This story ended similarly to the movie Stranger than Fiction. Stranger than Fiction follows an extremely mundane man who begins to hear the mysterious voice of an unknown woman narrating his life. He questions what is happening, but as his life begins to improve with his newfound distraction from his typical schedule, he realizes that he needs to find the narrator and know if his life will continue in the same positive manner with which it has changed. He searches for the narrator, and is unable to properly communicate with her; however, eventually he discovers her and begs for his life to continue positively (and continue in general, because the author is known for killing her characters). I found Sophie’s World related to Stranger than Fiction, considering they both involve “characters” becoming uncomfortable with the fact that another human being has a godlike grasp on their lives. Both protagonists hope for a renewed grasp on their lives, and although Sophie doesn’t struggle with realizing how much this new control has benefited her life like the protagonist of Stranger than Fiction, the two characters have mostly similar thought processes.
The ending of this book was very bizarre and absurd, in the classic style of this novel. I thought that this conclusion was kind of anticlimactic, considering how the rest of the story progressed. I didn’t feel like all of the loose ends in the story were tied up. The ending also didn’t cause me to question my existence, values, and view of the rest of the book, which I feel like a novel about philosophy should do. Honestly, this book left me underwhelmed. Throughout the story, I held a sort of indifference towards the characters that developed into a disliked. In my opinion, novels that are meant to be narratives should have interesting characters, and considering how bizarrely dry yet simplistic the dialogue was, I didn’t find myself desiring to learn more about the characters at all; these were some of the most one-dimensional characters I’ve experienced. The way that Sophie and Alberto became weird, isolated ghosts in Hilde’s world was kind of weird and nonsensical to me. I also don’t really think that the fact that there’s another author controlling Hilde’s world was well-addressed in this conclusion. I just feel like this novel could have done so much more, considering that it’s meant to be an immersive, fantasy-esque introduction novel for philosophy intended for younger readers. Other books meant for children that have taught philosophies, history, and mythology have held my interested more than this novel
The most recent chapters discussed Marxism, which has been a hot topic recently in the world. In America, a recent resurgence of Marxist philosophy has occurred among young liberals. As is typical in history, when a group of individuals lack the ability to climb existing ranks economically (due to inexistent opportunities), communist ideology makes an appearance; liberal millennials who are in extreme debt and are unable to get proper jobs or live in houses because of economic failure have adopted communism. Their support of the philosophy is evident when the recent presidential election is taken into account: millennial were so desperate for a change of the system that they threw their support completely behind radical socialist Bernie Sanders. Liberals also wouldn’t compromise, unwilling to accept a moderate candidate (Hilary Clinton) because her economic promises didn’t match Bernie’s. I’ve also noticed a large group of communists online who support and promote the “aesthetic” of the USSR. While I won’t argue with anyone for supporting the philosophy of communism, promoting the USSR as some beautiful haven is extremely disrespectful to the victims of the country’s tyranny.
The most recent chapters have been interesting and I’ve enjoyed how Hilde has felt more and more uncomfortable with the situation and she realizes that her life might be a novel, just as Sophie’s is. I really liked the recent chapters because I’m becoming more and more interested with the topics that we’ve been studying. Although all of the philosophies we’ve learned hold true and still influence the present day, I think I can see a more obvious resurgence of the more recent philosophies that we’ve been learning. I found Marxism very interesting, because the philosophy comes from such a heartfelt place, yet it is impossible to make work in execution. Despite the tendency of communism not to work, people across the world still push for it. I personally think that there is some way for everyone to receive the same opportunities from birth, but it’s not communism. Communism has historically not worked, and maybe it will work eventually with some very small community, but it’s impossible with a nation the size of China or the US. I have a strong hatred for class struggles and avarice, so when I read about Marx’s philosophies, they appealed to me; unfortunately, history sways my opinion about his ideas greatly.
The recent chapter on the romanticism reminded me of trends of worshiping “struggling artists” who died young. An example of an artist who was emotion and romanticized was Amy Winehouse, who struggled with bulimia, drug addiction, and unhealthy relationships for the entirety of her life; however, she was an incredible artist who wanted only to used music the way she considered it to be intended, to provoke emotion, without the superficial addition of the press. Other romanticized depressed artists are Kurt Cobain and Karen Carpenter. On another note, the new hit Netflix show 13 Reasons Why has been criticized for romanticized suicide, rightfully so. The concept of an isolated young girl planning the arrangement of sending specially recorded, (artsy) vintage tapes to everyone she blamed for her death seems to erase the truly horrifying aspects of suicide. The protagonist also is depicted killing herself on screen, something that is firmly discouraged by officials because of the triggering and influential nature of the act. Showing a depressed young girl sobbing and slitting her wrists while escaping the pain of her existence (as many likely view her suicide) is a recipe for disaster. Those who are suicidal and who self-harm lapse into a sort of addiction, and to those who have finally escaped the addiction, the show that romanticizes suicide could trigger a rebound.
I thought that the past few chapters were very interesting, but I also found myself rolling eyes at certain moments; for example, the part where Winnie the Pooh was included in the story. I found this phenomenon sensible in the plot (since the author was trying to compare fairy tails to philosophical ideas and the era of Romanticism) but also slightly ridiculous. To me, the inclusion of Winnie the Pooh wasn’t necessary at all and I would have preferred if the author used a different, more mystical character, fairy tale, modern storybook character, etc. to convey the point. Also, I didn’t find the Winnie the Pooh character extremely well-characterized or well-written at all, lacking the pondering quality of Winnie’s voice and coming across as out-of-character. Later on, the Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Ridinghood felt forced, even if it made slightly more sense. I didn’t like when the author described Sophie drinking the juice, because the writing at that point felt extremely unnatural. I wasn’t at all shocked with the big reveal that Hilde might also be in a novel, because the former foreshadowing alluding to that moment was straightforward and left little room for doubt. Now, I’m wondering how Alberto’s plan of eluding the author would work practically, considering many good authors are conscious of every word that they write.
Rousseau’s views about human connection to nature and going back to our roots is reminiscent of the modern day ideology held by many of minimalism. Rousseau thought that humans would be most modest and humble if they connected with nature instead of being focused on material things. Rousseau’s ideals weren’t uncommon ones, and have been replicated numerous times throughout history in movements like the transcendentalist movements, Hinduism, etc. Today, people try and avoid gluttony by eating simply and go on retreats to be away from the toxicity of material society. Many centers of rehabilitation even utilize connection to nature to heal their customers and its been a proven technique for helping those who’ve become out-of-touch. However, although many modern day “yogis” (who practice the Indian exercise of yoga, relaxation and minimalism) claim to be living a lifestyle not focused on material desires, those who have the means to achieve such lifestyles are—more often than not—wealthy liberals who can afford to not work and to live with only the “necessities” (many of which are not in the least necessary).