About Elisa Csorba

My name is Elisa and I am a freshman at Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island. I feel very privileged to be a student in this prestigious college and I look forward to my next four years here. I attended Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn. I love to read - some of my favorite books include the [Fallen series], [Harry Potter], [Jane Eyre], and several others. Sometimes, I think there are too many to list. I'm a friendly person and can start a conversation with anyone about anything, and I look forward to meeting everybody!

On the Waterfront: 12/9/12

On the Waterfront is a 1954 film directed by Elia Kazan, famous for its underlying message and its costume, cinematography, music, and mise-en-scène. These cinematic techniques help to show that the film was not only for enjoyment, but was Kazan’s portrayal of the political and social climate of the 1950’s.

There are several cinematic techniques that stand out in the film. The costume design accurately depicts the low economic class of the 1950’s. One costume that was particularly prominent was Terry’s checkered coat. It seems his checkered coat is a symbol for his confused and conflicted personality, always considering right vs. wrong and good vs. evil. When considering framing of images, Terry was frequently left alone in the shot. For example, at the beginning, after Joey has been killed, Terry is standing with Charlie and two of Johnny Friendly’s henchmen. After they finish talking, Charlie and the other two men leave the frame and we see only Terry. In addition, as Terry walks away after the bar scene where Johnny Friendly gives him money, he is enclosed by a fog, suggesting the uncertainty of his character. Both instances occur at various points in the movie; this suggests that Terry tries to be an individual because he is always yearning to do the right thing, unlike the others.

The movie attempts to truly mimic 1950’s American society. Kazan included dialogue with heavy slang and the constant portrayal of alcohol, particularly whiskey. The slang includes various ethnic slurs and animal references, often combined to create one phrase. For example, the men often use “cheese-eater” and “potato-eater,” which respectively mean a “rat” or “tattletale” and “an Irish immigrant.” It is ironic that they make fun of the Irish immigrants, seeing as they make their livelihood boxing and sending Irish whiskey. A “cheese-eater” is often used interchangeably with “pigeon” or “canary,” when the workers are referring to one of their own who has gone and ratted them out to the police. There is significance to the bird references; birds exist in flocks, in groups, like the dockworkers. However, if one flies away from the group, or turns its (his) back, it likely will not survive on its (his) own. Finally, the priest uses slang terms such as “gravy train rider” and “turnaround collar” in reference to himself. What he means by these terms is that they all think he’ll preach about change, but he will not get involved, because he lives a luxurious lifestyle. In reality, he tries to tell them he will stand alongside them and is willing to help them however he can. In addition to the use of slang, one of the other defining characteristics of the group is the use of alcohol, especially whiskey. Alcohol is the source of their livelihood and income; and, most of the men are Irish Catholics, known for their drinking habits. Whiskey also serves as a way to help people calm down. In the bar, after Joey’s death, Johnny hands Terry money and says, “Here kid, here’s half a bill, go get your load on.” Then, we see Terry and the priest, a religious figure, drinking whiskey in the bar after Charlie has been killed. It isn’t just “drinking away the sorrows”; it is a way for the group to protect their identity and to help them come to terms with their actions.

The most famous scene of the movie occurs in the backseat of the taxi, during a conversation between Charlie and Terry. The scene is intense, as Charlie tries to decide whether to follow through on his order to kill Terry. The music seems to take on a life of its own, narrating the dialogue even without the use of the actors’ words; it is a mournful piece, as if to signify the death of the relationship the two brothers once had. Terry finally confronts and voices his feelings that he is not entirely pleased with what Charlie did to him or for him. Charlie turned Terry from a “somebody” to a “nobody.” The dialogue is full of regret and honesty; it shows Terry finally coming to terms with his own thoughts and who he is. The camera employs the use of close up in this scene, enabling the viewer to see the pain and hurt on both Charlie and Terry’s faces. Kazan also depicts both Charlie and Terry sitting slouched over, as if to signify defeat, but a different defeat for each man; Terry for resigning to live an unhappy life and Charlie for not doing right by his brother. Terry says, “I coulda been a contender,” meaning that he had opportunities ahead of him. This quote has been used by writers for characters in other films with similar situations. The dialogue helps Charlie to finally understand Terry’s point of view and character; it is this confession that leads Charlie to understand why Terry is finally telling the truth about the union bosses.

