Rolando Rubalcava

English 436

Prof. Wexler

15 May 2009

Knowledge and Power: Lyotard

On Postmodernism

            Science and technology, especially in the field of medicine, industrial technology, and mass production, in the early first-half of the twentieth century, grew in advancements almost exponentially. After forty years of progression, all of these areas of growth were soon focused on one general use – war (American Literature…). This utilization began and developed a new moment in cultural history known as Post-modernism. Jean-François Lyotard, a French philosopher and literary theorist, addressed this issue in his piece titled The Postmodern Condition. Lyotard’s essay explained and rejected the function of metanarratives, which were, according to Lyotard, summations of history and knowledge in one form or idea (2). He argued against using metanarratives to account for history since everyone is striving for their own purpose and answers through different means and from different backgrounds. The new direction people needed to take was now to acquire knowledge with a scientific approach, most concentrated in socio-economics, political science, and technological achievement. Lyotard explains the legitimation of knowledge, as seen in The Postmodern Condition, as means to address and solve social issues and dilemmas without the role of metanarratives.

            As Lyotard expresses where and how narratives came into function, he also reveals where they are bound to lose validity, or legitimation, when trying to establish a truth through its own means. He writes,

…the rule of consensus between the sender and addressee of a statement with truth-value is deemed acceptable if it is cast in terms of a possible unanimity between rational minds: this is the Enlightenment narrative, in which the hero of knowledge works toward a good ethico-political end – universal peace. As can be seen from this example, if a metanarratives implying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge, questions are raised concerning the validity of the institutions governing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well (Lyotard 355-356).

Lyotard uses the example of two parties communicating one idea and deconstructs it in order to show how the metanarrative becomes the source of truth and explains its weakness. In order for the two parties to understand each other, what one party tells the other must be true; the problem lies in where that truth exists. If person a believes the source of information due to his belief system, which can be related to regionalism or religion, person b must also have the same belief system in order for the information to be relevant. Lyotard also presents a secondary problem by questioning whether the belief system they both believe in, if they both believe the same thing, is accurate. The only way to know that, according to Lyotard, is through finding an area of susceptibility from a false representation or a misunderstanding of one or both parties since they are relying on a truth based on, what Lyotard calls, a metanarrative. The only solution, according to Lyotard, is that they must not at all play a role in trying to resolve a problem; “The operativity criterion is technological; it has no relevance for judging what is true or just” (Lyotard 356).  Instead of narratives dictating and creating support for argumentative discourse, Lyotard suggests knowledge as a source of truth by trying to relate or find common ground for one idea. Instead of relying on what can be true, examine what is true. He writes, “If the social subject is not already the subject of scientific knowledge, it is because that has been forbidden by priests and tyrants. The right to science must be reconquered” (Lyotard 357). This encompasses why metanarratives do not work and where the problem lies. Now, the individual, what he calls the social subject, can figure out what is right and wrong, which can also lead to good and bad. Lyotard’s statement gives power to knowledge and science by using them as methods of seeking truth without the restraints of religious dogmas or traditions imposed on a person based on the state or country he lives in. A new perspective on knowledge is also present as he writes why knowledge and science must be put forth as truth for the good of the social subjects. He writes,                               

          The important thing is not, or not only, to legitimate denotative utterances pertaining to the truth, such as  ‘The   earth revolves around the sun,’ but rather to legitimate prescriptive utterances pertaining to justice, such as ‘Carthage must be destroyed’ or ‘The minimum wage must be set at x dollars.’ (Lyotard 357).

This gives foundation as to why metanarratives become irrelevant by showing knowledge as the proper and most suited way to find out truth rather than relying what is believed to be true from metanarratives. Also, like postmodernism itself, this theory develops a new and different way of looking at why problems exist and how they can be managed or even repaired; methods of finding out what is and what is not, which have always been present, are now methods to solving a problem with more than one source and more than one group of people being affected.

