Final Post: Rear Window

How do the stories that unfold in the apartments across from Jeff’s “rear window” relate to the relationship between Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) and Lisa (Grace Kelly)? Think especially about Miss Torso, Miss Lonelyhearts, the Composer, the Newlyweds, and, of course, the Thorwalds. Consider, also, the different ways Jeffries and Lisa react to what goes on in those apartments. How does Hitchcock manage to define their relationship more clearly by playing it against the lives of Jeff’s fellow tenants?

 

Though there are many neighbors across from Jeff, there are a couple who seem to better represent Jeff’s apprehensions, weaknesses, or views on life and interpersonal relationships than others. On some psychological level it seems as though he realizes this, albeit not fully until well near the end of the movie. This is because he L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries spends so much time looking at others and not at himself.  Jeff seems to hold everyone at a distance. He uses his photography to do this on a daily basis with strangers, which he parlays into reasons to do the same in his personal life. Behind the lens he can stay completely safe while gaining glimpses into his subjects without getting hurt, which is shattered along with the bones in his leg, by circumstance. He throws himself into this “work” of his, to which he is more than proficient. As a result of his inability to turn the view of the lense on himself, he operates in a perpetual state of mind that things merely happen to him because of others, with little culpability. He sees this as living freely.

This appears to be how his neighbor Miss Torso operates as well. She seems to devote herself to the art of her dancing. She seems to be a bit of a freely spirited type of gal who is continually on the move. Though she is always entertaining men in her apartment, she never truly lets any of them really connect with her, which is where she begins to mirror Lisa more so than Jeff. This is of course referenced when Jeff comments on Miss Torso being a queen pick with her pick of drones, to which Lisa replies, “She’s not in love with him, or any other.” The only man Miss Torso seems genuinely happy to see is her [presumed] fiancé who returns from deployment. She drops everything, lets him in with open arms, and completely focuses on him.

The other neighbors who mirror Jeff in a big way are, of course, the Thorwalds. On the surface they seem to stand for the downfalls of being married and the woes that invariable accompany such a union, according to Jeff. When delving a bit deeper, however, it is evident that the Thorwalds both represent two halves of Jeff, almost as if they were a tiny cherub and imp on either side of his psyche. The Thorwalds, much like Jeff’s internal selves, were always at war with one another; constantly fighting and berating the other until one side fought back to rid itself of the other. That fateful moment for a neighbor became his saving grace, in a way. It led to Jeff finally being able to look inside himself to see that he did not have to be free alone. Perhaps he saw, what some of the viewers did, that the bird may be caged but it still sings when fed by a loving hand.

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Post #4: Much Ado About Tradition

Are you satisfied with the ending of the play? That is, if these two unions–the one between Hero and Claudio, the other between Beatrice and Benedick–are part of a restoration of social harmony (typical of the ending of Shakespeare’s comedies), is anything lost in the process? You might think about this question in terms of the women in the play–is it an acceptable ending for them? Or perhaps you could consider it in relation to the way Shakespeare seems to be critiquing the artificial nature of conventional romance earlier in the play–is he happy with his own ending?

 

 

Traditional ways of doing things always fly out of the window when approaching a work of Shakespeare. Much Ado About Nothing is by no means an exception. That being the case, the outcome of this play followed a more palatable course. No one was subject to losing their wit. No one was baked into a pie. It was most assuredly one of his more tame bodies of work. Being that I have quite always been somewhat of a hopeless romantic, I found myself rooting the most for Beatrice’s and Benedick’s love; mostly because they both protested a bit too much to deny its presence. In the end, both outcomes were just, I think. Merely looking at the names alone can give a lot of insight into the characters and how they are portrayed. Many times, in Shakespeare’s works, he will give the character’s ironic names; especially the female characters. Hero in particular, was the opposite of heroic. On the contrary, she could not even save herself from succumbing to everyone else’s seemingly collective will for her life. Her life and outcome were set, in part through her own acquiescence in being the obsequious wife that everyone expected her to be. Claudio’s name means lame or crippled. This rings true in the way he seemed crippled by his need to rely so heavily on fitting into his societal role, especially when it came to Hero’s dowry. It seemed to me, that his need to be so concerned with her wealth contradicted the centuries old view that manhood meant making one’s own way in this world. Beatrice, meaning one who makes happy, was also an ironic name considering the fact that she rarely comes across as a happy person whereas Benedick, meaning blessed, rarely seems so for having known her.

