Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wasteland Of Drugs

The other day Anastasia brought up the idea of a drug addict's wasteland. This reminded me of that book I previously blogged about called A Million Little Pieces. James Frey (the author) said that his life between ages of about 16-23 he was entirely blacked out. That is definitely a sense of a wasteland in itself. By continuously abusing these substances, he lived in his own sort of wasteland. However, this wasteland is very different from the typical dump we described.

Holy Grail JAY-Z

When I hear "holy grail," one of the things that pops into my mind is Jay-Z's song "Holy Grail." I didn't actually know this, but his whole album, released in 2013, was called "Magna Carta Holy Grail." These are obviously two very important terms in history, so I looked up why he decided to name his album this. This is the consensus that the internet seems to come to:

The whole point of the Magna Carta was to usher power back to the people of England and away from King John in 1215. It was kind of a revolutionary document that changed the whole meaning of the monarch. Jay-Z thought that this album of his would completely revise the way of hip-hop/rap. When he referenced the holy grail, he apparently did not mean for it to encompass any religious meaning. Rather, the word "grail" literally means "an object or goal that is sought after for its great significance." Jay-Z's goal was to successfully impact the music through his album.

I just thought this was pretty cool to be able to relate the actual history to such a modern concept.


I thought it was interesting that this poem was so fragmented. For me, personally, it was hard to follow. It reminded me of a book I read one time titled Identitical. This book constantly switched between two twins' perspectives of life. It was fragmented and the reader didn't realize the perspective changed until halfway through the new twin. When I read the Wasteland I thought it was weird my mind went straight to identical but that is how I got through understanding the reading. 

A Sick Sensation

I too find "strange synthetic perfumes" deathly. I am sure that most of you have witnessed one of my sneezing fits during the school. Most of my sneezes are reactions to a strong odor, usually a synthetic one from lotion or perfume, maybe cologne, but my nose just gets so irritated that I find is hard to focus and do any activities, I become useless and my life force dwindles. The scent of modernism is killing my air ways. What I am trying to get at here is that in Eliot's second section, "A Game of Chess," talks about how these scents block out authentic/natural smells and how modern form of these smells is coming at a price.
-I guess if I want to smell good I will have to suffer a little bit.

My House

After reading section three of the Waste Land, The Fire Sermon, and how the nymphs had departed from the lifeless Thames river, it reminded me of my own street called Dryades, which is like a nymph, but they live in trees. If you have heard of the uptown construction, maybe you saw it during Mardi Gras, you should know what I'm about to talk about. The construction has been blocking my street for four years now and has been done for two. The area is now used to store the machines used to dig up the neutral grounds and whatever else those machines do. There are never any workers and less and less cars pass by now since it is a construction zone. The scenery of my street has turned from a lively short cut, to get away from Newman school traffic, to a lifeless, desolate place were the dryads have departed from, like in Eliot's poem. The construction waste land is taking over New Orleans.


Recently we read The Grail. Our discussion about the grail triggered a memory of a movie I recently watched. It was "The da Vinci Code," where Tom Hanks has to protect the Holy Grail. However, the grail was not a challace... IT WAS THE BLOODLINE OF JESUS CHRIST!!!! (DUN DUN DUUUUNNNN).  In the beginning of the movie, the grail was believed to be the cup from the last supper, however through analyzation of "The Last Supper" and "Madonna on the Rocks," Hanks was able to figure out that the actual grail was the living decendent of Jesus Christ. It's really cool and has some action scenes, and maybe we could watch it in class @msking... 

Daaang Saul, back at it again with savagery

Breaking Bad reference part 2!! I just watched the last episode of season 1 of Better Call Saul. He is emotional (I won't tell you about what) but he literally says as he calls bingo at a nursing home, "B as Belize, beautiful place so I've heard. I would love to go there. But let's face it that's never gonna happen...none of us is ever leaving this god-forsaken wasteland." DANG SAUL! Being savage with these poor old people. This made me start thinking about Waste lands in general. For the old people, it is the retirement home. For Saul, it is his dead-end practice. For each individual, their wasteland is basically what the detest and cannot avoid most in the world.

