Friday, May 23, 2008

Personal Reflection

This past year has been a great experience for me. English class was intriguing and a wonderful addition to my last year of High School. I previously had Mr. Gallagher as a teacher freshman year and then as well as now I didn’t know to expect. This year as a class we studied everything from poems to Shakespeare. We delved into the world of James Joyce and Myths. I later found out that all these books that were read in class were linked together. Each one was a part of the other. The main focus this year was being able to explicate a poem or passage to the full extent. At the beginning I had a truly hard time in understanding how to exactly explicate. Now I feel as if I have a better understanding of explicating.

Throughout the whole year we only watched one film which is unbelievable. This movie was about an artist name Charles Olsen. The movie was well made and very symbolic of Olsen’s real life. Olsen had a great passion for the place that he lived in. He believed that when a place changes it has a great impact on the person living there as well as the splendor of such a place making it hard to believe that it exists. I learned this while watching the film. I then started to question what Olsen was saying in the film about his home. I began to wonder the same things and realized that he was right. Another great thing about this film was the project that followed. I enjoyed picking a person mentioned in the film and creating something similar to their work or finding out who they essentially are and how they are connected to Olsen. This project allowed me to get creative and become educated on another great artist.

Over the whole year as a class we read an assortment of great literature. One of my favorites was the Stranger. The message in this novel was as strange as the actual character. The book focused on the fact that basically everything a person accomplishes and achieves is worth nothing when death is close or the fact that death is inevitable. I had never read such a novel where this sort of message was displayed. Experiencing this book was a joy and quite an adventure. The first explication that was written was based on this book. It was difficult but a great way to start off the year. The author of the book, Albert Camus, was very determined to get his point across in the novel.

Another novel which I enjoyed was “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. This book demanded a lot of patience and a great deal of understanding. The book tells the story of Stephen Deadalus. It focuses on the trials and tribulations of this character as he evolves. The story itself was interesting to read but the criticisms at the end of the novel helped me to fully grasp the true meaning of Portrait. The criticisms ranged from psychoanalytic to feminism and how each one of these is displayed through out the novel. These criticisms were helpful in later books that were read.

All these experiences led to the research paper. Each one of the novels, poems, passage explications helped to create the research paper. All aided in some way or another to make the research paper worth reading. Literature is supposed to make one rise a level up in their thinking method. This year’s worth of reading has improved my writing skills and provided a outlook on to what’s ahead. New philosophies and ideas came about that could be helpful in the near future. This year has allowed me to focus more on the little things as well as the big ones. Symbols that don’t seem like anything could have an enormous impact on the way one explicates. Explication was the biggest lesson for me. Even though I wasn’t new to it, I felt that I was more prepared and received a clear understanding of it this year than last year. I finally understand it even though I still struggle in the total explication of a novel or passage. It has been a fun year and I will always bear in mind what this class has taught me.

King Claudius' Soliloquy

“My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent, and like a man to double business bound…were thicker than itself with brothers blood…Forgive me my foul murder? That cannot be, since I am still possess’d…” pg 100 line 40

In King Claudius’ soliloquy, Claudius is praying and confessing to his sins of the murder of his brother. He gives a reason for killing Hamlet but believes that his guilt is stronger than his intentions. In the next couple of lines Claudius mentions his brother’s blood. It is almost as if he is washing his hands of his brother’s blood as he is confessing in his prayers. Further down the scene Claudius wants forgiveness for his murder, He knows that cannot happen because in order to receive all his possessions. The word possess’d is a pun. The word could have two meanings. For example it could mean “possessed” like the act of being or it could mean possessions as in items. The possessions that he acquired from the murder of his brother were the crown, the queen, and ambition. If he receives forgiveness, Claudius is most likely to lose all that he has acquired and he doesn’t want to do that. He is presented with two choices, Claudius can repent or he can keep his commodities from his sins. Claudius is in moral dilemma at this moment in the play. These are the reasons why he killed the King of Denmark. As he is kneeling Claudius is praising god to repent him. He asks for forgiveness.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Going Back

Arriving at the airport was an overwhelming experience. Everybody was bustling; there was a deafening noise and an intense feeling. I was nervous and apprehensive being there and realized that it was only ten years ago that my life changed so drastically. As I stepped outside, the sun’s rays hit my face. That bustling and deafening noise prolonged into the outside. I stopped and tried to tune out the noise but it kept going. As I stepped out, there was a sense of openness and freedom. The land was rich and filled with people, cars and scenery. I was in Tirana, Albania.

My parents, who both lived and made their lives in Albania, now wanted something more than what they had growing up. My parents sought freedom, and a better education, for their children. They knew that none of these opportunities were available to them during their lifetime. Communism in Albania was at its highest point when my parents went to school in the early 60’s and late 70’s. Their lives were not easy; they were dictated on how to live, what to achieve, and what to accomplish. They had no choices. This was because of the government and mostly because of its leader, Enver Hoxha. He wanted to create a socialist identity for Albania. It worked until Albania started to reject communism in 1992. My parents saw an opportunity to change this series of events from happening again when my brother and I were born. Before I knew it, at the end September of ’96, I boarded a plane that would take me to Somerville, MA in the United States of America, leaving behind of my birthplace and the first six years of my life.