            The question Lyotard brings into his argument involves the problems introduced by metanarratives when involved with creating or establishing what is accepted or not or what is considered good or evil. Alan Moore’s Watchmen is graphic novel that takes place during the 1980’s in a Cold War America with the presence of citizens becoming vigilantes to stop crime, rid the world of terror, and protect the public. Though a piece  of literature both taking place and composed in a postmodern time period, like Lyotard’s Postmodern Condition, it asks about the validity of what is good and evil in their world; minority groups, business entrepreneurs, alleged crime-fighters, middle-class workers all living in one society while under the constant threat of nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. While the heroes, who would also classify as vigilantes, determine what is right and wrong, Moore shows a public questioning their beliefs and qualities of good and evil with scenes of graffiti saying, “WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?” (Moore). Translated in Latin, it states, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes”.  As the problem begins with the origins of beliefs and theories, this idea reaches all the way down to what-may-be the beginning of Greek antiquity and civilization. This question, roughly translated, as seen in Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, is presented to Plato in regards to the noble elite determining how Rome will be governed. His answer states the role the noble class must play and encouraging the servants of the elite that they do not want the power the nobles have (Quis Custodiet…). This connects directly to Lyotard and Moore’s Watchmen by showing where the problems of defining what is right and wrong by a select few start. By creating truth and justice based on assumptions of what people want, and trying to understand what people without the people present creates an idealism rather than practicality. He writes,

Knowledge is no longer the subject, but in the service of the subject: its only legitimacy is the fact that it allows morality to become reality…Scientists must cooperate only if they judge that the politics of the State, in other words the sum of prescriptions, is just. If they feel that the civil society of which they are members is badly represented by the State, they may reject its prescriptions (Lyotard 358).

Science can both take the place of despots and philosophers and establish what is just for the people since it can determine what is right without the possibility of one person swaying influence; though, also according to Lyotard, the scientist researching may become involved when trying to find the validity of the science, since the only thing Postmodern theory does not do is close the possibility of such question.

            Like Lyotard on Postmodernism, Moore’s Watchmen poses many of the techniques used to construct what postmodern literature does for the reader and with literature. Pastiche, a technique that associates or is derived from previous examples of literature, is seen with the hero protagonist trying to save the world from corruption. Alexander the Great, Christ, Fredrick Douglass and other characters in history are examples of what they are based on while Superman, the Avengers, and other comic book characters develop the possibilities of literary characters with superhuman capabilities and human qualities; sympathy for the people they protect, and one agenda or set of rules they must follow in order to establish justice for the people. Moore’s Watchmen creates a postmodern look at what these archetypes are possible of. Though none of them possess superhuman powers, their position, which is above the law, sets them apart from regular citizens; this happens while behind masks, using sophisticated weapons, and being loyal to their philosophy of justice. Lyotard’s role in this is how each character represents a metanarrative and why they cannot achieve their goal since what they believe to be right is based on their interpretation, and not an applied understanding of the state of humanity. Lyotard’s take on what such ideologies do for the community as a whole show the potential for destruction and chaos, seen in the Watchmen as follows:

The decision makers…attempt to manage these clouds of sociality according to input/output matrices, following a logic which implies that their elements are commensurable and that the whole is determinable. They allocate our lives for the growth of power. In matters of social justice, and of scientific truth alike, the legitimation of that power is based on optimizing the system’s performance – efficiency. The application of this criterion to all of our games necessarily entrails a certain level of terror, whether soft or hard: be operational (that is, commensurable) or disappear (Lyotard 356).  

In order for the characters in Watchmen to succeed, they must establish their own brand of rules. Lyotard writes how this becomes troublesome since the goal is not peace, but effectiveness in achieving their goal. Therefore, the rules are not obeyed by the people, but commanded to the people. With this comes totalitarianism; it is impossible to create a peaceful world if the definition of peace is dictated by rules set by people who are above them.

            Moore also interprets a philosophy, or, according to Lyotard, a metanarrative, as troublesome showing what are the consequences of them if followed directly and interpreted literally. In a scene with Nite Owl, an engineer who fights crime with the help of gadgetry and various costumes, and the Comedian, a veteran from Vietnam, now turned vigilante, they try to break up  a disturbance while reflecting on their efforts to stop it. Nite Owl asks Comedian, “The country’s disintegrating. What happened to America? What happened to the American dream?” and Comedian replies, “It came true. You’re looking at it.” (Moore, ch.2 18) The American dream, which is associated with capitalism and acquiring property and wealth, is a metanarrative Lyotard tries to show as destructive since it is impossible for that to be achieved through one method or based on the same principle everyone believes in. What began as a country trying to establish itself on entrepreneurship and the welcoming of immigrants has now become a social-Darwinian approach to life as everyone tries to gain resources, acquire the most amount of wealth with the least amount of resistance possible; all in the name of the American dream.