Breaking Bad is Kafkaesque

OK y'all. So about a month ago I finished Breaking Bad. And Recently I have been reading a whole bunch of conspiracy stuff since I started watching the spinoff show, Better Call Saul (I highly recommend it to those of you who want more BB and obviously can't have it). SO: upon my snooping, I came across an allusion website. As it turns out, Vince Gilligan (creator of BB and BCS) is a super smart, story-crossing guy. I cane across this article on  that says the following ""Yeah. Totally Kafkaesque." -Jesse Pinkman, 3.09: “Kafkaesque,” During a rehab meeting, Jesse underplays his job at Gus Fring’s lab: he claims it is a “boring, corporate laundromat” position where the boss is a “d—ck” and the owner a mysterious “super d—ck.” When the group leader claims that’s kind of “kafkaesque,” Jesse agrees. The scene’s ironic quality comes from the fact that they both speak the truth, but are only half aware of it: the leader knows what “kafkaesque” means, but he doesn’t know what it ultimately applies to—he pictures a low-wage laundromat, not a high-death meth lab; Jesse knows what it really applies to, but he doesn’t know what it means. We, the bookish viewers, have an edge over them both: we understand what Jesse’s gig entails and are (hopefully) familiar with the term “kafkaesque” (what sorts of readers of Kafka would we be if we weren’t?) “Nightmarishly bizarre,” we conclude, is a fair job description indeed!"  As an avid BB fan, and recent reader of Kafka, I enjoyed this reference. What do you think Gilligan meant when he imagined Jesse responding as "kafkaesque?"

Garcin and Estelle

I found it rather interesting that each character wore the colors of his/her couch (Garcin, blue; Inez, green; Estelle, pink) except Garcin wore both blue and pink. Since we already read the play before watching it, we knew that a sexual interaction between Estelle and Garcin was going to happen. Had we not read it though, I would have assumed that Garcin wearing pink and blue foreshadowed/symbolized some sort of interaction between the two characters. Perhaps Garcin wearing both colors was not intentionally done and a total accident, but if you analyze it, it really makes sense.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Earth, Air, Water, Fire

I used to LOVE The Avatar when I was younger. As we have been talking about the different elements, it made me think about this popular TV Show. The references to these 4 elements are the 4 things that the world is "made up of". I used to be very interested in this, and the balance they all played in the natural world. This is what the show Avatar is all about. As I was refreshing myself on the show, I came across this fun quiz. For those of you who do not know, these are the characters. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

moving away from tradition

In Eliot's The Waste Land, the first part "the burial of the dead" uses traditionally live bearing imagery, but pairs these images with dark and depressing ones. I thought this was pretty cool, because  Eliot is doing what the modernism thinkers were all about. The modernist wanted to move away from traditional forms and art and get rid of all those restrictions emplaced upon all forms of art by the previous generation. Eliot's juxtaposition of words that symbolize life with those that symbolize death  to give the traditional sense of the words no "rules" to follow.

Gregor lives in a Wasteland

Ms. King brought up the interesting point that Gregor's room, in the Metamorphosis, was kind of like a wasteland since that was where the family shoved everything unwanted, including their son. I've always bad for Gregor but when Ms. King pointed this out it made me feel even worse. Can you imagine being shoved in a room all by yourself, left to die,  because you are unwanted by your family? This is the ultimate waste land. Gregor is literally wasting away in his room. I just think it is interesting that no matter what we read there is always a connection. But cockroaches do belong with the trash anyway so I guess it makes sense ;)

Dinner for 4

In my interview the other day (the same one I mentioned on another post) I was asked, "If you could have dinner with three historical figures, who would you choose and why?" I was completely stumped as I had never really considered this before. I spit out the first three people that came to my mind--Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, T.S. Eliot--without giving it much thought. I had about two seconds to come up with reasons for "why these three," but to my surprise, it wasn't very challenging. All of these people are exceptional thinkers who ushered in change in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nietzsche's philosophy, Darwin's science, and Eliot's literature would make for some very interesting conversation at the dinner table.

