Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflection Paper

It’s hard to picture a day without English 12 Honors; every paper, every discussion, every laugh. I would have to say I grew the day that I stopped dreading Period 5. I knew English class was going to be hard the day I stepped in. I remember a student who sat across from me whispering to tell me, “I am so out of here, I’m changing this class because he’s crazy and the work is crazy.” There was a good period of time that I just really didn’t enjoy English class. I didn’t understand anything, I didn’t know what explicating was, and I didn’t understand how I could write papers about poems that were a few stanzas long which made no sense to me.

Ted Berrigan’s "Red Shift" really aggravated me. I never had to explicate anything before in my life. English class for me consisted of reading books, knowing vocabulary words, and being able to pass a multiple choice test. I felt like I was tossed into this classroom missing all this knowledge that I should have had. I was frustrated because I read the poem and I knew what the words meant, but altogether I didn’t know what it was about and I don’t think I could have passed a multiple choice test either. I read the directions for explicating over and over again to find a deeper meaning and I just made up what I thought the poem meant, supported it the best I could, and printed it out hoping for the best.

I must have printed a good handful of papers and handed them in while hoping for the best. Sometimes I feel like I just get lucky. My first quarter grades were saved from classroom discussion, notebooks, and vocabulary test grades. My paper grades were still inconsistent and I felt like it was my weakest point. I didn’t even notice that I was getting better at explicating. I just remember one day Mr. Gallagher said to me, “Kristin, your explications are improving a lot. Don’t you think so?” I had to lie and say that I knew exactly what he was talking about and that it did get easier. It didn’t get easier. I spent so much time on explicating but it gave me a boost in confidence. My analysis papers got a lot better. My papers went from 70's to high 80’s and even 90’s.

My favorite book that we read this year was James Joyce. I was really scared to read it because it was weird for me. My cousin read James Joyce for a summer reading book and she absolutely hated it with a passion so I was nervous over it. I think I value the experience of reading James Joyce because we read it together as a class and had classroom discussion. Together we took James Joyce layer by layer until we all understood the deeper meaning. I got to shine all the time when we started reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I was always prepared for class and I used so many post it notes to analyze every single thing. My notebook was full of notes and I just grew an appreciation for literature because James Joyce is so genius. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has so many things in it from Shakespeare to Sigmund Freud. I gained so much knowledge from reading that book because I learned how to take notes and analyze things. I did a lot of outside research and took into account the psychoanalytic and feminine criticism that we studied. Altogether, I created what I would consider my best written piece ever and my highest graded paper of the year. I passed my "James Joyce Critical Theory" eight-page long paper in with confidence.

I’m glad that I stayed in English 12 honors with Mr. Gallagher. The first day, I wanted to go along with the “He’s crazy and work is crazy” and change my schedule ASAP. If I did that, I would have probably never gained my confidence to write genius papers and grow as a reader and writer.

Mr. Gallagher you are one crazy person but thank you for everything.


This is a good chunk of my Hamlet notebook put together into informal essay that was used as a study guide.

In Hamlet's soliloquy Hamlet is angry and frusterated over his situation. He starts his soliloquy "O that this too too sallied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew" (129-131) I have a different interpretation of the lines then Alexander did. Hamlet is referring to his own body when he talks about "sallied flesh" Sallied is just something that is dirty. Hamlet
starts his soliloquy after he just found out about his uncle and his mom. He is disgusted over the situation because his mom moved on too quickly and that fact that is is his own uncle. Hamlet is so disgusted over the situation that he feels dirty for even knowing about it. He feels "sallied" and he just wants to "melt and thaw and resolve into a dew". Hamlet is
contemplating suicide. He wants to end his life and melt and turn into dew. The process of melting and turning into dew is evaporation and can also be looked at as a form of
disappearing. Hamlet does not like the situation and he wants to disappear or just die. He wants nothing to do with the situation he wants to be "a dew" which can also be a pun for the French word Adieu which means goodbye. In these few beginning lines we know that Hamlet is not happy about his uncle and his mother. He continues on his mini rant about it.

Hamlet goes on to complain about his mom not mourning long enough. He also adds a lot of drama to his soliloquy. Looking at the words that Hamlet chooses we can also further analyze his anger and frusteration. "O that this" (19) "O god god" (133) "O most wicked" (156) "Fie on't ah fie!" All these little quotes could be looked at as a pause in Hamlet's train of
thought. He goes on to talk about his mother and uncle then he stops to say "O god" and then continues and stops to say "Fie on't ah fie!" it just heightens the anger and frustration. We know that Hamlet is really distraught because he is so angry that he cant even think straight.

