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Related: domination - master of ceremonies - mistress - power - slave


Usage Note: Master has been a productive source of compounds in English, evidenced by words such as masterpiece, concertmaster, mastermind, and masterstroke, to name just a few. It is also used frequently on its own as a noun, verb, and adjective, with meanings ranging from “an original document that is to be copied” to “a man who serves as the head of a household.” The latter sense lends the word masculine connotations, which, along with the word's associations with the institutions of slavery, causes some people to be offended by the use of master in any form. Nonetheless, many senses of master, such as the noun sense “an expert” and the verb sense “to make oneself an expert at,” have long been thought of as gender-neutral and are in wide use. Some compounds, like masterpiece and master plan, have lost most, if not all, of their associations with maleness. They exist as distinct words, and people do not usually think of them as a combination of parts each containing a different meaning.

see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master [Feb 2005]


Originally, the term masterpiece (or chef d'oeuvre) referred to a piece of handicraft art produced by a journeyman aspiring to become a master craftsman in the old European guild system, which is partially retained today only in Germany. These were (or are) typically perfect pieces of handicraft art, admired for their beauty and elegance.

Nowadays this term mostly refers to any work of art that is considered extraordinarily well-performed. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masterpiece [Jan 2006]

Hegel, master and servant

"The Servant", directed by Joseph Losey, is based on a Harold Pinter play and is a perfect example of the Hegel theory of the master-slave relationship. Hegel's theory is that both the master and slave are inevitably corrupted by the unhealthy mutual need in this relationship. The relationship between Tony and Hugo is the main focus of the film, and Pinter's screenplay is a scathing metaphor for the class war. The relationship between Tony and Hugo swings wildly from cutting, humiliating, gratuitous comments, to fumbled attempts at friendship. But with such inequities in position alone, any attempt at some sort of equality is ludicrous. The roles of exploiter and the exploited switch back and forth between Tony and Hugo as the power base in the household moves. --displacedhuman via Amazon.com

The work called in German "Phänomenologie des Geistes" (1807) has multiple names in English, due to the translation of the German "Geist" variously as "spirit" and "mind". The most important philosophical work of Hegel, it explores the concept of Geist, asking how it is that it can conceive of itself and of the world, and in the process lays out an entire system of metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. Considered one of Hegel's more radical works, it introduces his famous dialectic of the lord and the bondsman. To become free every man must engage in a life-death struggle. Those that shirk away from this struggle, those that live in fear of losing their life, become the bondsman under the domination of the lord. However, by working and laboring on the world the bondsman begins to understand its temporal nature and sees his own role in changing it, while the lord essentially loses the world by failing to engage it except through his servantile bondmen. This, for example, is at the root of the lord's faculty of desire-- the only way in which he relates to the world is not by working on it and altering it, but by desiring something that he may have enough power to acquire. The bondsman, according to Hegel, will one day rise up and realize that this life is nothing to him, thus risking his life and usurping power from the lord. Only by risking one's life is one able to achieve freedom in the full Hegelian sense. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_of_Spirit [Jun 2005]

Hegel used the words Herr und Knecht to denote master and slave or lord and bondsman.

see also: Hegel - master - servant - power - class

The Master and Margarita (1940|1966) - Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita (1940|1966) - Mikhail Bulgakov [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, with a steadily growing reputation as one of the greatest works of 20th century literature.

Bulgakov started writing his most famous and critically acclaimed novel in 1928. After completing the first draft in 1936, he continued revising it until his death in 1940. A censored version of the book was first published in serialized form in 1966-1967. The first complete version was published in Moscow in 1973.

The novel alternates between two settings. The first is 1930s Moscow, which is visited by Satan in the guise of Woland, a mysterious magician of uncertain origin, who arrives with a retinue that includes a walking, talking black cat and a witch. The havoc wreaked by this group extends from the exclusive haunts of the literary elite, to the corrupt bureaucracies, to an insane asylum, where we are introduced to The Master, a mad and disillusioned author. Eventually, we are introduced to Margarita, the Master's mistress, who makes a bargain with the devil on the night of his Midnight Ball, or Walpurgisnacht, which is vividly described.

The second setting is within the pages of the Master's rejected novel, which concerns Pontius Pilate, his meeting with, recognition and abandonment of Yeshua Ha-Nosri (Jesus), and the consequences thereof. Ultimately, the novel deals with questions of good and evil, guilt and cowardice, exploring such issues as the responsibility one has to support a truth that a system or society would deny.

The novel is heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust. Part of its brilliance lies in the different levels on which it can be read, as hilarious slapstick, deep philosophical musing, and biting socio-political satire critical of the Soviet system. It even employs some macabre horror elements. It is also brilliant in that Bulgakov employs entirely different writing styles in the alternating sections. The Moscow chapters, ostensibly involving the more "real and immediate" world, are written in a fast-paced, almost farcical tone, while the Jerusalem chapters - the words of the madman's fiction - are written in a hyper-realistic style. (See Mikhail Bulgakov for the impact of the novel on other writers.)

It never reached completion, and the final chapters are draft copies (albeit late drafts) that Bulgakov pasted to the back of his manuscript. This draft status is barely noticeable to the casual reader. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_and_Margarita [Feb 2005]

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