Abstractions

I think (just generally) we look at war as this abstract thing that happens when in reality I don’t think it is. People send other people into war.

In class today, we repeated the question, “Is this enough?” Was it enough to offer up the coffee? Was it enough for the narrator to lie to the blind man? What is enough?

Focusing in so much on this question really got me thinking about the juxtaposition presented in the text that we all seemed to be missing. Yes, the narrator may have been offering some form of salvation to the man, but at the same time, the very nature of her job is to bandage the wounded and send them back into war. Fix them and send them to die. We’re faced with this huge dichotomy. How can we choose to see something as a sign of warmth and salvation, and shield ourselves from the inherent coldness presented?

Is the nurse’s actions a sign of humanity? Or does it just function as a way to even the playing field?

Further (and to relate this question to some of the other texts we’ve read this semester), it seems as though war literature forces us, as consumers of their messages, to view war un-abstractly. We saw this  in All Quiet with the suggestion of getting only the people in power to fight as well as in some of the other books we’ve read.

I guess my question is, were the nurses actions meant to restore this faith in humanity or was it intended as sarcasm? Are we meant to view war abstractly as an entity that just happens? Or not? Are we supposed to see war as inevitable? Or as something we have a hand in continuing? How much of a hand do we actually have in continuing war?

Thoughts?

What are you all’s overall thoughts on Borden now that we finished The Forbidden Zone?

I was talking with Morgan a little about this and I’m curious to see what everyone else thinks.

Personally, I think I liked it. The book  evoked such a visceral reaction from me that often times I couldn’t tell whether I was angry or happy  just have gotten the chance to read  I text that made me feel so strongly.

Did anyone have any similar reactions?

Netflix Find!

Okay, so while trying to find some show to watch on Netflix as background noise for working on a project I came across a show called “Our World War”. It is three one-hour-long episodes about British soldiers at the Battle of Mons, I believe. I have not watched it yet, but I think now I have to! If anyone else has watched it, let me know what you thought of it. Once I watch it, I will post in the comments how I feel about it.

Symbolism of Flowers in Poetry

For the poems we have for tomorrow, one, in particular, caught my attention: “Tri-colour” by Robert Service. Not knowing if we will talk about it tomorrow, and also knowing myself and the high probability that I will forget by the time tomorrow comes, I thought I would put a little something here on the blog.

I am hugely into the symbolism of flowers and elements in literary works! Every element and every flower has a meaning and I think that poets and writers know this too and pick which ones they use very meticulously.

In “Tri-colour” we get the poppies, the cornflowers, and the lilies.

We’ve talked about poppies before and how they are symbolic of the war. Jordan even made a separate blog post earlier in the semester about the art installation of poppies (which I conveniently linked here, so if you haven’t seen it, go look at it!) I’m sure you all know what a poppy looks like but here is a picture just in case. It is obvious why Service uses the poppies as the soldier’s blood. Poppies are symbolic of sleep, especially deep sleep, which if any of you have seen the Wizard of Oz you should be familiar with the poppy field scene. Poppies, because of both WWI and WWII are now considered the flower of death and remembrance. Also, poppies have a meaning of innocence and peace within death which is why poppies use to be used at funerals, including funerals for soldiers.

 

Then there are the cornflowers. I love cornflowers! They are these really cool blue-purple flowers that remind me of the flowers in Horton Hears A Who (yes I know it is actually a clover, but it’s all the same). Many people will recognize cornflowers from the sides of country roads or in wildflower fields. Cornflowers are one of the national flowers of Germany, which if you think about Germany in the context of the war is kind of crazy. While the meaning of cornflowers don’t really line up with how I think they are being used in this poem, it is still super interesting. Cornflowers are the flowers of wealth, prosperity, fortune, friendship, but in France, cornflowers became the symbol for the Armistice.
Next are lilies. Now, the thing with flowers is each color,  or variant, of them, stand for something else and lilies come in different colors.  So white lilies symbolize purity and chastity and are linked to the Virgin Mary, while other’s are linked to friendship, devotion, sympathy, wealth and prosperity. While the poem never specifies which color of lily is being talked there is a generic symbol for restored innocence after death, which is why lilies are known as a funeral flower.

I find it super interesting how each of the flowers relates to death in some way, how even the shapes and colors of them are used as images of dead men. The poppies as the blood, the cornflowers as eyeballs which I don’t think I can ever unsee now, and lilies as headstones.

The Grey

So during class today we wrote on the board “war profits” as a major topic in the text, but I feel like we didn’t go into it in A Farewell to Arms as much as we did others. That being said, I couldn’t help myself from being a total reject of a student during my sociology class and only thinking about the questions I had about it.

