During the reading of the Riding the Trail of Tears, I found the concept of having a loop very interesting. The loop itself can be seen as a continuous cycle that is re-lived and recycled within the system. The misfits said, “Every time the loop starts over, so do we…With each new loop, we all begin again.” The loop can be interpreted as something that is life-giving (giving life to those who existed within the Trail of Tears), but at the same time, it can also be seen as a never-ending cycle/loop violence and history which is altered or influenced by capitalism (Ride is made for the sake of ‘entertainment’). When the misfits describe how the ‘suits’ come to kill them again and again, it shows the violence that exists within the system, while also making us as the audience express sympathy or feel pity for these indigenous data/programs that reside within the grey area of the system. The loop is constantly brought back to the audience which makes it an important symbol (from the front cover to Tallulah’s dreams to the VR system itself) After reading this novel, I feel that the existence of VR technology can definitely simplify our methods of education in areas such as history, but at the same time, if it is focused on entertaining the audience, it takes the core aspect of learning away and replaces the facts and purpose with entertainment of the audience (ultimately undermining the purpose of having VR for education).
The film Vertigo by Hitchcock is a thriller that is narrated through the male gaze of the protagonist, making certain forms of scopophilia pop up more in the film. Out of the three forms of scopophilia (narcissistic, voyeuristic and fetishistic), I felt that it was the hardest to connect with the character or view characters through narcissistic scopophilia. Narcissistic scopophilia ties in with the concept of the mirror stage which is like what happens in a theatre when you recognize yourself with the ego ideal which is most likely the protagonist of the film. Although Scottie is the story’s protagonist, he demonstrates that he is a character that should be sympathized with, but not to be recognized as the male ego ideal. This is established during the beginning of the film, as Scottie faints into the arms of Midge, ultimately depicting the protagonist as a venerable character. It is because he is venerable due to his phobia, which allowed him to easily be manipulated by the other characters (Both male and female). Gavin being the antagonist takes control over the course of events that happens, as he is the one that sets the plot in motion to achieve his goal. Scottie is much like a pawn controlled by Gavin and depends on into a spiral of madness and love due to his manipulation.
Slave Song by Dabydeen was a very interesting read, as it provided a point of view that isn’t romanticized or sugarcoated, which gives it more depth in its depiction of the British colonization of the Guyana. I specifically looked into the poem Slave Song and how it uses sadistic sexual violence to depict the abusive/violent colonizers and the powerless servants who can only conquer their masters through their imagination. The servant tries to liberate himself through the use of phallic imagery such as when he says, “But yu caan stap me cack floodin in de goldmine / Caan stap me cack splashin in de sunshine”. The liberating tone is evoked through phallic representation of the male penetrating the female through the words ‘floodin’ and ‘splashin’. The gold and the sun can be a phallic symbol of the female gentile which is depicted as rich and warm and the male sex symbol of the cack is represented as violent through its forceful actions. Also, the poem draws interesting comparisons between the servant and animals, as it states, “Look how e’ya leap from bush to bush like a lack crappau / Seeking out a watahole / Blind by de sunflare, tongue like a dussbowl”. There is a sense of being desperate which is representational of the lack of control that the black servant has and is at the mercy of his masters. At the same time, the waterhole can be symbolic of his imagination which is what reliefs him from the stress and is in a metaphorical sense life-giving. This poem uses the servant’s mental conquest for the master’s wife to add depth towards how the servant seeks hope in the dire situation through the manipulation of his imagination. In order to survive and have hope, imagination functions as a lifeline that keeps him alive and has the will to live on.
