Friday, April 4, 2008

Personal Reflective Essay

English class was like a rollercoaster of ups and downs..

Honestly, English is a subject I never enjoyed. I find it lacking in comparison with other subjects, and without passion, I did all the English work assigned to me. However, English class this year proved to be a great experience. New elements were introduced to me as soon as I set foot in the classroom. Unlike before, I began to grow more knowledgeable and interested in the subject of English, as well as become a more independent and responsible person.

Starting from day one, my intention was to solely pass academically in English, ignoring the depth and rich information waiting to be gained from riveting novels. At first, when explications were being covered, the first being Redshift if I recall correctly, I did the work only because I was forced to, in order to pass. However, as time progressed, I began to develop a deeper understanding of the material being read, and a slight interest, rather than a monotonous or robotic view regarding English class. This feeling started immediately with The Stranger. When given assignments, dialectical journal entries, explications, essays, concerning Meursault, I put more effort into my work. It was the first time in any English class that I wanted to write purely to express my ideas, theories, insights, and not for the sake of academics. I yearned for more knowledge about the material being read, and I wanted to learn as much as my attention span would allow it regarding Meursault, as well as all of the incoming material to be covered. My writing skills improved subtlety, and my usual "hop on the computer, open word, and type it out all in one go" method for essays evolved and changed drastically. Starting with the Camus paper, I began to spend more time on my essays, and instead of my aforementioned method of writing essays, began a multistep process involving: brainstorming, outlining, writing rough drafts, editing the drafts, revisions, final draft, etc.

Reading The Stranger proved to be an extremely significant asset concerning my growth in English class. It taught me that the English subject CAN be enjoyable, and I do not have to be miserable while doing work related to English. The novel also sparked a momentum of interest that would flow throughout the rest of the year, even as of now, during the period of Hamlet.

After The Stranger, I became motivated and interested regarding English class, however, that did not mean that I would excel or do well in the subject. I was constantly receiving a consistent barrage of bad grades in the 70s range concerning my analytical essays and explications. Improving seemed impossible in my mind, as I would never reach that certain depth that was required to score higher. It felt as if I could not ascend to a higher level of writing. However, this all changed when painting explication and painting analysis began. Perhaps I am more of a visual person when it comes to depth. Starting with the explication of the Brueghel paintings in conjunction with the poems by William Carlos Williams, I vaguely began to somewhat grasp the concept of depth. A whole new world was opened, a deeper knowledge and understanding of English surfaced. Although this proves false with material not involving visuals, it was progress nonetheless. The writing pieces, analysis, explications, etc., of visual works helped me understand the step I was missing. It helped show me the depth my papers might have lacked. I did very well academically on work involving visuals, and truly grew when it came to understanding exactly what I was writing about. The struggle with depth is still ongoing; however, my writing concerning depth and my understanding of it has improved tenfold from day one. Even though my writing is nowhere as good as I would like it to be, it is definitely an improvement from before, and it is achievement that I feel I should be proud of. Over the course of the year, my writing pieces improved in quality with leaps thanks to such influential works like Camus The Stranger and mesmerizing visual art pieces by wonderfully talented artists.

I can say without a doubt that I have learned so much this year regarding English. It is not farfetched to even suggest that I might have learned more than what I have culumuntively learned throughout the past three years of high school English. I was treated as a responsible adult, and in turn, passed in all assignments unquestionably. English class proved to be an amazing learning experience in which my English knowledge grew so much.

Brueghel Painting/William Carlos Williams Explication

Nature’s Bounty

In “Haymaking”, by William Carlos Williams, Williams portrays the lives of haymakers as they distance themselves from the modernizing society far off in the background of the painting. He demonstrates how their lives are unchanged as they remain close to nature, through short, three lined stanzas with little punctuation and simplicity of word choice. “Haymaking” ties in with Williams’ other poems regarding Brueghel’s paintings, which stress sustenance off of nature and display the lives of humans as they transition into modernism.

In the first three lines of the poem, the speaker states that “The living quality of/the man’s mind/stands out”(1-3). He suggests that the peasant’s way of thinking differs perhaps from the outlying society in the background. Williams describes this quality of thinking as “living”, demonstrating that the peasants will continue thinking this way until their minds cease to exist. The minds of the peasants make “covert assertions for art, art, art!”(4-5), as they declare their art of haymaking and way of life positively, however, in secrecy and concealment. Williams stresses the significance of the word art through repetition and usage of exclamatory punctuation. This magnifies the peasants’ love of their way of life in haymaking, as Williams only uses punctuation one time throughout the entire poem.