If you cold pick three historical figures to have dinner with, who would they be and why?

Eliot's Waste Land

In class earlier this week, we talked about some images and associations we thought of when we imagined what a "wasteland" was. We learned that Eliot's waste land had to do with solitude/isolation and a lack of civilization, law/order, necessities/water, and fertility/life. I google imaged "wasteland" and here are some of the images that came up:
Though they're all in relatively different settings, I feel that all of these illustrations have an eerie, post-apocalyptic feeling to them. They certainly convey the ideas behind Eliot's waste land--a general lack of life.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Waste Land... Movie

There was a film that came out back in 2010 (and was nominated for and Oscar in 2011) called Waste Land. The movie is about an artist, Muniz, who goes back to his hometown of Brazil in order to photograph, and then paint portraits of, catadores, or "garbage pickers." These people are unemployed, but dig through the garbage dump ("waste land") to find unwanted trash to make art from. Muniz found their ability to see the beauty and the artistic possibilities in trash inspiring. The following passage from Eliot's The Waste Land, which we talked about just yesterday, was included in an article I read about the film.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

I think the film is kind of opposite of the poem with respect to the fact that in the poem, the people seem to be unable to find purpose in a world that is full of beauty. In the film, however, the people are able to find beauty in a trash dump. The passage from Eliot's poem relates to the film because it's basically describing a literal waste land, and he's asking the reader what kind of life could possibly come from it-- the "catadores" in the film seem to answer this question.

Below are two of the painted portraits by Muniz from the film.


Saturday, February 6, 2016


I talked about the painting "Scream" by Edvard Munch yesterday in class. I really like this painting and I think it's cool how much of an impact it has had on things. You hear the term "the scream" used everywhere in society today. They have those creepy Halloween masks that, if you look at the painting, look exactly like the face in the painting (Here's a link to the mask if you don't know what I'm talking about -- ). There was a movie made called "Scream" where the bad guy wears the mask. (Pretty sure this is where the scream mask really originated the scary connotations) I think it's actually pretty ironic that the producers of this movie made Edvard Munch's "Scream" character into a horrible murderer because Munch's goal was not to project his figure as outwardly distraught or evil. The turmoil in Munch's painting is solely stemming from the inside... With metaphorical external effects. Anyway, I just think it's cool how this character/symbol is so present still today.

Painting like a child

There is a very famous quote by Picasso that I thought of a lot while we studied Modernism. He said: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."
I feel that a lot of Modernist painters went through the same process that Picasso did (Gauguin for example) where they started their artistic career creating accurate and lifelike paintings that show off years of skill, and then progressing into Modernism's more interpretative and child-like appearance. At first glance it's easy to appreciate the first more than modernism, but I've grown quite fond of many of the pieces we have studied. Modernism creates its own reality instead of trying desperately to copy the one right in front of them. Whether like Van Gogh or other expressionists where they take the world and show it through their eyes, like Balla who interprets photographic movement into painting, or the many cubists like Picasso who create a whole new world through the skillful use of geometric shapes. Modernism is so interesting in the way it can distort reality through shading and perspective. While it may at first appear the painting of a novice, once studied, the years of practice and perfection shine through. 

Modernism - yay or nay

Modernism is so unique in the way that the different pieces can be so extremely different from each other. Some of them I think are really cool, a lot that I don't see the beauty of until after learning about them, and others I'm like "wow you should've stuck with Impressionism." There's cubism, expressionism, and so many different styles inside of modernism. Van Gogh for instance is so different from Picasso. Many pieces seem like they would take almost no skill when in reality they've gone through a lot of thought and have more heart in them. Many seem almost cartoonish with their black outlines and shallow depth, while others hold intricate geometric shapes or purposeful unbalanced perspective. Modernism is so wide and strange with such a large variety of painting styles within it.

