Apprivoiser–> Coulesse

In Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel “The Little Prince,” the word used by the fox to describe becoming attached to another person is “tame.”  In French, the verb is “apprivoiser”–the meaning being to become connected as though two people’s souls are connected.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t think tame has that powerful of a connotation.  You don’t tame your best friend.  You don’t tame your partner.

Coulesse (v.)–to become deeply connected with someone usually in the context of friendship; profound loyalty to someone because of a soulful connection to them.

I find myself thinking often about the importance of coulessing with people.  For example, there is no word for describing the process of becoming “best friends” with someone.  Coulessing solves this interpersonal void.  Not to mention, the euphony is pretty strong with the word coulesse.

Here’s an example:

There’s going to be a movie about Michelle and Barack Obama’s relationship.  It’s going to begin with their first date and proceed with their mutual coulessing! How adorable.

ART

Pablo Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist”:

Picasso the old guitarist

I sit on the street between the Alhambra and the Gypsy quarters.  Like my divided identity–muslim, Spanish, Gypsy–I find myself torn between these disparate world. None accept me completely—I fly wayward from quarter to the next.  The Spanish find me too dark and shun my religion; the Gypsies fear I’m a mole for the Spanish, and my religion is like the vestige that Spain carries with its history.  They all respect the architecture, or beauty of my religion, like the decorative Alhambra.

My clothes I have been wearing since before I can remember.  They drape roughly over my joints, reminding me of my emaciation.  The only thing that remains is my guitarra.  I find that music is the great unifying space between us all.  Here, I meld the rhythmic chaos of the Gypsy sound, the sweet, slow strums of the Spanish Flamenco, and the wails of the minaret.  Nameless, homeless, people-less, but not without music.  They sounds I create are the sounds of cultural overlap.  It’s my way of making sense of my place in the world.

 

NEWARK

Here’s the scene: You’re in a train station. A train arrives, but it’s not the one you’re waiting for. As you watch a few people come and go, you notice a strange scene in the last car of the train. Only two people are inside–a young man and an older woman. They appear to be having a very animated discussion. The young man is clutching a large box to his chest. The woman is wearing a bizarre hat and holding a large map, which she continues to turn this way and that.

I’m a young man, or at least I am by age, but I don’t feel that way.  I’ve had to move over fifty times in my life, from this place to that, one city to the next, neighborhood to neighborhood, parent to parent. There is a woman in a funny hat sitting in front of me.  She made the mistake of asking me where I was going.  I said, “to east Newark.” She pulls out her map of Vermont and keeps trying to point out Newark.  I kept telling her I wasn’t going to Vermont, but she persists.  “THERE IS A NEWARK IN VERMONT,” she yells. I can’t help but feel sorry for her.  She only wants to help. Poor, senile old woman with a hat that looks like it belongs in a 1950s British wedding.  She wants to feel useful, just like I want to feel wanted.  So I play along.  She wants to help me.  I’ll let her.  “Okay, maybe you’re right, maybe it IS in Vermont.” She pauses. She looks at me like she’s never been validated before, like no one had ever agreed.  She was used to fighting; I could tell. “OOOOOOHHH my oh my oh my, well I just have so much to tell you about my great state of Vermont.” I internally groan.  “We have nature, bushes, hmmm, birds, and this Senator named Bernie Sanders!”

The election. The last thing I wanted was to talk about this bullsh*t election.  But she persisted.  “Bernie Sanders has saved our state from economic collapse,” she says. We begin talking back and forth about the election. “Can Bernie really save us from crippling college debt?” I ask.  She begins outlining the plan for me.  I’m not sure I can believe it.  Our discussion heats up. She spews facts about single-payer healthcare, foreign policy, and breaking up the banks.  I retort with the national debt, Obamacare, and the need for a coalition to fight ISIS.  We’re both democrats, that much I can tell, but this woman is undoubtedly more liberal than I.  She’s a flower child in its purest form.  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she conceived a child at Woodstock.  The train rolls to a stop at the Hartford station.  I look out the window and see a man reading a newspaper.  He looks a little lost.  The woman waves out the window at him.  He begins walking on the train, and I can hardly make out his features.  Wearing my glasses is nonessential, usually.  He walks into our train car and sits down.  The woman gives him a tender side-hug and motions him toward me.  I finally start to recognize him in front of me it’s….

