Monday, January 27, 2014

So...There's Been A Mistake

Somehow my blog has wound up with 16 posts and we're only on post 17. Yes, I know that must not make much sense to anyone but me, so allow me to explain. I missed two blog posts last year. I still got an A in the class, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it now, so I don't care and neither should anyone out there reading this. My point is that, if I had done those like I was supposed to, then I would be up to 18 posts. How? you may be asking. Well, that is exactly my question at the moment. This is (should be) my 18th post. How is that relevant? Because I thought that this would be due the 3rd of February.

Anyway, week reflections...welp, not much happened. I got an A on my math test. Woohoo.

I have a monster history unit test that includes an essay, which is making me very stressed. I have enlisted assistance for studying, but I am still super stressed. It's unavoidable at this point.

In pottery I painted my Adipose. The clear glaze goes on purple, and I've lost track of how many times I've said and thought, "If this glaze stays purple after it's fired, I'm going to cry." I won't really, but I will have a pair of extremely odd-looking purple Adipose salt and pepper shakers. That would not be good. But I'm making little chibi-ish Merlin and Arthur for my second set. I made Arthur already. He's adorable.

Still not entirely sure about Health.

In Bio, we're learning about cellular respiration, both aerobic and anaerobic...It's really complicated and we have a lab that we did about it but I'm pretty confused about that so...I'll have to figure it out eventually...

In Spanish, I'm actually doing fine. Nothing to report. The one class I'm not drowning in.

Which brings me to LA. Tragic heroes are all well and good, and my group is doing Captain Hammer from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which everyone should go and watch because Joss freaking Whedon is brilliant, as is everyone in that movie. Also we are watching "the saddest 30 minutes of Titanic" tomorrow. Should be interesting.

Anyway, that's really it. If I find out tomorrow that I didn't actually have to do this blog post...well, I'm going to be very confused. But it doesn't hurt, right?

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Know, Let's Talk About the Week!

How was the week? 

Academically, we read Oedipus Rex, we did an inventory of Greek terms, and we learned a lot about the myth of Oedipus this week. That's just Language Arts, though. In Pottery, I made salt and pepper shakers that are the Adipose from Doctor Who. They turned out really well and they're adorable. 

Here they are. Pretty good, yeah?

In Health, we didn't do much. I'm still a little confused about what we're supposed to be doing in that class. In Math we learned about logarithms, in Biology we learned more about muscles, and in Spanish we got new vocabulary about performing. So I learned a lot of cool stuff and got distracted quite a bit, as per the norm.

But how was the week in general?

Well, it wasn't entirely dreadful, as weeks go. I didn't kill anyone, so that's a plus. For those of you out there who don't understand sarcasm, of which there are a discouragingly huge number, that was a joke. 

Also, in case you haven't guessed it by my tone, which is, granted, rather difficult to discern through words alone, I am feeling done with people in general. Which is why it is a miracle that nobody is dead by my hand.

Annoyances aside, the week was actually fairly normal. Classes weren't any harder, nice people were still nice, annoying people still annoying. I don't know. Not much happened. As weeks go, it was an average one. And the fact that it was average is the reason why it was so terrible. 

But it wasn't all that terrible. I mean I have friends to eat lunch with, I have a house, I have food, etc. And I don't want more physical things from life, I kind of just want to be more fulfilled. I want to do something with my life, something less mundane then just school, homework, barely sleep, repeat. It's boring. And I want to see the world. 

That got really deep and really weird really quickly. If you're still reading, thanks for putting up with me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oedipus Inventory

Oedipus is the protagonist of Oedipus Rex. He is the one whom the terrible and gross prophecy is about, and he is the one who accidentally goes forth and follows it by running away from it. Then he fornicates with his mother, and later tears his eyes out at the horror of it. An understandable reaction, but also fairly extreme.

Oedipus Rex the play is about more than just Oedipus and his seriously messed up family. It encompasses what happens after the myth, which is basically Oedipus' backstory. The play is considered a tragedy, and one of the main themes is man versus the gods. Also, the idea that everyone has an inescapable fate that is theirs alone plays a big part in the play.

Finally, in the Oedipus Inventory Oedipus Trilogy, there is Oedipus Rex, the myth. The myth is what adds most of the character to Oedipus Rex the character. The myth goes that Oedipus had a stake driven through his feet when he was just a baby, since he got a prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi that did not bode well at all for the kingdom. Then a servant who was watching brings Oedipus to the neighboring kingdom to be raised as a royal baby. The way they found him is the reason why his name is Oedipus, since it means "swollen foot". Oedipus then goes on the road, and on his way he kills his father in a fit of road rage, makes it to his old city, defeats the Sphinx by solving a riddle, and then wins his mother's hand in marriage as the prize for saving the city. That is about where the play picks up the story. 

Next up is the Oedipus Inventory Aristotelian Trifecta (that sounds so cool). Aristotle himself was a huge deal in philosophy, and is still quoted and learned from today. He also was one of the first people to come up with a system of reasoning, otherwise known as logic. One of his greatest literary achievements was the idea of the tragedy, which is the idea that someone's life could just sort of generally degrade until there is not much good left and they claw their eyes out (only sometimes metaphorically) or that everybody dies except the one telling the story, which is rarely the main character.

Specifically, Aristotle's idea of a tragedy fits Oedipus Rex the play very well, as he was a great admirer of Sophocles's play, considering it the perfect tragedy. He said that a tragedy needs to have six parts; plot, characters, diction, thought, spectacle, and melody. Some of those seem more fitting to a song than a play, but to each his own. Aristotle's tragedy format is still in use, and is quite applicable to today's works as well as it was to the ones from BCE. 

The final piece categorized under Aristotle is hubris. Aristotle mentions it in his description of a tragedy, saying that tragedy must include hubris amongst a host of other character flaws and problems. Hubris is a state, not entirely unlike arrogance, but also very different from that since it does not translate perfectly into English, but it is the opposite of being humble and striving to do your best. As soon as you believe you have reached arĂȘte (which is the opposite of hubris) then you have fallen into hubris, for you believe that your best is simply the best and that there is nothing you can't do.

Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something that the characters do not. In most cases, it is knowing how the play (or movie, or book, or whatever) is going to end, but sometimes it is something smaller like having an alternate perspective for a few moments so the audience knows what the bad guy is up to while the audience is oblivious. Perhaps the most famous story with dramatic irony is Romeo and Juliet, where the audience is literally told the plot of the entire play in the first paragraphs. There are many other examples throughout modern stories, also. 

Sophocles is the guy who wrote Oedipus Rex. Without him, Language Arts classes everywhere would be so very different. But more importantly, he inspired a lot of people. Freaking Aristotle thought this dude was impressive for writing the perfect tragedy. He was one of classical Athens' three great tragic playwrights, and he was very attached to and involved in his city of Athens. Basically, he was a really famous guy of his time, and he was also really smart and really good at what he did. 

Teiresias is important, and he also shows up in The Odyssey, another Greek classic. Teiresias was the blind prophet of Thebes. He saw Athena bathing, so she blinded him, but at his mother's pleas Athena granted him the gift of prophecy as compensation. He gave Oedipus his fateful prophecy, helped Odysseus with Poseidon, and made a prediction of the greatness of Hercules. 

Fate plays a huge role in the story of Oedipus. The idea that there were three little-old-lady-celestial-beings-with-yarn making sure that you followed your destiny was a big belief with the Greeks. Everyone has their own prophecy, and nobody can escape their fate. The three fates determined what you were going to do, how much misery and fulfillment you got, and when you die. Cheery, right?

The final installment in the Oedipus Inventory is the Greek Theater. Greek Theater pioneered comedy and tragedy, now considered to be staples in any respectable theater. Plays were performed outdoors with a sloped seating area so everyone could see, and the seats curved around the stage so that the people could see every angle of the action. Also, no violence was ever shown on stage, just implied. Most of the great Greek plays are still considered classics today, and are still enjoyed by many.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Baraka was a moving, deep, and powerful film. It managed to connect the entire world into one being with nothing but images and songs. There were no words throughout the entire movie, and that was incredibly impactful. It relates to world literature because it managed to speak the language of the world. The world has so many different people in it, so many races and religions and cultures, but Baraka showed that when it comes down to it, we really are all the same. World literature comes from all over the world, from people everywhere trying to make sense of things their own way, how to fit into the greater whole. In general, there are always only three types of stories told a million different ways; boy meets girl, fish out of water, and coming of age. But these three themes are in every story worldwide. Through our stories, the entire world is connected. And Baraka conveyed that with no words. In first semester, we studied satire, the hero's journey, and an allegory. And we managed to combine all of those in our minds, making sense of them and relating them to each other through the One Great Heart speech. This further proves that everything there is in writing is connected somehow. All the stories are all still part of this same world. They are their own little realities, tucked into pockets of the one true reality we live in. Whether conveyed by fantastical images of the real world, so beautiful it seems they cannot exist, or words showing how far our own consciousness and imagination can take us, the same simple truth remains. Everything is connected.

