Friday, June 6, 2008

another draft of revelation.

Revelation Paper for history

Revelations – these play such an important role. They’ve served as recurring external and internal factors in shaping the world around us, manifesting within the trends of history, literature, and art. It is because of this why coming to a vivid understanding of their existence wields a clearer more lucid view of how things around us work.
There are two dictionary meanings of a revelation, both of which are worthy of being properly explored. They are as follows: “the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world”; “a surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one that is made known in a dramatic way”. As one can see the first one holds religious connotation that most have associated with the word while the second one is less divine and can be more easily adapted for everyday things.
As stated before, the realm of literature is filled with revelations and its tropes. Tropes are critical parts of stories that continue to reappear throughout the plot. Thus they are what express and detail the revelation for the audience. Example of such tropes are: the activist/prophet that goes around spreading their message (the revelation), the dumb masses that the prophet is attempting to wake up, and the opposition that stands in the way of the message striving to stop the prophet’s words before they reach the masses. Most stories have all of these tropes and more. It allows for the most basic of connects to be made between the piece of work and audience.
That being said, it is important to note that referring to the revelation troupe actually implies all of the little components that it is composed of. Thus, revelation is more or of a mega-troupe – the tinier components are fully capable of being divided from the group to be analyzed. Yet at the same time, the mega-troupe seems to fall apart if the commonly understand sections are not played out.
That is not to say, however, that all of those stories follow the same mundane plot line. In order for there to be some idea of uniqueness, they all put their own spin on the otherwise commonly understood tropes. As I will explore later, this manipulation of the troupes allows for the overarching message of the revelation to be understood at a deeper level than it would if it wasn't.

In the play An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, one can see nice basic revelation tropes in action. The play follows a small town doctor who tries to explain to the masses that their public bathes are infested with germs that can and has made visiting people sick. At first he was able to enlist the help of a few of his friends in the town’s newspaper, but once he came out with the information the vast majority of the towns folk turned against him, including his friends and the mayor, which just so happens to be his own brother. Those who would greatly benefit from the end results reject the doctor’s offer of redemption – having a clean baths that everyone can enjoy without becoming ill.
Like I said before, An Enemy of the People provides a good introduction to the revelation mega-troupe. One example of this is how one could possibly plot out where the characters in the story would stand as the story slowly built up to the climax. We saw how his family members would likely stand by him his side, even if some of them have their doubts. We saw how the town officials (headed by the doctor’s brother, the town mayor) were going to do every thing in their power to silence him and discredit his word. However, we were also should what was one of our first twists in a revelation story - Many of the doctor, Thomas Stockmann’s friends who at first supported him, those who you thought would stand next to him flip flopped at the climax at the story. They choose not to do the right thing and betray the revelation in order to keep with their known way of life. They preferred to turn a blind eye to everything that they heard in order to join with the ignorant masses.
I find it interesting that the first book I read under the veil of looking for the troupes brought forth the subject of the betrayal of the prophet. Betrayal is a very important aspect of revelation. On the surface, whomever commits the act of betrayal is shown not to be able to handle the change the message is trying to bring about. On a deeper level, betrayal is something that most prophets will come up against.

The book Feed by M.T. Anderson also plays with the normal, basic tropes, but in a more sublet manner. The story is told from the point of view of Titus, a teenager growing up in a futuristic world in which many people have little chips placed in their heads called feeds. The feeds are to them are what computers are to us, only more advance; they can shop, communicate with each other, share each other memories, surf the web, go to school – all on the feed. That little device became one of the most pivotal aspects of their lives and therefore culture. Because nearly everyone is hooked up to the feed and the feed is so well controlled by the big companies in the world the wielding result is that of a consumer culture – eerie to what our own may become one day. So Titus and a group of his friends decided to go up to a resort on the moon where they meet Violet. Titus and her eventually end up dating and it is her who is revealed to be the prophet of the story as it continues to unfold.
As with what seems to be a common theme with all of these stories, out of all of those that Titus hangs out with, he is the one that seems to notice things that the others can’t or rather just simply don’t, but still decides to go along with the masses. As Violet pointed out when they were at a hospital after their feeds were hacked into:
“ It’s like…,” I said. ‘It's like a squid in love with the sky.’
She was only looking at me, which was nice, I hadn’t felt anything like that for a long time.
She rubbed my head, and she went, “You’re the only one of them that uses metaphor.”
(Pg. 62-63)

