Women and Horror

This is actually my second time reading the Yellow Wallpaper; although the first time I read it was in elementary school and so I barely remembered anything about it. Especially how creepy it was! I mean, as a child I understood it was spooky, but it was only reading it as an adult (and especially reading it in conjunction with Simone de Beauvoire) that I really got how unsettling the entire thing was. I feel as if there are two separate levels to the horror in the story: the obvious and the implied. The obvious horror is very overt, it takes up most of the narrative and is apparent to most people who read the story: the narrator is slowly going insane and seeing women trapped in the wallpaper. The implied horror is more subdued, and is something I only understood on reading this story as an adult: the fact that the narrator’s husband and sister-in-law are insistent keeping her locked up and essentially imprisoned, even when the narrator tries to convince them that she should be allowed outside stimulus.

The obvious horror is, to me, something that you find in a lot of horror movies–something scary that seems somewhat improbable. For example, people may be scared after watching Silence of the Lambs, but they also realize that it is unlikely that they will be killed by a psychotic serial killer. The same is true for the obvious horror in the Yellow Wallpaper– it is unnerving to think of someone going crazy and seeing people trapped in their wallpaper, but it also doesn’t sound very realistic.  The implied horror, on the other hand, is so horrific because of how plausible it is. At the time, it was not uncommon for women to be trapped inside their own homes for ‘medical’ reasons. The fact that even the people the narrator trusts are complicit in her imprisonment only adds to the horror–not only is she trapped, but she has no-one to confide in and no hope of escape.

While the obvious horror is more eye-catching, and definitely scarier in the moment of reading the story, I think the implied horror is the more subtle, creeping horror that will keep me awake in the middle of the night.

p.s. -WOW ok this is going up late because i was an idiot who wrote this and then forgot to post it before i went off to my lecture, sorry guys!


Poetry And Empathy

So it has been a while since I last read any romantic poetry, it’s not usually the sort of thing I enjoy. I find it can be a bit too maudlin for my tastes, a bit too emotional. That’s not to say I don’t like or appreciate emotions, just that having something solely focused on emotion can often be boring or alienating. I need some sort of narrative, a context that will help me understand why the emotion is happening. I can’t just read a poem about someone being sad and connect to them immediately, I need some sort of explanation as to why they are sad.

That’s one of the reasons I liked Lyrical Ballads. It offered some background information on each of the characters introduced, and made them seem plausible. It was easier to empathize with their trial and tribulations after knowing some things about them. One of the best examples of this (in my opinion) is we are six, which is so much more powerful knowing the context and where the characters are coming from.

I definitely need some information about the characters in order to empathize with them, but how about you guys? Did you like the background information, and how each poem featured distinct “characters,” or did that take away from the overall emotional impact of the poems?

edit: i forgot to tag this!!! jeez i am bad at using this blog

Hobbes the Cowardly

Hobbes appeals to me on a very basic level. I am a very paranoid person—I worry about things constantly, even when I know that there is no need to. In elementary school, I watched a documentary on the sun, and it mentioned that at some point, millions of years in the future, the sun would explode, form a black hole, and destroy the Milky Way. I was terrified by this. Even though I knew I would be dead long before it ever happened I couldn’t help but obsess over it.

So the fact that Hobbes lists fear as the primary motivation for creating society really… I don’t know if ‘appeal’ is the right word. I guess it makes sense to me. Hobbes validates my—and everyone else’s—fears, and even goes so far as to say that fear is a key part of the human condition. Without it, we would never form a coherent society. The only motivation for forming a contract—the first step toward a commonwealth—with others is our fear, specifically our fear of dying. By making a contract, we give up our right to kill others as long as others do the same. According to Hobbes, fear is the basis of civilization.

I don’t agree with everything Hobbes says—especially the parts about centralizing power, I definitely do not think that is the way to a peaceful society—but I find several points he makes very compelling, such as in chapter 13. 10. He talks about how we are all equally paranoid and distrustful of each other; why else would we lock our doors or put our money into banks? I think that this is the best example of the constant paranoia that (according to Hobbes) is part of being human.

(Sorry this is late; I was having some problems accessing the site/uploading content!)

Shakespeare is so funny guys

Seriously, he totally is. I went to go see The Tempest at bard on the beach during the summer, and it was funny! Like, legitimately, I laughed through two-thirds of it funny. I think that sometimes people can get so wrapped up in the idea of Shakespeare as this important literary figure that they forget that his plays were meant not only to be thought-provoking, but also entertaining. It can be hard to see some of his humor in his plays because of the old-timey language, but once you get past that, you really see how fun he is. Seeing his plays acted out makes you see how many puns and sex jokes there are in his plays, and let me tell you: there are A LOT of puns and sex jokes. Even the serious plays (especially the serious plays). On that note, you should totally read this article (http://www.cracked.com/article_20501_7-filthy-jokes-you-didnt-notice-in-shakespeare.html) if you haven’t already—it’s a really good breakdown of Shakespeare’s humor.

