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The short story "Lust" by Susan Minot very accurately captured the fleeting desires of the typical teenager girl and or boy. The short, fast paced paragraphs reflected the amount of attention the main character gave to each of her crushes and how soon she had moved on to the next. This is of course exactly what lust is all about, the will of the flesh as it is over shadowed by the will of the heart. The story was a series of poignant memoirs as well as a visual demonstration of the main character on her journey of losing herself
One flew east, one flew west, "one flew over the cookoos nest." The novel by Ken Kesey tried to explain to the world that society is a machine that one must resist if one wants to be authentic. The combine represses every desire for freedom one has, and there are only two choices, become a part of the machine, or be a wolf that rises above the rest of the bunnies and creates their own reality. The use of LSD is evident in many of Kesey's descriptions and in fact it was his inspiration for his main character Chief Bromden.
"The Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien is a masterpiece of triumph over evil. However, the machine of orcs that represent the pressures and responsibilities of adult hood, and the faster paced society, are again defeated by determination and innocence. The hobbits, though naïve to the outside world, change and grow in respect to their environment, but never loose the values that were instilled in them from the shire. Their epic struggle is the epic struggle of everyone as they grow into adult hood and try to find their place in a society that seems to swallow them whole.
In the movie "Looking for Richard" Al Pachino tries to show that even though Shakespeare's use of language is somewhat strange to a modern reader, its message and lessons are still very identifiable. By filming it in such a way that the dialogue is broken up with explanations, and scenes of the actors themselves explaining their characters actions and reasoning, it helped to bring into clear focus for the viewer what was most important in the play. Even though the precise words that Shakespeare used are obviously meaningful, the over all message is the important thing to keep in mind.
In his historical play "Richard III" Shakespeare tries to demonstrate with the most drastic means imaginable that it doesn't matter what you achieve in life. The more important aspect of achievement isn't the end result, but rather the means by which it was achieved. In the play he has the main character use people to plant ideas get people arrested and even hires thugs to murder his brother. This all comes back to haunt him moments before it's to late and he finds his grisly end at the hands of yet another enemy that such means of living have created.
In the movie "The Road to Pleasantville" the main character shows a community things an audience would find normal, but that the town hasn't known. He is met with resistance along the way and there are many parallels in the story to our own world's civil rights/womens movement. However it illustrates that the truth behind such resistance is not as simple as it may seem. The truth is, people have a natural resistance to new ideas and to change and however simple a new concept is it will be looked upon with contempt until enough of brave souls have embraced it.
"The hunting of the Snark" a poem by Lewis Carrol, touches on too many things to analyze here. However the mantra at the beginning of many of the verses speaks volumes. The characters in the poem chase the Snark with thimbles and seek it with care; much like one must treat life. They pursue it with forks and hope, and again these lines talk of how one must embrace every moment. They threaten its life with a railway-share, and they charm it with smiles and soap. These lines more than any, indicate that life must be charmed, not just lived.
"The Cat in the Hat" the story by and movie inspired by Dr. Suess is a clear demonstration of opposing philosophies on life. The boy who can't be controlled and must do things his own way is raised with his sister who must control everything. Through out the story they are tempted by the cat who promises that everything will be okay. However they are kept in check, somewhat, by the fish who acts like their super ego. The important aspect of the cats temptation is that it rests if faith where the fish's advice is sounded simply in logic.
The poem "Sex without Love" asks a question in its first line. How do they do it, the ones who make love with out love? Then the poem proceeds to explain exactly how it is done. By coming to the realization that love is not about the partner it is about ones self. That the ultimate truth is that relationships are all in the mind and not in the physical world so if you are comfortable with yourself then it doesn't matter who the partner is your really just being with another aspect of yourself. Everything else is just factors.
The second person point of view for the short story "How to Become a Writer" is what makes the story so amusing. There is obviously no set way of becoming a writer. So the writer describes how they became a writer and expects that others can do the same thing. The author even mentions the most trivial details that are impossible to duplicate. Thus keeping the story light hearted. If the story were in first person perspective it would simply be a boring anecdote. If it were in third person it would simply be a pointless work of short fiction.