            Addressing metanarratives, going back to Lyotard, also encourages responsibility for the people since now with the banishment of metanarratives, it is very much possible to achieve solid answers without sway or influence. Peter Pericles Trifonas, author of On Knowledge, Science, and Epistemological Postmodernity, states the role of knowledge as effective for positive progression while also having potential to stir towards failure. He writes, “The point is to add to the cultural archive of information for social profit. A lack of ecological and intellectual altruism directs the reason of technology toward capital incentives rather than educational imperatives” (Trifonas 136). While reason and science can move a people forward, so can it turn into means of privatized success or lead away from benefitting humanity as a whole. Medicine is a clear example of this, since it was designed to cure disease for the population only to become both means for a group of people putting themselves above the public, and utilized for hurting humanity, such as biological warfare. Also, as Trifonas writes, “The application of reason as the structure and the end of research is not, nor could it ever be, outside the scope of a critical questioning of the grounding of the foundation of the institutional framework of knowledge” (Trifonas 137), he describes the accessibility of knowledge absent from reason and integrating a direct application to the people, rather than being filtered through those in control.

            Though the postmodern is something Lyotard coined in order to create new rules and establishes new theories about what is normal, what postmodernism actually does lacks an action individuals can practice themselves and cannot be acquired since its origin is undetermined. However, Ronald Sukenick, an American poet and literary critic, describes the use of the novel as propelling art and humanity as its very purpose, which creates a postmodern look at what the novel is, without the voice of someone critiquing what it is. He writes, “Properly speaking, there is no such thing as ‘innovative fiction’. The novel is innovation – it is not called the ‘novel’ for nothing. Fiction is the most fluid and changing of literary forms, the one that most immediately reflects the changes in our collective consciousness, and in fact is one of our great virtues” (Sukenick 2487). Fiction, literary or not, can create new worlds, destroy the past, begin a new philosophy and reach a level of humanity no source of scientific research can come up with. This argues both with and against Lyotard by having a source of information dismissing what is assumed and creating something new while also constantly inventing something that furthers people away from the old and what-should-be abandoned.

            Postmodern art and philosophy, especially in critical thinking, build no foundation and actually tries not to distinguish itself like anything from the past. Lyotard presents the Postmodern Condition as the new wave of humane learning, regardless of public opinion. Though the once always practiced metanarratives now seem worthless, science and art can help pave the way to a better understanding of people and a new direction minus the mass destruction.

 Works Cited

“Quis Cudodiet Ipsos Custodiet”

 Jerome Klinkowitz and Patrica B. Wallace, ed. “American Literature since 1945.” Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed7th ed. New York, 2007. 2083-2092.

Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. New York; DC Comics, 2008

Sukenick, Ronald. “Innovative fiction/Innovative Criteria”. Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th ed. Ed. Jerome Klinkowitz and Patrica B. Wallace. New York, 2007. 2486-2488.

Trifonas, Peter Pericles. “On Knowledge, Science, and Epistomological Postmodernity”. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 22 (2006): 135-140

Edna Pontellier, the protagonist in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening can and has been seen in many different perspectives in the discipline in literary studies. Real, romantic, feminist, and even post-modern; Edna’s character owns a vastness of depth and symbolic value. When understanding Feminist literature, Edna serves as a model for not only what feminist literary theories address, but also brings a character that introduces new and evolved ideas about feminist literature. Julie Rivkin, author of Feminist Paradigms, in her anthology of literary theory, includes several perspectives taken about what feminism tries to both address and accomplish; largely, with identity. Part of the difference between males and females psychologically rests in their attitudes between rights and duties. Rivkin states,

“What lies outside male reason is precisely everything such reason arbhors – contradiction, nonidentity, fluidity, nonrationality, illogically, mixing of genres, etc. Domination through categorical analysis (the violent cut of distinction) is impossible in the realm of matter where things flow into one another and are unamebable to philosophical opposition. Women name this nonidentity, and her language, what the French call ecriture feminine or feminine writing, is exercised in a heterogenous style that deliberately undermines all the hierarchical orders of male rationalist philosophy by breaking from the ideal of coherent meaning and good rational style” (767).

