Saturday, December 13, 2014

Medea Quotes

These are some quotes I found important about Medea's extreme transition when it comes to her emotions. These quotes in the beginning of the play demonstrate how Jason's betrayal immediately leads to her passionate hatred that comes to define her purpose and motivation in life.

"But now there is hatred everywhere. Love is diseased." (17) Speaker: Nurse

"I am afraid she may think of some dreadful thing. For her heart is violent. (37-38). Speaker: Nurse

Great people's tempers are terrible, always, Having their own way, seldom checked, Dangerous they shift from mood to mood." (118-120). Speaker: Medea

Shakespeare in DNA: Hands-Down Coolest Thing I've Read This Weekend

     Besides the literature on which we're being tested (of course :) ), I read an old NPR article a few hours ago that blew my mind. Two scientists in the UK used a cypher to encode all of Shakespeare's sonnets first into binary (0's and 1's) and then into DNA base pairs (A and T, G and C). The researchers calculated that everything written in human history (approximately 50 billion megabytes of data) would weigh about 5 ounces in DNA-coded form.
     By comparison, the human brain is estimated to hold anywhere from 1 terabyte (1000 megabytes) to 10 terabytes of information. After you live a long life packed with memories, if you were to code each memory (and you can code pictures and videos with binary, too), your life would weigh between 1/10,000,000 and 1/1,000,000 of an ounce. That's about the weight of the head of a fruit fly. Congratulations.

Here's the article:

Voltaire's "Poem on the Lisbon Disaster" and Rousseau's Response

In class, I read an excerpt from Voltaire's "Poem on the Lisbon Disaster." Here's the text in full. For the exam, it's obviously mandatory that we are familiar with Voltaire's opinions (and they're pretty bluntly stated in Candide). This poem further showcases his opinion, and the full article presents a slightly dissenting opinion by Rousseau. Having some context to backup opposing ideologies can beef up your essay, so it's worth the read.

Relax! With Candide

Don't freak out about exams! Would you rather be subject to an auto-da-fé? Didn't think so. Relating to both relaxing and Voltaire's Candide, I thought y'all would care to listen to the "Candide Overture," composed and conducted by Bernstein himself! It's pretty short, as it is an abbreviation of his operetta, "Candide." The overture has obvious themes of adventure and conflict (supplied by the loud percussion section, see around 0:20 in the video). Bernstein conducted this performance in 1989, about a year before his death. Here it is:

Enjoy! Good luck studying.

STM Forever

Well people, we have made it halfway through our senior year. I cannot believe that it is going by so quickly. I wanted to let each of y'all know that I love y'all more than anything. Even though we will all be going our separate ways after senior year, we leave a part of ourselves with each other.  I always hear Isabel saying that she does't believe that she is ready, but I say she is. She will be ready because she knows that we are all here to support her. That goes for everyone else here as well. I do not believe that the help of each other we could have accomplished what we have so far. Each of y'all have taught me a lesson that I will carry in my tool box for the rest of my life. I just want to remind everyone that no matter how far apart we end up traveling, whether 20 miles to 2,000 miles, we are always here for each other.


I'm really stressed out about college apps and exams so I decided that I was going to post some really bad jokes (because I really enjoy those) and hope that I can brighten my and everyone else's week.

  • There are two muffins in an oven. One muffin says, "It's getting hot in here." The other muffin says, "AHHHHH A TALKING MUFFIN."
  • Why did Sally fall out of the tree?
    Because she had no arms.
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Not Sally
  • What do you call a cow with no legs?
    Ground beef
  • What is brown and sticky?
    A stick
  • Why did the mushroom buy drinks for everyone at the bar?
    He's a fun guy!
  • What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?
    A stick
  • Three blondes walk into a building. I don't know why one of them didn't see it.
  • What do you call a dinosaur that smashes everything in it's path?
    A tyrannosaurus wrecks

Also this is always something that gets me through exams:

Good luck on exams this week, guys!

Reviving Ottoman Empire Language?

The Washington Post published an article that proclaimed Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, desires to revive the language of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. In 1928, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, initiated radical reforms that banned the "Ottoman" Turkish language. He viewed the language as elite, and desired Turkey become more secular and nationalist. Earlier this week, the National Education Council, fouled by those who support Erdogan's will, voted to make Ottoman Turkish required in high schools. With backlash from the Justice and Development party, the prime minister updated the law, making Ottoman Turkish an elective. He adamantly declared "Whether they like it or not, the Ottoman language will be learnt and taught in this country". Clearly, he leaves no room for negotiations. Many compared it to teaching Latin in schools, also considered a dead language; however, there are benefits to learning languages used avidly long ago. Others view Erdogan's ideas as a radical attempt at the Islamization of Turkey, which, thanks to Ataturk, is secular. Erdogan has pride in the Islamic past of Turkey, and desires others appreciate the history as much as he does. He hopes it bridges the gap between the old history and current times, and allows people to appreciate their rich history. Here's the article if you want to read more.

Washington Post Article

Quilt for college

Hey y'all! So this isn't anything related to exams, but it's definitely something related to this class. Some of y'all may have seen me working on/heard me talk about a quilt that I'm making. Basically, I'm cutting up a whole bunch of old t-shirts, pajamas, etc. that I have and making a quilt to take off to college with me (because no matter where I end up, it's gonna be cold). You may be thinking, "How does this have anything to do with Humanities?" I promise, it relates.

Seeing as Humanities takes up to 3/7 of every school day, I spend a lot of time with you guys (especially my AP Euro buddies, Mrs. Q and Tiffany). I have known every single one of you since I started StM in 3rd grade (even Bre, who didn't remember me...), each and every one of you have played a huge role in both my school experience and my life as a whole up to this point. That being said, it would mean the world to me if you would each contribute a square to my quilt for me to take with me when I leave St. Martin's.

Below is a picture of a part of the quilt that I have already completed. Each square is approximately 8 in x 8 in (if you don't feel like measuring, just give me the fabric and I'll do it). Pieces bigger or smaller than that would also be appreciated. Blue, green, gray, white, or black would be best but any color would work just fine. Old t-shirts or sweater or pajamas or anything really works.

Ms. King and Mrs. Quinet, I'd really love it if the two of you would contribute as well. As my teachers y'all have been so supportive and made senior year a blast so far (as I'm sure it will continue to be). Thank you.

It's been great serving with y'all all these years. God bless :)


Unbearable Lightness Quotes

Hey, I feel that these quotations from The Unbearable Lightness of Being are important to the theme of identity regarding the body and the soul.

It would be senseless for the author to try to convince the reader that his characters once actually lived. They were not born of a mother's womb; they were born of a stimulating phrase or two or from a basic situation. Tomas was born of the saying "Einmal is keinmal." Tereza was born of the rumbling of a stomach. (2.1.1)

And so the man who called to her was simultaneously a stranger and a member of the secret brotherhood. He called to her in a kind voice, and Tereza felt her soul rushing up to the surface through her blood vessels and pores to show itself to him. (2.8.6)

But then it occurred to her that she was actually being sent to him by Tomas. Hadn't he told her time and again that love and sexuality had nothing in common? Well, she was merely testing his words, confirming them. She could almost hear him say, "I understand you. I know what you want. I've taken care of everything. You'll see when you get up there." (4.15.4)

Pick A Side

In class Tiffany and I presented you all with information about the Jesuit wars, and the controversy over whether they actually helped the native Guarani tribes there or not. I am interested to see what everyone thinks about this debate and "pick a side." I feel that this may be useful for our Humanities am on Tuesday because we have to know historical information about this event and others for a debate. So, without further ado, I will present my own side.