“Hi, I’m Bernie, and I am your father.”

 

On a Journey to other Blogs

Dalton thinks about the necessity of risk-taking and compares this situation to Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken.”  His thoughts force us to contend with a critical duality.  We can stay alive by not living, but is life at all rewarding, then? Read below:

https://daltonofun.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/cowards-live-but-why/comment-page-1/#comment-34

Ester discusses Jackson Pollock’s work and finds her outlook changed in the process.  We’re all just trying to make it in this chaotic, unpredictable world.  Perhaps Pollock’s work and life reminds us of that fact most distinctly:

https://eatpraycatz.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/jackson-pollock/comment-page-1/#comment-55

Olivia (?) discusses a viking saying and the necessity for friendship.  Her thoughts are honest, matter-of-fact and remind me to prioritize people.

https://tracheaofserendipity.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/viking-wisdom/comment-page-1/#comment-53

 

 

Poetry Analysis

 

Big Question:

What are the concerns and situations of the speaker?

John Keats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow each muse about their imminent deaths in these poems, but their approaches are rather different.

Devices: Assonance, metaphor, listing (enumeration)

Keats and Longfellow each reflect on the passage of time, but while Keats focuses on the missed opportunity that faces him, Longfellow discusses the ultimate affect of time’s passage: death.

Paragraph 1:

Visual imagery in both poems convey diverging feelings about the passage of time, but maintain a similar understanding of missed chances.

Keats:

Imagery of  potential literary accomplishments:

“Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery”–Conveys the things he’d like to do, but he worries he may never have the opportunity

Metaphor:

“then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think”–he must focus on living life instead of merely allowing it to pass him by

Longfellow:

Imagery: “The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet”—A similar discussion of missed opportunity, but he is much more vague.  Longfellow’s aspiration seems more unattainable.

Metaphor: “And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.”—Autumnal refers to a late-middle age in his life, and he feels death quickly approaching.

Paragraph 2: Personification reveal their differing opinions of the passage of time, one being empowered and the other facing their ultimate demise.

Keats:

Personification: “When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance”–Feels there is beauty all around him.

Personification: “And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power”—Personifies mystery being and feels a deep appreciation for the world he’s departing

Longfellow:

“Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,—
A city in the twilight dim and vast,”—–The past is not an actual human, but has characteristics that reveal humanity. He feels a darkness about the passage of time.

 

 

Hamlet: Man-Child or Mad Man?

The panel discussions we engaged in brought up some interesting ideas, many of which I wanted to delve further into.  Hamlet’s madness, which he himself proclaims to be a plot device, seems more central to the play than merely “he is or he is not.” Hamlet tells his friends that he will pretend to be mad. His act is extremely convincing, though. Is it really an act, or does Hamlet slip into madness during the play? In order to answer this question fully, we have to begin by operating with a functioning definition of what “madness” is. Merriam-Webster defines it two ways:

: a state of severe mental illness
: behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous

In class, I asked whether Hamlet would be perceived as “guilty” of crimes or whether he should be forgiven, at least in part, because of circumstance and mental illness which could serve as a mitigating factor.  The panel was divided.  Raymond argued that Hamlet was justified while Olivia F. maintained that he was not. In my, perhaps overly empathetic view, Hamlet’s madness could have definitely served as a mitigating factor in removing charges against him in the murder of Polonius.  Under terms of law, Hamlet would fall under two mitigating factors: “Unusual Circumstance” and “Difficult Personal History.” Hamlet stabbed Polonius in frustration and believed it to be Claudius who killed his actual father.  The old saying “crime begets crime” comes to mind here.  In such unusual circumstances, madness can manifest itself in a variety of ways, either through violence or erratic behavior, and I wholeheartedly believe that Hamlet’s “madness” was more than just an act.