The Yellow-Wallpaper to me is such an interesting text, as the ending is so satisfying but at the same time so vague and left so much to audience interpretation. From the face value of what we can see from the ending, Jane is driven into madness due to the influence of the wallpaper and her projection of her state of mental entrapment onto the wallpaper; the manifestation of the women behind bars on the wallpaper heavily reflects unstable mental state of Jane and also her feeling of being entrapped by the male dominant society even in the domestic space that she should feel safe and comfort in. Also, I believe that another possible interpretation towards the ending would be Jane being representational spark during the beginning of a change in the androcentric culture. She is portrayed as crazy or insane through her sickness of depression, thus making her perspective and points seem invalid or heretical. Since Jane sees things differently than other’s, specifically the wallpaper, she holds a perspective that is against what was generally accepted by society at the time. Although she may be crazy, she still shows purpose in her action. Throughout the short story, Jane attempts to break free from the constraint of the room and the yellow wallpaper and at last, she is able to obtain the freedom that she tried so hard to attain. The end depicts Jane physically above John, which is not only representational of the shift in power but also we get the feminine perspective above of the male perspective of the androcentric culture.
In other texts that we have read such as the life of Galileo, knowledge and truths are often hard to truly identify. Galileo’s views and knowledge were seen as heretical because it was not beneficial for those in power. Similarly, Jane’s perspective is often overlooked and dismissed by John simply because he has physical and mental ‘authority’ over her in society.
After reading the play Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, it made me question how we as humans come to the idea of truth and what is part of a discourse. Anything and everything can be brought into question of how valid it is and whether if it is deemed worthy of being knowledge by society or authorities. Galileo’s proposal for putting forth the heliocentric model to correct the existing Ptolemaic model is a great example of knowledge being questioned and shows how authorities dictate the knowledge exposed to the public. In act four, Galileo says, “Truth is born of the times, not of authority. Our ignorance is limitless: Let us lop one cubic millimetre off it. Why try to be clever now that we at last have a chance of being a little less stupid?” Galileo wants to change the existing system that is proven through his physical evidence as incorrect, but the evidence is still rejected simply because the authorities (Chief fathers of church, philosophers, Classical scientists) don’t want their current system to be disrupted. If the Aristotle model is abolished, it would prove that the church was wrong, thus tarnishing the ‘perfect’ representation of earth and heaven.
The authorities who decides on what knowledge is are represented in the play as people who aspire to become so close to God that they are too ignorant to realise the truth that is presented to them. In act nine, the opening epigraph states,
“Eight long years with tongue in cheek
Of what he knew he did not speak.
Then temptation grew too great
And Galileo challenged fate.”
The focus of this poem is the word ‘fate’ as it implies that it is beyond one’s control but in this case, fate is controlled by those with power and authority. When Galileo challenged fate, he challenged the belief of Christianity thus challenging the sphere of influence of the church and cardinals. This is further shown through the views of the old cardinal as he says, “I am walking, with a firm step, on a fixed earth, it is motionless, it is the centre of the universe, I am the centre and the eye of the creator falls upon means me alone.” He is represented as such an ignorant person who rejects knowledge given to him simply because if Galileo were to be right, he would no longer be the one who God favours because he is the ‘centre’.
Anyone can say that they know something, but to prove it is harder and even if it is proven to one’s self that it is true, it does not mean that society will accept such truths and views. This limits and restricts the boundaries of our knowledge and also our creativity, as truths are rejected due to how beneficial it is for the authority.
Through the reading of The Sandman by Hoffmann, I found the link between the symbol of eyes and Nathanael’s mentality being affected by the character created from his mind, Coppelius. I believe the eyes can be seen as a symbol for one’s clarity of vision and mind, as Nathanael often loses sight/vision as he gets closer towards the imagined figure of Coppelius the Sandman.
The eyes of the characters in the story reflect a lot about their personality, as demonstrated through the characters Coppelius and Clara. Coppelius’s eyes are described as “two greenish cat’s eyes” which illustrates the beast-like and wild aspect of Coppelius’s personality since he is the figure who haunts and torments Nathanael’s eyes. On the other hand, Clara’s eyes are described as the “Ruysdael lake, in which were reflected the pure azure of the cloudless sky, the tract of forest and flowers, and the whole variegated and merry life of the opulent landscape”. The clarity in Clara’s eyes can be seen as the logic and reason which is lacking in the eyes of the protagonist Nathanael, thus making it significant when Nathanael choose to blindly follow the eyes of Olimpia. When Nathanael saw himself in the eyes of Olimpia and rejected Clara, it can be interpreted as how Nathanael submits to the madness of Coppelius and rejects all from the logic and reason that he had. Also, the difference between the eyes of Clara and Olimpia can be a metaphor of how Nathanael transitions between reality and the world created from his twisted hatred of Coppelius. When Nathanael mentions “the circle of fire” he tends to lose sight of reality and plunge into the darkness of Coppelius. Clara’s eyes being symbolic of reason and logic plays a key role in bringing sense into the visions and eyes of Nathanael, thus keeping him from being consumed by the shadow of Coppelius the Sandman.
