Hansel and Gretel and Sex

Just recently I was to find a fairy tale to analyze and present in my English class. I wasn’t really creative in choosing my fairy tale topic, so I just chose the first fairy tale that came into my mind: Hansel and Gretel. Before my research, I just saw this tale as somewhat fascinating and creepy. After I did my research, now whenever I think of this tale, I just think of sex. Below is my Freudian analysis/ speech text:

I remember when I was in sixth grade, my class was watching a movie, when suddenly popped a nude female. Before the teacher could cover it, all the boys just stood up from their seats with wide eyes and hanging tongues and started panting.  Well, almost all the boys, because I was smart. I didn’t just stand up- I went up to the screen and got the HD view. Oh, baby, the view was good! Of course, the teacher came up to me and told me to sit my butt down, but it was after that moment that I realized something- I used my brain! The only problem is that like all boys, my high-IQ, biologically advanced, super large brain is not up in my head, but down in my genitals.   So do we see this in the short story ‘Hansel and Gretel’, where through the many sexual references throughout the story, the Grimm Brothers reveal the belief that women have power, particularly when it comes to the domain of sex.

The witch’s house symbolizes sex itself.

The story of “Hansel and Gretel” involves a poor woodcutter, his wife, and his two children named Hansel and Gretel. Since the family is poor and have barely anything to eat, the wife plans on ditching the children in the woods, and the husband reluctantly agrees. The first time, they bring the children out to the woods to ditch them, but the children still come back because Hansel, who overheard the wife’s plan, put some rocks the night before in his pockets and thus left the rocks out to form a trail back. The second time, the wife leads the children deeper into the forest, and Hansel uses bread crumbs. The problem is the crumbs are eaten by the birds, and thus they are lost. They later stumble upon a candy house, and start eating to their delight. Then, a witch comes out and entices them to come in. However, the witch is a cannibal and seizes Hansel and locks him up. She tells Gretel to start feeding Hansel so once he gets fat, she can eat him. However, the witch has poor eyesight, so whenever she checks upon him, Hansel just offers a bone to feel and thus the witch thinks Hansel is still thin. The witch after a few days gets irritated and decides to eat him anyway. She tells Gretel to go inside an oven to see if it’s hot, but Gretel plays dumb and says she doesn’t know how. The witch then demonstrates how to do it, but right then Gretel kicks the witch in and cooks her in the oven. She frees Hansel, gathers up the rich gems in the witch’s house, and they go back to the woodcutter’s house after crossing a river on a duck’s back. Thus, they live happily ever after, now rich with the gems. So one might ask, where is the sex?

FYI, analysts have said that the bread crumb trail is actually Hansel’s trail of sperm

The archetypes in ‘Hansel and Gretel’ present the children’s sexual awakening and the role women play in it. The biggest archetype occurs when it is mentioned that the family had “very little to bite or sup” (Grimm 1), and when Hansel and Gretel devour freely from the witch’s house “built of bread… [decorated with] sugar” (Grimm 2). Eating is the archetype of having sex; thus, the family is actually not hungry for food, but hungry for sex. The fact that the stepmother is dominant over the male in this sex-needy situation indicates that females are in control when the drive for sex takes over. The witch’s house is made of bread, which symbolizes the body, and thus when the children are having the time of their lives eating this bread house, they are in essence going to an all-you-can-have-sex buffet. However, behind the beauty of the house, behind the beauty of sex, lives a witch, or the evil female. Just as the witch owns the house, so do women own sexuality. In the stepmother’s second attempt to rid the children, something the husband does not want to do, the “woman [who is the sole mastermind behind this plan] led the children far into the woods” (Grimm 2), to which the children this time get lost because “the birds of the woods” (Grimm 2) ate the bread crumb trail that Hansel had left on the ground to follow back. In contrast to the woodcutter’s house, which represents society and its constraints and the lack of food or sex, the woods is an archetype of a newer, darker place of their sexual awakening in which the laws of society do not follow. By venturing deeper into the woods, the children are venturing deeper into the new realm of sex. The bread crumb trail is in a sense their only way back to society, but since the birds- an archetype of sexual freedom because of their ability to fly- eats the trail up, they are now lost, and free, in this forest of sexuality.  Since it is only the wife not the husband who can bear herself to get the children lost into sex, it shows the author’s belief that only females have the power to do such an evil deed of sexual corruption.

