For a Wasteland, it’s rather vibrant

T.S. Eliott’s Wasteland was confusing.  All those imagery pretty much filled my senses like, as Kevin said, a minature movie reel playing.  Wait.. HOLD THAT THOUGHT…

If it’s a Wasteland, it’s certainly not a poetical or a wasteland that’s not vibrant.  Instead, what we’ve gotten from Eliot is a very rich and varied description of his wasteland, sometimes I could just taste the spring air.  There is actually an incredible amount of tactile, audiosensory imagery that is available for the reader of The Wasteland.  Kind of strange, the effort that Eliott put into describing his Wasteland, makes it NOT a wasteland in terms of senses, it delights our senses in fact, twists and turns, drawing our attention and leading us to focus on certain places and words.  This makes us feel not a wasteland of emotions, but forces us to feel…

Not to mention the allusions, which I found, confusing, but delightful for an admirer of history.  To see all those lines from various works of literature, intermingled with Eliot’s personal references is not just amusing, but it creates an incredible amount of intricacy within the work.

So, for a Wasteland, Eliot’s poem is actually quite a goldmine of imagery… seems a Wasteland can be full of beauty…

Freud and All that Jazz

Well… Freud is.. interesting.

Okay seriously, as the first philosopher we’ve ever studied to equate practically everything we do to our desires, love and need for sex, he’s pretty darn revolutionary.  I mean Plato, Hobbes, they all talk about how desire is a bad thing.  In fact, they try to severely repress desires severely, through the Kalliopolis and the Leviathan.  Freud is probably the first to say that desires and libido are necessary or else we’ll self-destruct ourselves.  And he’s darn fascinating, in fact, his ideas may explain many things we are confused about.

I’ll get to the point, porn.  Why is porn, particularly internet porn so popular these days? Seriously, it’s skyrocketed and the adult media industry has grown hugely. The priest in my church keeps focusing on the issue, so when I read Freud, I thought of the issue.  Well if we look at Freud, its kind of explained.  Humans know that sexual love affords the greatest pleasure.  Of course, the risk (as Freud explains) is that getting married, and getting bonded to a particular love-object has great risks, particularly of betrayal, of rejection and so forth. Therefore, it makes sense why man and men of this time have become so bloody interested in internet pornography.  There are no risks.  The love-object, is anonymous, a piece of media, and it satisfies sexual desires.  Of course the attachment is very temporary, but it does explain why people are so attracted to adult media of this time.  This shows that Freud’s ideas on sex and pleasure can be quite easily applied.  I also quite liked his idea on how saints direct their desires, by diverting their love toward everything.

Then again, Freud does have his drawbacks.  I mean it seems very unlikely that EVERYTHING in the world is motivated by sexual desire.  Pain and pleasure do play a part of it and the superego as well but everything by sexual desire?  That’s a little pushing it.  However, I can’t think of a convincing argument against it yet, so I’ll leave that in the air.

I also understand why we are reading this after jekyll and Hyde.  It raises questions on what part of Hyde is Jekyll… I mean is Hyde the ego and Jekyll the superego?  But if Jekyll is the superego… that means he has to have an ego… but Jekyll is Hyde… well I’m getting off track, the point is, Freud offers some convincing explanations on how Hyde and Jekyll developed and how human conscience developed.

All in all, I found Freud very informative, though I tended to get lost as he began to explain more advanced concepts.

Jekyll and Hyde, on being the same person and split personalities

Iconic and very well known, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the best known books of english literature.  Having read the book before and studied it, I do have an idea of what it entails and re-reading it was a little boring since I knew what was going to happen, thus the suspense was gone. Moreover, Stevenson’s writing style bored me and I didn’t like how I saw the whole case only through Utterson’s eyes.  It was as if I was distanced, unable to see deeply into Hyde or Jekyll.

Now why do I think I was distanced from Hyde and Jekyll?  This partly came from a black and white movie interpretation of J and H, in which the Point of View was from Hyde and Jekyll, this allowed me to sympathize with the characters better.  Still, Jekyll’s final account as harrowing and drew some sympathy from me.  The poor discontented doctor who brought the monster out of himself… but this made me think of something rather disturbing, isn’t Hyde the same person as Jekyll?