I feel that the native tribes were benefitted by the Jesuits only slightly, with more negative effects present than positive ones. For example, while the Jesuit missionaries provided the Guarani with a stable food supply, they also made profit off of their labor, an act that goes against their religious ideals.

Let me know what you all think!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: One Hundred Years of Solitude Edition

This meme (hehehe, Meme...) pretty much sums up 100 Years to me. Personally, Marquez is probably the book that we've read so far this year that I wanted to hate the most but ended up absolutely loving in the end. Regarding things we've read in Humanities this year, what was 1) your favorite, 2) the biggest surprise (i.e. thought you'd hate it, ended up liking it), and 3) what made you think the most?

For me, it goes as follows:

1) Hamlet, because it's Shakespeare and Hamlet's level of snark reminds me of my own inner monologue
2) As I stated before, 100 Years of Solitude because, after discussing it in class, I came to see that nothing Marquez included was arbitrary but instead actually served to make the book an intricate web of symbols, themes, and history
3) Candide, because, as ridiculous as it is, it made me think about action v. thought and how to put philosophy into action

Whirling Dervish

Since we were talking about dervishes in Candide, in which the dervish is relatively useless,  I wanted to show another side of Sufi culture. The whirling dervishes are about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Sufi whirling is one form of active meditation in the Sufi branch of Islam. It is still practiced today by the Mevlevi Order, which has been around since the 13th century. The word “dervish” itself means an initiate of the Sufi order.

Watching the dervishes is absolutely mesmerizing. I feel like even people who don’t share the dervish Muslim and Sufi beliefs can get something from watching them meditate. It’s almost trance-inducing to watch them spin. There is a link to a video about whirling below.

P.S. For you musical people who may or may not be familiar with Rodgers’ and Hamerstein’s The Sound of Music, there is a line in the song “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” that directly refers to whirling dervishes: “She'd out pester any pest, drive a hornet from its nest. She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl.” I’ve attached a link to the song below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Murder Board at St. Anna's

When we were talking about the general desensitization of the public and media toward violence, I immediately thought of St. Anna’s Church in the Treme area. Since 2007, St. Anna’s has kept and added to what had become known as the “Murder Board.” The board, which is situated directly next to the sanctuary doors, lists the names of every person killed in the Treme community, along with the date of death and the cause of death. 

On that board, victims of child abuse are listed next to suicides and victims and perpetrators of gang violence. They are exhibited without judgement. Viewers will never know who was criminal and who was innocent. Instead, they simply mourn the tragic loss of human life and rage at the society that has allowed such atrocities to continually happen. When asked where they would put the names when they ran out of space, Father Bill Terry, the church’s rector, responded, “We will wrap it around the block two times if we have to.”

(The above photo is Father Bill with the tally just for 2007 in a single community)

The purpose of the Board is twofold. First, it makes us remember the death as individuals, not a simple annual tally. Second, it ignites a fire of anger in those who read it, who see children burned, young men gunned down, and who see the sheer number of dead. Below I have posted a link to a video that talks about the Murder Board. I would encourage you to visit St. Anna’s and talk to Father Bill. I first met Father Bill on a retreat this past weekend. Out of the whole congregation he was preaching to at that retreat, I was the only one who has lived here my whole life. Father Bill talked about what it was like to see the kids who he taught in St. Anna’s after school program and saw every Sunday end up on that board. He shared his dream of opening up a free Episcopal school for about 20-30 students a year in the Treme community. At the last Diocesan convention, he challenged churches around the country to support his dream. A good, Christian education for these children would only cost approximately $3000 per child per year. By contrast, the public school system, as awful as it is, spends about $8000 per child per year. I guarantee you that St. Martin’s spends much more than that every year.

Father Bill challenged us to go home and look at our Episcopal school with our nice equipment and fancy buildings and quality books and think of those kids in the Treme. Think of the kids who have nothing when we have so much. Father Bill told us how he had seen just the one-hour after school program make a huge difference in the community. The children in the program would take their desire to learn, grow, and seek out a better life home to their parents and caretakers, many of whom are uneducated and /or addicted to drugs. The adults have been inspired by the youth to reject the idea that this is “the best of all possible worlds” and demand something better. 

I sincerely hope that this post has made you think about who we are as a school and who we are as a larger community in New Orleans. I know it did for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I've already done my three posts for the weekend, but I liked this photo so I thought I'd share

Macondo and El Dorado

As we discussed in class the similarities between Macondo and El Dorado, I came to realize how El Dorado is truly a "magical" type of place like Macondo is. Although Voltaire isn't using magical realm, the fact that El Dorado is a type of utopian society, in my opinion, does give it a sense of magical realism, especially when the kids were playing with gems. I think the idea of a utopian society by itself is something that seems "unreal" and "magical." The idea of a place where everyone is equal and puts happiness first and where items of value seem like simply pebbles cause me to feel that El Dorado is a dream like and an idealized type of place. I think it's interesting how Voltaire and Marquez point out that the only obstacle preventing a perfect place like Macondo and El Dorado from existing is the influence of the outside world. I think that once people have a knowledge and a desire for the ways of the outside world, there is no way to preserve a utopian kind of society.

Yzma = Tom Sawyer

The other day in class we were talking about how Tom Sawyer is stuck in an eternal state of boyhood and about how he develops elaborate plans to accomplish simple tasks. It reminded me of Yzma and the below video:

The "Beautiful Sex"

This link is to a Verizon Wireless commercial which points out that many times in our society women are told that the most valuable thing about them is the way they look. When girls are told over and over that looks are the only thing that make them special, they begin to put all their eggs in that basket and stop worrying about something much more important - their mind. Sadly, I've noticed this in many girls that I know in real life.

When we were reading Candide, I noted that women were referred to as "the beautiful sex", as if that was all they had to offer to the world. Going back now, I can't find it in my book, but the phrase reminded me of the above commercial.

Here are some complements that aren't about physical appearance that are applicable to any gender whatsoever:

  1. You're empowering.
  2. I like your voice.
  3. You're strong.
  4. I think your ideas/beliefs matter.
  5. I'm so happy you exist.
  6. More people should be listening to what you have to say.
  7. You're a very warm hearted person.
  8. It's nice seeing such kindness.
  9. You're very down to earth. 
  10. You have a beautiful soul.
  11. You inspire me to become a better person.
  12. Our conversations bring me a lot of joy.
  13. It's good to see someone care so much.
  14. You're so understanding.
  15. You matter a lot to me.
  16. You're important even if you don't think so.
  17. You're intelligent.
  18. Your passion is contagious.
  19. Your confidence is refreshing.
  20. You restore my faith in humanity.
  21. You're great at being creative.
  22. You're so talented at _____.
  23. I don't get tired of you.
  24. You have great taste in _____.
  25. I'm happy I've met you.
  26. I wish more people were like you.
  27. You are so good at loving people.
So in conclusion, to everyone in our class, remember that you are SO MUCH MORE than your looks. Everyone of us is special and every one of us has extraordinary talents.
  • Sri - You're such a loving person. You always put a smile on my face. You also kick butt at Just Dance.
  • Breuna - You're such a talented theatre person. I look up to your self confidence and admire how you are so outgoing.
  • Joey - You are involved in so many things and you manage to balance it all. I have no idea how you do it. You're so dedicated to so many things and have many talents. 
  • Alex - You are so intelligent and are so good at explaining things to people who don't understand them. I know I can always ask you whenever I have a question and that you'll be patient in helping me understand. You also have so many random and vastly interesting facts stored in your head that you're always ready to share. 
  • Ross - You are such a good hearted person. You always do the right thing and you always put others first.  
  • Bonnie - You are one of the funniest people I've ever met. You're also a fiercely loyal friend. You love other people endlessly and you care about them just as much.
  • Tiffany - You are one of the biggest hearted people on this earth. You give the best advice. You're also extraordinarily hardworking at everything, especially your school work.
  • Iris - You're so creative. I love watching you when you work on art pieces and getting to see the gears turn in your head. You're also really good at writing college essays. That's so random, but I always notice how creative and well thought out your responses are.
  • Ms. Quinet - You have such a huge reserve of knowledge stored in your head. I sometimes just sit in awe about how much you know. You're also an incredibly strong and passionate woman. I'm still jealous that you passed Bonnie and I up in the Race for the Cure.
  • Ms. King - You are an amazing teacher. I've been continuously amazed since the beginning of the year at how you are able to spark and contribute to class discussion. I also enjoy that we share a love of theatre.

