Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tom Phillips' A Humument (p.305)

On page 305 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips creates the idea of solitude. He does this by placing “toge”, the only person on the image next to a window, which suggests the feeling of loneliness. The words around the image create a melancholy atmosphere; Phillips’ use of simplistic diction makes it easier for the audience to understand the purpose: the lost of a love one may result into isolating one self.

The image clearly indicates that the person in it is waiting for someone. Phillips placed the person next to the window to create the idea of loneliness. The person is also sitting on a chair which demonstrates how he/she spend most of the time waiting, waiting, and waiting. “A Human Document” like Phillips calls his book, demonstrates stages of a human being life. This image, in particular, demonstrates the stage of when you lose that special someone: the stage of isolation. The image also indicates the upcoming of age. Human beings, towards their middle age, began to feel melancholy for the past. Either the lost of someone, the lost of dreams, isolation is what most feel at that certain age. This is what Phillips is trying to convey.

Phillips incorporates words in the image. When reading it, the words create a melancholy atmosphere. With the help of the image, both create what Phillips is trying to convey: isolation. When looking at the image itself, the audience gets a clear understanding of loneliness, and the poem adds up to his purpose. The tone plays an important role in the purpose because it emphasizes melancholy. Melancholy for those who did not make it to your future; Melancholy for the things you lost; Melancholy for being alone. The connection between the image and the poem create the effect of solitude.

The simplistic diction use in the poem work effectively for the purpose of the image. The audience can easily understand the poet’s purpose. Phillips begins the poem with “only/toge alone”. The word “toge” is being detached from the actual word “together” creating the idea that “toge” is a person who lost his/her partner and now remains “alone”. Further more; Phillips mentions the word “loneliness” along with the word “watch”, suggesting that time passes and loneliness is all that is left for that person. Phillips then adds that there are two things left to the person in the image, “first/ my/ viola/ the other thing/ Your image/ I cannot get rid of it”. With this in mind, the audience can come to the conclusion that the person in the image is talking about the lost of a lover. The role of the “viola” symbolizes slow, romantic music, which contributes to the mood of the poem; melancholy. And the image that the person cannot get rid of, demonstrates a heartbroken waiting for that special one to come back.

In overall, everything continues to link to the placement of the image. Phillips carefully chose everything to fall in together. First, isolating the person next to the window indicates the wait for hope, the key role of the word “toge” being detached from the actual word “together” and placing it next to “alone”, making a synonymous and antonym clashed together. The title also connects everything together, “A Human Document” meaning that is documenting how the life of a human being works, recording every stage of it. The way Phillips chose to place the words in the image. He began with a simple quote on top of the image, following it with the key word “loneliness” which flows back below to where the person states that there are only two things left in life; music and memories. At the end, the atmosphere created by Phillips continues to be melancholy.

On page 305 of A Humument by Tom Phillips, suggest the unfortunate idea of facing solitude. With the help of a simple image, simplistic diction, and a melancholy tone, Phillips effectively delivers his purpose to the audience. The stage of solitude brings back memories, makes a person wanting to live again in the past hoping for the future to bring back what the past once had. Phillips wants the audience to relate to his image because at some point of life, every human being will face solitude.

Slavery in Silhouette -Kara Walker

Walker has a distinct way to portray her artwork; most of the times she cuts off images (known as silhouettes) in only two colors, black and white, and pastes them in different backgrounds. Walker is inspired by gender, race, sexuality, and ethnicity. She tends to use her African background as an important tool in her art. In this piece, Walker is exploring gender, race, and social status. This image is quite simple but it carries a well-elaborated meaning.

For starters, two colors pop out right away; white and black. The black is being represented by a woman who is carrying white, another woman. The black and white may symbolize various things, for example: ethnicity. The blacks or African-Americans have always been known as "slaves" of those white wealthy people. In this image, that stereotype is being portrayed: a black woman, who is probably working for a wealthy white family. It is known that the slaves had to put up with any type of requirements that came from their bosses; Walker is definitely demonstrating this fact by creating an image where the black woman is lifting the white woman with her own two hands.