The relationship between Beatrice and Benedick is a stark contrast from any other relationship in the play. They are both characters who break the traditional molds in their own right. Beatrice is of course a loud-mouthed witty woman, who is rarely seen as being happy (though perhaps she had reason not to be). She constantly fights against her role in society as the traditional woman and potential wife, which leaves her a woman without many suitors. She plays the role of a man much of the time (also interesting when considering the fact that she would have actually been played by a man in Shakespeare’s time- a man playing a woman in the role of a man) and, as mentioned above, seems to protest the common institutions of love and marriage a bit too much. At one point in the paly she said of love, “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me,” and of marriage, “Just, if he [God] send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees…” It is implied, however, that she holds these views because no traditional husband would be able to tame her wily nature. Conversely, Benedick played a dual role. At times, he stepped into the role as the traditional man, but his success came when he took on the more passive womanly role, evidenced during the scene where Beatrice asks him to murder Claudio to which he ultimately agrees. He concedes to her demands and, in a way, concedes to this new role so as to solidify his ultimate show of love toward Beatrice. His ultimate show of manliness, in my opinion, was his regard for her regardless of her wealth or anything else in the world. This, in many ways, was utterly contrary to the actions of the typical male of the time (evidenced by Claudio) who lived almost as if in complete ode to the Napoleonic Code.

The relationship between Beatrice and Benedick had the most successful end, almost in spite of both of their insistence’s against the entire process. It seems to be that Shakespeare is saying that a man and a woman not conforming to the path of known tradition is okay, but that does not give the institution any less meaning in the end. The importance, after all, is not found in the institution itself, but in the man and woman themselves within the institution. In the end, their non-conformance is precisely what brings them together.

In many ways, Beatrice and Benedick embody the modern husband and wife, which further gives credence to Shakespeare being a cultural touchstone who’s works and critiques transcend time itself because they shine a magnifying glass on all it truly means to be human, with all its imperfect implications, which change not as time flies by.

Blog Post #3: Gwendolyn Brooks

The Poem, “of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery,” was an observation and a kind of contemplation of who this boy was. Who he was, as the speaker reflects on seeing him in his comings and goings; seemingly no different from other “black boys.” He was just like any other, but why him, seems to be the implication. The second poem, “The Boy Died in My Alley,” seemed to be the speaker, presumably Miss Brooks, recounting the time prior to the funeral. She is going over the happenings of “the boy” being discovered. This second poem does one noticeable thing quite differently from the first, however. It turns her from merely another onlooker, as she appears to be in the first poem, into an active participant. The boy is found in her alley which involves her. The police come to her door, which further involves her. There is an implication that she personally has a {stake in the outcome} of this young man. The poem infers her implicit guilt, as she heard and did nothing.

“The Shot that killed him yes I heard as I heard the Thousand shots before; careening tinnily down the nights across my years and arteries.”

The speaker notes that she had heard shots prior to that moment and yet, had never “seen the dead,” so she likely thought little about those particular shots. The poem paints her as almost being responsible for it because she has seen the places he was going and the things he was getting into and she did nothing to stop him. The poem wrestles with an intensely powerful critique on the human condition because most individuals would have done the same and would have, in some way albeit small, been just as culpable for what had happened.

