Because this is so late, just thoughts on Apocalypse Now

First, sorry this is extremely late; I forgot the fact that the movie was still in fact something we were studying and thus we would have to write a blog post for it still. So since this is so late, I’m just going to spew out some of my thoughts about the movie.

-As Jon said in lecture, the movie is quite dense visually, more so in the beginning as Willard and his troop are at the start of their journey such as when they arrive at their first shore; there’s a film crew, people running around  , a flame throwing tank, helicopters, etc. Then the scenes with Kilgore are even more dense such as the ride of the Valkyries scene? They jump cut quickly to scenes of them shooting at the village, the villagers shooting back, the soldiers excited faces, vertigo-inducing POV shots of the helicopter racing through the sky. This all adds to the dizzying, dream like quality the film portrays.

-Another interesting thing Jon brought up was the aestethicthication (that is not correct spelling!) of violence. The ride of the valkyries scene can be considered beautiful; the addition of Wagner exalts the scene from its initial cruelty into something majestic. Even the controversial animal sacrifice scene could get considered. You don’t really want to look at it happening, yet it still has a mesmerizing quality as it is shown next to Kurtz’s murder which is also beautiful in a way; by comparing the killing of the cow to the killing of Kurtz, it to is exalt from its initial cruelty, now to something highly symbolic and charged, appropriated to a new idea different from its original. Kurtz’s murder is varying shots between Willard swinging his machete, through the half-light and Kurtz swinging, bloodied through the darkness; it is a highly cinematized, chorea graphed death, thus beautified.

-the movie was also much more clear about the ironies inherent in the portrayed ‘superior’ people (in this case the Americans) than Heart of Darkness. both Willard and Kurtz continuously comment on the hypocrisies of the army (soldiers can’t write ‘fuck’ on their helicoptors because it is obscene yet they are taught to drop napalm) and we see how idiotic and unserious some of them are about war like Lance openly sunbathing on the boat or Kilgore trying to catch a good wave after destroying a village, complaining that the dropped napalm ruined the wave.

well, I think that’s it for now, so, so long and thanks for Arts One, as this is my last blog post, this is the end, my only friend, the end…

Realizing one’s Heart of Darkness

I thoroughly enjoyed monday’s lecture since it put a new view—an existentialist one—onto Heart of Darkness (HOD), instead of the one I was shown in high school originally, relying on light/dark symbolism, race relations (of course, that’s impossible to avoid), etc. But of course race relations was on my mind when reading the book like before and it did help me relate Conrad to De Beauvoir. Of course, we can see the blacks as the ‘others’ to the whites, where in HOD, the whites work and attack the blacks to assert their superiority and humanity over the ‘brutes’. We can also see this as a master/slave relationship where the Whites gain their identity of superiority and sophistication by keeping the blacks as they are, supposedly inhuman and ‘savage’, where the slave knows he’s a slave, yet the master doesn’t he’s the master; the master is unaware of the relationship. So part of the way the book is read is Marlow going deeper into the Congo—”the heart of darkness”—and realizing that the natives are human, people, like him (he notices his Helmsman is actually able to sustain a job and Marlow starts gaining an affinity towards him). And if they are human and are supposed to have “the heart of darkness”, something evil and ‘savage’, then all humans, have it too. So as Marlow, penetrates “the heart of darkness”, he finds he is just like the natives on the shore, he is just like the other. And we could infer from HOD that this is a sort of traumatizing—or shocking—event as we can see with his reaction to Kurtz. Marlow wants to be amazed by Kurtz, someone who could still do his work, his duty, and have his own ideas while living in such an inhospitable and alien land (to the whites). Yet Marlow is equally disgusted by Kurtz because the very ‘savagery’ he wanted to destroy—”Exterminate all the brutes!”—has become an ingredient in his work; he has become as ‘bad’ as the cannibals on Marlow’s steamboat or worse. Thus, this “heart of darkness” is in us all and so the whites’ identity as some “shining light of progress”, as sophisticated and superior, falls flat because if they are just like their ‘other’, how can they be superior, how can they be who they think they are? So it is not as easy as white is the complete opposite of black; sure they are opposites visually, but they are not mutually exclusive. They both can interact in the same body—in every human no matter how much we think we’ve suppressed it. By the end of the novel, the light is really an ignorance; as Marlow talks to Kurtz’s fiancee, he feels a darkness engulfing the room, but the fiancee’s forehead (head?) stays bright (I’m not going to go into it now, but will note the strange equation of women=ignorance in HOD) because she hasn’t seen what Marlow has seen. From his early days of excitement and naivety to explore the world, Marlow has fallen deep into the darkness. And as Marlow lies, she stays ignorant, innocent unlike him. ‘Light’ was probably ignorance from the start anyway; as in the master/slave relationship, the master is unaware of how he is affecting the slave. The whites went into Africa with the lofty idea of colonizing and sophisticating the natives. This ‘calling’ allowed them to be ignorant of (or turn a blind eye to) what they were actually doing, dominating. Thus the light is not really light, but an equally invasive part of the darkness. The master may be shocked to find out he is the ‘other’ as well, but in the end it was always true