Gender plays another important role is this image. The period of time that Walker is trying to portray in this image separates men and women. Around 1600's, wealthy women just dedicated themselves to stay home, chat with their girlfriends, and attend important events with their husbands. Most of them, had power over Africans slaves. In this image, that relationship between the woman boss and her slave is being shown. The black women slave had a more laid back function than the men slave. Women tended to accompany their bosses, helping them with their clothing, cleaning, cooking, and among other chores that women tend to be in charge of. This image represents that relationship: black woman slave serving her wealthy woman boss.

A way to differ social classes is by their clothing. The wealthy women tended to wear large gowns, big hear-dos, and expensive jewelry. As for the low-class women would wear dull dresses, mostly of depressing colors such as brown and gray, and their hair will remain tied up, away from their faces for better performance at their intensive jobs. In this image, the two women are representing what I explained above. The black slave is wearing a black deflated dress, barefoot, and her hair tied up. As for the wealthy woman, she is wearing a large white gown, with big hair-do, leaning back and facing up in the sky as to look like she is in power.

Social status is the main theme of this image. A way to understand what Walker is trying to convey, is by classifying the two women in the image by social status. The two colors, black and white, are self-explanatory and the way they are place in the image (white above black) show the readers to which social status each woman belong to. Starting with the color on top, white, the woman is known to belong to the upper class. By the way she is dressed and her posture. The color below, black, the woman belongs to the low class. Walking bare feet, lifting the “white” woman, and her clothing, are characteristics of a working class woman.

Walker’s intention to convey gender and social status effectively works. Her simple cut-off and paste-in images tell a story with a lot of background history. Walker’s African background influenced her art work; it inspires her to tell others about her culture, the struggles they have and still face. She uses art to narrate a story and introduce others into a world full with culture and knowledge.

Walker always uses the same colors in the art work, black and white. When presenting her art in an art show, she may add colorful images from a projector to add more intensity in her art. This image for example, if Walker would have added more to it, it would lose its meaning and value. Simplicity defines Walker.

Black, white, upper class, lower class. White, black, lower class, upper class. Slavery, African Americans, wealth, rich, money. Power, respect, money. Gender, mistreatment. These are words that are being emphasized by this image. Taking a quick glance at the image, most of these words pop-out. It is a simple and easy image to analyze, historical knowledge must be applied in order to have a better understanding of what Walker is trying to convey.

The images create sad emotions: sad to see how hard slaves had to work, how much they had to take from their owners. It demonstrates how strong Africans were and still are. But to expand this idea a lot more, it demonstrates how WOMEN are warriors. Personally, when I look at this image, it gives me strength. Strength to overcome anything, if these women were capable to lift, to keep up, and to serve their owners, I believe women now are capable of more. This image makes the viewers look back in the past and understand how much women have improved over time. From being slaves to educated professional women. I believe nobody would have been able to achieve this meaning with such of simplicity. Walker has a gift to narrate a meaningful story with less and less objects. As mentioned above, her art defines simplicity. Her lack of colors contributes to her unique style.

In overall, Walker creates a piece of art with a hidden message: a message that provokes and explores gender, race and social status. Starting from the time of slavery up to the time that now women are independent. As a woman, Walker demonstrates to be a strong and self-determinate. As an artist, she is simple and straightforward. Some may believe that this form of art is quite easy but the difficult task here is to create a meaningful piece that will stay in the viewers mind. Walker owns this skill.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Video Branagh: Blog 2

The three videos from Branagh’s Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2, helps the readers get a better interpretation of the scene. One video in particular, establishes Hamlet’s state of mind more well than the others. The video between where Polonius and Hamlet are having a conversation (Shakespeare 66-67) demonstrate different aspects of Hamlet’s personality; such as his incoherencies, his insulting sarcasm, and his serious and determined side.

