I think Miranda Burgess said it best when she said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it’s not the explicitly tragic parts of the novel that make her most emotional, but the suspended pockets of beauty.
Like any piece of work regarding the subject of jewish persecution, Until the Dawn’s Light is at times a very difficult text to stomach. Although the narrative jumps back and forth between the present and the past, I could still feel the slow erasure of Blanca’s identity through her experiences. She is denied her humanity in virtually every sense, as the oppressive nature of her environment denies her any opportunity to dignify herself.
More personally, the theme of assimilation as annihilation struck me in particular as a first-generation Korean person. I remember always being proud of being able to speak english “like a white person” and not behaving like someone who was “fresh off the boat”. I remember the shame that surfaced to my skin when I began to realize how much of myself I had lost in the years that I had wasted, desperately trying to be accepted in a community where I felt alien.
And then I remember the moments in my childhood that were uniquely a part of my ethnic experience. Lullabies sung to me in my mother-tongue, sweet-rice dessert drinks, twirling in bright, traditional dresses. I recall these memories and wonder how I could ever have kept this part of my identity tucked away for as long as I did. But I’m almost glad that I left them untouched, I’m glad I never spoiled them. They were always safe behind the doors of my home.
“[Memories are] everything that was and will never be again”
I’m not sure if I agree with this. For the rest of my life I will still be reaching for those suspended moments.
Unsurprisingly, Plato values knowledge with the highest esteem. In Book VI of Plato’s Republic, Socrates explains why philosophers are the ideal rulers and not vicious or useless if raised under the right circumstances. Socrates doesn’t believe that it is at the fault of philosophy if philosophers are perceived as useless, and expresses this idea with an analogy of a ship crew. He likens the “useless” philosopher king as a shipowner afflicted with weak hearing and short-sightedness. Although the sailors may all be in a physically better condition than the shipowner, and even though they are occasionally able to seize control of the ship by force and cunning, they have never learned the art of navigation and are therefore unable to efficiently rule the ship. The philosopher is thus best suited for rule as they are enlightened with the knowledge on how to do so.
Accordingly, Socrates believes that for the ideal guardians to thrive, they must be reared under an ideal constitution, but that such a constitution does not yet exist and therefore the guardian can not exist either. Here we have no other evidence to cling to except Socrates’ belief that the ideal ruler can exist, and that if they did we would all agree with Socrates wholeheartedly.
Book VI also delves into some of Plato’s most abstract ideas. He illustrates his idea on the Form of the Good through an analogy of the Sun. As we could not see anything in our world without the light of the sun, so too could we not see the good in anything without the original Form of the Good. Socrates uses analogy to express this idea for reasons not fully known. Could it be that it is not an idea any of us could fathom? Is it more important for anyone who is to be enlightened to come upon this realization independently? Nonetheless, this metaphysical mystery is the key to the philosopher king’s divine right to rule according to Socrates, as it is with this knowledge of the Form of the Good that philosophers are inextricably tied, and therefore rendered just.
In highschool, I once had an English teacher who was known throughout the school for her love of cats and Margaret Atwood. I’m serious, her bookshelf was guarded by kitten plush dolls and her window had written in stickers, “MARGARET ATWOOD FANCLUB”. Now, I’m probably the farthest thing from a crazy cat lady (I’m allergic), but I think after reading the Penelopiad I can understand where her fondness of Atwood derives from.
Upon my initial reading of the novel, I found myself perplexed by the characterization of Penelope. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, she is depicted as poised and self-sufficient, modest and admirable. In Atwood’s spinoff, however, I discovered a completely different Penelope, one fraught with insecurities, secrets, and even desires (gasp, desires that were NOT pertaining to Odysseus). I didn’t know how to feel about this foreign figure appealing for my acceptance, and then I realized why. Atwood’s Penelope may not be the stoic heroine I had so admired in the romantic epic – in fact, she may not be worthy of praise at all – but she has something she was denied by Homer: Atwood’s Penelope has a voice.
In The Penelopiad, we as readers are afforded the opportunity to listen to the appeal of a woman, who, in her death, attempts to relay all the things she could not say while she was alive, with a contemporary voice. I think in Tom’s post, he asked whether it is necessary or useful to go back and scrutinize such an ancient text with such modern criticism. I’m thinking about that… and I think it is. Because when we do so, we are not telling Penelope to go back and change the way she conducted her life (she’s dead, anyways), we are just giving her a chance to speak. After all, isn’t that how progress is made? By revising the things we did wrong in the past?
My name’s Jenna and I’m from Langley (about an hour away for those of you who aren’t familiar with the GVA yet). I was fortunate enough to be assigned a room with one heck of a view, so I’m currently writing in front of a window overlooking the ocean. It’s absolutely gorgeous outside right now and I’m really distracted so if this post turns out to be all over the place, that’s why.
Uhhhhhhhhhhh okay. Well I chose Arts One because I absolutely love literature and I was hoping to find other like-minded people. I’m hoping to become a stronger writer and ultimately a better critical thinker through this program. Before school started, I was stoked to finally tackle The Odyssey……………. lol but that was before I found out that we’d be reading it within the first two weeks. Still, I’m up for the challenge.
My other love (and first, actually) is film! If you’re ever up for a movie but can’t find anyone to go with, definitely hit me up. I’m always up for anything, all the time. A few of my all-time favourites would probably be: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), In the Mood for Love (2000), and Bright Star (2009) (because I’m a sucker for anything Keats).
For music, I’m not terribly picky but I’ve spent considerable hours of my life grooving to like, late-70’s, early 80’s synthpop/glamrock. Currently I’m really into edm. Basically anything that makes you dance, I guess.
Other than that, I like feminism, coffee, puppies, game of thrones, and breakfast foods.
Let’s be friendssssssssssssss