Understanding the world of Station Eleven and how it relates to our own experiences. Learning intentions • Understand the central ideas and thematic concerns of the text • Understand how the writer conveys views and values • Connect features of text to consider how they explore big ideas • Understand metalanguage around ideas in texts Success criteria: I can explain important ideas within the text using appropriate vocabulary I can link features and examples from the text to important ideas I can write about authorial intention, views and values The bright side of the planet moves towards darkness And the cities are falling asleep, each in its hour, And for me, now as then, it is too much. There is too much world. - Czeslaw Milosz (Polish Poet) Write down your own impressions in a continuous stream of words and ideas nonstop for 1-2 minutes. No editing! Symbolic and dialogic role of the Epigraph An effective tool that some writers use to direct readers to authorial concerns behind the work. Offers an insight into motivation behind artist’s vision. Often a brief quote taken from another piece of literature that reveals a conversation writers and readers can have regarding big ideas and the human condition. Czeslaw Milosz • Member of the Polish literary avant garde known as the Catastrophists, Milosz began in the 1930’s as one of the many writers who foresaw nothing but doom and destruction awaiting the modern world, much of his writing being devoted to the description of the catastrophe in order to protest against it. Memory, consciousness, a moral compass; these are the cornerstones of Milosz’s art, the careful handling of them the foundation of his integrity as a witness to his time and the vestiges of humanity still managing to find a place to flourish within it. ’The poetry and anti-poetry of Czeslaw Milosz’ Peter Filkins 1989 In your own words on a post it note write down a powerful memory, what you understand consciousness to mean and finally what does it mean to have a moral compass. Why is Dystopian fiction popular? • There has been an upsurge in dystopian-focused novels in the last few years, a trend that many experts attribute to the uncertain times young people are growing up in. Many new novels are set in a postapocalyptic future, in which young people must clean up the mess their elders have made-not to mention struggle to live up to a new, sometimes unmeetable set of standards. “They spend all their lives waiting for their lives to begin” Discussion: What does this quotation suggest to you about Mandel’s key message? A review of values • Values intrinsically good – these are the things that the writer views and right, just, moral, important, sacred, positive, required, etc. • Values tend to inform a writer’s ideas and their exploration of themes and human behaviour. *Views do not need to be necessarily positive Explicit values • People want to live a good and peaceful life with their families. • Even during crises, most people try to make ethical/moral decisions, and live to a code. • • This may be because of social context, upbringing, or education already in place. The Prophet for example, embraces his own corrupt moral code: he believes he is an agent of light actually causes destruction and misery. Arts and sciences are important to meaning, culture, and humanity. These things are explicit because we don’t need to infer strongly to see that these things are positively presented in the text. They are right on the surface. Implicit values • Education makes for a civilised society • Simplistic, cult thinking leads to tyranny and abuse • The visual and performing arts posses an inherent nobility • History – understanding of the past is vital • Poetry makes a society out of a mob – a civilizing force because it encapsulates the power of language, language leads to communication and education, these things make for a civilized society. • Science provides us with vital infrastructure that is important to civilised and moral society. • These things are implicit because we need to read into the things in the text and make judgments about the writer’s views. Some key ideas: • Role of art: can it save us? Does it make society better? • Human relationships: love, care, connectedness, doing good, being genuine • Courage: adaptability, agency, independence, true heroism • Obligation to community: fear, death, contagion, loneliness, killing • Survival is insufficient: What more do we need to live happily, freely, purposefully, and well? What gives life meaning? Can we find it in the modern world? I think that Mandel suggests we can, if we place value on the right things. Creativity, arts, sciences “SURVIVAL IS INSUFFICIENT” Mandel explores what is of true value, and how people can make meaning in a meaningless existence, a world of suffering, a society which could collapse at any moment. She posits that things beautiful and life-affirming are what humanity truly needs. Art and creativity are beautiful, and emphasise that humans have power to create, not just destroy. “It’s the work itself that’s important to me” (Miranda 95) “The Traveling Symphony thought that what they were doing was noble…someone would say something invigorating about the importance of art, and everyone would find it easier to sleep that night.” (Kirsten 119) “People want what was best about the world.” (Dieter 38) Beauty and truth Mandel posits that the things which hold genuine value, meaning and satisfaction are those that are positive and life-affirming. Beauty is sustaining in and of itself; the recognition of “this dazzling world”, its natural beauty and wonder even in the aftermath, is worthy of admiration. “I live on gossip…I live for…truth and beauty” (Jeevan 102) “This dazzling world” (296) “…all objects were beautiful. He found himself moved…by the human enterprise each object had required.” (Clark 255) “what made it bearable were the friendships, the camaraderie and the music and the Shakespeare, the moments of transcendent beauty and joy” (47) A good and meaningful life Mandel uses the destruction of the modern world to expose the shallow superficiality that drives many in a capitalist, ego-centric society, instead emphasising the value of education, art and science, and genuine human relationships in finding true meaning and purpose in life. By serving others, and cultivating positive relationships, we can find satisfaction. • “he was overcome by his good fortune at having found this place, this tranquillity, this woman, at having lived to see a time worth living in.” (Jeevan 270) • “The feeling that one’s life resembles a movie.” (Arthur 