Tag Archive | literature

Getting closer

It’s been a while since I’ve last written. Well, I’ve been really busy with those projects. It’s been tiring, I’m ready to be done with it all. I’m almost done… I guess. It’s at the point where I’m like, “Well, it’s not brilliant but there’s not much more I can do to it.” I’m not sure how brilliant these recordings actually are, it’s not easy to measure without someone on the receiving end. I’m torn between my desire to do a good job and my desire to have done and get it wrapped and under the tree already.

We don’t have any presents under the tree yet. I suppose that’s part of the reason why Christmas seemed to come so fast this year, there hasn’t been a lot of anticipation involved. Low-budget holiday. I’m good with that, though of course there are the corners of my soul that feel it’s a rather anti-climatic way to end the year. I’m chalking that up to the crankiness I’ve been feeling lately, because I’m a terribly light sleeper and since my bedroom’s right next to the living room (which hears the most activity), sometime’s it’s hard to feel like I’m getting adequate sleep.

 

I’m trying to let my mind be calm. Peaceful. Like this image I just finished creating today. Thank goodness it’s done. Another project off my shoulder and to my credit, which I’m still struggling to feel triumphant about (it’ll be a delayed reaction I’m sure). This is what I said about it when I posted it on Facebook: “At last it is done. For those who like to see me post artwork, I’m sorry I haven’t for a while, I’ve been involved with other projects. Time consuming, exhausting, but hopefully worthwhile projects. This probably only got done because my sister had to borrow my laptop for something, and I able to take a break from what I’m doing. This image was inspired from a great piece of literature, A Christmas Carol. I was thinking of the Ghost of Christmas Past when it came to mind, but did not create it based on the description Dickens gave. I thought this would be prettier. In the end I think this image is… pretty sorta close to what I hoped it would look like. Kind of.”

 

Patterns, motifs, and manifestations

We’ve been reading Beowulf in my British Literature class. For me it is like The Odyssey, I like discussing themes and from the literature, but don’t enjoy reading the actual literature itself. I don’t tend to go for the macho male hero who blinds cyclopses or disarms ambiguous monstrosities for my pleasure reading, but again I think the themes are very valuable.

The third story of Beowulf is particularly intriguing to those who have read The Hobbit. Tolkien was, of course, a big fan of Beowulf, and was actually responsible for bringing that story back into our curriculum. And the parallels between Beowulf and The Hobbit are so blatant sometimes. One very important theme in both stories is the idea of ‘the little guy’ becoming a hero, the one that nobody suspects, the one that seems far too naive and powerless. Have I ever told you that one of my favorite moments of The Hobbit movie is when Bilbo stands between the pale orc and the fallen Thorin? It’s a beautiful moment.

Another… motif, if you will, is the dragon. Dragons are the manifestations of greed (we see this in The Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis as well). I found this quite interesting, mostly because it made me think about fairy tales– which we have been discussing in my Children’s Literature class. For instance, one of the motifs in Snow White is the mirror, which is the perfect symbol for vanity. And that could be considered one of the themes of Snow White, vanity and envy. Both, of course, are as prevalent in today’s culture as they were back when the tales were first spun. These are human weaknesses that persist through time, which perhaps is why we still have that kind of literature today.

It gets the imagination going, you know? You start to wonder if we have recognizable symbols for other weaknesses, like pride, selfishness, revenge, deceit, and so on. And you also start to notice that different objects, symbols, or motifs can apply to lots of different stories. For instance if we went back to the mirror; that can belong to Snow White’s Evil Stepmother, or it could belong to Narcissus. Or, the mirror is a bridge between worlds, like Through the Looking Class. Lots of stories involve these sort of seemingly ordinary ‘bridges,’ like a rabbit hole, a wardrobe, or a cyclone. It’s just so fascinating to see how it is all woven together, and then wonder what you can do with a structure that already exists.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Facebook memes

In his essay, Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson says this; “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession.”

Whenever I read this, I can’t help but think of Facebook memes. Some of you are aware that Facebook memes get on my nerves. I mean, they’re all well and good in small portions, nice little anecdotes. But I find the sheer amount of sharing and reposting Facebook memes disturbing. It’s like what Emerson said, they’re imitating other people’s ideas– but the thoughts are not truly their own. I think we would do well if people spent more time thinking and less time receiving the thoughts of others.

Of course sharing ideas is important. But I worry that people don’t take the time to really internalize the messages they are receiving. It is to easy to repost the thing and have done. Moreover, it is important to react to and personalize the knowledge and the ideas that we receive.

Better still is to come up with our own ideas and to share them. Let’s not become a nation where we let other people do our thinking for us. If this world is going to produce future Beethovens, Shakespeares, and Platos, then we are going to have to trust our personal ability to innovate and to come up with ideas that are worthwhile.