Wollstonecraft, the family (wo)man

I definitely liked Wollstonecraft; she made many radical and ground-breaking arguments about women in her society. Her analysis on how women have been shaped—as delicate, pleasure-producers, who are only educated for the desire of men—is right to the point of the whole problem of why women were treated the way they were, as inferior, how people thought this was all just ‘natural’ for them when it was obviously society’s ideals, creations, instead. Yet, through trying to make logical arguments—As of course she is advocating for reason—she seems to say that we should educate women like men so they will be able to raise their children better. Now, we all know, and Wollstonecraft was battling this too, of the stereotype of the stay-at-home woman, who cleans, cooks, and cares for the children while the men are the ‘bread-winners’. Wollstonecraft definitely tries to counteract this by saying how parents don’t let their daughters do physical activities so they can grow up to be a ‘proper’ woman (one who just sits at home all the time) or even how women should have a role in politics. But the fact that she does argue for woman’s education so they can be better mothers, still seems like she is saying women have to be mothers, thus perpetrating the stereotypical ‘stay-at-home mom’. Wollstonecraft had all these radical things to say about how women were treated and their role in society, yet she doesn’t attack the family system, as said in lecture, that ‘private’/’public’ split. Of course, looking at this in our modern viewpoint where women—in the first world—are allowed to have jobs and can work out of the house and earn their own living, Wollstonecraft seems old fashioned; she doesn’t say anything about how the husband could also help care for the child, etc. She did apparently say that unmarried women should be allowed to get a job or a role in politics, yet again, that is unmarried women. If you’re a married woman then you’re a mother Wollstonecraft seems to say. Now, of course, this could’ve been because of her time period; the family ideal was very normative, the nuclear family and such. But she said so many radical things about other aspects of what society thought was ‘normal’ for women, so why didn’t she attack the family structure, a part women have been so central to? My question may also come from the fact that Wollstonecraft is labelled a feminist (an early one) and radical feminists aside, she does seem to advocate for what feminists want (I guess probably because the feminists of the ’60s probably used her ideas), equality between men and women. So if Wollstonecraft seems to still regulate woman to motherhood when we now know that the normative family structure isn’t the only one that works and men and women can have similar duties in the family…well, yea, that’s why I’m questioning her. She did apparently have bad experiences with families—she made her sister leaver her husband and child, the child died soon after, Wollstonecraft was blamed and she had her own rough affair with a man where a child was born out of wedlock—, so those may have affected her view of the importance of the family structure as it was.

Also, I found her look at polygamy interesting. From what I understand, she says “[p]olygamy is another physical degradation” (188) because it seems to objectify women; “if polygamy be necessary, woman must be inferior to man, and made for him” (also 188). So she doesn’t like polygamy. And it makes sense, multiple woman to one man—harem situations—do seem like a man can just have many women like he could have many cars and so of course to our western eyes (marriage is between one man and one woman, again normative family) this seems like a terrible situation. And news stories about isolated polygamous religious groups also have added to our contempt of polygamy. Yet, there are stories now of how polygamy is not as bad as it seems. There are many stories out now about people engaging in polygamous relationships where they attack the standard that you must always be locked to one person and therefore cannot share your love for others, hence adultery. Yet as Wollstonecraft does show friendship can be stronger than love, love can fade, but also advocating for chastity and faithfulness among both men and women. Of course these polygamous relationships aren’t usually the one man multiple woman kind (which I guess is the polygamy stereotype), but are more equalized; with a heterosexual couple, the man can have relations with another woman and the woman be with another man. So I guess, again, Wollstonecraft’s views seem to fall short of our modern perceptions (as what does usually happen in the span of 200+ years).