Candide and Forest Gump

The other day in class some of y'all said that you have never seen Forest Gump, which in itself is a crime because it is such a good (funny) movie. Like Candide, Forest is a gullible optimist who goes through life and experiences many different things. Funnily enough, the things he sees are cut and pasted into the movie from actually events in real life into a hilarious collage. Forest even has a love interest, Jenny, who only decides to be with him after she gets AIDS. Anyway here are three short clips from the movie, you may just find some other similarities between the two stories. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Calculus SMACKDOWN: Newton vs. Leibniz

     Ah, yes: one of the most infamous debates in mathematics and, perhaps, academic history. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, coming in at the ripe age of 368 (has not done much for the past 298 years), versus Sir Isaac Newton, also 368, in the ultimate smackdown of the centuries. Who really invented calculus? We may never really know. But we will know that, instead of collaborating like honest intellectuals, these two blockheads (jokes, y'all) decided to bicker and overuse the childhood phrase "I said it first!"

     Let's start with Newton: he claims to have developed the method of "fluxions" in 1666 (when he was 23, not bad for a post-grad, eh?); however, there's not much to defend this claim other than word of mouth and a small endnote in a publication). Over 20 years later, Newton published his research in his most famous work, Principia. His notation for the derivative (which he called the fluxion) was \dot{x}. For two derivatives, he put two dots; however, this notation becomes cumbersome after four derivatives (although not much research goes on currently with derivatives beyond three, excepting a few remainder theorems). Further, his method of integration (for which he noted as the "inverse" of differentiation and called "fluents"), was honestly pretty sloppy and unstandardized.

     On to Leibniz: He created much of the notation that we use today for calculus. The earliest publications of his work with differential analysis dates to around 1677. Further, his notation was highly standardized and versatile. For instance, his derivative notation is one of the primary notations used today is the following:        \frac{d^ny}{dx^n},\quad\frac{d^n\bigl(f(x)\bigr)}{dx^n},\text{ or }\frac{d^n}{dx^n}\bigl(f(x)\bigr)He also invented the notation for integration. Pretty savvy dude.The "prime" notation (f', f'', f''', f^(4), etc.) was invented by Lagrange, who earned his doctorate with a slim 19 page thesis and is often dubbed the "Prince of Mathematics."

In my opinion (everyone's got one), Leibniz takes the cake. Newton's notation was clunky and not published until the 1680s.

Rice and Architecture Nerdiness

     I just got back from Rice, and it was a blast! It definitely got bumped up a few places on my college list. Anyway, when my father and I arrived on campus (40 minutes early because, well, Father DeCorte likes to be "punctual"), we walked around Lovett Hall (pictured below). As we were walking, I looked up to a dome at the corner of a walkway and said "Oh, dad! Pendentives!" My father gave me a quizzical look and said, "Yes... Yes indeed."
     A few moments later, I noted (to myself this time) the the arcade that circumscribes the quad. While walking around campus, I noticed a bunch of the architectural features that we learned last unit in Humanities that had been applied to secular buildings.
     This made me think about the future. A lot of the theoretical knowledge we gain at St. Martin's will influence (whether willingly or unwillingly) our lives well down the road. This seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but this simple, concrete example of me geeking out over architecture (a field in which I have no desire to do anything career-wise) made this all very real for me. St. Martin's (and especially Humanities, of course) has made us well-rounded people that are interested in a broad scope of academic and practical concentrations.
     Here's Lovett Hall:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Human Arrogance in "Cause and Effect" Logic

I was thinking back to Jacques's death Chapter 5, specifically, Pangloss's reaction to his drowning, and realized how arrogant Pangloss's philosophy seems. Pangloss responds to Candide's desire to jump after Jacques by justifying his demise as what was meant to be: "but the philosopher Pangloss prevented him by proving that the Bay of Lisbon had been formed especially for this Anabaptist to drown in" (192). Does Jacques really matter that much? I mean, is one human really so important that  God created a whole body of water millions of years in advance just to drown an goodhearted Anabaptist? Personally, I think that smacks of human arrogance. We aren't the only ones inhabiting this earth. What about the countless fish that were fertilized, hatched, lived, and died in that bay? the birds that flew over it? even the other people who have sailed the bay? Why does it exist solely to drown Jacques? While I love him dearly, poor, unfortunate Jacques just isn't that important on the universal scale.


"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition."

In case you didn't catch the reference Bonnie made yesterday in class, I'm going to explain the joke (and ruin it in the process). First aired in 1970, "The Spanish Inquisition" is a series of sketches from the sketch-comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus, which featured the surreal comedy group Monty Python. It parodied the events of the real life Spanish Inquisition and spawned the phrase you may have heard yesterday in class: "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." Below I have included a link to the sketches on Youtube. It's absolutely brilliant (as one might expect from the Pythons) and I encourage you all to take a break from work and enjoy the ridiculousness that is "The Spanish Inquisition."

"Singin' in the Rain"

The auto-da-fe in Chapter 6 (p. 194) reminds me of the infamous "Singin' in the Rain" scene in the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange is best known for its dystopian setting, commentary on behaviorism and juvenile delinquency, argot (Nadsat), and extreme violence. In Kubrick's movie, the violent depiction of the crimes of the protagonist, Alex DeLarge, and his gang earned the film an "X" rating in the US and removal from the British market. The "Singing' in the Rain" scene shows Alex's gang of "droogs"(as they are referred to as in Nadsat) engaging in "ultra-violence" against a writer and the writer's wife. They permanently cripple the writer and brutally rape his wife while cheerily singing "Singin' in the Rain," hence the title of the scene. All of this is shown on camera with no cutaways or silhouettes to cushion the emotional impact of the scene. Though it's not anywhere near as violent as Clockwork, Candide has some similar elements in its depiction of crime and punishment. It makes constant references to heinous crimes (especially sexual violence) where the criminals are never punished, and Candide's flogging at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition in time with the music closely parallels Clockwork. The desensitization present in both works is terrifying, especially if you see the works of fiction as a reflection of society's attitudes.

Disclaimer: For obvious reasons I won't post a clip of the scene, but I thought it was an important comparison to bring up. I would definitely caution you about watching Kubrick's film as it is rated "X" (even though an "R" cut was later released) and incredibly disturbing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scottish Panama????

So guys and gals,

We often discuss the colonies in the "New World," I mean they're the reason we're here today. Usually when we discuss the american colonies, we talk about Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands to an extent, but why don't we ever talk about Scotland? Did you know that the Scottish colony was actually one of the primary factors that unified Scotland and England into the United Kingdom. It is absolutely fascinating to me that this topic isn't discussed more. In the 1690s, the Scottish were looking around in the Caribbean for a piece of the puzzle to grab for their own, and they saw Panama as a chance for enormous economic opportunity, for they would control the flow of goods through the middle of the Americas, for they thought that they could build the Panama Canal. The Scottish tried to settle in this land, however, this land was terrible to settle on and the only people that could successfully settle this land at the time was the Kuna native american tribe. The Scots put a hug investment in their Scottish colony, and it failed. This economic tragedy actually weakened Scotland to the point where the English could economically buy out the Scots and practically force them into the UK. Here's the link for the article!

