A Take On Orientalism

Before watching and reading about orientalism, I had no idea what it was. When watching movies and reading books, I had never once thought about the true accuracy of what I was taking in and the perspective in which it was written or observed. Looking back, I can see examples of orientalism in not only many pieces of literature, but even in my own view of things. Growing up, Im sure a lot of kids watched movies like Aladdin, Mulan, and even Doctor Strange. All three pieces portrayed the middle east and eastern cultures in a way that is not accurate. In these movies and other films and literature, these cultures and their people are portrayed as mysterious, magical, tropical, and many other words that make the cultures seem like some kind of show we are only a small part of or meant to view from a distance, for our entertainment. These places, the people, and their cultures are viewed as otherworldly and totally separate from us. The middle east and eastern cultures have been grouped into one bubble of mystery, fantasy, magic, and separate from us. The many cultures, religions, and practices are usually not distinctly grouped to one country or culture and there are blurry lines separating the practices/religions that belong to certain people and cultures. Movies follow a cliche view of the middle-east/eastern areas that causes many parts of those countries and their cultures to be overlooked and misunderstood. As I started to understand how much orientalism has even taken over my own views, I have realized how easy it is to be blinded by what is true and real due to what you are told and what you watch and read. It is so easy to fall into a certain type of thinking and it is so easy to look at other places through one lens instead of taking the opportunity to explore and research the world and the many cultures and people who inhabit it.

Edmund is not evil

One of my favorite characters in King Lear was Edmund. Although he was one of the main antagonists in the play, there was a depth about his character that intrigued me. Edmund had grown up feeling illegitimate as a bastard and was part of his family but was also not a part of it. This caused a lot of confusion for Edmund and led to a lot of jealousy towards his brother. He became the villain as he tried to scheme and manipulate in order to gain power. But, unlike usual villains that are just straight out evil, Edward just wanted to fit in. He had always been treated differently and as less than his brother or any of the other “legitimate” sons. A theme throughout the play was power and how it can be obsessive and cause one to lose sight of what truly matters. Many characters like King Lear himself, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund, all began to lose sight of themselves and fell into the dangerous trap of power. What makes me sympathize the most with Edmund is that he had grown up without any power. He had been treated inferiorly and less than because of society’s views. Over time, this took a toll on him and he became this antagonist we see in many other pieces of literature that schemes and commits crimes in order to feed their selfish needs. But unlike Goneril and Regan, Edmund had strived for this power because he never had any, he was never treated as an equal, and he wanted to make a change in order to be seen as legitimate and worthy,

Emotional Motion Sickness

Pheobe Bridgers is an up-and-coming artist who uses storytelling to entrance her listeners into a moment in her life or feeling she has experienced. Her song “Motion Sickness” is the second track on her album “Stranger In The Alps”, which was released September 22nd, 2017. In this song, Pheobe is writing about being on a roller coaster of emotions. She describes a relationship where she has as been built up and broken down thousands of times and says it was like she had motion sickness from all the ups and downs in the relationship. In the song, she illustrates many moments and feelings where she felt as though she was being manipulated and thrown around. 

I hate you for what you did

And I miss you like a little kid

I faked it every time

But that’s alright

I can hardly feel anything

I hardly feel anything at all

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridger’s

In the first verse of the song, she starts out strong by using juxtaposition. She claims that she hates this person for everything they have done to her but still misses them. She misses the feelings she had with them and the idea she had of them in her head. Even though someone treats us poorly, we can still miss them and miss having them in our lives. She uses this juxtaposition to show the conflicting feelings one can have after a breakup, and especially after an emotionally abusive one like the one she experienced. 

Im on the outside looking through

You’re throwing rocks around your room

And while you’re bleeding on your back

In the glass

I’ll be glad that I made it out

And sorry that it all went down like it did

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridgers

In a later verse, Pheobe described feeling like she is on the outside looking into her own relationship. She describes being able to see her partner self-sabotaging themselves and the relationship when she says “You’re throwing rocks around your room.” This line isn’t supposed to be taken literally but is inferring the kind of damage this person did to themself and others around them through their actions. Although Pheobe recognizes that her partner at the time was purposefully abusing her mentally, and physically, she is still sorry that it all happened. This verse illustrates how once you are out of an abusive relationship, you can fully see everything that should’ve driven you away sooner from the “outside.” 

