Friday, April 4, 2008
There were many assignments that Mr. Gallagher assigned for the class to do, and many of them were unknown territory to us. I remember the first essay that the class wrote but it did not turn out very well since a lot of the essays had low marks, it was a punch to my stomach. But what hurt the most are the essays where the class had to explicate an idea from a work of literature. The class and I stumbled a few times trying to write explication essays which turned out in failures but eventually we came through. However, I do remember skipping homework from other classes to focus the entire night away towards writing my essays. I am not blaming anyone since I choose to skip that class work to improve my writing skills because I want so badly to have a better command of the English language and have a better writing style that incorporates rich vocabulary. I have to be better than my brother in some area of school, he has math, and I want English.
One of the class activities that helped made the class bearable was listening to Mr. Gallagher’s comical remarks and to watch him in our impromptu acting. I remember such a time when no one wanted to be Hamlet, so Mr. Gallagher stands up and say “Alright, I’ll be Hamlet” and joined us in our impromptu acting; it was a bunch of laughs. It was also a hoot when he danced to a cell phone’s ringtone, and it was quite entertaining to say the least. I also remember the time he spent talking about how he came to be a teacher at Malden High, and it was a very relaxing experience since it allows the class to rest a bit from class discussions.
I appreciate the different type of assignments that the teacher assigns to the class which adds to the diversity of my homework. The blog assignments can be double-edged sword. I like how the blog allows for flexibility, since there were times that I ran home immediately right after school to type some essays out. Yet there are the blogs that had time expirations and so there is no excuse for not passing it in on time. This year is the first year that I have done blog posting for a class and most of the time it was fun doing since it integrated the computer into the class, which gave me a mix of different types of homework I brought back home to do.
There is also the Red Shift “Fill in the Blank” that I liked. It was a creative assignment which I had fun doing since it allows me to be in control unlike the other class work I did for my classes. What are also fun assignments is the analysis of art works. I remember the thousand words writing for the Fall of Icarus, and the Tom Phillips: Explicating A Humument. I did pretty well in those writing pieces but what is important to me is that I liked doing it. The assignment that helped me out the most was the college essay, which was a nice touch since it counted as a grade as well as helped us in the college process. I worked hard on it and it was like killing two birds with one stone.
But, overall, being in Mr. Gallagher’s class has improved my writings skills dramatically. When I was posting the past couple of essays I have done for the class, I cannot help but feel proud of myself for how much I have improved in English. The essays which I have written went far beyond what I normally write, in quality and in length, such as the 8 page research paper on the subject of bells for the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Early in Stephen Dedalus’s childhood he desires to search for a meaning to his life. He is searching for a life that has not already been planned out by his family or any other social influences; his Roman Catholic faith and his Irish nationality are both intertwined with each other at the time since Ireland is struggling to be independent from religion. Stephen is greatly influences by religion at a young age at Clongowes Wood College and is still influenced at Belvedere College, which the Roman Catholic faith has rooted it is beliefs into Stephen’s mind. Religion has such an effect on Stephen that his beliefs cause him much guilt and shame for his lust of the flesh which was deepened by Father Arnall’s lessons of hell; his actions with a strumpet surfaces as Father Arnall makes Stephen question his morality. For a time Stephen appears that he is going to pursue a life in the priesthood for his dedication in school and his sensitivity to his emotions.
Stephen’s sensitivity to language is evident since his childhood. When he sings a tune he expresses a great deal of emotions which shows the person Stephen is. The song holds meaning hidden within the words he recites, because it is colors in symbols and imagery.
Dingdong! The castle bell!/
Farewell, my mother!/
Burry me in the old churchyard/
Beside my eldest brother./
My coffin shall be black,/
Six angels at my back,/
Two to sing and two to pray/
And two to carry my soul away./ (35)
When Stephen recites this song he sees “how beautiful the words,” are and feels sadness at the same time, “he wanted to cry quietly but not for himself; for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. The bell! The bell! Farewell! O farewell!” The author references bells with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by John Donne. The bells represent the uncertainties of life and so the destiny fate create are already set in motion. The only event that is certain in life is death and that it can happen to anyone at anytime resulting Stephen to cry at how the words express that no matter what is done death is inevitable.
