Monday, May 7, 2012

The Happy End...

As in all stories and fairy tales we have a happy end, here we come to the happy ending of this blog and to this wonderful class and wonderful experience. The semester is over and as in America time flies and you don't feel it. It feels like yesterday when i started this blog with my favorite tale "Cinderella". 

Fairy tale has been absolutely one of my favorite class as being a dreamer i love to escape to the imaginary or fantasy world sometimes. As this was my first year in America this fantasy world and dreaming with the tales helped me to heal some of the lonely times far from my wonderful world where i am a princes Europe (same as Ofelia in Pan's Labyrinth we both are in worlds we don't belong to).

Going through my blog posts i found how much things we covered and how many things i learned from this class that i never imagined the world of fairy tales was hiding from me. I started this blog with my favorite fairy tale Cinderella but going through the reading i think the Grim Brothers Snow White could replace my childhood favorite Cinderella tale. As Snow White can be interpreted in many ways and can bee seen in more realistic point of view on who is Snow White who represent the queen after herself becoming a queen. In short the incorporation of evil and good and the perspective in which we may see this tale and tales in general. 

Through this class i learned to understand and realize the under themes used in fairy tales. Everything has significance a color, a knife, scissors even the clothes one wears. Everything is related to the story. Sexuality, beauty, jealousy are all this found in fairy tales shown from the little object, words, sings etc.
I really loved the blog of the Freud and Jung interpretation. As always been fascinated from the psychoanalytical way of looking at things this to great school of thoughts made a great interpretation of how our mind and our rational thinking work. I even watched the movie "A Dangerous Methods" an interpretation of Freud's and Jung's psychoanalysis and interpretation of dreams, very interesting movie.

During this class we quite read many kind of fairy tales from different countries and traditions. Absolutely my favorite is the Arabian night. Very charming the power of storytelling, wide used even now days by our politician’s worldwide, the power on how well you say a story and keep your listener amused. I love the Arabic stories as so many of the greatest tales that i grew up come from there. 

Our guest lectures were another great part about this class. All the guest speakers were great and each of them unique but the one i enjoyed most was Dr Ochieng' K'Olewe that explained the beauty of African Kenyan fairy tales. As diversity is always an interesting thing seeing all this different guest lecturer from different countries sharing with us not only the tales but the real lived experience that they had in that particular country or community was really wonderful and very educative. 

In the end i loved this blog mostly i loved reading other people blogs for this i did commented in this last time on two peoples blogs that i mostly enjoyed while reading through the semester. A big thank you to Dr. Esa for making this class a real great class and for his great enthusiasm while teaching the great power of storytelling and the interpretation of Fairy Tales. 

Happy End of this fairy tale blog.....

