Exercise 5

Exercise 5 - James Zhao Professor Heller WTE 15 December...

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James Zhao Professor Heller WTE 15 December 2011 One's environment is capable of shaping one's idea of the self, primarily through one's reactions to particular events and experiences. For Jonathan Lethem, the lens by which he views these events through consist of films, writings, comic books, or simply, art. However, while experiences partly structure Lethem's identity, art is able to partially influence Lethem's identity as it mediates these experiences. Lethem's experiences with loneliness from a dying mother, the insecurities of maturing, as well as finding personal perspectives are just a few examples of the influences that contribute toward his identity. In writing about these experiences, Lethem includes the logical and emotional process behind them and how art mediates this process. Art is undoubtedly capable acting as a metaphor for one's emotions as well as compelling them, however, Lethem's relationship with art extends beyond the occasional inspiration into the realm of extreme obsession. This obsession, partially stems from his early relationship with art, as it mediates Lethem from the turbulence of his teenage years such as losing his mother. By viewing art as a metaphor to his life and symbolic of his woes, Lethem develops a special relationship with art as something that deeply understands his struggles. In dictating and creating this special relationship, Lethem in empowered to create meaning in this metaphysical realm whereas in reality he is powerless. However, through his retrospective writing style, Lethem unveils a fallout with finding empowerment in art and using it to mediate reality. Lethem becomes bogged down in his own interpretations and the mediation of art, which distort the distinction between his personal, abstract relationship with art and his experiences in reality. Lethem's perspectives on real life experiences becomes largely absorbed in art, meanwhile managing to alter his identity. Through the
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empowerment that Lethem experiences through art, Lethem recognizes a sort of docile quality in art to become manipulated into his own interpretations. Yet as Lethem experiments with art that is more rigid in meaning, he finds that it profoundly undermines his interpretations. A stark contrast to art that is docile, this durable type of art posses a quality that unsettles Lethem through a dissonance from expectations. To find a personal meaning between the docile and the durable, Lethem takes ideas from art and applies it to a context outside of himself. In this manner, Lethem does not exploit art to become his safe haven, nor is he pressured by the rigid meanings of the artist. Ultimately, Lethem unveils facets of his identity in response to his life experiences through art. As a teenager, Lethem finds in art an ability to reassure people when faced with fear and
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Exercise 5 - James Zhao Professor Heller WTE 15 December...

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