Friday, May 23, 2008

Reflection Paper - 700 Word Minimum

I feel that your class has prepared me for what is to come at college. The work load was, most of the time, a lot more than we were used from past years and more intense and demanding as well. So while, at time we felt like we would surely die under the load, it is close to the amount of work we will be expected to do next year. So it’s good for us to get used to it now. Also the type of work we were expected to do is similar to that of next year. Explications threw everyone through a loop when we first started doing them, and for me, most of the year, but it is a skill that now, as a result of much practice in your class, we have mastered and is one that we will carry with us through out college. Another example is the fifteen page research papers we just finished. It was an enormous feat for all of us to accomplish but, again, is something we will be expected to know how to do in college.
Through out the year in your class I gradually learned to have confidence in myself as an English student. When I first entered your class I was struggling, big time. I was no longer at the top of my class and I didn’t know what to do with that. I was struggling, really struggling, in an English class that never happened to me. Well, I mean there were time in other English classes, when I was younger and less intelligent, I would do poorly in an English class on purpose to “stick it” to the teacher. But that wasn’t he case in your class; I was genuinely working hard and was still floundering.

Then one day you handed me back one of my explication papers, which I got an eighty-two on, a B! I was absolutely shocked! When I looked up at you in total amazement and disbelief, you said something like, “Yeah, and you completely earned it, I’m a hard grader.” That was definitely one of the happiest and best moments in your class. I had finally conquered the one thing that was truly giving me a hard time in your class. I was so proud of myself, which doesn’t happen very often.

One of the biggest, and most important, units that we covered in your class was A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce. This was an extremely mature and difficult read, I was thrilled I lived through it, let alone understood it. The thing I enjoyed most about covering this book was the discussions and lectures we had over it. There is so much going on in that book and so many symbols, I really loved having you and my classmates there to point out things I wouldn’t have caught otherwise. It taught me to read into things more.
Portrait was also our first experience with strands. I was always pretty good at coming up with theories to write about based on what I read, but through learning about strands I got to hone that skill further. Strands force you to lock into one aspect of what you’re reading so that your writing and your evidence will be more specific. Also they get you to notice patterns, and themes, and hints within the author’s writing and that really helps you understand what the author is trying to say. All of these things are vital to creating a good thesis and paper.
Our next biggest unit, and my favorite, was Hamlet. Obviously it is important for every English student and every student in general, to learn Shakespeare. Going into my senior year in high school, into English twelve honors, I was so excited to be reading Hamlet. I knew this was the year we would read it and I just could not wait. As someone who loves English, and being an actor, it doesn’t get better than Hamlet for me.

Hamlet was so much fun. Getting to watch you act as Hamlet and all of us getting to take turns acting it out seriously made my year. It was literally combining my two favorite things. Also the question constantly asked through out studying Hamlet was “How would you cast the characters of Hamlet if you were a director of the play?” This got our imaginations going and made reading Hamlet and considering the possibilities a lot of fun. Also we had some of the best discussions over this book. Discussions have always been one of my favorite parts of any English class. But the ones we had in your class, over this play were particularly intense, entertaining, enlightening, and excellent.

Hamlet was also my favorite unit because most of the work was more independent and up to us. We had a certain amount of journals to do and certain parts of the play to write them on, but what we wrote was up to us. I am much better at this more relaxed style of writing. Also it allowed us to consider all the different interpretations that can be found in Hamlet. It let us choose the way we wanted to view the characters and the story. Hamlet was also our second experience with strands. I chose Ophelia as my character to pay attention to and the Ghost as my strand. To be honest, I paid much more attention to Ophelia than anything else in the play, because she was the most interesting aspect if the play, in my opinion. This method really let me zero in on Ophelia and her connection to Hamlet, and allowed me to form my own opinion and theory of her.

Thank you for a wonderful senior year that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one that I feel really prepared me for what is to come. Thank you so much.