Pan's Labyrinth -- El Laberinto del Fauno

Pan's Labyrinth or in  Spanish El Laberinto del Fauno is a dark fantasy movie released for the public in 2006. This movie became very famous world wide and won many awards. The movie is in Mexican Spanish language and was written and directed by a Mexican film maker Guillermo del Toro.
Our guest lecturer Dr. Deveny took us into the depth of this movie understanding even the smallest details that connect the real world with the fantasy or fairy tale world.
Pan's Labyrinth interweaves the real world with a fantasy world with the center a labyrinth and a mysterious foun creature. The movie takes place in Spain some years after the civil war during the Francoist period in 1944.The main character is a little girl Ofelia she meet several magical creatures who lead her though the labyrinth garden. Ofelia is a princes from another world who has come to this world by accident and she has to accomplish some tasks in order to go back to her magical world. Ofelia's step father Capitain Vidal is one of the most negative figure during the movie , he hunts Spanish Maquis who fights against the Fascist reign in the region. Ofelia's mother is a nice lady who gets sick during her pregnancy and dies after she gives birth to Ofelia's brother.
In this movie they are many dark side and a mix of the real world with the fantasy world which makes you confused which one is to follow. There are ,many indication connected to Ofelias fantasy that are connected to fairy tales. In order for Ofelia to go back to her real world where she is a princes she has to follow some tasks given by the faun. The faun in many situation you don't know if she should trust it or not.Ofelia undertakes some very dangerous tasks first she has three magic stones that she has to make a huge frog eat it in order for the frog to throw up a magic key. This episode takes place inside an old tree with many insect around but Ofelia is strong and not frightened by them. 
She is supposed to complete all the tasks by the third day of the full moon. She also has a half moon as a birth mark in her left shoulder that will be crucial when she opens the little box at the monsters house. The number three same as in fairy tales is very present in this movie. The worst part and the most horrible one form me was when Ofelia has to go to this place and she should not eat anything from the table there is a monster with his eyes in the plates. Ofelia complete her task but after she could not resist to the food and  ate a small grape . As soon as she ate the monster woke up put his eyes into his palms and went toward to eat Ofelia.  The faun had given to her three little protectors while two where eaten by the monster .She survives this horrible task but the sequences were not as very pleased to watch. 
In the end Ofelia dyes and she goes to her magic world where she ruled and became a blessed princes. In the real world she died the fascist were overthrown her step father was killed by the Spanish Maquis and her little brother was left in the hands of the good Maquis people. 
This movie become very famous and won many awards as i previously mentioned by still i found it very dark and many of the scenes were very violent to watch. I would say this movie looked more as an horror than fantasy. Despite it the interaction between fantasy and the real world was a greta mixed. I would see it as a kind of escaping from the harsh environment of the war Ofelia goes into this fantasy world where she is a princes and every thing is beaitful and calm. The end of the move  looks like the great world were she would be this princes is the after world when she dies so we have some kind of religious descripiton through the tale as well. Over all i would say i liked the move but i would not considered to be one movie to be seen for entertainment, to violent for my taste. The spanish language was great as it gave to the movie more magical effect i loved that . This absolutely not a movie for children but a fairy tale for gown up and you have to see it many times in order to understand many under themes that this dark fantasy movie holds.  

Adivasis in India : Keeping Alive the Tradition

In this class we had the privilege to have as a guest lecture the wonderful Dr. Alles that gave a wonderful description of Adivasis culture,tradition and how they incorporate tales into them.Adivasi are rural people in India they live in Gujarat and they make up to 50% off the population. The importance of tales for some cultures around the world  has a enormous significance than in other parts. Like the Adivasis in India the myths and legends are what keeps the tradition alive for these people so their tradition will not be forget by the upcoming generations. They also have gods incorporated into their stories that makes these stories to be more alive during every day routine for the people. They also have many ceremony that also incorporate respect for god and the story is what has kept for centuries and  made this tradition to be alive and celebrated form the people each year.

Dr. Alles gave an incredible presentation from a perspective eye to eye, face to face while he visited the country and this community himself.That is an important part if you want to fully understand some kind of tradition of a country or a group of people best is to fully live it your self. For this Dr. Alles presentation about this community was more interested  that just being researched . He had pictures with the people of this communities , during the festivals and during their rituals. It seemed that despite gaining a real perspective of their traditions Dr. Alles really enjoyed himself while drinking Adivasis traditional drinks and trying their food from the ground, (that he claims was clean and tasted good).

Three main stories: A story about Mahura, the importance of drinking
The story about Babo Tumbo
The sotry of Babo Pithoro

In the pictures were mainly the times during the ceremony first was honoring the gods by sending to them goods such as a chickens etc. Another part of the ceremony was painting living room walls with all kind of pictures while each of them told a different story.While some of the pictures were sexual but in the end that does not matter much when is part of the culture that does say a story itself.

The planting of trees and sitting around it telling stories, drinking and partying all nights was a ceremony attended by Dr. Alles. The food was made on the ground and the  traditional drinks was made by the locals themselves. The slaughtering of the animals was a tradition  where goats, lambs, chicken would be seen slaughter spreading their blood allover the place. If the gods claim that is what it takes to purify the community who can tell  is wrong. Despite all the reaction that some of the photos made in class Dr. Alles self experience journey in India was incredibly fascinating as well as the Adivasis traditions. The myths and legend are told in front of all ages so every one will listen, learn and retell them in order to keep  the tradition of Adivasis alive.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"People need stories more than bread itself"Arabian night

I start this blog with a powerful quote from the movie that shows the importance of the stories and the story telling in the Arabic culture "One Thousand and One Nights" said in English the "Arabian Night" or in Arabic "Alf Layla wa Layla "
 "People need stories more than bread itself- they tell us how to live and why".

