News and politics: Discovering the Circus under my Bed

On Friday the 26th of June, the Fruit Fly Circus, Albury based Youth circus school, opened their new show to a local audience at the Albury Entertainment Centre.
The family friendly plot follows the adventures of a young girl exploring the space under her bed and her own imagination.
The show was opening in Albury before going on to Sydney, Canberra and then to Istanbul, Turkey.
The international part of the tour is a unique experience for the performers aged from 9 to 19.
The show has been developed by the students, staff and trainers of the circus school over the past year and the months of planning, staging and refining culminated in a sold out show to an audience of diverse ages.
Venue based theatre technician Brent Scott was greatly impressed with how the show, which will go on to much larger venues in metropolitan areas, translated to the regional venue;
“There are many challenges that need to be overcome when adapting a show with these kinds of performance heights and a wide variety of safety concerns need to be addressed”
“We spend a lot of time talking to Fruit Flies staff and have lots of meetings to sort out how we go about changing our set up to accommodate the acrobat’s routines.”
“But,” he continued “the smaller performance space and the proximity of the audience made for an intimate performance.”
Audience feedback was also positive across different age demographics, with parents and children both delighting in this locally fostered circus performance.
Chelsea was amongst those in the audience and expressed her enthusiasm for the circus, both as a source of entertainment and as a local institution;
“It’s amazing to have such a nationally renowned circus in our area, and we are so lucky to be able to see the opening night of this show, especially considering that their next show is at the Sydney Opera House.”
But 3 year old, Flynn was universally positive about the whole performance, making it very clear that he did not like the “sad clown”.

Approaches to English literature: The Invisible Weight of Hector, Using intertextuality and The Iliad to create powerful characters in Ransom and “The Triumph of Achilles”

