rachelwitzig

rachelwitzig

24. Literature and language lover living in Tokyo. Words and teaching are my passion; my faith is my core. I'm always down for a chat about poetry, travel, and peach rings.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

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    Supporting problematic artists

    Many celebrated artists have been involved in scandals or socially problematic situations. From today’s Chris Brown to the deceased David Foster Wallace, many popular artists of their trade have been tangled up in scandals and/or crimes. Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Is it possible to celebrate someone’s work without supporting the artist, too?

    • A very timely topic. I think it's important to define what problematic means. It seems certain celebrities are "cancelled" for comparably minor offences compared to what is swept under the rug for others. There's also a difference between modern scandals that are known to be problematic as they occur, and generations past who do things that we now today see as problematic but were not considered so at the time. – Erin McIntyre 1 year ago
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    • I would argue that it is possible, especially if the artist in question is no longer alive. If you're simply reading (or watching or listening to) the work of someone who's dead, then they can't get any benefit from it. In that case, I'd argue, separating the artist from the work is a fairly straightforward process. Where it gets complicated is where the artist is still alive, and your purchasing the work would be rewarding their efforts (or lack thereof). – Debs 1 year ago
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    • I absolutely love this topic, and it's a discussion that I have often. Personally, I choose not to support artists, dead or alive, who have been tangled up in any crimes or scandals (although, Debs's comment above about the dead not necessarily gaining anything is quite insightful). I think that the tricky part with this conversation and the reason why I always opt for not supporting the artist or their work because I think that no matter the person, their actions need to be held accountable – sabinaramroop 1 year ago
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    • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Albert Einstein – AntonioFarfanFiorani 1 year ago
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    • I think this is a very important thing to discuss; unfortunately, almost any public figure will have their fair share of controversy. My mind immediately went to John Lennon. I am a huge fan of The Beatles, yet I feel a little bit uncomfortable when I think to his treatment of his wives and children. It is hard to ignore when a favorite writer, artist, singer, et cetera is problematic. I think maybe "celebrate" is the wrong word; you can still enjoy "Strawberry Fields Forever" without thinking John Lennon was infallible. The only distinction I will make is if someone commits a heinous act, especially one against children. – allisonhambrick 8 months ago
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    • There was a recent article posted by Rolling Stone in reference to the new Hulu original series High Fidelity. In one of the episodes, the owner, Robin, gets into an argument with her co-worker about whether or not it's okay for her to sell a customer Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" record. Robin retaliates by arguing that her co-worker can't judge because she (a black American) still listens to Kanye West, who has been vocal about supporting Trump and "raps in a MAGA hat". You should check it out! I guess the question is, when do we stop supporting the artists, regardless of their accomplishments? Is it okay to outcast them because they disagree with our political, religious, social, or economic beliefs? Or do we stop supporting them when they are perpetrators of violent crimes? Or... do we separate the art from the artist, and if so, how can we justify the ability to do that? – hilalbahcetepe 8 months ago
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    Value in Texts with Antiquated Ideas?

    There is a vast array of literature that, in its time, was written with the intention of some form of social justice. An example of this is the much-cited "Uncle Tom’s Cabin," by Harriet Beecher Stowe. However, as modern ideas progress and the willingness to allow every human their basic rights grows, we look back on texts like this and realize that the philosophy within it is antiquated and that its ideas on how to overcome racism simply don’t suffice.

    This in mind, how should we deal with texts like hers? Should we look at them graciously and say that, given the lack of understanding about true social justice, the author did the best she could based on limited knowledge? Or should we stop circulating and supporting texts like those because they do not go far enough in their attempts at fighting the social injustices of our day? Is there a middle ground?

    The writer does not have to choose "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" as their example–any older text with out-of-date social justice views would suffice.

    • I think these old texts could be used to demonstrate how far we've come in addressing these issues. Yes, they may not be relevant or even entirely accurate in today's society, but they should be presented as a marker on the road to more awareness, and they should (with discretion) be circulated. – OkaNaimo0819 11 months ago
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    • I think it helps to keep in mind as well that the reason why a lot of these old texts are still read is because they were extremely influential. They may contain views that don't fit modern ideas of social justice, but it's still necessary to understand the contributions they made to literature and society, both in their own day and since. In the case of Uncle Tom's Cabin, while its views might be outdated, it contained a lot of archetypes and viewpoints that were extremely influential in their own day and that have continued to influence the culture in more indirect ways ever since (including the expression "Uncle Tom"). – Debs 11 months ago
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    • I think it's important to understand the context these works exist in. Uncle Tom's Cabin is antiquated, but it did help the movement for abolition of slavery. It's understandable to be offended by old texts, but their value in understanding the history of the time is crucial, even if their ideas can sometimes be unpleasant. – ruthyf 11 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    rachelwitzig

    h0mer, I really appreciate this comment. I can understand your skepticism because I, too, would wrestle with committing wholeheartedly with something that is, as you described, “pure conjecture.” As a person of faith myself, I read works of Rilke, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, etc. and see how they believed what they believed because they had experiences and insights that led them (and me) to believe that faith is not entirely conjecture. Something that fascinates me about Rilke, and that I have found myself emulating, is that he sees divine qualities in ordinary things, and vice versa. In my eyes, he isn’t deifying life and nature so much as teasing out the sacred that already exists within them.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    A unique poet, for sure.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    I haven’t studied “Letters to a Young Poet” in isolation yet–I’ve only focused in depth upon the particular works I’ve pulled out here. Thank you for your thoughts on his other work.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    Thank you for taking the time to read it.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    Thank you so much for reading it.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    It truly depends on what you’re looking for in a translation. The translation I chose, in the work edited by Anita Barrows, attempts to capture the original feeling and meaning of the poetry and therefore takes some (limited) liberties with Rilke’s poems, such as lineating the poems differently than he did or choosing a word that’s less literally accurate to the original than another. However, because the translator seemed to understand Rilke’s journeys and intentions so well, I trusted the heart of her translation, liberties and all.

    If you’re looking for a translation that pays more attention to exact line-by-line translation of Rilke, many scholars recommend Stephen Mitchell. I’ve also heard people praise Edward Snow. Of course, no translation is perfectly exact, and even Mitchell and Snow make artistic choices that change the sound and the verbiage of the original syntax. That’s one of the unavoidable consequences of translating a poem from its heart language.

    And this is all coming from a non-German speaker. I’d love to hear what a native German speaker thinks of the English translations of Rilke.

    Thanks for your comment!

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    That’s a fantastic reason to learn German! I’d love to hear your thoughts sometime on how the original Rilke compares with the translated Rilke.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing
    rachelwitzig

    I know what you mean. I only read his work every once in awhile, now, because I don’t want to lose the sense of wonder I feel when I read his poetry. Thank you so much for your comment.

    The Relationship between Travel and Creative Writing