Francis Bacon:Multiple Meanings

Francis Bacon was born on October 28, 1909 in Dublin Ireland . During the time period that he was brought up in violence was an everyday occurrence (Russell, 14). This is important to know as much of Bacon’s work includes images of human violence. As a child Bacon had a feminine manner and an odd habit of dressing in women’s clothing (Russell, 15). This only added fuel to the fires of the already turbulent relationship between Francis and his father. Francis received very little formal education and literally none in the form of art education, therefore “he developed an awareness of life that was quite independent of formal education,” (Russell, 14), which is to say that he developed his own way of looking at things and the world from a very young age. The family moved back and forth from Ireland to England giving him no sense of routine or familiarity as a child, which is very important when growing up (Russell, 13). For the most part Francis spent his time with his grandmother or great-grandmother, (Russell, 14), which probably only increased his femininity and therefore, his father’s aggravation towards Francis. Growing up Francis was not a stranger to “strangeness,” (Russell, 15), which is reflected in the odd or strange subject matter he would choose later in his painting. Francis and his father never got a long, in fact he remembers his father as being a “highly strung, intolerant, dictatorial and censorious character, much given to moralizing and to arguments that ended in lasting discord,” (Russell, 13). His father also “set a rather puritanical tone, and one that Bacon found difficult to live up to,” it was so hard for him to live up to, in fact, that his father banished Francis at sixteen from his family’s home for “trying on his mother’s underwear,” (Russell, 15). It is important to understand this aspect of Francis’s upbringing, the relationship between Francis and his father, because it will be reflected later on in Bacon’s work.
As far as art goes “Bacon despises illustration and does not like his paintings to be given any one interpretation,” (Russell, 120). There are at least two interpretations to each of his paintings, more than that depending on how they are looked at, but the main two are what he is consciously trying to convey to on looker and what his unconscious is trying to express about Francis’s own personal life. In John Russell’s book Francis Bacon, the idea of “unconscious scanning,” is discussed, which is “active but unfocused attention as a result of which we make discoveries and establish correspondences which are denied to ‘normal’, concentrated, focused attention,” (Russell, 45). Through unconscious scanning the artist gets to avoid “defensive rigidity,” which is basically the conscious fear of letting personal feelings or happenings out into the open, because if those things were let out then one would become vulnerable. Defensive rigidity is the opposite of what an artist should do, because an artist needs “not to force, not to anticipate, not to tighten,” (Russell, 45), or in the words of Bacon himself, “If only people were free enough to let everything in, something extraordinary might come of it,” (Russell, 59). But when defensive rigidity is blocked out then the artist is left with what is called “the chaos of the unconscious… a serial structure of supreme beauty and complexity; and that is accessible only to unconscious vision,” (Russell, 45).
The theory of ‘unconscious scanning’ and ‘defensive rigidity,’ found here in an art criticism book, is confirmed within the studies of psychology. Sigmund Feud is a famous psychological for his work with psychoanalysis, which “involves the free association of ideas, and their interpretation by the patient… to discover these interpreted events and to grasp their significance to the patient, linking aspects of the patient’s historical past with the presence relationship,” (Farlex). Within Freud’s work refers to the unconscious as “a reservoir within one’s mental state which contains elements of which one is unaware, but which may to some extent be brought into preconscious and conscious awareness, or inferred from aspects of behavior,” (Farlex) which is very similar to ‘unconscious scanning’. Also an idea of Freud’s that is very much like ‘defensive rigidity’ is his view of “resistance,” which is defined as “a process by which unconscious elements are forcibly kept out of the conscious awareness by an active repressive force,” (Farlex). But, as previously stated, because Francis Bacon is an artist he has trained with self to not over think or let anything out, to absorb everything, which is why his paintings allow us an insight into his unconscious as well as his on-the-surface meaning.
It is in Francis Bacon’s painting that the art of unconscious scanning is truly mastered, and all unbeknownst to him. Bacon’s paintings “produce a side image as well as a direct image, and they act as a shadow into the past, a shadow which streaks backward into the collective memory,” (Russell, 87). This is something that was undoubtedly important to Bacon himself, because he always wanting the act of looking at paintings to be “an activity in which the whole psyche is engaged,” (Russell, 89), which is definitely true for his work because there is the meaning on the surface that most people would get just by looking at the painting, but a whole other and intense meaning can be found in them through a little research. This is precisely why his paintings are sometime viewed as “mythic translation[s] of our inward structure which move us to the extent to which they throw light on ourselves while at the same time resolving our contradictions,” (143). Bacon, while a very private person is able to communicate his feelings or thoughts unconsciously through painting, because he believes, “’there is an area of the nervous system to which the texture of paint communicates more violently than anything else,’” (Bacon/Russell, 32). Bacon’s paintings include such deeply personal things that he just couldn’t force himself to talk about really, because he felt that “if you can talk about it, why paint it?” (The Painter’s Keys). Also that, “all of our actions take their hue from the complexion of the heart,” (The Painter’s Keys) especially the form of art for the artist.
Painting 1946 coincides with this theory, as is “[throws] enough ideas for half a dozen pictures,” (Russell, 57). It is “an objective, accurate and verifiable account of society in certain of its aspects,” but the fact that it was “arrived at by a process to which both unconscious and lateral thinking contributed,” (Russell, 47), suggests that there is another, more personal, meaning behind it. On the surface, Painting 1946 is making a statement about World War Two where “all was spelt out, right down to the dictator’s yellow buttonhole,” (Russell, 57) and it is theorized that the faceless mouth on the groom-like figure is supposed to represent Mussolini(Russell, 57). It is also said to believe that Painting 1946 was “one of the few in which he came near to realizing his full intention – in which three of his preoccupations are mysterious conjugated: war, meat, dictator,” (Russell, 57). It is definitely not a stretch to think that he would be trying to comment on the war through the use of this painting. He grew up through out the times of World War One, was old enough to understand what was happening in World War Two, and as said previously, violence was not uncommon for child of his era to witness. With this all being said, his fascination with violence and the war can be easily understood.
But through his use of unconscious scanning and the use of chance, or rather the “difference between what is loosely called ‘pure chance’ and what is, rather, a reliance upon involuntary prompting from within,” (Russell, 47), he is conveying another meaning. Take notice of the painting in general how “the enclosures also [assert] the figures as a focal point… by [the use of] various compositional devices and even… by the use of arrows,” (Current Biography Yearbook (1985), 15), meaning the arrows painted in the background draw the onlooker’s attention to the ‘groom’ figure. Francis wanted “to make the interior so much there that the form will speak more eloquently,’” (Russell, 133). Even this quote could be taken more than one way; he wanted the “interior” – the furnishings of the room to add to what the figures in the painting were saying, or he was wanted the actual figure’s interior to add to what he was saying (what appears to be white garland hanging in the upper part or the back ground can double as the horse’s innards). The ‘groom’ figure in the war theory is said to be representing Mussolini or the “dictator”, but as previously stated Francis Bacon remembered his father as being “dictatorial” or a dictator. Therefore, the ‘groom’ figure could be representing his father, more specifically a certain situation concerning his father. Two unusual and unfortunate things happened between Francis and his father as a result of a groom (one who is employed to help take care of horses). One is that on one of the occasions where Francis’s father caught him dressing in women’s clothing he had their groom whip Francis with the horsewhip. Two is that although it is generally accepted that Francis was banished from home for dressing in his mother’s underwear, there is another explanation; Francis’s father “banished him at sixteen from the family home, reportedly because of his sexual indulgences with the groom in the racehorse stables,” (Russell, 14). So the ‘groom’ figure could also be symbolizing the painful memory of that particular beating of the groom himself or of his banishment. Moreover, it is rumored that in an interview Francis Bacon admitted to having been sexually attracted to his father, giving yet another meaning behind the groom; the sexual connection between himself, his father, and the groom. Also taking another look at the quote on this painting, speaking of its connection to World War Two, “all was spelt out, right down to the dictator’s yellow buttonhole,” (Russell, 57), the flower painted in the “dictator’s yellow buttonhole” is a yellow carnation and yellow carnations are said to mean “refusal and disappointment” (Oliveri). This is easily connected to Bacon’s father. He was disappointed in his son for the way he was, the way he acted, and he therefore refused his son and banished him.
Also in Painting 1946, around the ‘groom’ figure is in what looks like a cage, and this is keeping up with Bacon’s habit of using “wirelike lines that made [the figures] appear to be trapped in aloneness in glass box,” (The Current Biography Yearbook, 15) or to give “the look of a general bareness: half studio, half condemned cell,” (Russell, 19). In accepting the groom figure is a reference to his father than the connection to the groom figure and the cage is not a hard one to make; having been banished from his family home and never feeling really comfortable or appreciated or stable in any environment with anyone, he would have felt alone and half in his studio, half in a condemned cell. This would also go on to connect with the horse that is in a crucified-like position in the back ground; someone or something being crucified would feel really hurt, and ashamed, two feelings Francis probably felt when being banished from his family, especially when taking in consideration why he was banished. Also, the fact that the figure being crucified looks like a horse’s body connects it directly to the incident of his banishment, and the groom.
Now notice in the ‘horse’s’ left shoulder blade there is what appears to be a white swan painted within the bones of the shoulder blade, the beak is pointing up toward where the neck would be and the body of the bird curves with the horse’s spinal cord. Swans are believed to be associated with “wisdom and creativity” according to the Greek myths, which considered “that bird related to the muses,” (Khandro Net). The swan is painted above the ‘groom’ figure so Bacon is saying that the swan is above his father or that because of his own creativity and wisdom, and help from the muses – whom gave him the gift of painting - the swan has helped him rise above his father, or become better than his father, sort of the ultimate revenge. Also in Greek mythology “when Apollo was born at Delos the event was marked with the flights of circling swans,” (Khandro Net), this is important to know because the Greek God Apollo had many male lovers. Therefore, the presence of the swan and its involvement with Apollo could be a connection to the fact that Francis himself was homosexual. Moreover, it could be connected to the fact that because Francis was homosexual he was banished from home. In painting it is believed that “the difficult thing is to use animal form in such a way that it returns the observer to human form and gives him a heightened understanding of it,” (Russell, 48). This is certainly accomplished in Painting 1946, the swan starts as a swan, reminds the observer of Francis Bacon, and gives a heightened understanding of him for it.
In the back ground of Painting 1946 there are blind tassels that in fact look like drooping tulips. These tassels are a reoccurring image in Francis Bacon’s works. But the fact that these particular ones resemble tulips makes them more interesting than most tassels. Tulips are a “symbol of avowed love,” (S.F. Heart). This can be connected many times within the painting; symbolizing Francis’s avowed love for the groom maybe, or men in general, or his avowed love for his father, or his wish for his father to love him, as a paternal figure, or maybe even other wise.