When Homer wrote The Iliad he was recording stories for posterity, but he could hardly have known the influence his work would carry throughout centuries that would be alien to him. How could he predict that this epic tale would be broken down and analysed, reimagined and reworked, right down to the minutest detail. Both Malouf in his short novel Ransom and Glück in her poem “The Triumph of Achilles” focus on the events that follow the death of Hector, creating an intense and personal depiction of the anguish, anger, desperation and grief, of which Hector is respectively the object of lamentation and the possible means to vengeance and closure. In these texts we see Hector as the murderer, Hector as the object of grief, the war as the backdrop and the gods as enigmatic yet explainable, but we must ultimately look to Homer to find; Hector the man, the fury of the Trojan War, the importance of the gods and the ultimate fate of the characters.
The Trojan War, whilst intrinsic to Glück and Ransom’s works, is not depicted in any great detail, for Homer’s text, and it’s preoccupation with war, provides a wealth of powerful material to be drawn upon. The longevity and notoriety of The Iliad has seeped into modern culture, so many readers can make the intertextual connections, often without having read The Iliad. With experts sighting that “interest in Homer in the 21st century seems to be stronger than ever” (Myrsiade, 1) the scale and drama of this legendary war can be called upon by Glück to show the intensity of Achilles grief, which she shows as completely eclipsing the importance and carnage of the war going on around him; “What were the Greek ships on fire compared to this loss?” (Glück, 13-14). Glück presents the reader with a very narrow portal into the grief of one hero in a tale rich with acts of heroism, even beginning her poem by asserting in the very first line that it is the story of Patroclus that the reader is encountering, not of the great Achilles, Hector, or the fall of Troy. This almost claustrophobic view of a section of Homer’s epic uses the resonance of the Troy story to very poignantly look at a very selective section of the vast work. Malouf’s approach to the Trojan War though more detailed, is an account of the war from the personal perspective of Achilles, who does not seem to see, care or be affected by the greater war and that which does not immediately affect him. Malouf shows us very clearly that the reader is surely not seeing the full picture of the conflict in Achilles reflection on Patroclus’s disillusionment with his friend’s command; “He sees my indifference to the fate of these Greeks as a stain to my honour, Achilles told himself, and to his own” (Malouf, 16).
The cause of the war is not examined within the modern texts, as even many who have not read The Iliad have at least a cursory background knowledge of the battle of Troy, the beautiful Helen, and the personal pride that lead to this epic conflict. This war that is the result of personal insult and injury is examined closely in Homer, allowing Glück and Malouf the luxury of not having to rehash and reimagine the ideas that are not crucial to their vision of the personal grief of select characters; “Why, pray, must the Argives needs fight the Trojans? What made the son of Atreus gather the host and bring them? Was it not for the sake of Helen? Are the sons of Atreus the only men in the world who love their wives? Any man of common right feeling will love and cherish her who is his own, as I this woman, with my whole heart” (Homer, 95).
Through focusing on different sections of the epic Iliad, Glück and Malouf are able to draw upon the wealth of information, and cultural familiarity of the story, to utilise the power, formidable legacy and notoriety of the Achilles character to great effect. For whilst it is possible for the reader to form a picture of the great hero from the two modern texts in question, it is through the knowledge of the eventual fate of Achilles in the final passages of The Iliad that the character of this doomed and desperate hero really comes to life. To approach Ransom without knowledge of the Iliad is to forgo the knowledge that informs passages such as this:
“But the sea is not where it will end. It will end here on the beach in the treacherous shingle, or out there on the plain. That is fixed, inevitable. With the pious resignation of the old man he will never become, he has accepted this.” (Malouf, 9).
Without the knowledge of his eventual downfall, and the weight of the mythology that surrounds him, this statement does not have the same level of foreboding. Similarly Glück’s allusion to the emotional death of Achilles (Glück, 18) is an ominous sign of the fate that is to befall him. Achilles, as the son of a Goddess and legendary warrior, carries with him the qualities and form of an entire ancient culture. His journey as a Homeric hero and the godly rage that he possesses is intrinsically Greek, allowing the modern reader to draw on the legacy of the Trojan War to better understand the circumstances surrounding these deeply personal stories of loss. Glück’s focus on the personal anguish of Achilles allows the reader familiar with The Iliad to hold a magnifying glass up to the torment of grief that occurs for one character despite the unmarked deaths of many. The disregard for the value of the life of the average individual in the Greek epic is highlighted by the intensity of Achilles reaction to the death of Patroclus, and his blatant indifference to the soldiers who are dying every day as the result of his inaction, an inaction that is documented in Homer, and the knowledge of which is relied upon by Glück to complete the picture of Achilles irrational grief and intense personal torment.
In a tale of heroes it is important not to lose sight of the man whose body is merely an object, a spectre of its former glory by the time Malouf picks up the story of The Iliad; Hector. Ransom does little to differentiate the heroism of Hector from the heroism of Achilles, merely positioning him as a man of honour and Achilles Trojan equivalent in many ways, highlighting Hector’s use of Achilles armour in the battle that would lead to his demise and uttering the words that tie their fates together “You will not long outlive me Achilles” (Malouf, 23). Hector is not mentioned by name in the poem of Glück, but he is present as the slayer of Patroclus (Glück, 1-2). In both texts Hector haunts the fringes, unable to assert his own merits and character due to omission or death. The reader relies on Homer entirely to inform their deeper knowledge of Hector, which is crucial to understanding the drama unfolding. Bernadete warns us of the perils of dismissing Hector as the Trojan mirror of Achilles:  “Achilles and Hector are heroes, one an Achaean, the other a Trojan; but to know them better, so that even away from their camps, we should not mistake them, forces us to find other traits peculiar to themselves.” (Bernadete, 12).
To understand the gravity of the king and grieving father Priam’s actions and their consequences in a world of restraint and decorum The Iliad provides the context that allows Malouf to depict the old man’s journey of discovery (Brennan 3). In Ransom, Priam struggles with the notion of autonomy and destiny, breaking free of the godly constraints that are so evident in Homer’s Iliad, and choosing his own path. As an epic in the tradition of Greek tragedy The Iliad is spurred on by the will of the gods, whereas it is Priam’s creative thought in the face of desperation that drives the action of Ransom. While Priam is still reliant on the good will and inspiration of the gods, he is forced to consider chance as a factor in determining the fate of his son Hector’s body. The context for Priam the parent is also laid down in The Iliad with scholars such as Pratt asserting the importance of parenthood and the child in Homer’s work (Pratt, 25). In light of this parental motif it is perhaps not as surprising as it initially appears that Malouf has chosen to focus on the struggles and enlightenment of a grieving father, and to introduce another grieving father, Somax, who by his class does not represent the repression and preoccupation with formality the stately Priam does. By comparing the sombre and stately Priam of Homer with the jovial and affectionate cart driver, the universal truth and emotion that lies beneath Homer’s epic is exposed.
The legacy and weight of the Iliad as an intertextual reference cannot be denied and the powerful images and cultural protocols of the Greeks that the epic conjures up serve the authors who rely on them in order to create a fleshed out story, with characters, who by their familiarity and iconicity cannot fail to resonate with readers. This is particularly evident in the poem of Glück which, by its brevity, draws much of its detail and power from its intertextual elements, but the value of these intertextual references in Malouf should also not be underestimated. Whilst both works stand up to scrutiny on their own, they draw great power and substance from their relationship to The Iliad, and the weight of one of the greatest stories ever told.

