The merging “I’s”
I could compare Stella and Blanche to the two different identities that could live inside a human being as Stella can be seen as the human conformity that leads to happiness and Blanche could be seen as our pitiful soul that always seen to be the victim of life, but is always struggling for a better life in the physical matter as Blanche states: “Yes- clothes are my passion!”(Williams 38). Stella seems to be an empty person by this statement, even when she is broken for having lost Belle Reve, which is again a telluric kind of possession the same as the fancy clothes she posses. Even where they might be a character foil between Stella and Blanche they have a common point that is Stanley as Stella is married to him and Blanche seems to like him and flirt with him.
At least from these two first scenes I did the premature assumption that these two characters, Stella and Blanche could mean the psychological struggle of Tennessee Williams with fame and success, in which success accompanies disconformity. I connected Blanches inconformity to song called “Hollywood” by Marina and the Diamonds, which show that all we have an idea of a stereotypical life, which was created my movies, Hollywood. As Blanche is disillusioned to find out how her sister lives given her preconception of life in the city. Also, I connected the song to the text because Blanche seems to be looking to the “Golden life” which is mentioned in the song.
I Don't Know What I want, but I Want it Now!
Although I haven't read scene 1 and 2 (yet) I am already blown away by the way that Tennessee WIlliams presents himself and the play to us. First of all, it's interesting to note that he is referring to himself, and it takes a lot of guts to say how disgusting and selfish he was, and especially since he at the time was famous because of his previous plays. The way he puts himself is as someone which he clearly describes as someone he doesn't want to be. He demonstrates how he developed over time; as his fame and fortune increased, his identity decreased. He started to become shallow and possessed by success. And he tells us all this honestly, almost intimately like a confession to the reader.
I was reminded of Borges' "Everything and Nothing" when he states "You know, then that the public Somebody you are when you 'have a name' is a fiction created with mirrors and that the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you that existed from your first breath and whish is the sum of your actions." (Williams) It reminded me firstly because hes referring to acting, since hes a play writer but also because of the reference he makes to one's image. As he states that you are somebody when you have a name, insinuates that a person is narrowed down to their name. That that person is limited to the image associated with their name; Gates is rich and nice, Spears is drunk and needy, Monroe is a dumb pretty face. Fame is associated with image, and this encapsulates the person in this, losing their essence. "Everything and Nothing" makes references to this as well, and how a person is defined on their image. Some people strive to be everything, achieving fame and fortune and end up being nothing. Once you have everything, you don't know what else you could want, and then, you have nothing.
The Need for Struggle
After reading the introduction, all I have to say is that Tennessee Williams is brilliant. I don't know if he was celebrated outside of the dramatic world but his prose style is so keen and insightful that he would have made an excellent novelist. One of the insights which resonated with me the most was that "with the conflict removed, the man is a sword cutting daisies" (Williams). I was just discussing the other day with a couple of friends how I would hate to have been born a billionaire. I think the flavor of life is at the struggle for success, the endless fight to overcome difficulties and obstacles. When success is handed to you on a silver platter and you no longer have to work hard to achieve something or prove yourself, than life can become quite bland. That is what Williams means when he describes "the vacuity of a life without struggle" (Williams). Furthermore, I find his overall analysis of Fame to be fascinating, especially how one grows to the perception of societal hypocrisy. He starts to believe that everyone is a sycophant praising his work without actually appreciating, which, hence, devalues it. And that is true for everything else. Having everything you want so easily is boring and discouraging. There should always be a struggle to reach something higher. I connected this to Steve Jobs as well. During his initial run at Apple, Jobs was so successful that he ceased to innovate. He had to be fired from his own company and start from the ground up again to bring about innovation. His life is a testament that struggle leads to a person's best work.
Question: Can struggle and success be conciliated? How?
I do think struggle and success can be conciliated, technically. You see, I believe there is no absolute success. One can succeed in a variety of different ways. Of course, there is always a "main goal" in people's lives, which they are always striving and fighting for, and I agree that once this goal is attained, the feeling of emptiness is eventually inevitable. However, this does not mean one has to stop struggling for something else, or even to keep what they have already attained. Success may not be definite, and it definitely does not mean the end of one's story.