I remember going to preschool and having fun with some friends. I remember family members who live in an entirely different. I remember the buildings in Albania, my home from the time I was born to six years of age. Seeing as how I was only six, my memories are a little dim. But I do remember starting out my new life in America. I was daunted. I didn’t know what to think of this place known as “The Land of Opportunity”. To me it seemed like a different world. I was unable to communicate with others; I couldn’t socialize and make new friends. I felt alone unless I was with my family. As time progressed, I learned to adapt and become more acclimated with this new world. From this experience I gained self-confidence and a sense of courage.

In the summer of 2005, I had a chance to visit Albania for about a month. I was in shock and didn’t know what to think or feel. It had been ten years since I had lived in that world. The weather was warm and muggy. There were some bright sunny days where the water was undulating by the sun’s rays and there was only one day where the skies turned dark and frightening. The air quality wasn’t as good in the city as it was near the beach. In the city the air smelled like food and in some areas I could smell trash. At the beach the air was refreshing and appealing. The smell of salt and freedom filled the air. The people were another story. They stared like they knew who I was while others looked at me like I was an outsider. Around every corner a surprise was awaiting.

Everything was strange, but yet oddly familiar as I walked down the streets, rode on the bus and ate at the restaurants. As I did these activities I felt a memory jog to when I was living there. Each step I took was another time in my life.

Sandy Skoglund

Sandy Skoglund is an artist whose work serves as a symbol for people’s subconscious fears. In her work she uses both a photograph and a three dimensional set to portray her feelings. Through her technique, known as Tableau Photography(Cole 23), Skoglund creates installations that turn our reality upside down therefore causing us to question what’s real and what’s not. At first glance Sandy’s photos seem like extreme, amusing images but a deeper look reveals an underlying threat. This threat plays into people’s fears. The photos themselves are relatively large with very bright colors. The subject depicted in Skoglund’s photo displays her work as acquiring an eccentric and surrealistic feel(Komrska 27).

Sandy Skoglund experienced a lot of change in environment and culture throughout her childhood which had a profound affect on the development of her art pieces. From Paris to California, she was inspired by things she saw. Her desires led her to teaching herself photography which then sparked interests in popular culture as is evident in Skoglund’s early work in the 1970’s. Almost all her works display these attributes but few stand out. These are Shimmering Madness, The Revenge of the Goldfish, Cocktail Party, and Hangers. Overall her photography is exceptional, riveting and appealing to the eye.

Sandy Skoglund was born on September 11, 1946 in Quincy, Massachusetts. As a child Sandy remembers happy childhood memories in the suburbs of Boston drawing fantasy worlds inspired by television shows and images she saw while reading fairytale stories. Sandy Skoglund has said that she sees a storytelling element in her art(Passmore 42a). This is evident in some of her photography. As a child, Sandy spent much of her childhood having to move around until her family settled in California near Disney World in the early 60’s. This change in environment proved to be effective on Sandy. She say’s “there is probably kind of a California sensibility in my work in term of color” (Cole 23). The colors that Sandy chooses for some of her photos symbolize places she has experienced.

As an adult, Sandy went to Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts. While in college Sandy had aspirations to become a fashion designer or a cartoonist. She has said that she did not have a clue as to what art was “art with a capital A”(Passmore 42a) After graduating from Smith College, she studied art history at the Sorbonne and The Ecole du Louvre in Paris. It was in Paris that she discovered the power of theatrical images through avant-garde movies(Cole 23). Learning art history provided Skoglund with the realization that there was a “subterranean well of something going on beneath the images”(Passmore 42a). In the 1970’s Skoglund became a professor of Art at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. She desired to eventually document her artistic ideas and so Skoglund taught herself to take pictures(Bartschi). At this time in her life, Sandy Skoglund chose to look for new connections in her art so she became inspired by commercial image making that was then becoming part of American Culture. The idea of reading an audience through the dialogue of an image led her to Tableau Photography (Cole 23). Tableau is the technique she uses to produce her images. American culture intrigued Skoglund a lot in the 1970’s so she began questioning America’s and Europe’s culture because she began to understand that artists draw their inspirations from the society in which they live in. Currently, Sandy Skoglund is teaching photography at Rutgers University in New Jersey where she has been for more than 30 years.

Sandy Skoglund‘s process for creating her art pieces is exceptional and time consuming. Her distinctive technique sets her apart from all the other photographers. Skoglund’s technique is called Tableau Photography and it is used in all of her photos. In the French language Tableau means a living picture and that’s what Skoglund is thinking when she creates her installations, to make a reality. She designs and fabricates the staged environments, called installations, intended to be viewed at the same time. These staged environments range in color and materials. The staged installations are sometimes incorporated with visual elements such as live models like in the Cocktail Party and Shimmering Madness(Florida Trend 25). The process is a long one as well. Skoglund could spend from six months to a year planning and creating each installation. After the room is created she brings the models and takes the photograph before destroying the tableau. Although the process takes long she purposely puts an overflow of a material to fill up the space. “This gives the room a surrealistic dream-like quality”(Reynolds). There is a difference between what is made and what is taken by the photograph. The photograph is the end result but the biggest difference between it and installations is that photos usually contain people. Skoglund says “her work is based on a Frankenstein model where the human beings have created a world that is out of control and turns on them”(Reynolds). That is essentially what almost all of her photos portray.

