Sebald the Illusionist

Hi all! Sorry my blog post is late! But nonetheless, here it is!

How does the use of images affect the reader?

Does it augment/heighten or decrease/contract from the imagination (of having no pictures)?

Austerlitz is a work of fiction but does the use of images create a set image that did not exist before?

Honestly I think that Sebald is manipulating the use of images so that we, as the reader, see what he wants us to see. On page 5, there is a comparison between the eyes of owls and philosophers. This may not seem like anything but I feel tricked because Sebald could easily have taken any images that could support his ideas.

It’s true that both sets of eyes indeed do look similar, but if Sebald had decided to choose a different pair of eyes, his analysis/comment would be void and quite untrue.

Also, the picture of the little boy on the cover of the novel, which is also on pg. 183 is another example of how Sebald’s use of images may affect us readers. The picture is a supposed picture of Austerlitz as a boy; thus creating the image of a serious little boy with a more than not-so-happy face. This ingrains the physical image provided Sebald and doesn’t allow us, as the audience, to imagine a face for ourselves since this novel is a work of fiction.

Although the pictures can be regarded as helpful or better, I believe that we- as the reader- have the right to imagine any images for ourselves, particularly the way Sebald’s novel is formatted because it is created in a way that seems non-fiction-like (not some illustration) but actual photographs.

Thanks for reading my post once again! Have a great day!

Ways of Femininity

In the novel Ways of Seeing, John Berger says that the expressions of the two women below are similar- and they are indeed similar. But does that necessarily mean that both images are a representation of offering up their femininity?

La Grande Odalisque by Ingres & Photograph from a girlie magazine.

La Grande Odalisque by Ingres & Photograph from a girlie magazine. (Pg. 55)

I agree somewhat with Berger on the idea that their expressions looks similar, but to say that they hold the same meaning seems a little far-fetched. As similar as they may look, they are from two very different time periods. The model in the famous painting by Ingres is of an odalisque, a concubine. That said, already the two women are very different in terms of why they are posing for the painter/photographer. Not only do their occupations differ, they have very different figures. The odalisque is more plump than the skinnier model who is baring her breasts unashamedly compared to the odalisque who is looking over her shoulder to create a more demure look.

As Berger also points out, “hair is associated with with sexual power, with passion”, this creates a need to decrease woman’s sexual charms so the man can feel that he is more dominant. Once again, the difference between the odalisque and the woman in the photograph have a significant difference in the fact that the odalisque has her hair tied back with a shawl of some sort and the woman from the magazine has her hair untied and free.

That said, because of the many differences that the women have, I think that the two women are not just simply representations of offering up their femininity. I think there is more to take away from the expressions. For example, the odalisque is probably being submissive to the King’s command to have her portrait done. This can be interpreted that the odalisque might not even want to have her portrait painted; she may just be acquiescing to the command of her king.

On the other hand, the woman posing for her picture in the girlie magazine is probably posing for a very different reason in contrast to the odalisque. First off, her job, as a model, is to have her picture taken so therefore, she probably wasn’t as reluctant to have her picture taken; this leads to the conclusion that she had a completely different expression when the two are compared. Also, a major significance is the fact that the model is using her hair, a symbol of sexual power, flaunting it to her full advantage to ensnare and captivate the reader of the magazine. This shows that there is a lesser power struggle in the sense that she is not submissive as the odalisque, nor is she regarded as tool-like as a woman would have been in the time period of the odalisque. Indeed, women are sexualised and objectified to this day, but when the two images are compared, it can clearly be seen that the two woman have a vast difference in the time period in which they belong as well as the audience the images were made for.

Thanks for reading this long post and feel free to leave me a comment! 🙂

Dr. Caligari & Nosferatu… The Mystery of the Characters

Okay so personally, the silent German films that we have been told to watch would most definitely not make it onto my recommendations to others list but there are quite a few interesting themes and scenes that keep popping up in my head…

Honestly, I think that everyone is insane in some shape or form in both movies and that they all need some help.

For Caligari:

A.) Was Alan ever real or was he just an entity that Francis made up in his head?

B.) If Dr. Caligari is not an evil puppeteer and is, in fact, the insane asylum director, why does he say that he can fix Francis?

C.) Can anyone honestly find the “correct answer” to any of the questions above?

So obviously, there is no one, right answer. In fact, much of the film is shrouded in ambiguity and leaves much of it to the interpretation of the viewer. To the first question I addressed above, I really don’t know if Alan was real or if he was simply a figment of  Francis’s imagination. If Alan was an actual character, who really killed him and why? It doesn’t quite add up for someone to randomly kill him off.

