Throughout Shakespeare’s play King Lear, we see Lear fall through many stages of his reign. In the beginning, he is power hungry and seeks love and attention from his daughters. Lear holds power above others in the play but as it goes on, we witness his downfall. After the betrayal of his daughters he is left powerless and alone, aside from the fool. In a search to regain his power and influence, Lear is exposed to the realities of common life. He sees peasants and servants, he witnesses their lives outside of his kingdom. He is astounded by how little they have and how he had never noticed it before. This is when Lear experiences a turning point and possible “attitude adjustment”. We see an empathetic and guilty side of Lear that had yet to be exposed. From this we will this his progression as the play moves forward and how he will utilize these eye-opening experiences.
“Don’t Lie” is a song by the indie rock band Vampire Weekend in their third album “Modern Vampires of the City”, released in 2013. Over the years, I have heard many different interpretations of the song and arguments about its meaning. The most prevalent meaning that I hear in this song is all about life and how we use it. The song reflects upon how certain people do not appreciate their life as much as they should and that they should be more conscious of the time they have left. The chorus of this song says:
I want to know, does it bother you?
The low click of a ticking clock
There’s a lifetime right in front of you
And everyone I know
This clearly states that life is clock, ticking on and on no matter what happens, and if it bothers those that the song is for. Are they wasting their life away or taking advantage of the “lifetime right in front of them” ? This song questions and implies that people do not understand how rare life truly is and how important it is to take advantage of it. Another verse repeated throughout the song is:
God’s love die young,
are you ready to go?
The band alludes to a more religious aspect saying that life can end at anytime and if yours did right now, would you be satisfied? Would you have lived your life the way you wanted to? The repetition of this line before the chorus gives a small reminder as to the fragility of life. They want to emphasize this meaning through repetition. Also, they use the word “you” to speak directly to the listener and create a more personal connection to their audience.
Young hips shouldn’t break on the ice
The inclusion of this line seems to refer to their younger audience. It seems like they are calling out their audience saying, you are still young enough to do whatever you want, so go do it! Live life while you can because there are people who are too old or sick to do so. Hence the reference to “young/old hips”. This line gives direct reasons as to why life is precious and why it is worth living.
This song contains a strong message that any listener can relate to. Vampire Weekend provides a song full of contemplation to get people looking at how they can live their best life. Whether this is the true meaning or not, it is a lyrically advanced and poetic song.
Over the past few decades as media has advanced and developed a larger role in the lives of everyone, people have become more and more susceptible by what the media tells them. Social media platforms, the news, and even television have been telling the story of global Others from a very specific and fixed point of view. People are shown everyday that global Others are “breaking into our country” or that they will “steal your job” and continually are villainizing the very people that this country relies on for so many things. Everyone in the United States has a migrant ancestor no matter the color of their skin and yet migrants are looked down upon by the media with large influence.
In the novel Exit West by Moshin Hamid, Nadia and Saeed are forced to leave their home and journey to a safer place. The media is a large part of their lives as it connects them to the outside world and their home. Throughout the book they read news articles and media posts about the migrants, such as themselves, all over the world. There were acts of violence towards them performed by natives because the presence of migrants in their city made them “uncomfortable”. This roots in how the global Other is publicly portrayed in the media, it plants fear and anger when technically, we are all global Others.
In Albert Camus’ short essay “Myth of Sisyphus”, he compares Sisyphus’ punishment to the life of an average worker. It is a repetitive and grueling job that one is required to perform. Camus claims however, that the difference between the two is Sisyphus’ realization of his own fate. After pushing a large rock up a hill hundreds of times just for it to fall back down again, Sisyphus experiences the joy in knowing his own torment. However “tragic”, as Camus says, this myth may seem, Sisyphus understands why he is punished and that although it will never end, he is still superior to his torment. Comparing this to an average worker today may seem irrational, however I find the similarities between the two to be interesting. It is true that typically, the average worker of today is performing very repetitive tasks, not as exaggerated as Sisyphus’, but the same concept nonetheless. What is even more interesting, is the difference between them. On his descent, Sisyphus’ realization completely shifts his mindset and view toward his grueling task. Workers today, don’t typically have such a realization and think more “realistically” based off of society’s standards. Due to his grasp of “reality”, Sisyphus decides that his fate belongs to him and despite his punishment, he is no longer tethered to the pain it brings him.
In the novel “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman we follow the journey of the 30 year-old Eleanor Oliphant who suffers from multiple mental illnesses due to childhood trauma. Eleanor lives everyday the same. She goes to work, eats, and sleeps. She also tends to think that she is better than anyone who crosses her path because of her cleanliness and organization, even though she lacks basic social skills. When Eleanor meets a new co-worker named Raymond, she is disgusted by his sloppiness and lack of manners (by her standards at least). Despite this, Eleanor and Raymond start to spend time together and Raymond helps Eleanor uncover some mysteries from her past.
Benjamin’s theory of mutual recognition is applicable to Eleanor and Raymond’s relationship because it was completely one-sided in the beginning. Although she spent time with Raymond, Eleanor never saw him as a friend, whereas Raymond treated Eleanor with kindness and respect. Throughout the book, we follow their journey on achieving mutual recognition from Eleanor’s perspective whilst discovering new things about each other. Eleanor never truly accepts Raymond until he pulls her out of her repetitive bubble and that is when their honest and accepting relationship begins.
In the short story Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders, Jeff faces the realities of emotional connections in his modern prison. Jeff, a criminal, goes through his imprisoned life being administered drugs that can twist his emotions in the blink of an eye. With a simple “Acknowledge”, Jeff’s MobiPak™ releases a drug fit to the experiment being performed. In the most recent experiment, Jeff is given a drug that makes him fall madly in love with two different girls as quickly as he falls out of it. Not only does Jeff realize the reality of his situation, but he begins to question his so called “emotions”. “I was sad that love was not real?…I was sad that love could feel so real and the next minute be gone” (55). I think that Saunders writes Jeff feeling the same way the reader would be, along with having the same realizations. When Jeff finally takes initiative and begins to think for himself, it leads to even greater character development later on in the story.