Friday, May 16, 2008


These are the new prompts for Tuesday/Wednesday. See just below for some words on the oral presentation, and just below that if you are B-day and want the prompts that are due Monday for you.

Journal Entry 6
Part VI
1. Define kitsch in three ways as derived from Kundera’s novel. Are you a fan of kitsch, or do you aspire to something else in your life?
2. What is kitschy about Franz’s burial? About Tomas’s burial?
3. Franz, the western intellectual, has left his wife and daughter, found a true love in his student with big glasses, and gone on a political quest because of his image of Sabina’s regard. Has Tomas, the Czech doctor, done the same thing? What are the key similarities between Franz and Tomas? What is the most important difference?
4. What is Franz’s conception of the Grand March? How do you think Sabina would regard it?
5. What do rumblings in the stomach, the body, communism, marches, hidden sewers, and kitsch have to do with each other?
6. Is “United We Stand,” like “the barbarity of communism” and “our traditional values” and “President Carter” or “President Bush,” an example of American kitsch? How would Kundera place this phrase in his system of unusual dichotomies?
7. One of Kundera’s methods is to take opposing poles of existence, like lightness and weight, and toy with that oppositional relation. One way he toys with oppositions is to suggest alternative oppositions. We tend to think of two primary poles of good and evil, of God and the devil. Kundera reformulates this opposition into the sacred and the scatological. First, explain the effect of this reformulation on your understanding; then do it yourself: reformulate an accepted opposition into a new one. For instance, a common dichotomy is love and hate, but I might, based on a different understanding of the primacy of love, reformulate the opposition into love and apathy. Do it yourself with a commonly assumed set of opposites and consider the difference it makes in your understanding of one of the terms.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


See "Wednesday" for journal prompts for Part V due on Friday/Monday.

As you revise your oral presentations, hold this advice in mind (it comes from the IBO):

"Question: Can students use presentation facilities such as MS PowerPoint for their IOPs?

"Yes, though it then becomes the responsibility of the student to ensure that the facility used enhances rather than hinders the effectiveness of the presentationIt is not acceptable to base the IOP on topics and activities that do not provide adequate opportunities for students to meet the demands of the assessment criteria. For example, an oral exposé intended to provide an introduction to a writer or work, but which neither
demonstrates a clear link to, nor a substantial focus on, the actual content and form of the relevant part 4 work studied will not be appropriate. This is because the presentation will not enable students to meet the demands of the descriptors for assessment criteria A and B."

This means that you may -- not must -- have an audio-visual. This means that a thoughtful and focused interpretation of the text of the novel(s) must be the primary content of your presentation. Remember to address MEANING. Be rationally persuasive. Convince the audience that your interpretation is valid and not spacy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Don't everybody choose the same one! (That looks suspicious). Here are the Part V journal prompts for Friday/Monday:
1. Compare and contrast Tereza’s ideas about the soul (41), Sabina’s ideas about privacy (112-113), and Tomas’s experience with the secret police in Czechoslovakia (Part V). What light does his experience shed on Tereza and Sabina’s desire to find or protect their individuality?
2. See the passage on page 226-228 and focus on the imagery associated with Tereza that implies a comparison with Oedipus. Has Tereza, in some way, married her own mother? Remember Tomas’s letter to the editor, guilt, and “soul and body” to develop your response.
3. Tomas, impelled to be a doctor, becomes a window washer by “an unspoken vow of fidelity.” Fidelity to what? Hasn’t he betrayed himself? Was it his choice?
4. Read V: Chapter 9 and then 221 from “Staring impotently…” to “Let us return to Tomas.” Why is Tomas such a prolific womanizer? Why do you think the author or narrator has made sex into such a prominent metaphor in the novel? Is Tomas a kind of Faust character?
5. Read the last two paragraphs of 206-207. Compare and contrast this passage with the one on Sabina’s views of beauty by mistake (bottom of 101 and top of 102) and Tereza’s in the last paragraph on 78 (which is informed by the narration in 11:51-52).
6. In what ways has metaphor changed Tomas’s life?
7. Compare and contrast Tomas on 200 with Tereza on 41.
8. Explain how “Love is our freedom” (236) and Tomas’s affairs “enslavement” (234) when heretofore he has seemed burdened by compassion for Tereza. Is Tomas’s life looking like Beethoven’s development of “Es muss sein!” – moving from light to serious, from joke to metaphysical truth – or like Parmenides’s development from heavy to light? (195-196)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Prepare to sign up for a definite time slot for your orals either on May 20, 21, or 22. See below for prompts for journal entry 4.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Journal prompts for Entry 4:
1. Contrast Tereza’s views on privacy to those of Sabina in Part III.
2. Remember the backdrop for this novel is a country under totalitarian communist domination. How do you think each of the novel’s main characters (or choose one) illustrates an approach or adaptation to foreign oppression of the country he or she loves? (Use details from Part III).
3. Read the final line of Chapter 6 on page 140. Using Tereza’s experience as a model for thought, consider this question: Does oppressive rule relieve a person of certain ethical or moral responsibilities? Does mandatory school relieve you of responsibility for your work?
4. Contrast IV: 25: 165-166 with Buendia’s attempts to stick names to objects in 100 Years.
5. What is important (heavy, light, returning?) about the benches in the river?
6. What do you make of the scene of the shootings on Petrin Hill, presented as real though obviously only imagined, on pages 146-150? What is the meaning and purpose of this scene?
7. Structure: The novel consists of seven parts with this number of chapters in each part, respectively: 17, 29, 11, 29, 23, 29, 7. Does this series of prime numbers suggest or develop any existing theme within the novel?