Starting from the bottom up, the first video, I believe did not cover much of Hamlet’s personality. It instead focus more on the First Player’s acting than showing off Hamlet. In this video, the First Player is showing Hamlet his acting skills (Shakespeare 75-77) and spends most of the time reciting this long speech (with various images appearing as he speaks). Hamlet barely gets time in the video to speak and show the audience his "distinct" personality. Even though in this particular video Hamlet does not play the main role, the whole idea of creating a play and auditioning the players demonstrate a part of Hamlet’s personality; it shows that he takes time to analyze and choose correctly his moves in order to operate his revenge.

Following this video, the next one is between Hamlet and his two closest friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In this video, Hamlet appears more than in the last video. But it still does not gives the audience a well-understanding of Hamlet’s state of mind. Both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern came to visit Hamlet because of the Queen’s request. She believes that Hamlet is acting quite different and is afraid of what he might be able to do. Therefore, she decided to bring his two closest friends so they can get Hamlet to be back to his normal self. Hamlet spends most of the time in this part of the scene trying to get his friends to confess that they were both sent for; "what more dear a better proposer can charge you withal,/ be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or/ no!"(Shakespeare 201-203). With the arrival of his two friends, Hamlet still manages to act in such a different manner that his friends noticed right from the beginning. Both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tried to act as if they didn’t know that Hamlet was talking about and kept repeating "To visit you, my lord, no other occasion" (Shakespeare 266), "What should we say, my lord" (Shakespeare 272), and "To what end, my lord" (Shakespeare 277). They are trying to hide the fact that they know there is something wrong with Hamlet, but their attempt failed. This video is a proof to what Shakespeare’s play indicates about Hamlet’s personality; he is "crazy in craft". Even when his two friends came to help, Hamlet maintain a delusional status and did not even tried to hide the personality he has been showing to the rest of Denmark’s inhabitants.

The last two videos explained above, only indicate one thing about Hamlet’s personality: his will for revenge. No other aspect of his personality is being shown in the past videos. I believe the last (or first) video show Hamlet’s real state of mind. In this next video, Polonius runs up the stairs in search of Hamlet. A strange and mysterious skeleton mask appears right in front of Polonius’ face, this be Hamlet being the "mysterious" man he has been after he met his dead father’s ghost. In the first 10 seconds of the video, the audience gets to see a different part of Hamlet. Besides being the mysterious man the readers have imagine of, they now see this strange and unusual man. Following this, Polonius asks "Do you know me, my lord", "Excellent well, you are a fishmonger" Hamlet responds with a ease tone, somehow pretending to be polite. To prove it, the next lines carries an angry tone, as if Hamlet was getting annoyed by Polonius; "Then I would you were so honest a man" (Shakespeare 176). In the play by Shakespeare, the tone seems to be the same, an ease tone. But Branagh delivers the lines differently, making it easy for the audience to see the changes in Hamlet’s personality. To follow with his insulting sarcasm, besides pretending to be polite, Hamlet also uses the book he was reading before Polonius arrived to insult Polonius in an intellectual way. Hamlet starts off by saying that the book says "that old/ men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their/ eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they/ have a plentiful lack of wit" (Shakespeare 195-198). In the video, as he says these lines, Hamlet makes various silly faces, twisting his mouth, and using a sarcastic tone.

Another new aspect of Hamlet’s personality appears in this video, the incoherencies that comes out of his mouth most of the time. For example, when Hamlet randomly asks Polonius "-Have you a daughter" (Shakespeare 182) even after he knew and has met his daughter Ophelia. Then he follows "Let her not walk i’th’sun. Conception is a blessing," (Shakespeare 184) with a horrifying look and a frightening tone. The faces Hamlet makes, the way he delivers his lines, his high to low tones, make him look somehow fearful in the eyes of the audience. And his incoherencies contribute to his craziness in craft.

Hamlet also develops a serious and determined side. Towards the end of the video, Polonius states in a threaten tone "My lord, I will take my leave of you", provoking Hamlet to change from being this sarcastic man into a serious one. "You cannot take from me any thing…- except my life, except my life,/except my life" (Shakespeare 212-214). And then from serious to angry, "These tedious old fools!" (Shakespeare 216). Being able to watch Branagh’s version, the way Hamlet delivers these last lines, demonstrate his ability to change his personality depending on the situation.