Bibliography
• Benardete, Seth. “Achilles and the Iliad.” Hermes (1963): 1-16. . Reprinted in The Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy by Seth Benardete, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
• Brennan, Bernadette. “Singing it anew: David Malouf’s Ransom.” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 11, no. 1 (2011). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/jasal/article/view/1846/2629
• Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics: the basics. Routledge, 2007.
• Glück, Louise. The triumph of Achilles. Vol. 32. Ecco Press, 1985.
• Homer, The Iliad and the Odyssey. Special Edition Books, e-book, 2006.
• Malouf, David. Ransom. Random House, Sydney, Kindle Edition, 2010.
• Morris, Daniel. The Poetry of Louise Glück: A Thematic Introduction. University of Missouri Press, 2006.
• Myrsiades, Kostas. “Introduction: Homer; Analysis and Influence.” College Literature 35, no. 4 (2008): xi-xix.: Accessed 8/5/2015 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25114371.
• Pratt, Louise. “The Parental Ethos of the Iliad.” Hesperia. Supplement (2007): 25-40. Accessed 2/5/2015 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2006678.

Picture: “The “Triumph of Achilles” fresco, in Corfu Achilleion” by Franz von Matsch – Own work by רנדום, 2011-08-27. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_%22Triumph_of_Achilles%22_fresco,_in_Corfu_Achilleion.jpg#/media/File:The_%22Triumph_of_Achilles%22_fresco,_in_Corfu_Achilleion.jpg