Friday, May 9, 2008


The journal entries I am reading today are simply beautiful. Keep writing this way, with your mind and soul of a piece. It's inspiring to see a soul on deck!

Look at this: "[Tereza] views the body as 'dark,' because when Tereza thinks about her mother and all the bad stuff she did like pass gas and walk around the house naked while laughing, she looks in the mirror and that's what she sees -- her mother. I believe that Tereza views the soul as 'light' because when she looks in the mirror and her soul would come forth 'spreading out over the deck, waving at the sky and singing in jubilation,' she realized that the soul was her own individuation, but the eternal return lay in her because her mother forever lived in her, and she was reminded of that every time she looked in the mirror. In the end Tereza stared in the mirror to remind herself that her body is not her soul and that in this dark there is a light that is her own."

I am beginning to live again.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Part III: Words Misunderstood
Journal prompts for Monday/Tuesday:
1. Reread page 111-114. Do you agree more with Franz's understanding of "Strength" and "Living in Truth" or with Sabina's interpretation of those words?
2. Comment on the irony – or whatever else you see – in this section's ending image in which Franz closes his eyes as he listens to the gray-haired man.
3. Why does Franz think his life is light and Sabina's heavy? Do you agree that Sabina's experiences with oppression give her life weight? Is Czechoslovakia heavier than Switzerland?
4. What does Sabina mean by "beauty by mistake," and what do you think of it?
5. If you wish to write on an idea you are considering for WLA 1, and you see something that stimulates your thinking in this section, write about that idea instead.

Show clearly that you have read!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Projects due tomorrow. B-Day should locate projects on a disk for me to keep from losing a day. Look below for journal prompts and to the right for the reading schedule.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Stick to the reading schedule! For Thursday/Friday: Complete one journal entry from among these prompts iin about a half page to a full page. SHOW you have read the assignment as you think about it:

1. Analyze and consider the repeated metaphor of the soul as a crew in a ship's bowels rushing up to the surface to show itself to Tomas. What has it to do with "Soul and Body"?
2. Think on paper about eternal return and individuation with regard to Tereza's view of herself in the mirror. What are Tereza's attitudes about the body? About the soul?
3. The final sentences of "Part I: Lightness and Weight" are, "Tomas felt no compassion. All he felt was the pressure in his stomach and the despair of having returned." In "Soul and Body," Chapter 2, the narrator says, "But just make someone who has fallen in love listen to his stomach rumble, and the unity of body and soul, that lyrical illusion of the age of science, instantly fades away." Tomas is a doctor. Does he hold that "lyrical illusion of the age of science" that the body and soul are actually one thing?

Monday, May 5, 2008


See reading schedule at right. Deadline for newspaper projects is Thursday/Friday.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Go see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It's not an assignment. You'd just be crazy not to!

A good many of you -- especially B-day students -- either did not provide evidence that you had finished The House of the Spirits or were not present on the day of the check. Be ready Monday to qualify for the project.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Everybody -- psychologists and all -- should bring one-page responses to my class on Friday. See below for details.

The deadline for the newspaper projects will be moved to May 8 and 9 to accommodate your failure to recognize the problems psychology assessments would cause.