Does the apple fall far from the tree?: Female Anatomy in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13th, 2017 by Deja George

The defining features that Beli and her daughter, Lola, share are their hair, curves, height and attitude. Although these two women share these features, they each value them for different reasons.

Lola doesn’t take pride in her hair in the same way her mother does as we see when Karen shaves her head. Diaz writes “I looked at the girl in the mirror for a long time. All I knew was that I didn’t want to see her ever again” (59). Up until this point, Lola tried to express herself through gothic and punk fashion but was always chastised, even humiliated by Beli. Lola laments, ” You don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a mother who never said a positive thing in her life, not about her children or the world, who was always suspicious, always tearing you down and splitting your dreams straight down the seams” (56).  So what better way to spite a mother who’s done nothing but tear you down from when you were young?  For Lola, it’s to become a rebel and choose to live the life you want. Lola’s rebellion starts to surface when she’s twelve and makes it way through her teen years when Diaz writes, “…when I was twelve I got that feeling, the scary witchy one, and before I knew it my mother was sick and the wildness that had been in me all along, that I tried to tamp down with chores and with homework and with promises that once I reached college I would be able to do whatever I pleased, burst out. I couldn’t help it. I tried to keep it down but it just flooded through all my quiet spaces. It was a message more than a feeling, a message that tolled like a bell: change, change, change” (56-57).

One defining feature they do share and marvel at, are their curves. Beli fully embraces her newfound body once when she realizes that it draws men to her to the point where it gives her power. Diaz says, “Beli, who’d been waiting for something exactly like her body her whole life, was sent over the moon by what she now knew. By the undeniable concreteness of her desirability which was, in its own way, Power” (94) For Beli, her curves allow her access to many men who find her attractive and are willing to go out of their way to gain their attention. Diaz confirms just how powerful Beli’s anatomy is by equating it with the “accidental discovery of the One Ring”(94). Which is a metaphor that origins from Toliken’s Lord of the Rings series. A famous quote from the film is “One Ring to Rule them all” which controls everything in Middle-Earth. So what does that mean for Beli? That her womanly assets can control any man in Bani; which isn’t too far from the truth since many men fawn over her  like the dentist at La Inca’s bakery and eventually, Jack Pujols.

Lola has a similar prowess, but located in her legs and her butt. She was on the track team which built up enough muscle in her legs enough to cause traffic jams. One of her loves, Max, praised her for butt.  Diaz writes, “I never knew my big ass could be such a star attraction but he kissed it, four, five times, gave me goose bumps with his breath and pronounced it a tesoro. When we were done and he was in the bathroom washing himself I stood in front of the mirror naked and looked at my culo for the first time. A tesoro, I repeated. A treasure” (73). Now, Lola doesn’t flaunt her body to the extent that her mother does, but she does awaken to her womanly features through men once she realizes that they appreciate her for them. She hadn’t felt this until she falls in love with Max and shows her body to him.

One defining feature that’s worth mentioning is Lola’s “jagged lightening bolt part” that she shares with her grandmother, La Inca. From that feature alone, Lola “knew that things would be okay” (78) between the two of them when they first met. And that it is; they got long well to where La Inca didn’t want her to leave DR once Beli sent her away for a summer. Unlike Beli, La Inca and Lola have a great relationship in adolescent years. La Inca reveals to Lola, “Your mother was a diosa. But so cabeza dura. When she was your age we never got along” (75) and Lola replies, “I didn’t know that”. So, even though Lola’s going through puberty she didn’t drift away from La Inca, she actually became close to her. On the other hand, Beli felt ashamed by her changing body when she first started going through puberty. She felt “furious at the world for this newly acquired burden” (93).