Hyde never surfaced until Jekyll took the potion to bring out Hyde.  That is true.  However, Jekyll himself has admitted that Hyde is a part of his personality.  A separate personality, which is accompanied by a physical change, that is true, but don’t they inhabit the same body?  I mean… Jekyll, is as much to blame as is Hyde for the murders.  If he had not taken the potion, nothing would have happened.  He would have been discontented, but in my view, Jekyll is as much as to fault for as is Hyde.

But moving on, what I am most intrigued by is the evolution of the concept of a split personality.  Robert Louis Stevenson was probably the first to think of this novel concept and transform it into a horror story.  At that time, it was so horrifying, I believe it is said that Stevenson rewrote it because the publishers were so scared.  Nowadays, the concept of a split or hidden personality, has been made funny.  We see multiple funny split personalities on screen and we don’t find it scary, in fact we find it hilarious.  Various characters in Naruto, Harvey Two-Face from Batman, The Mask.  They’re bloody hilarious and if you think about it, many heroes have a sort of hidden personality.  Bruce Wayne and Batman, Clark Kent and Superman, they’re heroes that have two personalities, a fake and a real.  A little different from Jekyll and Hyde, but similar in that they show two faces to the public.

Yet, the concept of the split-personality can be still horrifying, The Hulk and Dr. Banner being one of the more dangerous and eerily similar ones to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Such is the power of when a hidden face is revealed.




I found that understanding Nietzsche is as hard as spelling or pronouncing his name.  Professor Jill, thank you so much for that lecture because I understand him… or at least kind of.  Do I agree with Nietzsche though?  WELL given my religious beliefs are Christians and the fact that Nietzsche does criticize religion and takes a rather anti-god stance I say my personal feelings are quite negative for him.

What I do admire Nietzsche for is his diversity.  Unlike most essayists who are very linear in their approach and suggest that there is only one truth, Nietzsche’s idea of multiple truths is something I quite admire.  It sure is confusing, but I like how he at least is able to embrace the fact there are multiple truths and multiple ways of doing things and that morality changes in time.  Unlike Plato’s rather stagnant one truth, Nietzsche’s multiple truths that change seems much more flexible.

Slave and noble morality, this I have to say is something I do agree upon with Nietzsche.  His examples are extraordinarily convincing and the willingness of Nietzsche to look beyond what makes good, bad and evil.  His combination of history, literary analysis and philosophy blend together to create a very interesting and very convincing argument.  Revolting (as in slaves revolting) humans will call their masters, evil, an intensification of bad and invert the Nobles morality.  We see this in the Israelites, when they leave Egypt and we see it in the rise of Nazi Germany (jewish bankers were in power, flipped over by working class).

What I don’t like about Nietzsche… is his rather inherent dislike for a stagnant good.  As much as I find his argument convincing, I can’t keep thinking how appealing it is for the idea of a common good, a form of good acceptable to all humans… The problem being is that Nietzsche would call me silly and scared of knowing myself… Which might be the case because as a human, I’m quite aware that I can do great evil or great good… though Nietzsche would say this is depending on the morality of the current times.



Frankenstein the Monstrous God? his Monster and Society: The Distorted Mirror

I have to say, Frankenstein was quite depressing.  Over the years, I’ve watched many adaptations, read many different versions, but the original story, while extraneously wordy at times was very depressing.  I found myself sympathizing with the monster at times and feeling repulsive at Frankenstein for his selfish actions.  Yet at the same time, I don’t find the monster innocent.

Frankenstein the Monstrous God?  Well that’s what Frankenstein did.  He played God and created life.  And some would argue, that like ‘God’ he released his creation into society and did nothing to help him.  Moreover, as much as Frankenstein may deny it, he had a fundamental role in shaping the monster into what he is.  For Frankenstein refused to even help the monster, attempting to destroy it.  Although his reasons were valid in a sense, they were motivated primarily by revenge.  Which kind of brings up how he could be any type of impartial god because he has emotions and is heavily influenced by them, but did not Zeus or Poseidon have emotions?  Thus, in a sense, Frankenstein was God of his monster, influencing almost everything that he did because of the way he created him and how he dealt with him.

