Monday, March 31, 2008
The movie portrays the taxi cab driver in many instances, to put it bluntly, a bastard. He doesn't do his job well and goes out of his way to make people miserable. This is what makes people not feel much sympathy towards him when he was killed. He was a mean person that didn't contribute much to society, even though he does mention he has a wife. The question is, did he deserve to die? Of course he didn't.
On the other hand the murderer throughout the entire movie looks like an innocent young man that would never hurt a fly. He cares about his family, is somewhat talkative with strangers, and even plays around with two little girls who are watching him eat in a cafe. Although the viewers somewhat know in the back of their minds what will eventually commence, they don't view him as a murderer until he actually is in the vicious act of killing the taxi cab driver. He eventually is sentenced to death, and the movie ends with him being executed. Once again, the question is, does he deserve to die?
This question is harder to answer and will have many different opinions. We often tend not to think of murderers as human beings, and honestly it is hard to do so once we hear of the heinous crimes they commit. However, the director, gets us to feel bad for the murderer, because we see him cry, we see his love for his sister, we see all the struggles that he has faced. The director used a powerful tool in arguing against the death penalty tugging at our hearts and gaining our sympathy for the man we should be despising. However we must not forget that he did what he did, and no matter how sympathetic something seems, murder is still murder. The director makes a good argument against the death penalty, one of the best that I have seen. However, the man is still a killer.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
In Section 10 of Diary of a Madman, Elder Brother upsets the madman because he is unable to prevent the cannibals from wanting to eat him. Here, Elder Brother claims that creating change among the cannibals is virtually impossible because they fail (and refuse) to look back and analyze the problems they face. By explaining cannibalism in this way, Lu Xun shows that cannibalism is a peculiar practice that is unable to change and evolve despite being influenced by outside factors. In section 8, the madman inquires if "this business of eating people [is] right". This question is quite significant because of the response it provoked from the cannibal it was directed towards. The cannibal reacts by trying to change the subject of conversation and directly avoid answering the madman's question. It became clear from his response that the cannibal knew he was in the wrong for his actions, but was unable to accept responsibility for them and act accordingly.
I believe that the death sentence served it's purpose in the "playout" of the movie, and also serves it's purpose in today's lifetime.
I was a little confused in the movie when they kept going from scene to scene during the entirety of the movie. One scene would be a meeting with gentlemen sitting at a round table and then it would switch back to the scenes with the 20 year old man, who eventually commited a horrible crime. The movie also makes me think about karma. Throughout the entire movie the taxi cab driver who eventually gets killed was avoiding and being rude to potential customers. I believe that if he picked up just one of those customers, the customers would have led him possibly to the other side of town, way out of the path of the murderer. Due to his bad actions, I believe that karma caught back up with him, which enforces my belief as, "treat others as you would like to be treated."
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wolf Cub village was suffering from famine. Most of the villagers are farmers and some are clerks. Some of them are cannibals. There seems to be a connection between the name of the village and people residing in the village. Xun mentions that throughout the ancient times in Wolf Cub, people have often been eaten. There is a reference to the humans in the village, “all of it began to stare at me with hideous eyes, began to snarl and growl at me from behind bared teeth!” The description given to the people resemble a wolf.
Further in section 4, they refer to the wide open mouth of fish as the mouth of the cannibals that are hungry for human flesh. In the rest of section 4 and section 5, there is no direct reference to an animal, but people are referred to as blood hungry animals in a cannibalistic manner with words such as flesh.
Section 5 ends with “his mind was filled with plans for further cannibalism.” In section 6, Xun refers to the Zhao family’s dog as “savage as a lion, timid as a rabbit, crafty as a fox…” I think the combination of three properties of the animal resembles a Wolf. This makes sense because the name of the village is Wolf Cub, but still they refer to the animal as dog. I believe that the author is trying to compare a regular man acting as a cannibal with a dog acting as a wolf.