Both poems strike a political cord, however, the first seems to be more political. This may be a result of looking upon it from a more modernized view of political “action” writing, however, it strikes as more of a public response to a young black male dying. It shows few factual references to the situation, it is somewhat vague on what actually led to this death, and it is not personal. The second poem, however, is personal. It is the speaker actually saying, “this happened in my alley,” “I could have done something to prevent this.” The second poem mentions the police, but only in an effort to show the weight of the speaker’s lack of action. The second poem, for those reasons, was less overtly political, yet more impactful in this writer’s view. It seems as though Brooks having attended that conference, must have put her view into perspective. I am sure she realized that change within a community would never come if all of its citizens were merely onlookers and never one’s reason for changing their destructive life’s course.

 

Blog Post #2: Thoreau and Meaning

In his book The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, the critic Leo Marx writes that in Walden Thoreau “is clear . . . about the location of meaning and value”: “He is saying that it does not reside in the natural facts or in social institutions or in anything ‘out there,’ but in consciousness. It is the product of imaginative perception, of the analogy-perceiving, metaphor-making, mythopoeic power of the human mind.” Do you agree with Marx’s conclusions about Walden? Where does Thoreau seem to find “meaning and value” in the chapters you’ve read from the book, and in particular in the chapter “Spring”?

 

Throughout all of the readings of Thoreau there seems to be a few points he liked for his writing to center around: self-reliance; nature; the importance of consciousness; and of course, where life’s meaning is truly found. Thoreau left everything he knew, though everything he knew was but a brief distance away, to go and live in a self-made cabin in the woods. He lived off of what he grew and he lived meagerly. In his book, Walden, we see his search to find the meaning of life as he contemplates all of life’s forgotten intricacies. He takes notice of the critters that litter the ground. He sees how the earth labors to reproduce itself. At one point he notes, “No wonder that the earth expresses itself outwardly in leaves, it so labors with the idea inwardly. The atoms have already learned this law, and are pregnant by it. The overhanging leaf sees here its prototype.” Thoreau took notice of life in a way unlike most people in his day, or our day for that matter. He knew that we, as man, had to work with nature in order to have a coexistent relationship with it. He did not seem to view man’s relationship with nature as one where man was the dominant force, but rather, one where man relied on nature to live, and thus should respect it utterly. He viewed man as but an alternate representation of nature. He said, “What is man but a mass of thawing clay? The ball of the human finger is but a drop congealed. The fingers and toes flow to their extent from the thawing mass of the body. Who knows what the human body would expand and flow out to under a more genial heaven? Is not the hand a spreading palm leaf with its lobes and veins?” This comparison describes man in a way similar to how he described nature, both with their leaves and veins that display life and root deeply into the earth. This deep root that man has in the earth, I believe, is why man seeks so much to find peace among nature. This is why there is a calm one feels when he goes off to be alone in nature. This is one of the things that has also been made of apparent importance to Thoreau who noted that some of his most memorable times of peace, were just taking quiet walks among creation. This is what he valued. His value was in perceiving nature in the right way and forgoing societally accepted conclusions of mans over importance among it.

Blog Post #1: Gatsby’s Dream

At the very end of the novel, Nick gives us one last romanticized interpretation of Gatsby’s life, and he does so by linking Gatsby explicitly with the idea of America itself: “And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes–a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”

Do you think Fitzgerald means us to take this interpretation at face value? Are we meant to accept Nick’s conclusions about Gatsby and this country, or does this ending point once again to Nick’s unreliability as a narrator? Put another way, how is The Great Gatsby a commentary on the American dream?