The main character represents the archetypal hero – an ordinary man with the ability to inspire change. He is a leader, who set forth to overcome the difficulties of his situation and succeeded, changing the fate of his life and the lives of his friends.

Manhattan Analysis: 11/28/12

In today’s seminar class, we had a guest speaker, Professor Diaz, one of the film professors.  She came in not only to further analyze the Woody Allen movie Manhattan for us, but also to give us a brief lesson on the basics of film technique and form.  I am currently taking a film class, so much of her lecture was review.  However, when I first watched Manhattan, I noticed some of the techniques used, but I mainly watched it for enjoyment purposes and to use in analyzing New York society at that time.  Today, as we analyzed the film in relation to modern cinematic techniques, I noticed that the observation of these techniques added to the film’s complexity and significance, and would be useful to all of us as we form opinions and ideas of the movie and its message.

In watching the film, I formed several different opinons of the characters, the message, Isaac’s beliefs, and the general theme.  Now I have evidence to support my beliefs and ideas.  The character of Isaac intrigued me and he is obviously the character I gave the most thought to.  To me, Isaac seems…complex.  It’s seems as if he knows what he wants, but something always stops him.  Sometimes, it is his own neurosis, his own personal hangups.  For example, he knows he wants Tracy, but for much of the movie, even when he is with her, his moral beliefs tell him he shouldn’t be.  His moral beliefs often set him apart from his friends and colleagues, which is noticeable in many scenes.  Even when he is with other people, the camera gives us a scene of just Isaac; for example, when he, Mary, Yale, and Yale’s wife are at the boat yard, reading the book his ex-wife wrote, the three leave the frame laughing and Isaac is left alone.  He feels that his ex-wife should not have even written the book because it is too personal and exposes too much information.  However, in his moral beliefs that writing the book was wrong, he is left alone with only his inner thoughts to grapple with.  In addition, there is always a subtle background line dividing Isaac from the people surrounding him until he comes to realize that he needs to have faith in people and stop setting such high standards for people to meet.

Sometimes, he fails to get what he wants just because of the way the world is.  He is idealistic and while this is often an admirable trait, it is also often a setup for disappointment and resentment.  At the start of the movie, the montage of shots of NYC show us nice buildings and the beautiful skyline – an idealistic, untouched picture of NYC.  It seemed to me like this is a metaphor for how Isaac wants life to be – untouched and perfect, or as perfect as it can be.  This is a perfect example of how mise-en-scene, or the setup of a scene, lends itself to the theme of the film, and how it relates to characters and their personalities.

In my opinion, Isaac’s complexity is furthered by the combination of these two character traits – not only does Isaac want the world and everyone in it to be perfect, but he wants it to be perfect according to his morals.  As he realizes that everyone around him fails to live according to his ideals, he begins to question the meaning of life.  What is his purpose?  The empty space that constantly surrounds him on screen is a good visual metaphor for this problem. Isaac is also always cast in a dark, shadowy light, suggesting that he is conflicted within himself, engaged in a constant inner battle of right versus wrong, morality versus immorality.  The fact that Isaac is never centered on the screen goes hand-in-hand with the constant shadowy lighting.  Everything Isaac says and does and the way he is portrayed is done in order to describe his personality minus the use of dialogue.

I thought that toward the end of the film, Isaac learned that life cannot always exist according to his wishes.  However, in looking at the scenery, mise en scene, placement of the characters, etc., it’s as if he is in the same place he started.  He is still not centered in the frame and as he says goodbye to Tracy, the lighting is still fairly dark on his face.  Isaac hasn’t moved forward, and with Tracy leaving, there will still be a void in his life.   Isaac still has this moral, idealistic view of life, and it is his downfall in his relationships with other people.  The fact that he ends up alone in the end, physically, emotionally, cinematically, shows that he pushed people away because of his own ideas on the world.  I think it’s a sad ending and yet, it portrays this inner struggle that everyone faces during their life–where do I fit in and how do my thoughts and opinions affect my relationships with others?


