Michelle's blog

November 30th, 2010

man on wire

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

In Marianna’s summary of the new york times review of Man on Wire, she states that “Man on Wire is constructed like a heist movie and is very unpredictable.” Immediately after hearing the word unpredictable I couldn’t help but think of Wilson and the idea of the Labyrinth.

As I viewed the movie Man on Wire, I noticed that Petit was a person who really enjoyed living on the edge, he definitely wasn’t someone who enjoyed staying within a comfort zone. As he said within the movie, “life should be lived on its edge”.

This idea that life should be an adventure and that we should be “doing something that’s supposed to be impossible”, made me think about Whitman and how different his feelings are. Whitman believed that the the ferry provided all generations a chance to be connected, it was an experience that was never changing, and that it could bring all people together. By never changing you will remain within this comfort zone of the expected. Petit definitely contrasted with this in that he lived for the adventure and got “such great pleasures from liberties”.

It’s interesting to notice the differences between different views on what’s beautiful. To Petit the unpredictable was just so beautiful to him. “The beauty of it was I didn’t have a why, I did something mysterious”. He also felt that the most beautiful death would be “to die in the exercise of your passion.” To Whitman, and also many other people the beautiful aspects in life are the things that never change, and that connect one generation to the next. So it brings us back to a very important question, what is more beautiful and worthwhile, settling in your predictable comfort zone, or entering into the mysterious path of the labyrinth.

November 23rd, 2010

Age of Innocence through the eyes of Wilson

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

Throughout Wilson’s essay the concept of the comfort zone and the labyrinth keep reappearing. The comfort zone is the place of safety, where everything is certain and predictable. There is a bourgeoisie order, which does not allow for any room to change. The labyrinth on the other hand is not a straight path, and is filled with mysteries and uncertainties.

After reading Wilson and then watching the rest of the Age of Innocence in class, it has become clear to me that these two very different worlds were represented in this movie. Another major aspect of Wilson’s essay however was women and their role in the city. With that in mind, the very different personalities of the main women characters, Countess Ellen Olenska and May, became even more apparent.

May represents the very essence of the comfort zone. She follows all of the traditional manners that are appropriate for a women in her time. She is very familiar with what is acceptable from a lady and what is not. Whenever she is shown in the movie she is shown sitting upright, or behaving in a proper manner, she doesn’t seem to ever stray from the acceptable. As the narrator in the movie had said, May had the “incapacity to realize change.”

On the other hand, Countess Olenska “had become the complete vision of all we had missed.” She was different, and didn’t mind being different. Countess Olenska didn’t want to be a part of the comfort zone. She had broken out of the comfort zone, and entered deep into the labyrinth. In this movie, Wilson would view Countess Olenska as the sphinx in the city. She represented all the mysteries that life had to offer, and even tempted others to want to join her way of life. Newland falls victim to this. Countess Olenska’s presence tempts him to want to give up everything and enter into this place of the “other”. The labyrinth is the place where Countess Olenska belongs, as is seen when everyone tries to get her to reenter into the comfort zone and she is unable to.

Wilson would feel as though the role the women should follow is Countess Olenska’s. The role the May has is portrayed as being boring, and almost even artificial or fake. Wilson would argue that women shouldn’t try to stay within this fake world and should leave the order and discover what it’s like to enter the unknown.

November 16th, 2010

the sphinx in the city

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

Wilson states, “Women have become an irruption in the city, a symptom of disorder, and a problem: the Sphinx in the city.” What does Wilson mean by this? Isn’t Wilson a feminist, why then would she be describing women as a problem. Here Wilson is not showing her views, but rather she is expressing the views that others, in particular males, have of women in cities. The women’s role in cities is so far into the labyrinth that it causes a problem in the comfort zone. People who are so used to males dominating society aren’t prepared for the opportunities that the city is offering women, and this to them is a problem. By describing it as “the sphinx in the city” it describes how the city is leaving the comfort zone more and more as women gain more influence and power, and going farther and farther into the labyrinth where there is a “loss of nature” and “loss of identity”, and where the female sphinx lay at the heart of the labyrinth.

November 11th, 2010

Comfort Zone vs. The Labyrinth

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

When I hear the word comfort zone, I immediately think of a place where I know everything will be the same when I go there. That’s exactly what a comfort zone is. A comfort zone is somewhere where you know there will be stability. This stability enables you to feel tranquility because you have that certainty about everything, there is no wondering about if something is going to change, because there is no change. The comfort zone seems like it’s an amazing place, but then why would people want to experiment with the Labyrinth?

Although the comfort zone provides you with reassurance because it’s so stable, this reassurance can become dull. The order within the respectable bourgeoisie becomes too predictable. This formality leads to fixed identities. Everyone has their fixed roles to play, and you can not step out of these roles. Everything is tamed, and so segregation is common among class, ethnicity, and gender.  This comfort zone is seen in rural and suburban areas, where it seems that these people are happy with their structured lives, but are they? If they were so happy with this way of living then why are many people are allured to the mysterious life of the labyrinth.