We had an interesting lecture from Dr. Esa about Arabic folk tales and the power of story telling. Most people around the world are familiar with "One Thousand and One Nights" stories. The number 1001 it is very imponrtat in Arabic culture as that means infinity so adding one more number to it makes this number extra ordinary as the stories it self.This are a collection of stories from different periods and different places.
The main story start with tow brothers in rivalry and the cheating of the wife as the other brothers lover. One of the brother kills the women and from that moment he mistrust every women so he marries virgins and had them killed the next morning. After this was going on fro sometimes fear was spread among females on who will be next. After being fascinated from the beauty and power of the story telling the daughter of a wazir decided to volunteer to be the next wife of the king with the home that with the power of the story telling she can save him herself and  other women.
With the power of story telling she saves him and gives him 3 boys. While watching the movie Arabian Night i could not stop it i just wanted to know the end even though the movie was as long as two hours i didn't realise that i took so long as that what the power of story telling does , takes time way and without realizing it is morning and you just don't want to stop hearing them.
The style of the Arabic tales is much more complex than other tales we have read in class. Much more action it is involved and much more moral such as the given wealth taken away and the way to get back. It is more like a teaching lesson on how to live life and how to fulfill your desires by fate and after by choice or wit.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Kribu Rafiki" Welcome Friend

Last week we had  as a guest speaker Dr. Ochieng'  K'Olewe, which gave an interesting lecture that turned   to be one of the most interesting classes of all times not only for me but for many in the class.
In African "Kenyan" fairy tales in the form of oral literature are not only for entertainment but for bringing communities together , gather families  and deliver important messages. In this story telling we have the teller and the audience that is not only a listener but a responding audience as well as the teller will call many times and the audience would have to respond to the call. Remember "Paokwa" -"Pakawa" , Once upon a time........

Stories in Kenya were told in the dark that generated because stories are older that electricity so at the time the story teller will just interpret under the moon light. Another reason it is that in the dark the listener will follow the voice without distraction and remember the story better so the darkness it is used even to capture the listener attention.

In this stories we find many significance messages or advises. As in Africa and in many countries important is the ability to survive. To survive you need to have the ability to think fasts on your feet that will get you out of troubles. "Wit" is celebrated, quick thinking.

The significance of this stories is that they show values , believes , attitudes and portrait African societies. Many of this stories deliver a moral "Be thankful of what you have". The mores and morality of the society.

Another important thing in oral society are the "songs". A song by itself it is a story.
Karibu -Rafiki  song that mean welcome friend, you will find a video made in class by me while we were  singing this song with Dr. K'Olewe.

Each of the stories deliver a different message , moral or advise, for example the mosquito story says to us that it is a reason why things happen  the way they happen.Or a contemporary issue you can turn it into a narrative (The Somalia story)
History is important as it is were all this stories, generated from shared experience myths and fact.

The importance of drums. I don't want to leave without mention this important African instrument the "drums". The talking drums , drums were the first way of communication and play an important role while singing and int he story telling.

Asante -Thank you

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jewish Folktales vs Reality

As  I start  to read the Jewish folktales  they sound very familiar to me. I am asking my self how come Jewish folktales are so similar to Albanian folktales? In my mind  start to flow the history of Jewish people.Living in diaspora their folktales originate from different countries and because  of Jewish migration due to history this folktales spread world wide more than any others.

 Despite their familiarity Jewish folktales are more religious and tend to put god as the only magnificent that can change things from worst to great.This magical powers are not put in the hand of a fairy grandmother but in the hand of a religious man like a "rabbi" being the only person with magical godly power this folktales personify  god as your only choice to justice and happiness. This folktales being to religious in my opinion focus to much on the fact of how other people from other religious hate Jewish and try to full them and in the end the smart Jewish person always wins.In my opinion this are very religious tales to make Jewish children think that everyone hates you because you are Jewish and the only way you can survive is not to trust others and be smart and listen to rabbis.