Catcher in the Rye: 11/26/12

We started yesterday’s class with a discussion of the movie Manhattan, which we watched last week.  We mainly discussed the music in yesterday’s class and how it was relevant to the theme of the movie and the main character.  The music used in Manhattan was composed by George Gershwin, who wrote music that had the feel of being half jazz and half classical.  It’s the same music genre that is used in many movies from the 1920’s and 1930’s, such as the films that starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  I have personally always liked this music, and the movies that depicted 1920’s society.  This music has a slow, romantic feel to it, and in the film Manhattan, is used as a backdrop to Isaac’s idealistic nature and to the comfortable, upper middle class lifestyle he and his friends are accustomed to.

The music in Manhattan was also used in a bookend fashion.  The same music and scenery shown at the start of the movie was used in the closing of the movie.  The music used at the end of the movie seems to bring the movie full circle, it acts as the wrap-up to Isaac’s adventures and the lessons he learned throughout the film.  The music used throughout the movie symbolized Isaac’s romantic notion of the world, his wish that the world could remain uncorrupted and that people should act fairly and justly, should aspire to be as perfect as possible.  Clearly, these are not realistic thoughts and in coming to realize that, the romantic Gershwin music acts as an antithesis to Isaac’s thoughts, and a reminder of what cannot be.

The theme and ideas in Manhattan segued quite nicely into a discussion of Catcher in the Rye.  In the film, Isaac is a romantic, a idealist, an optimist.  Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye is constantly trying to find that optimism in life, that happiness, as he mourns the loss of his childhood and his innocence.  Holden is a confused teenager who is coming to the realization (like Isaac) that the world is not perfect, people are not always who they say they are, and he finds it is becoming increasingly difficult to trust people.

One of the things we discussed in relation to Catcher in the Rye is the use of words and language.  Holden is a 16 year old, living in the 1940’s-1950’s.  America was a different place at that time, as was the language and expression of teenagers.  While we can understand the sayings and phrases Holden uses in the book, a teenager of the same age today would have very different ways of saying things.  It’s interesting how while the actual words change, the meanings and significance behind the words does not change, how certain expressions and phrases remain in a teenager’s vocabulary even as time passes.  For example, Holden might say, “like fun you are.”  Today, we would say, “Yeah, okay” or “Sure you are,” with a sarcastic tone.  The physical words changed but the effect of the saying has stayed the same.

We then discussed different archetypes in literature, a conversation I enjoyed because I like relating characters to their archetype or to characters in other books and movies, and comparing them.  Holden fits the archetype of anti-hero, similar to Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  These characters are the flawed protagonists in their respective stories, they are hero, and yet they are not.  They are on a journey for self-actualization, but they are met by certain obstacles that make for an unsuccessful journey. And yet, I like the archetype of the flawed hero; they aren’t characters that set impossible standards and readers can relate to their stories.

This was the first time I’ve had to read Catcher in the Rye and I really did enjoy it.  I actually look forward to completing the assignment pertaining to the novel.

Manhattan: 11/21/12

Yesterday’s seminar class introduced the film portion of the semester with the viewing of Manhattan, directed by Woody Allen.  It starred Woody Allen himself, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy and Mariel Hemingway.  Normally, I am not a fan of black and white movies, but I am currently taking a cinema class, and that has introduced me to all types of movies, leading me to see that black and white films aren’t so bad.  This particular movie, even though it was in black and white, was very enjoyable and I think, if anything, the black and white film stock added to the effect of the movie instead of taking away from it.  It gives the film that “old time-y” feel and helps the viewer appreciate the time period of the movie and usually helps to characterize at least one of the characters.  For example, in black and white films, shadows are often used to emphasize a character’s personality.  In the scene in the film where Isaac and Tracy are in Isaac’s basement and Tracy is getting ready to go home, the entire room is cast in shadows.  That could maybe help to emphasize the point that what they are doing is wrong and their relationship they have to keep hidden from the rest of the world.