Actual Amazons

In ancient and classical Greek mythology, there was a nation of all female warriors. Herodoctus wrote about them in his book and said that they were located in modern day Ukraine. Some contemporaries said that their tribe was in Libya. They even fought in the Trojan war alongside other warriors. Some of the common figures from the time are Penthilsilea and Hippolyta. These female warriors would not allow any male warriors to live within their lands, and they would visit the neighboring tribe once a year in order to beget children. If they had any males, they would be set free into the wilderness to fend for themselves. According to tradition, this was an actual tribe, and I thought I'd share this tidbit since we were discussing the Amazon Rainforest's namesake yesterday in class.

Citrus at Versailles

So, this summer when I went to Paris, we had to do the quintessential trip out to Versailles and we checked out the sun king's palace. Here we a part of the garden of Versailles. Much like Frederick the Great, Louis XIV also manipulated nature to get his own crops. He asserted his will over nature and decided that he was going to have a citrus garden even though citrus fruits are completely non-natural for the region. During the winter they wheel all of the plants into an underground greenhouse and in the summer they put them on display. I think this enforcement of man's will over nature during this time period is interesting.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hamlet and Aristocats... yes I see a similarity

As we've progressed in Hamlet, I've noticed a similarity between Hamlet and one of my favorite movies as a youngster, the Aristocats. The Aristocats is about a litter of kittens who belong to an old wealthy woman. She has a huge house and a will that states the kittens get all of her fortune, naturally her long time servant is enraged. He traps and kidnaps the kittens and sends them away; however, they meet a group of animals (cats, gees, the whole nine yards) who lead them back to their home. The servant sets another trap to send them away, but the kittens along with their animal pals make him fall for his own trap. Nice little animal tale about sweet revenge featuring a horse, a mouse, geese, cats, the like. ANYWAYS, this reminded me of Hamlet in several ways. Hamlet is about a son who strangely doesn't inherit is father's throne. He should, like the kittens, get everything. When Claudius realizes that Hamlet is a threat, like the servant realized the kittens were a threat, he shipped him to England. Hamlet returns with the help of pirate friends (unfortunately not an enthusiastic band of animals). Hamlet then attempts to get revenge on his father, like the kittens attempt to get revenge on the servant. We (or at least I) haven't finished Hamlet yet, but I found the comparison to be pretty cool, and I'll never miss a chance to talk about the Aristocats. 

I mean c'mon, look how darn cute they are.

Gertrude and Jocasta

When reading the confrontation between Gertrude and Hamlet, I noticed similarities between Gertrude's response to Hamlet and Jocasta's response to Oedipus. In Hamlet, Gertrude pleaded with Hamlet to stop flooding her ears with her faults. She couldn't stand to hear what she had done because the guilt was unbearable. Similarly, when Oedipus told Jocasta that she had married her son without knowing, the guilt was too much for her to bear. She pleaded with Oedipus to stop, because she couldn't stand to hear what she had done. Gertrude and Jocasta are both similar, yet different in their faults. Jocasta was unaware she had married her son after her husbands death, while the reader is unaware if Gertrude knew Claudius killed the King. Gertrude is definitely a more mysterious character, in that we don't know her before the death of the king. She could have been cheating

Dreaming and Hamlet's Most Famous Soliloquy

In Hamlet's most famous soliloquy where he talks about whether to live or not to live, he talks about how if one were to kill oneself that we would enter the afterlife, the unknown. He talks about death would be like a kind of sleep where we would dream; however, Hamlet mentions that these dreams could be bad dreams. I love how Shakespeare makes Hamlet tie in dreaming with the afterlife.  Dreaming is always something that has fascinated and that is really strange when you think about it. I think it's really interesting how Hamlet describes the afterlife as dreaming in a way because the afterlife and dreams are both ideas or concepts that are unknown. When you dream, you could have a good or a bad dream. The afterlife could go either way also. I read some research about dreaming online, and I found it interesting how dreaming is a phenomenon that is still very mysterious and bizarre that scientists do not have a complete explanation for. The question of why we dream is unanswered by scientists today; therefore, why we dream is a phenomenon that is unexplainable just as how Shakespeare portrays the afterlife as something unknown also. It amazes me how dreaming and the afterlife are still ideas that people this day deal with and don't have answers for just as people also experienced during the Elizabethan time.

Toni Morrison and Beloved

I know we haven't read Toni Morrison's Beloved yet, but I found this video today and I was worried I would forget to post it if I didn't post it now.

Byrd man, as promised

Monteverdi aside, I also presented on William Byrd (a musical descendent of Monteverdi). Here are two pieces of music that mark important milestones in Byrd's life:

In "Ye Sacred Muses," Byrd bemoans the death of his mentor, Thomas Tallis.I like to think of this piece analogously with Monteverdi and "Lamento d'Arianna" (see my post about Monteverdi and Mozart):

       Byrd : "Ye Sacred Muses" :: Monteverdi : "Lamento d'Arianna"

Both composers lost a loved one (Byrd a mentor, Monteverdi a wife).
The non-ecclesiastical nature of this music indicates that this piece was written before the reign of James I, for Byrd almost exclusively composed Church music after Elizabeth I's death. Indeed, Elizabeth's protestant ideology and simultaneous respect for Byrd's work essentially forced him to innovate and explore his own artistic style. 

Next up is a portion of one of Byrd's masses (written after the coronation of James I) performed while an altar is prepared. Byrd wrote several masses for both Mass Ordinary and Mass Proper. Enjoy!

From Monteverdi to Mozart: Operas... with some Hamlet on top

In class, I talked about Claudio Monteverdi's development of the opera. In L'Arianna, Monteverdi sets to music the libretto by Rinuccini, who took his influence from Ovid's Heroides (epistolary poems, definitely worth reading in translation). Rinuccini's adaptation tells the story of Theseus leaving Ariadne. The death of Monteverdi's wife immediately prior to the publishing of L'Arianna most evidently add a lugubrious tone to the libretto's only surviving musical accompaniment, "Lamento d'Arianna" (the reason it alone survives is because Monteverdi published it separately in a book madrigals).

Side note: when researching, I found a new word: monody means a poem written to lament someone's death (usually using apostrophe).

Back to the opera: Notice the reliance on polyphony that Monteverdi uses in the music to this monody. This relates to his idea of merging the two spheres (namely, artistic poetry and pure music). Further, from the standpoint of his "Philosophy of Music," which followed Plato's ideals regarding emotion, this lament would most definitely fall under the "love" category, for Ariadne has lost a loved one. Here's the opera:

Jumping forward a century, Mozart also represents an integral link in the development of operatic style, among other musical styles. Instead of relying on polyphony and the voice as the sole source of music like Monteverdi did, Mozart used instrumentation to augment the voices, which themselves were involved in a dialogue. By using dialogue, Mozart is clearly shifting toward more plot-and-poetry focused music in contrast with Monteverdi's largely musical aim. The desire to have individual styles proves that the Renaissance ideal of individualism and making one's art "his/her own" carried on into the 18th century (and to the present day, for that matter). Here is a pretty famous aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, "Or sai chi l'onore," with Donna Anna performed by soprano Renee Fleming.

Notice the subject matter ("l'onore" = honor). Donna Anna's father was killed by Don Giovanni, and she enlists Don Ottavio's help in avenging her father's death. Sound familiar? The revenge motif pervades all genres of art, from Shakespeare's tragedy to Mozart's operas.

