Research assignment Susan Sontag Christian view on beauty Greek mythological story of narcissus
Discussion Questions What would be the downsides when beauty is associated exclusively with women? Do you agree with the author that the ideal of beauty is administered as a form of self- oppression? What do you think is desirable manhood? What’s your definition or understanding of beauty? Is the notion of aesthetic concept such as beauty interrelated to other elements? Do you agree that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?
Susan Sontag （ 1933-2004 ） an American essayist, literary icon, and political activist whose works include On Photography, Against Interpretation, The Way We Live Now, and Regarding the Pain of Others.On PhotographyAgainst InterpretationThe Way We Live NowRegarding the Pain of Others
In her essay On Photography Sontag says that the evolution of modern technology has changed the viewer in three key ways. She calls this the emergence of a new visual code. Firstly, Sontag suggests that modern photography, with its convenience and ease, has created an overabundance of visual material. As photographing is now a practice of the masses, due to a drastic decrease of camera size and increase of ease in developing photographs, we are left in a position where “just about everything has been photographed” (Sontag, Susan, (1977), On Photography 3). We now have so many images available to us of: things, places, events and people from all over the world, and of not immediate relevance to our own existence, that our expectations of what we have the right to view, want to view or should view has been drastically affected. Arguably, gone are the days that we felt entitled to view only those things in our immediate presence or that affected our micro world; we now seem to feel entitled to gain access to any existing images. “In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notion of what is worth looking at and what we have the right to observe” (3). This is what Sontag calls a change in the “ethics of seeing”.
Secondly, Sontag comments on the effect of modern photography on our education, claiming that photographs “now provide most of the knowledge people have about the look of the past and the reach of the present”. Without photography only those few people who had been there would know what the Egyptian pyramids or the Parthenon look like, yet most of us have a good idea of the appearance of these places. Photography teaches us about those parts of the world that are beyond our touch in ways that literature can not.
Thirdly, Sontag also talked about the way in which photography desensitizes its audience. Sontag introduced this discussion by telling her own story of the first time she saw images of horrific human experience. At twelve years old, Sontag found images of holocaust camps and was so distressed by them she says “When I looked at those photographs something broke... something went dead, something is still crying”. Sontag argues that there was no good to come from her seeing these images as a young girl, before she fully understood what the holocaust was. For Sontag the viewing of these images has left her a degree more numb to any following horrific image she viewed, as she had been desensitized. According to this argument, “Images anesthetize” and the open accessibility to them is a negative result of photography.
Scrutiny---close study or look; a careful and thorough examination 详细检查、仔细观察 pass the scrutiny of the guards His work looks all right, but it will not bear scrutiny. The suspect’s movements were under the scrutiny of the police. Scrutinize----v. The policeman looked in the file and scrutinized his face for a moment.
Lament----feel or express grief or sorrow 悲叹、痛惜、 因 而遗憾 He laments the fact that the city residents here have lost confidence in the police. a lamentable performance 拙劣的表演 lamentation----n. mourning Flair----natural ability to do some special thing 天赋、 资质、特别的才能 a flair for music/languages be impressed by sb.’s political flair develop a flair for decorating rooms
Paragraph 1 How did the ancient Greeks define beauty? In what ways does the story of Socrates support Sontag’s central idea?
Lamely----weakly, unconvincingly 站不住脚的、 蹩脚的、软弱无力 adv. That was her last lame effort. At best, the proposal was a lame compromise, but he accepted. His counter arguments sound lame.
Pedagogical----concerning the methods and theory of teaching 教学法的 disciple---a follower of any great teacher 门徒、 崇奉者 The distinguished professor has had many disciples over the years.
Paragraph 2 What do modern people think of the relationship between inner beauty and outer beauty? Be wary of ----be cautious of, be careful of 堤防、 警惕 be wary of flatters Enchantment----a delightful influence or feeling of delight 魔法、魅力 the enchantment of music
Paragraph 3-4 How does Christianity change the idea of beauty? How is beauty associated exclusively with women? Do we use the same word to describe man? Adrift---adj./adv. Not fastened; without direction 漂流、漫无目的；脱落、出岔子 The storm set many small boats adrift. We are adrift in a sea of new ideas. The button has come adrift. The project went adrift.
Alienate----turn away the friendship of 疏离 feel bitterly alienated In the 18 th century, the colony was gradually alienated from its mother country. Arbitrary---not seeming to be based on reason 任 意、武断、专横的 The choice of players for the team seemed completely arbitrary. He made unpredictable arbitrary decisions.
Christian View on Beauty Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.
