Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ethics...what are those?

We had a very intriguing discussion on Tuesday about business ethics and the dilemma of what to do when something shady is about to go down. We were asked if Silas did the right thing and I don't think there is a right answer to such a question. But, the question carries more weight then just right or wrong, to me this story (and situation/question) shows us that the dilemma presented proves the legitimacy of the piece of literature. With that said, I want to extend what I said in class. Dr. Campbell asked us what we would do and I answered with something along the lines of "i would do whats best for me." But after I said this and thought about it for a while I realized what Silas was asked to do was much more complicated then we realize. When it comes to business there seem to be no rules or better yet the only rule is survival of the fittest. In todays world of Bernie Madoff and insider trading it truly is survival of the fittest. Today, Silas would have sold his place and not even have thought twice about hurting someone. The purity of human nature is much to tainted today to do anything different. This poses the question of what is and isn't ethical? If Silas is looking out for his family first how can we say that making an unethical choice is really unethical, it seems pretty ethical to me to put your family ahead of everything else. Does this excuse Madoff from stealing literally billions of dollars, no. But it does shed some light on how fuzzy and in most cases non-existant ethics really are. Especially in todays corrupt world of me first, you second. Silas Lapham is arguably a microcosm of what todays world is really like. Maybe even foreshadowing the world to come. Well, here it is and its pretty shady.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller was an interesting read, in fact I thought it was actually very good and it held my interest rather well. I didn't really think about it very deep until class on Tuesday, when we talked about the article in the Evergreen and then on to the "rules" we think as okay or not okay. Our discussion in class got me thinking about the way we set these rules and how we then put those rules into play. A good example of this is just the culture here at WSU and how the perception of us is we are here to drink and party and school comes second but in reality we aren't any different then the average university. Daisy Miller has the same thing happening because of how the characters view each other and then how those views and perceptions shape the outcome of the book. Whatever example you want to use this still says something about social interaction and how we have a higher social code that we hold each other to, whether we are aware of it or not, good or bad. So stepping back and thinking about this in the big picture I ask myself why do we this? Is this part of our nature that we just can't help or has society and culture forced us into this sort of behavior? I never would have thought that a 70 page novella would make me think about something so abstract and really put me in a place that I start to question my culture and up bringing.
In short, Daisy Miller was a powerful read. It made me think and I like that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So we've read two book so far and we are working on our third and I have to say I'm a little frustrated with our readings. Maybe it's because I haven't connected with the novels or maybe it's because I was thinking we would read more popular works. But, on the contrary I can see the benefit in having a plethora of authors under my belt.

Last week I posted on Joaquin Murieta although I hadn't finished it. Being done, it didn't live up to what I wanted it to be. He wasn't a Robin Hood figure at all much less a hero. He was a self serving bandit who did things to benefit himself. There was no order to how he operated and worse he didn't really have a greater calling and if he did it was that he didn't like white people.

As I was listening to the groups talk about their questions I felt there was a common theme that ran through all the groups and that's the idea that as much as we want to try and sensationalize Murieta as a hero we can't simply because he isn't. In my group we brought up the point that Ridge liked the idea of a Robin Hood like figure but failed to deliver on that idea. Maybe I missed this in class or the readings but how accurate is this story? It seems that we have run into a bit of a problem with the separation of historical recollection and telling a good story. Thus, as much as Ridge would like to make Murieta the modern Robin Hood he can't in the name of historical accuracy.

What I'm really identifying is a bigger question/problem in literature and thats where is the line, or is there a line, between fact and fiction? In most of my English classes we tackle this problem at one point or another and Joaqin Murieta is a good example of this. How would we classify this text? It is my belief that this is a work of fiction and doesn't really educate the audience on who this man was. Wouldn't it be more effective to chose between a biography of Murieta or a story based on "true events"? We still can't escape the overarching problem of removing the authors bias, but it would set the stage in a more clean and precise manner. Ultimately I took away that this book, like many others, falls in the grey area of literature that doesn't allow for real in depth analysis simply because everything we analyze is the authors point of view rather than the things Murieta did. I often ask this question when I am reading something and I can't seem to work through that problem. To me, this is a fundamental flaw in our field. Literature is a subjective medium that doesn't allow itself to be truly analyzed in the sense of historical accuracy because all we really analyze is that which the author feels worth documenting. I may be completely wrong but there does seem to be a disconnect between fact and the authors motivation to put pen to paper.