The Monster, as he is known… the question that probably is most hotly debated is whether it is his fault or society’s fault or Frankenstein’s fault.  Well… I believe a lot of the blame is can be portioned to Frankenstein, but I am very aware that the monster made his own decisions.  The monster was kind, intelligent and at times, very compassionate.  However, he is also very vengeful.  The rage that led him to murder Elizabeth, William, Clerval and frame the murder on an innocent woman… That type of reasoning and decision making I detest.  Could not the monster have stood up against society’s taunting of him and did he have to succumb to the curse Frankenstein placed on him?  He had a choice.  While the choice may have been extraordinarily difficult and the manner of pressure placed upon the monster great, did the monster not admit he was monstrous?  It’s not a hard line evidence because just because he thinks he himself is monstrous doesn’t mean he is, but I find that although the monster, may have been born innocent, he certainly succumbed to society, to his curse to prove himself truly a monster.

That being said, I also think that society played a vital role in creating Frankenstein and The Monster.  Society, is the mirror that created the two monsters  Society at Frankenstein’s time made him push the limits, advance beyond what was deemed morally acceptable leading to him regressing his morals and creating life.  The Monster, was scorned by society, which reflected him as a monster, so much that the monster, became one in action and in appearance.

Comments are appreciated, sincerely,


The Natural Man…

In A Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau does bring up some good points regarding the natural man and is able to point out some flaws in Rousseau’s argument.  However, some of Rousseau’s argument is based on a very romanticized version of Native American culture, leading me to find it difficult to agree with all of his points.

One of the things Rousseau does is that he refutes Hobbes argument.  He points out that Hobbes says that man is “naturally evil because he has no sense of goodness.”  Rousseau counters this point with the point “one could say that savages are not wicked precisely because they do not know what is to be good.”  This ties in back to our discussion on what makes a monster.  Some definitions in class have us discussing how society has no monsters, but defines monsters through a mixture of cultural values and socialization.  This perspective makes sense if we look at cultural relativism and ethnocentrism.  If we look at cannibals from our own western values, we’d say they are evil, but a cannibal would look at our values are evil.  Additionally, if we look at The Tempest it could be said Caliban only became a monster after he met Prospero and that from our society, Caliban’s urges are monstrous, but they were brought forth by Miranda.  So in a sense, Rousseau has a point here

However, there are also times Rousseau is wrong.  Downright wrong.  He makes some references to the Native Americans as noble savages, independent people without society.  But, contrary to belief at this time, Native Americans such as the Iroquois, the Souix and the Inuit, actually have very highly developed societies.  The Iroquois were actually very advanced and created a treaty that is thought to have been the forefather of the constitution used by the United States.  Additionally, one of the greatest aspects of Native American life, WAS it’s community, was how man and women depended upon each other and how their traditions (essentially laws) regulated their actions.  So if Rousseau argues laws create passions that prove detrimental to man, explain those societies, that were  working perfectly fine until the Europeans came over.  Who knows if they would have failed later on, but they were working fine.

I look forward to comments and the lecture.

Leviathan: Well we’re in one… kind of

In Leviathan Hobbes puts forward a number of views and arguments that do make logical sense and some that appeal to us, but also seem repulsive.  One might think the type of government he supports is almost like a Nazi or Communist (Stalin type communist not the true form) state.  Yet his ideas are actually in existence around us and if we look around, we’d feel rather scared.

For the state to have total control  over the people… is scary, and at the same time it is comforting.  In Hitler’s Nazi state, which had consolidated all the power in Hitler and his cronies, everything was in control, predictable, the fact there was no opposition meant that the entire production capabilities of Germany were pooled into the Nazi War Machine.  This goes the same for Napoleon’s Empire, in which he and his family held all the reigns of power, no opposition allowed.  These types of states were in a sense, successful when they continued to protect the natural rights of their subjects.  Did Hitler not bring Germany out of an economic crisis and allow the people to live their natural rights?  Didn’t Napoleon initially protect the French people from the opposing monarchial European states?   Only when those states began to endanger the citizens natural rights as opposed to protecting them, did they fall.  Hitler, it was Russia, and although he attempted to justify it, he undertook an action that brought more danger to his citizens than protecting them.  Same with Napoleon.  So in a sense, Hobbes ideas of consolidating state power are in a sense justified.