157) • “The way he’d spent his entire life chasing after something, money or fame or immortality.” The interconnected world - Society and the individual • The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor states that communitarianism refers to the individual’s obligations to the community to which they belong (consider the nameless characters of the Symphony). Individualism is the modern conception of selfhood. Individuals value freedom, nature, renewability, authenticity, affirm the simple, ordinary life, and feel benevolence towards others. Discussion question: Do these ideas resonate within Mandel’s ideas and values? The importance of community Mandel suggests human beings are fundamentally social creatures, and need to feel a sense of belonging. Ironically, in a world of social media and mediacommunication, this meaningful connection seems to be lacking, the implication that after the Georgian Flu, “no more avatars” is an empowering change, allowing people to accept themselves and find their own self-worth. A place to belong is vital to this. Jeevan reflects with wonder that he still can’t believe he found “this place, this tranquillity”. The day Kirsten is accepted into the Traveling Symphony after the death of her brother, Peter, is “the happiest day of her life”. However, not all communities can be sustaining. The counterpoint is the Prophet’s followers – his hostile takeover of St Deborah By The Water and consequent abuse of power shows that the community must be a supportive and life-affirming one. And without community, we have isolation and loneliness. A variety of characters ruminate or profess a longing “only to go home” (83) and find a sense of belonging and connectedness; the “delicate infrastructure of people” (178) is shown to be dangerously impermanent and susceptible to calamity. In an empty landscape, “hell is the absence of people you long for.” (K, 144). Memory, loss, nostalgia, history The novel suggests the importance of history, the connections between past, present and future, and how memory is intrinsically related to the human experience. History is a form of formalised memory (consider the oral tradition). Mandel suggests that if we can retain or memories, we retain our culture, and thus, retain our humanity. “I have some problems with memory.” (K 113) “The more we know about the former world, the better we’ll understand what happened when it fell.” (Diallo 113) “I believe in understanding history.” (Diallo 115) “His beloved objects in the Museum of Civilisation” “He found himself moved…by the human enterprise each object had required.” Survival, disease, death, violence in “this tarnished world” Mandel laments the loss of reason and civilised behaviour in an uneducated world with the condemnation that the Prophet’s “kind of insanity’s contagious”, an eerie echo of the rigidity and dangerous extremism that exists in the 21st century. “The murdered follow their killers to the grave” (299) “It is possible to survive this, but not unaltered; and you will carry these men with you through all the nights of your life.” (K 296) “There’s the death of the body, and there’s the death of the soul.” “You can look for reasons but…that’s all there is.” (259) “At other times, it seemed a difficult and dangerous way to survive.” Views and values language Verbs to show the writer is for an idea: Verbs to show the writer is against an idea: Endorses Rejects Praises Condemns Celebrates Criticises Approves Challenges Supports Reviews Emphasises the importance/significance of… Castigates Laments TASK: Write two views and values sentences based on the themes in the text. E.g. Mandel celebrates the ability of communities to survive and thrive through the mutual support, tolerance and positive relationships they provide. The bright side of the planet moves towards darkness And the cities are falling asleep, each in its hour, And for me, now as then, it is too much. There is too much world. - Czeslaw Milosz Has your impression of this epigraph changed or been reinforced? Write a reflective paragraph on what this lesson has foreshadowed about the text? Warm up – Theme Bingo Activity: 1. Write down 5 single words (if possible, if you need to use a phrase keep it short) that you think best summarise the key ideas in the text. 2. Everyone stands up. 3. We take it in turns read out a word. Everyone who has the same word (or virtually the same) on their list must cross it out (including the person who read the word). 4. If all of your words are crossed out, sit down. Key question: How are these values suggested by the text? • Turn and talk: Choose one of the examples listed in the previous slide and discuss how the text demonstrates the value Write a paragraph about how the text explores or suggests an explicit or implied idea. Thematic statements – writing tools How else can we talk about themes? What about: • Concern/preoccupation/idea/issue? Now add a discriminating adjective: • Key/central/main/vital/important Use a phrase, rather than an individual word, to express an idea/theme: Mandel’s central preoccupation with [how to live a good and meaningful life] is evident through… TASK: rewrite the main idea you discussed in your previous paragraph using these sentence tools THINK – what are themes? • We have considered some of the values that seem to be suggested within the text, and we need to work out how the text shows/explores these. Next we will consider how features of the texts connect to suggest these values through contextualising them within the broad scope of our society/culture/values. This is what we mean by a ‘theme’ – a universal idea that goes beyond an individual text or work. What to do with the themes? To know and understand these properly, you need to write (NOT JUST COPY) notes about these themes. Write your own paragraph in your own words about the them. Find your own quotes and examples to discuss/support the theme. Create a concept map. Make links and connections between the themes and how they support/interrelate to each other. You could then link these to broader ‘big ideas’ or authorial values. Success criteria: I can explain important ideas within the text using appropriate vocabulary I can link features and examples from the text to important ideas I can write about authorial intention, views and values But how well can you do these things? The work has only just begun. Going through this ppt is not learning all of this information. It is guiding you to the path, and helping you begin to connect the dots. You need to do further work to make this deep and meaningful learning.