The eight-line stanza rhyming in an abcbddee pattern is a song that has been triggered by the “church bell” tolling in his mind. The first stanza calls the attention of the reader with “dingdong!” and is quickly followed by an image that produces the noise in exclamations. The second stanza switches from excitement of the bell to poignancy; since Stephen must leave his mother’s physical body he says good-bye to her. His mother is a central figure in the Stephen’s life and under the Oedipus Rex complex he is looking for a woman that parallels the trait of his mother. As the tone shifts to sentimental, Stephen wants to be close to brother and as the angels are carrying him the tone changes again. He thinks of himself dying in a black coffin which not only denotes color but also the somber tones of the song.
There are indications that Stephen Dedalus is destined to becoming a writer and not a priest. Stephen as a young boy always had an interest in language; he would study the diction of rhymes and see the vivid expressions of images that are said. He does not just see the regular denotations of words but understand the connotations associated with them. His interest in a word’s etymology allows him to ask questions to help him understand language; it allows him to understand himself. It is no wonder why Sheldon Brivic of “The Disjunctive Structure of Joyce’s Portrait” would say, “words are Stephen’s major weapon and uses the “rapier point of his sensitiveness” to thrust and parry in the dialogues of the final chapter (289).” Brivic’s tone is climbing into enthusiasm in describing his metaphor of Stephen’s words as a weapon, and how Stephen’s acute awareness towards words are as sharp as a dagger’s point. The word that is use, “rapier” instead of dagger personifies his idea because rapier has characteristics to the word rape; it creates an image of Stephen’s senses jabbing at words more keenly than others and allows him to feel the passion of words that others do not dare to cross.
Stephen is an intellect and his “treasury” of words is his weapon. Stephen does not have physical body strength so he makes it up by his mastery of language. In the psychoanalytical essays men feels that their lives are not as meaningful as a women’s. The reason for this is that women can bring life into the world and men do not have anyway of knowing the child that is born is theirs. The way men try to satisfy their purpose is by physical actions such as violence or to channel their creativity and emotion into art form. These acts can be seen and felt which allows men to see the physical form of their own creation. Stephen uses words to breed his thoughts and ideas into the world of reality. He wants to “mirror” his “unconscious” to express his feelings and by doing so it allows him to put his life into perspective and to see that his current state of living is within a cage-like state, kept away from freedom. Also from a psychoanalytic view, the author’s emotions and desires can be seen in their words. By reading “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” one is seeing the James Joyce’s biography of unconscious feelings. It is his choice of words and how he express his ideas that give the reader an idea of what Joyce’s hidden feelings are.
Stephen Dedalus’s path is clear to the reader that he will become a writer, an artist. It is evident that Stephen has a strong interested in words. He sees literature beyond its textual meaning and has a natural curiosity of the origins of words which makes him a natural candidate to be considered a young man on a road to becoming a writer.
At Clongowes Stephen starts to realize the burdens that are places on him. As mentioned before Stephen is looking for his own path in life, one without the social influences of family, faith, and nationality. In the process he comes to the realization that he is being molded into what the people around him wants to be.
Stephen has a hard time maintaining the image of a good Catholic as well as a respectable person, but he must also aid Ireland in its independence. These three influences play a major part in Stephen’s life. The family values that are taught to Stephen are to be respectable, or appear as a gentleman. Also Stephen must remain true to his faith, such that he must follow the Roman Catholic rules and abide to their way of living. This includes not marrying his protestant neighbor Eileen Vance, because of her religious background clashing with the Roman Catholic faith. This situation shows the constant struggle Stephen faces with listening to his feelings and listening to his faith, as well as maintains a respectable image for his family.