The last (or first) video of Act 2 Scene 2, Branagh effectively captures Hamlet’s state of mind. I was able to distinct each of Hamlet’s aspects of his personality with no difficulty. The last video, even though it was a short conversation, it contained important information for the reader to understand the crazy in craft idea. Hamlet demonstrates to be in control of the situation by always showing others his confidence. He always manages to leave questions in other people’s head with his incoherencies and his sarcasm.

Olson Essay

The interview between Stephen Colbert and Elizabeth Alexander introduced an intellectual topic in a humorous manner. Colbert interviewed Alexander in a short period of time but he was able to obtained valuable information that the audience may have been wanting to hear.

In the interview Alexander tried to maintain a serious and important topic. A response, in particular, from Alexander, caught my attention; "[poems] should be emotionally true", she then elaborates that there must be "something in the poem that feel is true…that is how you connect to the poem". If Olson would have been present in this interview, he would of agreed with most of Alexander‘s response.

To elaborate more on this response, let’s look at Olson’s essay Projective Verse. At the beginning, Olson discusses about Kinetics and its role in poetry. His firsts thoughts: "A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it" (Olson). This simple theory relates to Alexander’s response to Colbert’s questions "Poems aren’t true?". Alexander explained that there has to be something behind the poem that must be true, something that made the poet write about, and Olson’s kinetics ("high-energy construct") proves this. Even though Alexander’s response relates to Olson’s ideas, I believe Olson would of answered this questions in a much better manner. He would of elaborate more on it and go deeper into what separates poems between fiction and reality.

Moving forward, another question asked by Colbert; "What’s the difference between a metaphor and a lie?" created a deeper conversation yet comical. Colbert then continues to elaborate on the question by asking Alexander why can’t you just say what you mean without using "flowery language"(Colbert). Alexander’s response consisted on the definition of a metaphor and she argued that they are used just for comparison instead of facts. She responded that "a metaphor is using language where you make a comparison to let people understand something as it relates to something else." Poetry is about what the poet might be going through at some point, and the flowery language adds to those emotions. The idea of using metaphors can easily relate back to the idea of Kinetics (energy). As metaphors are being use by poets to increase meaning between their experiences and emotions, they also want to create this "energy" between their words and their audience. But going back to Olson, if this question would have been asked to him, he would elaborate more on the idea of what a lie really is? Olson had this intellectual perspective about life and he would of rather maintain the focus on the "lie" then into the "metaphor".

One of the last questions asked by Colbert was "What is an occasional poem?". He brought up a good point because readers, at times, may wonder about the occasion of the poem and if it is meaningful. Alexander simply responded "an occasional poem is a poem written for an occasion" (Alexander). The context of the poem is written for a certain event, an event that any reader could relate to. The good thing of poetry, is that it can be interpreted in various ways, which provides the audience with the option to interpret poems in any way they want.

Both Olson and Alexander agrees in similar aspects of poetry. Even though they write about different "occasions", they maintain the idea of writing with emotions yet giving the audience space to interpret their poems as freely as they can. Both Olson and Alexander use language to increase meaning. While Olson keeps his topics to be about Gloucester, to introduce this city to those who have never lived or visit it in a philosophical style, Alexander is more realistic and writes about events that are currently happening. The interview with Colbert, opened our minds to compare and contrast these two poets. With few knowledge of Alexander’s career, and with a higher knowledge of Charles Olson’s poetics, this interview would have been more meaningful is Olson was the one being interviewed. Even though Alexander never went off topic, her responses were quite simple. Olson, on the other hand, would have answered with the same ideas but he would have put more thought on his responses.

The interview would of definitely gone differently if Olson was present. I dare to say that perhaps if would have been less humorous and more intellectual. During Ferrini’s film "Polis is This", Olson was introduced as this high-intellectual man. Olson would of made this interview still interesting, he was a people’s person as many mentioned in Ferrini’s film, but he definitely had this influence over people that made everything more intense and profound.

