about philosophy, coming into this class and learning about people’s differing opinions on society has been a very interesting experience. I look forward to starting up class again and I am excited for the second semester to begin.

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Thoughts on Robinson Crusoe

Instead of taking the secure route that was expected of him in life, as a boy born into a middle-class family, Robinson Crusoe decided to venture out to sea rather taking up law as a profession. This led to a life of loneliness and difficulty, making this a pretty weak book for younger teenagers to read, because it is basically showing that instead of doing what you really want to do, it is better and safer to just do what your parents want you to do. This story solidified my thoughts that I should just go through college and end up at law school instead of going to culinary school, which is what I’ve truly wanted to do my whole life. Thanks Defoe for shutting down my dreams!

Though I find it to be a pretty captivating and interesting story, I don’t necessarily understand what makes certain books considered “classics”. At the time, this story must have been extremely interesting to people around that time who were generally unable to break out from what is expected of people in their social class or even travel more than a few miles away from their homes. But today, I see it as an interesting story, but not necessarily anything that is life-changing or deserves to be considered a “classic”, because in my opinion even the Harry Potter series was much more entertaining. Little bit off topic, but I think that the Harry Potter series will stand the test of time as a classic. I have a feeling that Robinson Crusoe will as well, but I don’t think that it is any more interesting than books that are coming out nowadays. I appreciate that it was one of the first of its kind, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best.

In general, I find fiction stories to be much less necessary to read. Because in the end, it may have been entertaining, but I always feel like my time could’ve been spent more intelligently reading something that is not false information. Not that I enjoy reading autobiographies, or dry nonfiction very much, but at least after reading it I feel like I picked up some new knowledge along the way.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story, and I look forward to our next semester of Arts One!

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The Tempest

Even though I usually do not enjoy reading fiction, the addition of magical elements to the story as well as as the overall conciseness of The Tempest kept me entertained. Prospero received awful treatment from his brother and others, and in the end did not release his fury on the people that wronged him. He simply forgave them and then said nothing after that about them making him flee his own country and give up his Dukedom. Prospero comes off as an extremely intelligent and mild-tempered man, which is why it seems even more so unfortunate that his brother conspired against him.

Caliban and Ariel, Prospero’s two servants feel very differently about their situations as servants. Caliban is extremely angry about being stuck as Prospero’s servant and even went as far as attempting to rape his daughter in order to make his disapproval more clear. While on the other hand, Ariel after being saved by Prospero, feels indebted to him, and willfully carries out Prospero’s wishes. Interestingly, even though I pictured Ariel as a man, I’m pretty sure that his gender is ambiguous throughout the story.

I found the possible connection between Prospero denouncing his magical powers and Shakespeare ending his solo play-writing career pretty interesting. Prospero has a monologue in which he explains that he is going to get rid of his books which held his magical powers, and at the same time, The Temptest is Shakespeare’s last play that he solely wrote.

This class is great because I am finally getting a chance to read the “classics” that I have always heard about. I may not love every book that we’ve been assigned to read, but at least I can say that I know what these so-called classics are all about. I’m even finding that I have begun to enjoy writing the assigned essays because I have enjoyed having to deeply engage with all of the readings. Didn’t think I would ever say something like that.

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Thoughts on The Prince

I’m certainly a big fan of the short reads that pack a big punch and I think this is a great example of that. Machiavelli’s ideas reminded me slightly of Plato’s Republic because neither of them are concerned with people’s happiness, they are both more worried with the functionality of the society. Specifically, Machiavelli is more interested in the patriotism of his citizens than their overall happiness. He seems to see citizens as unimportant, and that they only exist to serve their political leader.

Machiavelli is somewhat harsh in terms of the way that he describes the correct way for a leader to gain power. He explains that cruelty is a necessity and even goes on to explain how to inflict cruelty in the most effective way possible. He says that Princes should be cruel for a short period of time and then stop, because shortly after, all of the citizens will simply forget the cruelty. I don’t necessarily understand what he means, nor do I agree with him, but I’m sure he was onto something…

I also found what he said about generosity to be pretty interesting. He says that generosity is an admirable quality for a leader to have, but that it’s a bad thing to be known as generous, because being generous requires depleting your resources. He thinks that it is best to originally be thought of as stingy, because then you will have plenty of resources to be generous with, and any acts of generosity will be more greatly appreciated by the population. He also stresses the importance of self-reliance in terms of having your own soldiers fight for you, and also having resources to last a long time in case of any sort of emergency. If you have auxiliary soldiers that you hire to help you in war-time, they can be helpful to you, but in the end they still have allegiance to their home country.

Overall I definitely thought it was an interesting read and I look forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts about the book.

 

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