Not Just Gregor

In Metamorphosis I though it was interesting the not only Gregor went through a change. In class we talked about how his sister, Greta, became more "useful" and in the end felt no love for Gregor. His father who was seen as a frail and unable man, was soon to be discovered as fully capable of work and turns out is a lier. His mother did end up taking a job, but I don't feel as much rage as I do for the other people in Gregors family, because his mom actually has a medical condition.

Giant Bugs -- Prehistoric Times

This is not exactly directly related to our readings, but a few weeks ago I was watching something on TV (it may have been on the history channel) about how giant insects existed in prehistoric times. Obviously, this reminded me a lot of Gregor. I was curious about why these insects were so large back then when today the biggest insects we see could typically squeeze under doors. The show I was watching said that some of these insects were literally 5-6 feet long/tall. I could not even imagine the sight of that. Anyway, I wanted to know a little more about why these insects were so big (I didn't watch the whole show), so I just googled it and found that, "During the Carboniferous and Permian periods, atmospheric oxygen concentrations were significantly higher than they are today. Prehistoric insects breathed air that was 31-35% oxygen, as compared to just 21% oxygen in the air you're breathing as you read this. Atmospheric oxygen is the single most limiting factor on insect size." Anyway, I just thought this was really interesting and if you google this, you'll see some replications/fossils of these bugs. It's really crazy.


I genuinely enjoyed the futuristic art genre. Especially the piece that I presented about. Maybe it's because I love dogs but the focus on the dachshund and its movement is interesting to me. I like how this is one of the first pieces to depict movement within the painting like photography. Balla was bold in his depiction of this piece because most people at that time would not be willing to risk painting in such a unique and new way.


Personally I am not a fan of the style of art called cubism, I am not sure why, but it is so. After doing some research on cubism I learned to appreciate it more for its ideals even though the paintings aren't aesthetically pleasing to me. As I said in class cubist painters break down forms and distort them, but when the movement first started the point of doing this "break down" was to-like most new trends- turn away from the realistic system of representing bodies. Perspective, planes, and differences between subject mater and background were fudged by using the same colors and abandoned. The goal of cubist was to form a new way of seeing the world.

MG Gluttony

Thinking of Mardi Gras season reminded me a little about Dante's Inferno and the circle of hell for the gluttons. The name "Fat Tuesday" "reflects the practice of the last night eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season." Just think about how much more you've eaten this week than any other "normal" week. I can say for myself that I've been very gluttonous the past few days. Carnival time is a time with excessive amounts of debauchery, feasting, drinking, celebrating, etc. We all might certainly wind up in the third circle with the rest of the gluttons after this week is over!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

feeling guilty about ants

Okay so just now in Civics there was an ant on my desk. I tried to touch him with my pen and I accidentally broke one or two of his legs. :( I then felt super guilty and tried to help him move around by unsticking his broken legs to the desk, but it wasn't working. I was watching him struggle and was thinking about Gregor and how bad I felt when he was gravely injured and how he apparently healed faster than a human. I figured if the little ant could just survive for a few hours that he could continue to get better and survive!! However, Nick saw me watching this poor little guy and thinking that I was just too scared to kill him myself, just crushed him. :( RIP Gregor, RIP little ant.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back to Henri the Existential Cat

While googling what you should do if your dog ate chocolate, I was curious as to whether chocolate was poisonous for cats too. Google said:

"The toxic dose for cats is even lower than for dogs. However, cats are less prone to eating chocolate since they are unable to taste sweetness."

"Unable to taste sweetness."

If we were to get anthropocentric and pseudo-philosophical about this, that seems pretty miserable. Domestic cats are often seen as lethargic (since they sleep for so long) and just generally indifferent to life due to their constant inactivity. Now, they can't even taste sweetness, which we often crave because carbohydrates energize us and satisfy our brains' built-in reward system for when we provide it sustenance. Ain't that interesting.