BLAST’s Revolution

Both the content and technique of BLAST are revolutionary. The graphics of the magazine are certainly abnormal for the era; rather than focus merely on getting the information on the page, the designers of the magazine used different fonts and sizes to emphasize certain words. The industrial revolution’s innovations in regards to printing certainly aided in the decision of the designers to attempt something so revolutionary. As more became possible with printing, the people composing BLAST decided to take advantage of opportunities unavailable to past magazines by experimenting with graphics.

The content of BLAST was just as revolutionary as the design. “We do not want to change to appearance of the world, because we are not Naturalists, Impressionists, or Futurists … and do not depend on the appearance of the world for our art” (BLAST 7). Essentially, they say that they do not mind if their works have no significant impact on the world; they do not allow the world to influence their works, either. This sentiment seems revolutionary in that most, to this point, would create works which were either based in reality or aimed at affecting reality; their aim seemed to be to do neither.

Advertisements

Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy

I think that Arnold’s views do seem to be primarily conservative, because he seems  to condemn the liberal concept of thought. Arnold seems to yearn for a simpler time when one’s success was determined by the success of society as a whole, and not the success of one’s specific economic class. Arnold accuses post industrialist England of being too concerned with self serving behavior, and not having any concern for the public good. According to Arnold the effects of laissez faire capitalism are to blame for the concern with self serving behavior in England’s society. the movement of modernity are one of the reasons that British society is more concerned with the concerns of their own individual class than society as a whole. Arnold also repeatedly blames the new English pride of doing what one likes has also contributed to increasing self serving behavior. He states, “that it is a most happy and important thing for a man merely to be able to do as he likes” (1597). This newfound English pride has placed a higher priority on fulfilling one’s own personal desires to benefit that person as an individual instead of the community. Not only is this a selfish attitude, but it also invites the possibility of anarchy in society. Arnold also states, “Our notion of its being the great right and happiness of an Englishman to do as far….we are in danger of drifting towards anarchy” (1597). Arnold is saying that while a certain degree of freedom is important for a productive society, as well as human happiness, if everyone always did whatever they wanted without restraint there would be mass chaos, or anarchy. That is why as Arnold argues that Britain implemented a system of check and balances to prevent anarchy. He states, “Our familiar praise of the British Constitution….a system which which stops and paralyses any power in interfering with the free action of individuals. Meaning that a system of checks and balances is put into to place as a way to prevent an abuse of power, by keeping each individual’s actions in check. This is a conservative doctrine, because many liberalists living in England during this time were advocating for a laissez faire approach to government. Arnold wants to return to a time of eliminated classism and a sense of community where the public good and intellect are of the highest concern, instead of individualism and courage which are tearing apart society.

An Outraged Mary

In 1792, a state-supported system of public education, for men only, was proposed by the French minister for education. Leaving behind a sense of betrayal for everything the revolution stood for, it seems the French revolution’s promise to redress the wrongs of the past has been broken.

An Outraged woman, Mary Wollstonecraft (a force to be reckoned with), responded with A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft’s proceeded to argue upon the foundation of one, simple principle:

“… if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue; for truth must be common to all, or it will be inefficacious with respect to its influence on general practice.”

Wollstonecraft basically suggests that education should be accessible through national establishments as private education is confined to only elite class. She voices her diehard idea of educating girls with boys. She also suggests that girls should be taught things such as anatomy and medicine in order to raise them up as rational nurses of their infants, parents and husbands. Living in men’s society, Wollstonecraft clearly realized that her suggestions can cause a fuss; whereas later, she assures that she has no desire whatsoever to raise a generation of independent and unattached women like herself, but that she does seek to develop wiser and more virtuous mothers.

It is very crucial to understand that even two hundred years after Wollstonecraft’s contribution, this debate is still alive in modern arguments about feminism. Considering Wollstonecraft’s work was never fully appreciated by the women of the 18th century, despite how vital her pieces were for Feminists, it’s clear that her thoughts were revolutionary for her period and more suited to the society of the late 19th to early 20th century.

Should the classification of men and women as different be denied?

Considering this is a question still debated and widely discussed tells us that the question is not yet off the table. These arguments show themselves, along with other things, in modern concerns about the rising frequent rates of divorce and of men who leave their families, of super-moms, of teenage pregnancies, of the need for men to be in control of the family, and so on.

 

 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock”, contains elements that coincide with Decadence and that diverge from it. One commonality between the two can be found in Eliot’s attention to surface details. He writes, “Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;” so as to say that something as trivial as a coffee spoon is how he is counts his entire life. He says too, “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” This brings importance to things that are purely surface details. We  also see sophistication of taste when Eliot writes, “Talking of Michelangelo”, “the taking of toast and tea”, “the cups, the marmalade, the tea, among the porcelain”, and “my morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, my necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin.” These kind of sophisticated appearances of taste is common in Decadent writing, but I believe Eliot is using them in a much different way than, say, Wilde would. Wilde would perhaps say that taste and pleasure are more important than morality, but Eliot is using these examples of taste as a way to say that not even taste matters. We can find this when he writes, “I am no prophet- and here’s no great matter.”

Contrasting with Decadence and the sophistication of taste, however, we see Eliot write of things considered ordinary or even low-class. He writes of “sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells” and “the pools that stand in drains”. He also mocks those who speak with sophistication when he writes, “Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-” and this is purposely meant to contrast with the examples of high taste mentioned above. He, like the modern age itself, is bringing “common” life into the “sophisticated” life. This is seen heavily through the food he mentions, alluding to the modern availability of varying kinds of food to the lower classes in cheaper ways.

our society at cranford.

