Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 3: 9/15-9/18

"On The Road" by Jack Kerouac
In class we talked about the line, "we know time." I didn't realize the repetition of this, but after analyzing it I became more and more intrigued into this theme of time.  On page 105, Dean says, "And then we'll all go off to sweet life, 'cause now is the time and we all know time." This is a time that is said over and over in different situations, but they all kinda mean a similar thing. Living life to the greatest was a characteristic of the Beat Generation and is a big deal for everyone in On The Road. During the Beat Generation, people recognized that life was limited and time isn't infinite.

Although I don't go around trying to live life to the fullest with drugs and other ways like the characters in this book, I really related to this theme because I always catch myself to try and do as much as possible. This isn't always the healthiest way to go through life because even though time is limited, some times you just need to slow down and truly emerge yourself in a moment. Rushing thought life is a mistake, but so it believing that time is infinite.

In juxtaposing the theme of time in On the Road and T. S. Eliot's poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, you can see the polar opposite views. Prufrock thinks time is infinite so he doesn't need to be decisive about how he spends his time. This is a sad way to view life, because it holds back Prufrock from ever going out to experience the wonderful parts of life, he just thinks about what he could do and doesn't act on it.

Mary Lou
The themes in On the Road are very interesting, but I also think theres some themes that rub me the wrong way. One of these themes is the role of women in the story. The event that really got my attention was when they were considering offering Mary Lou to a man. Even though they didn't act on their thoughts, just the thought of it is terrible. And I think this topic is still very relevant in todays society. Although women are getting treated more and more as equals, I think their is always that thought that crosses many minds of men just being the superior gender. As a women, I don't feel inferior to men, but it does cross my mind at time and I question myself based on being a women. For example, I am in the school of engineering and their is a very noticeable difference between the number of men vs. women. I do think its largely based on the difference in interests between the genders, but as a women in the field, I do feel like I have more to prove then the men. For a man, its normal to be in engineering and the rigor isn't as stressed to a man as it is to a women. In little ways, I think men always question me when I say I'm a computer science major. This obviously doesn't effect me very deeply like in Mary Lous situation, but I think its something to think about how the genders are treated differently even to this day.

Differences between the novel and film:

The movie was very difficult for me to comprehend. It didn’t seem to follow the same chronological order the book did so that was a major difference that really confused me while watching the movie. One of the first nights Sal and Dean are together in the movie, they talk about people who have “IT.” In the book, “IT” wasn’t talked about until part two, I think, so the fact that Sal and Dean get this deep so early in the movie caught me off guard.
One major difference I saw was in Carlo Marx’s character. Maybe it’s because I didn’t picture him how I saw him portrayed in the film. In the novel, I could tell Carlo had an infatuation with Dean, but I thought it was more a friendship kind of infatuation. The Benzedrine trips they took together gave me the impression they had a spiritual connection, but I didn’t see it how the movie portrayed it. The movie was very straightforward about Carlo being interested in Dean sexually. In one scene, Carlo talked about how him and Dean had sex and this really surprised me because when I was reading I couldn’t tell if they had been intimate or not and the film straight out told us very soon into the movie. In the film, I could sense Carlos jealousy when Dean was with other women. I didn’t pick up on this as much in the book.

Sal’s characterization was also different for me between the book and movie. When I was reading I saw Sal as a quiet follower who went with what everyone else was doing. When I was watching the movie, Sal seemed to be more powerful. He seemed more sure of himself in his actions dealing with alcohol and drugs. Although he was portrayed as a follower in the movie as well as the book, he seemed to have more confidence in himself in the movie. The whole point of Sal’s journeys was for him to find himself and it had less of an impact in the movie because he didn’t seem as lost as he is in the book.
The weather was also a big deal in the film, but when reading I didn’t have the impression that while they were on the road they were freezing in Dean’s car. The movie also showed Sal walking alone through a storm and I feel like this would be a big deal, but I don’t remember any emphasis on it in the book.
One difference I did like from the movie was that more of the boring traveling was left out. In some parts of the book, it felt like Sal’s travels were drawn out, but the movie cut these out. Obviously, because it’s a movie only the most essential details were kept in, but I think this shortening kept up the pace of the movie.
In the film, Stan isn’t included. This is a difference because it characterizes Dean differently. In the novel, having Stan accompany Sal and Dean to Mexico makes it less rude when Dean abruptly leaves Sal while he is sick. In the film, Stan isn’t there for Sal so when Dean leaves, Sal is all alone and sick in a place far away from home. Even though Dean is characterized as very egotistical, the movie really makes the viewer not like Dean because it shows he is a terrible friend to someone who’s always be there for him.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 2: 9/8-9/11

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac 

The perspective of "On the Road" is interesting because even though Sal Paradise is the main character and the book is told from his perspective, Dean's life and experiences take up a large portion of the story. Sal is fascinated by Dean and in a way follows what he does because he admires him. In a way I can relate with Sal. I am quite, but like to be in on the action. I like to be the listener and bystander. Through Sals narration, you see how he becomes infatuated with peoples personalities. Not to the extreme of Sal, but I would say I like to surround myself with people who are energetic and get me to come out of my comfort zone which is what Sal does.

This story was written over 50 years ago, but it is still very relevant to society today. In recent year I have noticed more and more of this kind of "beat" thinking come back. I don't know if it's because I'm entering my young adult life and this adventurous thinking is what comes with this stage of life or if this attitude is becoming more common.

