The Perception of Change

I found The Metamorphosis to be very Kafkaesque, which makes sense I suppose. Although I don’t think stories always need a definitive meaning, it makes it easier for me to write about The Metamorphosis if I figure out some consistent ideas and themes. So here is my main focus for this story: The perception of change, and the difference between mental and physical change. Although I can’t say that these issues were Kafka’s intention points in writing the story, it seems like he makes a lot of interesting statements on these issues throughout.

1. The way we as humans adapt to change. After his drastic transformation, Gregor continues to worry only about what he knows and understands. He gripes about problems he can control, rather than those he can’t deal with or those beyond his power. (such as being an insect) Even after he is fully aware of his buglike nature he still worries primarily about work and money. Maybe i’m reading too much into this, but it seems like humans do this; tend to focus on the trivial and understandable. Is drastic change more acceptable because we have more to compare it to or less?

2. Dissociation of identity. Eventually, Gregor’s sister begins to talk about the bug as being something different from Gregor. His appearance has changed although his mind and narrative seems not to have. ┬áSO, there ends up being a lot here on the MIND VS. PHYSICAL. It once again raises the question of what truly makes a monster; the way they appear, and the fact that they are different, or, the way they think. Gregor’s appearance is a key reason that he loses the support of his family. So what defines identity?Another key factor in this is communication, which seems to create monsters in all our texts. (Well, usually the lack of communication or the warped nature of communication)

3. I think there is a lot more to discuss, but I had this one last weird thought I wanted to share. The story is told to make it seem like Gregor has changed. This might sound crazy, but I found myself wondering in this text: who has really changed? Gregor once asks “was this still my father” and the gentleman lodgers are not surprised to see the monstrous bug as his family. Apart from a described physical change, perhaps this story represents more the change of others, and his obvious disparity is just a sort of ridiculous reference point.

And…. The Yellow Wallpaper.

Not much to say for now, really. I thought it was brilliant. Apparently one of the goals was to make you feel like you are going insane and it surely worked. You think you know what’s going in and whose plot you are following but there is a subtle shift somehow and you aren’t sure anymore. This ties in with the critique on the way mental illness was approached: if you look at it in linear fashion things will warp anyway.

TS Eliot: Fragmented World/Poem

It’s true that we read for plot quite often. It’s all about a good story, and some conflict, and a climax and a resolution. Heck, when I was younger I would sometimes skip the pages with emotional interludes so I could get to the story. I thought I already knew about emotions. I wanted to know what had happened to make so and so sad, not a soliloquy about why so and so was sad. But for me poetry has always been an exception to this, and The Wasteland is without a doubt the most beautiful and intriguing text we have read so far. It combines the beauty of language with the evocativeness of association: I feel like I’ve done all this before, somehow. Anyways, without waxing poetic on the genius of TS Eliot, i’ll point out some things that are a bit more tangible.

I don’t know if i’ll ever really know what this poem is “about”, but I think that is part of the point. Human history is a succesion of desperate attempts to find meaning. I read on Wikipedia that TS Eliot beleived a poem should suit the age it was written in, and that would make a lot of sense considering this was written after the first world war, and people were trying to validate things and give things a purpose. We always do that. If this poem is obscure of fragmented, that is a part of the art of the poem, and a reflection upon what we as a collective population do. The constant allusions only reinforce this idea. This poem is a patchwork, and all these separate patches form a whole. It couldn’t happen with just one patch and one giant patchless blanket could never exist. This comes back to my pseudo-idea about the way we view the world in partitions, and the reasons that’s a bad way to think. Eliot seems to be saying something similar, although it isn’t really in a negative or positive light, it just is. The world is a mix of latin and greek and dialouge and highbrow master narratives.

Let’s talk about feelings. I finished this poem not really sure what it was as a whole, but appreciating the incredible complexity of language AND, an overwhelming feeling of nihilism. It’s a sort of apathy which, again, (sorry) comes back to it’s fragmented nature. Things are deteriorating in this poem. Things are just getting old and that’s what happens, the end. It’s simple and sad, but I think worth all the other parts to see a whole picture. In the end my childish self still really wants to see one whole, simple picture. TS Eliot says that will never happen, sorry.


Freud: Happiness is Contrast, or, Why I Can’t Have A Pool.

Before reading Civilization And Its Discontents I had associated Freud with scary ideas about your subconscious and such. There was a sort of stigma attached to the idea of Freud. I understand that this is but one of his published works, but I found myself agreeing with almost all of his ideas and finding them to be in a far different form then I had expected.

Religion. I’ve struggled a lot with these questions of religion. I’m pretty atheist (no not a pretty atheist, although that is how i’m known in some circles) and have never thought it a good idea to listen to what a diety has to tell you. That being said, I desperately want to believe we as global…globe, are connected somehow. I think we need a way to see that all the biological parts of this world amount to some sort of unified whole, and it has some meaning. I think lots of people feel this way, obviously that’s why there is religion. In any case I really like Freud’s explanation of it. He says that religion is really more of a sense of the oceanic rather than faith. He then explains this oceanic feeling by bringing in the ego. What I got from it was that when we were born our ego was less of an internal entity. It didn’t exist as much, really, because we hadn’t had a chance to develop it. We didn’t think about ourselves in the context of ourselves, we thought of ourselves in context with the rest of the world around us and were therefore more connected to the entire world. Our ego was the world so to speak. This is why we have this nagging feeling of connectedness, and why we build fancy churches to bring us together and such. Is it based in any solid science? No, not really. Does it make a lot of sense? Yeah, I think so.

Other things that Freud said that I liked: We as humans must do something in order to deal with reality, such as gardening. Happiness is an episodic phenomenon…Ah yes, contrasting happiness! That was a fairly cool thought. This idea that all enjoyment or pleasure ever is, is a contrast. We could not experience “goodness” if all we ever had was goodness. It ties in a bit with our “death principle” because we can never stay in the current state of things, we need to create chaos somehow in our lives in order to understand and appreciate peace. This is interesting, especially when applied to a political global theory.

I’m not sure if my mother read a lot of philosophy, or was just a wise woman, but she seems to get to a lot of the points of these philosophers in her motherly advice. When I was little, I wanted to have a pool because my rich friend had one. Our own pool! But my Mom told me I didn’t really want a pool because then I wouldn’t enjoy going to my rich friends house to swim. It wouldn’t be special. BAM. FREUD. Thanks mom.