“I have infinite tenderness for you, and I will my whole life…”: Adultery in Queer Romance [PAPER PROPOSAL]

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4th, 2017 by Deja George

I am still awaiting my graphic novel of Blue is the Warmest Color in the mail so I haven’t gotten the chance to pick it apart in order to incorporate a concrete thesis, however, here’s what I’ve been planning to write my paper on:

I am interested in the significance of adultery in queer love and romance in coming of age narratives. I’ll be working with  Abdellatif Kechiche’s film adaption of Blue is the Warmest Color along with the graphic novel by Julie Maroh .Within this coming of age narrative, we see Adele come to an understanding that romance is transient yet powerful. In the film, we see Adele fall in love with Emma the moment she crosses the street. Then we see their love blossom from an innocent glance on the street to a full on romantic relationship then comes to a sad end.

Another aspect that I wish to talk about is the conflict between Adele and Emma remaining faithful to each other. Emma was already in a relationship prior to meeting Adele, but they become very intimate despite Emma being technically taken. Later on in the film, Adele then cheats on Emma with a man which terminates their relationship. This makes me wonder why Emma was so opposed to being cheated on when she in fact, cheated on her other partner as she fell in love with Emma. My mind is telling me to extract some of Laura Kipnis’ ideas on adultery in her book Against Love (which I need to re-read in order to be sure if I will actually incorporate it or not.)

The scenes I’d like to focus on are the scenes were Adele explores her sexuality (her first relationship with Thomas, her first time at a queer bar, the confrontation within her social circle about her sexuality),  the break up scene between Adele and Emma, Adele and Emma meeting up after the break up within the coffee shop and lastly, Adele attending Emma’s art show only to see her with a new partner.  

From what I’ve read online, the graphic novel has big differences than the film. I would like incorporate these differences and see how they impact queer love and romance.  In my works cited, I have found two articles that discuss how I may analyze the graphic novel as we do with other literature.

 

Working Bibliography

  1. Dollar, Steve. “Arts & Entertainment: Pushing the Limits in Controversial Film — Two Actresses Explore a Transformative First Love.” Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition ed.Oct 23 2013. ProQuest. Web. 3 Nov. 2017.
  2. Dallacqua , Ashley K. “Exploring Literary Devices in Graphic Novels .” Language Arts , vol. 89, ser. 6, 2012, pp. 365–378. JSTOR [JSTOR].
  3. Kipnis, Laura. Against Love: a Polemic. Vintage Books, 2004.
  4. Lin, Tzu-Bin, et al. “Understanding New Media Literacy: An Explorative Theoretical Framework.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society , vol. 16, no. 4, Oct. 2013, pp. 160–170.
  5. Schwarz, Gretchen. “Expanding Literacies through Graphic Novels.” English Journal, vol. 95, no. 6, July 2006, pp. 58–64. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/30046629.
  6. Stojanova , Christina. “The Female Double: Subjectivity Between Allegory, Facticity and Marivaudage.” Kinema : : A Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media, Kinema , 2015, www.kinema.uwaterloo.ca/article.php?id=582&feature.

Rough Draft Proposal

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27th, 2017 by Deja George

The texts I will be working with for my research paper are Love (2015; directed by Gaspar Noe), Blue is the Warmest Color (2014) and Laura Kipniss’ Against Love.

  • I haven’t generated a concrete thesis but I’m considering discussing cheating within relationships since both of these films have those instances, polyarmory and/or queer theory. I have to reread Kipniss to see if I can extract something viable. I plan to use some theory I’ve diacussed in a film theory class to help with the film analysis as well.

Heathcliff is a Marshmallow: Final Encounter between Catchy and Heathcliff

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24th, 2017 by Deja George

(Small disclaimer: I have not completed this book in its entirety. There’s quite a lot of symbolism and other literary aspects to this body of work that will take me a bit to digest. So, if there are any plot mistakes or poor analysis on behalf of my incomplete reading, I apologize.)

In what ways is the last encounter of Heathcliff and Cathy (Chapter 1, Volume 2) different from what we might normally expect of a final scene? That is, in what ways does it thwart our expectations for such scenes? How might the scene have affected readers at the time of the novel’s first appearance?