Lines six to ten coincide with the mention of art in lines four to five. The peasant’s art of haymaking is represented as a “painting//that the Renaissance/tried to absorb”(6-8). The Renaissance, a time when medieval life transitioned into Modernism, did not integrate the art of haymaking into itself. Thus, the rural area where the peasants worked and lived did not change and “remained a wheat field/over which the wind played”(10-12), as opposed to the society in the background which modernized. Williams personifies the wind to show how nature communicates with the peasants. He also shows how the peasants respond to nature, as “men with scythes tumbl[e]/the wheat in/rows”(13-15). The peasants and nature have a close and familiar relationship, as if between humans. The words Williams chooses, playful and tumble, signify a physical relationship between the peasants and nature. There exists a certain understanding, closeness, intertwining between the peasants and nature, where the peasants’ lives seem carefree and relaxed, as nature interacts so peacefully with them.

In lines seventeen to twenty-one, Williams continues to display the closeness between the peasants and nature, while describing the peasant’s refusal to leave the sustenance that nature provides. The strong bond that the peasants possess with nature is shown, as “[nature] was [their] own-/magpies//the patient horses no one/could take that/from [them]”(17-21). Williams suggests that the peasants felt that nature belonged to them, and perhaps no one else. Nature provides the peasants with fields for their haymaking, and animals to assist them. The peasants try to keep what they currently have that is affiliated with nature. They to continue living their current lifestyle, and do not want to be thieved of their possessions.

Williams interprets Brueghel’s painting very deeply and uniquely. Through his simple, yet infinitely complex poem, humans are shown with a certain relationship with nature that is beautiful. The isolated peasants with their task and art of haymaking understand nature far more deeply than the society portrayed in the background. It seems as if nothing could separate the peasants from their coexistence with nature, be it society or even time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Redshift (Will C Remix Version)

Here I am at dawn, against the bed frame
The air is tense and unfriendly
on the way to dreaming streetscape
I drink some water which spills on my face
and splashes to have wet everything and to sink
In. The streets look for fatigue, or me. Dead
as I am, there are things left unsaid, it's
draining. Draining on me. I sleep
through it, them, as
my pillow sipped on my drool now
17 years almost ago, and the man dreaming
enters a familiar world alone, & telling.
Who would have thought that I'd be here, nothing
bothers me, everything
seems so serene and peaceful, even the
Painful memories incessantly gnawing.
Up in the sky, does the moon grow fragile, now
more than ever before?
Not that banana, loose in the pocket of a coat
eyes penetrating the darkness carefully
& yet in blissful unawareness. Not that terminal, fragile teen, who was
going to have to go, careening into that banana peel so.
To slip, & fall, how far could a banana imagine
so to go. Not that fruit seller who from very first meeting
I would never & never buy fruit from again, that made the banana
into the monster it became. I was injured & so demanded
To have that fruit seller become my slave to serve me & who will never leave me, not for apples, nor oranges,
nor even for another fruit stand which is
Only our human lot & means to make money. No, not yet.
There's a song, "Make Poop", but no, I won't do that
I am a banana. When will I die? I will never die. I will live
To be ingested, & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
who am always & only a fruit, despite this peeling. Spirit
Who lives only to make hilarity ensue.
I'm only rotten, & I am spoiled, & I didn't asked to be eaten,
but I was.
I came into your life to cause bowel movements,
and I did!
And the one being punished is your toilet.
No toilet paper & no Febreeze. Fortunate fate, nevertheless
I recycle into the ground
The world's essence is saved yet once again.

Poem: Importance of Lighthouses

Lighthouse, lighthouse, guide the way,
Round up ships that fish astray.
Prevent their crashing, into the rocks,
And safely guide them with your light.
As the fishing ships swivel to the docks,
Mark your victory, a job done right.

For if you, lighthouse, were not there,
Fisherman vessels must beware,
The rocky coasts and dangerous shoals,
Like the Sirens, whose voices draw
Odysseus and sailors alike to their grave,
When crashing into the shallow shore cliffs.

Lighthouse of navigation, with your fuel house and quarters
Boat house, fog-signaling building and towers,
Lantern room glassed containing lamp and lens,
Storm panes and astragal bars support top-part frame.
Storm-proof ventilator to rid smoke of burning lamps,
Lightning rod and grounding system to prevent lightning strikes.
Built so well, and so well thought out,
With so many precautions and features about.

Lighthouse, lighthouse, erected everywhere,
Even in Olson's beloved Gloucester,
Where fishing is essential, made safer, and perhaps
Possible, only because of you.
And maybe someday too, I'll construct a lighthouse,
One that will guide and save the lives of many.

