Author Archives: boming zheng

Was Brecht successful in getting what he wanted?

Dear Readers


Bertolt Brecht was an interesting and complex figure in the 20th century. His epic theater had a huge influence in the world today.  Brecht’s motivation comes from the fact that the lower class in the 1920s were desensitized about all sorts of injustice and persecutions around them.As a result,  he tried to create a form of theater that makes the audience to think and reflect problems in real life. This approach to theater was novel at the time.

In order to make audience reflect other than enjoying a performance, Brecht tried a number of techniques to make the audience emotionally unattached to the performance and the actors on stage. Here are some examples of what he did.

Interrupting the performance by music and songs that are not closely related to the play.

Gestus,(Gestures) abstracting the character to make them simpler to understand. Staring at the audience for no particular reason.

Unconventional props and set designs. Such as using one tree to represent a forest. Characters dressed in bleak and white custom.

changing props and settings under audience’s eye

Big curtains that never close throughout a performance.

However, despite Brecht’s effort, the function of art and theater haven’t changed. Personally, I don’t expect to think or reflect anything when I watch TV and I don’t know anyone who does. In some occasions, I would relate the theme of a TV series to something I have read, but that doesn’t make me reflect anything.

Although Brecht didn’t enjoy the way audience think about theater in his era. However, I don’t think he was successful in making people think. Regardless of what he thought about Hollywood ( a false representation of what’s going on in the world ), it is still making lots of profit. In other words, Brecht did not succeed in making people think. After all, people still go to movies for pure enjoyment.




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The power of humility

Dear Readers

After writing excerpts from Selected Writing of Hildegard of Bingen, I found that Hildegard was surely an interesting figure in the middle ages. She was exceptional in the sense her was able to describe many if not all of her extraordinary visions in Latin.  In many occasions, she claims that her visions are inspirations from god. In the middle ages,  receiving messages directly from God was a huge honor and privilege.  Consequently, the person who has the capacity to receive information from God was regarded as honorable and authoritative.

Strangely enough, In one of her letters, she describes herself as “a mere woman ” who delivers messages of the god. In a letter to the pope Eugenius, she writes “Gentle Father, through a small and insignificant figure, I write to you now, in a true vision by mystical inspiration, on all that God wishes me to teach”. However, despite her humility, Hildegard remains “one of the most influential figure in the middle ages” to quote Jason. To an extent, her reverence to god was the source of her authority.  Nobody could disobey the instruction from the divine. Precisely because nobody could see the visions that Hildegard experienced, she became one important source of information. Precisely because people took Christianity seriously,   they desperately wanted to know what God want to say to them. They are a lot less interested in what Hildegard has to say to them. In other words, when Hildegard, tries to emphasize her insignificance,people are more inclined to listen to her .

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The effect of dialectics in the Republic

Dear Readers

After start reading Plato’s  Republic, the realization that Arts One is probably the most demanding first-year program at UBC became acute. Over the course of 12 days, I had to overcome a strong headache and an impulse  to go to sleep in order to maintain my focus on the book. The philosophical and political theories   included in the book are extremely complex that I don not expect to get a good grasp of them in a period of two weeks. In comparison, I am  more interested in the ways in which Plato explains his ideas to his reader. In other words, I am interested in Plato’s use of Philosophical discussions or dialectics.

Through the use of Dialectics, Plato surely made the book more appealing to his reader in more ways than one. Thought the book, Plato never existed as a character. Instead, he hides behind every character in his book. To me, it’s unclear why Plato would use the identity of his Mentor Socrates as well as his brother Glaucon and Adeimantus.  But there is no doubt that he did this intentionally and purposefully. In the first 4 books, it looks as though the conversations in the book are records of actual conversation that happened in ancient Greek.The characters seem incredibly real to me mainly because of  the tone of the language. For instance, in the beginning of book 2, Glaucon says

” Do you want to seem to have persuaded us , Socrates, that is better in every way to be just than unjust, or do you want to really persuade us of this……Well, then, you certainly are not doing what you want” (36)

From this quote, it’s pretty clear that Glaucon is not convinced by Socrates’s argument. On top of that, he is challenging  Socrates to provide a better explaining in order to truly persuade him. The tone of his language seems disrespectful and a little rude.  But this is possibly exactly what Plato want us to feel. He depicts Glaucon as a challenger to Socrates’s argument. later, as the conversation continues, Glaucon becomes uncertain of his own opinion of what justice is. The same thing happened to Adeimantus. But through these discussions which I am going to quote because I don’t have the time, Plato gradually explains how he arrived at his conclusion.  For readers,  this use of philosophical discussion/ dialectics made the text a lot easier and interesting to read. hand_monochrome_palm_widescreen_abstract_photography_desktop_1920x1200_free-wallpaper-3633

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