In the 21st century, the recognition of the failure of categorization is a prominent subject is any field of study. Interdisciplinary studies are increasingly popular because one category simply is not enough to fully understand and analyze any given topic. Manley Hopkins is the same in this sense. He is a religious poet and yet he communicates this through nature. He resists categorization because he is not a religious poet or a naturalist; he is both. This is what makes him so undeniable unique. This poems are examples of the beauty of tension. The tension between his two passions is prevalent in his work, but this is what makes it so important. When Hopkins uses a bird to describe the beauty of God in his famed poem The Windhover, he is not just describing the splendour of God, he is describing that of the bird as well. This beauty is unique and singular but is present in all parts of the world. This way of looking at the world, through not just one lens but multiple ones, creates a deeper meaning. This meaning is more complex and in the world we live in today it is increasingly necessary. Hopkins serves as an example to proto-interdiscplinary thinking that everyone can benefit from.
Author Archives: alberta byers
Power & Rousseau: The looker, the gaze, and the human subject
“[S]ocial man lives always outside himself; he knows how to live only in the opinion of other, it is, so to speak, from their judgement alone that he derives the sense of his own existence” (Rousseau 136).
It could be easy to pass this statement off as simply a result of Rousseau’s oversimplification of nascent society. On the other hand, I would argue that it is an important statement about power dynamics in the society. I’d like to point out that this view on society supports Hobbes’ ideas about moral relativity. If we live outside ourselves we let others approve or disapprove of our actions. This stays true to Hobbes’ theory that justice is an aspect of society not of humankind itself. It is interesting that these two particular thinkers would agree on a topic like this because their views of the state of nature are radically different. Rousseau states here that we evaluate one and other based on others’ perceptions. By allowing the people around us to dictate how we act we are giving them power. In being the so-called bearer of the look, they hold all of the power. The enact their gaze upon us, the objects and therefore determine how we act. We are subject to the gaze as opposed to being holders of the gaze no matter what. It is impossible to escape. This begets the question, how do we live with the gaze? Are some gazes more important than others? I would argue yes, I think Rousseau would agree. While all matter to a certain extent, the governmental or medical gaze has much different consequences than the friendly gaze. All enact a certain judgement. All hold power that we will never possess. All gazes are not equal, in the same way that all people are not equal in nature according to Rousseau. This means, to live the most fulfilling existence, we must derive it from the right people and therefore the right holders of the look.
Jocasta The Queen
Jocasta’s roll in the play is dependent on Oedipus. She changes her views and her opinions based on his reactions to her statements. It is interesting to see her cast in such a traditional female roll of support to the husband and king but to juxtapose that with her roll as skeptic. While Oedipus questions the gods’ power and believes himself to be invincible, Jocasta is the real non-believer. She goes from convincing Oedipus of his innocence by saying “Apollo was clear—it was Laios’ fate to be killer by my son, /but my poor child died before his father died” (p.62-63). By stating this she is discrediting Apollo and his prediction of Oedipus’s life. She later states “fortune rules out lives./Luck is everything. Things happen. The future is darkness” (p. 66). The key element here is that fortune rules our lives no the gods. By making the only woman in the play also represent the growing influence of atheism. Attributing this to the only female character gives Jocasta a certain power that is unexpected given the fact that she is proven wrong seeing as Apollo correctly prophesized Oedipus’s fate. However, this doesn’t take away Jocasta’s power because she represents the growing school of thought. She is not meant to be the focus of the play and yet she represents a new way of seeing the world that Oedipus and many others are blind to.