So I just thought it was interesting to  some of question Wollstonecraft’s views though she is an early feminist and that is of course still a very good thing.

The History of Identity

Fanon: What is culture?

Foucault: What is sexuality?

Hacking: What is identity?

I haven’t finished reading all of Hacking’s book, but what did strike me so far is his apparent question (above) throughout the book. What is identity; do we have one? What I found interesting early on in the book was his talk about ‘multiple personality disorder’s’ name change to ‘dissociative identity disorder’, saying that it wasn’t so much about having more than one personality (originating from a ‘base’—the term used in today’s seminar—personality), but not even having one, having no one fixed personality and therefore identity. Which brings up the question, what is identity? We tried to figure it out, but I don’t think we got to anything conclusive. But can we anyway? Hacking also describes how people have said that everyone is actually dissociative in some way—indeed, we talked about how many kids have ‘imaginary’ friends. I’d say I’ve felt ‘dissociative’ in some ways—or at least had the tendency to—in the sense of not wanting to conform to one fixed identity. At times I’ve experienced a so-called ‘identity crisis’ (mid-life crisis is also part of popular knowledge) because I feel like I don’t have a fixed identity, or that I truly don’t know who I am. It also works in relation to society as I am not happy with how I feel I am perceived, identified, in society and, with this possible tendency to dissociate, felt like trying to become a totally different person, a supposedly socially ‘better’ person. As Jill did mention in lecture, we are encouraged to take new ‘identities’ online and it is quite well known that some people do act differently online, being more brash or rude because they are anonymous; they have a different, online identity. And don’t we act differently in certain real life situations as well; we, as Darwinian animals, adapt to different situations; one would act differently in a library than during a concert. True, these are usually social rules, but it also shows how easily we can suppress certain aspects of ourselves depending on the situation; we never act how we truly are all the time. Of course, after all this talk, it does seem that a lot of our ‘identity’ is socially constructed as was talked about in seminar with ‘multiples’. They probably do not think themselves as ‘multiples’ until diagnosed as such, bringing on a wave of socially created definitions into their being. If we go with the name dissociative identity disorder (DID), then they, from having no identity, have one after diagnosis; they can go up to people and say “‘I have ‘DID'”; that is their ‘identity’ now, that is how they can fit into society. I am going on a lot about identity being socially constructed and it probably is very much so, but what Jill said at the end of lecture also resonated with me. Basically, it was ‘know thyself’; to really know ourselves, out possible ‘identity’, we need to be self-reflective, know why we think and do certain things. This would be hopefully away from society and truly on your own. So I mean, in the end, still, what is identity, or at least what is it to you?

What is culture to you?—Essentially, Who are you?

I pose these questions in the wake of reading Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, a book about the psychological effects on black (and white) people imposed by culture and therefore by society.  This seemed a large point of Fanon’s argument, that culture makes us all; the black man cannot truly be himself—whatever that is—but because he has been colonized by whites who are now the dominant culture and society, the black man must try to become white if he wants to have a chance to be accepted, yet whites will always view him as black (as Fanon says a black man will truly now he is black once he goes to France, subject to the gaze of all the whites there) and he will be subjugated as such.  But Fanon turns this on the whites as well, who, he says, are themselves caught in a struggle by subjugating the blacks to their stereotypes.  Of course, the blacks are terribly forced into positions of inferiority by being treated a certain way (being talked to in pidgin, condescended to, etc.) but the whites are also destroying themselves, stopping themselves from being able to interface with blacks ‘normally’, with this imposition of stereotypes throughout their (popular) culture, the image of the grinning, as Fanon brings up, Y Bon Banania, or through comic books, where, says Fanon, black children learn the equate blacks with evil.  Thus again, culture rules us all and who makes culture?  Why, people!  Fanon saw this creation of a racist culture as destroying any means of his goal of blacks and whites ‘getting along’ and therefore he saw the need to say “It’s no longer a question of knowing the world, but of transforming it.”  Society and therefore culture must be changed for this goal to be met.  Which made me question myself a bit.

