Expanding on My Groups Presentation

Sickness and the concept of Ailments play quite a large role in Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. As I began to explore the many thematic statements made in the novel, I stumbled upon ideas such as the impact of military/police on society, growing up, and memory. However, the topic of sickness stuck out most to me and I became excited to share about this topic in class. Unfortunately, my group ran out of time so I will reflect on the topic in this blog post. The passage below does a very nice job summarizing Janina’s perspective on sickness, Ailments, and their impact on an individual in society.

“It occurred to me that he was a very good Person, this Boros. And it was a good thing he had his Ailments. Being healthy is an insecure state and does not bode well. It’s better to be ill in a quiet way, then at least we know what we’re going to die of.” [Page 167]

At the start of the novel, Janina finds her Ailments to be troubling and becomes increasingly embarrassed of her supposed condition. This passage directly depicts her new profound perspective of sickness — and how it isn’t such a bad thing. Janina is able to bond with Boros over his shared tendencies and she realizes that their shared “condition” serving as a point of connection.

In my opinion, Janina views sickness as a way to differetarent yourself from other members of society. She also believes that being fully “healthy” does not allow you to feel uncomfortable — something necessary to advance as members of society. Janina has been able to experience growth because of her illness. Now my question for you, what does sickness/Ailments reveal about the characters that make up Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead?

Succession & King Lear

When I found out that the most significant connection between the HBO Max show Succession and Shakespeare was King Lear, I knew that I had to start watching the show. But how does a play from 1606 directly influence a 21st century TV show? Both themes revolve around a central power figure who divides his wealth amongst his children. In Succession, Logan, a media tycoon, serves as this figure. The transfer of power is prominent throughout both King Lear and Succession.

In King Lear, his power is divided amongst his three daughters. Whereas in Succession, Logan’s power is divided amongst his three sons and one daughter. The gender-power dynamic should be noted. One might find Siobhan, Logan’s only daughter to be most similar to Cordelia in King Lear. Both Siobhan and Cordelia embody independent female figures that seek power through themselves. They both exert power on their own and without the approval of other men.

Additionally, Logan’s sons are most similar to Edmund and other male characters in King Lear. Logan’s sons, Roman and Kendall plot against their elders and ultimately dictate the downfall of Logan’s success. Logan is poised with the decision of who will take over the family businesses but he fails to delegate the role. This is similar to Lear’s struggle to pass over the power of the Kingdom. All in all, the family dynamic and power structure in Succession mirror that of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Baby Keem: 16

In 2021, rap artist Baby Keem released his world renowned album The Melodic Blue. The song 16 was featured on the album and quickly became a hot track within the hip-hop community. 16 generated tons of buzz because of its unique way of portraying Keem’s ideals about life and his perspective on mentorship. He offers parental-like advice in a creative and nonjudgmental way – something most of his supports presumably demand.

16 offers an opportunity for one to forgive and forget, while leaving the past behind. The song depicts an individual who has broken the trust of his friends and family, but comes to realize that he can regain their trust by apologizing for his wrongdoing. As the song transitions, we gain a new perspective of the speaker, one that is harnesses the ability to realize that the mistrust experienced by both parties is not very serious from the gecko. This song demonstrates a clear theme that: a person must apologize to regain the trust of their loved one, but in hindsight, our struggles and difficulties are never really that crucial, and life continues to move on. The multidimensional lyrics reiterate this notion.

Drown yourself in expensive fabrics

This quote serves as the first time that Keem offers context into his coping mechanisms for his struggles. He sheds light on the broken friendship with his mother and girlfriend. These coping mechanisms provide the audience with reasoning for as to why Keem first struggle to apologize for his wrongdoings. Instead of apologizing, Keem indulges in luxury goods and material objects. This insight further enhances the meaning of the song and reemphasizes the importance of apologizing. This line correlates to the struggles of initiating an apology to someone you may have hurt, and how at times, our minds can be consumed with distractors.