The unknown that he had feared was just a part of him that he tried so hard to reject, but in the end, Nathanael ultimately became the Sandman that he had feared so much as a child. Coppelius can be seen as an alternate personality that Nathanael had and slowly consumed him as he failed to see reason and accept his own false reality.
Through the reading of Galileo “The Starry Messenger”, and “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina”, I wanted to look further into two questions. The questions are, to what extent is it more effective to understand sacred scriptures through the book of nature as suggested by Galileo, and How do we distinguish between what is recognised as knowledge and what’s not (In terms of gaining knowledge). I believe that Galileo’s belief that sacred scriptures should follow the proof that nature provides is true, because it limits the amount of interpretations that a scripture could hold. As Galileo claims, “mistrusting their defence so long as they confine themselves to the field of philosophy, these men have resolved to fabricate a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible”. The sacred scriptures are used by the church to create a false shield which protects their interpretations, while blocking out all other thoughts and interpretations which don’t aline with the ones of the bible. This can be problematic, as not only does it limit the bounds of knowledge that people can have, but also generate vague and ‘inaccurate’ interpretations of scriptures. Also, it is more useful to interpret the bible through nature, since nature is something which is tangible to us, thus making more understandable.
In the second question, I asked how knowledge can be distinguished between what is, and what is not. I believe that knowledge is something that changes overtime, thus there is no true form of knowledge, as the knowledge base of anything can be proven and disproven later. This can be seen through how the Ptolemaic theory was at first proven ‘true’, but is later disproved by Galileo. The theory claims that the earth is the stationary center of the universe, with the planets moving in epicyclic orbits within surrounding concentric spheres. People believed the theory because it was the theory which best explained the positions of planets, and also did not conflict with the bible, thus not deemed as heretical by the church. Galileo said, “it is impossible for a conclusion to be declared heretical while we remain in doubt as to its truth, then these men are wasting their time clamouring for condemnation of the motion of the earth and stability of the sun, which they have not yet demonstrated to be impossible or false”. Without solid evidence from nature, what is seen as knowledge can be vague, as that form of knowledge can change in the future, through new theories or claims.
Through the reading of Plato Republic, it can be seen how Plato seeks to create a just state (Kallipolis), with the specialisation of people, and the rule through philosophers. This brings me to question how well Plato’s just state would work in our present day if it were to be established. Although Plato provides interesting theories and ideas such as the myth of the metals (Gold being the philosophers, Silver being the auxiliaries, Bronze being the producers), it is not ideas which are feasible in today’s society. This is because the theories such as the myth of the metals limits people’s creativity and motivation to innovate as they are suppose to only do work which suits their class of metal. This would be problematic if applied to the present day, since it would mean that there is less elasticity in job finding, and also limit in advancements such as technology. Plato believes a just society must also have just people, which would mean people who have control over their appetites. This would be counter productive in today’s society, since if everything were to be under strict control, and limited what people can do, it would remove the idea of freedom and also create a society which ironically seems much like Plato’s allegory of the cave. People are unable to see beyond what Plato or the philosophers allow them to see, meaning that new philosophers never see the forms that Plato sees, as the city is controlled by Plato’s ideals meaning that they cannot see beyond Plato’s views.
My name is Patrick, I am from Hong Kong and I chose to enrol in Arts One because there is a wide variety of texts that is studied, while also offering chances to help improve my essay writing skills. I am excited to discover new texts, explore different methods which can help me increase the quality of my analysis in texts, and also generating interesting discussions in the group.