This quote, applied to both literary criticism and Enda, depicts the strongest differences between male and female interpretation between literary theory as well as establishing character. While the mascline attitude addresses subject matter through the style that fits its needs and allows its point to get across, feminist attitude breaks down what are those very styles as well create the same point with a different strategy, purposely exhibting skill and originality as well as valid and worthy of serious discourse. For Edna, she is not simply the opposite of what people, including her friends, her husband, her children, and even the reader, think she is, but serves as the everyman in the body of a woman trying to strive for her own goals, yet stuck under those very people’s attitude about what and who she is. Motherhood becomes entrapment; marriage becomes a chore; a home becomes a prison; all of these allusions originate from the male perspective and are then interpreted by Edna, as well as the literary critic.

This picture is the cover of a copy of The Awakening. Though not clear, I thought it best represents the transcendence of her spirit, as well as an example of feminine literature trying to break through the shadow of dismissed texts.

awakening-pic

Posted by: boxfilms | April 2, 2009

Christ and the Panopticon: Postructualsim Analysis

In this painting, however viloent or real or rich in religous value, connotes Foucault’s idea of the panopticon by the actions of the characters. According to Foucalut, the Panopticon is desinged to “induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic function of power” (554). The image itself shows Chirst being crowned with the wreath made of thornbush. In the actual painting, while Chirst is being subject to the punishment, he not only is subject to it, but he also accepts it. This shows how the beliefs he has about saving humanity and how he must go through this serves the state of consciousness Foucault discusses in the panopticon. Christ inherits the idea and goes through those actions since he fully believes his sacrifice will redeem humanity. Also, likehe inmates in the Panopticon, the characters crowing him are also fulfilling that by not having any sense of guilt. According to them, the yare simply doing their job.

Looking at the construction of the painting in a critical sense, it is almost as if Christ, which also alludes to religion as a whole, is the center of the portrait, making him behave as the center tower. As Foucault describes, “The body of the king, with its strange material and physical presense, with the force that he himself deploys or transmits to some few others, is at the oposite extreme of this new physics of power represented by panopticism,” (356); this connects the theory to both Christ himself as well as the followers if him. In order for Christ to serve as the idol, he must be able to serve as both the leader and an example of how to follow. Like the center tower, it enforces both discipline while also making the inmates recognize their own role.

jesus-pic1

Karl Marx’s work in communist and Marxist theory relates and expands on the complexities and infostructure of capitalist and class structure sytems. Though simple and stright-forward, his work also relates to the problematic, and at times, hypocritical, organization of institutionalized workers contributing only to “the system” and people losing their individuality through working within the system organized by the bourgeoisie. In the Gary Jules cover of Mad World, he describes the observation of an individual as he lives within a world saturated in capitalist beliefs, only find their humanity stripped away.

Most of Marxist thought begins with how capitalism, not only doesn’t work, but can’t work, since in order for it to work, there must always be a lower class to hold up the lower class. He writes, “It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put on trial, each time more threateningly, the existenceof the entire bourgeois society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemes an absurdity – the epidemic of over-production”. The situation he adresses talks about not only how the sytem fails by falling upon itself through exploiting its own purpose of creating work and stability by over-exploiting the resources it needs to work. Also, the crisis of over-production marx wirtes about comes from the inevitable exponential growth of demand from a system that relies on workers to contribute their consumption of the products being put out by the system itself. Thus, when the system reaches its carrying capacity of productivity, the demand of the population will be much greater than what the system can put out.

In Gary Jules, “Mad World”, the daily observation of one man in a life dominated by a capitalist ideology highlights what Marxism does to the lower and working class. The first verse is read as follows: “All around me are familiar faces/ worn out places, worn out faces/ Bright and early for their daily races/ going nowhere, going nowhere…/no expression, no expression” This shows what happens to people who are consummed by their practice of working in a system designed to keep the working class in their place; it is not just the system, but the working class who believe in the system that creates this void. Parents become income-providers; careers become “rat-races”; and as Marx puts it, “the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-laborers”.

