A dungeon master’s tragedy

Diaz’s writing style has an in your face kind of feel. With gritty truth and language Diaz doesn’t pull any punches and never gives a since of pity or sympathy for the plight of Oscar. Instead it puts the reader squarely on the fence as to what we should feel about this young man. By using raw language Diaz gives the reader a feeling of unease that Oscar feels when confronted by the daily trials of his life. While the point of the piece is to establish a background on Oscar and what is surely to be the basis of his further exploits. The passage does not seem to make excuses for Oscar instead it seems to be a bit contemptuous towards him as almost the writer was ashamed of Oscar’s inadequacies. This pushes the reader to not see Oscar as sympathetic but as a real failure in the social world. Diaz’s writing style puts the reader smack in the middle of a troubled teen’s life and makes no excuses.

The Trouble with Tribbles

Salman Rushdie’s decision to use Indian/English pigeon made it hard for me to connect with the story at first, but later, (once I had become accustom to the language) provided a realism that I think enhanced my understanding of Chekov and Zulu’s relationship. The first interaction between Chekov and Mrs. Zulu was hard to absorb with constant definition checks and unfamiliar jargon. I found the mix of formal and informal speech hard to follow making it hard to connect to the writing. As the story progressed the reading became more fluid allowing me to be pulled into the intimate relationship between Chekov and Zulu. I doubt the boyhood connection they shared would have seemed as sincere in my common tongue. The inclusion of star trek and Tolkien seemed strange coming from these men, until Chekov’s explanation of their names, as it did not fit the setting or their stature but it added an element of my culture that helped to connect me to these characters that spoke differently than me.

Time Travelers Tourist Guide

Calvino uses both modernist and postmodernist techniques to both baffle and mesmerize the reader. In Calvino’s description of each city he plays with time and cultural sensitivity to bring uneasiness to the reader. When he gives the description of Isidora he builds a young man’s paradise only to greet it as an old man raising our emotions only to drop them. Calvino goes on to play with postmodernist chaos in the magnificent city of Zora whose image is one cannot forget except that is has already been forgotten. Zora shares a displacement of time with the city of Zaira where Calvino describes its lines built by the past using the story of a gunboat attack mixed with present day events to disorient the reader as to placement of time. Calvino moves into a more postmodern chaos with the city of Chloe where no one speaks or interacts outwardly but only with in the mind with descriptions of orgies and seductions in the most chaste of cities. Eutropia would have to be my favorite city one where life is renewed every so often. In Eutropia chaos is encouraged in an orderly fashion where no man will ever work a job that he has already had. By mixing the modernist time bending streams of conscious and postmodern chaos techniques Calvino moves us though time and space in his travels.

Heart of Corruption

While there are obvious attacks on imperialist crumbling expansionism, there also seems to be a hint of Diderot’s Supplement where the English gentle man is left behind allowing the baser man to rule. While the loss of European civility is easily seen in Kurtz’s bizarre and horrific actions of beheadings and acquiring goods by force. They can also be perceived in the cruel and uncivilized way all the European characters behaved. Diderot comes through also in the Cannibal crew who seem more reserved and intellectual than their “civilized” counterparts. Conrad also seems to pay homage to the old Victorian views on women being only aware of their own space and ignorant of the outside world with the visit to Kurtz’s fiancé. This visit was important though to further solidify Kurtz’s decent into madness when separated from the homeland. Conrad masterfully wove in enlightenment and Victorian ideas with in his modern story.

The Change

The Metamorphosis is an argument for self-reliance. The story starts with Gregor waking to find that he is a bug. His first thoughts are to his duty to make the train and get to work. These musings lead us to the fact that his work is important for his family’s wellbeing. Gregor is the sole provider for his parents and young sister. Once it is established that Gregor will no longer be able to provide for them the family begins to change. By the end of the story the metamorphosis was not Gregor’s change but the improvement of his family without his support. His mother and father who mostly slept all day became active productive members of society. Grete who begins the story as a meek sensitive young girl becomes a strong young woman. While the story ends without any certainty, one gets the impression that the Samsa family might actually have a brighter future ahead.

Ibsen’s Dolls

Ibsen may not have been a feminist, but he seems to portray women in a stronger role throughout the Doll house. Every female in A Doll’s house seemed to have purpose in their actions. They all made sacrifices for the betterment of others. Mrs. Linde gave up love for money to support her family, Nora portrayed as weak throughout the play still showed strength and fortitude to support Torvald during his illness, Ann-Marie the nanny willing gave up her child to escape poverty. All these women are shown to have an inner strength that the men seem to lack. Torvald is shown as a weak man incapable of dealing with the ugliness of the world. He seems to be driven by what others think of him and his status. Torvald’s weakness is also show by his firing of Krogstad instead of asserting himself to keep Krogstad in check. Krogstad is at first made out to be the villain but is no more than a man fighting for his children. Ibsen weakens his character by not only putting him into the feminine role of child care, but also as a gilded lover. His pain over unrequited love for Mrs. Linde is not a masculine trait. Dr. Rank the only male character who is not emasculated, but he is still weakened by his illness. Overall is seems that Ibsen favors the women’s ability to make hard choices over the men’s strength of status.

The Law Naturally

The term natural law as used in Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedia supports the enlightenment view of finding balance, not from outside sources, but those found within human reason. This definition seems to be at the heart of enlightened thought saying that all humans have an innate sense towards reason. It also goes on to speak about how often natural law is trumped by the laws of people. This reflects Kant’s statement on those, who allow themselves to be told what to think, thus forgetting reason which was given to them by nature. This text walks a fine line between righteousness and heresy. While it directly relates to Diderot’s Supplement to the voyage of Bougainville, when Orou replies to the Priest with:
“I don’t know what you mean by religion, but I can only think ill of it, since it prevents you from enjoying an innocent pleasure to which Nature, that sovereign mistress, invites every person” (qtd. In Damrosch, Pike 434).
The definition also states plainly that these laws come from God so much like Descartes enlightened attempts to discover the divine within. The Natural law was instilled into us by the divine thus possibly giving a nod to the church to keep their heads out of the noose? In all this definition is a strong one that holds true.

We still Kant

Kant’s description of enlightenment struck me not only as a lament towards religious dogma, but also as an indirect jab at university culture. He could have, just as easily, been describing how the student minority are taught what to think by the knowledgeable guardians of the university. This relation can be put into greater effect today As many college students arrive not to seek enlightenment, but rather a good job and future. This is promised to them by a society that values free thinking far less than ordered compliance. Kant, I believe, would be disheartened by the world we live in today. The world as a whole has collapsed into religious and political turmoil. The attempt to make pointed change in the public sphere has been clogged by hate and fear. The use of the internet (Kant’s ideal public sphere I would imagine) by corrupt governments, fanatics, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher and others spew anything but enlightened thought. Instead this world has deiced to take sides and scream at the top of their lungs we are right everyone else must be wrong. Kant’s dream of scholarly debate and growth has strayed ever so far from the path.

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