Things Fall Into Place

I really appreciated the lecture today on Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. Comparing how Heart of Darkness are so different in their approach really struck me. When I read Heart of Darkness, I had the feeling of being on a National Geographic safari. The developed characters were the foreigners, and the Africans were treated as just another part of nature. In fact, even though some compassion is felt by Marlowe for the treatment of the native people, I found that the book made me feel almost more compassion for the elephants who were being killed for their tusks. The book really emphasized the notion of reciprocity that Beauvoir talks about in talking about ‘self’ and ‘other’. The European way is what is the ‘norm’ and the ‘subject’, while, even though they are the foreigners in Africa, the natives are treated as the ‘other’.

Anyway, in contrast to last week’s book, the African characters were not just a backdrop as the reader sails through a river safari. This time, they are dynamic and vivid and flawed even! I think that Okonkwo’s character flaws is what makes him so deeply human. As the white people interact with the tribe, I feel like I am an Ibo more than the ‘European norm’. I resent them too, and I mourn for the seemingly drear future of their culture.

In lecture there was a bit of conversation around Yeats’ Second Coming being referenced, and it made me think about human origins. When Yeats is talking about the ‘centre [that] cannot hold’, I’m not sure what exactly he is referring to, but I would assume that he is talking about worldwide chaos and calamity. In relation to the text that we read this week, it made me think about Africa being the centre, the origins of human conception. I think about the Ibo and their struggle to hold onto themselves. What good does Imperialism really do? I think about the cost of colonialism and the numerous people groups that are forced to conform to a mould of ‘white civilization’, and I wonder if the book is trying to show how upside down the situation really is. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” because of the people who seem to think they have all the answers. Africa, the heartbeat of the world, is being pillaged and torn apart like it’s suffering a heart attack, at the hands of those who come in the name of prosperity, civilization and Providence.

Hope that wasn’t TOO hard to follow, but I have been trying to form a coherent train of thought over this lecture and this is what came of it :$


De Beauvoir: The Second Sex

Hello to all you subjects and others! Today I want to talk about lecture today as well as what I all around thought of The Second Sex. Jill’s lecture was very interesting and of course, adding Ellen DeGeneres’ always adds some wit and humour to the mix. I suppose what stuck out to me in the book as well as lecture was actually Hegel’s notion of a slave and master dialectic. Of course, in relation to The Second Sex, we would translate the master into a man and the slave as the woman. This analogy is not a new concept when we talk about inequalities of the sexes, however, Jill brought up a very interesting point. I hadn’t considered the reason for why this power structure is so powerful. It was really interesting to consider that the master needs the slave as much as the slave needs the master. Although it seems like the master holds all power in the relationship, he relies on the slave to compare himself to in order to feel superior. In other words, his fragile position is dependent on the slave, but doesn’t realize this. From the slave’s perspective, she too relies on the master but is aware of it. Because of this, she is able to cater to the master’s needs in order to secure safety and well-being. It seems that because this system has been going on since Wollstonecraft’s time, women have adapted to it and used the ‘short end of the stick’ to harness a little bit of power. I couldn’t help but think about how Wollstonecraft highlights this power dynamic in her work. She highlights the danger in women pleasing their ‘master’ on pg.151 where she illustrates that power is temporary for women. Equality is what will bring about true freedom and liberation for both sexes, and we must stop playing games of deceit and cunning and make some new rules.