 

This particular quote by Nick is a demonstration, in this writer’s opinion, of his reliability as a narrator. For a moment, he is seeing past the obviousness of the world around him and is now seeing it for what it once was. He is seeing past the ostentations of the lofty houses, the garishness of the expensive cars, and the vacuity of the participants in the loud lavish parties. He is seeing what once gave this place so much wondrous potential. Nick is seeing a dream of what America should be. The entirety of The Great Gatsby points to the hopes (and downfalls) of the American Dream. The same dream that the initial Dutch settlers had when they saw the land for the very first time. When the Dutch settlers came, they saw a lively land with lush life-giving possibilities. Their capacity for imagining was not hindered by any past experiences, but was opened to new possibilities and wonders never before seen by western man’s eyes. Whatever they imagined could actually be possible now, by the work of their own hands, in claiming this new land as their own. The same was true for Gatsby. He came from nothing. His past knew little prosperity, and yet, in that nothingness he had found some manner of happiness through meeting and falling in love with Daisy. Daisy, who represents life to Gatsby, becomes his dream as he is shipped off to war. He overcomes war and comes to this fresh new land with hopes of prosperity in tow. His seeking after this dream of his, this American dream, leads him to walk the path whereby he can attain the success which will lead him to his dream in the swiftest way. Gatsby does whatever it takes so that he can have the affluence and prosperity that his dream requires. The problem that Gatsby comes to is that, unlike the Dutch settlers, he can not see the wonder of life around him as it relates to the future. All Gatsby’s hopes and dreams are connected to the past. He forgets to, or relinquishes the ability to, put hope in the pleasures of the present while his hopes rely on the material to bring his past dream to pass. The material success that Gatsby acquired becomes his hindrance in truly living life to its fullest; it becomes his downfall. In actuality, the focus on the material becomes all of the main characters’ downfalls, for the most part. This world in which Gatsby now lives is a world devoid of real tangible meaning. It is a vapid and hollow world that teems with unhappy people, as they attempt to find comfort in what they have, living their lives of meaninglessness. The American Dream that Fitzgerald seems to be portraying is really an aberration of the American Dream that the early settlers envisioned. Their hopes and dreams were placed in bettering the lives of their loved ones through hard work and new ideas that benefitted all. The hopes and dreams of Gatsby’s world, however, was built upon bettering his own life through a cavalcade of selfish decisions that only benefitted himself in the short term, but was detrimental to all of those around him, in the end. The Great Gatsby demonstrates the reality of the American Dream, in its all follies and wisdoms. It shows that success and wealth while great, do not necessarily equate to lasting happiness.

Spare the Rod? It’s PC, It’s Hip, It’s ALL The Rage.

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(pictures not owned by me)

So there was a report released this week about the dangers of spanking your children. In this report it was stated that studies from the last 50 years were analyzed and it was determined that spanking your children caused depression, violent behavior, etc. Let’s not take into account, for a moment, that there is no actual way to prove that given the THOUSANDS of other factors involved in raising a child. Let’s not take into account the fact that in order to even create an accurate experiment each variable, but the tested one, must be identical. So for such a thing each family tested would have to say, have the same values, the same upbringing, or the same way of parenting. Otherwise, the results would be completely all over the place. Alternately, let’s not take into account the fact that for thousands of years people have recognized the importance of truly training and rearing their children and no, spankings do not feel all comfortably fluffy and good, but can be effective. They are not supposed to feel fluffy. No, they are not the end-all be-all to successful parenting because again, there are other factors involved. The fact is, we (in our society) have gotten to a point where we want our kids to be comfortable and where we want to be liked by them at all times. We have caved in to their demands. We have let them scream in the store instead of putting the purchase down, walk them to the car, and tap that behind. We have gotten to the point where we cannot bare to be politically incorrect for fear of attack or judgement by others. We have reached the point where we are not truly REARING our children instead we are merely “raising” them. We have reached the point where, if it says it in the Bible, we instinctively RUN from it because we do not want to be seen as “religious fanatics” so we are [then] compelled to take God out of everything; forgetting that God is the reason we even have to right to choose what we do in the 1st place. As a result, we have reached the point where our society is in decline. We have reached the point where our society is in a decline of morality but on the rise to lawlessness. And where lawlessness is allowed to grow, anarchy is allowed to thrive. There is a guide book, however, on this issue and every other: the Bible. It is not very PC, mind you but take a look:
In Proverbs 13:24 it says,

“24Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

In Proverbs, it is spoken quite plainly when it says that a person who spares discipline HATES his children. Why? Because of Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it FAR from him.” Children, because they are born into a sin-riddled and fallen world are prone to the selfishness and malfeasance that indoctrinates us upon birth; thus, they must be taught and trained in the way they should go and when they are trained [in love and wisdom] they will never depart from that way as they gain years (Proverbs 22:6). Proverbs 23:13-14 puts in another way. It says,

13Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
14You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from hell.