The ideas behind the photo are important as well. To find the subject that Skoglund wishes to portray she carries with her a little notebook at all times. In this book she writes down the thoughts that pop up in her head during every moment in life. Her subject matter is of an alienating world in which an unusual duplication of animals takes up the whole canvas. Such is evident in photos like Revenge of the Goldfish and Radioactive cats. Overall Sandy Skoglund’s technique of Tableau Photography is a tedious and very time consuming approach to creating an art work.

Tableau Photography allows Skoglund to push something that is three-dimensional into something that is two-dimensional. “Skoglund transforms the content of her sculpted scenes into dream-like images that pique the curiosity of the viewer”(Cole 23). In first laying eyes on the photo entitled The Green House, created in 1990, one can see the abnormality and dysfunction occurring within the photo. At first glance there is also a sense of amusement and enjoyment because of the colors and the subjects depicted in the photo. The overall encompassing background is of a living room. The living room is green but a much intensified green. What used to be an ordinary living room has been overcome by a carpet of green straw. The carpet most likely resembles hay. The living room is very similar to a regular living room; there are throw pillows on couches, end tables cluttered with pictures, a chair, a coffee table overflowed with thrown magazines but the twist is that all have become wrapped in this layer of green. With in this room there lies the underlying threat. The room is also encompassed with over thirty dogs. The dogs have taken over the living room. Some are curled up on the couch, stretched out on the floor or underneath and on the coffee table sitting in an attentive manner. These animals are part of Skglund’s strange multiplication that she enforces in her art work. The dogs are almost depicted as cartoon like. Skoglund has said that “her work is similar to Walt Disney’s fantasies. It is not just fun; there are negative undertones”(Passmore 42a). Such is the case with this photo. The dogs in the photo also range in color. Some are set to match the environment and there are others dogs that contrast the environment in florescent purple. The dogs are different species like Chihuahua’s, Bloodhounds, and Terrier’s. The poses of the dogs seem to display alertness and awareness. Amidst all the commotion of the room there are two people sitting in various parts of the room. A man is sitting in a chair on the far right of the background. He seems to be thinking about something. Then there is the woman who is sitting on the floor of the living room in the far background. She seems to be reading because her eyes are pointed down to the ground. At first glace the viewer is so preoccupied with the color and the dogs that their eye doesn’t quite catch the human beings sitting in the living room. There are many possible explanations as to why Skoglund does this.

“I try to suggest things,” she says, "I want to create possibilities of interpretation.”(Cole 23) is her response for the meanings behind her art work. In the Green House the possibilities are endless. The symbol of the dogs and the color green go hand in hand. The green living room revolves around the fear of Global Warming. Global Warming involves nature and the effect that human actions has on it. The dogs play a big role in this connection. They are part of nature and so the fact that they are alert and aware in the photo shows that nature is very attentive in the actions of the humans. The incorporation any animal in Skoglund’s photo’s usually “suggests menacing phobias or mental obsessions”(Roelgers). The two people in the back of the photo are not being responsive to the dogs so that it shows that humans are not reactive towards Global Warming. The fear of not acting towards something that could eventually end in catastrophe is being displayed. The contrast between colors also factors into the fear of this issue. The green is obvious choice to symbolize nature especially with the hay that’s included in the photo. Some dogs in the photo are green but the others are a shade of purple. This symbolizes that Global warming has already tainted some part of nature. Overall this photo portrays Skoglund’s awareness of the issues facing society. It also takes on the concern for the difference of human control with the impulsiveness of nature. In some of her photo’s Skoglund likes to project real issues occurring at that time period in society and in turn develop this non- reality world. She likes to express the concerns that she obtains about this issue of Global Warming that is affecting the world.

In the next photo done by Skoglund in 2004, color is used to exemplify the fear of death. In this photo there is a man. This man stands out the most. At first glance, the man is what everyone would most likely first see. In the photo the man is depicted as large and orange. She uses this color to make the character in the photo be the first object seen by the viewer. His large size and the position Skoglund places him causes the viewer to first focus on the man. Skoglund displays the man on the left, in the forefront. In the background there is a bedroom which seems to be further away from the man. This room has an orange ceiling, bed and curtains as well as blue walls and then there is the blue bulb on the center of the ceiling. The blue bulb on the ceiling for which the photograph is named after is miniscule compared to the orange man. The orange man is also looking at the blue bulb. His facial expression shows that he is intrigued and confused by this bulb. He also seems weak based on his facial expressions. To the ordinary viewer the bulb is not as interesting. Skoglund portrays the man with great detail on the face and the way his hand looks and located. The man’s hand is clasped and displays the illusion of slowly moving up in the air towards the blue bulb. The detail shows what the man is thinking and trying to express. The position of the man’s eyes allows the viewer to be intrigued by trying to find out what exactly the man is looking at. After glancing at the man, the blue bulb is brought to the viewer’s attention.