Don't Be Early Play Hamlet

So this past Wednesday and Thursday I competed in the LHSAA State Swim Meet for my last time, as I will be graduating this school year (hopefully). After the first, qualifying day, I began to think about this exact idea: that this State Meet would be my last one ever. "I was a St. Martin's Swimmer for eight years. EIGHT YEARS! That's just a year less than half my own age!" I thought. The sport was a huge part of my identity, I wasn't sure if I could handle it just ending like that, and, to be honest, I am still unsure that I can part with it so easily. I decided that the next day, Finals Day, I would try my hardest and put all of my effort into my races for my team and for my team and for myself. Can you guess what happened that day? I swam my fastest times ever. By putting all of my effort and drive into this one activity, one that had defined me for years, I was able to push past my limits and achieve something I never had before.
Anyway, my point is that I learned to not be like Early Play Hamlet. I learned that instead of just thinking about what I might be able to do if I pushed myself, I should use the feelings and drive I get from those thoughts to ACTUALLY do it. To push myself as an athlete, an intellectual, and as an individual. I can honestly say that I had experienced nothing greater in my life than I experienced at that moment, and I plan on experiencing it again. And I know that this idea to push yourself to grow as an old one to you all, especially when I know that everyone reading this has pushed themselves to get where they are today, but I will say it again: work hard and do what you feel is right because you never know when you will be able to do those things again.

It's A Large World After All

So in class we were talking about how small we seem to be in this world. I brought up a Buzzfeed article that really put that into perspective. Obviously we live on earth but there are some things that we forget to think about. Take a look at this article. After reading it I felt kind of insignificant in the scheme of things, but it is amazing to truly realize how much is really out there. This place may not be as large as we believe it to be. is the Earth! This is where you live.


So guys, I recently read an article that McDonalds is planning to replace all of its cashiers with touch screen robots and wanted to know y'all's opinions on this. Is the human race doomed to lose all of our jobs to highly efficient gizmos? Or is this just the next step we need to take to progress as a society. While I don't go to McDonalds, this replacement doesn't affect me directly, but the fact that tons of people will soon be out of jobs can affect all of us. It's amazing to think that in the short run, this could be disastrous. However, over time I believe that the development of these kind of replacement worker technologies frees up more human beings to the pursuit of higher interests in thought and design. This has proven true in the past, i.e. after we invented fertilizers, more people could become specialists and work on more difficult, thought provoking issues. However, it took us a long time to get to that point, and progress then was much slower than it is now. Results from this rapid progression of technology could benefit society or destroy it. What do y'all think?

What is art?

The main topic of the seminar boiled down to what is art? This question is extraordinarily vague and deeply philosophical. I believe that in order for something to be art, it has to be testing boundaries in creative materials, some sort of complete explosion of human thought that is then translated to a certain medium, but I also believe that there is a sort of interpersonal connection that must be established in order for something to be art. Art isn't about just putting something on paper and showing it to someone, in order for art to happen per say, there needs to be someone viewing it as art for art is there to make you think. That is the artist's job, to evoke some sort of emotion in you. This emotion is up for each person to interpret for themselves, but the important thing is that emotion comes into being. What do y'all think? What is art to y'all?

Thoughts on Fire

Shakespeare's Hamlet greatly details the attributes and faculties of human beings in their actions and general personalities. Knowing this, I decided that I wanted to look into humanity as a whole, specifically its humble origins with the discovery of fire, with the same degree of detail. And remember that everything that I have written is simply my thoughts on our human faculties concerning these discoveries/inventions, and is open to interpretation so let me know what you think.

 For some reason, I have always imagined our discovery of fire as a chance happening of lightening striking a tree or something and a nearby cave individual going, "OOOH! AAAH!" and then bringing the fire back to other cave people so that they could dance around it. Anyway, human use of fire marks an important turning point in our history; we changed from simple primates, hoveling in a cave or whatever in fear of our surroundings, to advanced beings, capable of understanding some little faculty of nature. It also led to an improvement in human health, as we began to cook our food and stay warm during the winter time.

I personally see this particular occasion as something more than a benefit to our physical bodies. Fire created a disparity between what our ancient ancestors previously knew and what they learned after fire's discovery. Just think about it; fire meant the difference between heat and cold, life and death, and, of course, Light and Dark. Fire quite literally sparked an advance in human knowledge, by showing us that a difference between what we were and what we could be existed. Refer back to old Greek mythology about and and fire, and how it helped us become smarter and more adept. Thinking about fire as a knowledge giver leads to the conclusion that, perhaps, the biblical Apple was actually just fire (Pure Speculation).

I want to focus on the last disparity fire presents us with, that between Light and Dark, because I feel that it holds the most impact on our race in terms of our faculties. Light and Dark are often used to describe ones position of understanding and knowledge in society. If you have "seen the light" you have gained some new understanding, whereas if you are "still in the dark" you do not understand what is going on. Our ancestors were Beings of the Dark in the truest sense, and thus were the furthest from any angel or God that has ever existed because they were stuck in a bestial state. It was only after they emerged from this Dark did they truly gain the human faculty of reason. I would even go so far as to say that humans found their souls in the flames, and by gaining their souls they became closer to the Devine. To me, fire started humanity on a path to godliness and was the first step in our transformation from mindless beasts to the true inheritors of the Throne.

If you have gotten this far, then I applaud and thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, which are really closer to ramblings.


So, this weekend I sat in on a college seminar and was shocked to how similar the structure of that class was to our humanities class. The students had watched a movie - which happened to be WALL-E. Then the next day, the day I came, they all circled up and the professor showed up and asked, "So, what do y'all want to talk about?" I found this absolutely fascinating since I never really imagined how a college course would be structured, I just assumed it was a huge lecture hall with someone speaking at you, but once you get past the intro classes, our high school classes are just like college ones!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Men = lust, women = emotion

When I was younger I went to this camp. It was a Christian camp, but that's not the reason my family sent me there. My family isn't religious. They sent me there because it was SO FUN. However, I learned a lot about Christianity there. I was young and I basically accepted everything they told me at face value because I didn't know any better. (Just to clarify: I'm not saying that Christianity is stupid and I shouldn't have listened to them, just that some of the things they taught me go firmly against beliefs that I have developed as I have grown and began to develop my own ideas.) One of these ideas they taught me was that a woman should dress modestly so as not to tempt her Christian brothers into impure thoughts or actions. They told us that men were created as lustful creatures and that women were created as emotional creatures. Therefore, they said, men can't control themselves. If they see a bra strap, their thoughts immediately go "BRA STRAP, BRA, BOOB". (That is a direct quote from my camp counselor.) Therefore we should avoid showing our bra straps so that men don't think impure thoughts or get tempted into impure actions.

I see a few problems with this point of view. First, it assumes that all men are slaves to their lust and can't control themselves. Second, it assumes that women are not lustful in any way and are responsible for stopping the advances of men because "men can't help it". Does this sound like rape culture to anyone else?

I think the fact that women are expected to stop men's advances on them goes straight back to the idea that men have no consequences for their sexual actions and women should therefore cater to the men and "defend their virginity". For men, being sexually active is a sign of pride and manliness, whereas for women, being a chaste and virginal is a sign of honor.

This same idea of women having to stop a man's advances is shown in Hamlet when Pelonius is talking to Ophelia. Pelonius tells Ophelia that she should resist Hamlet's advances because he only wants sex. Pelonius says that Ophelia must defend her honor (aka: not loose her virginity) because if she does loose it, no one will ever want her. She'll be spoiled for all men forever.

