Wednesday, February 3, 2010


While discussing the variety of essays, it boggled me how they relate to each other in some sort. What two really stuck out were the Foucault and the essay discussing the sense of self-conciousness. The idea of self-survaillance or self-policing reminded me a lot of the idea of the self conciousness. When Foucault writes about new ways for punishment and how they have evolved over time both types of punishment, internal and external, have a self-concious. When someone is in the street they are both mentally and physically aware of those around them, and how they may be perceived. However, when the newer version of punishment was disscused with Baunum's see-You become aware of who you are and what you are doing every second of everyday. This self-conciousness is almost worse, because you never know when someone is watching so we become so meticulous with our actions that we prohibit ourselves from being who we are and doing what we want to do. The poem with the ancient Mariner portrayed both types of punishment, one publicly, where the albatross is hung around his neck, and one internally, that he feels obligated to re-tell his story over and over again, becoming more aware of what he has done. Sometimes I think the more self-concious we are, the more guilt we hold against ourselves, rather than forgiving ourselves. More often then not we punish ourselves worse than the outside, like the ancient mariner feeling as though it was his duty and his alone to retell that story over and over again to maybe teach a lesson to someone that would listen. The idea of self-consciousness is seen in many situations, I think of it when we discuss societal expectations. Society sets up limits and rules for us to follow and we are raised with our parents giving us expectations of what they'd like to see, good grades, winning sports games, going to college, etc... However, when we fall short or succum to failure, we punish ourselves more than we almost need to. If we strive to just do the best we can and let who we are control the situations, we may just succeed without the pressures. We can be mentally aware of who we are and what we can do rather than striving for something that we will aren't or cannot be. We cannot let other peoples expectations guide us through what we want to do. Just like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, how we wanted to read this poem with our own interpretations, however, through the glosses, Coleridge somehow expected us or told us what we should be understanding, which made it even more confusing. I don't know if any of this makes sense, but let me know what you think.

1 comment:

rachel said...

Great post. I love the connection between the Foucault and the Hartman article about self-consciousness (which is drawing on the German Romantics, who are drawing on Kant) and I think you are right to notice them. To some extent, the are both about "the self" as mediating: the self that filters all the experiences of the world and therefore is an obstacle to "true" experience (Hartman) and the self that polices instincts and behaviors once it is an appropriately disciplined subject (Foucault) (and probably Freud to, to some extent). A difference, I guess, is where the mediation comes from: for Hartman (following fron Kant) this is just the nature of being human/alive. Whereas Foucault is tracing what he sees as a cultural phenomenon. Also for Hartman/Kant, there may be some "truth" out there that we just can't access. For Foucault, that's beside the point; we are just good productive members of society, appropriately trained.

I *love* the applications of Rime here: albatross as public punishment, the poem itself as confession/internal punishment. Glosses as a kind of disciplinary mechanism/control the poem extends. Really good ideas.