While capitalism, according to those who practice it, has given the oppritunity of others to prosper, this can only exists in its fetal stages – as one person can move up according to how the sytem works, only to turn into develop in its prime productivity stage a class-structure that requires the lower-class to stay on the bottom rather than giving them assurity of climbing up the to the higher class. In order for capitalism to work, the lower class should be able to rise; the reason why this cannot work is becuase if they did rise, their would be no group of consumers supporting the top.

To see lyrics for “Mad World”, click here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/garyjules/madworld.html

Though Ihave mentioned this song before, I wanted to expand on this through the lens of Freudian psychology and how it is seen in this video:

The song I chose to write about is Sara Lov’s cover of The Arcade Fire’s of My Body is a Cage. Though it is a cover song, I feel as if Lov’s interpretation brings an additional amount of volume to the text.

Looking at how Freud divides and constructs the working s of the mind, as seen in Rivkin’s Strangers to Ourselves: Psychoanalysis, all human beings tend to assert life through the “id” which is the part of the brain that is, states Rivkin, ” the site of the energy of the mind, energy that Freud characterized as a combination of sexual libido and other instincts, such as aggression, that propel the human organism through life, moving it to grow, develop, and eventually to die” (391). In Lov’s My Body is a Cage, the narrator is confined to the id, prohibiting her to achieve and fulfill goals in life, such as being creative and expressingherself or achieveing some type of companionship. Also, references to “her body” connote her development in the genital sexuality; her “stand(ing) on a stage/of fear and self-doubt” explores her vulnerability as she explores the unknown making her prone to both failure and psycho-sexual development. This discovery also alludes to her tryingto make sense of both the situation and herself, physically. Also, as she states “her mind hold the key”, the  mind in the sense of Freudian psychology refers to the ego, which is something that is reached instead of instinctively interpreted, much like the id. For Lov, as she progresses, her goal is to make sense of herself and sexuality by not stayingin the id, but to work through it and achieve something more, which is found in the ego and superego.

Whether or not Freudian psychology is valid, his analysis of dream interpretation served as a breakthrough in the study of psychology. In Lov’s song, she writes, “(she’s) living in an age/ that screams my name at night/ but when I get to the doorway/ there’s no one in sight” This can be seen as the unconscious trying to communicate to the conscious by hinting and “teasing” her about something more than what she goes through in her life, but more her unconscious is trying to address.

Also, this song touches the superego bytrying to be with the person she loves in sense above sexual gratification. She writes, “My body is a cagethat keeps me/ from dancingwith the one I love”. Her use of the word “dancing” is something that requires delicate steps, precise thinking, and creativity. Since this is needed to follow this practice, it makes possible that she is not lookingfor sexual gratification but a loving relationship. Also, a term like “being” with or “loving” with would make it easier to believe she is lookingfor sexual gratification, as oppose to dancing.

This is a post about someone I know personally. In order to protect the innocent, names will be changed and dates will be rearranged.

A few years ago, I had a friend named David who was dating a girl name Suzy. David was an okay guy; he didn’t speak until he was spoken to, don’t offend anyone through anything that could offend anyone, and he was never a social outlier, but as participating as a cog in the gears that drive society. Suzy was her name which was short for Suzy the Fantastic. She was as in love with life as she was with her loved ones; she always had something interesting to talk about; she even knew how to cheer up anyone, even if they didn’t want to be cheery. They liked each other very much. But this is not about David or Suzy – this is about Michael, another character in the world I’m constructing. Michael was a mathematical genius. His philosophy brought harmony to chaos. He lived by a strict moral code constructed by himself. The promise he brought to his future was as certain as the sky is blue. When David and Suzy were together, Michael soon came along and was introduced to the both of them. It did not take long for Michael to appreciate Suzy for all the right reasons. Soon Michael started to call Suzy his wife. This lasted longer than any of them wanted it to last, including Michael.

According to psychoanalytic behavior, this is an example of a compromise formation, which, as described by Rivkin, is “the construction of an indirect expression that allows release of unacceptable drive energy while nonetheless honoring the imperatives of repression” (390). For Michael, calling Suzy his “wife” is not a direct expression of want or lust, but a diffusion of emotion by giving someone who may ideally qualify as someone Michael would want to marry a label he would like to give her, even though she is not his girlfriend nor of any relation except the one Michael created.