The problem with these states are that nobody, at least from our ethnocentric view would want to live in them.  We’d hate living in a state where our rights were hindered, where women’s rights are non-existent.  But if we were born and raised in those states, would we care?  I mean, we’re safe, from sudden violent death as Hobbes points out so everything SEEMS fine and dandy.  Even in our modern states we have very limited powers.  The citizen can vote, but the power is always in the state, it dictates us, prevents us from fighting each other, forces us along certain paths and stops us from drinking underage.  Whether we’d like it or not, our states are actually quite Hobbesian for the power basically rests in those in the government.  The average citizen… the great majority, is at the mercy of the government!  So don’t think Hitler’s Germany is distant, we’re actually in not such a great situation ourselves.

So we’re in a Hobbesian kind of state where we’d like it or not!  Not one where power is completley utterly restricted to the government, but where much of the power is in the government.  Aside from the fact a measly 1% of us can possibly get into the government, the other 99% is pretty much at their whim.  So looking at Hobbes as a mosnter and saying that our own governments are angels can be rather silly, for really, we are living in states that fulfil very Hobbesian ideals.

Robinson Crusoe: Master of the Island

Master of the Island.  That is what Robinson Crusoe became at the end of his adventure.  In a sense, Dafoe has created in Crusoe, the perfect colonist.  I’ve read Robinson Crusoe once (abridged version) and kind of enjoyed it, though it tended to bore me at points.  Though I have to say that I found the first novel written in the English language rather tedious to read at times, I still have to say that it is a masterpiece adventure, with some interesting themes.

Crusoe, is a very complex character with a personality and a set of skills to match.  Its how he survives on the island.  He has a unique set of abilities to match his own unique flaws.  He does tend to be impulsive, building his house on the first fortifiable ground as opposed to the fertile plain and the incident with the canoe shows that nature.  Yet, Crusoe can at times, be very resourceful, able to find a way to make clay pots, grow his own food, tame his own animals.  These make him able to master the nature and environment on his island.  Crusoe can also be very paranoid, but this aids him, for when he faces the savages, he is ready and waiting.   That’s not all about Crusoe, but that’s what springs out to me.

The other thing that I noticed about Robinson Crusoe was it’s similarity to The Tempests, something without a doubt most of us have noticed.  One of the main things was the master-servant relationship.  Like Prospero, Robinson Crusoe has servants, nature and man.  Unlike Prospero, Crusoe seems to manage his servants better.  If Caliban represents the island’s natives, let the animals represent Crusoe’s Caliban.  Prospero doesn’t manage Caliban very well, letting him turn against him.  Crusoe tames the island’s animals under him and in the end, rules over them.  Like Prospero though, Crusoe has his own form of magic, that aids him in securing a faithful servant.  If Prospero had magic to free Ariel, Crusoe had firearms.  But the similarities end there, in my opinion Crusoe and Friday share a much better relationship than Prospero and Ariel.   Ariel constantly tries to rebel against Prospero, but Friday doesn’t.  Crusoe rewards Friday, (his form of reward), by converting him, teaching him some of his ‘magic’ (the use of firearms) and in return, is kept company.  There are times, when Crusoe has to assert his authority, but it’s quite clear he cares deeply for his servant.  If anything, I’d describe Crusoe and Friday’s relationship as a perfect master-servant relationship, Dafoe’s ideal.

The novel is scattered with contextual references and is heavily influenced by british views.  The idea of the master-servant relationship, the european mastering the savage and the savage island.  The book is primarily, a boy’s or man’s adventure.  There are no important developed female characters, which all do to reflect the times.  It does not detract on the novel, but it makes one wonder, that if the first novel contained so much views influenced by English government, how much of the first novel has trickled into our modern novels?



Tempest, on Monsters, Heroes and what is known and not.

Shakespeare’s tempest is a generally happy play.  There are some dark moments, highlighted by monstrous figures, but the play maintains an overall feel of comedy and lightheartedness.  The characters, Prospero, Ariel and Caliban are of most interest to me as their contrasting differences and interactions make for very interesting reading.