The Great Famine

Not just the archetypes but also the alluded historical events help emphasize the power that women have. We see a class conflict, in which Gretel, who lacks bread, kills the witch, who owns tons of bread, and proclaims, “The old witch is dead!” (Grimm 3) The witch represents the rich, and Gretel represents the poor, as seen in the amount of bread, and thus sex, that each has. Rich people have more time for sex; poor people don’t. The event that is alluded here is the many revolutions that have occurred throughout history, most notably the French revolution, in which it was a mob of angry poor women who were the ones who marched into the king’s palace and took both the king and the bread that he owned. This was a turning point in the revolution; thus, it implies the political power that women can yield against the evil rich. However, by associating this with the fact that bread equals body and sex, the Grimm brothers show that it is not just political power, but sexual power that women such as Gretel can yield. Another historical event emphasizes not Gretel’s power, but the witch’s power, which can be seen when the family has nothing to eat and when the witch plans to “kill and cook [Hansel]” (Grimm 3). The whole story originates from a great famine in medieval history called the Great Famine. During this famine, there were cannibalism, families giving up children, and of course hunger. Hansel and Gretel’s family are living in this time period, yet the only person who seems to be not affected is the witch. Whereas everybody else is lacking bread and suffering to the extent of cannibalism, the witch stands out by having tons of bread and living a wealthy life. Thus, because of this stark contrast, the witch is ever more enticing to the many hungry people out there; she is like ice-cold soda in the middle of a desert. Of course, taking in the fact that bread symbolizes sex, one Great Famine can say the witch is ever more seductive, and thus her sexual powers are ever stronger.

Men trapped by women in the domain of sex

By having men be in helpless situations, the Grimm brothers show how dependent men must rely on women in the domain of sex. When Hansel and Gretel are in the witch’s house, the witch locks Hansel up “behind a grating” (Grimm 3), and when she checks on how fat Hansel has become after feeding him “the best kind of victuals” (Grimm 3), Hansel tricks her in offering her a bone, a symbol of excitement; all the while, “Gretel got nothing but crab-shells” (Grimm 3). The bone reveals that Hansel is enjoying sex, which is further proven by the fact that he is getting fatter and fatter. However, he is in a cage, unable to grapple free and lost in the evil lust of sex, just like any man could be. This is in contrast to Gretel, who remains thin, symbolizing that she has lost enjoyment of this kind of sex. All of this shows that the witch, or sex, only serves to fulfill a man’s sexual needs, not a woman’s. Thus, the women, or Gretel, does not fall prey to sex, serving to emphasize women’s control, whereas men are all dependent on whatever the sex does to them since they are now ‘trapped’. Later, Gretel intelligently kills the witch, frees Hansel, and when going back home, she shouts out to the duck to help them cross “over its nice white back” (Grimm 3). By killing the witch, Gretel in essence frees Hansel from the lust of sex, showing yet again the helplessness of men. By killing the witch intelligently however, it shows how women know their way around sex, whereas men like Hansel have no clue and are hopelessly trapped. Just as the witch has power to trap men like Hansel in the cage of sex, so do women have the power to free them from sex, and transform them back to society, as when it was Gretel who called the duck to help transport both of them across the river, signifying renewal. Again, note that Hansel is dependent on Gretel, a woman, for saving him.

Ladies and gentlemen, once in your life I can guarantee that you will enter the realm of sex. You will enter into a new world, full of new pleasures, new excitements, and new knowledge. However good they may seem, please be aware that behind it all is a dirty little witch. And men, if you don’t watch out, this witch will come after you and eat you, and he will find it very delicious. So you better watch out.

Works Cited

“A Walk Through the Forest: A Recipe for Resilience.” Fairy Tale Channel. Blogger, 28 Sept.

2009. Web. 06 Oct. 2013.

Brothers, Grimm. “Hansel and Gretel.” Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Grimmstories.com, n.d.

Web. 01 Oct. 2013.

“Gingerbread Temptations: Analysis of the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel & Gretel.” The Fine Art

Diner. Blogger, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 01 Oct. 2013.

Check out the last work cited. It has a very good Freudian analysis. Anyway, have fun reading Hansel and Gretel again! This time, when you read it, you will look at it more differently ever than before.

