A Foe of a book.

Foe.

         I actually was pretty surprised I enjoyed the book, considering the fact that Robinson Crusoe was a book or concept I was not a fan of. Though, just like Crusoe was in Robinson Crusoe, Susan was a bit of a whiney narrator, I feel more inclined to sympathize with her as she has tried to make well with her misfortune and genuinely continues to persevere; whereas Robinson Crusoe did things on a whim only to whine and regret his actions later.

         Now onto the actual tale. Foe is pretty good. In fact my favorite part of the book would be Susan Barton’s own retelling of the tale. A lot of it reminded me and harkened my thoughts back to The Tempest, a play by Shakespeare, which we discussed a while back in the course. The characters all exhibit traits of the central castaway characters of The Tempest. In particular I wanted to talk about language, ‘civilization’ and colonialism. The relationship of the three are somewhat similar to that of Prospero, Caliban and Ariel. And all exhibit characteristics of the three. The relationship between Prospero and Caliban is similar to that between Cruso and Friday. Despite Friday bearing no ill will of Cruso (or none that we can see apparent in Susan Barton’s tale, as she herself has talked about reliability and accuracy of recounting the tale told from Cruso and not Friday) and that he willfully help, the relationship between words and language that they use towards each other is one that can be compared to Prospero and Caliban. A major difference, and a theme they hold similar, is what should be taught of language and what effect it has. As Susan Barton feels it would be a privilege for Friday to learn the language, ‘civilizing’ him. Just as Prospero does for Caliban, who in turn mostly uses the language to curse and hate on Prospero, as he learns knows the island is rightfully his. Interestingly enough, Cruso feels that the only language he needs to know are the ones that are ‘useful’ to him. Which is very interesting to me. From which the comparison takes you to show, language is power. Had Friday widened his vocabulary, would he feel differently from Prospero, who they have worked and lived together. Since both of them are not from the island, would he feel more entitled to being king or a shared partner in crime? Do we in the English language have too many ‘useless’ words? Does language ‘civilize’ us? And different is that Caliban is vocal and voices his opinions and objections, where as Friday does not. IN addition to this you can see Susan somewhat stifling his voice when she blows up at him for playing the same tune, though that may be the only tune he knows and is how he can express himself. Which is strange as she wants him to know the wonders of being ‘civilized’ to talk and chat to, but not to really express himself? I don’t know. I am probably thinking off course and off topic.

         This is getting a bit long. But I’ll leave the blog with one of my other thoughts of The Tempest and Foe. Susan Barton taking both Foe and Friday off the island. IN this way it can be said that Foe is much like Caliban, who just wants to live on the island as the reigning king. With not much need for words or legacies. In this way she is like Prospero who puts Friday under her wing, though he seemingly does not enjoy being away from the island, as Ariel longs to be free.
         I don’t know how to juggle all my thoughts on this piece. But I will vouch for Jon. This is a good book, that is enjoyable, in my humble opinion.

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Survival in Auschwitz

            The Holocaust is a period of history of which I have some prior knowledge as my schools have taught me about World War Two and the Holocaust. However not only did I learn about the Holocaust in school, outside of school it was also easy to continue learning and widening the spectrum. The tales of experiences of the Holocaust, both in the concentration camps and trying to escape the fate of the camps, are in a variety of mediums and are not only exposed in documentary or textbook form, but also in books, like the work Survival in Auschwitz and Anne Frank’s Dairy; movies, like Schindler’s list and Life is Beautiful; and graphic novels, like Maus. Compelling tales that, despite all look into the Holocaust with different views and perspectives, personalizes the horrors, fears, and survival nature of the Holocaust rather than looking at World War Two more clinically with statistics and dates. Which no matter when I’ve been exposed, all of which are stories I remember today. And in addition to learning about World War Two and the Holocaust in schools and from other media, there are also many monuments and museums around the world that further knowledge of the period and life in the camps and outside the camps. I enjoyed the book. “The Journey” as the first chapter gives the readers an entrance into the camp with Levi. The use of jumping from him and his own thoughts to observations of families and people around him paint a picture of what it was like. This was particularly a good way as the pictures of the different reactions stitched together gave a feel for the story ahead, as everyone went to the camps together, but all went differently (some packing and preparing, some praying, some drinking). The first chapter brings not only Levi, but the reader, into the unknown as Levi travels to an unknown foreign place. The book looks at the Holocaust in a different light that is interesting and makes it stand out from other stories. Though I feel as though all the stories I’ve watched/read/listened to, were all different and went on to depict different aspects of human nature and what it means to be human. 