I’d like to discuss some of the other technical aspects of the film.  The camera movement in a film is always very important, because the camera is the method of telling the story.  The camera is the “eyes and ears” of the film.  In this movie, the camera did not have any particularly special shots, except for the few times when the camera became somebody’s point of view.  There were certain shots throughout the film where the camera went from filming the people as a 3rd person to showing the viewer whatever the character was looking at, shooting from a 1st person perspective.  One time in particular that I recall this was when they were driving in a car, early in the film, and it is as if the camera is looking out of the windshield.  When the camera takes on a 1st person point of view, it adds emphasis to the way the story is being told.  Most of the frames are shot including all of the characters who are partaking in a conversation of particular activity.  The camera follows the central characters with whatever they are doing.

The roles of costume, music, and set in this film help to contribute to the storyline and the time period.  The costumes of the characters mainly help us to understand that they are high society and they are intellectuals.  Yale is a college professor; both he and Isaac are writers; Mary is supposedly brilliant.  They are always dressed in suits and dresses, and the viewer always sees them attending events such as book publishings, gallery openings, museum exhibits, etc.  These backdrops to the storyline help the viewer understand the kind of status the characters hold in NYC.  The music also adds to this effect.  Throughout the movie, the music is a mix of jazzy and classical.  To me, this music seems like the type of music that high society people would be accustomed to, when they attend parties and gallery openings and such.  In a way, it reminds me of All About Eve.  The music just provides a background to the storyline. (or in the case of All About Eve, the conversation)  The music never has lyrics, it is just playing in the background.

Finally, the dialogue is a part of the movie that intrigued and entertained me. The dialogue in this movie is very fast-paced, very witty at times.  Even when the narrator is speaking at the beginning, the dialogue is very conversational, very relaxed, unrefined.  Within the movie, the characters often use crude humor to make their point, which is kind of surprising since they are supposed to be in high society.  All of the characters seemed to be intellectuals, but they reminded me more of pseudo-intellectuals, as if they were all trying to come off as being more intelligent than they actually were.  The dialogue, for me, was the best part of the movie, because it grabbed my attention and kept me interested.

As for the actual movie itself, the storyline, it was slightly weird, and definitely eccentric.  Woody Allen came off as kind of creepy to me, but I appreciated his humor and at the same time, I kind of felt bad for him.  He seemed to have it all together and yet, he seemed so lost.  The movie also had some morals behind it.  For example, you should always have a little faith in people and nobody is perfect; everybody makes mistakes. I think the movie teaches you something about yourself, while you go through the process with Isaac of trying to discover what he wants for himself.  I’m glad I enjoyed the movie, because it made watching the film and writing this blog much easier and more enjoyable.  I look forward to seeing the rest of the films in the upcoming weeks.

Final Poem Recitations: 11/19/12

Yesterday’s Seminar class really seemed to sum up the entire experience of reciting poetry.  The fears and questions we have all been grappling with over the past 2 weeks while reciting our poems were all laid to rest as the class discussed what it is like to have to get up and recite poetry in front of an audience.  When reciting poetry, the speaker has to step out of his or her comfort zone and become somebody else for the next 5 minutes.  The speaker has to take on a different personality, possibly one that is the very opposite of their own.  In addition, the speaker learns to read and say things differently, depending on tone, punctuation, and meaning.  What I’ve noticed during these poetry recitations is that each poem has a unique style and is meant to be read with different emphasis and tone.  I had never given this much thought before, but watching my classmates perform their poems and performing my own, coupled with Professor Kahan’s advice to each of us on how to make our poems more meaningful, made me see that each poem is like a person.  When I say “person”, I don’t mean that the poem takes on the personality of the poet; I mean that each poem has its own characteristics, its own interesting qualities, which contribute to the meaning and significance of the poem.  It’s interesting to think about.