Francis Bacon once said that “’fact leaves its ghost,’” (Russell, 144). When looking at this quote in regards to Painting 1946 the “fact” is the War World Two references within the painting, and the ghost or shadow, or the underlining image within it is the connections to the painting and Francis’s personal life. He also said in a 1975 interview with Time “I’ve had a very hypnotic and curious [life] – being homosexual I have lived with the most marvelously disastrous people,” (The Current Biography Yearbook, 16). This can connect to the groom and Francis’s relationship with him, as a result of Francis being homosexual, or it can connect to the his relationship with his father and how that was affected by him being homosexual.
In 1962 Francis Bacon did a three part series of paintings called ‘Three Studies for a Crucifixion’. Now it might sound as if these paintings were meant to connect to some biblical reference or are meant to symbolize Jesus’s crucifixion, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, “’a crucifixion [in Bacon’s painting] is not a descriptive title, and still less is it a reference to an actual event. It is rather a generic name for an environment in which bodily harm is done to one or more persons and one or more persons gather to which,’” (Russell in Current Biography Yearbook, 14). Also in true Bacon fashion, within these paintings “he distorts their features, as a candid camera might do, in a way that intensifies the reality of human character,” (The Current Biography Yearbook, 16). But, as always, there is more than one way to interpret these paintings.
In the first ‘Study of a Crucifixion’ what initially catches the eye is the hurt, bloody, distorted, corpse like looking figure in the bottom of the painting and the two clownish looking men standing there looking at it. On the surface this goes right along with Bacon’s other paintings of crucifixion, people watching others getting hurt. There is this tortured body lying there and the other figures are doing nothing for it, just gawking at it. It can be seen how these could also be related to war. There are innocent people dying, from both sides of a war, while others watch and do nothing as the war wages on.
Also, this painting and the idea behind it can easily connect to Francis's personal life. There were more than two people in Francis’s family, more than just him and his father. He was brought up one out of five, and his mother was around, along with his grandmother and great-grandmother, as mentioned before. So there were seven other people standing around watching, not doing anything as “war” raged on between Francis and his father, even as his father metaphorically “killed” him by banishing him, they did nothing. His family became the people standing around watching while the figure gets hurt and tortured, in his case, by misunderstanding.
Through out Francis Bacon’s life he was in and around “an atmosphere of violence on a human scale, man against discernible man, which [stayed, for him a] prime ingredient of life,” (Russell, 16), this is something, again, that is obviously reflected in his work and his flare for painting violent, gruesome scenes. But aside from the political connections and parallels, his painting also connected to him and his life, and the Second ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ is no exception. The most obvious object within this painting in the mutilated dead body lying on the couch in the center of the painting, but the body and the little things painted within it are representing something much more positive than expected.
Of the three studies, the second is the one in which Francis used the color white most often. Now white “can represent a successful beginning,” (QSX). Francis used white in this painting to represent a successful new beginning in the after life for our dead friend. When applying this to Francis’s life, remember how the first ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ told of the pain and awkwardness of being banished by his father, while his other family members watched. Now the second includes symbols of “a successful beginning,” which is to show that after he was banished, when Francis got used to be out on his own, he was enjoying a successful new beginning. This is confirmed in his biography. After being banished he spent the next few years between Paris and Berlin , which were supposedly the best years of his life, and then he began work as an interior designer, and eventually a painter. Allows notice how the arrow in the back ground of Painting 1946 is pointing down, while the blinds in this painting seem to be forming an arrow that is pointing up.
Also within the Second ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ on the left hand side of the dead body there is a white brush stroke that very much resembles a snake. Now, snakes have many different meanings, one of which is a symbol of “transformation. Snakes are often seen as symbols of life, death, and rebirth,” or the “psychic awareness of the transition from this life to the next,” (Surf’s Up). The dead body in the painting is obviously transitioning from this life to the next, in a literal sense, so that is a clear connection. But it also applies to Francis; he is transitioning from his not so good life with his family, who didn’t seem to really understand him or care for him all that much, to the open world where he was free to be himself, explore interests, and succeed. More over, “snakes are also seen as symbols representing evil. The Bible uses the symbol of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to represent Satan,” (Surf's Up). The snake was painted on a dead body in the painting, a dead body that appears to have died through a very painful and torturous murder, which obviously is an evil thing and would have been committed by an evil person. But this also may be alluding to Francis viewing his father as an evil person for banishing him, with out even trying to understand him. However, “in other cases the snake is seen as a phallic symbol,” (Surf’s Up). This is pretty evidently a connection to the fact that Francis Bacon was in fact homosexual. But it could also relate to his rumored sexual attraction to his father, or to the reason why he was banished.
If the second ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ is flipped over it can be seen that down by where the dead body’s feet should be there is what appears to be a decapitated duck’s head, this is important to look at for further analysis of the painting and Francis Bacon’s life. Ducks are a “symbol for a resourceful person,” because they “can elude their enemies in many ways, either by flying, running, swimming, or diving for cover,” (House of Names). This fact relates to Francis Bacon in more ways than one. To survive right after being banished he “existed by odd jobs of a fugitive sort, gambled a good meal, and seemed not to be pushing himself to go anywhere in particular,” (Russell, 29), a resourcefulness that he learned from his father. Also he had habit of using his youthful allure to attract older and wealthier lovers to take care of him, again a sign of his resourcefulness, this time one that he acquired on his own.
The first thing that grabs the observer’s attention in the third ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ is the dead body in the glass case, with it insides and liquids spilling out. It is interesting, because in a conversation Bacon was quoted using “a phrase from Aeschylus about ‘the reek of human blood smiling out,’” (Russell, 48) to describe the third ‘Study for a Crucifixion. On the surface, this one, as many of his other paintings can be seen as making a statement on the war going on, how the cultures involved feel like their whole lives are being put on display for the other, that nothing is theirs anymore or personal, because the opposing country is so involved in what they are doing, as it is in any war. But it saying something completely different for Francis, it is discussing his joy, but at the same time his misery, that he receives as a result of being a painter. “Bacon himself is for much of his life a self-committed prisoner, in a room, doubling as both jailer and prisoner, condemned man and prosecutor, hermit and fugitive,” (131). He is a slave to his work, so he put himself in that position, but because he put himself in that position he is alone and miserable and disconnected from the world, and the more he puts himself in the position the more he finds that he is only comfortable in that position, this is shown through the use of the white bone circle painted around the glass case, because the color “white means safety” and the bone circle is being used to protect the case, as his room protects him. But he is an artist and what he does is so personal and, obviously, can say so much about his life, that he feels like he life is on display, which is horrible because he only feel truly comfortable in that room, in that “condemned cell” (Russell, 19). Then notice the black shadowy figure in the bottom of the painting, this is put there to show his fear of the unknown or of a bad consequence coming about if he leaves his comfort level, this can be confirmed when taking in consideration what the color black means it “is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown,” (QSX). So his mention of “’the reek of human blood smiling out,” is referring to the liquids flowing out the bottom of the case in the third ‘Study for a Crucifixion’ because it is escaping the display, he thinks he’s getting away and hiding his life from his observers, or “the creatures who gather as ghouls round any scene of human degradation,” (Russell, 11).
One of the colors used most in the ‘Three Studies for a Crucifixion’ is red. “Red is widely used to indicate danger,” (QSX) which would relate to Francis’s belief that it would be dangerous for him to let his inner feelings or thoughts out, consciously, anyway or for him to start a new life outside the room and the constant cycle of work that he has created for himself. Also “red is used to indicate courage,” (QSX), while he does it a subtle, unconscious way he is letting the world into his life and the way he thinks, which is very courageous. “Dark red is associated with… rage, anger, … courage, longing… and wrath,” the rage and anger would connect to his bitterness and ill feelings still aimed at his father, while the courage and longing may connected to the want to not always have to be in a “condemned cell”. Red also “evokes erotic feelings,” which is hinting at his sexuality. One more thing about red, “it enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure,” (QSX) this would ensure that not only are the observers’ entire psyches involved, but that their entire bodies were also, and that maybe they would get a small taste of what it is like for the figure in the painting.
Orange is another color included in this series of paintings. What is really interesting about orange is that it “increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity,” (QSX), this will allow Francis’s wish of his observer’s entire psyches to be involved while looking at his paintings, to become a reality. Also “to the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives off the sensation of heat,” (QSX) very similar to the embarrassed hotness one feels when they know they are being watch or are humiliated, as Francis and all the figures in these three paintings are. “Dark orange means deceit and distrust,” which connects to the feelings of distrust after the people who were supposed to love him the most, his family, turned their backs on him. Orange is also “symbolic of strength and endurance,” (QSX) because even though he may have gone through an awful lot in his early life, he was strong and endured life on his own to push his way through and to succeed as a painter. Finally “red orange” can mean “sexual passion,” (QSX) which could, again, being hinting to the fact that he is homosexual.
Green is a color that Francis Bacon used only in one of the three ‘Studies for a Crucifixion,’ and that is the third. “Green, as opposed to red, means safety,” (QSX), which obviously connects to the fact that Francis is comfortable in his “glass box” or “condemned cell” because painting is what he is good at and enjoys doing. Also, in consideration of the on the surface war meaning to this painting, maybe, as sad as this may sound, he incorporated green into this painting because when someone dies in a war than at the very least the family can be sure of where they are and that they are in some way “safe” and at ease. “Dark green is associated with ambition… and jealousy,” both of these can be related to the war, and Francis Bacon. A soldier in war would have the ambition to do well in the war and make his family and country proud, and make it home safely. Francis Bacon had the ambition of becoming a great painter. A soldier in war would be jealous of a man allowed to go home, or the men who stayed home. Francis Bacon would be jealous of someone who wasn’t such a slave to there profession.
Black is the final prominent color in these three paintings. “Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color,” (QSX) Francis loved to have strength and authority over and within his paintings, and his messages of war and the like are obviously very strong. Also “black is the color grief,” (QSX) which affects many people lives when there is a war going on, but Francis also had to go through the grief of losing his family from his life. “Combined with red or orange - other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme,” this is interesting because in all three ‘Studies for a Crucifixion’ black is with red and orange and it is clearly intended to be very aggressive. All three of them are making aggressive statements.
In all of Francis Bacon’s painting there is a clear-on-the-surface meaning, but when dug deeper into the painting reveals completely separate information on the artist’s life. This is accomplished by Francis allowing “everything in” and allowing his unconscious, as well as his conscious to play a role in his paintings. This gives the multi-layered and interesting and intriguing art work that he is known and loved for.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Francis Bacon 1000 Word Write Up