The reference to the dog in Section 6 in a way serves as an epigram to the meaning of the whole story; savage as a lion, timid as a rabbit, crafty as fox. This is the way that the madman perceives his brother along with all of the other people in the town. I think that this was Lu Xun's way of expressing his opinion about pre-revolutionary China. All of these animal references were made from him considering his people like flesh-hungry wolves, in my opinion. He used these animal references along with the cannibalistic aspects to show the effect on the minds of Chinese people at a certain time in their history. Look how crazy it drove the madman to be.
In Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman, Younger Sister dies when Elder Brother was in charge of the house. Not only does this raise suspicion in the madman’s paranoid state, it also raises concerns that the cannibals have no boundaries. Families are now consuming their own flesh and blood. For this reason, Younger Sister symbolizes how barbaric society can be. We have no concern over family ties.
How many times have you watched the news and seen someone has killed his own brother, or a mother killing her child? This is just the sort of thing the madman is thinking about when he suggests that Younger Sister was eaten. As he says, “If it’s alright to exchange children and eat them, then anyone can be exchanged, anyone can be eaten” (1925). Cannibalism knows no bounds. Families are free to devour one another, and strangers on the streets are allowed to consume other strangers on the streets. Lu Xun’s work highlights the chaos and bleakness in this world. If you just look around, you can observe that we do not live in a utopic society. There is crime and chaos all around, and there is nothing to save us from “cannibalism”.
He is writing this diary for those who are still not cannibals, and those are the only ones who would be able to save the children. What he is calling for is for them to unite, and take a stand against these flesh eaters, figuratively speaking. He is calling for the children to be saved from the oppressive enemy that is killing off their existence in one of the worst possible ways imaginable.
At one point he describes the physical appearance of “cannibals” in general. He states that “their faces seemed covered with cloth” and that they had “smiling green faces with protruding fangs” (1928). He seems to be over-exaggerating the human “cannibal”. It is interesting how metamorphosis’s these people. By giving them grotesque animalistic features he starts presenting a real feeling of paranoia; a feeling quite different from the beginning when all he did was feel uncomfortable. Something you can be strikingly more powerful than something you feel. Having actually saw the fangs and green smiles of these people really struck fear in the madman which in my opinion transcended his journey towards the state of being insane.
Towards the end of this work he thinks he has the “cannibals” figured out. He expresses over and over how they can change and it would make everything fine again. There is an underlying theme in that of the corruption of society, and in particular the children of society. It is interesting how he makes a comparison between the “real” humans and the “cannibals”. At one point he says the “cannibals” have courage, and that is interesting because he does too. But by saying he has a lot more courage than those who eat people he sort of undermines the fact. He tries not to think about the whole situation for I think he understands he is going crazy. He ends the work with a heroic line saying “maybe there are some children around who still haven’t eaten human flesh. Save the Children…” (1929).
Under the moonlight, the madman is able to see the “dirty looks (Lu Xun)” that people (and dogs) give him. The moon (and often times the lack of the moon) seems to intensify the madman’s paranoia, and seems to exacerbate his thoughts of cannibalism. However, he enjoys the night, and is depressed by the day because he studies the night. He writes, “I can never sleep at night. You really have to study something before you can understand it (Lu Xun).” Indeed, in “Diary of a Madman,” the moon plays an important role in bringing out the madman’s paranoia and fear.
While it may not be obvious, there is a difference between being cured and being "eaten". If the narrator was eaten, this would mean that he was one living in the traditional ways of society (the "cannibalistic" society he dwells on and would be "devoured" by others in the society, for the idea is that the traditions of this culture cause people to metaphorically eat away at each other. Being cured means that the narrator does not believe in these traditions and is being taught to believe it is the right way to do things. To become apart of these traditions is to be "eaten", so either way the narrator would be "eaten."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
When we find out that Lu Xun originally went to school to be a doctor, and that he deeply distrusted traditional medicine practiced in China because of his father's death, we can see that the madman's distrust of the doctor is more significant than first realized. We can read the passages one of two ways: either the madman represents Xun and his refusal to believe in the traditional methods of the doctor, or the madman represents the Chinese population, refusing to believe that the doctor is acting in their best interest. All we really see of the doctor in the story is the pulse-check and advice (to paraphrase) for the madman to take it easy for a little while, which is something that would probably have been suggested in any time period. So, it is up to reader to decide which way to read the passages and, by extension, the story.