I think that the whole concept of men's virginity = shame and women's virginity = honor is stupid. It's stupid because women get tricked into thinking that they cannot be sexual creatures, and it's stupid because it tricks men into thinking they have to be sexual creatures. Everyone would be much happier if society didn't put such an emphasis on virginity. I don't get what the whole deal is. You loose it when you loose it, and that's no one's business but your own.

Ophelia and Medea

Since we haven't finished Hamlet yet, I cannot form my opinion completely yet on exactly how different Ophelia and Medea are but so far they seem to be two female characters that mainly contrast. Ophelia seems to be less intellectually sharp and seems to rely on other people's opinions like Laertes' and Polonius' opinions to influence her thoughts of Hamlet. Medea doesn't depend on others' opinions; although she does fall under Jason's dominance, she used her intellectual power to help Jason get to the Golden Fleece and helped him overcome other obstacles. Ophelia seems to be much less mature than Medea and simply falling in love easily. I think that Medea shows a lot more strength as a woman and demonstrates a woman's capability more, while Ophelia seems to let her love for Hamlet drive her. Medea, on the other hand, holds on to her intelligence and overcomes male domination.

Hamlet Scene from Freaky Friday

Ever since we started reading Hamlet, I've kept the scene from the movie Freaky Friday in mind where Lindsay Lohan talks about Hamlet.

Here's a link to the scene:

I know it's a silly scene but I've kept in in mind what she had to say in the movie in my head while reading the book. The whole question of Hamlet's madness has definitely come up and whether Hamlet is just putting an act on to seem mad or if he truly has gone mad to a certain extent. However, as a response to Lindsay's comment "Is Hamlet seeing his father's ghost or is he simply mad?,"  I would say that Hamlet isn't seeing his father's ghost potentially because he is mad, rather, I think that if Hamlet is actually mad it is in response to seeing his father's ghost.

Hamlet's Sanity

So one of the big things we discussed in class was whether Hamlet was insane or not. While searching the inter-webs for an answer I came upon this article about the topic and I thought that it was really enlightening. I encourage everyone to read it if they have the time.

Basically, the article gives four hypothesis for Hamlet's sanity and discusses these four  conjectures in detail, using evidence from the play itself as well as outside, analytical sources.

P.S. - Sorry in advance, there are advertisements present on the page

Liszt's Hamlet

Liszt composed 13 symphonic poems. These poems either portray the mood of a story or actually tell a story through music. The 10th of these poems, Hamlet, performs the former of these effects. It's eery feel and relatively slow tempo throughout lend to the events in Hamlet (namely, the Ghost's appearance and the mystery concerning the death of Hamlet Sr.). I assume the faster portions (around 4:00) portray the intense mood of the conflict and climax. I'm not going to delve too deeply into this part because I haven't read Act III yet. Anyway, here's Liszt's poem; enjoy!

To be or not to be...corny

For Monday, we read Hamlet Act 3 scene 1, in which Hamlet says "to be me not to be: that is the question." In class we talked about how Hamlet was a teen filled with angst, and I thought this comic was a funny representation of that.

Guns don't kill people, dads with pretty daughters do

As I said in class the other day, my dad has a t-shirt with the saying "Guns don't kill people, dads with pretty daughters do" written on it. He always tries to wear it whenever a boy comes to my house (even if he's just a friend!). What made me think of this shirt was the whole scene in Hamlet where Pelonius is like "Ophelia, let me tell you what to think about men. Don't trust them. They only want one thing from you."

Reading Hamlet and thinking about my dad's shirt has gotten me thinking about the stereotypes of the overprotective brother and the dad who hates all boys who come within a ten foot radius of his daughter. Although these may seem cute and caring, why do the boys in the family feel like it's their responsibility to watch out for what boys their sister/daughter is dating? What gives them this place? I feel like it goes back to when daughters were their father's property, and if the father wasn't around, the son took on his responsibilities as their sister's keeper.

Now, I'm not trying to make my dad look like a misogynistic jerk - he is the farthest thing from it. He's quite the feminist. I just think that some of these stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in our culture that we don't even realize they're there. For example, a father giving his daughter away at her wedding can seem like such a sweet, emotional thing. However, that custom goes back to when a daughter was actually her father's property and he was literally "giving her away" because she then became her husband's property.

I don't really know what point I'm trying to make in this blog post. I guess I just think that we should examine some of the things that are so ingrained in our culture that we don't even think about them anymore.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Lion King is NOT Hamlet

Okay, so I know that it is generally accepted into our society that the Lion King is Hamlet but with Lions because of various internet ploys and whatnot and since it was spread around on the internet it must be true right???? WRONG. While yes there are a number of similarities between the Lion King and Hamlet, there are also a lot of similarities in all revenge plays too. To go back to Iris's post from last week, other than character correlation - which is extremely controversial as far as which characters would "represent" others since not every character has a correlated one (for example when Iris sited that Timon and Pumba represent Horratio, while most research that I have done compare them to Rosencratz and Guildenstern who we haven't met yet). But this isn't the main thing I would like to bring up, the "similarities" between these two things really aren't that impressive. To recap, the main similarities Iris pointed out are that: 1) Dead dads, 2) Evil usurping uncles 3) ghosts 4) angry protagonist 5) prince fights uncle 6) protagonist in a great moral struggle 7) protagonist mad about treatment of mother.

1) A father or other parent dying is common to like every Disney movie ever
2) Fratricide isn't common to Shakespeare in the least bit, in fact, there have been a lot of kings that were murdered by someone else so that they could take power, and brotherly murder sadly wasn't uncommon, especially with primogeniture going on. Shakespeare didn't invent this concept at all.
3) There are ghosts; however, but the ghost tells Simba to remember who he is, not avenge my death. One could argue that yeah, he is kinda implying it, and Disney can't say murder people. But in my opinion, Mufasa just kinda comes down and says Simba, get your act together, your uncle screwed everything up.
4) Angry protagonist... really? is this a valid argument? like lots of protagonists are really angry
5) Prince fights uncle: I'd say this is more or less common of a lot of revenge plays: they involve a secret murder, a descent into madness, and a violent conclusion. So this fight is fairly common.
6) All protagonists are in a great moral struggle often
7) Simba is more mad about Nala than his mom

So while yes, there are a lot of similarities, I think it isn't fair to say that they're the EXACT same, but with lions. But Disney probably did rip it off of kimba.

Shakespeare Broke Science

You know that feeling when you're trying to write a paper but you just can't think of the right word? Well, good ole' Willy had a very simple solution to this problem. Just invent a new word! Shakespeare coined many of the words we use in every day language. Words that seem common to us, like "luggage," "rant," "torture," and "bump," either did not exist or held a different meaning prior to Shakespeare's use of them. Below is a link with more examples of words coined by Shakespeare.

In addition to individual words, a great many modern cliches have Shakespearean origins. "Truth will out," "too much of a good thing," "up in arms," and "vanish into thin air" are just a few.

My favourite example of Shakespearean vocabulary is his invention of the poison used to kill Hamlet's father. "Hebona," or "hebenon"as it is spelled in the Folios, is not a real toxin or plant. There is no record of the word prior to its use in Hamlet. Further, there is no known poison that would cause the exact symptoms described in the play, namely curdling the blood and bark-like scabbing over the whole body. Possible candidates include yew, hemlock, henbane, and guaiacum. However, none of these could account for all of the named symptoms. This plant doesn't exist.

Good job, Shakespeare. You broke science.