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Approaches to English Literature; Sympathetic Responses to Characters in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Compare and contrast the ways in which any two texts studied on the unit organize information to generate a sympathetic response to characters, paying particular attention to its implications for narrative meaning. Take care to quote directly from your chosen texts, illustrating the techniques used to generate a sympathetic response and explaining how meaning is affected by them.
When looking at the text The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, we find some striking similarities in the fate of Ozymandias, the great king of Egypt, and Louise Mallard, the troubled woman who meets her ironic end in Chopin’s story. The joy, passion and power that these two very different characters experience could be perceived as an illusion that is shattered when it comes into conflict with reality. In order to demonstrate these parallels that occur across vastly different timelines and how this method of characterisation creates a sympathetic response in the reader, I will endeavour to display how these characters are built up and broken back down again in order to make the egotistical seem palatable and relatable.
In The Story of an Hour, Louise Mallard finds a relief and freedom in the knowledge of her husband’s death. Her husband, Brently Mallard is not an abusive or cold man, for, as is indicated by the phrase “…the face that had never looked save with love upon her…” (Chopin, para. 13) he appears to have loved Louise very much indeed, so it is not the nature of their specific marriage that is abhorrent to her, but the nature of marriage itself is the oppressing force. The oppression that Louise is perceiving herself freed from is the partnership of marriage, the inhibition of her self-sufficiency and the denial of her desire to be completely self-governing as evidenced by this line: “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.” (Chopin, para. 14). This desire to take into account no-ones wishes but her own is essentially unachievable without total isolation, and the joy that she feels at her husband’s death seems cold and callous, but through this almost sublime, fragile and temporary moment of freedom Chopin rendering explicit the more shameful thoughts that, whilst perhaps not as persistent, or joyous as Louise’s, most people will have experienced at some point; that is guilty pleasure at someone else’s expense.
Whereas in Ozymandias the great king of Egypt strives to leave a lasting, powerful legacy, and it is his pride and passion for his cause that gives him solace in the face of his own mortality. The inscription is perhaps our greatest clue to the driving force of this king, based on Rameses II (Waith, p. 22), for it reads; “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” (Shelley, 10). He lived, in his time as the untouchable and unquestionable ruler of his world, whose works and monuments were designed to display his majesty to both people of his time and in the future. These works gave the king a legacy, or artificial immortality as a ruler that was both tyrant and sustaining force to his people, as evidenced by the line “The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.” (Shelley, 8). The illusion of immortality can be likened to Louise Mallard’s illusion of freedom; both are artificial states that cannot be sustained in the face of time and reality. The reader may not easily be able to relate to a tyrant but it is not a great leap of imagination to relate to the desire to make your mark on the world, and whilst we may not have attempted this on a monstrous scale, the idea of legacy is not alien to the human experience.
Now that we have established illusion of triumph over the separate conflicts these characters face we can look at how these very extreme, in their own ways, expressions of human desire, are made relatable by rendering them benign. Ozymandias as a tyrant and formidable ruler is rendered somewhat inert and pitiable by the distance that Shelley places between the reader and the king of old. Not only is the time since the Ozymandias’ glory years amplified by the term “antique land” (Shelley, line 1) when referring to the traveller’s country of origin but the use of the words “shatter’d visage” (Shelley, line 4), and mere fact that we are hearing this story through the filter of the traveller and the narrator puts considerable space between the reader and the king, making him appear much less threatening. Louise is also made less threatening by the inclusions of a few shows of her vulnerability that have the effect of detoxifying the somewhat distasteful nature of her celebrations. It is established very early on that Louise suffers from a heart condition (Chopin, para. 1), the heart condition which will eventually kill her, this coupled with her immediate outpouring of grief before her realisation of her new freedom breaks through the heartless surface, that the character might otherwise only offer. She concedes that grief may overcome her when she is faced with the corpse of her dead husband (Chopin, para. 13) which also gives the reader the chance of redemption to hold onto. By exposing the vulnerabilities of the characters the authors have allowed us room to pity these two people in a way that without these tiny nuggets of discourse we could not otherwise do.
To further heighten sense of sympathy we feel for these characters both Shelley and Chopin have painted a bleak, tragic and intrinsically ironic final picture of their characters; the ruins of the works of man who wanted immortality and infamy lie in isolated and all but forgotten ruins, and the woman who wanted the ultimate freedom from the will of others is granted it by her subsequent death. The “colossal wreck” (Shelley, 6) of the icon of Ozymandais’ empire surrounded by nothing but vast expanses of desert, and the “joy that kills” (Chopin, para. 3) Louise Mallard both mock the sublime delusions of the characters whose downfall, and ultimately failed endeavours they represent. Reduced down to the very basics they are two characters in conflict with cruel reality, who will eventually succumb to it; whether by death in the space of an hour, or the slow but steady decay of an empire over thousands of years.

Bibliography
Berkove, Lawrence I. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s” The Story of an Hour”.” American Literary Realism (2000): 152-158.
Chopin, Kate, and Kate Chopin. The Story of an Hour. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning, 2001. Web.
Culler, Jonathan D. The literary in theory. Oxford University Press, New York (1997): 83-94.
Giovannelli, Alessandro. “In sympathy with narrative characters.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67.1 (2009): 83-95.
Shelley, Percy B. “Ozymandias.” The Norton Anthology of Poetry. By Margaret W. Ferguson, Mary Jo. Salter, and Jon Stallworthy. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. 870. Print.
Waith, Eugene M. “Ozymandias: Shelley, Horace Smith, and Denon.” Keats-Shelley Journal (1995): 22-28.