As to the question of whether or not a doctor can be and cannibal (and how), the answer is quite simple. Doctors are still humans, so it is entirely possible (if improbable) for a doctor to be a cannibal. All he or she would have to do is consume some flesh, just like everybody else.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
There is no doubt that the narrator of the story is mentally handicapped, and so when we analyze the story from his point of view, signs of Darwinism are definately present in the society that he has dreamed up. Cannibalism is a perfect example of a society that has gone awry, and as you could imagine "only the strong will survive." In his mind the narrator believes that his community has regressed into a primitive society that practices cannibalism, and unfortunately for him, he is deemed the next weakest person community - ultimately a death sentence.
However, when we look at this story from a literal sense and not strictly from the point of view the narrator presents, we realize that cannibalism is just an illusion. The narrator only convinces himself of this crazy idea because he is going mad himself. It is illogical to believe from a conscious state of mind, that any society would revert itself back into these primitive ways. Many of the examples the author gives for coming to a conclusion that everyone in his society have become cannibals are completely ridiculous when analyzed from a literal sense of mind; "...how do you explain those dirty looks the Zhao family's dog gave me? I've got good reason for my fears." Another sign of his madness is displayed by his reaction to the doctor that comes into the room to help him. The narrator completely convinces himself that this man too has become a cannibal, and is only there to make sure he is ripe to eat.
In conclusion, I believe theories of Darwinism are only relevant to this story depending on how you look at the text. If you simply follow what the narrator is saying without question, then there are definate signs of "survival of the fittest." However, if you look at it from a more literal sense of view, you will realize that this man has simply gone insane and is conflicted with a extreme case of paranoia.
What does the madman learn by reading history books? What does he find there? How does he interpret the words "benevolence, righteousness . . .?
At this point the narrator could not sleep and reading the history did not help him in falling asleep, so he continued to read the history. He read the text very carefully to make sure he understood everything clearly; as he continued to read he began to make out what was “written” in between the lines, it was the phrase: EAT PEOPLE! This reference does not really address the problems of Confucianism. The problems of Confucianism deal the their reluctance to employ laws. The only way this reference would relate is if China were forcing their citizens to believe everything they saw fit to believe otherwise there is no correlation between the two.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I would have to agree with
People do many things that make them cannibalistic. While I realize that Xun metaphorically defined the oppressive Chinese traditions to be cannibalistic, I would describe cannibalism today in much more concrete terms. I would describe any profession that feeds off of or takes advantage of those in need as cannibalistic. For example, people who are lone sharks, pimps, and even those who run corporations that utilize slave labor could all be considered cannibalistic. Any human being who uses another human being for personal or material gain, rather than treating that human as a living person, should rightly be called a cannibal.
Monday, March 24, 2008
What is the madman criticizing? Is this story about actual cannibalism? What does cannibalism stand for?
Another way to think about it is if we are all cannibals in a way. Are we all open-minded to everyone else's ideas? The madman is obviously criticizing the obsolete tradition of China for suffocating him and the Chinese people by not allowing them to share ideas openly with other cultures. But in the same train of thought, the madman is being "cannibalistic" because he is all for openness and being closed-minded about China being an isolationistic society. Is there a true compromise of sharing all beliefs and being open to new ideas without being critical, condescending, and condemning of another opposing belief? I believe it is not possible, since many views oppose each other very stringently. There is no way to accept two opposing views without ever being bias toward one side. If someone says they are open, then really they probably are just indecisive and really have no stand on the subject any way.