Heather; Always Ruining It
Well Heather, I guess great minds do think alike. I was also reminded of “Everything and Nothing” a couple of times in Tennessee Williams’ introduction; the one you mentioned and one just earlier, when he states “My public self, the artifice of mirrors, did not exist here [in Mexico] and so my natural being was resumed” (Williams). It’s interesting how, similarly to “Everything and Nothing”, this “public self” he brings up turned him into someone, as he explains, indifferent to people. He was slowly losing himself, thus gradually becoming nothing.
I was also extremely impressed with the author’s exquisite honesty; it becomes easy to actually take in and trust what he has to say as a consequence of that. I felt drawn to his writing and to the simple manner in which he can express such strong and complex thoughts. The author definitely left some strong first-impressions, so I’ll have to really try to control my eagerness before I read the play.
Yes, Julia! Great minds do think alike! Hahaha There is definitively a strong relation between Jorge Luis Borges’s “Everything and Nothing” and Tennessee Williams’s introduction of “A Streetcar Named Desire”. As both you and Heather have stated, both authors discuss the pressing issue of identity. Not only that, but the way they do it is amazing. The profoundness, genuineness and earnest in which they express themselves, to the point of complete exposure, which resembles even humiliation, is simply incredible and strikes the reader. Williams shares his innermost thoughts with strangers creating an intimate relationship with the reader, as can seen in, “Of course all this was the more trivial aspect of a spiritual dislocation that began to manifest itself in far more disturbing ways” (Williams). From this ‘confession’ on, Williams reveals how presumption caused by fame and “the catastrophe of Success” degraded his personality. Overall, how he addresses the topics of success, identity and security is exceptional. Furthermore, the last paragraph, which is about the transience of life, reminded me of another play, “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder and Horace’s carpe diem, which is alluded to in the movie “Dead Poets Society”. In this paragraph, finishing the introduction, he states, “The time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition” (Williams). The author speaks directly to the reader, and the effect of this is impressive, as he outrages and defies the reader at the same time. It was an excellent clincher! Left me thinking, even though it wasn’t a question (like our presentations – we should learn from him!). All of these remarkable aspects made me feel very excited to read the play. However, I didn’t understand the Bitch Goddess part. What is it? What does the sentence mean? As of more, the catastrophic success he mentions is before the opening of “A Streetcar Named Desire”. What or which work led him “into sudden prominence”? And a final question, how does the fact that “A Streetcar named Desire” was written “as a final act of restoration” changes or reveals about the play?
The Second Face of Humanity
In the introduction, Tennessee Williams comments on how fame changed his perspective of viewing his life and his friends. “Conversations all sounded like they had been recorded years ago and were being played back on a turntable. Sincerity and kindliness seemed to have gone out of my friend’s voices” (Williams 2). As the author expresses his impression of fame, the reader can understand how Williams comes to understand the true hypocrisy of society. Which is, that people change around other people that become more socially recognized through fortune or fame. Therefore, I believe that Williams seems to be stating that this is one of the characteristics regarding human nature. Maybe this book can even have as one of its themes how “Self-Interest and Greed lead to Hypocrisy”. Maybe? Who knows? Only after reading it. But with whom will this theme be more connected to in the story? Stella? Or with the people around her?
Obviously, this is just a prediction, but by going in the same line of thought of Tennessee Williams, this seems to happen really often for those people that become famous or popular. Therefore, this experience, which is referred by Tennessee Williams, was similarly expressed in Maya Angelou’s biography. She is a Black African that was sexually harassed by her stepfather when she was five. She used to say that people would constantly see the bruises around her body, but would ignore her despair. Until, she started to become famous and people that used to ignore her seemed to act as “snakes” that came to speak to her ears, and for those that were her friends, these seemed to be more interested on being “Maya Angelou’s” friend, than that of the little girl that lived in misery during her infancy. Similarly, in Tennessee’s introduction he called that to be “hypocrisy” just like Maya did in her biography (Williams 2). Thus, she and Williams mean to say that people had changed around them and that no one seemed to understand that they were the same people. People appeared to act out of interest instead of affection for their personality.