The labyrinth is completely different from the comfort zone. The Labyrinth is not a straight path, there is no end in sight, whereas with your comfort zone you know exactly where you will end up. The path you take seems to be nightmarish, and yet you dare to enter it. At the center of the labyrinth there is terror and anxieties. It’s full of mysteries and extremes, so why then would someone choose the labyrinth over their comfort zone?

It’s just a place that you’re drawn into. The labyrinth is the place of the “other”, and the change and instability of it is what makes it so attractive. This environment allows you to explore desires and impulses that in a comfort zone would be considered forbidden taboo topics. Bohemians lived in the labyrinth rather than in a comfort zone because they were captivated by this environment of change and mysteries. The uncertainty of the future made the labyrinth that much more alluring.

November 3rd, 2010

The Panic in Needle Park

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

Review written by Geraldine Baum from the Los Angeles Times

Title: Needle Park? It’s been pushed ino the shadows

“The Panic in Needle Park” seems to be hidden from viewers, “Out of circulation and almost never shown on television because of its uncompromising portrayal of heroin use”, this makes it very difficult to get a hand on this film. Geraldine Baum after searching was finally able to get a copy of this film so that she could revisit it.

This movie is can be seen as the story of a couple, Helen and Bobby. As Baum says, “Director Jerry Schatzberg offers a documentary-style look at a druggie couple and the lowlifes sharing a bench with them on Broadway”. Although this movie is telling the story of this couple, it more importantly is portraying New York City in a way that it has never been seen before. This film made New York seem as if it were a nightmare to live in and as if it were a “madhouse”. The way the area was portrayed in the film made the are “unrecognizable”, “Except for the angle of Broadway and a few fairy-tale turrets on old limestone buildings”.

If Schatzberg’s sole purpose for this film were to tell the story of two druggies then he could have chosen any location for this film. The fact that this was filmed in New York City is very important. Baum states that “Schatzberg had told me he made “Panic” three decades ago because he wanted to show the addicts to people who walked right by them without noticing.”

Baum also makes us think about how we no longer see these “Bobbys and Helens”, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still exist. As we watch this film now we think we think about how strange it is that this could have taken place in such an area. We think that now there are no more of these situations taking place, but as Baum states “Before we didn’t see what was in front of our eyes because we chose not to. Now we don’t see them because we’ve chosen to move them out of sight”.

Link to the article:


November 2nd, 2010

“The City of the Yellow Devil”

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

We live in a materialistic world, and all we care about is getting money, and spending this money.

In Maxim Gorky’s “The City of the Yellow Devil”, his view of what New York City is, is made extremely clear to us as the readers through the strong stance that is taken, as well as through the voice within the entire chapter. Gorky’s opinion about New York City is that the city corrupts people, and is centered around money and obtaining money, so once you become a part of this city, you too will only live for money. “People have finished the days work and- never thinking of why it was done, or whether it was any use to them- hurry home to bed” (15). Gorky expresses how people only live for money and that the original identity of America has been lost. America which used to be the land of opportunities, of freedom to live, is now a land centered around the “Yellow Devil”.

When we normally think of immigrants coming to America, we think of the description of America as the land of opportunities. However Gorky provides us with an extremely different view America. His opinion on the American dream is made clear when he states things such as “Entering the city is like getting into a stomach of stone and iron, a stomach that has swallowed several million people and is grinding and digesting them”(9). Gorky is able to describe a moment that normally resembles hope and optimism, and creates a completely opposite feeling within the reader.

While reading this, I found Gorky’s voice to be pessimistic and disappointed. Gorky is looking down upon the city, and he doesn’t like what it has become. “This is a city. This is New York….A haughty pride in its height, and its ugliness is felt in each house. There are no flowers at the windows and no children to be seen”(8). He is disappointed that the city has lost its life, its exciting aspect, it has strictly become business. “They were taught to work, but not to live, and so the day of rest is a hard day for them…..Six days of the week life is simple. It is a huge machine, and they are all its cogs….But on the seventh day-the day of rest and idleness-life looms before him in a strange dismantled guise” (34).

From reading Gorky’s chapter, we see through his passionate word choice, and pessimistic and disappointed voice that he is not a fan of what the city is now, and through the use of many similies he conveys these feelings.

Gorky’s stance on this way of living in New York is extremely critical. He is describing his observations to the reader, and is trying to convince the reader that this is not the right way of living life.

Gorky’s voice is one of an infuriated witness.

Gorky uses a lot of support to strengthen his thesis throughout the piece. He uses many similes to further support his opinions. These similes are clearly full of emotion and strong opinions so they  allow the reader to understand Gorky’s perspective. Along with these similes, Gorky also uses vivid descriptions to create images of the city.

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