Lu Xun Question: Is the madman really insane? Is he perhaps saner than those around him? What is sanity? What is madness? Who decides?
“Who’s to say I didn’t eat a few pieces of my younger sister’s flesh without knowing it? And now it’s my turn…Although I wasn’t aware of it in the beginning, now that I know I’m someone with four thousand years’ experience of cannibalism behind me, how hard it is to look real human beings in the eye”
This quote is Xun’s entire argument. He is saying that if nobody changes the current traditions or cultural lifestyles, then everybody will continue to be engulfed in them, no matter if you realize or not. Xun recognizes that he is a product of his environment, and even though he does not conform to the traditions he is still associated with them. Therefore, in answering the question as to whether the narrator is really a madman, I would say, “No.” In fact, he is much saner than those around him because he has not been brainwashed into thinking that you should carry on a tradition “just because it’s always been that way.” Perhaps he is the only sane one, which leads to the second half of the question.
In this diary excerpt, sanity and madness are defined by the people of the village who are conforming to old tradition just because those traditions have been going on forever. Your country’s history is important, however, living in the past and rejecting change is ridiculous. The people described in this piece are cannibals because Chinese people were supposedly cannibals for thousands of years before them. The question of insanity and madness lies in the fact that these people cannot differentiate between positive traditions and inhumane, primitive, cult-like actions that deteriorate society. The inability to make one’s own decisions and allow oneself to be brainwashed by tradition is insane.
Finally, we must consider who decides what is to be labeled insane or mad. This is a difficult question. In the Diary of a Madman, we saw the cannibals label the narrator a madman for exposing them as cannibals. In that situation, we would consider the cannibals the ultimate deciders, which is not far from the truth. Groups of people have the power to develop and perpetuate their own beliefs. Though the belief in cannibalism is the popular belief in our reading, a belief does not have to be a bad thing. For example, a group could be spreading the belief in equality or world peace. If the equality believers and peace spreaders were the majority then they would also be the decision makers. We would consider their decision to be rational and for the betterment of people in general, so having them as the ultimate deciders would be beneficial. However, if the people spreading the belief are furthering hate, violence, or in this case cannibalism, then there is a big problem because they could become the deciders. Once a group like that is the majority society worsens with people becoming brainwashed for false and inhumane causes. Therefore, those who are the majority are labeled the “deciders” and have a significant influence on society, whether good or bad.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Renowned for his love poems, “Tonight I Can Write…,” is a translation of one of Neruda’s more famous ones. The poem reflects helplessness that the poet feels after losing a loved one. The poem definitely carries a sad tone. The poem starts with the line, “Tonight I can write the saddest lines.” The poet repeats the line twice, in the first one-third portion of the poem. He knows that the relationship is over, but vents his emotions into a poem. The poet combines his strong themes such as nature and love. He creates silent background with use of word, “nights” repeatedly. Further, he builds an attachment to nature by use of words such as “the blue stars,” “night wind,” and “endless sky.”
It is indicative of his personality of having multiple wives that his love is superficial. He wrote, “How could one not have loved her great still eyes.” Further, he wrote “Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.” In above lines, he refers to his lover’s physical features as a source of attraction. In “I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.” And in, “She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.” It sound like the love was not concurrent or true.
In his poem, "Tonight I can write . . ." it's as if Neruda is finally ready to close the chapter on one of his long lost loves, for he has no more interest in her. As the poem begins you get a sort of image as if he still longs for her love and is very much into keeping the relationship. As the poem progresses you finally start to see him turning away. On lines 27-28 he plainly states that he no longer loves her, and in the finaly stanze it is clear the she will no longer cause him any pain nor shall he waste paper writing about her.
The book also talks about how well he incorporates nature into his love poems. Tonight I Can Write... is no exception, comparing his situations to stars, nights, the sky and the trees. He lets the reader immerse them self into their own natural world feeling what he is feeling through natural forces.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008