Not only is this an exhaustion of emotion, but also signifies what Michael is looking for in his life, no matter how inappropriate it would be to everyone. While Michael calls Suzy his “wife”, he knows it is inappropriate but he continues since it comes from a part of his conscious giving him the the pleasure he seeks. It soon becomes pleasurable to say that as it stems from the id, or “the site of energy of the mind, energy that Freud characterized as a combination of sexual libido and other instincts, such as aggression, that propel the human organism through life, moving it to grow, develop, and eventually die’ (391). Since marriage connotes sex, Michael characterizes Suzy as a sex object as he calls her his wife. This becomes his outlet for sexual pleasure and as he fixates on her, she becomes the victim of something she does not want to be a part of; it comes to the point where none of them want this practice to continue.

What happened later? Suzy broke up with David. Michael has no idea where Suzy is now. I would digress more, but realistically, there is no need for it.

Posted by: boxfilms | February 19, 2009

Bono and K-Fed: Structuralism in the 21st-Century Culture

f8c8f0d8ace40164bono-pic

 

Who Are These People?

 

Looking at these two images, there is much to tell about them. Paul Hewson, or Bono, from the band U2, has been recognized for his musical career, acting performances, and humanitarian efforts. Kevin Fedlerline, more commonly known as K-Fed, was a popular music back-up dancer for Britney Spears, a popular music sensation, the ex-husband of Britney Spears, and had little or no recognition before his relationship between him and Spears. As I write this and the reader reads on, they most likely have been able to figure out who each of these are without me telling them directly which picture is who. This analysis and form comes from Stucturalism, which is the understanding of an image through the underscoring of various discoruse.

Looking at these two figures and interpretin who they are comes from a result of culture and interpretation. While you may know who they are, you also what they represent. It is easy to distinguish character and proffesionalism between Bono, a professional musician and humanitarian, and K-Fed, who was unrecognized in the popular culture world until his marriage with Britney Spears, catapolting his popularity. While you associate creativity with one based on what you see in actions, you also see character from presentability and maturity. Julie Rivkin, on Structuralism, writes, “it is both like a skeleton and like a genetic code in that it is the principle of stability and coherance in any cultural system…” While we learn who these characters are, we also associate their underlying character, learning about who they towards people as well as what they are in the study of culture.

Ferdinand de Saussure, contributing much to the world of structualsim, also writes about how linguistic signs are incorporatesd to the characters, leading towards mimetic representation and a study of character through symbols, like words in language that introduce linguistic science. There are words that are the signifier and words that are the signified. The word Bono is the signifier and words like musician, humanitarian, artist, and professional are the signified; likewise with K-Fed being the signifier and Britney Spears is the signified. With these words as the signified, it is easier to tell what each charcters represent leading the viewer to learn who they are.

 

The image represents a grenade in the form of an emotion. This image gives, through defamiliarization, a new interpretation of a grenade by taking away fatal implications and heightening Love’s destructive force. It represents love as a weapon and the grenade as a way to express love,almost switching the roles of the active and the intangible. Also, it implies a type of anti-war message as a contrast of what this weapon communicates to the opponent, receiving an explosion of love and what loves has to offer, such as to befriend the enemy, call for a cease-fire, or, more importantly, offer a truce. As the image is drawn on this wall, it is viewed as an act of vandalism. This highlights how expressing opinions of love, as well as anti-war images, are scarce and is subject to harsh criticism by the public. ea340c3db4157ae2

Posted by: boxfilms | February 5, 2009

The American Dream and Platonic Theory

Plato’s The Republic examines the nature of justice and how it applies to the individual and the state or “polis”. Through the conservation between Socrates and Adeimantus, the value of poetry and what should be banished or forbidden from the public, either children or officials, is justified to prevent children to learn about bad behavior and officials to be emotionally weak. All of this is put into place to achieve the ideal city, free from fallacies and corruption. In the video of The Watchmen, the city depicted shows an environment, specifically America, free from a restricted ideology, bringing upon its own self-destruction. While different characters try to make a difference, their motives becomes unsuccessful as they themselves are unaware of the consequences of freedom. As Plato introduces a theory of an ideal city, the Watchmen video proves its point by showing a society breaking down, due to its void of this theory.