The Second Sex (1949) Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex was de Beauvoir's exhaustive effort to grapple with the strange predicaments that being a woman creates for a human being. The dilemmas she analyzed continue to obsess and sometimes torment modern women -- the conflicts between meaningful work and maternity, the temptations of dependence, the painful artifices conventional femininity requires. Her work anticipates both second wave feminism and the reaction to it.
De Beauvoir's fundamental insight is that throughout recorded history, humanity has been understood as male, with women situated as inessential others. Man is subject, women is object. This asymmetry, de Beauvoir argued, frustrates women's dreams, deforms their psyches, and alienates them from themselves.
“History has shown that men have always held all the concrete powers; from patriarchy's earliest times they have deemed it useful to keep woman in a state of dependence; their codes were set up against her; she was thus concretely established as the Other.”
Attribute to---to believe something is the result of 归因于 She attributes her success to hard work and a little luck. Demeaning----do sth. that make people have less respect 降低身份、失去尊重 I wouldn’t demean myself by asking for charity. Overtone---- 弦外之音、暗示 There were political overtones to the point he was making.
Vestige-----a sign, mark that shows sth. was present 残留、遗迹 the last vestiges of the old colonial regime Detriment----n. harm The war caused great detriment to the country’s economy. Suicide bombing is detrimental to the cause of peace.
Paragraph 5 According to the social norms, what is the essence of men and women respectively? What is the stereotypical thinking towards man and woman? In the throes of ---- struggling with some difficulty Despite being in the throes of school exams, Tom still went to the theatre.
Narcissism Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group's relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.psychoanalytic theorymental illnesspersonality traitprimary narcissismhealthy self-love egoismvanityconceitselfishness social groupelitismpsychologyself-love self-absorption
The word narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus "lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour", and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus.NarcissusnymphEchonarcissus
Paragraph 6 According to Sontag, “the ideal of beauty is administered as a form of self-oppression.” What is your understanding of this remark? Idealization----the imagination or representation of sth. or sb. as perfect or as better than in reality The American dream is an idealization of American reality.
Complexion----the natural color and appearance of the skin, esp. of the face She has a pale complexion. Fretful----complaining and anxious, esp. because of dissatisfaction or discomfort She asked in a fretful voice why she was excluded from the list. He is fretting over his mother’s illness.
Muster----n. assembly of people pass muster--- to be considered satisfactory Such excuses will not pass muster with him. Wanting---a. lacking in quality or quantity He is wanting in moral constraints. wanting---prep. Without Wanting a leader, nothing can be done smoothly.
Paragraph 7 What is a desirable manhood like? Robert Redford: US film actor and director (1936-- ) recent production: The horse whisperer
Dissect---to study very carefully part by part 仔细研 究、剖析 His supervisor dissected his work and questioned his motive. He dissected the plan afterward to study why it had failed. Unmanly---unworthy of noble birth, cowardly 无男子 气概的 Blemish---a small mark or damaged area that may spoil the appearance of sth. 斑点、疤痕、瑕疵 His reputation is without a blemish. Depreciation----a decline in value 跌价、贬值 New cars start to depreciate as soon as they are on the road. Shares continued to depreciate on the stock market today.
Paragraph 8-10 Do you agree that beauty is a form of power? How could we shatter the mythology of the feminine?
Preen---feel proud or satisfied with oneself 刻意 打扮、精心修饰并自我欣赏 Will you stop preening yourself in front of the mirror? preen oneself on sth. 沾沾自喜、得意扬扬 Clamber up to-----climb or move with difficulty or a lot of efforts （吃力）攀登 The children clambered up the steep bank. Clambering over the stone walls, we tried to escape from the wild bull.
In so far as----to the degree that I will help you in so far as I can. We will succeed in so far as we cooperate in this project. interminable----endless 冗长的 The drive seemed interminable. The meeting dragged on interminably.
Disparage----to speak of without respect 贬低、 轻视 I don’t mean to disparage your achievements. disparaging remarks 贬损的言辞 He spoke disparagingly of his collegues.
Gender in the Media Task: Devise and deliver a persuasive speech exploring representations of men and/or women in a media form/outlet of your choice. Your speech should urge for the support/boycotting of the chosen media form/outlet. Your speech should lead your listeners to reappraise their own position, persuade them to accept your stance, and move them to take action on the issue.
3-5 minutes Choose media form, e.g.: the blogosphere, newspapers, magazine, popular web sites, television, twitter, feature film etc. Gender focus (m/f?) and an outline of the issue regarding gender representations in your chosen media outlet. Call to action Persuasive strategies/devices you will use to illustrate your points