The colors displayed in the photo are very important especially when they are the only two colors are displayed. Skoglund prefers to use “artificial, monochrome colors to heighten a unreality”(Roelgers) These are the colors of blue and orange. These colors complement each other. When mixed they make the color grey. The color blue is a cool color and orange is a warm color. This associates with life and death. There is a contradiction on the colors because of what Skoglund chooses to be which color. The man is a shade of orange which is related to a warm color. Warm usually means life and daylight, but the man who is depicted as this nice shade of orange does not at all contains these attributes. He looks ill and very weak. He displays a more cool color. The bulb is a shade of blue which is also a contradiction. Blue is associated with death and darkness. Not at all what a light bulb symbolizes. A light bulb symbolizes life, and truth. So by making the two main objects in the photo contradict each other, Skoglund is trying to show the fear of death. Through the use of monochrome colors, this reality is sharpened to become an unreality. These colors that she chooses to portray also display symbols of horror. Overall it is obvious that Skoglund wants the orange man and the blue bulb to be the main focus of her photograph. The two main colors blue and orange assist in making the two objects stand out. Through the use of color she creates this illusion of what is really there. This photo is another example of Skoglund’s “staged, fanatical images which typically present wacky situations in color-infused environments”(Arnett).

Shimmering Madness is another one of Skoglund’s famous photo’s that has been exhibited all around the United States. This photo created in 1998, is very unique and it is one of Skoglund’s art pieces that is surrealistic. This photo upon first glance is quite intriguing and has a dream-like quality to it. In the photo there are a total of five figures. Each figure is posed in a different way. Out of these five people two are human and the other three are mannequins. The three mannequins are all standing up while one of the two humans in the background is standing on top of his head. The five people all have different attire on. The three mannequins are covered in multi-colored jelly-beans. Their heads are also turned backwards from their bodies. The two humans behind the mannequins are naked and bald. They are not covered by anything. The room itself is just as interesting and fun as the figures in it. The floor is also made of multicolored jell-beans(Florida Trend 25). The walls of the room are covered with Mylar Butterflies on a black wall. Looked upon closely the butterflies seem realistic because of the great detail enamored in the photo.

This photo is unlike any other one of Skoglund’s photos. All her other photos were situated in mundane environments like bedrooms, and living rooms. The installation of this photo seems very plan not a whole lot of things going on. There is definitely fear portrayed in this photo. This tableau seems to be dream-like and unrealistic. It has the clarity of a fantasy. The fantasy is of a mysterious, concealed, unheard world that takes over when individuals are not paying attention(Valdez 171). This points to the fear of imagination. What we imagine can some times trick our minds, gather up fear and even provide excitement in us but that fear of the potential that an imagination could create exists. Overall the photo is unique and Skoglund does an excellent job at creating an art piece that could put fear and pique at the curiosity of the viewer. The surrealistic point chosen is enchanting and appealing to the eye. The fear of imagination captivates Skoglund’s audience and causes limitations as to how far they are willing to go in their interpretations.

The last photo is called The Cocktail Party and it too is a distinctive art work from Skoglund. The Cocktail was created in 1992 through Skoglund’s method of Tableau Photography. This photo is quite intriguing as well but a bit different from the other photos. Skoglund, in this photo, uses an ordinary object to fill up the installation in the photo. This object is multiplied to literally fill every space up in the photo. The installation is of what seems to be a living room. In total there are ten figures. For each one Skoglund has depicted them separately. In the foreground there are two people, a man and a woman. The man is standing up and seems to be walking away from the woman. The woman on the other hand is sitting down on a chair that is situated in front of a small coffee table. Behind the coffee table is where all the other seven people are located. Directly behind the man are two people. Again a man and a woman but this time the woman is facing the man’s back as he is walking away. To the left of this woman in the background are two more people, a man and a woman as well. This man and woman seem to show affection because of the posture of the woman. The woman is grabbing the man’s hand as he to seems to be slowly walking away. In front of the man facing ahead of the woman is a group of four people. Three of these people, two men and one woman, are grouped together while the other woman stands beside them alone. Based on this woman’s facial expression, it seems as if she is gloomy and lonesome. The twist to this photo is that almost everything is covered in cheese doodles. The extraordinary color of the cheese doodles appeals to the viewer’s eye and catches their attention. This ordinary object takes up most of the space. Everything from the furniture to the wall and floor and even some of the figures is covered in this snack. Everything except some of the figures bodies is fully covered. The woman and man directly behind the man in the foreground are not covered completely in cheese doodles only their clothes are covered. Besides these two there is also the man from the group of three and the woman standing alone in the background of the photo.

