Where is too far?

This section of Fun Home continued with its extravagant twist and turns, the downward spiraling of Allison’s life that I cannot seem to put down. When I finished reading the section assigned for Thursday I began to see a reoccurring theme in the novel, Allison’s life slowly spinning out of control. The story begins with a father who makes the children do chores (completely understandable) to the end of this section where Allison’s homosexual father has committed suicide after a divorce as she is fighting off obsessive-compulsive disorder. The story is life a train wreck that you cannot look away from, but as I read without blinking I wonder what is with our societies obsession with others demise? Tabloid magazines are now one of the hottest commodities and the latest celebrity drug addiction is even making the front pages of respected newspapers. Even today as I turn on CNN, the videos of twin bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon are still being played, it makes me wonder why we watch the demise just as much as we like to watch those people rise out of the ashes. Is it we are hoping to see them get their lives back together or making us feel better about our own lives? Is it our human nature to gossip about others or as a society are we getting worse when it comes to watching others fail? Fun Home was published in 2006 and is a New York Times best seller, I believe everyone can think of a dysfunctional novel, TV show, or movie that was good even though there was not a happy ending but why are some so fascinated with this genre?

 

Another spot I found interesting is how Bechdel decided not to change the setting, names, etc. in the book, when you Google map Beech Creek, PA the map identical to the one on page 140 appears. Although already dead this book had to destroy her fathers and families reputation in a small town on 700. The book shows them as having a perfect reputation as the all American family but behind the shiny polished house stood a family on the verge of collapse. Does literary integrity of telling the true story outshine the reputation of her family? Although written about her family’s life in the 70’s and 80’s, small towns tend to have multiple generations of families that continue to live in that town. This could easily be a stigma on the Bechdel’s that continue to live in Beech Creek. This all rounds back to the idea of watching peoples demise because it comes down to the ethics of journalism. Does showing or writing about a shocking subject to get the story out outweigh the people the story will inversely hurt? Its something I believe we must look at as we read the news newspapers and watch the TV. But the thing that makes Fun Home so interesting is how Bechdel left her whole life on the table for the reader to make their own opinions and perceptions about her family. Which is something that could be honorable or something that could have ruined her family in the long run. 

Closer and Todays Technology

Science Fiction in my opinion is way under rated, and Closer is a perfect example of science fiction that is as confusing as it is intriguing. Closer is one of the most interesting in how the story perceives relationships with the added headache of technology. This story, although written in 1992, is still completely relevant today.

           

We live in the fast-paced world of instant communication, where almost any person in the U.S. can be reached within minutes but what are the downfalls. When people become too close could it actually lead to their demise? According to Closer, yes. This is perfect critique of the modern relationship as texting and social media are now a main part of communication. But is there a point where too much connectivity can be a bad thing? In Closer it talks about how most people accept the idea of changing and “switching” using technology to make memories with the hope of a better life. Today I and most likely others have become so used to technology sometimes we forgot to look into the consequences that come with it. As Closer shows it has the ability to completely ruin a relationship because the characters become so intertwined they can no longer find enjoyment in each other. Could technology ruin relationship even with today’s technological advancements?

           

Another thing to look at is how the characters have no problem with this idea of changing. We as a society must decide what is ethical; technology is perfect example of people struggling to decide what is right and what is wrong. Texting has created instant messaging that connects the world in 200 characters but as we text more we begin to see some people’s communication and grammar skills greatly decline. People generally like the quick easy communication of texting but seeing kids communication skills tumble is something all of society should be concerned about. Will we be like the people of Closer and turn our backs to this problem because of the convenience of texting or will we look at this as a major problem with our society?

           

Closer is a great story of how technology can actually ruin relationships and a society but the technology also sounds new and intriguing. Will we decide with the moral minimum and choose the risky yet interesting new technologies or will someone stand up and say when something is wrong in order to protect the greater good of society? 

Sula and 70’s America

Sula is a classic novel about a small black community in Ohio but I believe it has an underlying message about the whole country. The book was published in 1973, which is right at the end of the Vietnam War, and I see many points where Toni Morrison is clearly critiquing post war America.

            The story begins with two communities racially divided, with whites building fancy golf courses while the black community has the land high in the hills after they were tricked into taking it. The 70’s were a time of much racial tension in America, the Civil Rights Movement had just ended and America was a changing country. The way these two towns are set up sounds much like desegregation in the 60’s and 70’s. Busing was being implemented and towns that had been historically white and black were being forced together, just as Medallion City and The Bottom are coming together in the story.

            Another spot where I see Toni Morrison’s critique of 60’s and 70’s America is in the character of Shadrack. He is a World War I veteran who comes home with major PTSD. The Vietnam War was the first American war that saw widespread PTSD and soldiers coming home with severe mental problems. This is perfectly shown in Shadrack’s National Suicide Day and how he is scared of minor things like his hands. The characters don’t pay attention to his day and that’s exactly how people thought they should handle mental disorders during the 60’s, that if you pretend its not happening, it wont. 

            Another critique is of the widespread drug use of G.I.’s returning from Vietnam in Plums heroin addiction, a drug commonly cultivated in Vietnam. The story talks of him coming home after the war dirty and his hair uncut just as many of the Vietnam vets with addictions were portrayed at the time.