I’m Chinese-Canadian, parents from Hong Kong; I was born in Vancouver.  I consider myself more ‘Canadian’—whatever that means—than Chinese—and really, what does that mean too?  That I have Chinese ancestry and I’m Canadian because I was born in Canada; is that all that means?  Or do people attach more value to that, really vague characteristics as presented by such things as Canada’s televised ‘Heritage Moments’ or through stereotypes; Canadians are nice and always say ‘eh’; Chinese people are super smart and strict or whatever.  I don’t see myself being attached to any particular ‘culture’ though as Fanon points out, how culture affects us in how we act (like how Butler said culture affects how we treat the different genders), I’m may be just working on some cultural mode, and I’m guessing it’s close to ‘western culture’, whatever that encompasses.  I guess this was why we talked about Lacan’s three divisions of the world.  Fanon may be trying to throw out all cultural/social (my relation to ‘the others’) and legal statuses (also what ‘defines’ one in society) and therefore go to Lacan’s ‘real’, this seemingly transcendental state where we may go beyond these conventional identities, go beyond putting on mask after mask after mask.  So I guess I’m asking, is culture important, why/why not?  Is it important to you?  Does it need to be important?  Is it important to be part of something?  Can we exist outside of it?  Can our identity ever be set, or is it always shifting because we constantly interface with others?  In the end I do think it is also a question of human existence and personal identity than just purely racial and cultural.  There are probably more questions on similar lines, so I’ll leave it up to you to make more, in essence what I’m doing here.

Please, Question yourself, that great existential activity.

Oh, that novel!—Northanger Abbey!

Time to oil and spin the gears, a new year—and a new set of blog posts—has come ’round.  Today’s topic is Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey; I guess I’ve got two things I like to mention about this book, its use of meta-fiction (as was wondrously brought up in lecture) and its use of gothic novels.

I discovered this novel a couple of years back actually and when I first read it was a novel about a young woman who was obsessed with gothic novels and then began to think she was in one, well, that seemed pretty meta-fictional to me (and what early metafiction too, written just before the 19th century!), a character thinking they are experiencing a gothic novel, because they are in a novel after all.  But Austen does do more than just this.  The first line, “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine,” announces the meta-fiction in the book; the book tells the reader their reading a book by saying this Catherine Morland you’re reading about is a heroine, a character in this book; Austen even refers to Henry Tilney, the main male character, as the hero.  She also uses this smartly by constantly referring to Catherine as the heroine and how she should be up to more exciting antics, but always just falls back onto 18th century England, its banalities and social trappings.  Her famous “Yes, novels” passage on page 23 is also a telling statement of meta-fiction, the novel aware of the existence of novels, and therefore its own existence as one; the whole paragraph it appears in is really reminding the reader they are reading a novel, possibly in the same conditions; the description of Catherine and Isabella doing things together is really for the culmination to them shutting themselves up and reading followed by the passage; it really provides not too important exposition and is therefore fodder to the real point of the whole paragraph, again reminding the reader they are reading a novel, possibly even while being shut up in some room.  And Austen’s “tell-tale compression of the pages” line serves to remind the reader of the structure of the novel itself; as she has been parodying structures of gothic novels, she even lampoons herself: ‘what do you expect from my novels now,’ she seems to say, ‘they always end in marriage, “perfect felicity”‘.