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Milieu of Uruguay and Argentina. (Is that even grammatically correct??)

            This week we were to have read Borges, Arlt, and Hernández. However I am only going to talk about some of the stories we read for this section of arts one.

            Cooked Cat.
            Cooked Cat by Arlt is the first story I read. So please bear with me as I slog through my memory to create my thoughts on it. It is an interesting story about this horrendous family this guy stays with. It was strange because it was more a commentary on how cruel people, even towards their own family members could be. He didn’t really relate his own stories and interactions with them, but then again I guess he kind of did. With the part about hiding in the pharmacy with the relative who enjoyed counting the money in his face as if to say “I might have less money than yesterday, but I still have more than you.” The end, where they talk about the aunt. It is amazing. She tricks the cat and boils it alive for eating her chicken. Suffice to say that she would be in favor of the ‘eye for an eye.’ Except, more so for those who do wrong by her. I thought this story felt like it was lost in itself, I guess you could call it a window into this family, but the narrator (despite knowing of this) stays with them and continues to live with them. You could say that he is just surviving, but he could have tried to get away. I don’t know. Maybe I don’t find sympathy for people who keep themselves in unfavorable situations on their own will. I mean, if the family made him stay to pay off a debt or something (is that why he hangs out with them?) that is a whole other story. Because they could track him down. But if he is just bunking with them, and they let him stay for free… I’m not sure. Maybe he could find a nicer family. Or maybe that is the point. Everyone is cruel? I don’t know. I just couldn’t imagine reading the non-translated version. Especially since it is not readable and grammatically incorrect. I already have trouble with the works that have proper grammer and hidden messages, what makes abstract any easier? Which is why I was pretty glad it wasn’t abstract.

            Man on Pink Corner.

            This story was an interesting one. It kinda reminded me of the old west and in particular the book All the Pretty Horses, which follow the adventures of two boys travelling down into South America to ride on the cowboy culture that is fading in America. These two boys, here, met with more violence and other themes I seem to am forgetting. All in all, the fight scene really reminded me of this book. Also Man on Pink Corner, was a good read and, in my humble opinion, easier to follow than some of Borges other works. I particularly thought the cruelty at the end, where like vultures, many of the men pray on this once predator. The turn of tables, where even one of the most menacing guy walks away, has his body discarded, picked at, and disrespected.

            The Circular Ruins.

            Since I’ve used up many words, and have sat here for an hour writing this. Yes, I am a slow typer. 37 words a second when I am copying. I’ll make this one short and sweet. Liked this one a lot. Has a Frankenstein meets Jekyll meets Inception meets sorcery and fatherhood kinda feel/vibe. The ending was predictable. But, what can you say? It was interesting. And I like magic. And I really liked the idea of dreaming up an existence. Matrix style.

 

            Well that’ll be my blog post of the week. I was initially hesistant (and resistant in all honesty) to the idea of reading these short stories, but I am glad to be exposed to this genre from another country. Although Raymond Carver is still, and probably, won’t come out from the hole I’ve buried his stuff in for a while longer. But that may be more the fact I didn’t enjoy… nevermind. Happy readings. Can’t wait to finish our seminars, I’d like to know more about Cooked Cat. 

Metamorphosis

I can understand now how Utterson and Walton must have felt upon laying eyes on these monstrosities they can’t quite describe, but do anyways. Because that is exactly how I feel about Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Maybe it is the many books and literature classes I’ve taken in high school, but I feel so completely without words. Not even Raymond Carter’s weird stories could prepare me for this. I totally thought the entire time that he was going to turn back, that the entire story was a metaphor, had to have a sense for what it was as a written work. Man was the book depressing, each page you read the more it got horrible for Gregor. Surprisingly though it was still a book I didn’t have to take myself into turning, like maybe some of the more drier pieces had me. I just feel really depressed. I mean, they just up and forgot the bug thing was Gregor. Granted it was only a few pages for me and rather quite a length of time for them, but I can hardly believe that the parents would have forgotten that the thing spoke to them as Gregor before showing himself. I can see the sister not knowing, she went to fetch the doctor or whatever, but what did the parents think happened to their son then? He talked to them as he escaped out their apartment window only to leave a giant bug as a goodbye? Fair enough to say that thought may come through as his family are pretty naggy at the beginning and his job sounded pretty lame, like he hated it. But to give so much to his family over the years, them not having to lift a finger while he provided for them, and to repay him becoming a bug with stuffing him in a room… Hmmm… But I guess this helps me see the book in a new light. Perhaps I’m thinking to broad, but I guess Metamorphosis could refer to his family changing their living style in the passing of the brother, becoming more independent after having him take care if them so long. Maybe another ghost haunting type, looking over the shoulder, was too cliche for Kafka. Or maybe I am completely off mark. Overall I enjoyed the book. It was definitely a page turner and am excited to hear more about Kafka. Though now at the end of the blog, I take back my prior statement. Raymond Carter is wack. Anyone who reads him should get a gold star, his stories are seriously weird. Though I liked Raymond’s story called Fat. And the one where people were selling their furniture with the couple who wanted to buy from him… Or maybe that wasn’t him..?