Hamlet 1:5:Kenneth Branagh's video

In Kenneth Branagh’s video of Hamlet’s scene 1 Act 5, Branagh focuses when Hamlet meets his father’s ghost and the truth of his death is revealed. The video of this scene emphasizes the anger prince Hamlet is feeling once he found out his uncle killed his father. With the incorporation of flashbacks, the sound effects, and the setting (dark woods), Branagh gives his viewers a great understanding on the scene and it foreshadows the rest of the play.

A great technique used by Branagh are the flashbacks. These flashbacks allows the viewers to relive the crucial moments of Hamlet’s death. As Hamlet’s ghost is describing the moments of his death, flashbacks are brought up on the screen. In the play by Shakespeare, this scene does not give such details as the video does; instead the Ghost briefly states "The serpent that did sting thy father’s life/Now wears his crown" (Shakespeare 39-40). As the Ghost continues to express his anger, more flashbacks are being incorporated. For example, when the Ghost states "With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts-/O wicked wit and gifts that have the power/ So to seduce!- won to his shameful lust/ The will of my most seeming virtuous queen"(Shakespeare 44-46). These lines, in the video version, are being accompanied with flashbacks of Hamlet’s brother giving the queen "toys" and they happily play. The last flashback is the when Hamlet was murdered by his brother. In the video, the ghost raises his voice as he continues to advance on how he was killed; "And in the porches of my ears did pour…Holds such an enmity with blood of man/ That swift as quicksilver it courses through/ The natural gates and alleys of the body,"(Shakespeare 64-67). The use of flashbacks and the deep voice the Ghost uses, both work together to emphasize the anger the ghost feels towards his cowardly murder.

The sound effects give the scene a frightening feeling. As Hamlet is running through the woods, he is talking and looking around impatiently, repeating a passage from Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 4. Among the lines of that passage, the sounds effects increase starting with these lines "Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blast from hell,/Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,"(Shakespeare 42-43). When Hamlet pronounces "heaven", "hell", "death", "burst their cerements", and among others, the sound effects become louder and impact more the viewers. Hamlet is speaking with such a fast pace, and the effects become more and more noticeable, that the viewer is encounter with a mixture of significant details that make this scene perfect.

The setting also contributes to the formation of this scene. While reading Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet, this scene is not being portrayed in the woods. The reader would most likely picture this scene perhaps in a tower of a castle (since that is where Hamlet’s soldiers would most likely be guarding). But the dark woods give the scene a more frightening atmosphere, which connects with the appearance of the ghost.

The delivery of lines is an important fact when it comes about replicating someone else’s work. Each character effectively delivers each line with the correct tone, and pauses that create suspense. For example, the ghost highlights the word "Murther": "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther" (Shakespeare 25) in the video, and as he mentions "murther", a vivid image of his ear with three holes appeared with blood pouring out. The ghost is mostly whispering in this scene, which demonstrates that the ghost is trying to maintain a quiet and secretly conversation with Hamlet. The whispering also creates suspense in the viewers as they patiently await for the next effect to take place.

Branagh ends the act of the ghost with the "Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me"(Shakespeare 91). The ghost vanishes into the air, making it an effective way for a ghost to disappear. Hamlet is now left in the woods, analyzing every detail his father told him, and with anger reflecting on his eyes, the viewers can easily tell that a war is about to break out in Denmark. The video concludes with Hamlet kissing his sword, which symbolizes that he is making a pact with his father to revenge his unnatural death. As he kisses his sword, he mentions "Now to my word:/It is ‘Adieu, adieu! Remember me.’/I have sworn’t" (Shakespeare 110-112). Branagh definitely captures the correct tone and the character delivered the last lines correctly, making the intensity the video increase.

In overall, both characters full achieved Shakespeare’s play. Branagh captured the correct setting, the tone, the effect, and most important, the delivery of lines. The intensity that was needed to deliver the accurate meaning of the scene, was demonstrated by both actors. This video gives a different interpretation of the setting but it fairly adapts to the play. The video version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was well-directed and effectively operated.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jane Eyre Last Blog

By the end of Jane Eyre, many events came to an end and others begin. Starting from Jane finding close relatives up to Mr. Rochester losing everything he built. Jane’s and Rochester’s relationship has never been truthful, there was always something. But by the end of the story, this foolish relationship came together as one. Ending with the result of Rochester’s blindness and the crippled hand, he has become a more kind man who is in need of others to get himself around. A new personality has grown out of Rochester, making his life worth living.