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Morgan can’t Draw Abstract concepts: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Visual Arts Research- Introduction to drawing VAR11project 7

Frankenstein MAry shelley
Frankenstein MAry shelley

As part of my literature studies, which comprise the bulk of my degree, I have had the opportunity to study Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in depth. I have struggles, however, in the course of literary response and genre analysis to find a way to make relevant the everyday struggle of the author that had such a profound impact on her writing and in particular her view of the creation of life and loss. As a young woman in a time of high infant mortality she was not unique in her experience of multiple miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths. Frankenstein, the novel can be viewed as an extended expression of maternal grief and birth trauma. But there has been little scope for exploring this within my literary studies as the responses to text had very specific criteria that needed to be followed. I have used the text of Frankenstein, particularly sections dealing with the the creation and rejection of the creature by his creator to create the embryo, stuck together in a mottle and almost random way to mimic the creature, stitched together from various parts. How does this relate to the everyday? This is the everyday reality behind the gothic, supernatural tale.

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Morgan can’t Draw Abstract concepts: silence: Visual Arts Research- Introduction to drawing VAR11project 7

silence doctor who drawing ink
silence doctor who drawing ink

Again reverting to my favourite medium I used a felt tip pen for the bulk of this exercise. I did play with charcoal and paint but found that my techniques with were not up to the challenge.
For this work I chose to respond to the word silence. Silence is most evident to me in the dead of night when everyone else is asleep in my house, but as an avid Doctor Who fan, I couldn’t possibly depict “silence” with out the monsters of the order of the Silence. I used an ink wash to create night through the window, and a white crayon to break up the night for the clouds and moon. The Silence themselves were drawn separately and stuck over the top of the inky surface of the interior and exterior background. I chose not to tie them into the background with shadow as I felt that would tether them into reality in a way that I did not want them to.

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Morgan can’t Draw herself: Perspective: Visual Arts Research- Introduction to drawing VAR11project 5

Project 5, Ex 2

Final WorkXEva4VzFbgvtoCsPjdKsjv2jF5xAmGs6DT2Sf60AZ-Q

Development notes:I tried this exercise in a variety of mediums and with a variety of different body parts. I found that looking towards the end of limbs, as described in the setup notes was the simplest and most effective. In order to be able to maintain a stable pose I decided to stretch my legs out on the couch rather than stand. I struggled to find the right level of detail and tone to include in order to convey perspective without completely overwhelming the picture as I tend to do.

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Struggling through Mary Shelley’s “Last Man”

Oh Mary Shelley… Why did you think the Last Man was your best work? It’s the slowest moving book I have read in ages.
Raymond is irritating, Idris and Lionel are inaccessible and Perdita just feels like a personification of how Mary Shelley and the other women around her felt, and what they could be reduced to when exposed to the whims of the romantic poets.
As for the hero worship of Percy through Adrian, Mary certainly lays it on pretty thick.
It’s certainly not a bad book, but I’m struggling to see why the author was more proud of it than her other works.
I feel like if I can understand that then the rest of this will be a piece of cake.
If anyone has any clues about how to approach this one I would love to hear from you!

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MAMA Opening; Albury Gets to know it’s Mama

Friday the 2nd of October saw the newly revamped Albury art gallery, known as MAMA throw it’s doors open… at least if you were lucky enough to get tour tickets. But for those of us who missed out there were still plenty of sites to be seen.
Kids on giant pink snails, tentacles bursting out of the post office, the performing arts centre slowly filling up with water and a giant plug were just a few installations being enjoyed by the public.
The Wiradjuri dance display had us spellbound and the live music on the Dean St stage was lively and very fitting.
The cow and butcher puppets were very entertaining, if a little menacing and misjudged considering the amount of small children present, running in fear from the nude puppet in an apron with a knife (I kid you not).
The next day, with a few hungover pink MAMA balloons still hovering about in the trees the Flying Fruit Fly Circus showed off their talents and along with the talents of the Albury Brass Band marched along QEII square.
All in all the parts of the launch that we witnessed seemed to be very successful… I can’t wait to see the actual gallery when things calm down a bit.

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Morgan can’t Draw herself: self portrait: Visual Arts Research- Introduction to drawing VAR11project 5

Project 5, Ex 1

 

Var11 self portrait
Var11 self portrait

My difficulty in depicting myself on such a large scale led me to use the impression of my body left on the couch that I use to complete my work and homework. As I write from home for long periods of time there is a distinct “Morgan- shaped” gap left on the couch. I used ink for the flat tones, charcoal for the shadows and felt tip pen for the details.

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