Throughout this story, Elizabeth Gaskell makes the them of Darwin’s “natural selection” very evident. Natural selection is define by google as: the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. The author focused heavily on the external aspects of the characters describing some as “20 shades prettier” and others as sickly and pale. This represents the difference between those who may have been “selected” as opposed to those who have slim chances. The idea is that beauty is connected to strength and adaptability but it is not always the case. Some may have all the physical aspects yet not be able to adapt. This is manifested in her writing. The only character that represents all the qualities as explained in the previous stated definition is Miss Jessie Brown. She being the only one that survives proves that and especially being able to adapt and get married. Which is the second part of the definition; to produce more offspring. Being one that survived and adapted she will produce offspring who will be stronger and more capable of serving as well which will reinforce the idea that Darwin put forth.

It is very clear that the qualities we talked about in class (sweetness and beauty) are representative of the ability to adapt and survive. Darwin may suggest that maybe inherently people are subconsciously looking for a “mate” who will allow their offspring the best chance at survival.

The Victorian Age Youth

The Victorian age, preceded by the urban/industrial migration led to an increase in the population of the major cities in the United Kingdom. Although this period heralded an industrial revolution in which there was an improvement in the overall economy of the country, there was a growing disparate distinction between classes of the citizens. Set in London, Henry Mayhew, in his narrative titled “London Labor and the London Poor” sheds light on the predicament of the youth on the lower rungs of the economic ladder in the city. John Rosenberg describes the economic class distinction as “a vast, ingeniously balanced mechanism in which each class subsists on the droppings of the stratum above…”(1108), with Mayhew elucidating on the lowest class citizens of which the majority were the youth.

In all honesty, it is probably a stretch referring to the girl first interviewed in this narrative as a “youth”, however, her experience characterizes the quite unusual maturity possessed by the youth of that period. At the tender age of eight, the amount of responsibility shouldered by the girl is remarkable, and one that Mayhew finds difficult to come to terms with initially. Trying to adapt to this scenario, Mayhew “treated her as a child, speaking on childish subjects” so as to “remove all shyness, and get her to narrate her life freely. However, maybe even more incredulous is the way in which she takes her unusual situation in her stride. Mayhew narrates that her response to his attempts at childish prompts was a “look of amazement that…soon put an end to any attempt at fun”(1108).

Youth is quite rightly associated with a reckless abandon with possessions and a less to no-considered approach to wealth or money. The young girl in this narrative however responds to an inquisition on her spending habits with an interesting response. Mayhew writes that she says:

“All my money I earns I put in a club and draws it out to buy clothes with. It’s better than spending it in sweet-stuff, for them as has a living to learn.”(1110)

This highlights the maturity of the youth in this period, necessitated by the economic situation and the reluctance of family to add on responsibility besides themselves. Abandonment and having to fend for oneself is the theme of the narrative on the crossing-sweeper boy.

The youth of that period possessed independence along with the maturity earlier discussed. Even though she was the only family he had left, his sister gave him some money and told him to go get his own living. (1111) With that in mind, it is important to note, however, that the youth of that period still had that innate nature of the common youth with the need to be cared for. The boy narrates that “I saw sister after I left her, many times. I asked her many times to take me back…”(1112)

Mayhew’s narrative paints a picture of an unusual breed of youth forged by the difficult economic times, and in my opinion, neglectful adults, who have evolved to develop maturity way beyond their years and survive in the independence forced on them.

 

To the Lighthouse and the Desolation of the War

In “Time Passes,” Woolf uses the abandonment and decay of the house to foreshadow the desolation and loss of identity that England experiences following World War I. From the very opening the darkness that the war has brought to England is suggested. In the first chapter, all of the lights are put out. Following that, it begins to rain, and it seems as if “Nothing… could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness” (125-26) that comes creeping in and blurs all distinctions. The blurring of distinctions represents the loss of a clear sense of identity that has befallen the English. The house, abandoned by the fractured family that once maintained it, falls further and further into disorder as the family breaks up more and more. This represents England’s steady fracturing of identity which will make the country unable to forget what happened and return to the way things were.

There is a hint that the decay is contested in the person of Mrs. McNab who is first introduced as coming “to open all windows, and dust the bedrooms” (130). Being an older person, Mrs. NcNab probably represents the attempts of the older generation, and older traditions, to hold this new, desolate England together. However, as the war progresses, she eventually gives up. The task is “too much for one woman” (137), especially a woman who creaks and moans as much as the house itself. She  is forced to leave “the house alone, shut up, locked” (137), mirroring England’s own frozen, gloomy state.

At the same time, “Time Passes” demonstrates how the War renders human life meaningless, and yet nature does not care. The major events that will forever define and divide the family occur in brackets, almost as afterthoughts. It is a jolt when the reader suddenly learns that Mrs. Ramsay has “died rather suddenly”, leaving Mr. Ramsay to stumble in the dark (128), that “Prue Ramsay died that summer of some illness connected with childbirth” (132), that “Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsey” (133). The change of the seasons and the slow reclaiming of the house by nature become the main focus of the story. As the title tersely states: “Time Passes.” Humans’ petty lives are of secondary importance.