Blindman’s Buff

Hello readers. Sorry for my recent lack of posts; I should have mentioned that I was taking a break from blogging. Today, I will continue off my last post, where I said I would do some analyzing of an artwork. So here’s the artwork:

Blindman’s Buff by Vitaly Komar

This is a oil canvas painting by Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, both Russian artists. Komar and Melamid are an artistic team who created collaborative artworks, working first in Moscow in the late 1960s through the early 1970s. They emerged as dissident artists on the international stage in the 1970s. The artistic duo first exhibited work in the United States in 1975, a few years before their permanent emigration. They worked together as a team until 2003, and both artists have produced a body of work independently since that time.

In 1972 Komar and Melamid launched a new movement they called Sots Art. Drawing on ideas from Pop Art in the United States, which itself borrowed from the everyday to comment on society, the Sots Art movement appropriated the visual language of Socialist Realism and put it to new use through ironic visual twists. (Socialist Realism is the form of art that had to conform to what the Soviet government wanted. Thus, artists were restricted in what they wanted to produce.) Although the two artists were trained as painters, they also used photography, text, performance, and found objects in their works. They continued to have their art censored given the fact that they constantly rebelled against Socialist Realism. However, they managed to smuggle some of their artwork out of the USSR.

That was some background information. Now on the artwork itself. Now what do we see? We see a girl or a woman being blindfolded. She is playing the typical game of Blind Man’s Buff with a man, who is kneeling down trying to hide from the girl. The room is mostly red, and on a wall is a picture of Stalin himself. We also see a table, with a hat and a pot on top of it.

Komar and Melamid

Obviously, the color red is symbolic of the Socialist Communist system. We also know, from the background information, that Komar and Melamid were against Socialist Realism. So perhaps a theme of this painting is this negative attitude towards the USSR government. For instance, the man kneeling seems a lot like a Russian soldier, maybe symbolic of the Russian government itself. In a sense, this man is almost taunting the girl, who seems like a victim rather than a girl just playing a game. Perhaps the girl is representative of the common Russian who is in a sense victim of the USSR government. She cannot see what the Russian soldier is doing- maybe showing that the common Russian was not aware of the corrupt deeds the government had done. She, and symbolically the common Russian, cannot see the light coming in from the window, symbolic of truth, of what the government was really doing, perhaps “blinded” by the Soviet propaganda. Most importantly, Stalin’s portrait shows that the man who is watching over all of this is Stalin himself- almost like a god, with an omnipresent presence. Stalin is watching over and conducting the blinding of the common Russian.

However, this artwork is open to interpretation. There could be other themes involved, such as the artistic style. Here, Komar mimicked the art of Socialist Realism, trying to give the ironic tone of mocking Socialist Realism by using Socialist Realism art. One sees that this is Socialist Realism art because it is very naturalistic, depicts ordinary people, and figures are like those of Socialist Realist art.

We also see influence from the Baroque artist Vermeer. Many of Vermeer’s paintings feature a relationship between a young woman and a man, focusing on a suspended moment that implies an incomplete narrative. Vermeer often placed his subjects in interior spaces that were lit from a window. In addition, the focus on details in Blindman’s Buff, such as the textures of the floor, the curtain, and the clothing, is reminiscent of Vermeer’s paintings.

Although in this post I focused on Socialist Realism’s involvement in this painting, it may have no relationship whatsoever. Again, it is open to interpretation. Maybe the soldier is not taunting the girl, but perhaps protecting her. Maybe the artwork was meant to show a playful relationship between the girl and the man. Who knows? And this is one beauty of art analysis: there is never one right answer.

In my next post, I will talk about how sometimes our body seems to be another living organism.

Analyzing The Pearl Chapter One

Before you read this post, refer to my last post. Today, I would like to analyze chapter one of The Pearl by John Steinbeck. 

In the first paragraph, beginning with “Kino awakened in the near dark..”, our main character is still unknown. All we know is that his name is Kino. But we can infer a few things. When did Kino wake up? The point of time in which it is halfway between night to day. Who else also woke up? The pigs, chicken, and birds- all animals. It is almost as if in a sense Kino is like an animal, and later on, we see that Kino is representative of the natives, who have been mistreated like animals by the invading whites. 

The important allusion of Adam and Eve

But perhaps there is another way to view this. The fact that Kino is being on the level with animals shows the naturalistic state his family cherishes. He and his wife seem to live a simple life completely reliant on nature as we make out from the setting; almost reminiscent of Adam and Eve. So in here seems to be a theme of nature and God.

In fact, God is mentioned in the chapter, when Kino “watches with the detachment of God”  as a bug falls into and struggles to get out of an ant lion’s trap. Here is an excellent example of foreshadowing, because later on we can expect that just like the victim of the trap, Kino will be falling into a trap and struggling to get out of it. And at that time, just like Kino, God will just watch.

The question is: what is this trap? Is it literal? Or more likely figurative? Well, again, look back at Adam and Eve. Their trap was that they fell for a beautiful apple because of Satan in disguise of a snake convincing them to eat it. Their lives, once normal and routine, suddenly changed for the worse dramatically after this one incident. And so can we expect the same of Kino and his wife. Notice how it was mentioned that it “was a morning like other mornings.” obviously emphasizing the normal routine that this morning seemed to be in. But soon a trap will come to disrupt this all. (aka the theme of disruption)

This trap is the scorpion. The Song of Evil. And here’s one thing that makes this chapter really beautiful- how Steinbeck puts everything into a form of song. Again, this fact is representative of the fact that Kino and his family are more focused on spiritual/moral things rather than physical things. Songs are not things that can be touched or owned, but rather can be shared and felt. 

But now the Song of Evil strikes. Similarly, Satan has striked. Satan struck Adam and Eve, God’s most precious children, in the Bible; the scorpion here has struck Coyotito, Kino’s only child. Satan made Adam and Eve succumb to evil; in the novella, we also see succumbation. For right after the scorpion struck, Kino and Juana are faced with an important dilemma: the death of their son or going to the doctor. And the book makes special mention of “how surprising” it was for Juana to actually decide to call the doctor.

The materialistic doctor

But let’s look at the doctor. The description of him shows him being wealthy, wanting nothing to do with the poor, living in a grand house, etc. Obviously signs of a materialistic life, a stark contrast to the much simpler life of Kino and his family. This materialistic life is evil. Juana surprisingly decides to choose this path into the doctor, representing the path to evil. It shows how much of an extent this dilemma is causing to Kino’s family and how much disruption, given that now at this point a spiritual family is turning towards a materialistic man.  And note that they did not do this happily. They were forced to do it. They were forced to succumb to evil, in a sense.

But my most favorite part- after the doctor refused to help, Kino who is mad punches the gate really hard. “He looked down in wonder at his split knuckles and at the blood that flowed down between his fingers.” To me, that is a very beautiful ending. In a sense, we can take it as a lesson- don’t fight violence with violence. Here, Kino’s punch is symbolic of the natives fighting back against the white’s violence against them. The result is not victory but rather a self-defeating blow, symbolized by Kino bleeding himself when he intended to strike the gate.

Or we can also view the ending as Kino’s seeming hopelessness. His family has already been struck by evil and he cannot turn back. No matter how hard he tries to change it, he will just end up hurting his own family more. 

End of Analysis*** P.S. This post is probably bad quality given that I did this in the middle of my sleep. Sorry.

The X Chess Championships

Chess is a fun game, whether casual or formal. Yet, there are some people out there who do not think chess is fun enough. They want to put restrictions, limits, or tweak the rules a little bit. One of these people was the famous Bobby Fischer. Known as one of the greatest chess players of all time, one shouldn’t be surprised if he found regular chess boring. I mean, perhaps the game of chess was not worth it for his genius mind. So what did Fischer do? Well, for one thing, he invented Chess960, otherwise know as Fischer Random Chess, in which all the pieces are messed up in starting position. He also invented a chess clock time system for in which every move you make, you get more time.

But what really can make chess more fun and suspenseful are the restrictions and limitations. Apparently, the makers of X Chess Championships agreed too. X Chess Championships was pretty much created because the makers thought that there should be more of televised chess. So for this tournament, they decided to film the matches between eight of the top young chess players in America. However, in a formal chess tournament, a chess game usually takes up to hours. I’m pretty sure nobody would want to just sit on the couch for hours just to watch a chess game. So they decided to not only impose demanding time restrictions, but also some extra fun rules. Plus, the X stands for Xtreme, so expect these rules to be extremes. The rules are explained below:

Also, a few more things she forgot to mention. One, it’s single-elimination. One game lost and you’re out, making this tournament all the more tougher. However, a dilemma arises. What happens if it’s a draw? Then this is where things get interesting: the time each player has left from the previous game will be the amount of time he/she will have for their second game. And of course, the players switch colors. This continues on until the tie is broken.

Although the rules might not sound intimidating, they actually are. Just watch episode 2 from the X Chess Championships below, and you can see how much the players have to go through. Especially the guy named Elliot (in the 2nd pairing of the video) during his second game that will break the previous draw.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed it. One thing I have to say- the commentators, hosts, and analysis were especially wonderful. They made the games so much interesting. And the chess games themselves were awesome, too. I mean, what else can you expect from these chess prodigies? If you want to watch more episodes, check the YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/XChessChamps?feature=watch

Shakespeare’s Love Letter

Happy post- post-Valentine’s day! For today, I will continue the series on the philosophy of love. One of the many things that we think of when we hear about love and Valentines is love letters. Nowadays, love letters are not that common. What a modern person usually does today is send a love tweet and that kind of sort. Um, seriously? Where is the love there? All I see is some boring c–p. Unfortunately  it seems as if love letters are becoming endangered.

I don’t know why this is happening; I mean, when one reads a love letter, one gets a sense of love just looking at the handwriting and smelling the aroma of a letter. When one writes a love letter, one usually has to put some thought into the writing and effort into the decorating. And it just seems so emotional and beautiful. I even remember a teacher who actually spend a whole class time just talking about how it felt like to receive a love letter.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful love letters I have seen is from Shakespeare. Well, it’s not exactly a love letter, but it would definitely look wonderful as a love letter. If I was a girl receiving this letter, you bet that I would go galloping straight towards Shakespeare and ask him to marry me. Check out his love sonnet below:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

If you do not understand what is being said, then let me explain it to you. The first line obviously indicates that Shakespeare will be comparing his love to a summer’s day. However, as we all know, sometimes summers can be not that much of a good day. Sometimes, the summer can get really hot; however, in line two, Shakespeare says that his love is “more temperate” than summer. In other words, his love will always be just right. From lines 3 to 8, Shakespeare lists out the bad things about summer; he does this so as to contrast this against the superior qualities of his love later on. For instance, in line 4, summer “has all too short a date,” or in other words, the summer sometimes feels too short. This contrasts against line 9, in which the love’s “eternal summer shall not fade.”

But perhaps the most beautiful part about this sonnet are the last three lines. In line 12, what do you think “lines” mean? At first, I thought it was referring to the wrinkles on one’s face when one grows old. However, after a bit more analyzing, I realized that the lines actually refer to these actual lines of this sonnet. So basically, line 12 means that as his love grows among these lines, and in line 13- and as long as men are able to live and read this sonnet, line 14- this love that exists between Shakespeare and his lover will always live. In other words, Shakespeare’s love is embedded into this sonnet, and whoever reads this sonnet will always know of this love.

This perhaps ties into the view of love that love is eternal. Shakespeare must have believed it; what he wrote in the last three lines was basically saying that even after he died, his love will still exist. Love can never be broken, even after death. Christians also believe this, for they believe “love is God,” and if God is eternal, then so is love. And even if I wasn’t a Christian, I would still believe this, too. Love is a powerful force that will always exist. No matter how many tribulations, love will always exist, whether it is love for a child, a friend, a teacher, or a parent. My grandmother died, but I still love her to this very day.

Of course, Shakespeare didn’t just believe love was eternal. He also had much more other opinions, which will lead us into the next post.

To Love At All Part 2

Hello readers. As you might have already noticed, I didn’t post anything up yesterday, even though I said I would. My apologies. But I do have a good excuse- I was busy entertaining my valentine. 🙂 Jk. First of all, I would never get a valentine. I’m not good enough to get any girl. Second, I don’t want a girl.  Perhaps the cartoon I showed in my last post is perhaps the very reason why I don’t want a girl.

Let us take a look at what kind of love this cartoon is talking about. Usually, we think of giving love as a good thing that should be encouraged in society. Yet, in this quote, it seems as if it was trying to convince us to do the opposite. And it is. It is not telling us to never love at all, though; I’m pretty sure C.S. Lewis would still encourage us to love our family and friends. Rather, he is telling us to never give away love- the boy-girl type of love.

I’m beginning to wonder whether Lewis got this from his experiences or not. But I’m pretty sure many people around the world feel the same way. Many times, one is immature, and does not know when the love he/she sees is true love. He thinks it’s love, but in reality, it is not. This is representative of the beginning of the cartoon. After one goes through many many relationships, one begins to be more mature in knowing when the love he sees is true love or not. However, by that time, his/her heart has gone through so much damage and so much pain, due to the many break-ups endured. This here is representative of the broken heart balloon of the girl in the cartoon.

This quote essentially, at least to me, is telling the reader to not make the same mistake again. I think that Mr. Lewis is advising us to not give in to love too easily, but rather store this boy-girl love up. In the cartoon, this is symbolized by the chest, in which one locks it up safely. Only does when one truly find his/her true love can she open up the chest and love too.

Again, all of this to me can be related on a personal level. Many times since I was a little kid, I had many crushes. But after a long time I realized that I did not truly love them. I realized that even if that girl and I were to get into a relationship, she would still go flocking to other boys, and it would damage my heart. Thus, I have decided to lock my chest safely. However, unlike the girl in the cartoon, I plan to lock it forever. I do not intend to marry, for to me, I know it will just cause more pain and suffering.

An Animated Pixar on Love

Coming this Thursday is Valentine’s Day, a time for love and romance. But for my blog, it is perhaps a time to dwell on the philosophy of love. So starting from today will be a series of posts on the philosophy of love. We will be looking at love from many different perspectives, from ancient Greeks to the mastermind Shakespeare.

For just today however, I would perhaps like to look from the perspective of a film creator. Check out this animated Pixar short called “Paperman.”

Pretty good film to watch on Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? This is perhaps the best short film I have ever seen. Not only that, this film is the exact representation of a typical person’s ideal form of love.

First, let us analyze this film. Obviously, this film is showing us the events that leads to a formation of a love relationship. But what exactly brings these two to encounter each other? Two things, from looking at the very beginning- the wind caused by the train and of course the paper. I would like to say it is these two things that are the most dominant themes in this film.

We can start off with the train. In the beginning at one scene, we see the girl suddenly leaving the boy and boarding the train and then looking out to the boy from the train window. It is as if because of this train, the boy and girl are split apart and that all chances for a relationship are doomed. Yet, at the end of the film, it is this very same train that brings both characters back together and at the very same setting. Perhaps this train symbolizes the fact that unlike time, which is one-way, love can always be made again. The fact that you broke up with a guy does not mean that you are not able to love that guy anymore; in other words, there is always a second chance for love.

So if it is not the train who seeming splits the boy and girl up in the beginning, then what is the thing that is doing this? Perhaps the answer is the fact that the boy and girl are on different courses. So in order for a relationship to get going, the boy and the girl must get onto the same course. This is where the papers come into play.

The papers could symbolize the boy’s job. Usually one’s life consists mostly of his or her job, so in a sense the papers also represent the boy’s life. Notice how the papers are all blank and and full of boring words; this can be translated into the fact that the boy’s life is nothing interesting. Until he met the girl. When the girl leaved her lip imprint on the paper, what essentially happened was the girl leaving her imprint on his life. He could have just thrown the paper away and not care about the imprint, but rather he kept it, dreamed about it, and even saved the paper when it was about to fly out the window. Even though he was physically separated from the girl, he was emotionally attached to her.

In one scene, while staring at the imprint, the boss comes and drops a stack of paper onto his desk. The boy looks up unhappily. Here, the boy is being pushed up against the realities of life. Yet, the boy does not submit to this reality. Rather, he sees the girl in the opposite building, and folds all those papers into airplanes and tries to fly it to her window to catch her attention. Remember that these papers symbolize his life. By folding up all the papers he was supposed to work on, he in a sense is sacrificing not only his job but (through symbolization) sacrificing his whole life just to catch that girl’s attention. Eventually, he even defies his own boss and one can no doubt infer that he will be fired. This demonstrates the philosophical view that love is blind, in which one will sacrifice anything just for love.

