Monday, 22 January 2018

GINS Novel Study Final Blog Post

In the Forbidden City, the main character Alex provides insights on the many emotional and moral complexities involved in violent events. The often sensationalized nature of such atrocities leaves individuals desensitized to the actual nature of these deaths. William Bell effectively reminds our generation of the reality of government corruption and cruelty through an effective initial narrative and an equally engaging allegorical counterpart. A combination of realism, exposition, and simplicity has made William Bell’s Forbidden City an effective method for developing an understanding of the social and concrete aspects of multifaceted issues.
The plethora of dynamic and diverse characters provide insight on the many difficulties that may be prevalent resulting from the Tian an Men Rebellion.
To address the themes of violence, William Bell is required to reflect a style true to the nature of the Tian An Man Square rebellion. An often neglected element of literature has been implemented in the narrative; exposition has complimented the enjoyability of the narrative. Reading novels with and without exposition is similar to taking LSD and MDMA. Fast paced novels are like LSD. After getting a “real good” trip a few times the addictiveness declines exponentially. MDMA on the other hand (slow-burn novels) take a while to get in to but provides an addictive satisfaction on your first hit. While both activities are shunned by society, a participant is immersed in a whole “new” world. This is why slow-burn novels such as The Forbidden City are effective in spreading a wide-spread message.
The grandiose and dramaticized nature of violence fabricates an illusion of comfort; books like The Forbidden City such as No and Me by Delphine Vigan, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Fahrenheit 451 by William Bradbury accentuate the need to grasp a realistic truth. Issues such as homelessness, and wars are considered boring by a general population and these novels enable understanding and empathy.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

A Crossroads: The Forbidden City

To further explore the idea of narrative and characterization I represented my understanding through art. The following are my explanations for my different stylistic choices.

The hay soldiers on the boat are referencing a quote stated by Lao Xu. “Someone's greatest strength can be turned into a weakness”. The toy soldiers on the boat indicate that the protagonist's passion for military history transformed into a reminder of death and violence. The character on the sail translates to death in Chinese. The boat in the drying pond indicates a loss of dreams and a reduction of innocence. Boats represent a journey and it sinking indicates that progressing will be more difficult for Alexander. The diminishing water represents Alex’s subconscious. He feels limited and isolated from his experiences and is forced to drown in his own emotions.

The Banner on the wall can be translated to Chinese identity. At the end of the novel, the protagonist does not identify as Alexander but rather Shan Da. The banner is a traditional style for ancient China to represent the roots of Chinese identity that Alex and Lao Xu tries to represent

The left wall is in the Arthurian style to represent the “fantastical” nature of his past. The door is boarded up to indicate that Alex feels as if he no longer has the ability to return to his previous life.

The right wall has a design reminiscent of the Chinese Great Wall. This stylistic choice is made to indicate the new life waiting behind the door. The reason I chose to draw two doors was to indicate a crossroads.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Lao Xu's Story: The Forbidden City

To further explore the narrative of the story I have decided to write a first-person diary on the character Lao Xu. This is a work of parody and I do not claim creative property over William Bell's The Forbbiden City. It is recommended you know the general details of the original works before continuing.

Entry 1:
The moldy crimson curtains were silhouettes dancing around my window. I was at the wooden oak table writing my daily reports to my superiors. In a few weeks, two Canadian reporters would come to report on Gorbachev’s visit. I look down at the faded symbols that may have said: “Student rebellion” but may have actually meant “Execution imminent”.
“China needs democracy!”
For a single moment, I believed that this could possibly be the reality of my nation. I wipe the thought out of my head and return to my broken-down room.

Entry 2: 
“Arex-sheann-dah”: I wonder how these western foreigners manage to pronounce their names. The reporter's child arrives alongside his father to the hotel quite awkwardly. Apparently, this “Eddie” guy is a celebrity of some sort. I provide them dinner and offer to give “Arex-sheann-dah” a Chinese name (mostly for my convenience). I tour Alex around the area and we converse about history. He seems very innocent and almost even a little juvenile, but it is, however, refreshing to see someone passionate and happy with their life. That makes me wonder what could have happened many years ago…

Entry 3:
It has been a few days since my last entry. I have been busy aiding my new friends. They have transitioned their efforts in to covering the student rebellion in Tian An Men Square. These students have been declared counter revolutionaries under martial law. China was once a glorious nation but the name has been tarnished by a history of ruthless leaders. I still want to believe that this version of reality still exists somewhere. Reporters and foreign correspondents are now under persecution by the government and despite the potential consequences I choose to help the three men in their plan to expose China’s secrets. Maybe I’m helping China by making sure that it returns to what it used to be.
Entry 5:

A swarm of bullets fly through the field of students. It is disgusting how simple this situation actually is. Casualties occur and bodies smear themselves across the stone brick roads. China used to be about culture and art, but now the only art is the blood painting itself in the Forbidden City. This can continue no longer. I am just a body belonging to the thousands on the red streets. It is simple. No more laws and rules, no more civilized interaction, and no more meaning. I am fighting a lost cause, thinking that China can recover in the way I thought it could. I see a cold steel barrel pointed at Shan Da. Instantly I run to the front of the crowd and start screaming. This cannot happen. I feel the bullets piercing my flesh. And another. I fall down looking at the blood soaked feet of the panicked citizens looking on. I feel a bullet hit my brai...

Monday, 8 January 2018

The 'Right' Rights: The Forbidden City

       Corruption and malicious intentions are detested by individuals because it makes the feeling of satisfaction more accessible. This can be altered as a means to unjustly attain a sense of purpose. A sense of morality is violated by such desires and consequently, actions may become senseless. However, when a collective sense of morality aligns, change can be expedited. When the violation of freedoms infringes upon a personal sense of idealism, a protest will typically ensue. In William Bell’s Forbidden City a union of Chinese students desire the implementation of democratic ideas in their government. The issue escalates and soldiers take arms against the students. The significance of rights is revealed through equality and an individuals quality of life.

“We have made a union of university students in Beijing,” he said, “and we have been on strike from classes. All Beijing university students are on strike. We have three demands. We want that the government agrees to talk to us like equals, not treat us like children. Second, they must apologize for violence against the students last week.” He pointed toward Zhong Nan Hai where some students had been roughed up a bit. “ Third, we demand that Xin Hua news reports stop lying about us in newspapers and television.”  (Bell 82)

Equality provides satisfaction by appealing to a sense of identity. Concepts such as inferiority and superiority are neglected and consequently, the ability to feel satisfied with the concept of individual identity becomes easier. When equality has violated the regularity of a system is disrupted and action is taken to maintain order. China has an emphasis on government power while maintaining an illusion of equality. Ulterior intentions are revealed when the students start to lose faith in their government system. The desire for superiority and control from the government influences the decision to take violent action. The extreme measures are taken to maintain the aristocrat's version of reality conflicts with the values of many people.

"Lao Xu spun around, his arms flung skyward. Before he fell the AK 47 spit flame again and the burst blew Lao Xu off his feet. His body slammed to the pavement, one leg caught under him, arms flung wide, his head twisted to the side at an impossible angle. His blood began to run onto the road, a dark stream in the red light." (Bell 157)

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Forbidden City: A Surprising Shift

     The Forbidden City has so far been disappointing in terms of narrative pacing for its targeted demographic. From a need for stimulation and action in youth, the reward from adhering to an orthodox narrative structure has been forgotten. A decrease in attention spans has been a consequence of sensationalized media. As a result, many stories neglect critical narrative elements such as exposition and introduction in order to interest an audience. A quality of superficiality and immaturity becomes more prominent. William Bell’s The Forbidden City may not seem like an interesting read for many individuals, but it promises a strong narrative with its traditional style of writing.
    By including an element of allusion, parallels are made that foreshadow certain events in the story. A Chinese general was at war with a formidable opponent whose arrow supplies were abundant. In order to attain these arrows the general loaded straw men into boats and manipulated the opposing force into launching the arrows on to the boats. Consequently, the general was able to collect all the arrows. This tale in Chinese folklore illustrates how strengths could be altered into vulnerabilities. Parallels are made to China’s militaristic capabilities. While the population's large numbers can increase the capabilities of the country, the potential for civil unrest and violence is also increased. The intentional decision to include this tale may have been to emphasize a motif that parallels with the rebellion occurring in the narrative. The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is required to act peacefully. However, with the introduction of martial law and the foreshadowing, it is implied that the proliferation of the rebellion and violent action will inevitably occur. The promise of action rather than experiencing the intensity allures the reader into exploring further into the narrative.
    Exposition has been criticized for decreasing the pace and quality of a narrative. While this has become true in many narratives, the merit of a proper expository introduction in a story is undeniably a promising way to immerse a reader in the “world” of a story. By understanding the circumstances of a situation, readers are able to contextualize the narrative in relation to its social climate. Consequently, empathy and emotions become more understandable and enabling such capabilities to allow the development of further knowledge. Ted Jackson's characterization was required to be established in a comprehensive way in order to create tension and a natural flow of the narrative. Ted Jackson’s role as a journalist represents his tendencies towards dangerous action and isolation. He finds himself to be separated from the action; he lives in his own world. When Ted Jackson was in the middle of a war ground his concern for danger and death was nonexistent and instead he was fixated on taking a “high-quality picture”. He does not accept his current reality as the one he lives in. He lives in the world of a photographer.
    William Bell is successful in avoiding the trap that obstructs a storytellers ability to communicate their messages. The constant need for stimulation is an appeal that inexperienced or typical writers attempt to appeal to. The structure of this narrative is different and an enjoyable shift in pace.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Forbidden City: A Dysfunctional Family