Like in the case of tale "The Rabbi and the Inquisitor" ,We have a wicked priest that hates Jews. We have the rabbi that is about to lose its live for something he has not done(as always it is never their fault) ,we have the rabbi not trusting the Grand Inquisitor  (showing that Jewish never should trust as always is injustice done to them)and in the end by the rabbi right instinct and trick he saves his own life (if you want to be a Jew and alive you have to be smart). This looks more like propaganda tales to tell to jewish
children and unfortunately often they get into  them.It is sadly that this folktales onse confirm how Jewish community educated their children and their people and once more it is not true that every one hates Jewish people and that injustice is done to them.It is an irony of fate that this old folktales show the time when this injustice were done towards the Jewish people and now in the 21st century we have Jewish people applying the same injustice manners toward other minority groups such as the Palestinians.

The folktale "A dispute in sing language" is the one that i heard as a child in my country Albania but the end will be a bit different, would not include "god" or "Jewish people" but people and the entire world. So the tale would be less religious and more kind of  tale that gives the wow effect in the end and showing that are two kinds of people out there the ones that think always in the negative way and the ones that think in the positive.

"Chelm Justice" this tales once more focus on the importance of the minority groups where the needs overcome justice.
The magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam"  once again we have a religious talk where the power of rabbi will save the life of a Jew were his wicked betrayer wife is planing with her lover to kill him .Once more the rabbi will save the poor jewish person only after he had fully trusted the rabbi and done whatever he said him to do(delivering very strong religious messages).

My favorite of this religious Jewish tales is  "It could always be worse" , this tale is very famous in my country Albania as well , small , poor communities where people complain a lot. I like the message that it hold as it is true that many people take what they have for granted and start complaining making their life's miserable. Through this tale we see the important message that everyone should carry and as always is said in my country "Don't complain, It could Always get Worst".

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cinderella vs. Reality

Rags the Riches......

Cinderella and her glorious fate.Is it possible that from having nothing you can have everything through marriage or magic?

I do not see Cinderella as the girl that does nothing and one beautiful day she gets everything through magic. Cinderella is a very active girl that works in the house, is respectful, even after badly treated by her stepmother and her step sisters she never gets evil she keeps her kindnesses and vulnerability.She is pretty and even though is living her live as many would consider miserable she never lost faith and never stooped dreaming.And one day all her dreams , her goodness and her work got rewarded by getting the happiness she always wanted.

Even thought her happiness comes through marriage and the way she got that reward was with the help with magic that came from a fairy grandmother , tree, birds , cow etc , i find the message that Cinderella delivers very close to reality. The message in this fairy tale is not that marriage is the way to wealth but is more like after all her work and her pure soul she got rewarded with fulfillment of her dream to have happiness that in her case was more towards love than wealth.She got the love that was denied to her , the treatment and happiness  that she deserved, from the prince.

In real life we do not have fairy grandmothers or trees that help us to get happiness or wealth but if we are good as good as Cinderella , good things will happen to us, people and fate will help us. Life had shown that to good people good things happen. We should not forget that those tales were written at an early time where the role of female in the society did  not have the impact that it has now days. Woman were non independent and the only way to get rewarded for being a good person was to be married to an handsome prince.

If we will have a 2012 Cinderella she most probably in our democracy were we have  "rule of law" she will get after age of 18 all the wealth that her father may have left for her and her stepmother would be imprisonment for child abuse.Further more Cinderella will inherit all her fathers money invest them become a successful business women and marry her childhood best male friend that was always next to her when she need it him.This is how i would interpret a converted  Cinderella of 2012 she got wealth, love and justice.

Cinderella being my favorite tale , i think it holds many messages and they should not be misinterpreted, as i think this tale it helps and gives so much hope to all the little girls/boys out there that need that touch of magic to be strong and have faith that life really does get better ones you keep doing your work , keep dreaming and most important keep staying a good vulnerable person.

This was the age-old yearbook dream come true  of many Cinderellas  around the world  :
And this is the new dream come true of many Cinderellas in the world :