Monday, December 1, 2014

Censorship: Silence of the Lambskin?

On campus, I bemoan my fate each time I have to lug around my hefty textbooks. I usually force my husband to carry my Shakespeare book. However, my husband should be grateful we did not live in the time of clay papers or my books would be much heavier.
In my last post, I talked about the reasons why I read: for my imagination, understanding, problem solving, awareness, and to help others. From the library presentation, we learned about many different forms of writing in Mesopotamian/roman/medieval times. These different eras each sought for ways to write in order to also communicate with others and to spread awareness. Indeed, the simple need for a receipt in the Mesopotamian era demonstrates how necessary it is to document and record in each society. This need prevails as all people, from every generation, have a desire to remember and to record simple concepts, simple transitions, or profound memories through writing.
From the library presentation, we learned about how writing has changed throughout the years depending on the writing materials available. The Mesopotamians wrote on clay. The librarian showed to us a receipt from this era that weighed far more than a simple slip of paper. We also looked at a Roman ID made from metal, writing materials from plants and lambskin. The collected texts that the librarian showed us included the receipt, ID, the Bible and the Book of Hours.

From this presentation, we can answer the question about whether or not censorship plays a part in maintaining the morals of a society. I would argue that yes, censorship does control the morals of a society. That is, censorship allows a certain body of people to decide what will be the morals of the society and through writing, they can produce propaganda to support those morals. For example, monks wrote the Bible that the librarian showed us. The monks were able to choose what parts of the Bible they would include and also what images they would paint on the gold sleeve pages. Similarly, Dante could produce his own idea of morals and spread his ideas through his literary work. When censorship controls what writers can say (as we saw during the Roman period), then certain morals that were deemed “acceptable” are the ones that we now receive today, while other ideas were censored from the clay, metal, plant, lambskin, or paper writing supplies.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top 5 Reasons Why We Read

Top 5 Reasons Why We Read
1. Imagination--We read to expand our imagination and explore the possibilities only found within our own minds. It is only within the realm of our consciences that we can perhaps find the greatest solutions and the greatest adventures.
2. Understanding--We read to open our minds to others' opinions and ways of perceiving the world around us. While we prattle throughout the day and tell one another our opinions, when we allow time to consider our thinking and write down our opinions, we can better communicate with one another.
3. Problem-Solving--We read to seek solutions to our own life's story or to society's life story. Indeed, by examining the stories on shelves, we may find the solutions or cautionary tales that will keep us from living better and more fulfilling lives.
4. Awareness--We read to make ourselves more aware of problems that perhaps remain hidden in other countries or in other's minds. By reading, we dispel our own ignorance and reach out to receive greater knowledge.
5. To help my husband--Tragically, my husband believes in spark notes. I realized this after we were married. Thus, I read to help educate my husband and those around me. During pillow talk, I quote Shakespeare to help educate his chemistry-filled mind.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Juvenal and the U.S.

1.     School System-“I have never examined the entrails of a frog.”
a.     Just as in the United States, Juvenal mocks Rome’s educational system. He dramatically hyperbolizes Rome’s situation by saying that he, as a student, never even studied the anatomy of an animal. Clearly, Juvenal is demonstrating his disgust at the school system.
2.     Health Care System-“Here in Rome the son of free-born parents has to give the wall to some rich man's slave; for that other will give as much as the whole pay of a legionary tribune to enjoy the chance favours of a Calvina[17] or a Catiena,[17] while you, when the face of some gay-decked harlot takes your fancy, scarce venture to hand Chione down from her lofty chair.”
a.     In the United States today, many rich bemoan how their taxes go to pay for the poor man’s health care. Likewise, Juvenal criticizes how “the son of free-born parents has to give the wall to some rich man’s slave.” A true citizen has to help someone who has a lower-income than him and that, in Juvenal’s view, should not be tolerated.
3.     Nutritional Problems-“It is no easy matter, anywhere, for a man to rise when poverty stands in the way of his merits: but nowhere is the effort harder than in Rome, where you must pay a big rent for a wretched lodging, a big sum to fill the bellies of your slaves, and buy a frugal dinner for yourself.”
a.     Juvenal says that he intends to leave Rome because he can only “buy a frugal dinner for” himself here. Likewise, many in the United States can only afford cheap dollar-menu items with no nutritional value.
4.     Mental Health: “What else can you do when attacked by a madman stronger than yourself?”
a.     Juvenal questions what would happen if a “madman” came at you. By using this term, “madman,” Juvenal demonstrates how he also does not understand mental illnesses. He frivolously uses the term “madman” to describe a dangerous man and yet, he does not know the mental health of that person. Likewise, not all mentally ill persons are dangerous. Thus, just as in the United States, Juvenal demonstrates an ignorance regarding mental illness.
5.     Literary Loss-"What can I do at Rome? I cannot lie; if a book is bad, I cannot praise it, and beg for a copy.”