I also like how when the boy tries to throw the airplanes at her. It sort of reminded me about Cupid’s arrows, but in this case the boy’s arrows are lame and futile; he is not able to attract the girl’s attention. Yet, in the end, the boy does get the girl’s love. How? Well, the boy didn’t do anything at all. Rather, it was the wind that did it. To me, there are two lessons here. One- the more you try to get love, the more you won’t get it. Rather, just let love naturally come to you. Two- the common view of love in which it involves destiny. In other words, the wind symbolizes destiny. If the wind had not blown the way it did, then perhaps the boy would have never met the girl again. (By the way, even the music gives a sense of destiny, too.)

I would also like to analyze the situation in which the airplanes magically came to life. Where did the airplanes start doing that? In a hidden dark alley; similarly, perhaps love starts within the greatest depths and unnoticed corners of our hearts. The paper airplanes aka Cupid’s arrows symbolizes the boy’s love. So when the airplanes became alive, the director is trying to show us that our love will become more manifest all the way to the point that our loves “become alive” and that everybody can see it. Just as how the planes nagged the boy, similarly our own love will start nagging us into seeking out the girl more.

I will conclude here. But basically, the philosophy of love shown here is that love can cause us to do outrageous things, that love is not one-way, that love is based on destiny, that love will become more manifest and will nag and annoy us, and that love can forever change one’s life.

Analyzing “After The Dance”

In my last post, I introduced to you the short story “After the Dance” and gave you some discussion questions to think about. Today, I will attempt to uncover the true message that lies within this story.

Leo Tolstoy

Before I start, I will give a brief summary of author Leo Tolstoy’s life. Leo Tolstoy was born into a rich Russian family. He drank, made love, and was like a typical Russian noble. However, he loved to write books and think about human life. Eventually, he came to despise the rich and purposely became poor himself.

Now, some historical context that will be relevant to our analysis. Russia has since perhaps its existence been an autocracy, where all the power was contained by the tsar, or ruler of Russia. Many people, after tired of having the tsar yelling orders around, started the Russian Revolution and overthrew the tsar. Some notable tsars or tsarinas in Russian history include Tsar Nicholas I and Tsarina Catherine the Great. Nicholas I was not that much of a fan-magnet. He carried out many repressive policies and tried to make Russia a backward nation. Catherine, however, represented the glorious times of the autocracy and was liked by many Russian citizens.

I will start off the analysis by answering a discussion question: In the beginning Ivan loved Varinka. Later, he dislikes her. What does this symbolize? Again, as I said in my last post, we must take this story in the context of the author’s life. We know that Tolstoy was born a noble himself and indulged in this life when he was young, but later resented this lifestyle and became poor. Similarly, in this story, Ivan had always been in love with Varinka but later in the end began to forget about her. Form this comparison, one can make out that Ivan symbolizes Tolstoy himself and Varinka symbolizes the aristocracy or nobility.

Further proof of this can be seen in the description of  Varinka, in which she is described as “bony.” This symbolizes that during the story’s time, which was around the Russian Revolution time period, the aristocracy, represented by Varinka, was frail and on the brink of collapse. In other words, the aristocracy was about to die off, as symbolized by the boniness. Ivan also later comments on his early lifestyle, in which he was a “gay, lively, carless fellow,” reminiscent of Leo Tolstoy’s earlier life.

Tsar Nicholas I

Another important character was Varinka’s father. The description of him shows that he represents the strict disciplinary type of soldier under Nicholas I’s rule. He in a sense embodies the fact of military/civil service to the autocratic government. For instance, Ivan tells how he was impressed by the fact that the father wore poor boots so as to allow the daughter to wear beautiful splendid clothing. The message here is that the Russian people sacrificed their time and lives by participating in the military so to make the Tsar and his autocratic government seem more grander and wonderful. To Ivan, this sacrifice the father makes seems wonderful. One can compare this to history, in which by the influence of propaganda, people thought that their sacrifices were also justified and right for they thought they were doing it for the motherland. However, upon seeing Varinka’s father beat up the poor man, Ivan realizes that it was not as wonderful as he thought; similarly, people later realized that they actually hated they were doing this all for the Tsar and thus, the Russian Revolution.