On Demand Writing - ELA Midterm Essay #2

The narrator characterizes Susan Ward's attitude towards her life in Milton with tenderness and love. With detailed description and historic documentary embedded into the novel, readers learn about Susan's views about home and her own home in Milton, as well as the experiences of the pioneers. By abstractly writing about time and its staleness in Milton, the narrator characterizes Susan holding Milton as a fantasy-like, nostalgic place, where she longs to remain forever. From Susan's letters, the narrator is able to deduct the fact that Susan loves her life in Milton, every detail about it: the security and peace it offers, its gentleness, the gentle people, its sense of unchangingness. Milton is "a home place so intimately known, so profoundly felt, deeply loved", to Susan. With her absence from Milton, Susan feels both "free" and "unutterly deprived".

The Stranger Journal Entry

I was struck by how sincere he seemed, but I had had enough. It was getting hotter and hotter. As always, whenever I want to get rid of someone I'm not really listening to, I made it appear as if I agreed. To my surprise, he acted triumphant. 'You see, you see!' he said. 'You do believe, don't you, and you're going to place your trust in Him, aren't you'"(Camus 69).

In the passage, the magistrate engages Meursault in a conversation regarding Meursault's faith in God. The magistrate proves persistent in forcing his values on Meursault, showing incredible sincerity, which oddly triggers something in Meursault. Meursault mentions that "it was getting hotter and hotter" as a result of the magistrate's presence. Meursault's indication of the temperature and its effect of causing him to "want to get rid of [the magistrate]" correlates with the incident on the beach with the Arabian. It seems that when Meursault feels bothered, annoyed, angry, or any combination of the three towards someone, it becomes hotter and hotter. This warm sensation of heat causes Meursault to act only with regards to make the heat, or whatever causes the heat, to go away. It causes him to feign agreement with the magistrate, when he usually just says things as he sees them. In a way, this situation with the heat offers an explanation to why he shot the Arabian man, although it does not justify it. In the sense that heat, warmth, anything that causes it: the sun, other people, etc., causes Meursault to act improperly and illogically.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Independent Reading Explication


In Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Vonnegut suggests that life amounts to purposelessness through John’s irrational behavior and change of tone. John begins an angry confession of his dreams when proposed with the question of finding a “neat way to die, too”(190), as the end of the world approaches with the number of known survivors dwindling down.

John’s previous calm manner of speaking, “murmur[ing] huskily”(190), changes as he “blurt[s] out [his] dream of climbing Mount McCabe with some magnificent symbol and planting it there”(190). He becomes infuriated and shows his frustration and anger through action as he “takes [his] hands from the wheel for an instant to show [Newt] how empty of symbols they were”(190). John is encompassed with the lack of symbols, of purpose, from his empty hands as he does not think logically and risks danger by removing his hands from control of the vehicle. He then further questions Newt, who he expects no answers from, yet continues to do regardless, while incorporating foul language into his repetitive questions. His tone and speech also become nonsensical, when asking “but what in the hell would the right symbol be, Newt? What in the hell would it be”(190). His anger results from the fact that he does not know what his purpose in life is. John then regains composure as he “grab[s] the wheel [of the vehicle] again”(190), and seems to have calmed down a little.

John comments on his inability to reach his goal in life, speculating that “Here it is, the end of the world; and here I am, almost the very last man; and there it is, the highest mountain in sight”(190). John laments that he is so close to finding his purpose, yet it seems unreachable. It causes him to think illogically and contradict what he has learned in Bokononism. He states that “I know now what my karass has been up to, Newt. It’s been working night and day for maybe half a million years to get me up that mountain”(190). John believes that he knows the will of God, what God’s intentions are, when claiming that he knows about his karass. He contradicts one of the first main teachings of Bokonon ,as “a person trying to discover the limits of his karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do . . . are bound to be incomplete”(190), and that “anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing”(190) is “a fool”(190).

John, despite Newt’s lack of response, continues his rant, although slowly bringing it to an end. He conveys his emotions physically as “wag[s] [his] head and nearly we[eps]”(190), ending his melodramatic confession with the question “But what, for the love of God, is supposed to be in my hands”(190). John still questions his purpose, his existence, although he already possesses knowledge through Bokonon’s teachings that it is impossible to do so. Through John, Vonnegut suggests that humans, even though they may acknowledge their inability to find purpose in life, will continue to do so, regardless. It perhaps, is in human nature, to find purpose in life. However, all effort is lost, as the world will someday come to an end, be it due to humanity’s strife in warfare, or through natural means when the Sun explodes.