And it was the din of all these hollowsounding voices that made him halt irresolutely in the pursuit of phantoms. He gave them ear only for a time but he was happy only when he was far from them, beyond their call, alone or in the company of phantasmal comrades (85).
Stephen hears the voices of his major influences but he does not put much weight in to what they say as the word are “hollowsounding” meaning words have sounds but the meaning of those sounds are emptiness to Stephen. Rather than listening to social influences Stephen is learning how to grasp the understanding of his emotions. He prefers to be alone with his thoughts and emotions, because he knows that these abstracts ideas are his only comrades that are true to him. The author uses the word “comrades” to characterize Stephen’s abstract concepts of thoughts and emotions; it creates an image that social influences are enemies that can not be trusted while the only “people” that can be trusted are one’s own thoughts and emotions as feelings are the only abstractions the a person knows in their heart. In turn it makes Stephen appear to be alone in this world because this statement makes everyone against him after all everyone is against him.
Although Stephen does not know what he is feeling, his actions to not listen to social voices mark his freedom from the images people created for him. He burned to appease the fierce longing of his heart before which everything else was idle and alien. He cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of subterfuges and falsehood. Beside the savage desire within him to realize the enormities which he brooded on nothing was sacred (97).
The metaphor of falsehood and deceptions is comparable to the body’s skin “tissue”. Stephen’s life is surrounded by “subterfuges and falsehood” which is personified by the surface of beauty, which is skin-deep. A body is covered in skin and it is common that it will collect dirt over time as a human sheds its skin on a daily basis, the dirt is the lies that Stephen has collected over his life and it is his desire to wash the lies away. Now Stephen is starting to get past the beauty and starting to see himself within. He realizes that nothing of the superficial “beauty” of family, religion, or faith is as important as his raw feelings that he craves to understand because in his mind beauty is in understanding one’s own self.
In a psychoanalytical manner Stephen is learning how to express his “id” without a lot of restrictions from his “superego.” He wants to adjust his “ego” so that it would allow him to show more of his “id.” When Stephen realizes the social influences of family, friends, faith, and nationality that restrictions him, he struggles to try to find a perfect balance between the “id” and the “superego.”
Stephen begins to realize that he is trapped in a cage like the soul in a body. He is slowly learning how to escape his cage by dropping his idea of family, religion, and nationality and to replace it with the single purpose of understanding his body and emotions above all else so that can be true to himself and be free from restrictions.
The body is a cage that restricts the spirit. This can be said about Ireland. Ireland is a body that Stephen is trapped in. He is trapped under the social pressures of his family, religion and nationality. These pressures prevent him to follow his true emotions as explained by the principle of the “id, ego, and superego.” The id acts out a person’s desires while the ego mediates the superego of society’s morals and rules. He is free by relinquishing his social pressures and finally being free from the hold women have on him.
Stephen Dedalus learns how to venture out from his cage and into the new world. He escapes the entrapment of Ireland and frees himself from his external influences by leaving his past behind. This act is displayed by Stephen leaving his family, friends, and faith to be replaced with the feelings of his heart.
She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race (223).
His mother responds to Stephen’s venture to the world outside family, friends, and faith. He will have to learn to make new friends and make for himself a new life. She hopes that Stephen will learn how to listen to his emotions and follow them. Stephen’s excitement is clear by an exclamation mark. The three word sentence, “welcome, O life!” expresses the level of excitement Stephen feels, for those three words makes the statement bold due to it is brevity between the long sentences before and after it. He will be thrown back into reality and make anew a life that follows his feelings which are not muddied by his family values, his religious code of living, and his sense of duty to country.
Stephen finally has control of the tools to forge his own life. He uses the words “forge” and “smithy” to create an image of a smith controlling the blow of his mallet to shape raw metals into his own desire. The author creates the image of Stephen having all the necessities to make the life he has into his own. Stephen is hammering his soul to what he wants it to be and not allowing others to mold it into something he does not care for. He wants to live life by following his true desires and to understand his unconscious by allow his “uncreated conscience” to take shape. The “uncreated conscience” is the unconscious, the “uncreated” means the part of the conscience that has been repressed.
