Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ulrich's Qualities

The character of Ulrich is complicated. He is a man devoted entirely, almost obsessively to the life of the mind. He certainly lacks the qualities of his father, but he is not without any of his own. He simply refuses to blindly obey or follow the accepted thought patterns. He does not ever kowtow to those in positions of authority, as his father does. He has no wish to be part of the accepted order of hierarchy in Vienna. He stubbornly insists on thinking his own thoughts, even as a child "overthinking" the concept of patriotism and rejecting the norm. He is aware that he is different but he does not stop, or reign in, his tendency to "overthink" even when he is sent away for his education. This pattern of "overthinking" continues into adulthood, at times rendering him incapable of the smallest decision, like how to decorate his home. He is portrayed as very intelligent and is obviously very clever, and he attracts women easily as he never lacks company, which tells us he is attractive or at least interesting to women. Yet he seems unsure of himself and sometimes, like when he is beaten up and robbed, seems to try too hard to act in a way that he thinks is “normal.” His brain is always active, busy, and whirring as he closely examines each little detail surrounding his world. He acts almost like he has obsessive-compulsive disorder, but he corrects this behavior whenever he catches himself in an obsessive moment. He is a fascinating, interesting, and compelling character; I am looking forward to reading more about his experiences in Vienna.


Dane Weitmann said...

I fully agree that Ulrich seems to overthink even the most nominal subjects, as the decoration of his house. Any by overthinking he is indecisive. This also shows that he is very intelligent and is able to look at something from many points of view. I think that this quality that he has is why he has the ability to stop himself and act "normal" when he thinks he should. This may not be a quality that his society is looking for but it does allow him to fit in a little better, if that is what he is looking for.

Brooke Bowen said...

Is Ulrich is a man of his times, and isn't over-thinking part of this period of history? Every discipline changed so rapidly at the turn of the century, and we are learning that most of those people who were 'doing the changing' were Austrian. I was amused that Ulrich states: "We have gained reality and lost dream. no more lounging under a tree and peering at the sky between one's big and second toes; there's work to be done." He seems to know that the 20th c. is going to be hard work.
Do you think Ulrich's indecision regarding his home was meant to signify an allegiance to Loos' artistic ideals that could not be carried out because the cost of the renovation was already too costly?