Skoglund created this to look like an actual party where people are socializing and drinking with each other. Like her other photo’s she takes a reality and has morphed it into a striking image that almost seems dream-like. Skoglund has turned a fun and exciting event into a nightmare by incorporating the cheese doodles. In this photo Skoglund brings forth the fear of the potential humans obtain in order to carry out a horrific action. That potential to do something so horrific is troubling to Skoglund. She doesn’t cover some of the people’s faces because she chooses to show the real facial expressions and emotions the people are displaying. Their emotions are what cause their potential to become a reality. Overall the human beings create a world that is spun out of control and that will eventually in the future turn on them.

In the last photo Skoglund repeats the multiplication of an object in her photo. This photo is one of her earlier works and it is called Hangers and it was taken in 1980. The photo can also be added to Skoglund’s array of unique pieces of art. This photo is realistic yet very bizarre. Hangers are the main focus in this photo as mentioned in the title. Skoglund makes the hangers the focal point of the photo by creating hundreds of them all over the photograph. Picture this, a yellow room and chairs as well as a pink floor. Then there are hundreds, if not more, two-dimensional blue hangers placed on the walls and floor. These hangers are repeated over and over again on the wall as well as on the floor. On the floor there is also a bucket with a couple of blue hangers in it. Even though the hangers on the wall are two-dimensional, they become three-dimensional as they fall and hit the bucket full of paint as well as when they fall on the chair. The chairs are on the foreground of the photo and placed awkwardly on the floor. In the background a door is open and a woman dressed in yellow pajamas is about to walk in. The woman seems in a sad state of mind as she is opening the door.

Sandy Skoglund overflows the room with the same item to make the painting seem surrealistic and dream-like. Again Skoglund has truly transformed reality by building this scenario in which a mundane “room is turned upside by the proliferation of a single element”(Wolf) like in the case of this photo, Hangers. The hangers all around the room symbolize a fear within the artist. The multiplication of more than one hanger shows an underlying threat within the photo. This fear could be of conforming. The hangers are all placed on the wall in the same position. The same position of the hangers symbolizes conforming. When people conform it is usually to become similar to everyone else in society. The fact that one hangers falls into the paint is a symbol that there is always that one person that is different. There is always one individual who stands out the most in this group or society. The fear of being the same as everyone else is a thought worth thinking about. The colors used in this are bright and very peaceful warm colors. Warm usually representing life, is essential to the photo. Overall this photo depicts the issue of conformity. Skoglund does an excellent job displaying this through illusions and symbols which sometimes seem like symbols of horror.

In conclusion Sandy Skoglund is a contemporary artist whose art wok reflects her as an individual. She is known for “large format cibachrome photographs of her bright and humorously unsettling, room-sized installations that poke fun at suburban reality”(Mann). In her thirty plus year span of taking photographs she has managed to explore social issues and even some political issues through her art work. Her unique technique sets her apart from other photographers and it makes her photos more believable. Her photos are symbols of fear that are created through society. Skoglund uses the photos as a way to express her feelings. In almost all of her photos reality is turned upside down and piques our curiosity of what’s real and what isn’t. In general like all artists her past has influenced her art work and created these wonderful masterpieces. Skoglud herself sees her photographs as “the ultimate messenger allowing people to know her art from a postcard that has been flown around the world”(Passmore 42a).

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In the novel “A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man”, the evolution of Stephen Deadalus as a character is interpreted through the conscious and unconscious decisions and thoughts that he makes throughout the novel. Through different portions of the novel Stephen’s conscious is tested within its limits, but finally achieves a conclusion in which brings him a new artistic vision. In the psychoanalytic criticism much of what lies in the unconsciousness part of the mind has been situated there by the conscious part of the mind. This part acts as a censor to dispose of the thoughts that seem to be undesirable and unacceptable. There lies the balance. Stephen achieves this many times in the book but eventually ends up going back to the Oedipus complex, relying on his mother. Stephen does achieve a bildingsRoman through many instances throughout the novel but there are events that pull him back in the other direction, towards who he was before. His innocence can be traced in many places in the novel. Stephens’s stream of consciousness is different from the other characters because his thoughts are progressed logically. In the end his thoughts produce an artist. He has evolved form a little innocent boy to an artistic individual. Through this, tone and diction Joyce creates a character that ultimately at the end achieves creation.

In the passage where Stephen is outside with the other students at Clongowes, Joyce’s use of diction displays a complex which is symbolized in other parts of the novel. Joyce writes “Tell us Deadalus, do you kiss your mother every night before you go to bed...I do” (Joyce 26-27). This passage is essential to the novel and the evolution of Stephen. Stephens approach to the question seemed to be more important than his answer. The question seemed to perplex Stephen because his response “I do” seemed to have initiated a thought by Stephen. While the students mocked Stephens answer, Stephen started to feel embarrassed. So he then changed his response to “I do not” which caused the other students to continue their laughter at him. The reason he changed his response is important because Stephen knew that whatever response he gave was not going to be enough to stop the laughter. He said his answer without hesitation and this could have caused the students to mock him even more. Stephen responded as quickly as he did because he felt that was the right answer. After this incident Stephen questions the way he views his mother and if this view is the appropriate way a son should view his mother. Stephens tone also seems very sure and certain at the beginning but after his second response the tone changes dramatically to fear and uncertainty.