What’s love? I guess I’ll never understand

In the quoted line, the listener, for the first time, hears Keems acknowledgement of his wrongdoings. This point in the song marks the transition from the denial period to acceptance, in this cast, wrongdoing and moving towards apology. Keem is able to take a look in the mirror and realize that his struggles with his girlfriend are beyond himself. In order to gain her trust, he must acknowledge what he has done wrong. Additionally, this quote builds on the theme of coming to realize that things are truly never that serious and life continues to flow.

Every time I say sorry, I do that shit again

Keem chooses to end the song with this necessary and powerful line. This quote incapsulates the multiple messages of the song, from the importance of apologizing to the significance of messing up again. Furthermore, this end line magnifies the meaning of the song by reinforcing the importance of apologizing, but also realizing that trust might be broken again. Realizing that life continues to move on even with our struggles, goes hand in hand with understanding that wrongdoing *might* occur again.

Country of Origin within Exit West

Exit West attempts to answer the many questions about globalization. Many characters throughout the story struggle to feel at home because of the force of migration. The sudden move to London poses many difficulties for both Nadia and Saeed. Both characters struggle to cope with the new challenges that London brings. Nadia dislikes the migrants from their home country because of past experiences, where as Saeed actively explores his values and moral compass. Over time, both characters develop a sense of respect for their home country and learn to value it in their own way. Nadia finds connection with her people through the council and Saeed finds his place with the other migrants in London. Their experiences are important to note when thinking about the effect of ones home country on their values, actions, and morals.

Trust. Does Maria Embody Meursault Tendencies?

Trust, the 1990s comedic, dramatic, and crime filled movie displays many complex characters. Maria Coughlin, one of the main characters in Trust embodies similar tendencies to Meursault, the main character in The Stranger. One may argue that both Maria and Meursault are raging existentialist. One may argue that both are thriving in their given environments. Is it fair to categorize both characters as extreme philosophical thinkers or do they just co-exist in society? As I write this, I would argue that Maria and Meursault both embody existentialism and what it means to question constructs. However, I would love to hear your thoughts on this multiplex question.

Coping with Struggle via Chess

202 Checkmates is an action-packed story with tons of insight into the game of chess, financial crisis, and a difference in parenting styles. Within this short story, the reader is thrown into the relationship and life of a daughter and father. Both of these characters have a strong bond with the game of chess, and at times, use it to cope with outside struggles. Throughout the short story we are shown multiple games of chess and how at times, we lose ourselves in something of passion and joy. Regardless of the financial struggles that the father faces, he is able to use chess as a positive device to combat his rather difficult lifestyle.

As the story transitions, we learn that the father creates issues inside and outside of the household setting. This is evident through the mother’s disapproval of the father’s work ethic and the game of chess. The mom goes on to claim that “Chess doesn’t get work done”, reinforcing the idea that the father’s passion for the game is perhaps a waste of time. The conflicting relationship between the mother and father in the story hone in on how parental influence and marriage conflict directly affect the child. In this case, the daughter distances herself from the father as he starts to become absent in their household. All in all, 202 Checkmates is a short story full of real-life struggles and how we deal with difficulties.

Benjamin’s Theory and Religion

Though Benjamin doesn’t explicitly mention religion in her argument, religious affiliation undoubtedly involves a multitude of connections with others and the world around you. As a member of the Jewish community, I face challenges on a daily basis. These obstacles, though difficult, I do not categorize as conflict. In connection with Benjamin’s ideology of mutual recognition, I have found that being a member of a minority religious group has allowed me to fully understand and connect with other religions. Even though I have different beliefs and values, I have found a way to empathize with other belief systems. For example, when the anti-semetic hate crimes struck the OPRF community in 2018 and again in 2022, I was devastated and angry. Instead of ragging out on members of other religious groups – that were possibly seen as a threat to mine – I took this as an opportunity to connect with those who inflicted this damage. After taking some time to reflect on the situation, I understood that misconceptions are prone in our current society to heal these misconceptions, we must educate ourselves and those of other backgrounds.

This is a prime example of Benjamin’s idea of mutual recognition – a profound understanding of who I am, which comes with recognizing someone else as an equal human; and the process of them recognizing me as equal. At the time, those who participated in this hate crime on the jewish community did not see us as equal. When education and connection prevailed, change and respect for my religion occurred. Those who once viewed minority religions as less than now bond over the same values that we all share.