The Wasteland

At first I thought I had already read this piece and it turns out that I had not. I particularly have a fond of satirical poems type things and other poems, this poem, The Wasteland, is definitely not genre I have ever read before. Wow, is this poem ever different and I thought I was difficult to understand. I have to say at first I laughed upon reading the poem. I was confused and as I am personally a see what you get kind of person I did not know what to make of it. I will definitely have to pick up a copy of the book for the footnotes and that stuff. My favourite part of the poem is in section 1 and 3. My first favourite is the lines 43-59 around. That stanza I personally enjoy superstition and fortunes. The imagery of that stanza is fun and exciting. My second favourite is the part about Mrs. Porter and her daughter washing their feet in soda water. It really has nothing to do with anything the reason I enjoy it, other than the fact that it reminds me of my mom and I in Bali and Indonesia in ocean. (My mother is known as Mrs. Porter to some).
Stay tuned for more. To come after my lecture in another class. Hope the lecture will be good, wish I could go sounds like lots of interesting things to talk about!

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Civilizations and its discontents

From my experiences from readings, I have found that I tend to enjoy the more literary pieces, such as Frankenstein, The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Medea, The Tempest, and the like. Freud was a good read and I particularly thought it was a read that was easier than most to follow. As stated in the lecture, the tone was conversational and not in your face. Also at first reading I had no idea what to think of the Oceanic feeling, since it was a response at the beginning of his book. I thought that his thoughts on the Oceanic feeling originating from being in the womb, and a babe in arms where you as a baby is just sensations was logical. Which comes to my next point. I personally find it very hard to look at more of the stuff written by psychologists and philosophers. Being so young, and less accomplished, than these men I find myself easily swayed this direction and that. And how they say stuff with authority is daunting to look against. However I guess that is why we are discussing them in Arts one, and also why I enjoy learning about the ways most were… oddballs. Though I would rather have read My Last Duchess or The Rape of the Lock, one of my personal favourites, since I feel like it is more fun to look at and dissect literature as an observation on the humans in the world. I particularly was struck by the thoughts of human advancement in the grand economics of happiness and what part it all had to play, whether it had positive gains and how he knocks them off on the next page by countering with the fact that had it not been for one advancement, we would not have had the need for another. All in all, I thought this was a better read than I initially thought it would be, not to say that I wasn’t looking forward to it because I was, the human mind is a curious thing. 

Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

            The Victorian era is one that I love to learn about. They are such a fun group of people to research, I just love the pomp and the façade and the clothes and the fog and Sherlock and mummies and Jack the Ripper and Knick knacks… So fun!
            Anyways, I was really looking forward to reading Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde since it is one of those books people know the jist of. I think the lecture was a good one and I really enjoyed it. When reading the book I totally read over the allusions to prostitution and all that stuff. It was nice to go over that and some of the history regarding the Victorian Era. It would definitely be hard to understand the criticisms of the era if we did no know the context it was in! The part that stood out to me was the talk about the strictness in the era of not only practically everything, but the way even furniture is even dressed as it is too provocative.

            There was reminded me very much of Jack the Ripper, when Mr. Hyde was caught by the maid looking through her window and the police trying to find the culprit. Although the execution was not the same, but had the fog been there and the moon not so bright he might not have been caught in the act. Not going to lie, I love Mr. Utterson. He is just so oblivious. But rather I like how he perseveres in trying to help his friend out. Also how he has the best of intentions in what he does, even if only some of it is genuine, and that he does like to stick his nose wherever. As someone who knows what is coming it is humorous to watch him stumble along the clues. Although in his position I would probably have thought the same.

            I feel sad that we aren’t doing more books of the time, but now this book has me a list of books to read over the summer while I hang out in the sun and on the beach… I hope.