Prophets always appear to have a way of gravitating towards those in the masses that have the greatest amount of potential. As with Violet and Titus, she was drawn to him because out of the group of his friends, he stood out. And likewise, the prospective disciples find the prophet to be alluring. A lot of passing on the revelation message to others deals with the art of seduction. In this retrospect revelation is a lot like falling in love. A person can completely fall for it and be head over heels. Or it could be that the prophet and the future follower play a little game of cat and mouse – both not wanting to lose any ground to the other, but at the same time for some inexplicable reason drawn to each other.
Revelations do not always carry the “for the greater good” cogitation that most people have tagged to them, as seen in the Star Wars series. Throughout the movies, both father and son go through their own personal revelations, of which, ends up being apart of a larger, over arching cast of revelations. However, they end up going to opposing sides of the spectrum of good and evil. As I watched this take place, I was wondering why this was allowed to happen – why aren’t all revelations things that change people for the better. As a result, my reasoning is as follows: The outcome of going through a revelation depends on the person that is faced with it.

The idea of the ‘false prophet’ verses the ‘true prophet’ carries back into literature. In the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, the story takes place in an all-boys private school controlled not only by the teachers and administration but also by an all student underground group called the Virigls. They give out assignments that must be carried out by whomever receive them, or else the rest of the student body would shun that person. Archie, the Virigls’ assignment creator, gives a kid named Jerry an assignment which makes him a marked man – The assignment was to refuse to sell any chocolates during the school’s chocolate sell. At first, one would think that this would not be a big deal at all, its just one child who does not bother to participate. However, the assistant headmaster, Brother Leon aims to have the children sell twice as much chocolates has they had the year before. Because of that goal we went to the Vigils to insure that this task is fulfilled. The Vigils only had wanted Jerry to deny the chocolates the chocolates for ten days, merely to mess with Brother Leon, but after those ten days were up, Jerry came to the realization that he did not have to do what he didn’t want to, and so he continues to hold out on joining everyone else till the bitter end of the book.
When one first beings the book, one starts to see Archie as the prophet figure when the revelation megatroupe is applied. He truly does fit the mold of a prophet – he has his disciples and followers that he expresses his word to, everyone holds whatever he says to some golden standard. But then, at the same time we see how all of that puts a large amount of pressure on Archie’s psyche. He knows he is held to such a standard and feels that if he can’t always keep in par with it, everyone would turn against him. But then after seeing how Archie’s assignments forces innocent people into situations that comprises them, makes you begin to rethink the prophet assessment.
On the other hand is Jerry. In contrast to Archie, when he is first introduced he does not have a prophet-like aura at all – we see his attitude is to merely just go through his four years of high school without drawing much attention to himself. He is more or less a loner, and so when he receives that assignment of disobeying on of the most feared teachers in the school, he does so with fear in his heart. But then we understand that during that time, something clicks in his head. He has his own personal revelation that makes him understand how he didn’t have to do what he didn’t want to. His actions from there on out reflect that of what a true bonafided prophet should do – he makes a stand and in doing so everyone else sees and notices. Some others even began to agree with what Jerry was doing.
This is the point of false prophets – if one is not paying attention, they appear to be the ones with the best revelations. I believe that this warning should be taken and adapted when dealing with real actual prophets. You always have to think about whatever revelation that a person or group is trying to spread. Failing to recognize the actual message and falling for the props will lead one to follow a false prophet.

In the Enemy of the People, the awake is the Doctor, along with the few people who agree with him. The others around him who disagree (his brother – the mayor and the rest of the town) are asleep. In that story, to be asleep means to not want realize that germs exist and not wanting to shut things down for a while to clean up the baths. They think that the Doctor is just making up lies.

In Feed, the awake are Violet and Titus (though this is to an extent). The asleep is all of his friends, along with most of the others in society. Those who are like Violet and are a bit more radical in their methods of resisting the dependency on the feed society is enforcing are thought of as crazy and foolish. To be awake in Feed means that one is aware of just how messed up their world is (for example, their dying and corroding earth) and at the very least noticing how the feed and the corporations behind the feed are controlling things.

