All posts by Marina C.

Life Lesson

“My life after childhood has two main stories: the story of the hustler and the story of the rapper, and the two overlap as much as they diverge. I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen years old(…).The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand. it was life during war time”

 

Most rappers come from ‘the hood’ and have struggled in life with drugs or have been involved in illegal activities, so what makes Jay-z’s story interesting? When reading Jay-z’s memoir it is not the classic hustle story that stands out, it’s the introspection with which Jay-z describes those events. When you’re reading the autobiography you can easily picture him in the process of remembering his childhood. The descriptions make those memories seem extremely vivid, as if by telling the story he was reliving those days. Most rappers just tell their stories through rap music, which cannot get really in a lot of details but they also do not explain the mental process that made the rapper become who he is. Jay-z through this book is trying to provide that to his fans. It is in fact evident that his focus is on what was emotionally pushing him to make the decisions he made, he also explains what sparked his interest in rapping and rhyming.

The story starts with a description of what a normal day in his childhood was, playing around with other kids, daring each other to do things, and then one day he saw a kid rapping, and that’s when it sparked. He wanted to do it too. As the story goes on we see how Jay-z’s life evolves. He keeps rapping but one day he starts selling crack.  In the song December 4th Jay-z says:” this is the life I chose or rather the life that chose me”, he’s not blaming others for his actions, and he recognizes that it was 100% his choice, although being from a neighborhood like Marcy was a little bit of a trigger. Jay-z realizes that as terrible as it can sound the days when he was selling drugs are actually the days that made him who he is. There’s a reason why he calls it “life during wartime”. Sure he was not fighting for his country nor for a good cause but during that time of his life things got ugly, he saw loved-ones die.

The memoir is surprisingly beautifully written, and what gives it and extra interesting touch is the fact that we see how hip-hop and rap culture evolved, as Jay-z matured into the rapper he is now. Almost like if the two were growing alongside. Jay-z made the most of what life gave him, and a big lesson to take away from this book is that we have to remember where we come from because it is thanks to our past that we are the person we are today.  This is what makes Jay-z’s story not only extremely interesting and different, but also educational and motivational.

 

Lord Henry’s Character and Oscar Wilde

 

“(…) beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid”(pg 2)

Oscar Wilde is one of the most important members of the aesthetic  literary movement. This is a movement that was created in response to the Victorian period. Aesthetes believed in the importance of beauty, art, individualism and self-expression. In the novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray the character that gives a voice to the aesthetic movement is, in fact Lord Henry. Authors who believed in this movement believed that art should not convey a moral message, it rather should  just be a mere pleasure to the “spectators”.

Lord Henry is the character that gives a voice to the movement, in more then one occasion he expresses opinions that are quite questionable. All that matters to him is the beauty of things, or the pleasure that one can receive from things. Henry’s character is interesting for mainly for two reasons. First of all, throughout the book it is never clear to the reader if Henry lives after the aesthetic values he so much professes. Almost all he says seems to be some kind of aphorism, short and (apparently) highly convincing, which takes me to the second reason why I consider Henry’s character so interesting. So as mentioned earlier it is never clear if Lord Henry conducts his life following the principles behind all of his aphorisms, but he does a marvelous job in influencing Dorian Gray. He becomes the person Dorian goes to for advice, Dorian ends up basing all his life choices on the aesthetic principles. So where Lord Henry is the voice of the aesthetic movement, Dorian Gray is the guinea pig who shows readers what happens when aesthetic principles are applied to life choices. Dorian’s life becomes a life dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and beauty.

Oscar Wilde supposedly is one of the advocates of the aesthetic movement, but did he really believed that aesthetic principles where good principles to follow in order to have a happy life? It is a well known fact that the ending of the novel is a tragic ending. If Dorian Gray was supposed to be the incarnation of the aesthetics values, than why did the novel end in such a tragic way? I believe Oscar Wilde did not actually believe that basing your life exclusively on aesthetic values was a good way to conduct your life. By ending the novel the way he did, he was trying to send a moral message to the readers, and that’s another element in the novel that’s completely against the aesthetic principals. Lord Henry and Oscar Wilde both don’t mean what they say but say what they mean. They both prays aesthetic values, but do they really believe in them?  Maybe not.

 

General Contradiction

“‘What is this country’ one said to the other, ‘which is unknown to the rest of the world, and where nature operates under laws so utterly different to ours? It is probably the land where all is well, for clearly such a place has to exists. And despite what Maître Pangloss may have said, I often noticed that everything went fairly badly in Westphalia'”. ( Chapter 17 pg. 45)

This passage might not seem all that important, but if we pay close attention to what is being said there’s some information about Candide that might seem interesting.

Before being banned from the castle in Westphalia, Candide was schooled only by  Maître Pangloss a philosopher that believed that all happens for the better. Having only him as a role model Candide was convinced that Pangloss’ philosophy was the best way of viewing life and events in general. But after being banned from the castle, Candide starts experiencing how the real world is. At first he seems to keep thinking in the same way he was taught by Pangloss, but as the story goes on we start seeing signs of doubt in Candide.

In this passage those signs of doubt become very evident. Candide officially starts questioning Pangloss views. He recognizes things weren’t that great at the castle even if Pangloss used to say the opposite. Experiencing life outside the caste is slowly broadening Candide’s view on things. Just the fact that he’s questioning the only way of thinking he knew is a huge step  towards a renewal of Candide’s person. If Candide hadn’t been banned from the castle he probably would have never questioned Pangloss’ views

Even thought Candide’s misadventures seem for the most part  bad and unfortunate they are still very important,  mostly because they initiate what’s going to be not only a physical journey but also a self-discovering  and more spiritual journey. Getting out of the caste is giving Candide a chance to discover who he really is. It’s helping him figure out his own voice and it’s helping him form his on opinions. So for how bad his misadventures seem to be they are actually very beneficial to Candide. Which raises a big general contradiction: it’s good that Candide is learning to form his own opinions, but if all the misadventures are for the better, was Pangloss right all along? Is it actually a good thing then that Candide outdistances himself from Pangloss’ views?

Marina’s Test Blog Posts

“‘Away away with them! Today I don’t want to hear any more about all this; I obeyed you, it was your wish, let it be so! When Norberg returns, I shall once more belong to him and to you, and you can do what you like with me; but until then I want to lead my own life, and even if you had a thousand tongues, you would not talk me out of my plan. I want to give my whole self to the man who loves me and whom I love. Don’t make faces! I wish to submit to this passion as if it should last eternally'”

I believe this passage relates to more then one of the terms we compiled in class. It relates to rebellion because Mariane is trying to break free from tradition. Instead of saving herself until marriage, she wants to give herself to someone she really loves, which  takes us to the second term: romance.  This passage also expresses a more modern concept of love and union. The girl wants to be with the man she loves and not with the one she was set up with.