Northanger Abbey is always said to be a parody of gothic novels, but as said in our edition’s introduction, she doesn’t just parody them but uses their structure.  The most telling way I saw was through Catherine’s ‘maturation’ through the last parts of the novel.  She suspects evil and murder to have happened at the Abbey by the hands of the General and is proven most wrong by Henry, who says how could something like that happen since it doesn’t go by their upbringing and circumstances.  But what Catherine finds then is the horrors of the everyday.  Soon after being corrected by Henry, Catherine receives James’ sad letter about his break-up with Isabella and later Isabella’s own letter, where Catherine finally realizes Isabella’s superficial nature and how horrifically it has affected her brother and therefore herself.  Then comes a quite similar character, General Tilney who after seeming so nice and friendly to Catherine, even allowing her to be invited to Northanger, shuns her crassly and immediately from it.  Both Isabella and the General had thought Catherine and her family rich, therefore their superficial amiability, but Catherine finds out their real want, money  and the cruelty they—and therefore any human—can inflict onto another if they do not get what they want; they both shun Catherine’s family and separate themselves from them, causing Catherine true horror, tears and all.  Thus the real lesson here is the cruelty of ordinary people; reality may not be cruel and horrific on the ridiculous scale of gothic novels as Austen parodies, but reality may be horrific and terrible in its own terms, people who don’t truly care for others unless they have something to gain from it, the true evil of real people.  Austen cleverly doesn’t just write a silly satire of gothic novels and their overblown-ness, but moulds their structure into a lesson and view on humanity, for true, things are not what they (you) seem if you become brainwashed by gothic novels, but in real life, some people are most definitely not what they seem sometimes; in reality the gothic is just not readily apparent, but festering beneath the surface.  As Catherine readily notes, though still a bit ridiculously as she still thinks on gothic novels, “that in suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife, she had scarcely sinned against his character, or magnified his cruelty.”

Now with the tell-tale compression of paragraphs, words, letter, my typing, I will say this is where I end.


Thoughts on Carpentier

Sorry that I’ve procrastinated a lot and therefore this is pretty late, but here are my thoughts:

-Carpentier seems to be writing narratives about things probably not talked much about the Haitian revolution like Macandal and his use of voodoo and the rallying of slaves to rebel against their masters (before all the hubbub about Cristophe, Dessalines, etc. and the actual battles against French forces).  He also goes into quite a bit of detail about the whites, the ‘enemies’ of the revolution like Pauline Bonaparte who isn’t painted with a totally coarse brush, but is made someone we actually sort of sympathize with (she goes mad after the death of Lerclerc to yellow fever).  He also makes Henri Cristophe, the next Haitian tyrant after the fall of the French, sympathetic by focusing a good deal on the end of his life where is sickly and paralyzed and haunted by hallucinations, in the end killing himself.  In a way, Carpentier may be following Troulliot’s path (unknowingly of course) of creating a more all-encompassing ‘history’ of the revolution.

-also related to how we see perspectives from the oppressors and the oppressed, another interesting point is the connections made between the two.  An example is on the topic of sex, more specifically rape, where de Mézy has fantasies about young slave girls and Ti Nöel dreams of raping his master’s second wife.  Here the oppressed are like the oppressors; domination exists amongst all, if you are dominating or being dominated.

-on the magical realism in the book, it seems to be more like magical realism was talked about (like Macandal’s transformations and his supposed escape from his execution) instead of actually happening unlike in The Master and Margherita.  In this way it does show, as said before, the traditional culture of the slaves and its role in helping them to revolt, but it also seems to add much more once one reads Ti Noel’s epiphany on page 179.  Carpentier did say, as said in the novel’s introduction, that he felt the ‘real marvellous’ in Haiti and it was said in lecture that a point of magical realism was to go against the ‘magical’ genres being produced in European art like Surrealism where there is large break with reality.  In this way, as shown in Ti Noel’s epiphany, there is this difference between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of Heaven.  Ti Noel decides to stay in this world because wants to produce a better future and he knows future generations will want to too.  Through Christianity, it is said that doing good your whole life will allow you into Heaven.  With Ti Noel, it shows that struggling with Earthly matters will do good for future generations, thus there is this kind of Heaven on Earth, this magical quality without the presence of a ‘Heaven’.  The novel’s magical realism almost becomes a moralistic message of the ‘magic’—the good—that can be produced on our Earthly plane, through a seemingly banal reality.