As for yesterday’s poems, I really enjoyed listening to The New Colossus.  Stephanie read it with such fervor, she really made the message of the poem stand out.  To me, it seemed to take everything that America stands for and put it into words.  I think it was a very strong and powerful poem and it made me proud to be an American and also a New Yorker.

In looking back on all of these poems, I like how each poet was from New York and how each poem described a particular quality of New York in a different way.  It brought out the point that each person has their own opinion, their own point of view of the city.  It was also interesting to see how some poets took a minute quality, a small characteristic that people may or may not notice everyday and wrote an entire poem about it, shaping it, interpreting it in their own way, and thereby adding their own opinion of something that makes New York, New York.  I think that this was an interesting experience for all of us.  Not only did we have to confront the fear that most of us have of public speaking, but whether we were reading our own poems or listening to those of our classmates, we were hearing the words of New Yorkers who had come before us.  We are all New Yorkers and have our own opinions of the city already.  But listening to other people’s opinions may have allowed us to see different sides of New York, maybe ones that never would have crossed our minds otherwise.

Poetry Recitations Continued: 11/14/12

Today’s seminar seemed to have a kind of theme to it today in some respect, although I’m not sure it was planned that way.  We continued poetry recitations, and some of the poems we heard seemed to have a musical background or musical connection to them.  Of course, almost all poetry has a beat, a rhythm to it, but the poems today particularly seemed to have the musical element.  The first poem with this musical element was Birthplace.  It was a combination of poetry and hip-hop, so when read a certain way, it gave the effect of the hip hop music that we are all familiar with today.  The content of the poem revolved around a teenager who had just moved from Boston to New York, and this poem expressed his emotions and feelings regarding this change.  For me, the hip-hop beat and background gave the poem New York style and feel.  The second poem with this musical connection was The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes.  The poem, when read with or without music, definitely had the jazzy, blues-y feel to it, just when regarding the rhythm and length of the sentences and onomatopoeic devices.  One line that stood out to me was “He did a lazy sway.”  The poem itself seemed to have a “lazy sway” feeling to it.  I did especially like when the piano was played in the background of the poetry reading–it gave the poem extra emphasis, and really related to the mood, the tone, and even the content of the poem.  I like the musical connection these poems had, because then the poem is just like the common idea of a poem–rhythm, rhyming, and deep, intricate meaning.  There’s something extra that makes it special and gives it a whole new meaning beyond the other common elements.

Language was another poetic element that was discussed in today’s class.  The poem Engrish specifically brought up this discussion, because in the poem, the author explains how he doesn’t know certain languages, and he cannot pronounce certain words.  We discussed how learning a new language is difficult and frustrating, and that English must be the hardest language for any foreigner to learn, just because, in all reality, we do not speak properly at all and we combine and invent words constantly.  The author of this poem brought up this very matter in using three words: “Chinee, Chanel, Cheyenne.”  Enunciating these words shed light and put emphasis on the difficulty that is learning another language.  This brings up another point: the way a poem is read and emphasis on certain words gives new meaning to the poem and helps the person reading it get more into the character of the poem.  This was definitely applicable to the last poem we heard today, “New York at Night.”  I really liked the poem, because of its content and the way it was written.  It was written so emphatically and purposefully that when a person reads it, the language becomes such a significant factor in truly understanding the point of the poem.  I like how different words throughout this poem (and any poem) hold different weight and how choosing particular words adds or changes the meaning of the poem.

With each class, I am noticing the different techniques that make poetry reading a true art and give me more appreciation for people who recite poetry frequently.  It is interesting to observe and take notice of, especially since this is something new to me and not something I see very often.

Professor Powers on Architecture: 11/12/12

I’m not one for architecture…I never have been.  But Professor Powers came to our seminar class today as a guest speaker, and he introduced some interesting facts about architecture that I never knew.  Obviously, certain things were common sense and had been taught in past history classes.  But other things, some of the art forms and where and how they originated, were new to me.  It didn’t really change my perspective on architecture as a whole, but I did find it interesting to hear why some of the most well – known buildings in NYC are built the way they are, how even places like Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge fit into a certain style of architecture.