The novel ends with Stephen as a matured writer who has moved out of the Oedipus Rex complex. Stephen is able to have a conversation with Emma without any distractions. All of his past inhibitions of women appear to have gone away in his conversation with Emma. This event shows that Stephen is no longer distract by women. He is free from his mother’s influences as she no longer controls his actions at home. He also does not seek the Virgin Mary to guide him in life, and this is separation of faith. The fact that Stephen can have a conversation with Emma shows that woman does not have a hold on him as it once did. Women are no longer his idol, which allows him to see them past their temptations and their effects they once had on him has finally disappear.
Stephen has escaped his cage to find his freedom away from social influences. He is free of women and sees them as equals and not as idealized idols. His life is not run by women any longer as well as his past influences of family, faith, and nationality. This in turn shows that Stephen is finally free from the influences that has been keeping him from his freedom of expression
Stephen Dedalus as a young boy displayed the Oedipus Rex complex and learns to overcome this unconscious feeling. When Stephen learns to feel the emotions of words and view texts and words in abstracts ideas he learns to see the world and his feelings. The emotions that Stephen sees in his words lead him to see his life being controlled by external influences that keep his true feelings from appearing. This problem starts to be corrected when he admits that he has an issue and so when Stephen see’s that he is not on the driver’s seat he correct this by seeing women as equal and not as divine beings.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
"And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine, and of the truth herein
This present object made probation."
The sound of the rooster means that the ghost cannot appear during the daylight. The ghost only appears at night. It is because the noise of the "cock" dispels evil since Marcellus said afterwards, "No fairy takes; nor witch hath power to charm, so hallowed and so gracious, is that time" (L163). This event led the group to ask Hamlet to speak with it if it is the true ghost of Hamlet's father.
Friday, March 28, 2008
I agree with Ashley, during the first day of the literature circle, when she was explaining how the author expresses his belief that sin doesn’t exist. After all one of the themes of the book is existentialism which is a philosophy about how fate is created by a person’s observations and experiences since the universe cannot be understood with so many paradoxes, and irrational events. In this belief sin is only a sin if it considered one in the eyes of the beholder. “[Raymond] asked [Mersault] didn’t [he] think it was disgusting and [he] said no” (28). These are two people’s beliefs going against the other; one finds it alright to beat a dog while the other finds it inhuman. Yet these two characters go on living out their lives with what they believe is the meaning to life. Raymond’s life is ruled by his emotions, such as when he beats up his mistress for cheating on him. However Mersault lives life emotionless since he doesn’t care about his career, family, or personal life all of which are essential to a man’s livelihood. When Mersault’s life is threatened his belief system was shaken but eventually Mersault finds comfort after realizing that it doesn’t matter how one reaches death either by old age or execution. Mersault has adjusted his beliefs to find comfort and acceptance in his death which shows that beliefs can be tweaked to view things differently. I believe Ashley’s about how the author view sin since it is consistent with his novel “The Stranger.” Destiny is not written in stone and that it is created by our own individuality.
By Albert Camus
Here I am at a coffee house sitting next to the door frame
The air, in flowering season, is looming with exotic aromas
on the way to New York City’s urban streetscape
I drink some brew made not by love but corporate greed
and sip to have follow a trend and to be accepted
In. The streets look for wandering souls, or me, life
is a play, where characters have no dialog, it’s
raw emotions without words to shape it, manifestation on me, I fall
through it, them, as
The Caffè Mocha is being sipped on a swaying mind now
eighteen years almost ago, and the man singing
Stares through the crowds to spot me & telling.
Who would have thought that I’d be here, nothing
needs to be said, no words to exchange, all is felt
Love, civil rights, family values, justice,
a vote for tolerance
Up in the hands of the people, still deciding still ruling, now
more than ever before?