I have emotional motion sickness

Somebody roll the windows down

There are no words in the English language

I could scream to down you out

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridger’s

Finally, in the chorus, we can see the story come full circle when she talks about the emotional motion sickness she had from the relationship. This metaphor is referring to physical motion sickness becoming more emotional and a sort of feeling you experience when someone keeps letting you down and then getting your hopes up again. She even goes further with this metaphor by saying the windows need to be rolled down, as though she is going to throw up from all of the ups and downs. This line is a beautiful representation of how some abusive relationships go and the title of the song being “Motion Sickness”, fully encompasses what Pheobe is trying to describe. Pheobe Bridger’s use of metaphors, juxtaposition, and use of scenarios to illustrate a feeling or occurrence adds to the essence of this song and makes it an experience to listen to.

We Are All Migrants

In Exit West, Nadia and Saeed are two very different people. Saeed is very religious and is more conservative, while Nadia is more modern and is not religious. As we move throughout the story we can see the differences between the two as Nadia rides a motorcycle, does not pray like Saeed, and wants to have sex with him before they are married. The two get along well together despite their differences but over time it seems they grow apart.

After leaving their country, both describe feeling tension and feel a coldness towards each other. At the same time, Nadia seems to be finding a part of herself she had been keeping down. To me, Nadia was obviously less traditional than Saeed and many other people, but she put on an act for the society she used to live in. After leaving her home, Nadia started to let more of herself show to others. The narrator describes how she thought of the girl she met in more than just a platonic way and was thinking of her romantically. Nadia and Saeed ended up going their separate ways. Saeed was comfortable with his own traditional beliefs but Nadia seemed to be discovering new things about herself in her new home and seemed to embrace herself more.

I think a huge part of this book is how traumatic events and change, in general, can change us, and even though it can be hard and painful, sometimes it is necessary to discover our true selves. Nadia needed to move on from her home country and even from Saeed in order to truly embrace herself. People and places are not always going to last forever, and sometimes they are just there for our journey, to guide us to the right path to finding happiness and love for ourselves and others. No matter if we are moving from one place, person, or time in our lives to another, we are all migrants searching for a home and searching for ourselves.

Meuraults Take on Death

During Meursault’s trial, the death of his mom is brought up many times, and his reaction to his mother’s death is used against him. Witnesses are called to question how Meursault acted at his mother’s funeral and was described by many as being cold and disinterested.

People noticed that he did not cry at the funeral and did not want to see his mother’s body. It is also held against him that he went on a date and saw a funny movie with a woman the day after the wedding. Meursault expresses confusion as to why this is being used against him. He does not understand how this has any connection to his case. He also illustrated when his mother passed away that he was not too distressed as nothing had changed. Based on his reaction to his mother’s death and how it was being used against him at trial, it does seem to me that Meursault is not afraid of death or feels sad about anyone that dies.

Meursault seems to only care about a person’s death of it significantly changed his life and how he goes about things. For example, when Meursault shot the Arab man, he was not guilty or sad that he had done so. Meursault realized he had made a mistake as he was now going to go to prison but did not have remorse for the man.

By the way that Meursault reacted to his mother and the Arab man’s death, I believe Meursault does not care about the death of others, and only about the impact and undesirable effect it could have on him. 

Does He Care?

In “the Stranger” by Albert Camus, we are met by an extremely complex character. The story starts off with the character, Meursault, experiencing the death and funeral of his mother. As the story moves along, we start to see more depth in his character and are witnesses to how he goes about life. One thing is evidently clear as we continue to read. Meursault simply does not care.

Even in simple interactions with other characters in the story, Meursault has a facade of a laid back persona that is almost alarming. His response to events, that most people would have more reaction or opinion towards, is met by a cold response of disinterest. When asked if he wanted to marry Marie, his girlfriend, Meursault simply responded by saying, “It didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” (41). This brief response was one of the many time Meursault has illustrated his true disregard for other and his own emotions. It seems as though Mersault cannot make a decision for himself when concerning important matters such as marriage, love, sticking up for an abusive man, and even helping hurt the abusive mans girlfriend by writing a hurtful letter. Time and time again, Meursualt continues to show sociopathic tendencies that are hard to miss. Although at the end of the story we can see some emotion in Meurault and regret from shooting a man, it is clear that it takes a lot for him to show this and react to it.