This final scene between Heathcliff and Cathy didn’t thwart my exceptions. In fact, I found it to be as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Plus, I have seen this trope before in other stories (Mean dude is horrible to everybody but falls in love with someone then turns into a marshmallow when it comes to the object of his affection) I expected Heathcliff to curse Cathy for picking Edgar over him but of course, to remain very much in love with her.

Lockwood observes their touching reunion noting Healthcliff’s actions, “He neither spoke, nor loosed his hold, for some five minutes, during which period he bestowed more kisses than ever gave in his life before” (159). I suppose the readers would be caught off guard by Heathcliff’s displays of physical affection given his harsh mannerisms and ill ways in the previous volume, I, however, expected it. From the time they were children, Heathcliff was very much aware of Cathy’s charm.  We saw this when the two were was withheld by the Lintons for trespassing, Heathcliff told Nelly “I left her, as merry as she could be, dividing her food between the little dog and Skulker…and kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant blue eyes of the Lintons–a dim reflection from her own enchanting face–I saw they were full of stupid admiration; she is so immeasurable superiority to them–to everybody on earth, is she not, Nelly?” (51). I took it as a double handed compliment; Catherine may have a bratty temperament but she does show small acts of being an angel when she chooses, one that anyone can’t resist, including Heathcliff.

And alas, we see that Heathcliff doesn’t remain impenetrable to Cathy’s charm, not even when she’s on the brink of death. Lockwood then observes, “And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish, they did not melt” (160). To readers, that’s the Heathcliff we were accustomed to. A man who doesn’t show tears for any reason. Take for example in his childhood when Hindley threw an iron weight as chest. Heathcliff only “fell but staggered up immediately” (39) and achieved “full revenge by letting his condition plead for him, intimating who had caused it” (39). Not one tear in sight.  That all comes to an end though, once when Lockwood observes, “They were silent—their faces hid against each other, and washed by each other’s tears. At least, I supposed the weeping was on both sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this” (163).

Heathcliff’s fluffiness even gets more pronounced when he says, “Hush, my darling! Hush, hush, Catherine! I’ll stay. If he shot me so, I’d expire with a blessing on my lips” (164). This coming from a man who regrettably saved a child from having its brain splattered on a floor just said the sweetest thing to the world’s childish woman. C’mon! He’s being a teddy bear right now!
I tend to watch disastrous love stories regularly, a favorite of mine is a movie called “Love” which by Argentinian film director, Gaspar Noé. It’s a grim tale about a young filmmaker, Murphy who has a horribly rocky relationship with a woman named Electra. I won’t spoil it but the two ended on bad terms and never spoke to each other again. One day he gets a call from Electra’s mother since she hasn’t heard from Electra in a long while. Given her daughter’s suicidal tendencies, she is really worried. For the rest of this day (and the film), Murphy recalls his past two years with Electra in a series of fragmented, nonlinear flashbacks; how they first met in Paris, their quick hookup, and their lives over the next two years which is filled with drug abuse, rough sex and tender moments. This movie, for me, was one of the saddest love stories I’ve seen so Wuthering Heights doesn’t faze me in the least. On the contrary, I do realize how this novel would have affected audiences during that time. In 2017, lots of these stories get recycled and turned into a new product whereas for the people in the 18th century, it can be a bit of a shock to read something like that.

“Looking Embarassed”: Geryon’s Innocence in Love (POSTED LATE/BLOG #2)

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2017 by Deja George

 

                   Looking Embarrassed: Geryon’s Innocence in Love

In A Lover’s Discourse, Barthes provides us with a textbook definition of embarrassment as “a group scene in which the implicit nature of the amorous relation functions as a constraint and provoked a collective embarrassment which is not spoken” (Barthe/Howard 122).