This passage presents the Oedipus complex which is one of the main answers to Stephen’s way of thinking. The Oedipus complex refers to the myth of Oedipus. In the myth the main character Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. Both Stephen and Oedipus are alike because both felt shame and disapproval after each one of their events. Stephen is alike in his response and Oedipus in his marriage to his mother. Stephen was made fun of his innocence because of his response. In that sense he felt like he was losing his masculinity or what was left of it. Oedipus also felt a sense of loss of masculinity because he married his mother. This embarrassment plays with Stephens mind. He debates what the right answer is and if what he said the first time changes his view of his mother. Stephen is dependent on his mother throughout the novel. He sets her up on this pedestal of pureness which proves to be false. It proves to be false because Stephen thinks his mother is pure and a virgin, which is not true. This causes Stephen to contemplate every thought he has. An example of the Oedipus complex is when Stephen comes home from Clongowes and is in the bathroom. At this point in the novel Stephen has committed sins that are excusable. Stephen say’s “When the enameled basin had been fitted into the well of the sink and the old washing glove flung on the side of it he allowed his mother to scrub his neck and root into the folds of his ears and into the interstices at the wings of his nose…(Joyce 157). Having his mother wash him, Stephen is redirecting himself toward innocence. This event occurred after Stephen committed the sins so in biblical terms he is washing away his sins. Stephen is symbolically being baptized. Stephens mother at this moment in the novel represents the Virgin Mary because to Stephen his mother is both pure and a virgin even though it is not true. This quote is essential to understanding Stephens mind and it relates to the Oedipus complex which is portrayed in certain places throughout the novel.

This passage relates to the criticism made about a passage mentioned in novel.
In the Psychoanalytic criticism essay, Sheldon Brivic uses the loss of eyes as an image of castration. In the Oedipus myth, Oedipus pulls out his eyes after he has learned of the terrible thing that he has done. This castration is also a loss of masculinity like Stephen’s situation with the other students. At the beginning of the novel Stephen told his family that he was going to marry the girl next door, Eileen. Dante’s response is“O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes...”(Joyce 21) to Stephen. Dante is telling him to pull out is eyes in which strikes fear into him. His fear of castration slows down the evolution of Stephen. In a way the castration displays loss of masculinity. This would make him less of a man in his eyes and other people’s eyes. According to Freud castration starts to become important to children during the Oedipus stage of their life ages four to five. This is the age of Stephens’s eagle epiphany. In that portion of the essay Brivic associates Stephen’s fears with his writing. The writing helps to push out Stephens unconscious fears. He deals with his threat from Dante by writing poetry. Overall even though Stephen fears castration, a good thing has come out of it. Stephen seems to feed off of his fears and desires that are in his mind. They seem to be the inspiration and spark in Stephens mind.

In the passage from the Psychoanalytic criticism portion of the novel, the author is insinuating that Stephen’s desires result in art. Sheldon Brivic say’s:
Nor it is true that art “cannot awaken…” an emotion which is kinetic”: there is no such thing as nonkinetic emotion, only emotion whose kinesis is relatively weak or indirect. Art is built on the same drives, conscious and unconscious, that operate in life….The peace of stasis is arrived at by balancing opposed psychic forces in a pleasing way. If this balance is not achieved and drives obtrude in such a way that they violate truth, mortality, or some other function of psychic balance… (Brivic, Joyce 293).Everything in Stephens’s life is a tool that he uses to achieve his artistic nature. His desire for his mother and shear fear of his father plays into the creation of art. According to this passage art is similar to life. It is driven by the same forces. These drives can be conscious or unconscious. This is true for Stephen in the novel. He experiences things that are different but the two opposed forces need to be balanced. Without this balance then it is not true or moral and it is dismissed as inappropriate. This is shown through Stephens’s desire for his mother and the fear of his father. His mother is the ideal and his father is the reality. Stephens’s mother is the ideal because she represents an idea of what he wants in a woman which is pureness instead of a woman who acquires strumpetness. Stephens’s father is the reality, what he hopes not to become. He doesn’t want to become this moral less human being like his father is. These features are very opposite each other and so it results in a balance. The two forces are an idealized figure vs. a non-moral figure. Stephen has in actuality created a world and what is reality. The world is in his mind while the reality is presently occurring. Here in this passage Stephen shows some improvement in his evolution from the first quote where he felt scared and embarrassed.

This passage also connects to a moment in the book where he experiences his desire and in turn writes a poem about the imagery that was around him that night. Stephens encounter with Mercedes was not real. She is just a figment in Stephens mind but he fulfills his sexual desire and as a result he gets the inspiration to write. Stephen say’s “There remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the trammen nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses only told of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden luster of the moon” (Joyce 74). As he remembers that night that he experienced with Mercedes, he doesn’t recollect her and or himself but he vividly remembers the scenery. Stephen felt so much inspiration from that moment that he started to write a poem. Here Stephen is starting to evolve as a person and is starting out his artistic nature.