See, when a child does something wrong, we have gotten to the point where all we do is send them to their room, take something away, or even yell at them, but what does that accomplish? They will be angry with us and realize that they can do whatever they want without any real consequences and that is so dangerous. Dangerous because if that is their motive as a child, their motive as an adult will be the same and lead them to trouble and ruin. The truth of the matter is, when you spank your child out of love rather than anger and you teach them the undeniable value in doing what is right, you train them to be valuable members of society. You train them to know that there are negative consequences that come through doing wrong. You train them in such a way they will never forget. Love is the key; however, not retaliation. I was spanked as a child, by both parents. Yes, I HATED it. Nay, I LOATHED it as a child. However, as I became an adult I realized the unmistakable value in what I endured. I realized that my own decisions brought about that outcome. I learned how to have boundaries. I learned how to live honorably and above reproach. I know that without having had to endure the [temporary] pain and uncomfortableness of being spanked, I would NOT be the man I am today. My parents cared about me enough to endure the pain of seeing me in pain because they cared about rearing me. They sacrificed how they felt and how others may have viewed them because they KNEW it would save my life. I know that without that lesson, I would be right on my way to destruction. See, it is not spanking that causes people to be angry, depressed, violent, and self destructive. It is a society bent on removing the MOST CRUCIAL factor in the equation of human success: the word of God. Without pairing love (through the word) with that correction, the child will only see anger and pain. Parenting is more than just dressing your kid up for school everyday and giving them food. It is the life-long courage to say, ‘I am the authority and I must risk feeling uncomfortable and being unpopular to save my child from sure destruction.’ So we can take God out of the equation and blame all of our societal problems on spanking because it is the “IN” thing, but in another 10 or 20 years it will just be something else. If everyone would stop with political correctness and stop running away from the very one who has made us prosper, we would be the people that God created us to be. The government can’t make us better. We cannot even make us better, in ourselves. But we CAN allow God’s word to be our guideline, like it has been from the beginning. I know that not spanking seems very posh and hip but seeing your child in prison, on drugs, dead, or unfamiliar with the love of their savior is not very hip to me, but I forgot I have to be politically correct so I can’t say that… Do not spare discipline. Do not spare reproach. Most of all, do not spare LOVE. They may never thank you for it, but they will respect you for it. The ultimate and singular job of a parent is to promote life for their children. From beginning to end. Do you want life for yours? I know I do.