One of the strongest implements of Plato’s Republic comes from teaching ideas and certain subject matter from poetry to children and “reject the bad” (Plato 16). This theory comes to life in the scene with Nite Owl and the Comedian discussing their prime objectives trying to save the world. As Nite Owl observes the city decaying, he asks “What happened to us? We were supposed to make this a better place. What happened to the American Dream?” the Comedian replies, “It came true. You’re looking at it.” Though the motives of the characters, or super heroes, were supposed to improve things, the freedom granted by the constitution granting free enterprise led to capitalism, making everyone fend for themselves, and leading to a constant struggle between those who have and those who don’t. The American Dream, as defined by the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, is an idea “connoting hope for prosperity and happiness, symbolized particularly by having a house of one’s own”. Just like John Locke theorized, replacing “property” from the constitution with “the pursuit of happiness”, owning a piece of property implies nobility, leading to a separation between the nobles and the rest of the population. This qualifies in Plato’s writings as a bad myth, since this myth leads to people thinking this is a reality for all and not an ideal that may be applied to society. Also, according to the Comedian, since the American Dream led to chaos, Plato would deem this as unfit to teach to officials since it presents the possibility of those very officials to lose or not prosper with the American Dream, making them weaker individuals.

 

 

 

 

 

While not agreeing with completely, this emphasizes Plato’s writing as possible and almost valid since these characters resemble the same population abd political structure in the real America through mimeses, enabling the audience to apply their society upon their own. Just because people want to make things better does not mean they know how to, nor would they becapable to do so, once a people are set in their own ways. While control and limits to freedom in a democracy poses a threat, lack of control and unlimited freedom bring about another source of probelms humans are very much capapble of bringing upon themselves.

 

Works Cited

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd ed., edited by E.D. Hirsh, Jr., et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. 4 February 2009. http://www.bartleby.com/br/59.html>

Murray, Penelope and T.S. Dorsch. Classical Literary Cirticism. 3rd ed. London: Penguin 2000

Watchmen. Screenplay by Alex Tse. Dir. Zach Snyder. Perf. Patrick Wilson and Jefferey Dean Morgan. 2009. YouTube. 4 February 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_85YbURXVo8

 

Posted by: boxfilms | January 30, 2009

Lov at First Sight: Sara Lov at Spaceland

On Tuesday, the 30th of January, I attended a live show featuring Sara Lov, a musician familiar in the scene of Silver Lake. Sara Lov, a member of the British indie-rock band known as “Devics”, decided not too long ago to branch off on her own and express her music in the way best fitting her creative potential.

While her original songs are as brilliant and intellegent as some of the most acclaimed rising stars in the music industry, I was lucky enough to hear her play a cover from another group called the Arcade Fire (I know!!). She played My Body is a Cage.

Reading into the lyrics, this individual represents a human being oppressed by Platonic theory and societal expectations. Accordingto the individual, her potential and emotional expressions are limited to reason and fulfilling her role as a woman as follows: “My body is a cage that keeps me/ from dancing with the one I love/ but my mind holds the key”. While her emotions are telling her what she wants, she herself is limited to whatever her society allows her to have. Also, since her body is, like she says, a cage, it is not her reason, nor her emotional wants, but her natural wants as a human being telling her to break free from the constrains not allowing to get what she feels is right and due to her person. This becomes problematic in Plato’s Republic since not only poetry, but art must be diminished from the ideal society, making emotional wants and needs, or what is perceived as, unable to be fulfilled.

From a psycho-analytical perspective, the individual is in the situation fully aware of the problem and wants to do something about it. As she says, “I”m living in an age/ that screams my name at night/ but when I get to the doorway/there”s no one in sight.” This becomes an allusion to her dreams, therefore subconscious, of searching and hoping for escape even though nothing is available to rescue her. Also, since according to the individual no one is availableto help, she becomes unsatisfied, which keeps her in a constant state of need.

In a post-modern sense, the entire song is a version of one song in a new form, or interpretation. The post-modern reflects on both observing what has already been created in the world of art, in this case, literature, and gives breadthto its material. Adding a new interpretation to this song both highlights different parts about what the lyrics are trying to say as well as address subject matter that could only be addressed by the new artist.

Here is a video of the show I saw. For lyrics from the song, click here. If you listen carefully enough, I’m the guy cheering.

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