Session 07: Western Frameworks: Sacred spaces for love, high valuation on the individual and the individual's subjectivity
Topics for this session
❖ The sessions provides examples of romantic narrative situated in semi-sacred spaces (last aria of Richard Wagner's opera "Tristan and Isolde") and counter-points that with non-sacred spaces (Ovid's The Art of Love) and ambiguous spaces (Roddham's short film version of Richard Wagner's aria)
❖ "High" and "low" love briefly visited in terms of how "high" discourse alters when the medium is popular music (Johnny Cash) or film
❖ Also briefly note Western valuation of subjective responses to one's surroundings (Romanticism)
This session takes up, basically, the question "Why do we take so seriously our romantic narratives?" by suggesting a link between Christian notions of divine love and our personal experience of love and a contextual tendency to consider love as fully within or partly within or somehow suggestive of sacred spaces. This is not the case with our East Asian narratives, so this session is meant to make us more self-aware of our tendency to raise issues of love to a high status (on a spiritual scale) when this is not true in premodern East Asian narratives: love is urgent, and might be life-changing, but it is not sacred and neither healing nor transcendent in the ways suggested by today's Western examples. (If there is something that matches "love" in importance in our premodern texts, it is probably "social status".)
Depending on time management issues, when possible I screen a short film at the end of this session. This is optional. Read this and decide whether you would like to stay or not. I empty the room and then everyone returns so, at that time, you are free to leave for the day:
Time permitting, the last 8 minutes of class are devoted to an optional video clip. We will empty the room and get re-seated in 120 seconds. So, if you plan to skip out, take your stuff with you. If you plan to return, you can leaves things at your seat — that will be faster.
Content: frontal full male nudity (a little bit), frontal female nudity (quite a bit), graphic intercourse, blood and skin slicing (close up), general sense that "Hmm is this in good taste?" (less from what is on screen as the overall mood of the work).
This is optional, not required. I screen it to show how media affect narratives: it is the same aria that we all view at the end of the class. Or, rather than "affect", how films usually dumb things down and go for "low" love. (We already have a short example of this in class that we all share.)
NOTE: As you probably noticed, you have entered into the busy reading phase for this course. This will continue up through Midterm 02. You have, at this time, a short story to read for this day, a short story to read for the midterm and considerable premodern Japanese reading to be completed by the first session on the premodern Japanese texts, since I quiz its content at that time. During the sessions that are devoted to the Japanese texts, you should be reading for the next country's texts since those, too, will be tested on the first day of the sessions devoted to that country. This pattern is because we do not discuss the texts in stages but rather as a whole. You need to see the full narrative arc from the beginning. We do not do "close" reading, we look at overall patterns, developments and such. It is very important that you do the readings and this is probably the toughest stretch of the course.
Required—to be completed for today's session
Texts, multimedia notes, links*
The session has a PowerPoint that I make available after the session is over: Western Concepts 02 [bSpace, PPT]
nothing yet ...
*THOUGHTS: Reading before class probably helps follow session content, reading afterwards might help consolidate notes, revisiting for tests is recommended. Content might be added before class or anytime up until about 24 hours ahead of a midterm.
*TEXTS, MULTIMEDIA NOTES, LINKS: If I have read from something, shown something or presented audio that is not elsewhere mentioned, I usually include that information here for the curious, sometime after the class (since I often make last-minute decisions about including something). It might take a while and sometimes I forget. You can email me.
*OTHER: When possible I note here names, places, and other details that I have mentioned in a lecture that would otherwise not be accessible in the assigned materials or easily located on your own. As with "TEXTS ..." this is usually sometime after class and, again, I might not be able to get around to doing it.