The Essential Struggle For Pointless Security
Tennessee Williams' introduction was one of the most pleasant reads I have done in a while. His words are so true and sincere that they really stick. He refers to the average life as "a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before." (Williams 8) The authors use of a beautiful analogy such as this one creates a vivid and shocking image that transmits the authors views and thoughts in a much more potent manner. I would have to agree with Williams' view of life. Life is a struggle; its an eternal struggle, until it ends. This view on life is Marxist view. Karl Marx was all about conflict theory and how in history as well as in the human being there is always conflict. Marx was more focused on the struggle of classes in a society, unlike Williams who refers to a sole individual. Williams depicts an internal struggle that "the human organism is created" (Williams 8) for.
If I were to ask a question, if any, it would be; why does the average person spend their entire life attempting to reach security if it is incompatible with human nature?
I must agree with my colleges that just by reading the 4-page introduction, I "blown away" by the play's writer, Tennessee Williams. By the way he described his situation at that time, I noticed that he was antipathy towards his fame. As when he said that he "got so sick of hearing people say, 'I loved your play!' that he could not say thank you any more" (Williams). He started to act indifferently with people, specially his fans, the ones that appreciated his works. This situation leads me to the conclusion that fame isn't all about money, status, and popularity. In fact, being famous means changing all of one's daily activities, carefulness with actions taken or else people will start criticizing it, the desire of more privacy in life, since everyone wants to know about one's life, etc. All of these factors can extremely affect one's mental stability causing the famous one to change their personalities from good to bad. There are people who even get depressed due to fame. Even though the play didn't even start, Williams brings up an issue that we can relate some situations with it. It's interesting how even before beginning to read the play, he leaves us readers thinking about it.
Since the introduction took place in New York City and the author isn't really happy about his reality, it made me connect to Holden Caulfield, a J.D. Salinger's character from "A Catcher In The Rye." Holden is a sixteen-year-old junior, who isn't exactly happy about his life. Due to that, he decides to runaway to NYC for a couple days, so he could give himself a "time out" from all of his problems. Holden is a very problematic boy, who, in certain whiles, has emotional collapses.
I am extremely excited to read this play after such good impression left by Tennessee Williams.
- Is any of the characters, in "A Streetcar Named Desire" going to represent Tennessee Williams' personality?
I forgot the title: How Can Fame be That Desirable?
Upon reading this short introduction, I was immediately hit by two powerful emotions, of the first, Annoyance. Dear Tennessee Williams, several people would kill to have what you have. Do not label it as "catastrophe", or at least have the decency to pretend it has made you a little happy. You're being an ungrateful bastard.
My second reaction is my title: Yes, Quite. As Williams so aptly said "Once you know this is true, that the heart of a man, his body and his brain, are forged in a white-hot furnace for the purpose of conflict (the struggle of creation) and that with that conflict removed, the man is a sword cutting daisies, that not privation but luxury is the wolf at the door and that the fangs of this wolf are all the little vanities and conceits and laxities that Success is heir to- why, then with this knowledge you are at least in a position of knowing where danger lies" (Williams 9). Yes, absolutely, quite. Of course, this does efficiently reduce my life, or at least what I have lived of it, to an insignificant mess. Williams talks at length about the horrors of being faced with the catastrophe of Success and -God forbid- Luxury! But I have had the (misfortune? fortune?) to have been born already with success and luxury. What most people strive to obtain, I have had it given to me on a silver platter before I was even able to take my first breath. I can only be so brutally honest because it is quite late and I am quite tired. Yes, quite.
I do understand understand Williams's point, however. Despite my cynicism, I agree. What is the use of fame? Of security? Humans were not made to sit around and stuff ourselves with food. There is a certain emptiness, a certain pointlessness to living life this way. I know because I feel it. Quite strongly. Very distant from the day to day affairs.
I am running out of available words so I shall quickly ask my question: Are comfort and security worth throwing away the excitement and essence of life? Is living life to the fullest more important than living long and prosper?