Painting 1946

The first thing I noticed about Francis Bacon’s “Painting 1946” was what appeared to me to be a headless groom. I wondered what flower is in his jacket and what would that flower represent? There is a black umbrella over the headless and it appears to be slightly disproportional, the left side is slightly smaller and unless unlike the true shape of an umbrella than the right side is. In the play Our Town that my Play Production class just put on last week we gave umbrellas to the dead characters to hold over themselves to separate them from the living and also to keep them shrouded in mystery. The skeleton in the back of the painting is also intriguing because it is far too big to be a human skeleton but I’m not sure what it could be. There is some sort of black cloud hovering near the “groom”. There is also a piece of meat and more bones, what look like a rib cage, in the front of the painting. The back wall seems to have a downward pointed arrow painted on it. The groom and the skeleton are in what looks like a weight height cage, or the skeleton/frame of a spiral stair case or scaffolding of some sort because of the silver “bar” going horizontally through the middle of the painting. There is some sort of patterned carpet going through the bottom of the “cage”. On the back wall on the left there seems to be a hanging flower or even a shade pull, or tassel or some sort, painted green, parallel to that on the opposite side of the skeleton is the same thing painted in blood red. On the top of the painting on the back wall there is some sort of white garland draping down behind the skeleton. On the left shoulder blade of the skeleton it is painted white, where as the other side doesn’t have that, and there is a bone jutting right out from the white, as if a bird of some kind was painted in the shoulder blade. On the right shoulder blade there is a much smaller bone jutting out.

Three Studies for a Crucifixion 1962
The First

This painting seems to be focused around the two shadowy figures in the center. What I found odd about these two was how they resembled clowns. Also Bacon has a habit of using bright vibrant colors in his paintings, which is a little strange because his style tends to be a little odd and queer and somewhat scary, he often time includes death distorted bodies in his paintings. In this painting he used a lot of bright red, bright orange, and then black. I was wondering what each of these colors usually symbolize or mean individually. What I thought was kind of funny was how these three colors are usually associated together on Halloween and then the figures in the painting looked like clowns. Then on the bottom of the picture, allowing him to keep true to his personal style are what appear to be two dead dogs’ bodies, or maybe an awkwardly positioned human body.

The Second

The second of these paintings is probably my favorite of the three, I have no idea why. The first thing I noticed about this one is the flower, or tassel thing, I referred to in my description of Painting 1946 was included in the back ground of this painting as well, this time painted black. There is what appears to be blood dripping from the ceiling onto the already dead body. Why would he paint more blood dripping onto the corpse? Then there is the obvious thing to notice; the distorted dead body curled up on the bed in the center of the painting. Why would the body be so distorted in such an awkward position? Why was it on a bed? Toward the bottom of the body on the left there is a white streak that looks like a snake. This made me wonder what do snakes represent? In the upper middle of the painting there is what look likes a human skull that seems to have decomposed somewhat, but it still has its teeth, and I found this odd. On the bottom right of the bed there is what looks like a decapitated duck’s head. Then there is a fold in the blanket, or towel, laid out on the bed, that looks like a woman’s breast. Finally among the blood dripping from the ceiling, right above the bed, there is a white orb. Now Wiccans and other religions interested in spirits believed that spirit takes the form of an orb of light. I just thought that was an interesting connection to make to this particular orb seeing as we’re dealing with a painting of a dead body.

The Third

What I first noticed about this painting was at the bottom of the painting there a black shadowy figure, which I found pretty creepy. Then there is what looks like a distorted body on display, in some sort of glass cage or some sort, like it were at a museum, which may be a metaphor for Bacon himself may feel; like a dead body on display because his personal feelings and thoughts, his life or what’s left of it, is actually on display in a museum for the entire world to see. Also it looks like the body was put into the cage upside down and that all the fluids that were in it were allowed to bleed and run out into the bottom of the cage. There is some kind of bone that make a circle, like some kind of guard or railing even, around the cage. Then on the left side of the body there is what resembles the head of a snake, or some other kind of reptile, like in The Second of these three paintings. I also found it very interesting that Bacon pretty used the same three colors all three of these paintings.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Personal Writing

Side Note: This is something I wrote outside of school. It is meant to be written in a sort of children's story book kind of style. It is a personal writing, one in which I still am not done working on, it's not near perfect, but it has gotten pretty good feed back from those who have already read it, or heard about it. So go easy on it, please.

Love left her. Took all he could, conquered her completely. He was made her life, with no regrets from her. Love was worth it. Making Love happy was worth it. But Love just can’t last in high school. Can it last ever?

Then Lust came along. She wanted him to pick up the broken pieces of her mind, body, soul, Heart. But Lust is a shape-shifter; he likes the thrill of changing roles. She was an opportunity for Lust to play his game, practice his ways.

Being used and left confused by Love and Lust, she wondered where was Trust.

Well Trust was in waiting. Waiting in love with her. That was the one thing she could count on. Trust would always love her. But she couldn’t bring herself to feel the same. It wasn’t there, and how she could have killed for it to be.

Of course Distance had to throw in his two cents along with the rest. Distance was new, Distance was exciting, but still safer than Lust. But Distance was just that…distant. Too distant for her to even hope to embrace.

Knowledge was the rock. Knowledge knew her in and out and she knew him just as well. Knowledge told her what to do. Forget them, forget all of them they’re just too much for you right now. Let Heart settle, breathe, figure herself out.

But Heart had other plans. Heart was getting in the way of Mind and Knowledge. Their careful plans, their smart decisions we’re all unfitting to Heart. Heart wanted company. Heart was in love with being in love. But Heart couldn’t see that Love wasn’t in love with her anymore, and Lust never would be, and Distance never could be and she was too fickle for Trust.

So with Heart messing about and messing up, Girl was left alone. Dreaming that Heart would let Mind and Knowledge smarten her up and that Mind and Knowledge would soften up, let Heart explain. And she wanted all of them to understand, to help her out, to tell her what to do and let her do it. But the answer was always the same; there was too much involved to harmonize. Something had to give. And how she didn’t want it to be Heart. Something had to make a big move, and fast, or Heart would be the first to go.

Creative Writing - Creepy, Research Project Ed Sanders, Creative Aspect

4:30 P.M.: I have to know. I have to know if what I’m hearing is true. I can’t believe what started out as a group of guru himmies has turned to this, I am disgusted and embarrassed that they actually considered themselves hippies at one time. Murdering innocent people for the sake of the world? What is going on? That is the total opposite of everything beatniks or hippies stand for. How can he not see that? It is impossible for me to believe that people who had the same, or at one time, similar thoughts as me could completely twist everything and take it to this extent. I need to know if what I’m hearing on the street is true.

6:00 P.M.: I know one of the Family members, Linda Kasabian, I met her at a library once. She only joined “The Family” to please her boy friend, which is just completely screwed, man. She had no shame about admitting her connection to “The Family,” probably because they’re all so convinced they’ll get away with it, and she has believed in my façade so far and believes that I am actually interested in talking to that psychopath, which, don’t get me wrong, is good for my plan, but the concept of actually doing it makes me cringe. Anyway I have gained her trust pretty easily so far and she told me of a “mission” that they have been assigned for tonight. Another murder, surprised? It will take place at an apartment of another of their acquaintances.

11:30 P.M.: It’s 11:30 P.M., and I can’t believe I am actually doing this! I feel like I am about to wet myself or faint, I can not believe I am actually doing this! But I need to know! What is wrong with these people? What is in their heads? I am walking, as calmly as humanly possible for me right now, to the location Linda gave me. The “deed” is supposed to happen around 12:00-12:30 A.M. She says this is my test, as it is also their test. They have not taken part in the last “mission” with what I believe to be the Tate fiasco and that upset “Charlie” and now they’re being tested. And I am also being tested because they want to know if my allegiance to “The Family” is true! Like, get out of here man! I just want to know why they’re doing this, if this really is the group that doing this stuff, and once I find that out, I am not sticking around for anything else, especially not actually taking part in the murder, man!

12:00 A.M.: I have reached the apartment building Linda told me to meet them at, but I’m guessing they’re already inside because they’re no one, absolutely, no one out here. There is an ally way on the side of the apartment building with a door that looks slightly ajar. Suddenly, out of the shadows pops a pair of eyes. Female eyes, unfamiliar, female eyes, hollow, sunken in, practically black, unfamiliar, female eyes. But they’re staring right at me, which this indefinable expression behind them. Then the person holds a hand to their face and motions with their index finger for me to go to them. And for some reason I do. My heart is pounding in my throat now, and the fear is literally making it hard to breathe! Why am I here? Oh, why am I here? Why would I get myself mixed up in this?