All’s Well That Ends Well

I watched All’s Well That Ends Well, a Shakespearean ‘problem play,’ yesterday. I have two things to say about it; first, I can see why it was labeled a ‘problem play.’ Second, I will never think the same way about that phrase ever again. Good grief. I mean, it would work best if your ethics were based on consequentialism. This could have sparked an interesting discussion in my philosophy class last year or in my Shakespeare class, if either chose to cover it and neither of them did. I imagine it is not so well known as many of Shakespeare’s other plays, and I have to say it is rather a strange one.

I still like Much Ado About Nothing, which is another one I watched yesterday (hey, if you want to kill time and feel cultured while doing so, watching Shakespeare plays is a good solution). Benedict was as fun as ever, quite charming really. He’s my favorite character. It is not often that my favorite character in a Shakespearean play is one of the romantic interests. I generally favor the jesters, like Feste or Puck. I think even in Hamlet my favorite character is the Gravedigger. As for Macbeth… I think my favorite character is actually Macbeth.

But that is all it’s own subject. This means I have watched and/or read a total of… oh let me see…. 13 different Shakespearean plays. But some I don’t know very well, because I have only seen and not read them. Still, that seems an accomplishment. It occurred to me yesterday that I would become better acquainted with Shakespeare’s works if I didn’t insist on just watching different versions of my favorite plays. For example, I calculated yesterday that I have seen four different versions of Much Ado About Nothing in my life, including one live performance I attended. I wonder if some people would be appalled at that statistic. They should know how many different versions of Pride and Prejudice I have seen (five), Pirates of Penzance (four), The Mikado (three), Taming of the Shrew (three, plus Kiss me Kate) and Persuasion (three- but that was only because I was not satisfied with the first two). And I’m still young. I might consider it an advantage to watch other Shakespearean plays, even though I doubt I shall like any so much as Much Ado About Nothing, for the sake of variety and for experiencing a broader range of his work.

Don’t settle

I love my Young Adult Literature class.

I’m doing a Unit Plan for my Application Assignment. Basically, I take a book and I create two pre-reading activities, two during reading activities, and two post-reading activities. And I chose to do a Unit Plan for The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I’m kinda sad not many people I meet are familiar with the Prydain Chronicles. It was challenging but fun to come up with activities for it. I lost track of time yesterday working on it. I’m so proud with what I have, I think The Book of Three should be taught in schools. It’s a classic example of High Fantasy Adventure, that I think people would appreciate.

Books. Those are one of this life’s greatest gifts. Not that all of them are wonderful, far from it. But there are so many good books, I think the trick is just finding them amongst all of the mediocre books. How can we settle for less when there are too many greater things out there that can possibly be read in a lifetime? Sometimes I get picked on by family members for being picky about my books, but I have never regretted it.

Don’t settle for that which is mediocre. Not in books, music, or movies. You’re better than that, it’s not worth your time.

Especially given how time seems to be slipping by. I don’t get much time for artwork these days. That’s typical of my student days. But yesterday I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I ended up with quite a few papers full of doodles.

Art. Books. Music. Movies. All these great and wonderful things that we can only scratch the surface of. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

It makes me think about the Carpe Diem poems. Of course, I don’t agree with all of the ideas related to them- like the ones in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress. But perhaps some of the ideas? Maybe if I just took the first line;

Had we but world enough and time…

We don’t. That’s why idling is a crime.

Books- lies that reveal truth

I think last night I thanked God in every different way that I could think of for good books. I thanked God for good books, for people who wrote good books, for people who published good books, for the good books that I’ve read, for the good books I haven’t read, and for the good books that I won’t read, for people who wrote good books that weren’t published, that I was born in a time where there were many good books, that I was born into a family that introduced me to many good books…

And the list went on.

Because I’m reading a good book right now.

Oh, not my favorite by far. But it did remind me of times where I have just loved reading and books. The trick is, of course, to find the good book. I’m sure there are many in the world- the trick is finding them in the midst of all the books that aren’t good. But thankfully, I am taking a Young Adult Literature class. And already I have read some good books.

There are no words to describe it, are there? I mean, it’s such a simple little thing- a book, a painting, a movie, a song… but they just do things to you, you know? Words fall short. They are only symbol’s anyway. You can say all the inspiring words you want about books, but those who don’t already get it, won’t. Those kinds of famous quotes exist for people who do get it, but don’t have enough mastery of words to convey it.

 

Sigh.

Here I am, waxing philosophical, and I just wish people cared enough to pay attention to me when I write things like this. Facebook is more of a facade. If people really cared about what was going on, I think they’d do more than ‘like’ my statuses. They’d read posts like this.

See, there are some good books out there that connect you to the world better than Facebook does. I think it was Picasso that said art was lies that revealed truth. Literature is the same way. Lies that reveal truth. Whereas Facebook is a facade.