Get back to the kitchen… or not

In King Lear, the depiction of women throughout the play reflects a blatant hatred for women and whatever they do. The sexism in the play is not only saved for the women who are “evil”, but the ones who are “good” as well. In the historically-based TV show Reign, women face the same situation. No matter how good or bad, royal or common they might be, all women are consistently treated with disrespect. Both pieces deliver a similar message: no matter what women do, they will still succumb to the sexist views of the early centuries.

Cruel and calculated, Goneril and Regan from King Lear are depicted as animalistic with no redeeming qualities. In Reign, Queen Catherine is quite intelligent and fiercely loyal, but is written to look selfish and deceptive. The men of similar status and character are shown as cunning, with good reasons as to why they act the way they do.

Even the women protagonist are constantly disrespected and undermined. In King Lear, the kind-hearted Cordelia is shown as disloyal to her father and is even written off for a while when she speaks her mind. In Reign, Queen Mary is constantly sabotaged and overlooked by the men in her life, even though she has good intentions and holds more power than them.

Although Goneril and Regan from Lear and Catherine from Reign might have malevolent hearts, all their scheming and hatred might not be completely unwarranted. If the men in your life are going to disrespect you no matter what you do, why not gain a little power while you’re at it?

Music, or LUXury poetry perhaps

Released in September of 2013, Lorde’s hit album Pure Heroine is a beautiful collection of lyricism that presents the teen experience in an almost melancholic way. Being pretty young herself when writing it, each of Lorde’s songs in this album hint at youth and the collective experience we all seem to face. Of all her songs, there is one that sticks out as the most poetic: “400 Lux.”

The song begins with a sound that almost resembles a siren. Although not overtly recognized as that, it seems to serve as some sort of drawl or a representation of leaving time. Even before Lorde even sings, it is clear that the song evokes a feeling of timelessness. The song, which has been interpreted to be about two teens watching the sunrise, expands on that theme with its poetic lyricism. 400 Lux is poetry because of the use of figures of speech, imagery, and the motif of time.

The first few lines of the song are packed with literary devices. The most prominent of them, and one that reoccurs through the song, is the use of figures of speech. The phrase “killing time” is a figure of speech that is essential to the theme. The expression serves as a poetic way to say that the speaker likes spending time with the recipient of the lyrics.

We're never done with killing time
Can I kill it with you
Till my veins run red and blue

400 Lux could also be considered poetry due to its stunning imagery. The pre-chorus of the song is especially loaded with lines that make the listener feel as if they are living inside the song. Not only is it filled with similes, personification, and repetition, but it accurately paints the sentimental picture of two teens adventuring and feeling like the world is theirs.

You pick me up and take me home again
Head out the window again
We're hollow like the bottles that we drain
You drape your wrists over the steering wheel
Pulses can drive from here
We might be hollow but we're brave

Throughout 400 Lux, the motif of passing time is used as a beautiful poetic device. As introduced in the first few lines, the theme of “killing time” is apparent all through the song. The word “time” is not only repeated many times, but the overall concept of time referenced thoroughly. Even though the song tells the story of two teens watching the sunrise, the overarching motif of time allows the lyrics to take on a more poetic feel. This can especially be seen in the chorus, where Lorde artistically conveys the feeling of missing something before it’s even over and the nostalgic experience of the teen years. Although it doesn’t directly state the word “time”, the motif is still present in the imagery and overall mood she creates.

(And I like you)
I love these roads where the houses don't change
(And I like you)
Where we can talk like there's something to say
(And I like you)
I'm glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway
(And I like you)
We move in the tree streets
I'd like it if you stayed

Of all of Lorde’s ingenious pieces, 400 Lux has got to be one of the most profoundly poetic. The stunning imagery, the emotions it evokes, and the incredible lyricism are all part of what make this song one of my all-time favorites. I’d highly recommend listening to this song while driving late at night with the windows down, for an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and rightness in your world.

Trauma Bond

Although it’s sad that Saeed and Nadia did not end up together, it makes a lot of sense. They met during an already rough time, but being forced to take that journey together would put a strain on any connection. Any situation that evokes that many negative and stressful emotions is bound to suck all the romance out of a relationship.

While I think Saeed and Nadia were very compatible at the beginning of the book, the events of the war and their journey changed them. For better or for worse, the two of them were not the same people they were in the beginning. Nadia was hardened from the start, already exposed to the horrors of the world through her family situation and her gender but still hopeful for the world. Saaed’s heart was soft in the beginning, but his outlook on the world darkened over the span of the book.

Even though Saeed and Nadia did not end up together, they will always be bonded through their trauma. Their visits might have gotten less and less frequent towards the end, but I think they will always hold a special place in their hearts for each other due to the circumstances in which they were forced to survive in.

Life Has No Meaning… Kinda

When I hear the phrase “there is no meaning to life”, I’d almost agree except for one exception- I believe there is no universal meaning to life.

After our class discussion about existentialism, it became abundantly clear to me that no matter what the opinion of life was, everyone had their mind made up on a specific meaning of life. Some argued that love is the ultimate goal, while others stated that we are all just avoiding death.

Our own individual experiences with life shape what we believe the meaning is, and that’s what I think makes this conversation so interesting. Existentialists can argue that one theory makes the most sense, but in actuality we all are clueless as to what the meaning of life actually is. Religion, our upbringing and experiences, our thoughts and ideas- they shape our own explanations for why we are here.

It’s hard for me to gather the words to explain my thoughts on existentialism because it is so universally confusing. No matter what we believe the meaning of life is, there is the underlying truth that no one really knows why we are here. The only thing we can do is come up with our own explanation to help rationalize this absurdity called life.

Evening Thoughts on Complex Individuality and Mutual Recognition

As I read over the criteria list for the blog post, nothing quite struck me right away. My summer reading book Exit, Pursued By a Bear was mildly entertaining at best, and no other book I’ve read recently contained any depth. However, while taking a break from my Criminal Minds obsession this summer, I tried watching the new hit HBO series Euphoria. Although the show is filled with drugs, sex, and lots of sparkles, there is something else that makes it so captivating: the complex individuality of each character.

Like no other show I’ve seen before, Euphoria accurately depicts the struggles of high school, addiction, abusive parents, and every thing in between. What truly amazed me when watching it was the way it that showed life for what it is: really f-ing hard, but something beautiful at the same time. Without romanticizing the struggles of each character, Euphoria demonstrates that every single person you´ll encounter is going through something, whether you know it or not. The show does not focus on one specific character, but rather how each of their complex stories are intertwined in some way.

Nabokov´s concept of mutual recognition goes hand-in-hand with the idea of individuality because it recognizes that each person is more than just a binary, that we are all complex, unique humans. And such is the beauty of real life: we are all complex individuals that are living our own story in tandem with one another.

No Escape from Stereotypes

Although Escape from Spiderhead is written as being futuristic, it actually accurately exaggerates very modern stereotypes that people hold about women and prisoners. Although never stated, Abnesti treats the prisoners as though they are hardly human simply because they are criminals. When talking to Jeff, Abnesti asks him, “How many kids do I have?” as if to remind him that because he has children and a life outside of the prison walls, he is somehow better than him. This reflects the misconception that some might hold that criminals are simply criminals, not complex human beings like everyone else. Furthermore, the story refers to the belief that women are objects and can only be used for sex. When Jeff is thinking about having sex with Heather, he refers to her in his head as an “unworthy-seeming vessel”. Even though at one point he felt love for her, the word “vessel” shows how he, maybe even subconsciously, feels that women are only objects designed for his pleasure.