Because I need to know! I need to know that they are not like me! At all! And if this is the group that’s doing these heinous acts, then the authorities need to know! These people belong behind bars!

So on I go, toward the pair of eyes. There’s the woman, a woman I have never seen before with a tiny frame, as if she has eaten in weeks, and shoulder length dark hair, and the aforementioned eyes. She in wearing a lavender colored velvet button-up dress and black Mary Jane’s. She leads me up a staircase to a landing where Linda is waiting outside an apartment door. Linda is pacing, and looks as nervous as I feel. I hope I do not look as nervous as her; I don’t want them to see through me yet. And then they thought comes to me; How, in John Lennon’s sweet name, am I going to get out here when things start happening? There’s no way I’m killing anyone, man, but there’s also no way they’re just going to let me leave. Why would I get myself mixed up in this?!

Just when I think I take this deafening silence and nervous tension any longer, that I rather take my chances jumping out the window, or running full speed down the stairs and hoping to the Messiah they won’t catch me, Linda knocks on the door and three of us wait soundlessly. The wait feels like an eternity, but finally someone comes. And apparently it is not the person they were looking for. Linda looks incredibly surprised, but almost a little too surprised, almost coming off as fake, but of course, that can’t be true. And the other woman just looks enraged.

“Sorry, wrong house,” she says to the stranger in an attempt at a pleasant voice, which just makes her even creepier, a feat I didn’t think was possible.

The stranger smiles awkwardly and shuts his door. The three of us turn and retreat. Just as we’re are about to walk out the side door in which we came, the other woman stops. She swats down over a stair, pulls her white under pants down to her ankles, and takes a dump right on the stair case. Way too far out, man! What is she tripping on?

“Susan, what are you doing?” Linda asked as the two of us watched her in disbelief.

“Well we have to do something! We can’t return to Charlie with nothing. And after all it is your fault that you f****ed up the mission! I know you did this on purpose Linda, but I won’t tell Charlie, you are, after all, family. But you,” she said turning her cold stare onto me. “You are not a true Family member, nor do you have any intent or want to be, I can read it in your eyes. And I refuse to bring you to Charlie. It would just be an insult to him, to bring one who mocks and does not understand our views to our home. So leave now and never, ever try to contact any of us again. Nor should you tell anyone of what you hear or saw tonight, because they’ll never catch us all. Know that.”

And with no further adieu I turned and ran away from that terrifying scene.

Blog Work - Video 2, Hamlet's Soliloquy Critique

Video 2; Hamlet’s Soliloquy Critique

I chose Video 2 as having the best portrayal of Hamlet’s soliloquy. A big reason as to why I chose this video was how the lines were performed/delivered and the things the actor did in general. Through out most of the soliloquy Alexander Fodor had a slow, even paced flow when reading the lines, which is important for any actor, but especially is this soliloquy because a lot of the things Hamlet is saying are very thoughtful and deep. Accordingly, the actor quickened, or slowed, his pace slightly where it was appropriate effective, this shows that the actor was very practiced in performing the soliloquy but also really understood and was familiar with the text. For example when he read the lines 59-60; “To die, to sleep – no more, and by a sleep to say we end,” he slowed his pace, which is very fitting when you look at what he’s saying. Then at lines 69-73; “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,” he slowed his pace. This choice was fitting because it would be appropriate to think that Hamlet would be slightly more passionate or enraged during these lines, because he’s listing off short comings in life that people shouldn’t have to take, and when people are more upset or angry, they tend to talk faster. Another little thing about Alexander that I noticed was his ascent. The actor seemed to have an English ascent of some sort and it was very fitting for the part of Hamlet, for obvious reasons. The actor’s eyes through out his performance were also a large part of why I chose this video. He did not do much moving when performing the lines, nor would it really fit the soliloquy if he were to do so. So the actor pretty much had to rely on his facial expressions to help him convey the lines. One of the ways he did this was through the use of eyes. They were cold, distant, pensive, even seemingly terrified at some parts, all of these are emotions I would expect Hamlet to be feeling as he gives this speech. It was very effective to his performance and really made his performance my favorite.

This performance seemed to be set in a morgue of some sort and the actor was speaking into a tape recorder or something. These two things combined added a modern day, even a somewhat cold, futuristic vibe to the soliloquy, and that’s also a big reason why I picked it. We’re all familiar with the classic, yet all too typical way of this soliloquy being read; a guy in the old English tight black pants, puffy white shirt, and a skull. But this video took it into a new and interesting direction and I always find it interesting when people add their own to a classic piece such as this.

On Demand Writing - SAT Style Prompt

Confucius said, "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail." I completely agree with this quote. There have been many times in my life that have illustrated the importance of recovering and trying again, when trying to master something. I had a color guard instructor once who said, "It's all about recovery." If you dropped your flag or messed up on part of the dancing, find a quick way to recover, and recover well, and you were golden. No one is ever perfect at anything they do, they may have some natural born talent in some areas, but you still need to hone and master that talent. When I was younger I knew right away that I had a sort of flare for acting and dramatics, just ask my family. But when I first joined Play Production here at Malden High, last year I saw that I had much more to learn than I thought; posture, presence, blocking, moving from you center, movement in general, diction with the lines, volume control, and much more. The same goes for singing. I knew from a very young age that I loved to sing, but when I joined Chorus my Freshman year I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much work goes into singing and training your voice. You have to know the proper posture, breathing techniques, vowel placement, how to use certain parts of you body, and a million other things. But like I said before, no one is perfect when they first start learning things. You have to practice, and with practice comes mistakes, but you learn from those mistakes and just get that much better.
When looking back on book I have read in past years, trying to think of one that best examplifies this concept, one came to mind My Story, the autobiography of Marilyn Monroe. A great deal of this book talks about her success, but more talked about, and important, her lack of successes. She got rejected from studios, fired from studios, had people saying and thinking horrible things about her, got scammed left and right. But she was determined, she came back hit after hit. Marilyn took what people thought and said and grew from it, but never changed who she was, and became a great success, idol, star, icon. Sher is the perfect example of this principle; looked up to, relatable, and someone who actually went through a lot but persisted and got where they wanted to be.

On Demand Writing - Myth and the Modern World Test

"Robert Duncan 20th Century American poet, writes in his essay "Towards an Open Universe", "Beauty strikes us and may be fearful, as there is great beauty in each step as Oedipups seeks the heart of tragedy, his moment of truth, as he tears out his eyes, and sees at last...For in our common human suffering, in loss and longing, an intuition of poetic truth may arise" (Duncan 79).
"Prompt: Explain how one of the previous two passages relates to Modernist thinking. Your essay should include specific examples to Modernist literature (things we have covered in class), and can include examples from mythology, other places of literature, history, science, or the arts."

Passage above which quotes Robert Duncan's essay "Towards an Open Universe". suggests that only a tragic hero, rids themselves of their tragic flaw can they see the truth behind their lives or their situation. A very common aspect of tragedy is that the readers of the story can see exactly what is going to happen to their tragic hero, but the hero cannot. The hero cannot see it because their tragic flaw, whatever it be, blocks them from seeing the truth. Some examples of tragic flaw would be Meursalt's emotional detachment in The Stranger or Creon's pride in Antigone.
This view that truth is gained only through ridding yourself of your tragic flaw, or your "eyes" as Duncan puts it, is reflected by many modernist thinkers. As previously stated, Camus's character Meursalt's tragic flaw is his emotional detachment from his life and his being unconscious of his actions. Towards the end of the novel Meursalt says "I was blinded behind a curtain of salty tears," just before he shoots and murders the Arab. This is Camus literally pointing out Meursalt's flaw, Camus is referencing Meursalt's eyes, a play off of Oedipus's flaw. Camus is coming right out and showing the climax and the role played by Meursalt's tragic flaw. If Meursalt wasn't so detached and unconscious of everything around him then Meursalt would not have killed the Arab, the truth comes out once the tragic flaw has been exposed and done away with. But none of it really matters to Meursalt, because the truth is that emotional detachment is Meursalt's character and there is no significance in wishing it to be different, "Of course I had [wished for another life], but it wouldn't change anything it would be like wishing to be rich, or to be a better swimmer, or to have a better shaped mouth," (Meursalt).
William Carlos Williams would also agree with Mr. Duncan. A very large percent of Williams' poems were about nature, returning to nature, or art that reflected nature. Williams believed that truth could be found by returning to nature, returning to the origin of things. William Carlos Williams was a modernist thinker and during the Modernist time period the world was becoming very industrialized. Williams viewed industrialization and technology as the world's tragic flaw. The world would be too distracted and blinded by the lure of technology that people would start ignoring the beauty, truth, simplicity that could be found in nature.
Borges is one of the modernist thinkers that has a literal connection to Robert Duncan's passage. While Borges did not in fact tear out his eyes, he was blind, which is another handicap in the area. Borges' vision was, believe or not, his tragic flaw. Borges was a very shy, reserved person during the time period that his vision was not impaired, "I viewed being shy as important," (Borges, Blindness). Blindness gave Borges the courage to do things that he wouldn't have done before hand; learn many different languages or give lectures as a professor.
Oedipus' tragic flaw was pride, or an attempt at defiance. Oedipus attempted to defy the fates, the prophets and change his destiny. It was also Oedipus' pride that forced him to fulfill the first part of the prophecy. Oedipus destiny was to kill his father and marry his mother. While Oedipus is on a journey away from his home he runs into a man on the street, this man, unbeknownst to Oedipus, is Oedipus' father. The two men begin to fight and Oedipus murders his father. The first part of the prophecy is complete. Then Oedipus proceeds to help a nearby town in a war and because the townsfolk are so grateful to Oedipus, they make him their King and Oedipus gets to marry the most beautiful woman in their town. This woman is, again unbeknownst to Oedipus, Oedipus' mother. The second part of the prophecy is complete. Because of Oedipus' pride and defiance of the fates, Oedipus seals the destiny he longed to be rid of. Later in the myth when Oedipus goughes out his own eyes, which humbles him, tragic flaw removed, "All is well," (Camus' essay on Sisyphus). It is important to take in the story of Oedipus because it is mentioned in Duncan's esssay firstly, and secondly, because a lot of modernist thought was based on, or inspired by the myth.