Secondly, it is really odd that Dr. Caligari says that he knows how to fix Fancis. In fact, to fix him, he would have to have known or understood what Francis was thinking but that is something that is entirely in Francis’s mind. Therefore, is Dr. Caligari good or bad? To me, I believe that Dr. Caligari is still the evil puppeteer who has everyone in the palm of his hand and is secretly manipulating those around him. Or, is he really is a benevolent insane asylum director who had nothing to do with the so-called persona of Dr. Caligari? It’s quite confusing and I think it’s an open ending which is up for interpretation …. Although, The name Caligari is a foreign name, it’s Italian, not German. Therefore, it could be trying to show the fear of foreign people, ideas, or things during the Weimar Republic.

Okay, thanks for reading this and I know this is like two weeks ago but just thought it would be interesting to share! 🙂

Freud and how the Uncanny Affects Us…

Sorry about the late post, like really late, but this is about the Freud and how the unheimlich works.

Refer to Pg. 155-156 in  Freud’s The Uncanny
-The last sentence in italics that carry on to the next page
-Freud says the the uncanny in literature and in real life are not taken in at the same level, yet many fears, or many uncanny effects in literature, are manifested some way or another….
-Therefore, can it be said that the unreal and real start to meld and we as humans are affected by the uncanny effects that are absent in real life?
What is Freud’s purpose? What is he trying to reveal about the uncanny in The Sandman?

Refer to Pg. 141
-Children are not afraid of dolls coming to life but in reality, there are many with an aversion or uneasiness with dolls (many horror movies have to do with dolls).
-So, why is it that we have a fear of dolls (Dolls an example since it is addressed in Freud’s The Uncanny)? Is it because of the uncanny/unheimlich?

Rousseau’s Version of Happiness

So Rousseau says that the savage man is happier than the civilized man… Therefore, is it wrong for man to rely on tools and still retain the ability to carry out normal activities? (Activities include running long distances or using bare hands to break things apart).

Many would argue that the savage man has only the simplest of needs which are pretty easily met. Others would say that the civilized man is better off since he/she could improve their human potential and would have access to medicine which they can use to better themselves.

To properly analyze this, I believe there needs to be a clear definition of what happiness is. Happiness is an abstract concept that is subjective to each individual. Although Rousseau does not state his specific definition of happiness, it can be interpreted that he is in favor of facing the natural conditions as is, without any extra support or tools, and having the base needs covered.

Based on this fact, it can be said that Rousseau is very much against the idea of the civilized man. The civilized man has become too complicated and creates more problems than solutions. In civilizations, individuals are trying to compete and be better than others, this creates competition, which would not be needed for the savage man since there is no need to compare oneself with others. I believe there is nothing wrong with being able to use tools and the civilized man and the savage man are both entitled to be happy, the only difference is what they consider happiness in each of their perspectives based on the time period and environment. Though, in Rousseau’s perspective, the savage man is the happiest one.

To be, or not to be… That is my question to Hobbes

Okay so this is a late post on the Leviathan but here it is… Hobbes seems to have conflicting religious views since he is saying one thing but acting another. He seems to be Christian but says that he does not believe in incorporeal existence. This leads to believe that Hobbes may not be Christian, but actually closer to a deist. As we talked about this last week, deism is, by definition, believing in the existence of a higher being, but one that does not exert as much influence or intervention in the ways of the universe. Hobbes could not be called a Christian if he does not believe in angels, demons, or spirits of any kind. Also, Hobbes believes that religious and political power should be maintained by one individual. Thus, this means that Hobbes was pro Magna Carta. Though supporting the Magna Carta does not mean that he cannot be Christian in belief, Hobbes discredits Christianity by saying incorporeal existence cannot be.


Hey everybody, I seem to be one of the last people to introduce myself but nevertheless, here it is!

My name is Christel Song and I’ve lived in the U.S. and Canada. I finished middle school and high school in Texas so I’ve been away for quite sometime. I’m really excited to be in Arts One and discuss literature. Hence, the reason for choosing to be in Arts One! To keep this short, I’ll just say three interesting facts about myself:

  1. I am bilingual, like many others at UBC. I speak Korean and English fluently and I’m working on learning Italian.
  2. I am ambidextrous.
  3. I really love to bake and cook so if anyone has a kitchen, well… you know who to come to!

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