As I enter my young adult life and become more and more independent, I see a bigger future and have dreams that I can realistically achieve in my lifetime. A lot of my dreams revolve around some kind of adventure. There is no really good reason for wanting to go on these adventures, but its the concept of going out into the unknown/new thats exciting. I don't think Sal has a good reason for his cross country road-trip, but its the excitement of getting out into the world that draws him to go for it. In chapter eight, Sal says, "'That last thing is what you can't get, Carlo. Nobody can get to that last thing. We keep on living in hopes of catching it once for all'" (43).  This line really got my attention and goes along with this theme of the need for adventure in "On the Road." Sal is saying that everyone is looking for the last thing or an end point, but unlike Dean and Carlos, Sal recognizes that this 'last thing' can never really be attained. If you keep wanting something more, you will never stop searching. In respects to adventures, one has a need to keep going on better and better adventures. Once someone has experienced an amazing adventure, I think there is an internal need to get back out and keep achieving that feeling you get from going on adventures.

Another interesting theme I saw in this section of reading what how Sal in never content where he is. He always tells himself that it will get better the next place to goes. Sal tells himself everything will get better once he gets to Denver. And then once he gets to Denver he tells himself that it will get better once he finds Dean. This theme is very relevant in society today. Everyones always looking to the future and never really embracing the present moment. And this also relates to my previous quote on how you can never really find the 'last thing' or in Sals case, he can never find true bliss.

In class, we talked about Zen Buddhism and the wabi-sabi view. This was an interesting topic to me because I am Japanese and also because I never saw the connection between Buddhism and this novel. I don't have a lot of knowledge on Buddhism, and I had never heard of wabi-sabi, but I researched it.

Wabi-sabi is the acceptance of imperfection. This view goes hand in hand with the journey of this novel and any adventure for that matter. On one of the websites I looked at they described wabi-sabi as, "undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered." This was beautifully put and helps me put words to why people have this internal need to go out into the world and discover the unknown. Beauty is everywhere and through the wabi-sabi view its seen more clear. Wabi has a connotation of loneliness and saddness, while sabi has a connotation of worn and impermanent. The combination of these two terms is where the beauty comes from. It's looking past the bad and imperfect.

In terms of relating this to "On the Road," I see the wabi-sabi perspective as something Sal is trying to figure out. Sal is on this journey in hopes of finding some deeper meaning in him life and ultimately discovering himself. He's characterized as a bit immature and this acceptance of imperfection is something I think Sal should implement into this lifestyle.

I also thought that peer pressure was an interesting theme because when I read Sals interactions with other characters it feels like he just goes along with what everyone else is doing.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 1: 9/1-9/4

'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' by T.S. Eliot

The fifth stanza of this poem really stands out to me because of its hopeful tone toward what the future will hold. The repetition of the word 'time' is calming and eases any worries of not having enough time to do everything you want in life. But what Prufrock is saying doesn't really make sense. Even though he's having a somewhat optimistic view on life, he's only lying to himself. He says that time is infinite and this is obviously not the case.

Another part of this poem that interests me is Eliot's repetition of questions he asks the reader. Both, "So how should I presume?" and "Would it have been worth while," are repeated three times. The questions seem to balance with each other, the first asking about the future and the second looking back on past events. I appreciate these questions because they give the poem a little rest and are relatable to how individuals go through life. You don't usually stop to ponder these questions, but we all encounter them. By having Prufrock ponder these questions, the poem has an anxious and resentful tone. The first stanza says, "To lead you to an overwhelming question..." and then leaves it there. I think these are the overwhelming questions in the poem. The questions take one on a vicious cycle of over analyzing ones every move.

Eliot also brings up the theme of permanence. The line, "In the room the women come and go," Eliot hints at how nothing in life is permanent. He's almost saying don't spend too much time on one thing or person because in the end its probably not worth it. Michelangelo is also mentioned after this line. He is a highly regarded artist so this could be a social commentary on how people are always looking for something 'better' in life. The reader probably feels bad for Prufrock at this point because he's saying how women always come and go and don't pay attention to him.

Through out the poem it is apparent Prufrock has a love interest. Prufrock is unable to express his feelings and as much as he tries to talk himself into it, he never does anything to get the girl. Rejection seems to scary him so much that he says, "It is impossible to say just what I mean!" In a way Prufrock's inability to approach this girl is very much relevant in todays society. Even though Prufrock is an extreme case, may people can relate to not doing something out of fear or anxiety at the potential bad outcomes.

Going back to the line, 'Would it have been worth while;' the poem continues after these lines and lists other things they could have done in the past. The poem is alluding to times in life when you look back and think 'What if?' But after the 'what ifs' Eliot ends the stanza with, "That is not it at all,/ That is not what I meant at all." This gives me the feeling that Prufrock is overwhelmed. He can't get this thoughts out straight and he's always anxious about what he's trying to get across.

The last three stanzas confused me the most. It starts out with simple questions which leads me to think the overwhelming question is actually simple after all. Eliot including mermaids was interesting to me. Mermaids are half human and half fish so maybe Eliot is alluding to the many different sides of a person or how people all walk through life differently. It's also ironic how the poem ends with death, but a theme in this poem is how time is infinite.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

When juxtaposing Flannery's, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," and Eliots poem, 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' I looked at the main character The Misfit. The Misfit and Prufrock are similar in their thinking, but differ when it comes to the actions they take. The Misfit is a criminal who doesn't feel remorse for any of his crimes. He seems to contemplate his actions which relates to Prufrock, but unlike him, The Misfit follows through without remorse. He knows they are wrong, but he says, "I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment." He sees his past punishments as payment for his future wrong doings. 

Another similarity I found between the poem and short story, are that they both have ironic titles. In 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," its really not a love song but a longing for love. And in "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," the title served as a foreshadowing to conflict of the story when the family comes across a 'bad' man.

This short story created a lot of questions for me:
What is the characterization of the Grandmother suppose to make the reader feel?
What is happening in the concluding line of the story?
Why does the grandmother refer to The Misfit as one of her children in the conclusion of the story?