On Demand Writing - Mid Term Test Essay Question

"Prompt: Do we need other people in order to understand ourselves? Plan and write an esay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples. You must use examples taken from your reading, studies, experiences, or observation. "

I do believe that understanding other people is neccessary to understand ourselves. Being exposed to the way others think or feel can influence you in many ways whether you agree or disagree or however you feel it still opens your eyes to something about yourself. Talking to others and learning from others not only teaches you about the world but you can take that knowledge and reflect it and apply it to yourself to better understand yourself and make yourself better.
For my summer reading one of the books I read was The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green. The story is a great coming of age tale of this young Jewish boy, Jacob, and how he developes among the craziness of his family and home life. But the way JAcob comes into play in this essay is through his relationships with his father, Abram, and his brother, Asher. Jacob's father is constantly putting JAcob under immense pressure to be ther perfect son and the ideal, most involved boy in the Temple. Then you have Asher who is rebellious, he has girlfriends, he listens to rock n roll, he parties, everything Abram hates and that JAcob is too terrified to do, at first. But as the book continues JAcob becomes more exposed to the two men's true personlaities and he understands them. Through understanding his father and brother, Jacob learns a lot about himself. Inspired by Asher, Jacob realizes he hates the pressure Abram is constantly putting on him and that he is done doing things he doesn't want to do. Inspired by Abram, Jacob sees that he doesn't want to be too much like his older brother. Jacob admires Asher's freedom and ability to be defiant, but too much of that may cause Jacob lose sense of himself and his moral fiber.
One of the books I read for my Independent Reading was Extreme, which is Sharon Osbourne's autobiography. I learned so much from this book, and I know that might be shocking, but that's only because you don't understand Sharon. Sharon's story taught me about faith, the strength of love and that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. Sharon is a beautifully strong person who knows who seh is and is proud of that. Through her book I realized Sharon and I are a lot alike in character, which made me really reflect on myself and certain experiences and made me see that up until then I was letting my self conscious thoughts, and other people's thoughts keep me down.
I am a very social person, I absolutely love having discussions and talking to people to learn how they think. You can be exposed to so many radical and different ways of thinking through talking to people. One of my absolute favorite people to talk to is my best friend Chris. I'm not exaggerating when I say he knows me better than I know myself. If I'm thinking something or feeling a certain way that I don't want to or don't want to admit to, he can see it and he will me make me own up to it because it's not healthy to deny how you truly feel. He helps me better understand myself because he points out and notices things in me that I don't see and he listens and helps me understand why I'm thinking or feeling a certain way.
Recently my boyfriend of three years dumped me. I can't say it came to me as a surprise so it didn't "destroy" me or anything, but it did, however, make me seriously doubt myself as a person, which is horrible. Then another friend of mine, Mark Damon, with two statements, made me realize what a huge mistake I was making. The first quotes is "1...2...3...Get over it!," which was meant to tell me that while it is an unfortunate happening it's not the end of the world and that I shouldn't let it consume all of me. The other quote was "Janelle, you can sit around thinking about a [bad person], or talking about a [bad person], but they're still going to be a [bad person]," which said to me yeah I can sit around and cry about it all, but it isn't going to change anything and that life is still going to go on so I might as well get over it and enjoy moving on. The words of my friend made me realize something about myself, which has been confirmed by many others, that if I let my mind wonder and analyze everything so much I will be putting me up against myself and making everything seem much graver that they are. I should just be enjoying life, having fun, and not worrying so much.
Think about your favorite song lyric. What do those song lyrics say about you? We all go around quoting songs, poets, movies, authors, why do we do it? Well most of the time it's because the quote meant something to us, said something we connected to somehow, it pointed out something that's in us. That's another example of understanding yourself through understanding others.
Through talking, listening, understanding others we take the knowledge and insight they provide us with and often times it can lead to greater understanding of ourselves. You can learn so much about yourself through the way others see you, or the world, or themselves. There's way too much in the world for one person to see, so why not let others help you fill in the blanks?

Notebook Entry - Sharon Osbourne Journals, Passage 4

Passage #4: P. 33 Paragraph 3
“Shampoo didn’t exist in our house. I would wash my hair with dish soap. The leftover soap in the basin would be cracked and slimy at the same time. You could never find a hairbrush that wasn’t covered with dog hairs. We’d run out of toothpaste. There’d be no toilet paper. There was no attempt to make anything nice. In my bedroom, for example, there was a chest of drawers, a wardrobe, and a bed and that’s all. My only decoration was a picture of a little ballet dance that Dixie had embroided and framed when I was about five or six, and I used to have it hanging very close to my face so I could see it when I was in bed.”

In Sharon’s earlier life her father was an entertainer and then he started managing bands. They were always made to seem like they had money in order to hold on up Don Arden’s, her father’s, reputation but the money was just a façade. Often times they didn’t have a lot of the things they needed, and I think the way Sharon reacts to that is important, because right away it sets her apart from her family. No one else in her family seemed bothered by the way they were living, including the dishonest aspects of how Don conducted business. This is important because, while Sharon does go on to be a part of her father’s business you can tell it was never really her style. She was a true, honest person and she just kind of put up with it because she had nothing else, and it was her family. This passage really foreshadows a lot of Sharon’s reactions and feelings toward her family and the business that will appear later in the book.

Notebook Entry - Sharon Osbournes Journals, Passage 1

Passage #1: P. 1-2 Paragraphs 1-2
“I am at home, standing by the gate. Kelly is running across the courtyard, blond hair bouncing around her little cherub face. She’s like the golden angel on the Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard, and she’s holding Jackie Boy by the hand, and I want to call to them, and tell her to mind the fountain, that it’s deeper than it looks, and that they shouldn’t go sitting on the edge. And then Aimee is smiling up at me, pulling at my sleeve, wanting me to go with her, to show me something. And I feel so happy and safe and calm. To know that the home is mine again; the same tall, tall palm trees, their trunks the color of charcoal, and the creeper hung with the purple flowers, and everything is like it used to be. I want to tell Dadda, but I don’t know where he is. So I watch my babies kneeling over the fountain, one at each corner of the cloverleaf, peering over the edge and listening to the water tumbling from one shell down to the next, and then the next…but where is Dadda? He won’t believe it when I tell him. I try calling out his name, but the tinkling of the fountain gets louder and louder, drowning everything else out…
… and then, like a cold liquid, like that cocktail of chemo trickling my veins, I realize it’s not the fountain I can hear, it’s the fucking telephone. And I’m not even in California, but in Buckingham in the kitchen at Welders, sharing the sofa with Minnie in front of a cold fireplace.”

