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Analyse how discoveries have a meaningful impact on a persona’s sense of self.
While discoveries may be confronting and spontaneous, they offer us a renewed perception of the wider world from which we gain a deeper understanding of our own significance. Che Guevara’s memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries (2003), illuminates provocative discoveries of inequality and suppression resulting from a physical journey as a catalyst for personal transformation. Similarly, John Curran’s film, Tracks (2013), illustrates Robyn Davidson’s journey across the Australian desert in which she explores the profound ramifications of exposure to inexplicable nature that compels a realisation of the intrinsic human desire for connection. Ultimately, both texts reveal how one’s openness to new experiences and interactions with the world can trigger self-discovery and meaningful reflection.
The Motorcycle Diaries illustrates the transformative impact of Che Guevara’s experiences through which his self-discoveries enable us to challenge our established world view. The physical journey through South America exposes him to confronting and serendipitous discoveries of class consciousness, stimulating a deep re-evaluation of his peripheral values and beliefs. The memoir is structured as a chronological narrative style journal, with each diary entry highlighting Che’s gradual shift from an upper-middle class student who becomes exposed to underlying injustices, to a political luminary striving for revolutionary change. Through Che’s reflective voice, “the person who wrote these notes passed away the moment his feet touched Argentine soil again,” the reader is presented with elements of a bildungsroman that convey his evolving personality as the memoir unfolds, creating an intimate connection as the audience is taken along the journey. However, he presents his discoveries from a singular perspective, acknowledging his limitations of form through the inclusive language of “readers will not be well versed in the sensitivity of my retina”. This basic assertion establishes an authentic relationship between reader and composer, inviting the audience to vicariously achieve self-discovery in the form of knowledge. In doing so, he urges the reader to examine the multifaceted nature of truths, “you can believe me or not,” and seek their own truth as discoveries and their impacts on an individual’s self are contingent on one’s openness to experiences and interactions.
In Tracks, Robyn’s physical interaction with the Australian desert allows for personal transformation, in which she adopts renewed perceptions on the importance of human connection. Curran’s use of filmic form communicates the process of discovery as a gradual accumulation of emotions and experiences through which one may seek their true self. Initially, Robyn rejects human connection through the imperative, “Leave me alone!”, only to discover her loneliness in the absence of her beloved dog, Diggity. Curran’s use of crosscutting, with an intensifying score suggests parallel action that builds tension and suspense in the lead up to Diggity’s death, emphasising the crippling effect of seclusion on an individual’s self. At the apex of Robyn’s isolation, she openly declares her grief and pain before asserting, “I’m so alone”, to which the camera zooms out to produce a wide shot that juxtaposes her loneliness with the barren desert. As a result, she discovers the ability to express her feelings, acknowledging her flawed rational for the journey, “I should have never started it,” and allowing others into her fragmented world through the intimate gesture of hugging Rick. Thus, through active engagement with new experiences and a consequent broadening of perspective, Robyn undergoes a transformation of self in which she discovers a world where isolation is empowering.
Che Guevara’s physical journey through Latin America stimulates confronting discoveries of oppression and the attenuating nature of social topography, resulting in his subsequent political awakening. Throughout the memoir, Che progressively uncovers capitalism’s exploitation of the proletariats and the objective reality of society’s flawed class system, as demonstrated through the disturbing visual imagery of people “huddling up against each other” with “not a single blanket”, and the negative use of diction in “starving wife”. From this intellectual discovery, the unifying imagery of “come comrades, let’s eat together” is symbolic of Che’s “craving” for a unified Latin America that is “so extreme that any suffering to achieve it seems natural”, inciting his newfound vigour for economic equality through high modality language. His engagement with such experiences contrast the narrow-minded tourists’ attitudes toward adversity, whom Che criticises for not being able to “glean the vaguest idea of the conditions in which the Indians live”. As a result, he understands his significance and role in leading the proletariats in a revolution, “the spirit of the beehive speaks through your mouth” and the ultimatum to his existence in which he will die fighting for. Thus, Guevara’s reassessment of his political ideology discloses discovery’s provocation of reflection on the ideologies of self.
Through her physical journey, Robyn discovers self-sufficiency and resilience, learning to live sparingly, and take control of her life. Her compulsion to make the journey is on a deep, primal level in which she is desperate to find a meaningful existence, highlighted through the rhetorical question, “when people ask me why I’m doing it, my usual answer is why not?” Robyn disconnects herself from the malaise of her “generation, sex and class”, as portrayed through her costuming of dresses and skirts, challenging the stereotype of the macho-male outback adventurer. Robyn also learns from the discrepancies she discovers in racist, misogynist misanthropy embodied in Kurt Posel and altruistic benevolence in Afghan cameleer, Sallay Mahomet. Through this, Curran uses powerful contrast and character development to reveal her intellectual discovery of the patronising arrogance of white Australian men in the 1970’s, and their adverse impact upon women and indigenous culture in a context that was characterised by political activism and ideological turbulence. Thus, through disconnecting herself from what she perceived as passé, conformist, and ultimately unfulfilling, Robyn uncovers the profound impacts of contextual bounds on one’s openness to new understandings and enriching experiences.
Ultimately, both Motorcycle Diaries and Tracks represent the confrontational and experiential nature of multi-faceted discovery, and its challenging of the protagonists’ values. Hence, it is evident that discoveries challenge pre-established views on identity, and are catalysts for the transformation of an individual’s life.
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