Not that it’s all unfair, yet religion has it’s coat
eyes penetrating the minds of the people
& controlled in religion. Not that youngsters, of sixteen, who was
going to have to go, careening into confusion so,
To roam, & to fall down the abyss where the mind could imagine
so to go. Not that darkness who from very first meeting
I would never & never find my way back to light
into the darkness not knowing how & so demanded
To follow & who will never leave me, not for society, nor self struggle
nor even for family which is
Only our human lot & means nothing. No, not him.
There’s a song, “Homophobia”, but no, I won’t do that
I am human. When will I die? I will never die. I will live
To be forever. & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
who am always & only a reminder, despite this body. Spirit
Who lives only to teach.
I’m only one, & I am a taboo, & I didn’t want this but
I must be heard.
I came into your life to teach you, to make history
To bring change and to defy society’s role
Change, that’s for the better
Equality & diversity, oh changing fate, nevertheless
I won’t go gracefully in the good night
The world’s of all must know we’re here, we’re different, get use to it.
In the poem, “The Parable of the Blind” by William Carlos Williams the speaker is using the painting “The Parable of the Blind” by Peter Brueghel to express the main idea that following the ignorant can only lead a person astray. The speaker sees the blind “leading/each other”(5-6) downwards, though the faces are “raised/as toward the light”(19-20), they follow the others “hand triumphant to disaster,”(24) illustrating that having blind faith in others leads to discord.
The speaker points out that he is telling a “parable of the blind/without a red”(2-3). The color red is used to refer to warnings, since red is a color of danger, it requires an assessment of this danger; that danger is following others without questioning and examination. The blind “beggars” represents humankind during the setting of this painting; the ignorant lower-classes sough out guidance from a higher being through its liaison the church which was the only one to interpret the biblical scriptures. The beggars are uneducated people who are too poor to afford the luxury of being schooled which created illiterates and made the lower class people puppets to the church. Education is freedom from ignorance but if people depend on each other’s belief unquestionably they are leading each other astray.
The speaker than focuses, “across the canvas/from one side/to stumble finally into a bog/where the picture/and the composition ends back/of which no seeing man”(7-12). He is showing where blind faith will lead a person towards, which is represented as a bog. This bog is the bottom of the low, it is the representation of trouble; with the insecurity of the future one might place all confidence in another which is just irresponsible as they will end up falling down in to that bog. As the blind are following each other their “faces are raised”(19) facing the light of the sun. Religion appears in the form of this “light” that the beggars are feeling the warmth of it, which shows how people trust their feelings instead of reason. The fickle emotions that one relies on are unreliable and beliefs must be backed up by evidence or else it will be inevitable that a person will perish by their gut feelings. It is religion that creates faith, faith that is not based on proof but rather it plays on the emotions of the believer. A person’s absolute devout unquestionable faith is the topic the speaker is criticizing. The purpose is to open the eyes of the people so that superstition is replaced by logic and reason.
The blind are walking hand-in-hand in full belief that faith will save them from falling to their “disaster.” It is the shoulders that the blinds hold on to and they follow their front partners unknowing what is in front of them yet they have faith. In this canvas faith will not save the beggars from tripping over into the bog, rather it blinds them from the truth that lies in front of them. This image also portrays conformity as each one is following another to their dooms. In conformity, individuality is not existent and so people must act accordingly to the socially accepted behavior of society. Individuality must be given-up which is equivalent to falling to one’s doom and in this canvas as one follows the other they are walking to their own death.
In brief the canvas and the poem “The Parable of the Blind” express how blind people are when they accept the teachings of others with whole devotion and faith; by being dependent on others their source for guidance could take advantage of them and lead them astray. It is when a person is educated are they free from others and independent for themselves to find their own way of walking their own path.