In the passage towards the end of the novel Stephen has a dream that culminates an artistic response. The passage is analyzed by a feminist critique named Suzette Henke. She writes:

The moment of mental conception simulates a sexual process culminating in erotic ecstasy. In a strange instance of transsexuality, Stephen envisions his own aesthetic impregnation by the Holy Spirit., an experience modeled on the Virgin Mary’s biblical gestation of the word of God. As the artist falls into a vision of rapturous enchantment, he conflates ingenuous Emma with Mercedes and the bird-girl, then he recreates this female figure in the awesome, uncanny form of eternal temptress- a seductive Lilith luring the seraphim heaven. His courtly villanelle is inspired by a shudder in the loins… (Henke, Joyce 323)

The dream was a huge moment in the book where Stephen compares himself to the Virgin Mary. In his dream he becomes pregnant which right away Stephen adapts to a female. This act of impregnation is an art. His sexual desires turn into art. So the art that he is creating is symbolically his child. Towards the middle of the passage Henke mentions the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary in Stephens’s eyes symbolizes the woman he wants. She is pure as well. In this passage Stephen is Mary and like Mary he becomes impregnated by God. God impregnated Mary through God’s words. The same happens for Stephen. The art is produced in the same process that Mary went through in creating Jesus. In Stephens mind God means the father figure which essentially goes back to the paternal threat. God is not only the paternal threat but Stephens’s threat of religion as well. In the end he turns the idealized girl into reality. Overall longing for someone can produce and create or it can start this feeling of guilt and jealousy like for example Helena of Troy. A war was started because of the jealousy and love for her. Finally the passage shows the fully evolved Stephen. He used to dreams and his mind to fully produce and create art.

In conclusion Stephen evolves throughout the novel. As a bildingsRoman, Stephen achieves the artistic nature of his mind. His mind evolved with some roadblocks along the way. He came to realizations about himself that he didn’t seem to know before. Stephen establishes that his stream of consciousness is essentially different from the other characters in that it is more controlling than real life. Like Freud said the thoughts that are not conscious and unconscious are disposed which results in a balance. The conscious and unconscious rely on each other to become whole. They fill avoid in Stephen’s mind. In the end Stephens thoughts produce an artist.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blue Blub, Hangers, Atomic Love

Sandy Skoglund's work is best described as a dream world that has gone seriously askew. She takes photographs which take months to install. Sandy’s photographs are bizarre and weird but are interesting and fun to interpret and look at. She has many photos that stand out but there are some that just pop out. For example this one photograph titled Blue Bulb. In this photo the man stands out the most. At first glance, the man is what everyone would first see. In the photo the man is depicted as large and orange. She uses this color to make the character in the photo be the first object seen by the viewer. Skoglund displays the man on the left, in the forefront. In the background there is a room which seems to be further away from the man. This room has an orange ceiling, bed and curtains as well as blue walls and the blue bulb on the center of the ceiling. The blue bulb on the ceiling for which the photograph is named after is miniscule compared to the orange man. The orange man is also looking at the blue bulb. His facial expression shows that he is intrigued and confused by this bulb. To the ordinary viewer the bulb is not as interesting. Skoglund portrays the man with great detail on the face and the way his hand looks and located. The detail shows what the man is thinking and trying to express. The position of the man’s eyes allows the viewer to be intrigued by trying to find out what exactly the man is looking at. After glancing at the man, the blue bulb is brought to the viewer’s attention. Overall it is obvious that Skoglund wants the orange man and the blue bulb to be the main focus of her photograph. The two main colors blue and orange help to make those two objects stand out.

Another photograph taken by Sandy Skoglund is called Hangers. This photo is realistic yet very bizarre. Hangers are the main focus in this photo as mentioned in the title. Skoglund makes the hangers the focal point of the photo by creating hundreds of them all over the photograph. Picture this, a yellow room and chairs as well as a pink floor. Then there hundreds, if not more, two-dimensional blue hangers placed on the walls and floor. These hangers are repeated over and over again on the wall as well as on the floor. On the floor there is also a bucket with a couple of blue hangers in it. Even though the hangers on the wall are two-dimensional, they become three-dimensional as they fall and hit the bucket full of paint also as they fall on the chair. The chairs are on the forefront of the photo and placed awkwardly on the floor. In the background a door is open and a woman dressed in yellow pajamas is about to walk in. Sandy Skoglund overflows the room with the same item to make the painting seem surrealistic and dream-like.