As for the Tempest—I feel bad admitting this, but until the lecture, I had no idea there were any other interpretations of it besides just… a story about a wizard? As I was reading it last week, I never thought of it as a play about plays, or a critique of master-slave relations. I just thought it was a play about this wizard who is trapped on an island, and how his daughter finds love.

Also, there was Caliban, who I kinda felt bad for, but not really? I mean, I don’t think he deserved to be enslaved, but he also tried to rape Miranda, which is something I am really not OK with.

What do you guys think?

The Chorus in Antigone

Reading Antigone, I was surprised at the effect (or lack thereof) the chorus had on the rest of the play.  I have never before read a Greek play, and was taken aback at how the chorus was used. The only other story I’ve read that involved a chorus was the Penelopiad, in which the chorus played a much different role. There, it was used to give another perspective on the events in the novel. In Antigone, the chorus seemed somewhat pointless. They didn’t bring up any points I though needed to be addressed, and were very wishy-washy about who they supported.  The chorus didn’t add anything to the play, didn’t introduce any new perspectives or lead the reader to new understandings. It makes me wonder if the play would maybe even have benefited from having the chorus removed.

The Republic Book 2- Justice and the Kallipolis

There are two key points brought up in book 2. One is the idea that justice/living a just life is better in every way than injustice/ living an unjust life. The second is the theoretical construction of the perfect city (also called the kallipolis), and the rules that govern it.
One of the points Plato emphasizes is the concept of justice having inherent worth. He claims that one should not do the right thing for external reasons (such as rewards of power, money, fame or social acceptance). One should do the right things simply because it is right and should need no other motivation. The purpose of humanity is to enact justice; just as it is the state’s purpose to embody justice.
Plato then begins to talk of the ideal city. He claims that, in order for this city to be perfect, everyone must specialize in a specific task or craft. An individual in this city would do the work he or she is the most suited to/ the best at, and continue to do that task for the rest of their lives. In order to prevent any conflict (from external forces or forces within the city), guardian soldier-police would be instated. These soldier-police would be raised with a strong sense of justice so as not to abuse their power and authority. Their education would help shape this sense of justice and devotion to the city. For instance, they would not be allowed to hear stories or poems in which the gods deceive mortals/ each other or in any other way act unjustly, as it could make them eschew the moral code taught to them.
The city he describes seems, to me at least, to be very controlling and heavy on censorship. It makes me wonder if such a city were to exist how many people would actually want to live there.

Odysseus Would Be Horrible to Take on Roadtrips

So, the Odyssey.

It was really interesting reading this, especially right after Kierkegaard. Fear and Trembling is very analytical, and I found it very hard to read. I kept on having to stop and make notes to make sure I actually understood what Kierkegaard was saying. With the Odyssey, I had to make myself stop reading to make notes. I often found myself swept up in the narrative; especially during books 9-12 and 18-24.  The way the story was written made me feel as if someone was telling it directly to me; a sense of intimacy that I didn’t find in our previous readings.

I did find it hard to connect to the characters; especially Odysseus. I felt like the narrative was very in-depth about his emotions without actually giving me any context for them. I didn’t know much about him; I had no firsthand experience with him—aside from the stories everyone else told about him, I had no idea who he really was. I understand that the Odyssey is a continuation of sorts of the Illiad, and maybe if I had read that I would know more about Odysseus and therefore be more sympathetic to his plight. As it is, it took until book 9 for me to really begin to empathize with him.

Maybe I would have been more sympathetic if I hadn’t read the story; but instead listened to someone read/perform it. I find that having stories read aloud gives me a different perspective on how the narrative plays out. Since I have a tendency to skim text when I am reading, having things read to me forces me to slow down and really listen to how the author (or in this case, the translator) phrases things.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the Odyssey; but I think I will have reread it again in order to fully appreciate some parts of it.

Intro Post

Hi there! I’m Bonney, in case you can’t tell by my username.

I have lived in Vancouver for my whole life; but I am still horrible at getting to places via transit. I always end up getting lost and having to ask random people for directions.

I have two cats; one of whom is sitting on me right now. If anyone else here has cats: do they do this thing where they sit  in the most inconvenient places? Like, you’re watching TV and then they just come up and sit right in front of you, blocking your line of sight. Cats are jerks. Adorable jerks, but jerks nonetheless.

I’m really looking forward to reading and discussing all the course material! There were never many opportunities to discuss what we were learning in my high school classes, and that’s always something I’ve loved doing. I’m also hoping to get better at citations, because I’m still not that good at that.