Postmodern Bulgakov

Now I haven’t actually read all of it, but something I did notice about The Master and Margarita, besides the black magic, heads being chopped off, and the naked women, was the inclusion of literary techniques that were quite ahead of Bulgakov’s time, which added to the overall fun and joy of its plot and of reading it.  A big one was meta-fiction.  Now, as someone who used to write short stories and has read some so-called postmodern novels, I found meta-fiction to be a very fun, but also useful literary technique; one can be very indulgent in referencing their own work in itself and create many layers.  An example would be the telling of the Pontius Pilate story and how Bulgakov segues into the story after a chapter.  He always ends a chapter with the beginning line of the next part in the Pilate story and then in the next chapter (which is the actual story) begins it with the same words again and continues the narrative.  Now, this could be seen as a way to connect the modern-day chapters with the ancient chapters, but it is still highly meta-fictional; through having it begun by a character before it starts, it is shown to the reader as more as a story–maybe the events didn’t take place at all (or at least not exactly as described)!–and therefore it is a story within a story.  This becomes even more apparent when the Master tells Ivan that he was writing a book on Pilate.  Now its not just about a story, but it gets more physical; the Pilate story then can be seen as a book within a book, the book that is The Master and Margarita.  Many layers are created and we are unsure whose story the Pilate story is; is it Woland’s or Ivan’s or the Master’s?  This also shows the divide between the fictional and non-fictional.  How much of the Pilate story is real?  Woland was supposedly there, but how about what Ivan dreams or the Master writes?  This also could tie in with the magic happening in the book and people’s disbelief and shock at it and also possibly, in a political way, the role of reality and fiction in Soviet Society (Stalin’s show trials, propaganda, etc.).  The book also becomes incredibly meta-fictional with its ending line (which I glanced at), the same line that the Master tells Ivan he was going to end his own book with, “The fifth Procurator of Judea, the rider Pontius Pilate”.  Kurt Vonnegut does the same thing in his Slaughter-house Five in which he writes about writing the book and tells the reader how he will end the book, which he fulfills.  With The Master… it becomes who’s writing the story, Bulgakov or the Master?  Many times throughout the novel, the ‘narrator’ addresses the reader such as at the end of book one, “the time has come for us to go on to the second part of this truthful narrative.  Follow me, reader!”  The book itself knows its a book.  Usually a book is written to present its own reality, but of course there isn’t any reality, just a fiction.  So again, the book works between the levels of the real and unreal through meta-fiction, especially as it refers to itself as a supposedly “truthful narrative”.

Antigone just doesn’t fit in

Boy, this is going to be a long one.

I, like I think most people, found Antigone’s Claim to be very difficult to understand; I could only catch glimpses of the topics Butler was trying to make about the legacy of Antigone’s act, etc.  The text seemed very distant in its mode of high academic writing.  But after Monday’s lecture, I started to relate more personally with the text.  The final, general question from the lecture to everything that Butler talked about was basically ‘what is the legacy of Antigone’s act?’  And the answer seemed to be that she was an example of someone who didn’t fit to any of society’s norms, was a complete outsider, but was still able to engage with society and affect it, being, as Butler says, not human but speaking in its language.  Butler brings up many contemporary examples of people, who like Antigone, are on the fringes of society, unaccountable in its vocabulary, such as gay families or transgendered people.  These people definitely have a very difficult time in accustoming themselves into our heterosexual society and are at the forefront of existentialist themes like identity crises.  But, and not to sound insensitive, they are not the only ones with this problem.  So called ‘normal’ people have crises of identity; it is a universal sentiment under the colloquial term of ‘fitting in’.  I’m sure most people have had this problem of fitting in and most people will probably fit in eventually, but some may feel for the longest time that they don’t and never will.

Humans, I’d say, are social creatures; they want to fit in and create strong bonds through communities, families, etc. (maybe which is why that family researcher in the Baby Storm video said that gender, and therefore belonging to a certain group, was fundamental to being human).  When alone, they can get despondent and depressed; they are an outsider, someone without a definite ‘term’ in the social vocabulary, a nobody.  Personally, these are things that have plagued me from time to time and then the hardest part of human existence is just wondering how you fit in with everything, the age old question of ‘what is your purpose?’  And you see so many other people forming groups and getting along with each other and you just can’t do that as easily and therefore you feel like an outsider, one who can’t live–and can’t stand living–in such a society that is so different from you.  Existence becomes difficult.  And you may think, ‘why can’t I just exist as myself, why do I have to conform to others?’  This is what I think is Antigone’s legacy.  She answers, ‘you can live on your own terms’.  She is an example of someone who is totally outside of every social norm (the nuclear family, the docile woman, etc.), but is able to still live out her life and her own personal desires (although briefly).  She shows on-the-fringe people that they can still live and function productively in a society that can’t define them and therefore doesn’t readily support them.