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Moments

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This life is full of a multitude of things that encourage the shape in which our psyche evolves. Each thing, as it were, comes packed with moments. Moments where how we allow ourselves to be impacted, can alter the course of our days, our years, and even our lives, forever. There are moments of blissful wonder which tend to reap happiness. There are moments of pain, hurt, and anguish, which tend to reap melancholy, fear, and despair. All of these moments culminate into experiences that either validate or repudiate our self-worth or even our very existence. In mere moments a life can be restored or annihilated. In mere moments a fire can be ignited or snuffed out. In mere moments a world was created and a perfect standing destroyed, and in mere moments that perfect standing was restored. Just moments. It only takes moments to accomplish a thing, but it takes a concurrence of those moments to accomplish a destiny. And to accomplish a destiny our self-worth MUST be checked.
Moments Destiny3If we believe anything about ourselves that is not in the word then we are believing something that is straight from the pit of hell. If we are believing that we are anything but holy and dearly loved by our creator, then we are believing a lie. See, we have an enemy that wants nothing more than to keep us stagnant. He wants to keep us at a disadvantage because he knows that if he can keep us down-and-out, if he can keep us in the mud, if he can keep us in the bed not wanting to even be awake, if he can keep us on our knees with our fists banging the floor, then he’s got us. And if he has us in a place of defeat, that we think we do not deserve to be out of (for some misguided notion that God is holding our pasts against us) then he can get us distracted by the things of this world that only further serve to dull us and keep us ineffective. If he can get you to wash your sorrows away with alcohol, or escape reality through trivial romps about town, or throw yourself into meaningless relationships, then his victory is all but decided. But if we would come alive to the truth of God’s word when it says that we are HOLY and dearly loved. If we would come to the realization that we are seated at the right hand of the Father because we are ONE with Him THROUGH Christ, then every chain holding us back would be broken. To believe, or worse, to SAY that you are worth anything less than what His death on the cross proved you to be, would be to put Jesus back on the cross and crucify him again. It would be a smack in the face of God. God, who viewed Christ above ALL else, gave HIM up for YOU and after that he proclaimed to say that he no longer imputes (assigns or counts) your sins against YOU because YOU are HIS WORKMANSHIP, re-created IN CHRIST and placed at HIS level, at the right hand of God. What does that say about your worth? What does that say about who YOU are? Does that say that you are worthless? Does that say that God is mad at you? Does that say you do not deserve to be loved? The truth of the matter is, there is only ONE reason the enemy fights you as much as he does. The only reason the enemy fights you and attacks you so hard is because he KNOWS, that if you FINALLY come to the realization of who YOU are IN Christ, you will be UNDENIABLY DANGEROUS to his kingdom. If the enemy is not attacking you then he knows he has beaten you and if he knows he has beaten you, there is no need to even bother with you any longer. But thanks be to God Almighty that you are a VICTOR. Thanks be to Him that what he did on that cross did not just shake the ground. It did more than you realize. It gave you the ability, nay, the Moments Destiny3 2RIGHT and privilege to be AS HE IS IN THIS WORLD. It gave you the way to be HEALED, WHOLE, and COMPLETE. It gave you the avenue by which your realization of right-standing would be a witness to others. A beaten down spirit does not win others to the Kingdom. What wins others to the Kingdom is being around a spirit that is on FIRE for God. A spirit in a body that the devil tried [unsuccessfully] to break down. A spirit in a person who went through the tunnel of pain and despair and came out on the other end praising God. THAT is what changes mindsets. THAT is what mends hearts. THAT is what encourages others. THAT is what tells the devil you can not be defeated. THAT is what shakes the foundation of fear and self-loathing in your life. It only takes one thing to get there. A moment. A moment of perfect clarity in your position as a believer. A moment where you decide you are done being beaten down, subjugated, and tossed around by the devil. A moment when you purpose in your heart that from THIS day, you will say ONLY what the word says about you and NOTHING else. And as the juxtaposition of these moments build, a new foundation (that cannot be shaken) will form in your life and you will notice a joy and a peace and a passionate thirst for God that cannot be quenched. God cannot make you do it, a significant other cannot make you do it, a family member cannot make you do it. The decision is ours and ours alone. The serpent could not MAKE Adam disobey God in the garden. Adam chose that. The devil cannot MAKE you stay defeated. You choose defeat when you choose to give in. If we want to live the lives of blessing and favor God sacrificed for us to have, then we have to CHOOSE to change the way we see ourselves and that change begins with a moment.

 

 

Writers Note: If you have ever been like me, and have ever struggled with self-worth, God is saying this to you.

“Do you want to know your worth? The holes in my hands are what you are worth. The spear in my side is what you are worth. The thorns that enshrouded my head is what you are worth. The blood flowing to wash you clean is what you are worth. Do you really want to know what you are truly worth? My child, you were worth it ALL.”