In both Feed and Enemy of the People, we have that great line separating people to awake to asleep. However, that is not fully true. People as a whole can’t fall into those two categories so neatly. Instead of having things as an A and B situation, it is more like a scope or a range. In Enemy of the People, we have people who are in strict opposition to the doctor, but then we have those that fall somewhere in between – those that see and can on some level understand what Doctor Thomas is saying. This is also true in Feed – There are people that see what is going on and on some level can reflect upon it, but choose to turn a blind eye to it. Yet, still these people will most of the time choose to side against their would be prophets and revealers, and this is largely in part to societal pressure. The vast majority of individuals who don’t understand the message and reject it create this sort of mass consciousness that has a lot of leverage in making others follow it. People that are on the fence with their decision of whether or not to believe in the prophet(s) message, sometimes have a tendency to go with the crowd. It takes a person that is ready or at least willing to bear the scolding of the masses.

When you apply the ideals behind revelations that we just explored to real life, we see that it does not really work as well as what was hoped. Just like in the novels and movies, people fight against revelation for a number of different reasons. These can include being afraid of the change that the revelation will bring – the uncomfortable shift that will occur. They are already use to the current way things are around them, so they can’t think about anything past their situation.
I know that I personally fight against revelations when they do not go in sync with what I wanted / already believe. I don’t care for ideas that contradict my own personal interests. I also tend to resist when the revelation masks itself into something that just seems to be wrong and does not fit what I think are my needs. Yet still, I noticed that just like in movies and books, the revelation keeps starting you in the face until you choose to deal with it. And I know full well that I would be one of those fools who put off coming to terms with it until it finally whacked me in the head a few too many times. I don’t think most people can’t help but to be hard headed because everyone likes to feel in control of their own lives, their own destiny. Revelation, to a degree, forces one to concede and fit into its own rules.

In the movie They Live, there is a lot of talk between two opposing forces – they and us. Now in the basic plot line of the film, the word they refers to the aliens that are taking over the world by using subconscious messaging in the things that we all take for granted as merely entertainment – ads, tv, posters, etc. The us refers to the human race – those that the intended slaves and who must band together.
The movie depends on that line in between the “they” and “us”. It's a crucial element in bringing the intended revelation out to the forefront. As a matter of fact, many revelation stories is heavily reliant on such segregation between the two.
Now there are some deeper levels to this separation that will show that the two are not that clear cut from each other as they appear. One example is how the aliens are going about taking over and why. It seems like they go from planet to planet, sucking the natural resources of each. This seems to be similar to how we Americans (or any other highly regarded country) go about doing the same to lesser countries for our own corporate gain. In addition to that I’ve noticed quite a few ways of how both For example the method of the cutting deals with people of a higher social level, promising them a piece of whatever profit is generated can be seen in both instances. In the movie many privileged individuals knew about the existence of the aliens and their plans. Yet they allowed themselves to be hushed, turning a blind eye to the earth’s takeover.
From this standpoint, its fairly clear how those terms of “they” and “us” can be mixed. Such a distinction falls apart and blends in when you look under the hood and check the patterns.

Is the revelation troup just a bunch of lies or does it really work (evaluation).
At this point I would like to question and offer my thoughts on whether or not the mega-troupe of revelation is merely just a lie or if it really does work. This question is one of the most important ones that has come up all year because we’ve spent so much time and effort into reading all of these stories and watching movies that perfect fit into this groove of literature that it is crucial I make an effort to reflect.

My answer to that question is as follows. I think that it does work. It has been said that if the revelation is merely helping people see something they already had an inkling of, then it can’t really be a revelation. But I don’t fully agree with that. I believe that the revelation not only helps them to see whatever it is that they have to, but it also gives them a chance to actually put what they learned into action. I think that you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you decide to do nothing at all with it, then you fall out of the revelation category.
Another reason why I believe that the revelation trope works is how long its been used. The basic outline of the trope has been recycled so many times into so many different cultures and is still prevalent today, as you’ve seen here. If this troupe did not have as much applications or no truth to it, then it would not have survived all this time. People have value into
There may be a psychological purpose as to why the trope appeals to so many creative thinkers and the masses. Plato’s “The Republic” is what caused me to consider this possibility. In The Republic, Plato talks about a cave in which men are imprisoned in chairs by shackles. Their backs are facing the only source of light in the cave – a fire – and they can’t turn their heads around to see what is behind them. Thus, they can only look straight ahead at the cave wall. As a result of this, they are forever seeing the shadows on the wall and thinking that that is reality, while in fact the shadows are just that – shadows of the actual reality. To me this situation reflects our natural way of seeing the world. To a certain extent there is a part of us that perceives reality in that manner – just mere reflections of what’s really there, never the object itself. And because of that, using the revelation trope in stories will then allow for a psychological connection between the readers and the medium that the story is being told to.

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