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On the Genealogy of Morals

To start off this week I read the wrong book… So I’ll be catching up as quickly as possible. You could probably imagine my surprise. For a while I thought Nietzsche was Freud… you can feel the confusion for the first part of the lecture. So Freud is another blog for another week.
But alas, there is still a blog owed. I have to say, the lecture really made me want to read Nietzsche. He sounds like a high strung and funny individual, although I guess not intentionally. Anyways, the part of the lecture that I found interesting was the fact that Nietzsche was banned from academic study, which it turned out his sister edited in favour of her cause. Sounded like she really milked that cow, reaping the sows of his work, turning him into an icon/prophet she would interpret, and changing his work for her own self. Not that I know anything about that. However the situation really reminded me of Rousseau, where people used lines from his book at the time to say he would have been an advocate for the French Revolution. And pro-lifers would use Dr. Seuss to rally against abortion, although Seuss himself doesn’t want to be a part of the argument (if memory serves me well). So I would have to say that I guess Nietzsche isn’t the only one who puts words into others mouth. Another part of the lecture that was interesting was the abstaining part. How philosophers are never married and that stuff to enrich their minds and separate mind and body. Cool fact.

 

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Frankenstein

            Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was a better read than the first time round. When I was in grade 11 I feel that I wanted to dislike the book to prove the point that Romantic literature is boring. Needless to say now that I am not the biggest fan of Romantic literature; however, the second time reading Frankenstein it was not as bad as I initially received it. Also I figured out exactly why I do not like it. I have to say Frankenstein has to be my least favorite character of all time. Sure you can say he is an anti-hero and he made a mistake playing with life and death. But really, what did he think was going to happen when he stitched together corpses? That they would magically make him into a perfect being? And also, what is up with all the running away. Sure his monster is pretty horrific and not too nice, but he did make him. Maybe if he stuck around and taught him stuff his monster would not have gone on and murders his family and other people. But then again, nurture versus nature… Which I have to say I am not completely sure it is nature. I feel that Frankenstein’s monster could be capable of being nurtured into an upstanding loving citizen, as shown through the part of him watching over the activities of that family. He grew to love, and when they did not love him he went out of control. I am not advocating that Frankenstein should have complied with his wishes, and I understand he was upset when he made the monster, but I do think he should have taken responsibility to look after him. Or attempt to. Also, it is not only his relationship with the monster and his way of running away when the going gets tough, there is just something else I do not like about him.

 

            Anyways, my favorite part in the whole book was how Mary Shelley shows you a bit of humanity in the monster as he grows to love and learns what is love. That is not to excuse his behavior later in the book; however, I like how she brings out the monster in him. Definitely not the Frankenstein story I was hoping for. But then again, maybe I just like clichéd stories.

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Discourse on Inequality

            Discourse on Inequality, by Jean-Jacque Rousseau, was at first difficult to read due to the sentences that seemed to go on forever. However, after the dedication I found the book to more or less be easier to read as I got use to the way Rousseau wrote. If there were one line in Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality that I could talk about it would be the one about fences and how the first guy convinced people that the land was his. (Having problems locating the line, will update when I find it). At first I thought it was quite funny. The thought of a person constructing a little fence around him and say that the enclosed land is his is somewhat amusing to me. However the more I thought about it the more there was too it. I guess I never really did think about it too much before, but nowadays we buy property, which may not even be on actual ‘land.’ And the price of such a place is determined by its location and aesthetics? Maybe I’m wrong though, what do I know about property? Anyways it is just interesting to look at this and later to what Rousseau says about the animals in nature.
            I personally really enjoyed the layout of the book. Rousseau’s note about the notes of the book left me with the impression that he really did know people. I can’t say if it made him feel more or less credible, but I thought the way he put a disclaimer, telling people it is okay to skip the notes part of his book made him seem like he knows people.
            I thought his points, in the first page of the Preface, were very interesting on the topic of what civilized and savage people are and which is better. Made me think back to Columbus for a bit. It was an interesting thought because these people who are to read his book, who I am going are religious and like Rousseau do not object any falsities to it (wish I could phrase that better). It is interesting because I never thought about how it was after exile and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge that we as people become “civilized” (again, wish I could phrase this right). Not that I thought about the Bible often before studying it.            Lastly, more of an observation than anything else, everyone seems to like to mention Sparta in their books on politics. Too bad we didn’t read Sparta’s thoughts on the world and everyone else’s systems of government. (Do they have a book like that? I wonder.)