Note: Hamlet calling his uncle a Satyr is not just calling him a half man half goat mythological creature. The satyr is known for its sexual promiscuity. Calling his uncle this just lowers the uncles standards compared to his Hyperion sun god father.Hamlet does not understand why his mother would move on so quickly because his father was such a great man and he also doesn't understand why she would downgrade to his uncle. Besides comparing his dad to Hyperion and his uncle to a satyr Hamlet also compares the comparison of his dad and uncle to the comparison of himself and Hercules. "married with my uncle, my father's brother, but no more like my father that I to Hercules" (150-153) The comparison between Hamlet and Hercules is a huge jump because Hercules is the strongest man in the world and no other person can look strong or great next to Hercules just like Hamlet's uncle is nothing compared to Hamlet's father.

Hamlet doesn't understand because his father treated his mother so well. He doesnt understand why his mom would move on and why she would do it so quickly. "so loving to my mother that he might not besteem the winds of heaven visit her face too roughly" (141-143). Hamlet's father would never let harm come in his mother's way yet she would disgrace his fathers memory by moving on so quickly and not mourning long at all. "O most wicked speed: to post" (156) This quote just clarifies that Hamlet is angry at his mom for moving on quickly-- Post like a post office that sends stuff out right away.


This is my open response on the English midterm which had a passage from a novel about the narrator reading letters of his grandmother named Susan Ward.

"How does the narrator characterize Susan Ward's attitude towards her life in Milton? Please support your response with specific details from the text"

War of the Titans

War of the Titans

My poster on the Titans vs. Olympians is inspired by Henry Ferrini’s “Polis is This.” The movie is based on the views of Charles Olson and the changes that are occurring in Gloucester. Newer traditions were replacing old ones. Newer buildings were being built over old buildings and Gloucester seemed to be changing for the worst. Charles Olson didn’t want to be part of Gloucester because it changed so much. “My memory is history in time.” Just as new technology and taller buildings took over the older traditional Gloucester, Zeus and the newer Olympian god’s took overthrew the Titan’s rule over the world.
The Titans were gods before the Olympians took over. During their rule they were mostly associated with the planets. They were children of Uranus, the god of the heavens, and Gaia, goddess of the earth. Gaia was Uranus’s mother and mate. She had a deep hatred for Uranus because he imprisoned her youngest children in Tartarus so that they would never be seen. Uranus felt like they were hideous since they were gigantic abnormal gods because Hecatonchires had one hundred arms and Cyclopes had one eye. Cronus, who was one of Gaia’s children, envied his father power and with encouragement from his mother and support of his brothers he revolted against his father, killed him with a sickle, and threw him off the face of the earth. As Uranus was falling off the earth he called his sons “titenes” which means straining ones. He called them that because they crossed the line and thus comes the name Titans. Before Uranus was overthrown he prophesized that one of Cronus’s sons would overthrow him as well just as he has overthrow his father so to prevent that from happening Cronus would always swallow all this children whole.
Cronus’s wife Rhea secretly had her 6th child, Zeus, and hid him away from Cronus. She gave Cronus a rock wrapped in a blanket instead and Cronus swallowed that instead thinking it was his son. When Zeus grew up he was given a potion to give to Cronus which made Cronus vomit up all the children that he swallowed including Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia, and Poseidon. Together with Zeus and they were known as the Olympian gods and for an eleven year time period they fought with the aid of Cyclops and Hecatonchires against the Titans in a series of battle and wars known as Titanomachy.
In my poster I tried to incorporate things that I learned from my research into the poster such as images from the myth of the Titan wars but as a parallel to that I also drew into my poster a picture of a fishing boat riding on a wave, trying to overcome the new trains and the buildings. I drew it this way because new changes are occurring in Gloucester and there is conflict between old and new almost like a war. For the section of my poster that includes mythology I drew the earth and stars around it to represent Uranus and his wife Gaia. I also drew a picture of Rhea handing over a blanket of rocks, Zeus, Cyclopes and some weapons from the sickle to Poseidon’s trident. I drew all of these things with a huge fire in the background to emphasis the conflict between the new gods and old gods.
Charles Olson showed remorse for the changes happening in his hometown. He also felt “remorse for the nature of mankind when he saw the bombing of Hiroshima.” He spoke wisely about “never putting yourself in a position where you would have to go backward.” Charles Olson himself wished that he could go back to the time of the Titans and Olympians to change the way everything would work out in the future of humanity.