Polonius and Ophelia

So, a lot of discussion has been started by Polonius and Ophelia's interaction in Act 1 scene 3. I am not by any means trying to vindicate Polonius from any blame of sexism, but I do believe it is kind of unfair to apply modern standards to standards that would have existed in 1600, for at this time, a higher level of obedience to one's parents was definitely expected - hence why Ophelia refers to Polonius under the title lord. Even in modern times, we are expected to listen to our parents and respect them, while I certainly engage in conversation with my father and voice different points of view on certain issues, I have to listen to him when he says, "No, you can't go out tonight" or something along those lines. This entire scene reminds me a lot of the scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel argues with King Triton and he forbids her from going to the surface to see her love. At which point Ariel immediately argues, "I'm sixteen, I'm practically an adult, and I love him!" At this point I would imagine the majority of the audience that isn't around 10 or less would kind of roll there eyes and say suuuuuuure (imagine the middle schoolers saying they will be together forever). While King Triton (and Polonius) could have definitely been more compassionate and whatnot, we have to think why they make the decisions that they did. King Triton has lived through several generations and seen his fellow mer-people fall in love with various humans and try to interact with them, only to have the humans do the typical human reaction and either freak out and kill them or exploit them for science/barnum-bailey's circus type treatment. King Triton does have more experience, and wants the best for his daughter and is worried for her, much like Polonius is afraid for his daughter and doesn't want her to be exploited, for he has seen what has become of other women who have done this. While yes, he is afraid to lose his family's honor, I believe that he is also worried for Ophelia's sake as well, for we have seen how adulterers are treated in this culture (think the Scarlet Letter).

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Monday! - Oedipus Style

I laughed way too hard at this...


Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Modern Struggle of Sri: Proving PooPourri as The Epic Commercial

I'm sure everyone here has heard of PooPourri (No not Potpourri, as Breuna first thought I meant when I introduced it to the class). I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I introduced it to the majority of you.
If not, I beg that you watch this commercial titled "girls don't poop" (remember that)
Most of you have mocked me for saying this, but PooPourri is an EPIC. I'm here to prove it and flush those doubts away.
First of all, to be classified as an epic, a work must have certain characteristics:
1) The setting is vast in scope
2) Divine Intervention
3) Grand Simplicity and Sustained Elevation
4) Deeds of Great Valor and Courage
5) Hero who embodies values of society and is of great significance or legend.

"How the Inferno are you going to prove that!?" asks Classmate number 1.
Fear not classmate number 1, I am prepared for this, it is my doody.

1). This is the easiest to prove, as you can tell by watching the commercial that the setting is vast in scope, changing constantly from bathroom, to party, to office, to cow field. 

2). Isn't PooPourri divine enough? Science is the modern deity and technology is its intervention. Every culture has a different god, is it so outlandish to say that Science can be a god here?

3). I mean, have you heard this girl speak? It's like the queen of England is lecturing us on "how to properly rid the horrendous odor of our brown astronauts." The language is very poetic and befitting of an epic.

4). Imagine yourself telling the world about your poop, about telling everyone that it stinks. That takes a lot of valor and courage. She does this, however, for the good of humanity. If that isn't respectfully courageous than I don't know what it.

5). This one's the biggest stretch, yes bigger than number 2 (not that kind of number 2 you nasty). This woman is a heroine, as she is struggling to save relationships and people from embarrassment. The epic battle she fights in is against the smell of bowel movements. She embodies the value that humans don't poop. A denial of shit -> Kitsch? No but really, we don't like to recognize that everybody poops and we also don't want people's poop to smell. She embodies the notion that people poop in secret, and that it doesn't smell with the power invested in PooPourri. She is a legend, as she has brought this magical power to humankind, in different scents as well!

The Scents:
Call of the Wild
Daisy Doo (recommended for Bonnie)
Deja' Poo (recommended for Sri)
Party Pooper
Poo La La (recommended for Alex)
Bass Awkward (recommended for Ross)
Heavy Doody (recommended for Joey)
Poo-Tonium (recommended for Iris)
Royal Flush (recommended for Breuna)
Toot Fairy (recommended for Isabel)
Potty Mouth (Breath Mint)
Sweet Cheeks (recommended for Tiffany)
North Bowl
....and more!

Also side note, these conventions also poop up in the commercial, further proving my point:
- medias reas
- begins with statement of theme
- epithets and epic smilies
- long formal speech
- epic digressions
- epic talisman
- catalogues

What other commercials are epic in nature? *Cough* Old Spice *Cough*

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One function: Survival

Some animals are built exclusively to survive. Take certain species of spiders, for instance. We have already made it quite clear that the male will be eaten post-fertilization because he has absolutely no purpose in life. At all.

But we have yet to bash the role of the female. Mothers in some species, after giving birth, offer their bodies as a form of sustenance for their offspring. So, similar to the father (who only wanted to ensure the survival of his descendents), the murderous mother has only one purpose: the survival of the species.

Thus, these animals are only built to survive, nothing more. Humans are different in that we seek pleasure, innovation, love, etc. Spiders have been building the same/similar webs since the origins of their species (save for Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, of course).

Are we animals or humans?

    Scientists can classify humans quite easily into their naming system for animals: Homo Sapiens (literally, "wise/thinking" man). But if we are indeed a "thinking man" quite literally placed in the ranks of other animals on an evolutionary standpoint, then how much more human are we than animal?
    Every now and then I get these sacrilegious ideas that, in a couple million years or so, other animals could possibly acquire the neural capacity to think and reason as we do. You also hear stories about animals acting strangely right before natural phenomena occur (I always remember a story about a normally docile elephant running rampant immediately before a tsunami made landfall). This, of course, leads me to more questions: can humans also tap into this reservoir of innate senses, or has our ability to reason blotted out this function entirely?

Marie -Reine- Du- Monde

My freshman year of high school I visited Montreal. One of the stops in the city that we made was to this Cathedral. What was interesting is that it was designed to look like the Vatican. Most of the Cathedral is decorated using gold, but there are also many stained glass windows (I have pictured one). Then there are many intricate details that are carved throughout the Cathedral. I just remembered that I went here, and finding the pictures I took blew me away once again. 

Hipster Hamlet

I decided to test out rule 50 of the Rules Of The Internet: "Anything can be a meme." So I Googled "hipster Hamlet." These were the results. I should be disturbed that this already existed prior to that thought popping into my head. There are people who do this for fun. Think about that for a second...

SPOILER ALERT: Simba = Hamlet

Y'all. The Lion King is a direct ripoff of Hamlet. Yes, I know that Lion King actually ripped off Kimba the White Lion which ripped off Hamlet, but since we all presumably know Lion King better (*cough*Joe*cough*) I just decided to cut out the middle man. Heads up, as it says in the title, massive spoilers will follow. Yes, there are tons of differences between the movies such as the whole species thing, but let's focus on the common points. For starters:

  • Simba = Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • Scar = Claudius
  • Mufasa = King Hamlet (our Hamlet's dad)
  • Horatio = Timon and Pumbaa
  • Nala = Ophelia
  • Zazu = Polonius
  • Sarabi = Gertrude
  • Dead dads
  • Evil uncles who kill brother for kingship, try to steal queen
  • Ghosts
  • Angsty protagonist
  • Prince fights uncle
  • Protagonist faces great morals struggle
  • Protagonist enraged at uncle's treatment of protagonist's mother
And that's just to start. Coincidence? I think not.

Just sayin'...

Sexual cannibalism

Since we always seem to get on odd topics like this and we mentioned it in class, here's an article on sexual cannibalism. However, while we were talking about the animal version, this is about human sexual cannibalism, so, heads up, it gets really weird. While in animals the "sexual" in "sexual cannibalism" refers purely to reproductive functions, in humans there is often a lustful component (see Jeffrey Dahmer).