a.     Juvenal recognizes that there are poor quality books in Rome. While the Romans certainly did not suffer from using clipped sentences on Facebook, they still struggled, apparently, to create noteworthy literary texts.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Top Five Social Problems Facing America Today

1. School System: At times, I feel as though society likes to throw its hands up and say, “oh well, this generation is a disaster.” Then, we try to teach the younger generation so that they will not be so unfortunate as our own. However, the school system is failing. In many public school systems, the teacher to student ratio is absurd. Teachers cannot receive sufficient supplies to even teach their classes. Similarly, students fail to appreciate academic possibilities and instead, turn to dangerous paths.
2. Health Care System: Unfortunately, the health care system is failing to meet the needs of the citizens. While taxes pay for those who do not need emergency care, those who truly stagger under the weight of medical demise cannot receive the help they need.
3. Nutritional Problems: I eat a sandwich for lunch and, to be honest, I am not sure what I truly put into my body. The amount of hormones people now place in meats has negative health consequences. Likewise, our nation’s consumption of preservatives is creating more health problems.
4. Mental Health—Perception of/Treatment: Staggering amounts of people have been diagnosed with mental health problems in our nation and yet, many do not receive the treatment that they need. Furthermore, those who do not have mental disorders are ill educated about the psychological problems of others.

5. Literary Loss: Most people read text messages or tweets instead of novels. Consequentially, we are turning our language into a convoluted chaos of mere statements instead of sentences. As we lose our ability to read admirable texts, we stumble upon an inability to properly communicate with one another and other nations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

To Blind Oneself or Another

Like Oedipus, Hecuba was born into privilege. She was a queen, who tragically lost her status and became a slave. Similarly, Oedipus was a king, who tragically lost all when he discovered he had killed his father and married his mother. Both Oedipus and Hecuba, as tragic characters, have stories, which evoke emotions ranging from pity to outrage amongst viewers. Aristotle explained that a tragic character “is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty.” Both Oedipus and Hecuba, from the beginning of their plays, are not horrible people. They do not seem capable of either incest or murder. But in the tangle of their stories, they both fall to these sins. I would argue that Oedipus fell accidently into his tragic state. Certainly, we may argue that Oedipus’s hubris or violence was the cause of his downfall. However, no matter his character flaws, Oedipus did not intend to kill his father and sleep with his mother. Likewise, Hecuba found herself in a destitute state. She did not intend to hold both of her children, as they lay dead. However, both Oedipus and Hecuba responded to their tragic states differently. Oedipus, disgusted by himself, the mistakes of his parents, and the messenger’s inability to kill him at birth, harmed himself. He could have taken revenge upon the messenger. But instead, he gouged out his own eyes. On the other hand, Hecuba declared herself to be the “most miserable of women,” and gouged out the eyes of the man, who killed her husband. She also killed the man’s own two children. Thus, Oedipus blinded himself in an attempt to hide from his tragic reality, while Hecuba blinded her son’s murderer, to find some shred of relief in revenge.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Running Away: Oedipus' Hamartia