Response #1:
I think it was a very important choice that Sharon made in this being the beginning of her autobiography. Her kids are obviously the most important thing to her, something that is very evident especially in the beginning of the book. The book goes to talk about all of Sharon’s past and her present, but through the entire book you really see that family is the most important thing in her life. This beginning says a lot about her, she is a mother and a wife and she loves it, she loves them. Sharon went through a lot in her life time; both in the past and present time when she was writing her book, but her kids and her husband are what make it worth it to her.
In present time when Sharon was writing her book, she had been fighting, or just ending the fight with colon cancer, and you can definitely see that her family is her main support system and reason for fighting. I know from being around many others, and the fact that I do have somewhat of a maternal personality, that her kids are number one to her, and they have to be. She loves her family more than anything, and I think that before you can read any part of this book, you have to understand that, which is why I love that she made this the opening of her book.

Analysis Formal Essay - Apollo In Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Apollo in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Apollo is commonly known as the Greek God of the Sun, the Arts, Light, and Truth. However, in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he is one of the many symbols. Apollo affects the protagonist, Stephen’s, life in many ways, but the two largest are in the area of Stephen’s love relationships with others and in Stephen’s experiences and interest in the arts.

Before Apollo’s affect on Stephen’s relationships can be evaluated, it is necessary to understand on of Joyce’s other symbols in the novel; the Tower of Ivory and the House of Gold. In Stephen’s strictly Catholic culture it is stressed that women are to be seen as the Tower of Ivory, or the House of Gold, which is to say they are to be extremely pure. This causes some problems for Stephen, because everyone around so stresses the importance of Catholicism and being moral. So when Stephen gets older and begins to look at women in a sexual light he feels guilty, because they are supposed to be pure; “Eileen had long think cool white hands too because she was a girl. They were like ivory; only soft. That was the meaning of the Tower of Ivory but protestants could not understand it and made fun of it,” (51). Now Apollo’s involvement in Stephen’s relationship with Eileen is shown clearly when Joyce describes Eileen, “Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in the sun,” (51). Apollo is believed to have fair blond hair and his symbol, what he is the God of, is the sun.

Then as a result of Stephen’s guilt from thinking of women sexually, Joyce hints at Stephen’s homosexuality or at least a struggle with his sexuality, and once again this is connected to Apollo. Simon Moonan and a few others of Stephen’s classmates are caught “smuggling,” many of the boys leave the school fearing punishment and humiliation, but Simon Moonan stays. “Stephen looked at the faces of the fellows but they were all looking across the playground. He wanted to ask someone about it. What did it mean about the smuggling in the square? Why did the five fellows out of the higher line run away from that?” (51). Stephen is curious about the whole situation and sees nothing wrong with it. This is Joyce’s first hint at Stephen’s struggle with sexuality. The next comes a few pages later. On page fifty-one Stephen is remembering Eileen’s and the soft, beautiful purity of her hands, then a few pages later Stephen is thinking about a few men’s hands, but without the intense fascination he had with Eileen, which shows that men are less intimidating sexually than women are. There are other, smaller, hints within the book, such as Stephen’s rejection of Mercedes and his inability to bring himself to make the mover and kiss his female companion on page ninety-nine. Apollo’s connection to this subject is the fact that Apollo had numerous mates, many of which were men, which clearly shows that Apollo struggled with his sexuality as well and was himself bi-sexual. Also, look at the character Simon Moonan, the first four letters of the boy’s sir name spells out Moon, which Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis, is the Goddess of.

The entire focus of the story is to get into and understand the mind of an artist, who happens to also be a young man. So far in the book Stephen has tried his hand at two main forms of art; writing, and acting. While acting seems to come slightly more naturally, or without the amount of work, writing does. But still writing and language are Stephen’s key art outlets. Both art forms affect Stephen differently, but still profoundly.

Writing and language are Stephen’s brain children. Writing does take Stephen more tries and labor, but they are labors of love. This idea is shown through out the entire book, as Stephen is constantly pondering things and the word choices people around him make. Writing is Stephen’s way of getting his thoughts out creatively; “There remained no trace of the tram itself nor the trammen nor of the horses, nor did he and she appeared vividly. The verse told only of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden luster of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when the moment of farewell had come the kiss, which had been withheld by one, was given by both,” (74).

Acting is the opposite of writing for Stephen. He was forced to try it, and really had no desire for it at all, but the feeling he received from the crowd made him love it. Writing expresses Stephen’s thoughts, while acting gave him action, let him live. In the section of the book when Stephen takes a trip to Corks with his father Stephen realizes he has a pretty empty life, no real friends, and he doesn’t do a whole lot. Acting is Stephen’s way of capturing the feelings of a fuller life, “A few moments after he found himself on the stage amid the garish gas and the dim scenery, acting before the innumerable faces of the void. It surprised him to see that the play which he had known at rehearsals for a disjointed lifeless thing had suddenly assumed a life of its own. It seemed now to the play itself and he and his fellow actors aiding it with their parts. When the curtain fell on the last scene he heard the void filled with applause and, through a rift in the side scene, saw the simple body before which he had acted magically deformed, the void of the faces breaking at all points and falling asunder into busy groups. …Now that the play was over his nerves cried for some further adventure,” (86). Now, Apollo’s connection to this is very obvious, as Apollo is the God of the arts.

