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Posted: November 26th, 2013

In Ways of Seeing, John Berger focuses on the power of visuals. To demonstrate this, he uses the example of the oil painting of a woman, made entirely with a male viewer in mind. The intended purpose was to stir up the desire for a woman. The woman is aware, though subconsciously, that she is being watched; and so she acts in such a manner as to be watched. In today’s world, this same principle is applied to advertising. Instead of highlighting on what the consumer has now, the advertiser presents what the consumer lacks. By doing this, he leads the consumer into believing that he needs the product to have a better lifestyle. My assumption has been that people are fully aware of what they need. In the actual sense, advertisers use the element of visuals to suggest to us our need for the product; we are led to acquiring things we do not really need just because we do not have them.

In his book titled Mythologies, Roland Barthes seeks to explain human behavior and in particular, the correlation between childhood and adulthood. He stipulates that the toys given to children prepare them for adult life; dolls prepare girls for motherhood, while videogames enable boys to take on challenges in life. At first glance, the society would be against the view of creating more dolls and video games. As a member of society, I am of the opinion to limit our young ones’ exposure to toys and give them educational material instead, books for example. However, looking deeper into this, stopping the production of toys would translate into children growing up without knowledge of their expected roles. The result would be a generation of people with theoretical knowledge unable to fulfill practical roles.

Both Berger and Barthes employ Oulipo as a style in writing their work. It uses unique techniques aimed at inspiring deep thought among its readers. The technique used is known as constrained writing whereby the writer is limited to the use of certain patterns to create an aesthetic effect. The writers have used ordinary items in their stories and leave the reader with the task of deciphering the deeper meaning intended. In the film They Live, the caution given to the society is that things are not always, what they appear to be. When he puts on the special sunglasses, Nada experiences a completely new world; what were previously assumed ordinary men were seen for the aliens they really were. He also discovers other writings in a billboard that previously seemed to advertise only ordinary products. The movie is a reflection of the different viewpoints we may have of the same things.

The movie could be a representation of two sides to the same coin. Applying this in real life means that sometimes it is necessary to change our point of view to see things in a different light. In the movie, it is not that the aliens were not visible to the naked human eye. They could be seen, but only as humans. The special sunglasses acquired by Nada are a symbol of a change in perspective that uncovered the guise of the aliens. We are surrounded by common features around us, but until we change our perspective, we will never realize the true beauty or even ugliness of those things.

Society is of the view that it is possible to have lasting relationships. In her book, Lispector holds an opposite view. Through the failed relationships she includes in her book, she proposes that relationships are bound to break upon the discovery of some truths. She examines the imperfection of humans as the leading cause of failure and sadness in relationships. Society often chooses to blind itself to others’ faults, and in this, live a phony life. According to her, the only ways to maintain relationships is by recognizing the faults in each other and learn to live with them.

Flarf is a type of style use to write poetry, achieved by putting together phrases from different websites. It does not take into account any of the styles applied to poetry, for instance alliteration, rhyming, repetition and others. The meanings of the poems may sometimes be disturbing or funny, depending on the content. However random the poems may appear to be, the writer always has an intention in writing them. It is more of an experimental type of writing than it is formal. In the beginning, it was considered as a poor form of poetry. However, with time, it is gaining recognition as a creative work of art.

From Berger’s description of the oil paintings, one of the ways of seeing is through visuals. I have seen people judging the things around them at first sight, proving the power of the visual eye. For example, when I see a man in tattered clothes; my immediate assumption is that he is poor, even though that may not necessarily be the case. The next view held by Barthes is the subconscious mind. He proposes the relationship between now and the future. His idea is that whatever we do now has some correlation to the future. My example in this is when someone is kind to someone; he subconsciously expects the same treatment in return sometime in the future.

Lastly, Lispector urges us to open our eyes to the faults of others and ours too. Blinding ourselves to reality will lead to bruising, as she puts it in her book. In today’s society, a good example is alcoholism. Alcoholics more often than not deny that they have a problem, presenting a hindrance to the solution. The biggest step in treating alcoholism is by seeing the problem for what it really is. Denial is not only on the part of the alcoholics but also on their immediate family. Once accepted the problem is treated and in the process, salvaging the relationships that would otherwise be damaged.

