Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Judy Jones another Lady Ashley?

After reading through, "Winter Dreams," I saw many similar traits.  One is their interest in usually masculine events.  Brett enjoys watching all of the bullfight, and Miss Jones wanted to play golf.  They also share a masculine like promiscuity and cheat on their man constantly.  They both also have a man-pet that is wholly in love with them and reveal their insecurities to.  Brett confides in Jake, and Judy in Dexter.  Jake is told by Brett all of her social woes and problems with the men she is with, while Judy does the same thing and cries in front of Dexter multiple times, each time admitting something massively personal.  They both also entertain the idea out loud of the lives they could have had with their respected man-pet.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Babylon Revisited

After reading through The Sun Also Rises, I found the picture painted of Paris to be much different.  There is parties and drinking throughout Paris in Hemingway's book, but the world Fitzgerald paints is far from that.  Right off the bat it explains that this is a different Paris.  The stock market crash made the expatriates scatter and the tourists simply did not have the money to go there anymore, and the people who are there are out of money as well.  It's gives an, from what I can assume, a very accurate picture of the time. The way it deteriorates from the swinging 20's to the crushed early 30's makes the event seem that much more severe.  Granted, people from Hemingway's perspective were very disillusioned, but at least they could afford booze.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fitzgerald's well crafted story poses and interesting, "what if," question to the readers.  How far will people go to gain wealth?  The impact of this question my not be as interesting now, but back in the day I'm sure it was a shocking idea to have.  It was the beginning of the industrial age and everybody was making money hand over fist.  But this does not dissuade Fitzgerald to still ask this question in a clever way.  People actively keeping others in the dark about the real world and keeping them slaves?  Novel for the time I'm sure.  Specifically though, its the picture that it paints of wealthy people that strikes me as well, striking.  The lengths that they go through to keep their money and their power perpetual seems to stop at nothing, even to go as far as to kill people and blow up the biggest diamond ever, instead of sharing a beautiful item with the world, or having their profits suffer.  While some characters escape, showing how far their allegiance goes with money, other decide to go down with the ship.  What does everybody else think?  Could you picture this being a shocking story of the time?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wharton's Contemporaries (Kinda)

I was thinking recently about what exactly could a contemporary of Edith Wharton be?  I found myself scratching a hole in my head because I think society has changed so much that it isn’t really possible for one.  Our culture nowadays seems to vilify the wealthy much more than they possibly did in her day.  Yes, Wharton doesn’t always paint the best picture of the lifestyle and the people of the upper-upper-class, instead analyzing and critiquing the social norms.  Instead today, most people who are rich in creative media are one-dimensional characters that are placeholders for the villain.  Rich somehow has become a stigma of bad character, instead of just having a bad character that just happens to be within the society, or good characters trying to break free of society.  One example I can think of, not because of its critical merits but because of its popularity, is many of the reality T.V. show on the Bravo network: Real Housewives of Where ever, Millionaire Matchmaker, Shahs of Sunset, etc.  The people on these shows, from the little I have watched over at my neighbors, paint these characters to be bickering, nagging, complaining, simpletons.  They seem to, intestinally or not, criticize this lifestyle and how silly their problems are.  Another modernish example is the movie Arthur (the one with Dudley Moore, instead of the wacky leather-pants-wearing Russell Brand [even if they are the same story, I just loathe Russell Brand]).  Arthur has to not only get over his own drinking problems, but also overcome the issue of the societal expectations that are unwillingly placed upon him.  Something that relates to Ethan Frome: Arthur initially chooses his money over Liza Minnelli, showing his ability to decide and follow through much better than Ethan, who doesn’t run away with Mattie out of fear of losing his money.  That being said, the tone and style of the story and how it’s told is completely different from Wharton.  However, one movie of recent memory does, what I think, parallel the style of Wharton, is the Italian film, I am Love.  I am Love is a story about a wealthy industrial family, which starts to split at the seams under a crushing standard of expectations and manners.  The film is subtle and straightforward; there isn’t any flowery music or any close-up emotional shots.  It all takes place as if you were just standing in the room, watching.  It takes attention from the observer, and makes its points with a fine drill, instead of a sledgehammer, much like Wharton does in her finest work.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wallace Stevens

I thought I would do the in class assignment that we were given today, focusing on the poem, "The Plain Sense of Things." 

My initial interpretation was that the poem was about the importance of imagination.  He is saying that essentially everyone who is living imagines, "Yet the absence of imagination had itself yet to be imagined."  The only way you can actually experience this was through death, and if not death something like it. 

The best interpretation came from Gary C. Gibson.  The best quote to sum up would be, "It is in this grim outlook, the time of year when the sun has not just set low in the sky to add a surreal context for colors-when the sun is approaching its most vacating presence and colors have turned gray, when our constructions seem tawdry, that the plain sense of things becomes evident."

The most inventive interpretation that I found online was from Barbara M. Fisher.  This line was a very clever way to describe the feeling of the poem,  "It is not the great cloud of tragedy but an unresolved diminished seventh."  Being a musicy kind of guy I know what that could sound like.  Something is just, off, which is a perfect description of the feeling this poem gave.

I did find most of the interpretations to be pretty solid, but if i had to choose it would be the one by Anthony Whiting.  Could have been because they took only a small clip of his argument, but I was only partially convinced of his points.

One thing I found on youtube that had to do with this poem was another grey moustached man wearing woman's glasses reading poetry.

I also found this on the interweb.  Wish I had found it sooner, it was a massive help, and it makes it much easier to see the brilliance in Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jack London

One aspect of, "The Mexican," that kind of went over my head was the allusion to Rivera being, "dead," or, "not human."  I'm not sure if that was just placed in there to throw us off that he was actually a good person or contain some sort of deeper implication, but it seemed a little strange to me.  I saw that the spark in his eye made him more human than most.  Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wife of His Youth

One thing I was trying to get from the story, "The Wife of His Youth," was whats the point?  Chesnutt always had a point to make in his work, and for a while it eluded me.  But I think I cracked it, and I think that it is a statement about how you cant hide from your past.  Even though Mr. Ryder had done everything in his power to shed away his past, it ended up right at his door step.  But the way that he dealt with it was how any reasonable and civilized person would, even thought it took a while, by addressing it head on.  I think this is a statement about how the past, no matter how different it maybe, needs to be embraced and remembered.  It does not mean it should drag you down, but any attempt to forget it or bleach it from your memory is futile and you would be lying to yourself in the process.  Thoughts?