The photograph Atomic Love is another one her photos that seems realistic but with a twist included. The twist or irregularity of this photo is that the whole thing is in leopard print. Everything and everyone in the room is covered in print except for the faces and bodies of this man and woman in the background. The room including the walls, floor, ceiling, and ceiling fan are covered in animal print. In the forefront there is man that is depicted as tall and is facing in the direction of the regular man and woman. The tall man is also displayed in then side profile meaning that the viewer only sees one side of his face and body. On the floor there is a cup in front of the tall man. Then after the tall man there is a table. Next to the table on the right, in front of the tall man, is a baby sitting on the floor. To the left of the table there is a woman sitting on a chair. She seems to be making something in a pot. Behind the table there are three people displayed. Two of these people are a man and woman that are dressed in print clothes but their faces and bodies are not in print like the other individuals displayed in the photograph. The man in the photo is behind the woman and holding the woman’s arm as if to show affection. Then the other man is beside the woman on the left and is all in animal print like the other individuals in the photograph. He seems to be reaching out to the woman because of the way his arms are raised. The distortion in reality creates a surreal but odd and bizarre photograph. Sandy Skoglund in this photograph tries to portray the Atomic Love of these two people. The two people in the photo stand out because they are not covered in animal print. To show their Atomic Love, Sandy makes the two characters stand out in this animal print world.

Overall Sandy Skoglund creates this new world. All of her photos have people as well as animals included in it. In some of her works she creates photo’s that have an array of repeated objects like the Hangers photo. Skoglund likes to distort reality and eventually creates a dream-like situation. She also creates a photo that seemed to be of ordinary life but then gone seriously askew like the Atomic Love photo. Her ability to deform an ordinary photograph into something that is strange and doesn’t seem real is appealing and attractive to the viewer. Overall Sandy Skoglund’s work of art are creative and bring something fun and interesting to the viewer even though the process to creating these photographs takes a lot of time and energy. Each one of her photo’s focuses on something or someone and then that something or someone is put in a situation that that is out of the ordinary.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Act 3 Scene 1 Video Critique

The video that portrays the best interpretation of Hamlets soliloquy is the video under the direction of Laurence Olivier’s. Laurence best achieves the meaning of the soliloquy in the play through the use of sound, the tone of the actor and the background at which he chooses to set the moment in. Each of these provides the viewer with a better sense of what Shakespeare intended to do with Hamlet’s soliloquy. In Hamlet’s Soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates suicide and the director achieves this through this first video of the bog.

The video begins with a view of the ocean and its waves. This choice of scenery provides an in depth look at Hamlet’s mind. In the video Olivier portrays this by placing the actor in front of the ocean with his head turned back. Then the camera slowly approaches the back of Hamlets head symbolizing his stream of consciousness which is his soliloquy. Then the waves are featured as blurry and set right behind the image of the waves, Olivier chooses to place Hamlets forehead. As was mentioned in a previous scene of the play the waves symbolize Hamlets mind. Just like waves, hamlet’s mind moves in an up down motion. This motion reflects Hamlet’s personality and how it fluxuates depending on his state of mind. In the soliloquy Hamlet mentions the water by saying “…or by opposing arms against the sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them” (p.81 58-59). Finally the director took it upon his time to make the ocean and its waves a very important figure of Hamlets mind. Making the ocean the background for the soliloquy best portrays the state that Hamlet is in. It is almost as if the director is trying to pale the soliloquy as just another one of Hamlet’s motion of personality.

The music in the video also sets the mood of almost each line in Hamlet’s soliloquy. The music was fast, slow or suspenseful depending on which part of the soliloquy was acted. For example when the video first started out the music was very loud and had moments of high notes. Once Hamlet appeared the music became very eerie and almost provides a sense of fear. The music also provided the audience with mystery and suspense. The overall analysis of the Soliloquy is Hamlet’s contemplation of death as is stated in line 55when he says “To be, or not to be, that is the question”. In the whole passage Hamlet seems to be toying with the idea of suicide. Olivier puts this emotion in the video. This is done by first beginning the video with him overlooking the water, as if to show the chance of Hamlet jumping and purposely ending his life. Then the music becomes higher once again when Hamlet takes out his knife. As Hamlet is saying the lines “And by opposing, end them” the knife that he is holding is slowly approaching Hamlet’s body as if motioning the idea of killing himself. The music towards this scene is not only becoming louder and faster but it leaves the audience with the idea of will he or won’t he kill himself. In lines 59-64, the actor says in his mind portraying that the contemplation Hamlet has over ending his life. Finally the music at the end of the video provides the audience with a sense of sadness and desperation, as Hamlet slowly walks away from the edge of the cliff.

The tone that the actor chooses to portray the different parts is also equally important. The actors tone varies at almost every line of the soliloquy. At the moment when Hamlet takes out his knife his tone seems unsure. As the camera approaches Hamlet’s mind it seems as if the tone of the actor becomes weaker and also seems distant. After the camera pulls away from Hamlet’s face, his tone elevates to a scared and apprehensive one. This is done for effect to show that Hamlet is afraid to kill himself as he pulls the knife away and brings it toward his lower body. Overall the tone of Hamlet throughout the whole soliloquy in this video is calm until the moment when the knife is pulled out. The whole feel of the video as well as the actor’s tone has evolved.

In conclusion the video under Laurence Olivier’s direction portrays the best interpretation of Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1. The director and the actor focus on Hamlet’s emotions through the use of music, tone, and scenery. The first video is an absolute accurate portrayal of Hamlet’s soliloquy.