A collection of illusions

The Histories, The Nature of Things, Vindication on the Rights of Woman, Genealogy of Morals, Communist Manifesto, The Lord of the Flies, Working

With this cover, I imagine how Herodotus and many others during his time might have seen the world without the benefit of technology to give them a 360 degree view of the world literally and metaphorically. The farther mountains are literally dull, blurred, and less colorful. They're "worse" than the closer ones. And this is a lot like how the Persians and Phoenicians of Herodotus' "Histories" view one another - weird, inferior, dull. But Herodotus shows us through his rather fair, unbiased writings that nothing is as it meets the eye. History, as we know, is written by the victors. We cannot count on the Phoenicians and Persians to give us an objective perspective of the history of their interactions and conflicts. Herodotus shows us the importance of examining things with a critical eye. Take everything with a grain of salt. Follow a modification of St. Benedict's warning that "Idleness is the enemy of the soul." When you are not traveling or doing something to broaden your mind and horizons, then think and reflect critically, for all is not as it seems.
Things just are, mostly thanks to God. Or so the scientifically unenlightened believe. Before the invention of the microscope, how could anyone fathom the existence of anything remotely similar to atoms? And yet, Lucretius somehow figured out what he could not possible see. He demonstrates so well what everyone ought to learn from the books in this collection - look past the surface. Granted, he does so in a scientific context, but this is also valuable. For Lucretius, every thing and natural phenomenon can be explained.
Wollstonecraft most memorably calls for the education of women. It is because they have been denied their right to a proper education, in both its current and past meaning, that they continue to be seen as inferior to men. In Chardin's painting, "The Good Education," it appears as though the woman, perhaps the girl's mother, is teaching or lecturing the girl. And indeed, according to the audio guide, the mother is listening to her daughter's recitation of a lesson. Yet, what she is learning is not science, math, literature, philosophy, etc. Instead, "diligence and modesty are the virtues that she will learn." To modern observers, this girl is learning things that are not, intellectually speaking, worth learning. But at the time, as it seems in Wollstonecraft's letter to Talleyrand-Perigord, this is exactly what men thought women ought to learn at the time. Let us not forget, however, that men and women are equally quick to judge women (and of course men as well) on superficial qualities.
In Nietzsche's first essay in "On the Genealogy of Morality," he discusses various aspects of good and evil/bad. In this discourse, he presents extremes. Perhaps not extremes, but opposites, definitely. This cover most prominently represents the association of "black" with negativity, and therefore, the association of "white" with positivity that Nietzsche comments on. Most of us agree that not everything is simply black and white. A man is seen stealing bread, and he and his action are labelled as "bad." But perhaps there is more to the story. Maybe this man steals bread to help feed the abandoned children he voluntarily looks out for. In a somewhat similarly singular way of perceiving things, the Nazi party twisted Nietzsche's commentary on the aforementioned color associations and mentions of the Aryan conquerors as proof that the Aryan race is superior. Nietzsche has shown us two ways in which we let appearances fool us into ignoring the more substantial truths. We associate certain external characteristics with adjectives (black - bad, white - good) and sometimes use certain sentences, taken out of context, to support what we want to believe.
The three main shades of gray and the image's gradients are reminiscent of Marx's theory that a society that strives to be Communist is in one of three stages: Capitalist, Socialist, or Communist. In regards to misunderstanding Marx, many have the impression that Communism requires a dictatorship, results in uniformity, and is impossible to maintain. After actually reading Marx, one will come to realize that those assumptions are not necessarily true. Well, the last one might be. Regardless, reading Marx's Communist Manifesto is not only helpful in learning about what he believed, but also in realizing how wrong certain perceptions can be. As for the song, the most relevant portion is the hook (in particular, the "The poor stay poor, the rich get richer, it's just so disproportionate" line), which Marx would completely agree with.
Ah, Lord of the Flies. One of the few novels that got my heart really, truly racing. This book perfectly fits in with the idea that "things are not what they seem." Jack seems like a good leader at first. He certainly appeals to the rest of the children with his prioritization of typical fun, boyish activities. But his true, bloodthirsty personality emerges as the book continues. He becomes hellbent on killing the beast that haunts the island. The imaginary beast, that is. The boys mistake the dead soldier who falls from the sky to be said beast. "Lord of the Flies" seems like a childhood dream (of no parents to make and enforce rules) gone wrong. It's just boys being boys. But in the ending, we realize that something not too different is playing out between "civilized" adults. Our sense of entitlement as a species capable of higher thought sometimes blinds us to how savagely we act.
Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is a sort of inner self-portrait. He and his sister struggled with insanity. This painting is a reflection of his tumultuous life and emotions. Not just his, but also others'. Artists seem to have glamorous lives, and all they need to do to make money is to paint. How hard can that be? But artists and other creative minds often suffer from mental disorders. Whether it's a result or source of their art, I cannot say. Artists' professions seem easy and cushy, but we eventually realize that this isn't the case. Impressions and stereotypes deceive us. We witness this a lot in "Working" as well. Florist? Gravedigger? These are incredibly lowly jobs. They're for stupid people who never amounted to anything. At least, that's the impression that we get, but they really are not. The idea of things not being as they seem is twofold when it comes to employment. We may think of jobs as easy to perform and/or as mindless tasks, but some people find their work enriching and put a lot of heart into it. People may also seem happy with their jobs, always smiling and chipper, but as "The Scream" so aptly shows, there may be a great degree of tumult lying below the surface.
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