The book "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, flows with the rhythm of a bongo drum through the quasi true adventures of Jack Kerouac, and Neil Cassady, among others. The book sits on the shelf between history and fantasy like few books can do. In it the characters travel across the states and into Mexico all the while searching for something they can't fully explain but know when they feel. Cassady, called Dean in the book inspires Kerouac to live life to the fullest and they make fun of the way the squares would be nothing with out their worry.
The song "Jesse's girl" explores the pitfalls of love with all the typical pain and regret involved. The author can't figure out for the life of him why the girl he likes still likes his friend even though he's funny and cool. He doesn't seem to understand that the bottom line of attraction is that people only desire what they can't have. They lose interest very quickly in anyone that they are sure of. It takes a more mature outlook to actually act in accordance with what one knows should be done and sometimes ignore what one wants to do.
The song "Do You Realize" by The Flaming Lips asks the question, does listener realize that everything is fleeting? The song suggests making use of every moment to ensure that everyone you care about knows you care about them. It tries to make the listener aware that everything belongs to a cycle and that opposites flow in to each other such that happiness can make you cry. Also the fact that even though it seems that the sun sets, its really an illusion caused by the earth spinning and that it is such with our spirits when they seem down.
The Novel "Candide" by Voltaire sends the character Candide on a journey from the innocence of youth to the wisdom of maturity. The optimism of the character is unprecedented and never seems to falter, even though he is faced with insurmountable challenges and seemingly despairing situation after situation. Still armed only with a sense of self and a personal philosophy Candide realizes that action instills action, and that distraction is a major part of happiness. The ultimate truth of the book however is quite simply put "Let us work with out theorizing." In other words to be Idle is evil.
The poem "Terminal" by John Ashbery explains the presence of himself and even others into this word; even though we didn't know we were coming here. His journey leaves him wanting like all souls/soles do. He tries to explain that things have many layers and individual taste means everything. But like most, we feel that what we say is lost to everyone, and so we grow jaded in our articulation. He offers the torch to the next willing participant. Easing their worry by explaining that it can be anything and that there is no right or wrong only what is.
In the movie "Southpark" Trey Parker and Matt Stone give their audience insight into the world by looking though the eyes of children. The movie looks at issues like profanity by having a second movie inside theirs that is watched and has a gross amount of cursing. Then the boys curse as well. This of course infuriates the parents who start a war with a scapegoat Canada. The movie teaches that people shouldn't blame movies or the media for violence or demoralization of society. Rather that these institutions reflect the state of society and should be used to help society.
In "American Splendor" the main character, Harvey Pekar, is a comic writer with a character based on his life, asks the question. "Am I a man who writes a comic about a character or am I just a character and the comic will go on after I'm dead?" The movie asks this question of the audience. What is it that you can do that will out live you? Harvey never seems to change but that seems to be his point. There are no happy endings with all the loose ends tied, just more loose ends to try and tie up.
The movie “Ferris Buler” exemplifies the contrast between confidence and insecurities. The main character Ferris has confidence in every action and that is the reason everything works out for him. However he is contrasted by his sister, who is sure that any plan she attempts will fail. His friends on the other hand don’t have faith in themselves. However they do have faith in the fact that as long as Ferris is involved, then everything will be alright. The point of the movie is that if you believe, and act accordingly then everything will work out, just don’t lose faith.
"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" a song by Rufus Wainwright speaks about how everything the artist enjoys in life is more than he sees other people enjoying. All his passions seem somewhat self destructive. The song apologizes for him being as such, but asks that he be treated with a grain of salt due to his inner nature that is so different from what he sees as everyone else's. The very format of the song and the rhythm is suggestive of the attitude that encompasses his life style. He bobs along to and fro not sure why he is so different.
The Song "Across the Universe" by the Beatles brings to light the effect that words have. They can slither out and once spoken, can't be taken back. They can hover and cause damage. Nothing can change the effect of words once spoken. Apologies can attempt to repair damage but the words won't be forgotten, unlike thoughts which the author of can keep to himself. However it also speaks of bringing joy to others with words. Such is the vice of words. Perhaps Kerouac said it best in the "Subterraneans" when he posed the question. "Can you forgive the not said?"