Watching the various religious rituals, especially the cremation and the monkey dance, were moments of awe. Seeing those felt like that was real, more real that problems like good grades and waking up on time. Having a real life like those people, seemingly so uninhibited from their hopes and dreams, is infinitely preferable to always being told your wishes are only that and your goals are out of reach. Knowing that there are people who have that kind of life, and that it is possible to have that kind of life, was wonderful news. Seeing the homeless people on the streets, foraging for food in a dump, hit hard in a less good way. I felt like I have been wasting my life, living in such excess compared to them, and I have done nothing, though there are things I could do, to help them. How could I live with so much when there are others out there with so little? Seeing that basically felt like a battering ram to the heart, plus a rethinking of many morals and problems. However, since there are things that I can do, seeing those images ultimately felt good, and leading to compassionate actions. Some of the most impactful images in the movie were also the saddest, unfortunately. In particular, seeing the concentration camps, the heaps of shoes, the photos of the victims tacked up on the walls were the images that meant the most to me. Anything that has to do with the Holocaust is kind of a big deal for me. I don't frequently broadcast the fact that I am Jewish, but it is a fact, and seeing images like that was very difficult for me. Even the concentration camps that were not German were too similar, and were based off the same model if not a worse design. Even if I didn't have such a personal connection to those images, I would still find them the most memorable and disturbing because seeing how many innocent people died for a single stupid reason matters. Anyone dying, regardless of what they've done, matters, because there is not one person anywhere that is not important. It's like pulling on a single thread and an entire sweater coming unrolled. Every person is essential. 

My idea of a moving and impactful image differs greatly from Brussat's. She thinks that beauty and awe is moving, which I agree with, but I believe it is less moving than seeing real things that are terrible, like the chicks being burned and sorted or the war zones. Beauty is wonderful, if one is lucky enough to encounter it. Horror seems to be unfortunately more common. Knowing that there are awful things out there means that there are that many more people who know about the problem and can work to fix it. Not everyone will try, but those who do will succeed because they want to. Knowing that beauty exists is a fundamental part of solving problems, because it means that there is a solution in sight. However, seeing the problem is more moving that seeing the solution because finding the problem is the first step to solving it, and once you have the solution there's nowhere to go. Lovely is the way the camera moves so slowly between the vine-covered monuments and statues, a wide stationary shot of a mountain to prove its enormity. Truly beautiful camerawork, capturing the essence and feeling of a place. And yet the same can be said with the slowly building tense music as the camera swoops around a volcano, many quick shots in a war zone with guns and abandoned, overgrown tanks. The camera and the music make the scene feel tense and nervous, proving what is wrong. It gives the film greater depth and clarity, helping the viewer through the story and through many different emotions.

I think this film is hoping to teach that, though true beauty is hardly obvious, it is actually all around us. Everything, even the bad things, can become a good thing. Death causes a person to be reclaimed by the earth, and thus completes the cycle. Be it peaceful or not, death, assisted by time, will claim everything. But giving life even in death is still wonderful, still lovely, still beautiful. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. All it takes is a little extra effort of the mind, and the body will follow. What you see is what you believe, and if you can make yourself see beauty, then beauty will become that much more real, and you can use that to bring light to everything that is dark. In seeing beauty everywhere, in everything, people can bring beauty everywhere, helping others see the beauty that is right in front of them and helping, in turn, to make it clearer for others. Baraka is trying to teach that, through our worldly connections, we can make the world a beautiful place. We are all connected, and once one person believes in the beauty, they, assisted by time, will help the rest of the world see.