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Gatz to Gatsby: A Platonic Conception

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Katia Ossetchkina

on 21 April 2016

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Transcript of Gatz to Gatsby: A Platonic Conception

From Gatz to Gatsby: A Platonic Conception
The Great Gatsby (p.95)
“I suppose he’d had his name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg came from his Platonic Conception of himself. He was a son of God – a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that – and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”

“the vague contour of Jay Gatsby which had filled out to the substantiality of a man” (p.97)
“contour”- an outline
“substantiality” – materiality, substance

Context: Said after Gatsby is cheated of the money by Ella Kaye.
Left with the education that money is what he needs.
The Dream is becoming physically real and not just real in his imagination.
Gatsby is flesh in his illusion now.
Gatz: A Farmer's Boy with an Idea
A couple of points to consider:
Where did this child get this idea?

Place his age in context.

Would you have thought this way if you were so poor?
By Katia Ossetchkina
GATZ: A Farmer’s “Boy” with an Idea
"his imagination never accepted them as his parents at all.” (p.95)
Nick recounting biography
“-it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” (p.8)
Introduction to East and Gatsby by Nick
“ ‘Look here this was a book he had when he was a boy. It just shows you.’ ” (p.164)
Henry Gatz at Gatsby’s funeral

THE METAPHOR OF THE CAVE: Origin of Platonic Conception

“To them, I said, the truth would be nothing but the shadows of the images.”
515- Book VII – The Republic by Plato
This is said by Socrates and recorded by Plato.

People are stuck in a cave and can only look at one wall of the cave.
Behind them is a fire and there are “puppets” casting shadows from the fire but these shadows are on the wall and all that the people ever see.
They perceive these shadows to be real things and the echoes from the outside world not to be echoes but real sounds from the shadows.
The most intelligent amongst these men is the one whose eyes are most adopted to the shadows (darkness=ignorance).
One man ventures outside and his eyes burn at first but then he sees the light. He realizes he cannot know all for the world is so huge.
He goes back into the cave and can make no shadows out as he is so used to the light.
He is ridiculed by the other men.

Platonic Conception
Metaphor of the Cave
By Socrates in a conversation with Glaucon

“an allegory for illusions being used to replace the real world”

“Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace.” (p.95)

Looking at shadows and perceiving them to be real vs. looking at the object then trying to look at the shadows

So… who is Gatsby?
“The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.” (p.95)

This quotation captures the essence of Gatsby
He followed this illusion without wavering for several years. Only in his last moments does he stumble and lose all.

“But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out of his brain while the clock ticked on the washstand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

"the unreality of reality" timeline
“The Unreality of Reality”
For Gatz, Gatsby was always the reality
The unreality was reality; he was alive in an illusion which Socrates makes synonymous with ignorance.

Dan Cody!
"He saw this as an opportunity and he seized it."
"It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour."
Gatsby meets Dan Cody, travels with him and hopes to inherit his money. However, Ella Kaye takes away all this money from him and Gatsby is once again dirt-poor, but now with the knowledge that money is the means by which he will "achieve" his image of himself.
Gatsby meets Daisy
Gatsby comes back to America for a brief time. He is still a soldier.
He goes to a party hosted by Daisy's parents and there he meets Daisy.
"He took her; took her because he had no real right to her hand."
"...his uniform was a disguise that hid the truth, that he was penniless..."
"...he felt married to her, that's all..."
Introducing Gatsby
Between 1918 and 1922, Gatsby started bootlegging to build himself up to the rich individual that we see him as later.
This is present time for us and we see all events through the eyes of Nick who acts as the moral center of the book.
Gatsby builds up a situation in which he gets Daisy to say that she never loved Tom. In that moment, the incarnation is complete. Gatz is gone and Gatsby is no longer empty; he has achieved his dream...
James Gatz is born
Imaginative child
Never thought of them as his parents at all.
"In truth, he was the Son of God, a phrase which, if it means anything at all, means just that." -Nick Carraway on discussing Gatsby's past
Platonic Conception has already been created.
Gatz creates his diary, which resembles a schedule of what must be accomplished on a regular basis. ("See! This just shows you!" -Henry Gatz at end of novel when discussing the diary.
Gatsby goes of to the War!
When Daisy claims to be his
The incarnation is complete
Gatsby is alive and now an illusion that became “real”.
Real for who? Solely Gatsby?

Gatsby realizes that Daisy will not call him
He starts to question himself but this does not last long as he dies by Wilson.
But he died before he died! The illusion came crashing down with full force upon him! The fairy wing detached!

“Gatsby” Before
Son of God
Simple lifestyle
Imaginative and idle brain
Were mere fancies of a child
“a promise that the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing”

“Gatsby” After
Faithful to the original image that he had created of himself.
Tied to Daisy; his mind no longer wandered on great oceans and undiscovered lands.
He had all the money one could ever desire and he realizes money’s power now.
He feels married to Daisy.
Still lost in a dream and realization comes too late to make a change.

Was Gatsby’s Dream the American Dream?
What is the conception?
Is this ignorance?
Gatsby was imaginative and very different from his family. He had this capability of hope and this hope for the future is what the American Dream is.

However, he lived in a world made up completely of fancies. He wanted to relive the past instead of making a new future, which is quite different from the American Dream.

In a word, Gatsby is the Son of God and he viewed himself that way.

This is ignorance. He is self-absorbed and he is guided by what his 17 year old mind made up.

“Anybody can become rich.”

The dream decays however, for he never felt that he deserved Daisy, who he heavily idealized.
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