Memoirs of A Geisha (Cover page Design)

Chiyo Sayuri is taken from her home as a young child forced to live in slavery. Memoirs of a Geisha tells an unforgettable journey of a young girl and her journey through her life of becoming a geisha. Through social skills, art, music and dance and the enchanting life styles of a geisha Sayuri realizes that destiny is not in her own hands but in the hands of the wealthiest men. Living and having to accommodate to perplex Japanese’s cultural ways where women are looked down on and true love is impractical Sayuri tries to find herself. Truly a captivating and moving autobiography of a girl struggling to put her destiny in her own hands.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Stranger (blog)

In the first discussion it was kind of like a practice round and opinions were not as in depth and explained throughly but Ashley shared her opinion about the meaning of the book and the meaning of the title. “The Stranger” she commented that it was about how Monsieur Meursault did not have a close relationship with his mother and how that makes him a stranger. Many students agreed with her opinion saying that it didn’t seem like he had a relationship with his mother and that the reason why he killed the Arab was because of the inner feelings of anger he had for the lost of his mother . I would have to say that I disagree with this. Although some of the opinions given about this subject in the first discussion was not really referred back to quotes Ronald and Shawn disagreed as well commenting that “Meursault was a stranger to society and it has nothing to do with his mom” and “the book doesn’t mention relationship with his mom it is mostly because of the way the character ways of living irrationally.” completely agree with Ronald and Shawn’s input. I don’t think that “The Stranger” is about the lost of a mother and how it leads to murder. Doing further research on Albert Camus and the book itself I learned that it is based on the beliefs of existentialism which many students touched upon explaining that humans define their own reality and how existentialism is the opposite of rationalism and it emphasis importance of freedom of choice and individual existence. Monsieur’s meursaults peculiar personality throughout the book and how he reacts and his look to life and inability to analyze his actions makes him a stranger to society not a stranger to his mother. “To be honest, I knew that there was no difference between dying at their years old and dying at seventy because, naturally, in cases, other men and women will live on, for thousands of years at that.... It was still I who was dying, whether it was today or twenty years from now.” (pg 160) Meursault in this quote states that he doesn’t feel like he can escape death and that no matter what it is going to happen. It also shows his existentialistic look toward life.

The American Dream

In the poem Red Shift, Ted Berrigan suggests that the “American Dream” is nothing but a false goal because in the end happiness is not achievable. Throughout the poem Berrigan’s negative attitude and anger toward society is reflected and is also intensified towards the end of the poem.

The speaker of this poem does not have a positive feeling about the American lifestyle. The poem relates American life to “American poison liquid air which bubbles and smokes” (line 4.) Poison is something that can be harmful and life threatening to those who come in contact with it and it is used to help support what Berrigan feels toward American way of life. The meaning of life has changed over time due to changes in society. Berrigan references to years back when “the man smoking is looking at the smiling attentive women telling.”(line11) And then to “the calvados is being sipped on long island now” (line) which clearly helps the readers picture the change that has occurred, for the worst, in society.

The living to achieve the American Dream is something that can not sustain true happiness. The speaker of the poem says, “Who would have though that I’d be here... nothing wrapped up, nothing buried, everything love, children, hundreds of them, marriage, ethnics, a politics of grace” (line 13-15), which shows that the American dream was achieved. Although the speaker had everything from children, marriage and love the outcome of the dream was not what was expected. It was something that he dedicated himself to work toward, “We both vanish into the thin air that we signed up for” (line 25) but in the end happiness was not there.

Finding out that happiness was not the outcome of living out the American Dream caused anger and negativity toward society. “There’s a song,” California dreaming” but no I will not do that” (line 30.) California dreaming was a popular song back in the 1900’s that was about living a carefree happy life full of hope and youth. The quote shows the speaker feels that he will not be able to live down the life that is sung about in the song “California dreaming” and that he won’t be able to live a carefree happy life. He talks about the “world’s furious song flows through my costume” which is interpreted as the anger the world has and he is the person that is speaking out about it.

When setting a goal and achieving results are often satisfactory such as setting a goal to win the race and then taking home the trophy but in this poem the goal is reversed. The speaker of the poem set his goal and lived to achieve the American dream and in the end he was unable to find happiness. Therefore, in the eyes of Berrigan, the dream is false and that it leads to utter disappointment.