William Bell’s Forbidden City demonstrates effective characterization by including realistic motivations and subtle details. Alexander Jackson and his father, Ted Jackson make the decision to embark on a journey to China to develop their knowledge about the country and report this information back to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Unfortunately, the trip to this compartmentalized fantasy world fails to satisfy their expectations. This is attributed to previously existing dysfunction and a difficulty accepting the paranoia ingrained in a Communist state.
Ted Jackson shows evidence of having abandonment issues and despite his best efforts, this trickles through his optimistic facade that he uses to conceal his shattered emotions. An indication of such issues includes an underlying “clinginess” towards an individual and depression. These signs are clearly exhibited by Ted Jackson throughout the first twenty percent of the Forbidden City. Those who suffer from abandonment most typically gravitate towards those who can provide emotional stimulation similar to what was previously provided by the unavailable individual. Alexander Jackson provides attachment and warmth for Ted because of their relationship as father and son. The fear of loss is intensified when abandonment is experienced because of a desire to avoid further trauma. While it was possible for Ted to go on his trip to China independently, he insists on Alexander to accompany him. This could have been interpreted as a gesture of kindness and fatherly compassion but instead, it is an action characterized by fear. When Alexander is hesitant to follow his father, Ted tries to manipulate him. By purposefully understating the time spent in China, Ted makes Alexander agree to the trip. After realizing the truth of the situation, Alexander is too late. Another example of Ted Jackson’s issues resulting from abandonment is his depression. Those who suffer from clinical depression usually try to avoid the help and care of others in order to “avoid burdening other individuals”.  Ted is characterized by an overly exuberant attitude but it is revealed that he struggles with the departure of his wife.  While the adventure to China originally served as an emotional escape, an accentuated state of awareness and stress from an increased workload may unintentionally unravel Ted Jacksons intricately woven mask as the narrative progresses. In addition, the trip to China may also inadvertently deconstruct Alexander Jacksons innocent view of the human condition and his world.
The value of human life and distrust are ideas foreign to Alexander Jackson. The sensationalization of violence and war has become increasingly easier due to medias inclination towards representing the “extremes” and the superficiality of human lives. Alexander compares war to chess when remarking on Sun Tzu. This reveals that Alexander believes war to be as simple as an interaction in a game. The emotional repercussions and loss of life are both left ignored in a chess game. Alexander believes war to be art. A juvenile undertone is emphasized in this belief. This juvenility is further reiterated when Alexander is shocked to realize the emotional climate of China. An ignorance towards the reality of certain hardships and qualities is prevalent in Alexander’s worldview. After realizing that his tour guide, Lao Xu served as a spy for the Chinese government, Alex is left shattered. He fails in trying to comprehend why such paranoia in the government may exist and instead wallows in shock. Without the proper experiences and understandings, Alex is unable to learn as much as he could. His innocent views obstruct his ability to accept the unpleasant qualities that exist in his world.

William Bell proficiently demonstrates the obstructions that are present in human actualization. The narrative may follow the Tian An Men Square rebellion but I firmly believe that overcoming these obstructions belong as an narrative hallmark in the story.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Forbidden City: Global Issues Novel Study

    The Forbidden City is a novel that explores the narrative involving Alex Jackson and his father on a business trip for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They are caught up in a violent demonstration for democracy in Tian An Men Square. The two feel the need to communicate this story to the rest of the world but may be risking their lives doing so.

    While never hearing about this story I am interested in the novel because of its interesting title. The title implies many possibilities for the outcome of the narrative. One of the reasons for the city being forbidden could be because of a restriction of contact or action (in this case the desire for democracy may be condemned). "Forbidden" is a term used to refer to disallowed or banned things, but the possibilities for restriction seems unlimited (ironic right?). Because of one adjective, the title becomes more interesting. This is the reason why I selected this novel for my study.

Or it could be because of how it was the first book I picked up...
Here is my schedule that I am planning to follow during the duration of this project.