Due to this incident, it leaves Jane in an advantage. She is now the one with complete power, both economically and physically: “…I cannot be so blest after all my misery…but kiss me before you go…” (Bronte 423). Rochester’s attitude when he realizes that Jane has come back, enlightened him with joy. The roles in this scene have change, Jane’s impression of Rochester when she first saw him, were the impressions Rochester felt once Jane came back. The difference is that unlike Rochester, Jane is more comprehensive and more friendly.

I believe that at this point, Rochester is at the same level of Jane; humble-like. He seems to consider more the people around him and appreciate them for who they are. “Jane! You think me, I daresay, irreligious dog: but my heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent God of this earth just now… His chastisements are mighty; and one smote me which has humbled me for ever. You know I was proud of my strength: but what is it now, when I must give it over to foreign guidance, as a child does it weakness?” (Bronte 435). This is the perfect example to get to know the new personality of Rochester. Rochester realizes that the power that he had before, no longer matter, as well as his pride. He now depends on Jane.

Rochester’s incident was crucial to his relationship with Jane. Jane finally saw a humble man willing to live by love. Rochester realized that status wasn’t everything. In chapter 38, the reader learns that their love has become stronger over the past ten years, and it is due to the little importance that they pay to what society says. This final chapter clarifies the universal issue of others caring what society thinks. Most couples are affected by this issue and both Jane and Rochester demonstrated that at the end what matters is that they are together and happy.

Option Assignment: Paired Poems

In this optional assignment, I decided to do another paired-poem. I enjoyed very much the last paired-poem and chose to work this time with the Victorian Era. After doing some research, I found some quite useful information about this era, it was inspired by the romantic era and not many females were part of it. Fortunately, two sisters were one of the few women who left their legacy to us: Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

I decided to pick both sisters because I wanted to compare their styles. I thought it might have been interesting to seen their similarities but also their differences. Both sisters lived a life full with tragedies as each member of their family kept on dying. This caused them to write and incorporate their deep emotions into their work. Their background is what attracted me to read their work; I realized that their work must include many of those incidents that impacted their life. And in my opinion, I enjoy reading and learning about how some famous writers are able to include their dilemmas but still manage to make it open to the audience.

Charlotte Bronte, I would say her work was inspired by those closed to her. In this poem in particular, she explores what life means to her. In this poem, she explains how Life can easily end at any point. She gives the audience an advice “Enjoy them as they fly!”(Line 12) But she is also telling herself that life is too short, and she has plenty of things to live for and accomplish. Death has caused such a great impact in her life, (as she seen her mother, and sisters died in front of her eyes) that in this poem, she later mentions “What thought Death at times step in, /And calls our Best away?”(Lines 13-14). I found this poem so captivated because Bronte is doing two things at once. She is self-reflecting about her life, her family’s life, and yet she manages to speak to directly to the reader.

Emily Bronte, just like her sister, used the technique of writing as an escape or a way for her to relief her emotions. But unlike her sister Charlotte, Emily will talk more about her faith to God than about her life. In her poem No Coward Soul is Mine, Bronte is using a strong tone towards the subject of faith and death. She opens up her poem with a strong statement “No coward soul is mine” (Line 1) which is also the title. This first line clearly states how Emily has a strong will, with no desire to give up on anything, and if death is her path, she will happily agree with God. Bronte also describes her feelings towards heaven, “I see Heaven’s glories shine,” (Line 3).

I believe that the Bronte’s sister were so familiar with death that it inspired them to write about it and to not fear it. Instead, they waited for it. Charlotte saw death as a factor of life, while Emily saw it as an inevitable occurrence. What connects these two poems is their desire for hope, for faith, and for death.
Once again, I found this assignment to be quite interesting. I enjoyed learning about the lives of these two wonderful women.