Analysis Formal Essay - The Struggle Within Portrait of the Artist

The Struggle Within: Portrait of the Artist

“The different sides of Stephen in Portrait express different intentions of Joyce’s. The intentions make up the rhythm of Stephen’s mental life,” (Brivic, 280). The entire novel is summed up here; Joyce is constantly throwing clashing and opposite symbols at Stephen’s character to show how they differ and are alike to Stephen. James Joyce uses Apollo, the bisexual Greek God of art, and examples of Stephen’s personality butting against the stronger, more primarily male personalities of the other characters, such as Stephen’s father, to show Stephen’s confusion and journey through out Portrait. Accordingly, as a result of the symbols around him and how they affect Stephen, he spends almost the entire duration of the novel switching between the feminine and masculine sides of his persona, which leads to the theme of Stephen’s struggle with sexuality within the book.
At a very young age Stephen’s idea of women was influenced, in a very complicated way, by those around him, mainly his mother and father and also is zealot, extremely devoted Catholic teacher, Dante. Stephen had a Protestant play mate, Eileen, with whom he engaged in a very innocent, naïve, loving relationship that is normal for to kids so young in age in to be, and healthy. But the relationship was looked down upon by Stephen’s teacher, Dante, because Eileen was a Protestant and Stephen’s family were Catholic. Also Dante placed the burden of the two contrasting symbols of women on Stephen’s shoulders; the Tower of Ivory, and the House of Gold. “Tower of Ivory, they used to say, House of Gold! How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of gold? Who was right then?... Eileen had long white hands. One evening when playing tig she had put her hands over his eyes: long and white and thin and cold and soft. That was the meaning of Tower of Ivory,” (45). The two extremes of women enforced on Stephen here leave a lasting impression on the boy’s mind, pure; impure, Tower of Ivory; House of Gold, mother or virgin; strumpet. This impression leaves Stephen confused on how to see women and how to deal with the sexual thoughts of them he will experience later. Through out the entire novel Stephen views women very one dimensionally and I believe it stems from this example. Like with anything else, the most important relationships people have are those made from an early age, at the beginning stages of our mental development, they are the ones that teach how other relationships should go, people learn social habits from them. Stephen was too young to understand the difference between Catholic and a Protestant, he liked Eileen for her, they were just school yard friends, playmates. Stephen even thought he was going to marry Eileen in boyish innocence and hopefulness. But under the alarm and stress placed down on him by Dante, Stephen comes to believe it was bad or wrong of him to think of her that way, or to think of girls that way. She and his mother even implanted the idea in young Stephen’s head that he should apologize for thinking such a way and threatened him the thought of an eagle coming and tearing out his eyes. This was Stephen’s first experience of the fear of being unmasculine and symbolically castrated. It left a traumatizing imprint on Stephen and, therefore, in the way he looks at women from this point on.
Later on when Stephen does start to get sexual thoughts of women he doesn’t know what to do with them, he feels guilty and dirty. Stephen has the inability to see a middle ground with women, they are either to be respected and remain forever pure, or others able to engage with sexually but never respect. This first leads to an confusion on how to view his mother, because while he wants to love and respect her, however she has clearly had sex, which sickens Stephen to think about. But what Stephen doesn’t realize is that sexual thoughts and things of that sort are a natural and normal aspects of life. But because Stephen was made to feel guilty about such things at a young age by his religion and the people closest to him, he sees them as immoral and inappropriate. Because he feels guilty thinking of women sexually, a masculine act, he switches to the feminine side of his being and starts thinking of men. “And though he trembled with cold and fright to think of the cruel long nails and of the high whistling sound of the cane and of the chill you felt at the end of your shirt when you undress yourself yet he felt a feeling of queer quiet pleasure inside him to think of the white fattish hands, clean and strong and gentle,” (53). A few pages ago he was thinking of Eileen’s and her hands, now he’s thinking of a man’s hands, which shows his switch from masculine to the feminine. Also this scene occurs shortly after Stephen gets bullied and literally demasculinized by the bully Wells, which leads to Stephen’s awkward sexual thoughts of men. The bully Wells asks if Stephen kisses his mother every night, and though Stephen gives two various answers, the boys still mock him and Stephen is left to wonder which is the right answer. But what Stephen doesn’t realize is the boys are teasing him for his innocence not his answer to the question. But the mockery becomes a symbolic castration for Stephen. The commonly accepted symbol for masculinity in this novel is eyes. In this scene Stephen looks to the ground, unable to meet the other boys’ gazes. He does this because they have taken his masculinity through humiliation and teasing. This scene causes Stephen to first think of his mother, whom would give him that maternal and infantile safety. Then he switches completely from his masculine side to his feminine and this starts the chain of Stephen’s awkward sexual thoughts of men. Another result of the pressure and fear enforced on Stephen through his family and religion because of his sexuality is his heinous sin with the strumpet. Stephen is a normal growing boy who is going through puberty and dealing with the craziness of changing hormones. But he wasn’t taught to deal with this area so calmly and normally, therefore he doesn’t know what to do with it. This pressure and insecurity leads him to the only thing that to Stephen thinks would be sure to understand sexuality; the strumpet. But once he and the strumpet are done “committing the sin” Stephen returns to the same fear, only now it’s worse because he committed a sin. The fear first places him in the infantile state of wanting his mother, and then again Stephen switches to the feminine side of his persona.
The other main male character is Mr Dedalus, Stephen’s father. This other character offers a basis for comparison between Stephen’s more feminine character to the more masculine of his father.
“Another, a brisk old man, whom Mr Dedalus called Johnny Cashman, had covered him with confusion by asking him to say which were prettier, the Dublin girls or the Cork girls.
-He’s not that way built, said Mr Dedalus. Leave him alone. He’s a levelheaded thinking boy who doesn’t bother his head about that kind of nonsense.
-Then he’s not his father’s son, said the little old man.
-I don’t know, I’m sure, said Mr Dedalus, smiling complacently.
-Your father, said the little old man to Stephen, was the boldest flirt in the city of Cork in his day. Do you know that?
Stephen looked down and studied the tiled floor of the bar into which they had drifted,” (93).
This is an unintended example of Stephen’s father feminizing him. Here is a story of Stephen’s father being a “ladies’ man,” so to say and being good at flirting with girls, the area that poor Stephen is having the most trouble and confusion over. He’s being shown up by his father. First of all Stephen does not want to hear at all of his father chasing after girls in his youth, but that reminds him of the fact that his mother is in fact impure, which Stephen does not like to think about. Moreover, he especially does not want to have think about his father be better at chasing girls than he is in his youth. He is unable to understand how his father can have such great success in an area where he so greatly suffers and the fact that his father’s friends are saying that Stephen is “not his father’s son” because he isn’t good with girls or constantly chasing girls just adds to the humiliation and shame of the situation. Then in the novel there are the times when Stephen’s father would intentionally feminize Stephen;
“-Yes father?
-Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?
-Yes, father.
-Yes, father.
The girl came back making signs to him to be quick and go out quietly by the back Stephen laughed and said:
-He has a curious idea of genders if he thinks a bitch is masculine,” (158).
Here his father is literally picking on him for being feminine. Stephen makes a joke about his father being unclear on genders because a bitch is feminine, but that is clearly exactly why his father is calling him that. He is insulting his son for being feminine, for being a “bitch”. Also the fact that Stephen downcasts his eyes when they’re talking in the bar is an instant symbolic castration and a switch for Stephen from masculine and feminine. Eyes, as said before, is the symbol for masculinity in this novel, by Stephen turning his eyes to the ground at the men’s retelling of his father’s ability to woo the women, Stephen is allowing himself to be castrated, allowing them to take his masculinity. Thus complete another switch from the masculine to the feminine for Stephen.
By definition in Brivic’s psychoanalytical essay on Portrait of the Artist, Stephen is compulsive; “they focus on language as a controllable substitute for reality; and they regress from the genital to the anal stage, which is bisexual or ambivalent (Freud: 20 113-23),” (Brivic, 284). Stephen is the type of character who turns to his art to deal with his short comings in life; “Freud describes parallels between the rituals practiced by compulsives and those of religion (9: 115-28); and during his religious phase, Stephen focuses on ascetic rituals that help to control his feelings,” (Brivic, 288). So not only does Stephen write to deal with his inability to relate to women, it’s also to hide from the topic of sexuality in general, as a whole. He lives in his head and has his most meaningful and successful relationships through his writing and reading. Stephen does not know the proper way to view women, the proper way to act or speak around women. Therefore, he creates these fictional relationships with women through his writing and in reading The Count of Monte Cristo. Because in reality Stephen’s one biggest problem with women is he can’t fully control the situation, it is interaction with another person and Stephen cannot have complete control, which scares him. But in these fictional relationships he can control every aspect, which is why he hides within them. But even these habits hint to his sexual struggle for all the obvious reasons but also through the symbol of Apollo. Apollo is the Greek god of art, that’s the obvious connection because Stephen is indeed the artist mentioned in this novel’s title, and Apollo’s relation to this is hinted within the scenes where Stephen is writing. But also Apollo is bisexual, which is the parallel to Stephen’s confusion on his sexuality. For instance, the situation of the homosexual incident at Clongowes, the character’s name brought in this part of the novel is Simon Moonan. Within the character’s last name is the word ‘Moon’. Apollo’s twin sister is Artemis, Greek goddess of the Moon. Now the way Stephen relates to this is his confusion at the situation, he can’t understand why the other boys would run because of what they did, he doesn’t know why they would be humiliated, and he deals with the whole ordeal with far less anxiety and repulsion as the other boys experience. I believe that Joyce included this situation, the character’s name, and Stephen’s neutral reaction as a way to hint to Stephen’s soon to be intense struggle with sexuality and ergo bisexuality, maybe even homosexuality. Then are the scenes where Stephen is actually writing; “there remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the trammen nor of the horses: nor did he or she appear vividly. The verses told only on the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon,” (74). The fact that Joyce uses the word moon in Stephen’s writing also relates to Apollo, as mentioned earlier, Apollo’s twin sister is Atremis who is the Greek goddess of the moon. “The compulsive seesaw brings out sexual ambivalence, and indeed Stephen enacts Freud’s idea that all people contain both genders,” (Brivic, 284). Stephen does in fact embody both genders there are times when Stephen acts purely and appropriately masculine but then are times when he acts completely feminine and allows the other male characters to “castrate” him. Being stuck between acts of both genders and confusion of how to deal with that will obviously cause problems for Stephen in the ever prominent challenge of dealing with his sexuality.
“The conflicts and transformations in the structure enact opposing views by which Joyce both supports and condemns Stephen,” (Brivic, 279). Joyce uses these symbols to show the contrasts, like Stephen’s personality in comparison to the personality of his father, or even his school bully Wells, and parallels, for instance when Apollo is constantly being hinted in his writing and relationships. He uses symbols to take the reader along with Stephen in his journey. As Stephen is trying desperately to understand and identify with his sexuality and how to go about dealing with it, the reader goes along with him, constantly trying to unravel the mystery through the entire reading of the novel. While the reader, and Stephen, both leave the novel without really understanding Stephen completely as a sexual being, these symbols Joyce creates give a great deal of help to draw a conclusion. Also the symbols shed light on the reasons behind Stephen’s habit of escaping life through writing. Stephen is a writer, he is an artist, it is mentioned in the title, but with all art comes the question; why do it? What does it mean to the artist? For Stephen it is a way to deal and accomplish something he cannot do in reality, it is a way for Stephen to live out one area of his life on paper. Also it a way for Stephen to hide from possibly the only area of himself he cannot understand, both are beneficial and therapeutic for Stephen, just like most art is therapeutic for their artists. The portrait the symbols that Joyce uses through out his novel help to paint of Stephen in Portrait of the Artist is that of a confused boy indulging in life as fully as possible, with the help of his art.