In summary, the three ways of seeing thins are through the visual eye, the subconscious mind and by acceptance of reality. These views seem independent but ultimately, one view leads to another. Naturally, we first judge things by what we see with our eyes, like the paintings as demonstrated by Berger. What we have seen is then assimilated by the subconscious mind. Our habits, even the most insignificant ones, are driven by what we store in our minds. The final stage is acknowledgement of things, not just for what they appear to be but also for what they really are. Many times, we stop at the second stage if the situation is too grave for us to deal with. However, denying reality will not change a thing.

Soulstorm is a book by Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian writer, which was initially written in Portuguese, but later translated into English in 1989. The stories in the book ascertain a world in which women and men are indulged in certain unexpected processes and events that are perfectly natural, but seem to be totally illogical to those who experience them. Though there is nothing special about the characters in the stories, their souls exhibit the turmoil culminating from the awareness of the immutable life truths of solitude, passion, mortality, fear and passion, which cause the constant turbulence in the lives of different human beings (Lispector 150). What the author means by the fact that all the stories in the book are bruising is the fact that all the characters in the stories encounter some sort of turmoil in their souls due to life’s truths that cannot be ignored.

Most of the characters in the Soulstorm’s stories are women in their late seventies and eighties. This means that they have gone through life and are aware of the main aspects that make the human life in the world. The individual characters are obsessed with life rather than death but the life they live in is full of bruising experiences that leave them trying to understand the meaning of life. Dona Candida Raposo is the eight-year-old protagonist in the story “Footsteps”. She is so full of the desire for pleasure such that she decides to go to visit the gynecologist with the aim of identifying the solutions to her pleasure. The gynecologist suggested she finds a young man to meet her desire and when she does that, she experiences “silent fireworks” (Lispector 48).

In the same manner, Maria Angelica de Andrade, the sixty-year-old protagonist of “But It’s Going to Rain,” decides to take a lover of nineteen years to cater for her desire for pleasure (Lispector 66). In the two cases, Lispector explores the growing pleasures of aging women who should be happy with the fact that even in the eighty and sixty years, they can find happiness in younger lovers. These stories however are not happy but have a bruising effect because the two protagonists view themselves as women mocked by life because to them love and desire at their advanced age is both shameful and ridiculous.

Bruising can be reflected through characters that are running from one problem or the other. Sona Maria Rita, the seventy year old protagonist in “The Departure of the Train,” Sits on the train opposite to thirty year old Angela Pralina. While Sona Maria Rita is running away from her ambitious and cold daughter, Angela is running away from a hyper-rational and intellectual lover. The two form an unspoken relationship on their quest for a sense of self as well as dignity. Their lives might look fulfilled but they are bruising owing to the fact that they cannot find happiness with the people they love. Beautiful Carla the protagonist in “Plaza Maua,” loses her sense of self through the words of a trusted friend with whom she had built a strong friendship that turned sour. The friend shouts to her, “You are no woman at all! You do not even know how to fry an egg! And I do!” (Lispector 56)

From a reflection on all the stories Soulstorm, Lispector views life and relationships as things that can never bring happiness to different people owing to the fact that the truths of life will never enable a person to have a happy life but it will always bring strife in the way of happiness. Most of the relationships forged in the book do not succeed, which reflects on the fact that Lispector believes that relationships cannot exist as long as the immutable life truths are in existence (Lispector 103). Her worldview is mostly bleak and it does not show some sense of light to hold on to because not all the relationships and lives of her characters succeed but they come to a sad ending.

Soulstorm is a book by Clarice Lispector, which contains 29 stories. The first thirteen stories are identified as bruising stories because in all of them, the souls of the characters exhibit the turmoil culminating from the awareness of the immutable life truths of solitude, passion, mortality, fear and passion that cause the constant turbulence in the lives of different human beings. Most of the characters cannot find happiness in the new discoveries they make about life because these new discoveries only bring short-lived happiness while the consequences reflect on the bruising nature of life (Lispector 165). The relationships in the stories do not succeed as they are hindered by certain life truths. In conclusion, though the stories start at a happy and positive mood, they end with a sad and bleak mood owing to the discontentment felt by the characters, hence bringing out the bruising effect identified by Lispector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Lispector, Clarice. Soulstorm: Stories. New York, NY: New Directions Pub, 1989. Print.

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