Thursday, February 18, 2010

I ain't got no class

Looking back at our last few books, I have come to see a common theme of people who are at odds with the upper class in some way. In Blithedale, the main character wouldn't commit himself to the community fully. In Joaquin we see the formation of a hierarchy, even amongst murderers. Joaquin is a particularly interesting example, because how the main character is romanticized. And, of course, there is the more obvious example of Daisy Miller. This week, I want to address my thoughts on the issue.

What I find most interesting is how little some things change. People still discriminate based on a lack of knowledge on unspoken social cues, even when they know the person would have had no chance to pick up such queues. Unfortunately, it is hard to say if there is a solution to such an issue. From what I've seen, people are petty and exclusive. When I say exclusive, I mean that most people, when they find a group that they enjoy, are hesitant to allow any new members that might change that group in some way. An example from Daisy Miller would be how be how people did not want to accept the Millers because it would have been a shift in the definition of aristocracy.

Another blog post I read today talked about how times have changed, and how today it's more about economic survival as opposed to morality. That, essentially, the end justifies the means. I disagree on a fundamental level. I bring this up because it is part of the mindset that justifies such ideas of exclusion. Quite simply, people view change as a direct threat. Because they attach value to the groups they belong to in their current form, they see anything that might change these groups as an attack on their very means of living. I grow sick of looking at how to survive. Even if we burn out quicker, isn't it worth it to feel the worth of really living, atleast once in a while?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daisy Miller

I have to admit, I enjoyed this one more than our last few readings. Maybe it was because it was short and simple, couldn't say for sure. Either way, there were definitely some interesting topics of note within it.

What I found most interesting, particularly after we discussed it a bit in class on Tuesday, was the idea of the Miller family representing the image of America. This is interesting to me because they all seem to come off to me as spoiled, naive, and generally disconnected with the rest of the world. Honestly, I don't see this too far from the truth, especially from a historical perspective.

What I find most fascinating, especially in the light of my own crisis of faith in our education system, is the emphasis on getting a teacher for the boy Randolph. I find this interesting because education, from an old European standpoint, is a mark of upper class. This seems to illustrate something in the book. I don't think the term flirt is just referring to Daisy talking so casually with men. It also reflects the attitude of the Millers and how they flirt at being upper class. They just say the words that they want to improve themselves, but it seems little effort is actually made towards getting accepted by the aristocracy of the area.

Finally, this brings me to Daisy's death. In essence, I feel the author's point they wanted to make in this book, well one of them anyway, is that there are consequences for allowing yourself to totally disconnect yourself from where you are, which seems to be what Daisy does. In the end, it isn't any of the men she dates or breaking some law she didn't take seriously that defeats her, it's a simple fever that anyone who made any attempt to understand the area would have easily avoided. Again, this seems to be the consequence of merely "flirting" with European culture, as opposed to really respecting it.