Here’s a link to a pretty good explanation of overpopulation, which basically shows how ridiculous Walter was. The guy who does these videos is also Hank of vlogbrothers and brotherhood 2.0, so he’s fairly entertaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD-yN2G5BY0&feature=related
Sorry I meant to put this up a while ago I just forgot about it. Enjoy!
The American Novel…
I thought this might be an interesting read for some of us (?) as we work through our papers.
Not sure I agree or disagree necessarily (I might be too tired to do either) but interesting to hear another take on it. Personally, I loved A Visit from the Goon Squad, but that’s just me.
I found this on a website while looking up Franzen’s and Wallace’s literary movement; I thought it was a fun connection considering our coursework:
There has been lots of talk about how Frazen created a negative stereotype for women and gave them no credit. I, at first, thought this too, but after I took a second look, I changed my mind. Patty’s coach, Coach Nagel, is one of the women in the novel that is mentioned, but she has pretty much been absent from class discussions. Coach Nagel plays more of a significant role in the novel than most people think. Nagel is the symbol of the quiet strength in women. Franzen gives women a lot more credit than we think. Coach Nagel is the one that makes the effort to see if Patty is ok and advises her to seek help after her rape. She also stands up to Patty’s mother and advises that going to the hospital and the police would be the best option. Coach Nagel seems to be strong in confidence and possess strength. The very fact that she is a coach also proves that Frazen may not be as against women as we think. He did portray Patty as an athlete.
The love triangle between Pattie, Richard, and Walter is the driving force of the plot in Freedom. Their entanglement as best friends and lovers complicates the emotions and relationships in the novel. Love triangles have existed in all shapes and forms for as long as we can remember. Rhett Butler, Scarlett O’Hara, and Ashley Wilkes; Jay Gatz, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan; and Bella, Edward, and Jacob are a few famous love triangles. Typically, we view the woman to be the tippy top of the triangle, the driving force, the pinnacle to the triad. Yet, what if we look at things from a masculine studies point of view? Change things so that the woman is reduced to a small role and it is just man against man. This is what I am interested in. I want to take the focus off of Patty and see the true nature of the heterosexual love between Richard and Walter.
It is obvious that in Patty’s autobiography things revolve around her. We see Walter and Richard as two men she loves in incredibly different ways. Even in her narrative, we specifically see intense evidence of the bond that Walter and Richard share. This bond is motivated by both love and competition. As Patty recounts her visit to Nameless Lake in which she will end up sleeping with Richard:
“Thankfully for all concerned, Walter was better than Richard at chess and usually won, but Richard was dogged and kept asking for another game, and Patty knew that this was hard on Walter, that he was straining very hard to win, getting himself wound up, and he would need hours to fall asleep afterward” (Franzen 166).
The men’s connection is obvious. Rather than being involved in a triangle where Patty is at the top, they are a yin and yang. Patty is of course important, but I find that there are many examples that stress the intense love and bond between Richard and Walter that Patty cannot even comprehend. Richard writes an album titled after Walter’s lake house that Walter so graciously let him stay in. When Richard fails to affirm Walter’s importance, Walter packs up and moves to D.C. to compete with Richard’s success. Richard decides not to come sleep with Patty while she is in Philadelphia because he just received a call from Walter which changes his mind. Part of the reason that Richard finds himself so drawn to Patty is because of the same draw his best friend has towards her. Walter is the only one able to predict that Richard’s relationship with his neighbor lady will end badly. These are only a few examples showing the push and pull between Walter and Richard that make their connection so important to the events of the book.
In class we talked about Desire. And what did we say? That desires can never be met so if we ever do get something we desired our feeling of desire goes away (which would suggest that so would any value we had placed on the object of desire?), and then we come up with new desires because we’re all into never being satisfied and constantly wanting and going after things? And that this is the nature of Desire and this is how it ALWAYS works?
I do not understand this. There have been things I’ve wanted that I got, and I was very happy and content and still really valued them and the desire was still there except it just changed, from WANTING to have those things to wanting to CONTINUE to have those things. To be more specific, when I got to spend time with friends I’d been “desiring” to see, new desires don’t crop up in me once that desire is met and I’m hanging out with them. But the desire does change (and is still PRESENT, even though it has been met) from wanting to spend time with them to wanting to continue to spend time with them, not wanting it to end. I think that is different than the new replacement desires we were talking about in class.
So then what? Do humans not apply to this Desire rule? Only objects? And is it really an ALWAYS kind of thing? If I get an iPod, what new desire is going to come up because the iPod desire has been met? I’m not one of those people who wants an upgrade of technology stuff every two seconds. And when I’m listening to my iPod, even though I’ve met my iPod desire by having possession of it, aren’t I still valuing it because it feels good when I listen to it? And I will have other desires, but is it really BECAUSE my iPod desire was met? If I get an iPod and then the next day desire to buy some new clothes at Rue 21, the two are totally unrelated – I still would have desired to buy those clothes even if my iPod desire had not been met yet.
What am I not understanding?
One of the main complaints that I could imagine readers had for Freedom was it’s seemingly abrupt ending. After following the Berglunds and their friends for just over five hundred pages -in the paperback version of course– the story ends by only somewhat giving the reader closure. This should not take away from the meaning of the book, and even in this case it doesn’t. However, when one takes so much time developing images of these characters in their mind, it is hard to accept that things “are how they are”, which is arguably the approach that Franzen has taken to end this novel.
This being said, one of the best parts of the novel, in my opinion, was Patty’s conclusion: “The autobiographer is fifty-two now and looks it. Her periods have lately been strange and irregular. Every year at tax time, it seems as if the year just past was shorter than the year before it;the years are becoming so similar to each other. She can imagine several encouraging reasons why Walter hasn’t divorced her–he might, for example, still hate her too much to put himself even minimally in contact with her–but her heart persists that in taking courage from the fact that he hasn’t. (569)” This is one of my favorite passages in the book because not only does it tell you what has happened between Patty and her husband (up to this point), but it also has enough emotion to show how the writer is feeling. However, one paragraph later it appears as though she runs out of steam, in a sense. She simply states that this is all that she has to say. Perhaps this is Franzen trying to bring a more human element (similar to the emotion in the previous paragraph). Nonetheless, it does make for quite an abrupt ending, but perhaps a necessary one. In a way, wouldn’t it be un-Franzen-like to simply take the human element out of his conclusion. He has gone this far with his character development and relationship building. He does most of this by pulling in readers’ emotions. Why then, at this point, would he change his writing style just to give the reader some extra closure. Think about it.