The Movie "The Graduate" tells the tale of a love story about a man who has an affair with the wife of his father's partner, then falls for their daughter. The rest of the movie describes his chase of her. However the final scene says the most. As they run from her ruined wedding they hop a bus and settle in back. There they look at each other for the first time with out any opposition to their love. The camera rests until an awkward feeling settles over the audience. The scene shows how with out opposition love seems boring.
The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" delves into the very essence of life. It speaks of seeking money and the monotony of the daily grind. However it assumes a higher identity and looks at man as more than an individual, rather as man kind would see itself if it, as a whole, were a conscious being. It talks of a million different faces all being identified to the speaker. The song drifts through the thoughts of what one could only speculate a being that is one with every individual in the world would think. The song tries to explain itself to you.
The character Scout in the book "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is the author's use of point of view to explain the happenings and proceedings of the very brutal and often foolish adult world. The book would lose most of its meaning if the main character were Atticus or even Jem for that matter. Through Scout the readers are slowly brought back to thinking in the clear and uncluttered black and white thinking of a child. Therefore the trial in general, as well as the accusations are able to shed light on a mature readers personal thoughts on such matters.
Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger" explains Satan's side of the story of life. To Satan a man's life is set in stone since the moment of their first action. However his mind is capable of creating and changing these paths. From a physical perspective this lends itself to the theory of multiple realities and hints that the entire universe is really just a near infinite set of hypothetical superpositions. Simply put reality is really just the possible logical positions of every piece of matter since the first movement. So really nothing exists expect speculation, "Wandering forlorn among the empty eternities."
The Book "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, tells the story of a young boy stranded in a life boat for months. While sailing from India to Canada aboard a vessel that contains most of the animals from his father's zoo the boat sinks. Pi ends up on a life boat with several wild animals. The story is clear until a second version of the journey is revealed. Here the author lets the reader decide which version they want to believe, and that is the ultimate message of the book. There is always two different ways of looking at everything.
The poem "Chess" by Rosario Castellanos uses a game of chess to symbolize the archetypes of femininity and masculinity. Through the act of setting up a game and learning the rules the players have agreed to proceed to play with each others mind. Similarly when two lovers meet they play certain games with each others minds to entice and sometimes conquer the other. In fact it seems that love sometimes feels like little more than a battle with the ultimate foe, the foe we can never defeat, but would be lost with out the constant battle to engage our attention.
"Jaberwocky" by Lewis Carroll plays with language the way a child plays with toys that are still wrapped. The formal aspect of this poem begs to be examined because in the entire poem there is no line that is made up entirely of real words. The fantasy of the reader is enticed with simple sounds and words that seem to invoke other words, but never are they explained. Still the poem leads us just as surely on a journey to slay a beast, a beast that may be our desire to have everything done the way we are used to.
The poem "Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question' by Diane Burnes places the reader into the mind of a Cherokee person. The questions or glaring stereotypes that the second speaker in the poem keeps leaking, like a sewer grate leaking yesterdays newspaper, sets the mood for the poem. The poem makes the audience empathize with the subject of the poem. Who is berated by clods that ask the same questions. Even though all of the question's answers are numb the speaker can't understand why the questions persist. Despite their unintentional rudeness they should somehow just recognize their error.
The song "Desperado" by the Eagles uses the lifestyle of a cowboy who never settles in one place to parallel the lives of most people, who feel like they will settle down later. The song pleads for people to reach out and except the flaws of those they know and stop trying to want only what they can't have. The song also preaches to let the greed of material possessions go and focus more on the value that love and other people can bring into your life. The hardest part is to make up your mind and stop riding fences.
The song "Walking Nebraska" by yours truly, describes the latter stages of infatuation. The song tells of the indecision as to whether to stay in a relationship or to take your chances being single. It discusses turning to substances to numb the mind, as well as the callousness one begins to feel. It speaks of the regrets that come with not knowing what the future will bring. The last part of the song talks about the doubt that comes from not believing it is possible to ever get to know someone else as well as you know your current partner.
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