I suppose the unfortunate thing is that she does die and I haven’t come to fully understand why she had to die.  Throughout the lecture it seemed to be because she operated on a level above humans, she was non-human, that she just couldn’t go on existing in a structured society lest total chaos happens, which pretty much is what happens at the end of the play.  I’m sorry if this is all very dark, but this is pretty much why suicide is so ‘popular’ amongst the members of the fringe; they can’t exist in its structures as they are disruptions to its structures and therefore must die, to become a part of nothing–what they are–through death, which seems why Antigone had to die.  This may be good for Sophocles to show the consequences of Antigone’s dissident ways and existence, but it may seem insensitive, as I think Butler points out, to how people on the fringes of society, norms, identity and vocabulary have to live.

The story of Baby Storm brought up in the lecture thus seems like a sliver of hope for such people, a baby who is allowed to grow up and choose their own gender instead of having to be classified into an existing one.  He/she/all the other gender related terms that don’t exist in our vocabulary can hopefully, truly, find their own way in life, away from the labels of society.  This may seem too idealistic for most and a complete detriment for Storm, but that is only because we live in such a structured society; I think people should be able to live how they want as long as they are comfortable with it and should fight as hard as they can not to give in to the pressures of societal norms; the extremely social person can be extremely social, the loner can be a loner.  True this way of life will seem extremely uncomfortable to most, but that is only because we are all steeped in tradition and societal norms no matter how much we don’t think we are.  To allow true freedom for every member of our society, we must change ourselves and therefore change society; maybe fitting in and being social are all just societal structures, even though that is an extremely controversial idea.  For the outsiders, relish in being different like Antigone maybe even to the self-destructive point that she holds onto; be comfortable in being different.  This is Antigone’s legacy, her claim.

Plato and Genesis

I forgot we would be given our essay topics on Genesis/Kant/Plato so as I read Gorgias, I was thinking of possible topics.  An interesting thing I thought about—and since we do have essay topics now, so I’m thinking of bringing this up in my presentation—was what Plato may have thought about—interpreted—Genesis,  in the same way as Kant did.  Though Gorgias is largely about oratory, (is it a craft, is it good, etc.?) some other themes that came up through Socrates’ discussion of oratory could be related to Genesis.

-The idea of the corruption of the soul is prevalent in Gorgias and with the idea of Christian sin; Socrates/Plato may have thought, like Kant, that Adam and Eve’s Original Sin was, in the end, a good thing as they were punished for; they payed for their ‘unlawfulness’ and therefore were cured the corruption of their souls.

-The idea of acting on people and being acted upon is also relevant in Genesis.  It could be applied to God’s punishment’s throughout Genesis.  Who is more miserable?  Because God is ostensibly a tyrant in his ‘kingdom’ of Earth, Plato may have said he is the more miserable one out of all he punished, only doing what he sees “fit” such as the wiping out of humanity through the flood.  Though, as said above, he does usually punish when humans have corrupted their souls, so he is at least doing good for others.  Would Plato think either miserable or “good and admirable”?

-Also, Plato may have not seen Adam and Eve’s curses of toiling for food and birth pains respectively, as burdens because, as Socrates argues with Callicles, there is a difference between pleasure/pain and good/bad; through painful experiences, one can still come out with something good.  Adam gets food for his troubles and Eve can continue the human race.

-Though there isn’t much about oratory in Genesis, are there still characters that could be described as such, or maybe as philosophers by Plato’s definition?

I’m mainly bringing this up because I just thought it was interesting and I saw connections could be made between some of our readings, I mean, remake/remodel.  It’s also nice to go over all of Plato’s ideas in this sort of difficult text.  And these were given to us to be read in succession, right? (also if I sound crazy or anyone thinks my views are unfounded or my ideas are far fetched, I won’t mind, like Socrates, to be refuted)