Lynn University House of Sand and Fog Film Study Questions


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Watch the film House of Sand and Fog and then submit the Study Questions below with your responses. Submit where indicated in the Module

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The House of Sand and Fog as Tragedy [save as notes] 1. The German philosopher Hegel said of tragedy that it is not a matter of right versus wrong that creates tragedy but rather right versus right! How does this apply to The House of Sand and Fog? Which characters represent each “right.” 2. What is Kathy’s argument for the house? Consider how she lost it, what it means practically to her not having it and how it connects her to her father. 3. What is Colonel Behrani’s argument for the house? Consider how he obtained the house. Why does he want it? What is his long-range goal for it? Consider his life before he came to America versus the one he has now. How does that figure into why he wants the house? 4. Hegel would say that Colonel Behrani and Kathy have the same flaw. Remember my lecture on Hegel. What makes the hero great can also be his or her flaw? What do both characters reveal as the same flaw in regard to their actions about the house? 5. Hegel says the heroes – the two “goods” - collide, which causes a downfall for each? What is that downfall for each hero? 6. Nietzsche said tragedy originates in the collision between the Apollonian and Dionysian of human nature in which rationality collides with irrationality. Who represents each in the film? One changes, though, towards the end of the film and goes from Apollonian to Dionysian? Who is it? 7. For Nietzsche the tragic collision between the Apollonian and Dionysian results in a downfall as one - the Apollonian or Dionysian – overwhelms the other. Which one does this in the film and how do we see it in the heroes? 6. Does each character have a moment of recognition? What is the significance of Kathy crawling into bed with the Behranis? For Kathy how do her final words show recognition? Where for Behrani does he realize the consequence of his actions? 8. Submit two quotes from the House of Sand and Fog with explanation and relation to tragedy. G.W Hegel’s Theory of Tragedy Hegel is pronounces Hay-gull Hegel bio Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born on August 27, 1770, in Stuttgart, Germany. He is considered one of the great philosophers and wrote about every thing from psychology, to the state [politics], history, art, religion, and philosophy. Hegel’s Aesthetics 1835: he wrote about tragedy as an art form Lectures on Aesthetics is a compilation of notes from university lectures on aesthetics given by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. It was compiled in 1835 by his publisher Heinrich Gustav Hotho, using Hegel's own hand-written notes and notes his students took during the lectures Hegel's Aesthetics is regarded by many as one of the greatest aesthetic theories to have been produced since Aristotle. Heidegger calls Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics "the most comprehensive reflection on the essence of art that the West possesses”. Origins • Hegel’s view of the world and theory of tragedy was religious. • He believed in an Absolute Spirit as the essential source of all ideas or concepts. In other words, all ideas come from God. • Since all ideas or concepts come from the Absolute, taken together they could create a perfect world. • In other words, a concept like democracy, for example, comes from the Absolute. • This is his religious view of the universe In the course of history, Hegel felt that essential ideas emerge and become real [come alive] and are often represented as positions by one person or a country or a religious group etc. As the essential ideas are put into practice, they form the basis of knowledge. Democracy is an idea; put into practice – the US Constitution – it becomes knowledge Through art and specifically dramatic tragedy, Hegel believed people could see this happening. The ideas and concepts of the absolute are represented by characters. For Hegel history moves forward when one idea or concept is challenged by its opposite. One idea is pushed aside and another comes into being: Kingdoms [old] and Democracy [new] Hegel called this dynamic “dialectics”; its result is a synthesis of the former idea and the new one. In a sense one idea dies at the expense of another. Change in this view is tragic The future challenges and defeats the past. As history progressed knowledge would improve in this way in an effort to reach the perfection of the Absolute. As with Aristotle Hegel was very concerned, how audiences would receive tragedy, although he was writing well over a thousand years after Aristotle. He argued that the content of tragedy must at once be "universal in its interests and passions…” yet immediate, drawn seemingly from "actual interests and circumstances,” And therefore recognizable to audiences. Hegel called these ideas the “substance of ethical life,” that can are shared between between the members of a family or between and husband and wife, or parents and children, or brothers and sister; or in politics, or the patriotism of the citizens, the will of the ruler and religion. This conflict is represented in opposing characters. However, what brings characters into conflict is not their ideas in themselves but their “one-sidedness.” They just don’t see how the other side could be right. Each of the opposed sides if taken by itself, has justification.… BUT each can only win by only denying the other. Thus, according to Hegel, tragedy is truly the tragedy of two heroes or “two goods.” Aristotle’s theory said there must be one hero. Here is the issue for Hegel: both are responsible for the tragedy. As a result these characters could be considered both heroic and tragic: the justified nature of their idea is their greatness…their stubborness not to see the other side is their flaw. One or both must die! Resolution: For Aristotle and Oedipus the King, fate decrees the hero must be punished for the universe to maintain order and consistency. For Hegel the collision of the opposing characters as ideas must end. Once it does, order is restored. In other words order is restored in the minds of the audience. Nietzsche’s Theory of Tragedy Nietszche’s bio Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science. . Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy. , notably in existentialism, nihilism and postmodernism. His key ideas include the death of God, the Übermensch, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be The Birth of Tragedy For Nietzsche the collision between the needs of primal beings and civilization is reflected in classical Greek art and dramatic tragedy in particular Nietzsche felt that our primal needs were instinctual forces and part of the essential human experience. He named these Dionysian, after the Greek god Dionysus, the god of wine, ritual, sex / orgy, song, dance, passion, creativity and irrationality. These forces are those of our nature itself. Its opposition [yes, Hegelian], are the forces of the god Apollo that represent rationality, order, control, ideal form, dreams and appearances. Greek classical architecture is an excellent example of the Apollonian. These opposing forces find their “collision and synthesis” in tragedy in Nietzsche’s view. The original form of the Greek columns is the marble mined mined from the earth itself. It is rough and wild and beautiful but without form. This is the Dionysian; art in its primal state The Apollonian is the “civilized” form of the marble that has been sculpted into the form of columns. It represent rationality and control of the rough marble that has been transformed into an ordered form that now is its beauty. Nietzsche and the Dionysian In our personalities the Dionysian impulse to give free rein to the passions without restrictions or rules. It is the uncivilized part of us that defies all rules. Artist and athletes follow their instincts to create. We sometimes say we “go with our gut,” meaning our feelings or intuition The Dionysian is the source of our myths, our passions, and our instincts, none of which are bounded by reason. It is the sources of creativity, yet is irrational in its manifestations. The civilizing force of the Apollonian is an essential counterbalance to the Dionysian and a complete abandonment of reason and civilization. It represents order and rules and laws that keeps society from self destructing. However, Nietzsche warns that we lose the deepest and richest aspects of our nature if we reject the Dionysian forces within us. Ways to View The Birth of Tragedy In essence Nietzsche is asking us to see where irrationality [Dionysian energy], absent in the modern world, is in collision with rationality / reason, which dominates the modern mind. The collision of the Dionysian and Apollonian is in Nietzsche’s view is in tragedy, where passion and irrationality collides with order and irrationality. In drama in a play or film: where is the collision between irrationality and rationality? Ways to View The Birth of Tragedy cont. Within tragedy the Dionysian spirit may be embodied within one character who acts on or is ruled by his or her instincts or passions. Often this character collides with another character who represents the Apollonian spirit that tries to control the Dionysian, to force into into order, to demand that it follow the rules Ways to View The Birth of Tragedy cont. Often in tragedy the collision represents an internal conflict for one character. One side of the character represents the Dionysian that compels a person to break out civilizations rules and morality and follow the urges of instincts and passions. Within the same character is an Apollonian side that pressures the Dionysian to conform to the demands civilization. Such a character is pulled one way or another; the Dionysian and Apollonian collide. If the Dionysian rules, the character will become irrational and suffer the tragic consequences. If the Apollonian rules, the character will relinquish his or her passions and lead an empty and tragic life. Nietzsche: Tragedy in the Modern World In Nietzsche’s view since the Age of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, reason (the Apollonian) has come to dominate belief, myth, passion (the Dionysian). Advances in science and technology and trust in reason led to almost, ironically, a religious belief in reason. Where did this lead as as a civilization – too greater irrationality disguised as reason? The cult of reason, according to Nietzsche shields of from the reality of the human condition: that within our nature lies vital drives that make make us alive and vital and often lead to collisions with the forces of order and control in the world. Where does tragedy teach us about this collision? That there is essential darkness in our lives as well as light? And how do we deal with that? How can facing this truth, this essential suffering release us from the illusory dream of reason? ...
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House of Sand and Fog


The House of Sand and Fog as Tragedy
When Hegel came up with this idea, he was on the idea that tragedy stems from
conflict from legitimate institutions. In our case here in the film, we have got two
people who qualify in the essence of two rights. One of them being Colonel Behrain,
who acquired the house on a third of its market value from the county action. He had
every right on the house as despite buying it at a subsided cost, he had acquired it the
right way. He did not take it lightly when Kathy wanted him to give back the house to
him. If anything, he asked for four times the money he had bought the house from the
county auction to sell it. As for Kathy, it was an honest mistake when she did not
make the payments of the house as she was sure that the bills were taken care of.
Therefore, when they took away her house, she was hurt and not aware of the defect
that she had incurred.
When she is informed of the unpaid business taxes, she argues that the house was
not on any taxes as she had acquired it from her father, and no taxes were needed. Kathy
goes ahead to argue that a few months ago, she had even signed a document saying that
the house had no taxes to pay. Having inherited it from her father, she was sure that no
payments were pending. She is presented as careless and ignorant. That morning before
the eviction, we see that her house is disorganized, and she has ma...

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