It is common knowledge that many buildings and other significant edifices were built and modeled after ancient Greek and Roman architecture.  What I did not know was that the Parthenon, in Greece, stands as a symbol of reason and intellect, which is why it stands taller than the other buildings that surround it.  Apparently, many buildings that we see every day and learn about in school are modeled after the Parthenon and for the same reason – as a sign of reason and intellect, as a sign that the mind is more powerful than anything else.  Some well known buildings that fall in this category include Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s approach to symbolizing reason; Saint Paul’s Chapel, built in the neoclassical style of brick, with white trimming and corners made of limestone; and the US Capitol, which stands as a significant mark of the Founding Fathers’ ability to build our nation, mostly based on reason, intellect, and order.  This was the “ethnos” of that period and of their frame of mind: that reason was the best approach in creating a sound and stable nation.  I think, for me, this was the most interesting part of the lecture.  This seminar class has taught me many things, but one thing stands out in particular: I can appreciate and enjoy many different art forms, and I can be analytical.  But I am also a very concrete person, not very abstract.  Therefore, the idea of reason and intellect appeals to me, sometimes more than out-of-the-box, inventive and creative art forms.

Professor Powers then explained various other types of architecture styles, including Gothic, Beaux-art, Art Deco, and International Style.  While I do not particularly “like” architecture, my favorite is definitely Gothic.  Old, castle-like, semi-formal buildings always catch my attention and fascinate me.  Trinity Church looks like a beautiful building, one that I would enjoy exploring.  I think the Beaux-art section of the lecture was my least favorite, mostly because the idea behind it, of stepping out of the lines a bit, trying something new, seems like something I would expect of an artist or architect.  Art Deco and International Style, on the other hand, did interest me, because the ideas were new to me.  Art Deco is a style where designers feel that architecture should be honest and everything should have a purpose.  For example, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building fall in this category.  It is interesting to see how the shapes and designs of these buildings were influenced by this idea, that rather than just copying architecture from ancient civilizations, designers should create new architectural styles.  Then there was the International Style.  When Europeans and later, Americans, began toying with this architectural style, it was a break from historical references and business civilization.  These designers felt like capitalism ruined society, and therefore, buildings should not be new, abstract shapes, nor should they resemble ancient Greek and Roman edifices.  Instead, buildings should have the logical shape of a building.  There is no culture or meaning attached.  Le Corbusier was a famous architect and designer who came from this mindset, and he developed the Human Model, based on Da Vinci’s Vitrvian Man.  The view that culture, intellect, and history are all part of extra baggage that is not needed is a radical idea, and I think that is what made this category attractive and interesting to me.

It seems that architecture is a key to the past.  It is a key to different ideas and views, and how people perceived certain ideas.  People were extremely concerned with the architecture that made up their societies and their cities and each building represents different ideas from different time periods.  While I do not find interest in studying architecture itself, these concepts behind the architecture, its meaning, is intriguing and I am glad Professor Powers came to provide insight into this art that I had never really truly appreciated before.

Oddly enough, some of the ideas concerning architecture segued into a brief discussion concerning Claude DeBussy and his musical style.  His musical style is one that is very abstract and open, with no clear cut definitions or limitations.  Maybe it’s because I am concrete and don’t have creative ability, but I really like the idea of abstract music, of “dancing around” rather than just getting to the point.  It’s open to interpretation and is enjoyable to listen to.  I look forward to hearing Professor Kahan perform his work tomorrow night at the concert.

The Art of People Watching: 11/7/12

Today’s seminar class was another day of poetry recitations.  I’m finding that I am really enjoying these days.  I like watching my classmates and hearing them put their own emotions and thoughts, and their own personal touches to each poem.  It was particularly enjoyable to hear one of my fellow classmates’ own personal poems…I’ve never been able to skillfully write a poem, although I have tried, so I really admired his talent and everything he put into the poem — the words, the meaning, and his presentation.  The presentation of his poem led to a discussion revolving around the art of presentation and performance.  You never truly realize how difficult it is to give a performance in front of an audience, whether you know the people in the audience or not, until it is your turn to get up on stage or in the front of the classroom and present your own work.  Not only is it nerve-wracking, there is much to take into consideration.  When giving a performance, you have to decide how you want to depict a certain character or how you want to present a poem or piece of writing.  You have to try and get into the mindset of the author who wrote piece you are presenting and read it with emotion, adding your own personality and flair to give an enjoying and captivating performance.  I personally have always admired people such as Broadway stars, actors and actresses, anybody who can confidently go on stage in front of a large audience, and dramatically portray a character and really give a performance.  When I sit and watch performers, I think about how much time must have gone into preparing for the show and I really appreciate their work and dedication.