            Before I heard Oedipus’ story, I heard of his sin. I learned about the tragic character that killed his father and slept with his mother. I wrinkled my nose in disgust at such a man. I scoffed that such a creature prowled within the realms of our imagination and exhaled a sigh of relief to hear he existed only upon the stage of a Sophocles’ mind. Now that I have read Oedipus’ story, I pity him. I pity this man lost in the tangles of a tragedy. However, though I pity the self-blinded man, I sighed at what he considered his fate. Indeed, fate nor the gods condemned poor Oedipus. Oedipus committed hamartia, when he did not take the necessary precautions to change his “fate.”
            According to the article by Aristotle and subsequent definitions, “hamartia” is to “miss the mark” in archery (Butcher). I argue that Oedipus did “miss the mark.” Oedipus first “misses the mark,” when he unknowingly curses himself. Upon learning that the gods order the death of Laius’ murder, Oedipus declares that he himself will seek out the murder and then, curses the murder’s life. Ironically Oedipus says, I shall fight for him in this matter, as if for my own father, and I shall try everything, seeking to find the one who committed the murder” (19). Thus, Oedipus fulfills his words and seeks after the murder, as if for his father. Yet, he finds that he is the murderer. He killed his own father. Creon wisely says in the beginning of the play, “What is sought can be captured, but what is ignored escapes” (15). Oedipus “missed the mark” when he continued to pursue the murderer, when he ignored his wife and mother’s entreats to leave the matter, and when he realizes his own ugly crimes.
            But in all tragedies, sin can never hide, as it can never be ignored. Thus, Oedipus’ true “hamartia” came earlier. Oedipus reveals that he knew of a personal prophecy concerning himself. Phoebus once told him that he would sleep with his mother and kill his father (38). In an attempt to escape the prophecy, Oedipus ran. He says, “I heard and fled, henceforth to share with Corinth only the stars, where I would never see completed the disgrace of those evil oracles of mine” (38). Thus, Oedipus’ great “hamartia” is that he believed running was sufficient to escape the prophecy. To truly run away from such a prophecy, more precaution is necessary. Oedipus should have never killed any man, just to prevent any prophecy of murder. If no murder is done, then Oedipus would have never killed his father. Furthermore, Oedipus should have never slept with a woman, who was clearly older than him. At times, we humans believe we can escape our fates by merely running.

            Thus, because of his great hamartia, Oedipus learned the truth. In the agony of his pitiful tragedy, he witnesses the suicide of his mother and wife. He gouges out his eyes and holds his cries tearless tears upon his children and siblings’ shoulders. Truly, Oedipus is to be pitied. He was a common man. He was a good man. If only, he had taken more precautions. If only he had done more than run.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Epithets To Describe Kimberly

Dear Notebook,

            Since I last blogged in you, so much has happened. I returned home from Jerusalem. I served a Spanish-speaking mission in Salt Lake City, Utah (no one but the heavens saw that one coming). And then I fell in love with Patrick (yes, that boy from 5 years ago). We got married on August 23, 2014 (again, the heavens helped that one along…I am eternally grateful for that).
Now, I am back and blogging for a school assignment. Typical. But this one is a fun assignment. Below, I need to write 4 epithets to introduce myself. This is the perfect assignment as I feel I need to reintroduce myself to my 9 followers (hi, mom!). So here it is…4 epithets to describe myself.

1.     Sappy Sentimental:
a.     I swoon over Hallmark sayings and think the perfect Christmas gift is an angel statue to hover above my bookcase. If the angel carries a little banner reading, “God loves you,” I may start weeping from sheer sentimentality. I am just a sentimental creature, who treasures memories. Yes, I have hoarded every gift my husband has ever given me (even a rock) and scowl at him when he says that I can throw the rock away.
2.     Blessed Bride:
a.     Just a few weeks ago, I married my husband, Patrick. We met 5 years ago and I never get tired of telling any listener our story. Our poor children will probably hear our story every night at bedtime…until they each turn 18 and can legally leave the house.
3.     Ironically Fearful:
a.     I refuse to drive a car on the freeway. When I do drive on road trips, my husband must calm me down from a hyperventilating attack about every 5 minutes and then redirect me from swerving into a bus. I do not like driving. I also once had to leave a haunted house early because I was too scared (I was 17 years old). And I think horror movies are of the devil. My motto is that it is better to watch a nice Disney film then to have the image of the girl from The Ring creeping into your room at night. Ironically, I love all adventures in the wild. I will go snake hunting or swim with sharks, but, please, do not tell me a scary story.
4.     Hopelessly Bookish:

a.     I love to smell books. I love to hold books in my hands and listen to how the pages turn (back to that whole sentimental thing). I love to lose myself in a story. Growing up, my mother gave up all hope of me going out to play with the other kids, if I was lost in a good book. I also love to write. The way words combine and the stories they can create is like magic, to me.