I think one of the reasons I like this book particularly more than the others we’ve read this semester is because Hemingway does a fantastic job of writing the grey. Frederic Henry is a grey character. He joined the war because he happened to be in Italy and he happened to speak Italian and he shows no real commitment or tie to anything. He is neither black nor white because he doesn’t feel a strong connection to any real part of the war or any consequence thereof and it was this realization that got me thinking.

The other characters in the text bring up the question of who profits from the war and we don’t get a strong response from Henry. In fact, he is one of the first people in the books we’ve read this semester that hasn’t really explained to us either his patriotism or nationalism (for all the confusion the pair offers). This is nothing short of puzzling to me.

Logically, America would’ve been one of the few nations to have profited off of the war. They entered the fighting late which must’ve already saved the American people a lot of money, but on top of that, they’ve had to have supplied some type of weaponry or finances to the countries at war or it would’ve risked jeopardizing previous alliances. So while these men are discussing in front of Henry’s character the idea that someone profits, I wonder if Henry was considering the profit his own nation gained or if he was simply being blissfully ignorant?

I think one of the most dangerous things we see in either of the world wars is this conflation of patriotism and nationalism and Hemingway’s decision to write Henry as a character who is either blissfully ignorant or completely and totally unwilling to acknowledge the threat of his own country to the lives of other people is both (if intentional) masterful and disheartening…or perhaps I’m just reading into things a little too much…

Not War Related, But I Had to Share

So, like the title of this post says, this is not directly related to WW1 or “All Quiet” or anything else we have talked about in class. This is just a super weird coincidence that I have to share with you all.

For those of you who do not know me, I am completely obsessed with my dog, Finley. He is adorable and I adopted him back in April. I was looking through his paperwork and noticed his birthday, and by noticed I mean it was glaring at me! November 11th, 2008.

Why was this date popping out at me? Why did I recognize it? The Armistice! November 11th, 1918.

So from now on, my sweet little Finley has a new nickname: My Armistice Baby.

Enjoy some pictures of my handsome man:

I call him “Ears” because of this picture

This was taken last week. Yes, this is actually one of the MANY ways he sleeps

His “trouble” but also handsome look

Isn’t it strange things happen all the time and such small work events happen on the anniversary of big world events? I’m the type of person who is crazy obsessed with dates (fun fact, me and Leonardo Da Vinci were both born on April 15th) and will sit and research dates for hours and find strange connections between years and decades. Do you have any fun dates in your life that are connected to big world/historical events?

 

Florence: The Schedule

Friends, the schedule has been updated on Canvas and HERE.

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“Alice in Wonderland” and World War 1

I’m not sure if any of you all noticed that on Dr. Scanlon’s first post introducing us all to the course and to the blog, she used a tag saying that the other class she is teaching is on “Alice in Wonderland” and to discuss that. Having had Dr. Scanlon’s Down the Rabbit Hole FSEM three years ago I knew that there had to be some type of connection between both “Alice” and the War in some way or else Dr. Scanlon wouldn’t have left that comment. 

When I say that this has bugged me since I saw it, I’m not lying! It bothered me since I saw that post that, being a veteran of Dr. Scanlon’s FSEM class, I could not immediately figure out how in the world these two very different things were connected. Since “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865 and “Through the Looking Glass” was published in 1871, I realized the connection couldn’t lie within the work or around when it was released into the world. This also being said, and along with his death in 1898, meant that Lewis Carroll was not this link between “Alice” and the war either.

Young Alice Liddell. I also believe this is a photo that Carroll took of Alice.

This is when it clicked with me: it had to be with Alice herself. Let me give you a little rundown. Alice Liddell, pronounced “Little”, and her sisters are said to have been the inspiration for these stories. Carroll even gave Alice one of the original copies of “Alice’s Adventures”. He was infatuated with her and their relationship was kind of strange, but that is a whole other topic (one of which is worth looking up). Alice Liddell was born in 1852 and died in 1934 which meant she was alive during World War 1

In 1880, Alice was married to Reginald Hargreaves and went on to have three sons with him: Leopold, Alan, and Caryl Hargreaves. All three of her sons went off to serve England in the war. However, both Alan and Leopold were killed in action–Alan in 1915 and Leopold in 1916. This was the connection factor, the link between “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the war. It lied wit in Alice Liddell’s real-life adventures and sadness.

Alice’s sons: Leopold Reginald “Rex”, Alan, and Caryl.

I find it very interesting how a story we all consider a children’s story has branches that reach to something as destructive as war. A woman who’s youth inspired a story that still thrives today went on to face the devastation of losing two of her children during a war. Maybe this can be one of those things where we say “it’s such a small world!” or maybe this helps to show just how widespread the effect of the war actually was. I also really enjoyed how somehow a class I took freshman year has connections to one I am taking now as a senior. I hope this surprised you in some way or made you think about the possibilities of connections that can be made between life, literature, and the war. Also, if you know of some more information that I did not include in this post (sorry Dr. Scanlon if I missed something) please feel free to add to or reflect on this.