Prospero, is a good man, but similar to Odysseus, he is a bit of a trickster and can be quite cunning.  After all, he uses his magic to ground his brother onto his island and scatter them (though I admit, he did have good reason).  His conversation on servitude with Ariel at the beginning also shows that he can be very firm on some topics and is not afraid of using veiled threats or manipulating feelings of debt.  There are many times, when I think his cunning and magic are used very well.  Such as when he is spying on his daughter… which is a breach of the modern definition of privacy, but I interpreted it as necessary to see if his daughter was in danger.  Prospero has a good and an ugly side to him as well.  He punishes Caliban frequently to keep him in line.  Importantly though, most of this is justified as Caliban is definitely not an innocent creature, but I’ll get to that later.  At the same time, Prospero tends to be kind and forgiving.  He lets his daughter have the man she wants (something unheard of at Shakespeare’s time) and he does spare his brother.  The character that he may be most similar to is Joseph from Genesis, both essentially good characters, with some flaws and a bit of a nasty side.

Caliban… as I mentioned before, he’s not innocent, but he’s not exactly a scary monster.  He is most certainly a monster that should be looked down upon as he tries to violate Prospero’s daughter Miranda against her will, whose a very innocent girl that makes the audience look down upon Caliban even more.  At the same time, Caliban can articulate himself… to a degree unlike Grendel whose monstrosity comes from his lack of ability to communicate.  Caliban’s ability to communicate, makes him look more monstrous, because not only does he try to defend himself against Prospero’s valid accusations, it makes us able to get a better picture of his maliciousness.  But for a monster whose mind is so evil… he’s comedically pathetic and there is a sense of pity for him, not a lot, but there is.  His attempts, rather malicious attempts to oust Prospero   turn to nothing because he can’t get the right people to help him.  Also, Prospero’s killing of his mother does evoke some pity, for he’s essentially lost all that he could cal his identity.  How Shakespeare was able to turn such an evil minded creature into such a comedic character… is beyond my comprehension.

Ariel, is by the far the most interesting character of this play.  He’s not human… not monstrous… but he’s not exactly well… good.  Extraordinarily mischievous, yet mostly loyal at the same time, Prospero’s description of him as a spirit, is the most accurate.  He’s unknown, a lot like Grendel, but what we do know of him and his affiliation to Prospero makes us like him more than Caliban who we know more about, making the Tempest definition of monster different from Grendel and Grendel’s mother.

That’s all for now.


Machiavelli’s The Prince

I heard of the term Machiavellian villain many times and thus, when I read The Prince, I expected to see some villains and monsters.  However, what Machiavelli seems to have described is not a villain, but a way of ruling people and principalities during that time period.  Even in today, I think a lot of his theories and assertions can be applied.  Still, some of his arguments seem disturbing to my moral code, making me question if what Machiavelli is suggesting is monstrous and if it isn’t… what is?

Machiavelli’s arguments follow very pragmatic and yet ruthless lines.  He suggests very well reasoned out directions on how a ruler should react in certain situations.  Killing all your opponents before you gain power, or attacking boldly and not staying neutral.  I found myself agreeing with many of Machiavelli’s suggestions.  Having played strategy games such as Civilization V, the best way to win and to become powerful is to be decisive, to not hesitate.  Sometimes, ruthlessness is required or else one’s city will rebel and being neutral can lead to everybody else turning upon you in diplomatic relations.  The examples of history that Machiavelli offered only served to convince me.

That being said, I found myself at a crossroads when trying to see the monsters in Machiavelli.  Is he a monster?  I am not sure.  Popular opinion who know Machiavelli from the definition of a Machiavellian villain would say he is, but I disagree.  The Italian scholar promotes moderation of ruthlessness.  While he did say it was better to be feared than love, he also devoted a section of his argument to saying that if it is possible, a ruler should be feared AND loved.  His warnings on generosity are mostly directed to if a ruler is too generous.  Most of the examples he brings up are men of great stature and are still admired today.  Yes, Machiavelli is ruthless, but this is in a very pragmatic sense.  He’s suggesting the best way to rule a state, to seize and to hold onto power and these suggestions are very well thought out and in my opinion, would be extraordinarily effective if put into practice.  If Machiavelli is a monster, his silver-tongue would mark him to be completely unlike the inarticulate and unknown Grendel.

In reading Machiavelli, I began to understand the problems of kings and rulers, and also was opened to the idea that sometimes the most pragmatic decision may sometimes be monstrous.