Hamlet’s madness, conveyed as a pseudo-mental illness, is manifest in his plans with which appear erratic and ill-conceived.  The panel mostly agreed that Hamlet was not mad, citing that he was very capable of rational thinking.  Most notabl(e)y (strumpet), they cited Act 2, scene 2 wherein Hamlet stated, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”(II.ii.591-592). To point back to the Webster definition, it specifies that “madness” is also behavior that is “very foolish or dangerous.” People who are mad or mentally ill are capable of coming up with elaborate plots; in fact, most mass-shootings appear on the surface well-organized.  However, what makes the individual and his/her plot mad is the total lack of foresight over the outcome of the plot.  In this case, Hamlet was potentially exposing to Claudius that he was aware of his father’s demise.  This sets off a whole chain of events including Claudius’s attempt to send Hamlet off to England and the poisoning of the cup.  Similarly, “madmen” conduct mass-shootings but leave the evidence all over their hands, showing lack of concern over their potential criminal conviction. A similar lack of foresight becomes obvious when Hamlet has the opportunity to kill Claudius but resolves to find him “when he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, or in th’incestuous pleasure of his bed”(III.iii.89-91). Knowing full-well that his was his prime opportunity to murder Claudius with no one else around, Hamlet clearly shows that he is unable to fully execute the murder. Although foresight brings him to the conclusion that murdering Claudius while praying would send him to heaven, he neglects what he already knows which is that Claudius is an ill-intentioned individual. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the scene is when Claudius states, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go”(III.iii.96-97).  Hamlet abandons his proper judgment regarding Claudius’s behavior.  Instead, he opts for”foolish” and “dangerous” behavior, allowing more time to pass and ultimately allowing his plot to fail.

Hamlet’s interactions with others appear to indicate legitimate mental-illness, one that seems to go beyond an act. Although the initial encounter between Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Gildenstern appears the most normal in the play, there remains some elements of mental uncertainty.  Hamlet remarks that “Denmark is a prison” (II.ii.239). Here we see traces of depression from Hamlet, which would not be significant except that Hamlet has no incentive to pretend to be someone else around R & G.  In essence, Hamlet is in his truest forms around these friends, and thus gives insight into his deepest emotions.  Remarking that Denmark is a prison is a benign statement that reveals is lack of emotional-soundness that motivates him to act erratically. To contrast this initial interaction with R & G later, Hamlet makes vague statements regarding the whereabouts of Polonius; Hamlet responds to their inquiries with, “the body is with the Kind, but the King is not with the body. The King is a thing—“(IV.ii.25-27). Hamlet plays into the idea kingship–articulating that Polonius is with the kingdom but not the physical King.  This bizarre phrase conveys Hamlet’s erratic thought process and his inability to properly illustrate Polonius’ whereabouts.  Hamlet had the wrong approach from the beginning.  Despite his insistence that his behavior was an act, exposing to Claudius that he knew his father’s condition unfolded his entire plan.  Had he been truly mentally sound, the decision to “act crazy” might not have been made at all.

Ophelia–Art of Hamlet

Of all the characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia was the most difficult for me to understand.  Why she so quickly abandoned Hamlet’s love confused me.  Why she became delusional before the King and Queen dumbfounded me.  Why she never doubted her father’s advice frustrated me.  Ophelia is far from a protagonist in the play, and yet, she has so much potential to stand on Hamlet’s side.

Alexandre Cabanel’s Ophelia 1883 captures the Ophelia I imagined when I read this story.  She is angelically beautiful, like a fairy, and she’s prone to a characteristic whimsy.

Cabanel’s oil on canvas painting is held in a private collection, which means this painting is kept from public eye.

What strikes me as interesting in this particular painting is that she appears very relaxed.  Her back rests against a branch as her eyes gaze lackadaisically to the distance.  Her dress is half in-half out of the water, indicating that she has yet to be fully submerged in water.  In Gertrude’s monologue reporting her death, the queen tells Claudius and Laertes that Ophelia was climbing a willow tree and the branch snapped.  It is obvious that the branch she is leaning on is the willow branch, but again, she seems very in control of her situation.

Did Ophelia commit suicide? Cabanel seems to think so.  For her to have drowned, she would have had to make the willful choice to release herself from that branch and submerge herself more fully in the water.  This raises some important considerations regarding Ophelia’s character.  Was she devoted to her father enough to motivate suicide? Or did she perhaps have some love for the mad prince as well?

In any case, the painting itself is a beautiful depiction of Ophelia.  The blues and pinks of the dress evoke a sweetness of her character.  Her hands resting on the branches show her relaxed state.  Flowers float around her, enshrining her in a symbiosis with nature.

800px-Alexandre_Cabanel,_Ophelia