We should also go back to the question that appeared in the beginning of the story: is it all by chance or by environment? It seems as if Ivan had proved the opposite of what he intended to prove: that it is all by environment. However, it does in a sense result from chance. For a noble Russian (aka Ivan or Tolstoy) to see the cruelty of the aristocracy is indeed rare, for the rich people are being constantly blinded by the happiness and grandeur of their aristocratic lives (aka the ball in this story). They do not simply sympathize with the downtrodden  because they see the aristocracy as something pleasant.  This is as opposed to the blacksmith mentioned in the story. The blacksmith symbolizes the common Russian, and the only time that he appears in the story was during the beating of the deserter. One obviously sees that the common man rarely sees balls and the wonderful life of the nobility; rather the only thing he sees is the suffering the Tsar and the upper class has caused on the downtrodden class. By seeing the same event with the blacksmith, Ivan, a noble, has looked from the common man’s perspective and sees the true cruelty of the aristocracy. For a noble to experience this is truly one by chance, and perhaps Ivan felt lucky in that he has seen the truth. This can again be applied to Tolstoy’s life, in which he might have considered himself lucky in that the didn’t fall to the sway of a rich life.

These are the basic elements of the story’s message. I will leave the rest to the reader to answer all the discussion questions form last time’s posts that haven’t been answered. (The answer to number four I will give. It is that they try to hide the aristocracy’s corruptness.) Hopefully, you will be able to use what I told today to answer those unanswered questions. But overall, the big message is to express Tolstoy’s experience from liking being rich to despising the rich in one symbolic story.

We Are Young

Normally, I’m not that much of a big rock fan. I think rock is too noisy, rowdy, and uncivilized. Yet, I will have to admit that I am one big fan of one rock song, which is “We Are Young,” by Fun.

Nate Ruess

This song, sung by Nate Ruess and featuring Janelle Monae, became one of the top five pop songs of 2012. Despite its wonderful success, the song had humble beginnings. It started from a meeting between famous Jeff Bhasker, who decided to give just ten minutes to Nate Ruess. He had already canceled two meetings with him. (Perhaps Jeff thought Nate was simply a singer wannabe.)  There, they went to a bar and had a drink. They started talking about music, and Jeff was intrigued by Nate’s desire to “merge hip-hop beats and electronic effects with pop rock.” Jeff later invited Nate to his hotel room, and Nate, who was feeling a little bit drunk, suddenly blurted out the chorus of the unfinished “We Are Young.” Later, Jeff reacts with an “OMG” and demands Nate and his group to show up and perform.

The fact that this was all at a bar is in fact relevant to the song’s context. Here’s the song: 

The song’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? Well, right now I will focus on the composition of the song. In the first part, which is all the lyrics before the first chorus, the musical tone seems to be a little bit carefree. Well, not exactly carefree, but as if the singer was drunk. The lyrics are pretty good; I like the ”
getting higher than the Empire State” quote the best.

And now onto the chorus, which is what makes this song so popular. The tone here is not drunk. It is more than drunk. The tone seems to me as if one is tired of this world and wants to do anything he wants to do. This kind of tone, I am pretty sure, resonates not only with me but a lot more other people tired of their lives. Again, many of us would like to “set the world on fire” (not literally of course) so as to get rid of all our troubles. Thus, to us, it seems as if it is a much more “brighter” world.

A noticeable feature of this song includes the “na…na…na..” chant. I don’t know why, but I feel as if this chant is telling me, “Whatever, Titus, who the %&#$ cares about this world.” Also noticeable is Monae’s voice, in which the reason I found this attracting was because I liked how her lyrics matched up with na..na..na chant. The match-up was just beautiful. Nate’s voice was also cool, too.

Some notes from Wikipedia: “We Are Young” is a power ballad that combines the genres of indie popalternative rock, and power pop. The song is written in the key of F major, based almost entirely on the 50s progression (I vi IV V) with the exception of its bridge, and follows a tempo of 116 beats per minute, changing to 92 bpm from the pre chorus to the end. The song has a slow hip hop groove from the first chorus onward, and the song in its entirety is in common time. In the song, “careful arrangements layer sharp, bright piano melodies with big, booming drums and multiple vocal harmonies.” Ruess shifts from “vulnerable verbal tumbling in the song’s sonically sparse intro to the grandiose declaration, ‘Tonight, we are young..’

I usually sing this song when I’m feeling angry or sad. Either way, I still just enjoy listening.