Sexual cannibalism is especially common in insects and arachnids. The death and ingestion of the male of a mating pair is often the result of an unwilling female detecting the male's presence. The goal of the male then become to fertilize the female before she kills him (insects are kinky creature after all). If he successfully fertilizes her and, thus, passes on his genetic information, then he has achieved his sole purpose in life (Quite literally. A male insect has no other purpose.) and it no longer matters whether or not she kills him (Aren't you glad humans don't operate like this, guys?).

On that happy note, enjoy!

Great Chain of Being Video

I found this video on youtube that briefly summarizes the Great Chain of Being. We talked about it in class, but I think this video really summarizes all that we discussed about. It's not too long so it's a pretty quick and easy re-explanation of everything that we've learned so far.

Great Chain of Being and Social Classes during the Elizabethan Era

As we know, during the Elizabethan times, the social class were the nobility, the gentry, the yeomen, and the poor. I talked about briefly in class how the order of the universe was supposed to mimic order on earth. The Great Chain of Being was a way for social class to be enforced. Since the ruler was thought to be divine, anyone in any of the classes that did not fulfill their assumed role in society was thought to be a threat to the whole chain. Not fulfilling one's responsibility was thought to break the order of the chain. This "break of the Chain would disrupt established order and also bring about universal disorder. Because of this great concern with keep the chain intact, people during the Elizabethan times followed their role in their specific class in society. As Ms. King mentioned in class, the Great Chain that set the order of the class was a way to justify inequality and unfairness. People in the lower class who chose not to work for wages and abandoned their occupations was a crime punishable by law. I think that this shows how serious people of the Elizabethan age were about everyone fulfilling their role in order to ensure order and stability in society and in the universe.

Reason and Passion: Frenemies till the End

In our body there often exists two forces battling for control and influence, Reason (mind) and Passion (heart). This fighting is like a raging storm, so violent that it shakes the very plain in which it exists. But why do these two power combat each other? The answer is found in the question: "Are humans beasts or are they angles?" In truth, we are neither beast nor angel, just human. And our humanity remains in a doubtful middle state between the beasts, who are passionate and instinctual, and the angels, who are reasonable and cognizant. We have the ability to choose whether we want to live as beasts or as angels, and shows why our minds and hearts fight one another for dominance. But the Reason and Passion cannot exist alone, they need one another, and so the battle never ends. I found a quote by Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran, who wrote philosophically about man's relationship to the Universe, which explains this relationship. The quote reads:

“Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.”

Our bodies need both Reason and Passion in order to function properly, and God gave us the faculties of beasts and angels so that we could experience what they do and truly experience what is good.

More About Humors

In class I talked a little about the four humors: yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm. Due to a lack of time, I did not get to say some things I found about them, so I am presenting them here. 

(1) I wanted to say more about the correlation between the structure of the human body and that of the universe. As the universe is made up of elements, so too are we made up of the humors. To be more specific, blood (sanguine) is our air, phlegm (phlegmatic) our water, yellow bile (choleric) our fire, and black bile (melancholic) our earth. 

(2) There is also a sort of order of importance to the humors that I found interesting, as blood is highest, then phlegm, then yellow bile, and finally black bile. The ordering of the blood and black bile were particularly interesting because of their elemental representations of air and earth respectively. It makes sense that blood and air would be higher than black bile and earth because the Elizabethans considered their reason and knowledge to be of utmost importance. Knowledge an reason, as I explained in class, is a faculty found in only three beings: God (of course), the angels, who are born with both, and humans, who have to nurture them. Because God and the angles are often considered to be above us and in the air, they thought blood was the most rich humor, while black bile, representing earth, was the least rich, because the people were always trying to become more angelic. 

(3) I wanted to explain how the how the humors affect the human body. Each humor represents a certain attitude or perspective. For example, blood is sanguine, which means optimistic, even in difficult times. Every individual holds a different mixture of the humors and the amount of each humor is different each time. So, if a person had more phlegm, then they would most likely be calm and rather unemotional. 

(4) Humors are not always constant and can, in fact, be burnt or putrefy. These "ruined" humors can effect the body by causing illness or fatigue and, overall, are a hindrance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

When we brought up The Fault in our Stars in class today I got super excited to have the chance to talk about my favorite book on the blog! The title of the book comes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In The Fault in our Stars, Augustus and Hazel are both cancer patients who fall in love. Augustus has been in remission for a while, but Hazel is still very sick. Augustus receives an email from their favorite author, Van Houten, who he has emailed with the details of their situation, which describes the complexity of their situation in terms of stars, or fate. The email reads as follows:

"Dear Mr. Waters,

I am in receipt of your electronic mail dated the 14th of April and duly impressed by the Shakespearean complexity of your tragedy. Everyone in this tale has a rock-solid hamartia: hers, that she is so sick; yours, that you are so well. Were she better our you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.' Easy enough to say when you're a Roman nobleman (or Shakespeare!)[...]"

So basically, stars = fate. In this email, Van Houten is arguing that Cassius, and by extension Shakespeare, was wrong when he said that people should take the blame for what happens in their lives and not blame things on fate. Van Houten says that this is wrong because people can't control their fate. (This reminds me of Unbearable Lightness...) Hazel and Augustus's fate just turned out to be really horrible, but that's not their fault.

Hazel and Augustus are star-crossed lovers in every sense of the word. Hazel refers to herself as a grenade, saying that she could explode any time and leave a path of devastation in her wake. She tries to cut Augustus out of her life in order to minimize casualties when she inevitably dies, but their love is too strong and they can't stay away from each other.

So my question for you guys is: Do things happen in life because of people or because of fate? Both? To what degree do you think the two affect each other?

Defeating the enemy

One of my favorite quotes is from Sun Tzu's Art of War and readapted by Orson Scott Card. When Ross was talking about having to know yourself before one could defeat the evil in yourself.

"In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them."

This is one of my favorite quotes about war and strategy for the reason that it takes 'you have to think like the enemy' to an entirely new level, and also touches on the fact that if we are to defeat our enemies, we must understand them so much that we love them, which in turn makes us not want to destroy them. This thought in war has always fascinated me.

Can animals lust? Enos the Penis - the first chimp in orbit - says yes!

Well, I would certainly say they can. I will now share the story of Enos the Penis, the first chimpanzee to make it into earth's orbit. Why is Ham the chimp in the bright lights though? Well For starters he was first to make it up high, but he was actually charismatic. Enos, nicknamed Enos the penis because of the fact that he was "a son of a gun...meaning he was a (word removed because it might offend)". This monkey did not cooperate at all with NASA's scientists. Why? Well, whenever they tried to train the chimp for high g-force conditions or anything else, Enos would begin masturbating. Before he went into space, NASA basically put a balloon over his penis so that he couldn't fondle himself, however, once he got into space and ripped off the balloon and began masturbating on camera in front of all of the viewers of this experiment. So to answer your question, I would say yes, animals can lust and give in to bodily wants for sex (i.e. Enos's masturbation pattern)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Cathedral of Florence

I really became interested in the Cathedral of Florence after reading about it in Fleming and learning more about it in class. I decided to do a little bit of research on the this cathedral, and I found some discoveries made in 1960s and 1970s about the history of Florence's Cathedral. In 1965 and 1974, there were excavation campaigns that uncovered remains of Santa Reparata, which was the Roman church that existed on the site of the Cathedral between the 5th and 13th centuries. The excavations led to the finding of a large mosaic.This mosaic was located in the left nave and shows North African influence because Syrian merchants traveled to Florence, bringing North African culture. The mosaic includes Christian symbols like crosses and goblets.

Here are some pictures of the excavated floor remains from Santa Reparata: