Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My sin. My soul. Lo-lee-ta

By: Leila Moslemi (lilimoslemi@yahoo.com)

Humbert is a witty, cultured European with a destructive obsession for young girls. For several years he lives with Lolita, his young stepdaughter, whom he coerces into granting him sexual favors. Nabokov gives Humbert possibly the most socially unacceptable obsession of all: pedophilia. This obsession leads Humbert on a cross country journey to find his precious Lolita upon the discovery that she has run away and decided to marry. It is this Lolita that causes much of the controversy in the movie. Humbert admits that his "pathetic" obsession with Lolita "broke" her life. Humbert writes of himself and Lolita with "a desperate honesty," and comments on "how magically his singing violin can conjure up a tendress, a compassion for Lolita. Humbert dies of heart disease in prison, while awaiting his trial for the murder of Lolita's lover, Clare Quilty.

Humbert characterizes Lolita as "light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul." from Humbert's point of view, which presents an often idealized but sometimes realistic image of this young girl, with whom he had an incestuous relationship for several years. Initially he defines Lolita as a nymphet, a category of young girls between the age of nine and fourteen. Most often, Humbert projects Lolita as a vision of innocent beauty. After she leaves Humbert, Lolita lives for a time with Clare Quilty. He throws her out after she refuses to allow him to put her in a pornographic film. A few years later she dies during childbirth.

In Deconstructive reading of the themes in “Lolita” there comes three major binary oppositions in my mind:

Appearance / Reality

Victim / Victimization

Anger / Hatred

Humbert's struggle to create art relates to an important theme — appearance versus reality. when he tries to present an idealistic portrait of Lolita and his relationship with her. He continually insists on the innocence of Lolita, which is crucial to his vision of and therefore his desire for her. He insists that "under no circumstances would [he] have interfered with the innocence of a child." She, however, was never quite the innocent he envisions. While at camp, she engaged in sexual activities and thus felt confident enough to seduce Humbert during their first night together. Later, in response to his control of her, she turns into a "cruel manipulator" who demands cash for sexual favors. At the same time, she was more vulnerable than Humbert is willing to admit, and he took advantage of that vulnerability, as when he comforted her after she learned her mother was dead. He offers a symbolic assessment of his destruction of her innocence when he admits that "our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night — every night, every night — the moment I feigned sleep."

Humbert becomes both victim and victimizer in his relationship with Lolita. He admits that he forced a "singular and bestial cohabitation" on her and "that even the most miserable of family lives was better than the parody of incest, which, in the long run, was the best I could offer the waif." Yet he was also victimized by his uncontrollable obsession with her, which he eloquently chronicles.

Humbert's self-loathing prompts him to create a double who can absolve him of guilt. Clare Quilty becomes the manifestation of his illicit desire for Lolita. When he kills Quilty in a fit of revenge, he tries to erase the pain and suffering he caused her. Previously, his remorse over his obsession with young girls caused several breakdowns and subsequent hospitalizations. Yet, the absurd encounter with Quilty at the end of the novel suggests that Humbert recognizes his responsibility for his and Lolita's tragic relationship.

Each decade since the initial publication of Lolita has presented a new interpretation of the conflict between Humbert Humbert and Lolita. For the 1950's, the interpretation was based on the conservative religious right that felt any relationship between an adult and a child was evil. In the 1960's, the interpretation contained much of the same resentment, but because of the openness of sexuality in society, they felt that much of the fuss was unneeded. Like the 60's, the 1970's showed a similar disregard for the seriousness of the crime Humbert held, they did, however, show more of an understanding of the alienation that both characters must have felt. The 1980's and 1990's have brought a new, more ironic view of the situation. Some no longer see the relationship between Humbert and Lolita as the result of Humbert's obsession, but instead of Lolita's own misgivings. The more subtle theme of satire displayed in the book presented a much more challenging appeal to society. And I believe the satire has been shown in this version at its best.

Friday, September 25, 2009

FlashForward, Is it the Lost replacement?

For dedicated fans of TV show Lost, such as myself, the sixth season brings both good and bad news. The good news is there will be answers at the end and the bad news is there will be an end!, as the producers already announced. But before it does, it seems that the channel owners are trying to find an adequate replacement, which is apparently going to be FlashForward.

After the massive hype, the sci-fi drama FlashForward finally launched on ABC channel last Thursday. The big-budget series is based on the 1999 science-fiction novel by Robert J Sawyer, FlashForward. David S. Goyer, the director and one of the writers, is doing his best to make a master piece, appointing stars such as Joseph Finnes, who you might know by Elizabeth or Shakespeare in Love and I personally like his character, Adam, in Killing Me Softly, Dominic Monaghan, a british person playing a british person, who coincidentally provides a link to Lost in which he was Charlie, Finnes's onscreen wife, played by Sonya Walger, Penny in, again, Lost! And very brilliant John Cho, who you might recognize from the Harold & Kumar movies.

The premise is this: one day, every single person in the world blacks out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds. This has devastating effects in the real world – planes, trains and automobiles don't drive themselves, after all; but what soon unfolds is that during this time, everyone has a vision of their own future. Not only that, but their visions are all of their future lives at exactly the same time: 10pm on 29 April 2010. by the end of first episode you will realize this, and that it is not just an accident and it seems some groups or organizations or … did it to people.

The story will unfold from there, promising to look at whether the course of people's futures are changed by what they saw; whether what they saw can be changed by what they do, and what will happen to people who saw nothing at all. It seems like there are hundreds of different ways that this kind of concept can be explored and, hopefully, it will make the series intriguing.

Although David S. Goyer and his writing partner Brannon Braga had the story arcs for five seasons planned out already before FlashForward was picked up by one of the networks, one worry, of course, is always that, being US television, FlashForward might find itself canceled in a heartbeat if the ratings aren't good enough, or adapted to fit the audience's whims if they don't like it. But – in theory at least – there could be enough confidence to see the show through.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Gf E

Sex is the only word which would come to your mind if someone tells you the film title; The Girlfriend Experience. At first, the movie seemed to have no purpose but entertainment; however, since watching for the second time, one question has been remained on my mind, "what is the price of true love?"

Steven Soderbergh, is not a name that you can easily avoid. Oscar-winner, 46-year-old American director and producer, finally finished the project started almost two years ago, The Girlfriend Experience. Although, only his name is enough to guarantee that a movie is worth watching, two other names, David Levien and Brian Koppelman who have been co-writers since 1998 (Rounders) and are became famous for films such as Runaway Jury (2003) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007), provoked me to catch this movie.

Chelsea, the leading role played by Sasha Grey, is a young woman who earns a living as a high-end escort, selling a “girlfriend experience” to her clients. Even though, it might seem artificial, her job is to make her regulars believe that they have a boyfriend experience. It is not only about sex. As the matter of fact sometimes there is no sex at all.

Among all these men, Chelsea, whose real name is Christine, in her private life has an actual relationship with her partner Chris, who is -at least by himself- considered as a boyfriend! Although he is not meant anything more than another client to Christine. The dramatic sequence of events gives Christine, who is being paid to make love, the opportunity to realize the value of an actual love; Although the director is not concerned with coherent conclusion.

Mr. Soderbergh has made an incredibly plausible film, using non-actors and non-actresses such as Sasha Grey (a professional porn star), Mark Jacobson (a New York magazine writer), Glenn Kenny (a film critic) and Chris Santos, who had vanished since Amongst Friends (1993) . All the casts actually play their real-life characters. In addition, the documentary theme of movie helps it be more credible and authentic.

The good news for this style lovers is that Mr. Soderbergh has already signed for six movies with 2929 Entertainment and it is just the first one.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear God If You Didn't Create Me ….

By: Leila Moslemi (lilimoslemi@yahoo.com)

We have been created, so WE are important.

Eventually he opened his eyes to this world,

Happy of being born,

And shocked of seeing all the beauty on the earth.

He began to leap.

He rolled over flowers, climbed up the trees,

Laid on sea waves, leaped and screamed: Hey I'm here,

It's me, Oxygen. Hey, hey … but …

But nothing moved and no voice was heard.

He wondered and said with a lower voice:

Hey you, trees! Flowers! Butterflies! Rivers! Grand Sea!

Were not any of you expecting me?!

Do any of you see me at all?! Can you hear me?!

But no, nobody paid any attention to him.

He was offended by so much ignoring and

didn't know what to do.

He shouted, shoved them, shook them, but….

No …. Things were quite different.

They were neither inattentive

nor selfish. Our oxygen was invisible.

He just found out that he neither had color,

nor odor, nor shape,

nor was he even visible. He became dejected.

He sat on the seashore, gazed at sea and wept.

He told God:

Dear God, why did you create me at the first place?

What would happen if you didn't create me at all?

What is a creature with no color, no smell, and

No shape good for? You created the nature full of flowers,

trees, water, sea, forest, human and all beauties.

What would happen if

Gave me just a little of these beauties, colors or shapes?

Then he wanted to go back where he came from.

What joy was in this life? Could he

Believe in God's kindness or even love God anymore?

Did God love him at all?

These were thoughts that he was busy with,

So busy that he didn't realize when and how he fell asleep.

My dear; did you want to talk to me?

Were you annoyed of me?

Were you displeased by your creation and wanted

to know the secret to it?

Then listen to me carefully and collect your wits my dear.

Do you know what I was thinking about when

I was creating you?

I was thinking about how the world would look like

After you were born?

What beauties will be created through you? How can you

Appear to be useful and how your life will be joyful to you?

Now take this globe in your hand, spin it,

Watch it carefully, and listen to me.

Oxygen took the globe in his hand excitedly

And watched it.

He shook it and the globe began to spin.

He saw a number of people in the globe.

Then God asked them:

"My creatures tell me what you won't be able to

Survive without, if I take it back from you?"

They all answered immediately:

"Dear God, of course it's oxygen, water and food."

Oxygen? Oxygen?

How can I believe it? Do they know me?

They knew even my name!

What does human have to do with me?

Then he gave it a thought but … "but what my dear?"

"But with water and food, they may not need me anymore."

God smiled and said: "Spin the globe."

Oxygen shouted:

"Wow, what a beautiful forest! What trees! What flowers!

What a various collection of animals!" God said:

"You always wanted to be in their place and you wished to be

one of them and you looked at them with desirous eyes.

These are human food." Then Mother Nature asked

The forest and its animals:

"My dear children, tell me what is essential for your life and

You can't survive without it?"

Everybody clamored and said:

"Oxygen and water!"

How can I believe it?

You mean all these beauties need me?

Me, who neither is visible nor has a shape!

Oh my God …

Burst into tears, he could hardly continue.

He was weeping and laughing, weeping and laughing,

suddenly he felt moving up and down.

Waves woke him up and brought him back to the

Real world. But this time he enjoyed the world.

He enjoyed his existence,

His life, trees, flowers, butterflies, rain and sea.

But still he had two questions unanswered in his mind:

Which of us are of greatest importance, me or water?

And as god said, how can I enjoy my life?

I'm sure that there are answers to these questions too,

But this time I wish to find them myself.

But he needed to know more, before finding answers to

His questions.

So he took off to search for his answers.

He spent days and nights one after another.

He traveled on people's shoulders,

on the wings of butterflies and birds.

He rested under the trees and over the waves, and these

Were the best moments of his life.

Now, our oxygen was a couple of years old.

He had gone to many places, seen so many things

and had so many new experiences.

He had met other natural gases and now life

had a different meaning for him.

Each day of life meant a new experience to him and

Each day added to his knowledge.

On a new day, a day different than other

Beautiful days, he met someone like himself.

Someone with no shape, color or smell,

But different than his kind.

He had a strange feeling about it.

He went forward and reached it:



"I'm Oxygen".

"I'm Hydrogen".

"You look like me, having no color, no shape …"

Hydrogen cut his word and said:

"Yes, I'm useful like you.

I appear in other creatures in different ways like you.

I quench their thirst like you."

"I beg your pardon, but it's not us who quench their thirst.

It's water that makes them fresh and quenches their thirst."

"But this is exactly us.

We mix with each other and form water, and create fog,

rain, river sea and …"

Dear God

If you didn't create me …

And now, here's our mission in life!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dr. Faustus as a Tragic Hero

By: Leila Moslemi (lilimoslemi@yahoo.com)

Dr. Faustus the protagonist of Christopher Marlowe's great tragedy can be considered as a tragic hero similar to the other tragic characters such as Oedipus or Hamlet. Dr. Faustus who sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange of twenty four years of knowledge ought to have some special features in order to be considered as a tragic hero. But first of all let me present Aristotle's definition of a "Tragic hero" and then I will elaborate on each element in relation to the tragedy of "Dr. Faustus".

According to Aristotle, "the tragic hero evokes both our pity and terror because he is neither good nor thoroughly bad but a mixture of both; this tragic effect will be stronger if the hero is better than we are. Such a hero suffers from a change of happiness to misery because of his mistaken choice which is led by his hamarcia (error of judgment). The tragic hero stands against his fate or the gods to demonstrate his power of free will. He wants to be the master of his own fate. He decides to make decisions but mostly the decision making would lead to weakness or his own downfall."

Now according to Aristotle's definition of a "tragic hero" it is time to elaborate on the clues in details in order to conclude that Dr. Faustus can also be a tragic hero according to following reasons:

Firstly because Dr. Faustus as a tragic hero evokes our pity. We feel some form of connection with him because he has a sense of realism. Dr. Faustus makes mistakes which can be also all human condition. He wants to gain more knowledge that is also another part of human condition to learn and understand more. We sympathize with Dr. Faustus because his feelings are similar to other human beings at the end we really want him to repent in order to change his fate radically. We sympathize with him at the end of the drama when it is time for a farewell to his soul. Although he has done many faults but we really want God not to be so fierce towards a human being. He desires:

O soul, be changed to little water drops

And fall into the ocean. Ne're be found.

My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!

( Act V, Scene ii: lines 180-182)

Secondly because Dr. Faustus is a well-known and prosperous character, so the reader notices to his reputation as a well-respected scholar inevitably. In Act I, Scene i ; he calls for his servants and students in his speech about various fields of scholar ship which suggests him to be a prosperous intellectual.

Philosophy is odious and obscure,
Both law and physic are for petty wits,

Divinity is basest of the three,

Unpleasant, harsh, contemptible, and vile;
'Tis magic, magic that hath ravished me.

( Act I, Scene i: lines 107-111 )

His reputation as a scholar has been mentioned both in the beginning and at the end. It is one of the clues to present Dr. Faustus as a tragic hero so that the readers would be able to sympathize with him throughout the whole drama. In the closing lines the scholars put emphasis on this aspect more when they lament about their respectful professor's death.

Yet for he was a scholar once admired

For wondrous knowledge in our German schools,

We'll give his mangled limbs due burial;

And all the students, clothed in mourning black,

Shall wait upon his heavy funeral.

(Act V, Scene iii: Lines 14-19)

Thirdly because Dr. Faustus' mistaken choice, exchange of his soul to Lucifer, results in his downfall. His agreement with the devil blinds him in choosing between right and wrong. In the opening speech, in Act I, Faustus tells that he is skillful in different sciences but he wants to know more.

FAUSTUS. How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?
I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates;
I'll have them read me strange philosophy,
And tell the secrets of all foreign kings;
I'll have them wall all Germany with brass,
And make swift Rhine circle fair Witttenberg;
I'll have them fill the public schools with silk,
Wherewith the students shall be bravely clad;
I'll levy soldiers with the coin they bring,
And chase the Prince of Parma from our land,
And reign sole king of all the provinces;
Yea, stranger engines for the brunt of war,
Than was the fiery keel at Antwerp-bridge,
I'll make my servile spirits to invent.

( Act I, scene i: lines 79-98 )

Actually the desire for learning is part of human nature but he chooses the wrong way without some sense of guilt. His hasty desire for power and honor did not allow him to repent. He was so confused that he couldn't decide on following the ways of God or the path of Lucifer.

Fourthly because Dr. Faustus wanted to support his own plot to make his own decision. This aspect of his character was as a result of the Renaissance period, unlike the medieval period, the dominance of fate upon human life became as a matter of ignorance. It was time for secular matters. Therefore, the dominance of science shadowed upon individuals thought . Dr. Faustus wanted to take destiny in his own hands to demonstrate the power of free will against fate. A case in point is when he passionately demanded Mephistophilis to:

Go, bear these tidings to great Lucifer:
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against Jove's deity,
Say, he surrenders up to him his soul,
So he will spare him four and twenty years,
Letting him live in all voluptuousness;
Having thee ever to attend on me,
To give me whatsoever I shall ask,
To tell me whatsoever I demand,
To slay mine enemies, and to aid my friends,
And always be obedient to my will.
Go, and return to mighty Lucifer,
And meet me in my study at midnight,
And then resolve me of thy master's mind.

( Act I, Scene iii: lines 91-104 )

He did not want to be a puppet dancing to the strings of destiny, despite the fact that tragedy functions paradoxical towards human destiny.

Hence according to the aspects which I elaborated on, I can describe Dr. Faustus as a tragic hero. Although he devoted himself completely to Lucifer, never choosing right and making a tragedy out of his own downfall, but I found the drama as an optimistic and didactic one. I believe that Marlowe wanted to teach Christian faith besides a chance for salvation. Marlowe uses the tragic irony of Dr. Faustus as his ultimate intention to illustrate the downfall of a tragic hero.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Glamor of Desert (picture)

Here you can find some more pictures of Yazd:

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Glamor of Desert (part 2)

Being an octogenarian, my grandparents can't function like they did in their youth and since we are here to provide my grandparents and my aunt's parents with an enjoyable holiday, things are a bit different!
We spent the last night at hotel, watching television, crunching chips and drinking soda instead of going out and I don't think we can stay out of hotel for more than two hours.
Today, we are going to visit Jame mosque of Yazd one of the most famous ancient monuments in Iran. In comparison with Jame mosque of Isfahan, constructing Jame mosque of Yazd took a longer period of time mostly because this mosque was founded by people; on the contrary, Jame mosque of Isfahan was founded by Shah Abbas the Great.
As we step into the mosque, Hadi, starts enlightening us about the building! Although this is not my first visit, there are still new things to learn. This time, having an architect as a tour guide, we try to focus on the building itself, rather than receiving some historical information like other tourists.
One of the most important parts of each mosque is the dome, or in Persian architecture, Gonbad. “Jame mosque of Yazd is famed for its double layered brick dome” says Hadi. “the proportion of radius to hight is more then usual and it makes this Gonbad, especially the lower layer, unique in the world”. The distance between the two domes is two meters which means you can walk upright between them!
The very first question comes to your mind is why they built it double layered? “It has lots of aesthetics reasons” Hadi answers. “the outer dome has civic scale; however, the inner dome has human scale”. Besides that, it makes it adiabatic. Just imagine how horrible it would be if it was only one big or one small dome.As we are strolling about, discussing different aspects of building, people, who couldn't find a tour guide for themselves, gather round us to listen to what Hadi is saying. As more people come, my old friend, being fond of having audience, talks with more fervor and it seems unlikely that he is going to give up so easily!