In the animal kingdom it is every animal for themselves. The Darwin Theory is about survival of the fittest. When an animal is a being attacked it has no time to think logically about what to do. It is their basic instincts which tell them to either fight or flight. Also time is not on anyone’s side. When a life is in danger it must act quickly for the same reasons as mentioned before. If too much time is used the pray would have no time to escape but if it thinks quickly enough it can survive to live another day. The animal response time is not the only thing that can prove success. In the medical field when the Black Plague was ravaging the country many died. The life of many could have been saved if their medical responses moved more quickly in isolating the infection. The quick response of recovery is essential in not dying.
The country’s response time to threat from their neighbors is also an example of resilience. When the World Trade Center was wiped out by planes the leaders of the US was slow in their response time. The US had the chance to shoot down the next incoming plan, but no thousands of lives were lost to terrorists. Another event is the spread of disease. The US had quick response to put the country in lock down and isolated the citizens from exposure. Unlike the incident with the Black Plague the US was ready. On another note leaders must be resilient in making policy deals. For instance, the US gave specific guides lines to follow after liberating Iraq. One of the rules is that they cannot have nuclear testing. Yet the Iranians have spit on the face of the US and continued to research and use nuclear power. The US has done nothing to correct this and now the sense of fear the US strikes onto others is not longer instilled in foreign nations. The US slow response or rather no response has made the great US of A into a weak country. Countries must have a quick response to threats or else they will be made into a joke.
An individual’s experience and observations can quicken responds. When a person cuts in line one must quickly recover from this. They must quickly respond with a verbal confrontation to negotiate for their fairness.
The ability to be quick after one has fallen is a survival skill. This skill is the tool between life and death as well as bravery and cowards.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I finally accept myself for who I really am. I don’t see myself as the monster I once did five years ago, but as an activist who eagerly wants to fight for social equality. I saw my life like a phoenix building a nest, consumed by the passion of fire for a new life to replace the old. It was through my most difficult times that I found reason and meaning to live again.
It was my 8th grade year that was the most traumatic for me. My whole belief in life was that nature intended us to reproduce and that was all there was in life: to have a little piece of ourselves in the future. I wanted to fix my homosexuality since it contradicted my views on life, but also because it made me different from the rest of the crowd. I was taught to never to do anything different that would go against my parent’s beliefs and to disobey them meant I would have to face abuse from my father and mother.
My home was not a safe haven since I was bombarded with the views of Asian conservatives. I was faced with physical and emotional abuse at home which only made me want even more to fix myself more so that I wouldn’t have to face my parent’s disappointment and punishment. The lack of encouragement from my parents left me crippled. I was not able to express my individuality so I was left with a cynical view of life. The distractions of school soon came to an end when my paranoia got the best of me.
It was the last few months of 8th grade that I was finally guided by a friend and two teachers. They helped me to reevaluate my beliefs in life and gave me the support that I so desperately wished I had during my childhood. Their encouragement was what I needed in order to grow as a person, to focus my attention on personal growth. I was lost for a time but my new family helped my rebirth and I started learning to live life again like an infant learning to walk. My bad habits started peeling away; it started with my shyness, then my insecurities, and when these walls were finally broken down the constant fears that creped up during social situations and my shortness of breath were gone. I eventually found a reason for living, which is to gain equal status for the LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community which I slowly started calling my own and to break down stereotypes that the media creates.
During my junior year life started falling into place. I came out of my shell and out of the closet. My friends are still my friends and the ones who knew me before high school remark on how much better I seem now that I am out about my sexuality. I can freely talk about my homosexuality without the fear of rejection and joke around with my friends who I never could have imaged having. In my life before high school I was always “that kid” chosen last in any team sports but it all changed freshman year when my coaches saw my potential, and I have been wrestling at varsity ever since. I’m finally seeing my old self fading away and rising as a leader.
In my life’s confusion I came out stronger, like the phoenix that rises from its ashes. I came out with confidence in myself and a brand new purpose in life with an impeccable personality that I could have never seen myself as five years ago.