            The last main point I see of her critique is in how the women of the book are characterized sexually. The sexual revolution was in full swing at the time this book was published and many women were at a crossroad. There is Helene and Cecile who represent the 1950’s pre-revolution prudish nature. Then there is Eva and Hannah who represent that woman who no longer wanted to abide by the prudish rules of the 50’s.

            I believe this story has many hidden messages about 70’s lifestyle but I could be wrong and just reading the story in a different way so please let me know if you find any points that help of hurt this argument. 

Humbert, Bill, and Men in Literature

This section of the book is a point where readers almost have to take a position on Humbert, he has committed unspeakable offensives yet writes so beautifully explaining himself it leaves readers torn. He has passed the point of no return and him and Lolita are now sexually active. Before this point as a reader I was fully hoping he would choose to do the right thing and just be Lolita’s father. He even talks of throwing all sexual advances away and giving her the childhood she deserves with friends and a nice home but “in a wink” he was overtaken by his primal sexual desires. Later in this section is when he gives Lolita the Vitamin X making her fall asleep; these examples make me think of so much of today’s media where men are defined by their sexual desires. Are all Men sexual monsters? Today’s media often portrays men as sexual beings but wanting none of the consequences. A good comparison is to HBO’s Big Love. I see so much alike in Bill and Humbert in how they can appeal so much to viewers yet what they are doing is wrong. Its like society expects men to fulfill their sexual fantasies at all cost. Everyone knows what Humbert and Bill are doing is wrong yet we still feel sympathy for them, they are not fully wrong. Bill uses the claim of religion while Humbert blames Lolita’s sexual advances and uses historical examples of pedophilia. Are these easy cop-outs or sincere excuses? Why does society feel so much sympathy for men when it comes to sexuality? Another example in Big Love is the question of who is the father of Sarah’s baby? The whole episode never even mentions him, making it seem like it is perfectly okay to impregnate a woman and take no responsibility. Society should be against this but in this episode the family never asks who the father is. Another good example mentioned in class is how hard society has made it for girls to report rape; people claim that she is simply changing her mind about the sexual encounter. This is completely false even looking at simple statistics you can see how often sexual harassment occurs. This goes parallel with how Humbert claims in this section that Lolita was clearly the one to make the first move. From Big Love and this section of the book we see society needs to start making men responsible for their sexual actions and that this is no longer the Middle Ages and men can be held accountable.

            This section is a real turning point in the book, Humbert is loosing my trust and although I am striving to like Lolita she is making it very difficult. It seems like they are becoming very much like a real couple while Humbert still tries to be her father. We also see foreshadowing of their collapsing relationship, which as society expects he will most likely leave Lolita. Although men are often portrayed as very sexual beings in media many do portray men in a positive light with very healthy sexual desires so I don’t want to make it seem like every man is evil. These are just two examples of this idea. 

The Desire for Freedom

These two classic novels are the epitome of being American, the cross-country road trip that everyone desires. To be free on the open roads heading west, and in these cases having person you love riding shotgun. These books are both groundbreaking, On the Road was one of the first showing the beat lifestyle in a positive light. Both have the same theme of leaving behind their boring lifestyles with nothing holding them back, to be completely free living off the land and the kindness of others.

On the Road is one of the most famous pieces of American literature, based on the lifestyle of “the Beat” a person who could be compared to todays “hipster”. The beats were people in the 50’s would refused to join the white picket fence lifestyle of the post-war US, they drank and smoked defying everything America stood for at the time. The general public saw them as lazy and dangerous, scathing articles were published about them from Life magazine to the New York Times. But what the American public did not realize was that all they were doing was rebelling against conformity, that being robots living in the suburbs is not the only way to live. Some of the most famous American writers consider themselves beats and the most famous of them is Kerouac, he was the voice of the beats and the soul of doing what you wanted and being yourself. This makes me think of today’s youth generation, sometimes questioning if we are conforming too much to the norms of our society. In the book Sal is living off the land, drifting from city to city relying on the generosity of others, is this lifestyle possible in today’s world? With all the connectivity today is this lifestyle conceivable or a thing of the past? I think of myself as I have a Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet in my pocket with my phone, we are constantly being bombarded with ads, messages, and calls it gives me an almost respect for Sal’s life of quiet. He wakes up ever morning with no idea where that day will take him, that felling of “anything is possible today”. It is a lifestyle that sounds as exciting as it does scary, but a constant theme in youth literature is to be on the open road with no worries, portraying that awesome feeling of being lost and not caring. On the Road was recently made into a movie and on the bottom is two teaser pictures which shows the open road theme of the 50’s almost perfectly. If a movie was made of todays generation road trip what would that cover consist of, five kids playing on iPhone’s, the in-car TV playing, while they follow the GPS navigation religiously?

We are the generation of the technology age, the test dummies for constant contact, this is something that could be a huge advantage or ruin our communicate skills forever. I am in no way saying that I am not a member of the technology age, as I write this I am constantly checking my Facebook and Twitter, but it makes me ask, have I conformed?

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