The conversation in today’s class that was most enjoyable was that of the art of people-watching.  I have always enjoyed people-watching, whether I am at the mall, in the city, on public transportation, in the car, anywhere.  Whether it’s to pass the time or just to have fun, at some point in my life, people-watching turned into a game.  Because of this, the poems The Cab Driver’s Smile and Public Transportation really appealed to me.  I could definitely relate to the authors who were drawing a sketch of life around them, a sketch of the people who they saw on the streets of New York City.  As we discussed in class, you never really know what kind of life the people around you are leading.  There is a plethora of possibilities for why people look and act the way they do when you see them, wherever you see them.  It all comes full circle, in a way, to the teaching that you can’t judge people. Maybe the guy on the bus next to you really is a parish priest, even though he looks like a mugger.  What do we know?  I find this concept fascinating.  The fact that you can look at any one person and devise this whole life for them inside your head, which could be the complete opposite of who they really are…it’s just entertaining to think about.

I also want to say I really enjoyed the poems by Dorothy Parker.  Observation was my favorite, because it shows that she didn’t care what other people thought about her, as long as she was pleased with herself and how she was living her life.  I think that’s the best way to live.  From the background of her life that we heard from Dr. Kahan, about having a deadpan, no-nonsense personality, it seems to me that she lived her life the way she described living in the poem Observation.

I am definitely enjoying the class discussions that come about as a result of the poetry readings and I look forward to hearing the remaining poems on Monday.

Poetry Recitations: 11/5

Let me begin by saying I really enjoyed Monday’s seminar class.  We began poetry recitations and while poetry is not my favorite topic, I do enjoy hearing poetry being read and hearing other people’s interpretations of poetry.  I love how one poem can mean several different things to different people, and how there is not one concrete answer about a poem’s meaning, because a poem speaks differently to each individual person. 

There were two aspects of Monday’s class that both surprised me and resonated with me.  First, after reading my own two poems, “Lament” and “Recuerdo,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dr. Kahan pointed out that sometimes, a poet’s personality and the way they write are at odds with each other.  Millay was known to be a very flamboyant person around other people and in society, and yet, the poems I read seemed to be very conservative, simple, and moderate.  I had never given much thought to the idea that personality and writing style can be so contrasting for one person.  I personally liked the idea of having two different sides: one everyone sees and one that is more private and hidden, just for that own person to express his or her feelings or ideas.

The second class discussion that particularly interested me was the discussion that began with Marilyn Monroe and ended with the idea that the way people are portrayed is not necessarily true, nor is it “their own fault.”  Everybody knows Marilyn Monroe as a promiscuous, provocative, showy actress, singer, and model from the 1940’s and 1950’s.  However, as we discussed in class, how can we know that this description was who she really was?  What right do we have to judge her and label her?  Some people might argue that she wanted the attention and knowingly made a name for herself.  But in reality, what we know of Marilyn Monroe is a result of the media and other people’s ideas about who she was.  Sure, she is and was known to the American people as one of the most well-known sex symbols in contemporary culture, and that was no doubt, a result of the time period when she was popular; but there was so much more to her than we could ever know.  We tend to label people based on what we see and the gossip we want to start; the catch is that the gossip we start and the labels we attach usually only refer to one aspect of the person’s personality.  They most likely have much more substance than we give them credit for. 

I look forward to hearing the other poems in the class and seeing the kinds of discussion they lead to.  These discussions not only interest me, but help me develop a more open mind about the world around me.