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  • 1984-Goerge Orwell

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Lost" and Slaughterhouse-5

While watching my Lost: Season 4 DVD's this weekend, I came to an episode that completely slipped my mind during our Slaughterhouse-5 unit. In the Episode "The Constant", one of the show's main characters, Desmond, becomes unstuck in time. The way it was handled was just as I imagined it while reading the book. Desmond would be doing his own thing when out of nowhere he would be in a completely different place (his past). The episode even got its own Emmy nomination. Probably the best episode of the show of all time, see for yourself...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

10,000 Days (Song)

This song has been 0ut for a few years but recently I listened to it again and decided to do a close reading of it.

We listen to the tales and romanticize, how we follow the path of the hero.
Boast about the day when the rivers overrun,How we'll rise to the height of our halo.
Listen to the tales as we all rationalize, our way into the arms of the savior. Feigning all the trials
and the tribulations. None of us have actually been there,Not like you...
Ignorant siblings in the congregation. Gather around spewing sympathy,Spare me...
None of them can even hold a candle up to you. Blinded by choice, these hypocrites won't see.
But enough about the collective Judas.Who could deny you were the one who illuminated?Your little piece of the divine.
And this little light of mine, a gift you passed on to me I'm gonna let it shine to guide you safely on your way.Your way home...
Oh, what are they gonna do when the lights go down?Without you to guide them all to Zion?
What are they gonna do when the rivers overrun?Other than tremble incessantly.
High is the way,but our eyes are upon the ground.
You are the light and the way. They'll only read about.
I only pray heaven knows,when to lift you out.
10,000 days in the fire is long enough.You're going home...
You're the only one who can hold your head up high.Shake your fist at the gates saying,"I have come home now...!"
Fetch me the spirit, the son and the father.Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended."It's time now! My time now!Give me my wings...!"
You are the light, the way,that they will only read about.
Set as I am in my ways and my arrogance.Burden of proof tossed upon the believers. You were my witness, my eyes, my evidence,Judith Marie, unconditional one.
Daylight dims leaving cold fluorescence.
Difficult to see you in this light.Please forgive this bold suggestion.Should you see your maker's face tonight,Look him in the eye.Look him in the eye and tell him,I never lived a lie, never took a life,But surely saved one.Hallelujah It's time for you to bring me home
First off, this song has a pretty interesting backround. In many ways it's Maynard James Keenan's apology to his recently deceased mother about the song Judith he wrote while leading the band A Perfect Circle. In the song Judith, Maynard scolds his mother for keeping a strong faith in God after getting sick and losing the ability to walk. He couldn't understand why she would keep faith in a God that would let something so terrible happen, especially to a devout Christian such as herself.
When Maynard's mother passed away he wrote this song in her memory, dealing with his thoughts on her death. The title of the song (and its album) 10,000 Days comes from how many days his mother was paralyzed before she passed on.
It may not be terribly obvious by the lyrics in the song, but Maynard is an atheist (probably agnostic). However, the song generally underlines that, if there is a God and a heaven, his mother (Judith Marie), better sure as hell get into it. Based on the context of the song it sounds like Judith was a tried and true Christian (You were the light and the way they'll only read about), one who followed the values it teaches.
In the song, Maynard expresses his distaste for those who call themselves Christians, the "collective Judas", that claims to be one with God but doesn't practice what he preaches.
I powerful line is "High is the way, but our eyes are upon the ground" meaning many people want to go to heaven, but don't acknowledge the fact that you have to be genuine person to get there.
At the end Maynard seems to be praising his mother for still believing in him even though he turned his back on her God. She was the "unconditional one", the truest Christian he ever met.
Overall I think this is a cool commentary on religion, and a cool story about a mother's strong faith and unconditional love for her son even though he had different beliefs than her own. We could all learn a thing or two from Judith Marie.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Interpretive Writings Taken More Seriously?" Followup

First off, I'd like to apologize for my post "Are interpretive Writings Taken More Seriously?" sounding more opinionated then I originally intended. It's my fault that it came off as "Why are Interpretive Books Better??". This was not the intention of the post.It was supposed to outline why literature enthusiasts (rather than "our culture" as I mistakenly put it previously) hold interpretive literature in the highest regard.
The problem is, this observation may be entirely idiosyncratic, and I'd like to see if anyone else notices the same thing. When it comes to those who are very knowledgeable, or "experts", on literature and it's history, it seems they think of interpretive writings as more important than regular stories.
Another issue remains in separating interpretive literature and everything else. Someone previously mention Stephen King novels as being "regular" stories, but I'm sure King has his own messages beneath the context of his stories. This goes for countless other authors as well. Perhaps its not interpretive vs. regular, it's just the extent in which the author takes his or her metaphors.
On that note, maybe literature enthusiasts find extended metaphor more impressive than general morals and themes. Once again I could be wrong in thinking enthusiast take these works more seriously. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Billy Pilgrim? Part 1

We've already learned from Mr. Kunkle, as well as the first chapter of Slaughter House-Five, that Kurt Vonnegut initially had trouble finding the framework in which to contstruct his Dresden story. This is understandable, as Vonnegut more or less stated he sounded like a broken record everytime he tried to lay out the schematics for a novel about his experiences in World War II.

Now, making headway into the book, it has become obvious that our "hero", Billy Pilgrim, is the apparatus in which Vonnegut chose to use in order to tell this story. But why Billy Pilgrim? Perhaps his ability to become "unstuck" in time makes it easier for Vonnegut to potray the life of a veteran inside and out. Maybe Vonnegut chose to use this character because he couldn't use himself to potray the long term effects war had on him. After all, Vonnegut was far from dead when he wrote this novel. Or maybe Vonnegut didn't want to write another depressing, realistic veteran story, but something a little more innovative.

I feel there are many other reasons Vonnegut used Billy Pilgrim to tell this story, but I can't find them unless I finish the book. I will continue to explore this in Part 2, after we finish the novel.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are Interprative Writings Taken More Seriously?

Since our class has now been introduced to quite a few examples of interpretive literature I've begun to notice something. Pieces of fiction such as the Metamorphosis and The Life You Save May Be Your Own seem much more sophisticated then other stories. This may seem obvious to some of you, but it's kind of strange considering the plot of both stories is rather odd and kind of surreal. Why do people (including myself) hold these interpretive stories in higher regard than literature that may be story/intrigue centric?
Some may argue that interpretive literature is more sophisticated than "regular" stories for the sole fact that it takes more thought and dissection to comprehend. This as some merit, but there are also "regular" stories that are very cleverly written and keep you engaged for hours.
It seems the books our culture (and many others) hold in the highest withstanding regard are those with the most themes. Books like Harry Potter and Twilight may prove to be fun and interesting reads but in twenty years I doubt you'll see them on many "best books of all time" lists.
You will see though, books like The Metamorphosis and Heart of Darkness, which are packed full of different themes and motifs. Perhaps this is because they can be interpreted in so many different ways. Maybe the open ended nature of these stories is what makes them appeal to such a wide audience. Also, a highly interpretive read can be discussed for years and years and continue to be dissected in new and creative ways. Perhaps its not a question of how sophisticated the stories are, but how well they age with our society.
All in all, there's a place for both kinds of stories, but at the end of the day interpretive ones seem to stand the test of time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Last night I finished a short story that, believe it or not, wasn't assigned in this class. The book being (as mentioned in my first post) "Heart of Darkness". I have to say, it was a pretty interesting read.

However, it was a pretty tough read as well. Because the entirety of the story is literally being told by a character in the book, most of the story is in walls of text page after page. There are only a few actual breaks for dialogue, as the character telling the story is only quoting what he heard others say.

Another thing that made the book difficult to drudge through was the fact that it's quite realistic. By that I mean the plot doesn't fall into place like you would expect it to. There is no (clear) rising action, compromise, and falling action. Things just unfold as they do, which makes sense because (if I recall) the story is a true recollection of author Joseph Conrad's experiences in the Congo.

Also, it was quite eye opening to see how utterly racist this book is. The author, and the characters in the book view the Congo natives as nothing but un-evolved human beings. They took it upon themselves to "salvage" them. By this of course I mean, turning them into slaves and taking their resources. The author stated these views as if they were fact too, not acknowledging the ignorance of such beliefs. This of course, was probably the common opinion at the time "Heart of Darkness" was written.

However, if you enjoy hearing stories about the morality and complex nature of the human mind I suggest you read "Heart of Darkness" too. My only recommendation is that you don't go into it expect a romanticized adventure story with a clear-cut conflict and resolution. I know this is a turn off to most people, but it's a fresh deviation from standard novels.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Style vs. Theme

Ever Since I began reading for my own sake rather than for school, I have started to think about what (for me) separates an enjoyable read from a dreadful one. Throughout the years, the only criteria I'd use to distinguish whether or not I would enjoy a book or movie was the subject matter. I would tend to lean towards science fiction or comedic literature when choosing what to read. However, as of late I've become interested in more humanistic, psychologically themed stories.

This is what got me thinking; why now, all of the sudden have I diverted my attention to a completely different style of literature and enjoyed it through and through? Not only this, but what other types of stories might I enjoy?

After pondering this for awhile, and reading more books, I've come to the conclusion that my literary preferences aren't genre based, they're based on the author's writing style. I could read about anything as long as its written in a way that keeps me entertained and more importantly, engaged. I know for a fact I'm not alone on this

For example, most recently I was recommended Lord of The Flies by William Golding for its underlying political commentary. Though this book is supposed to be right up my alley, I found myself uninterested and bored after a few chapters. Golding's writing style was to romantic and fluffy for my taste. Not only that, but the descriptions and dialogues were far too British for me to grasp, as funny as that may sound.

On the other hand, I'm currently enjoying the novella "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad because of his interesting motifs and innovative ways of portraying human interaction. It just goes to show, maybe its not so much the subject matter that determines your interest in literary pieces, but the way its written. Consider this next time you pass on a book merely because of its subject matter.