We’ve all experienced this emotion at least once, romantically or platonically. Ever trip in front of a group of people or fart in front of your date? The fear of embarrassment is not necessarily what you’ve done to draw attention to yourself, it’s how others react to it and your reaction to their reaction, if that makes sense.  Barthes makes this clear when he states, “What’s heavy is silent knowledge: I know that you know that I know” (Howard 122). Within The Autobiography of Red, Herakles states “Sex is a way of getting to know someone” (Carson 44) and he’s right in the carnal and philosophical sense. He learned that Geryon is feeling some sort of shyness since he offers a reassuring “Its okay” (Carson 44) once things become “suddenly quiet” (Carson 44). There’s silent knowledge being exchanged since Herakles is able to pick up on certain figures/signs.

An extreme case of embarrassment ensues once Geryon’s language fails him once he asks “Is it true that you think about sex everyday?” (Carson 45) which takes the shape of a “joint astonishment as two cuts lie parallel in the same flesh” (Carson 45).

It’s also worth mentioning that the title of this section is Looking Embarrassed while Carson illustrates embarrassment as a multisensory experience as “something black and heavy that dropped between them like a smell of velvet” (Carson 45). Embarrassment isn’t only a phenomena of sight but one of smell and touch too.

 

Was Luther worthy of Hedwig’s love? (Blog #1)

Posted in Uncategorized on September 4th, 2017 by Deja George

As I watched Hedwig sing her heart out to “The Angry Inch”, I found myself giggling quite a bit. From her outfit to her crude lyrics (I admit that the line, “I was bleeding from the gash between my legs. My first day as a woman and already it’s that time of the month” was pretty clever and it echoed in my head throughout the day), I was astonished as to how she easily displayed her autobiographical songs to the semi-repulsed crowd. Then, a stroke of sadness washed over me. Hedwig went to extreme lengths to become a suitable spouse for her husband Luther. She underwent an invasive procedure, which resulted in a poor excuse for female genitalia. Granted, gender reassignment operations today are much more thorough and safer then the late 80s thanks to medical and societal understanding of such things.

Based on what I’ve seen, Hedwig already identified as a woman emotionally and mentally. She had no qualms about dressing and preforming her desired gender until Luther introduced the idea that she needed to pass the physical examination, thus resulting in the gender reassignment operation. However, I couldn’t help wondering if she truly wanted to have that done. Wasn’t she already comfortable with dressing up? I even thought of a particular in Plato’s Symposium, “And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows him to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure if they were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power”. (To clarify, I’m defining “strange” as out of the ordinary and not something negative like weird/freaky). At the time, Hedwig did love Luther, so much that she was willing to modify herself to be with him. I also found myself questioning the origins of Hedwig’s love for Luther. Sure, he was attractive and saw her in a light that no one else did, but did she love him partly because he could let her escape from East Germany? This also alerted me of another portion of the Symposium, “Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul, inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his words and promises; where the love of the noble disposition is life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting.” Luther does in fact leave Hedwig after they arrive in America. I argue that he didn’t love her “soul” since he wasn’t complacent with her body. Could he have stayed with her regardless of the need for marriage? Perhaps. Marriage can be seen as a mark of a eternal bond between two people or as a safety net for financial and medical reasons, so was it necessary for the be actually wed? In Symposium, we see how certain acts of love can be seen as dishonorable or honorable. For example, hasty attachments are seen to be dishonorable because “time is the true test of this as of most other things”. From how the film quickly progressed, it seems as though Hedwig and Luther weren’t together for long before they decided to get married and it wasn’t too long after when they went their separate ways.

I still have these remaining questions. Although the main focus of the film was the tension between Tommy and Hedwig, I feel as though we need to look at Luther’s place in her life. One may argue if Luther never left Hedwig, would she have known Tommy? If it weren’t for Luther’s “dishonorable” love, would she have been driven to write such passionate songs and become a prominent figure in punk rock?

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