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.

Women, Experience, and Art in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce develops the character of Stephen Daedelus through the use of language and symbols to heighten the conflict of his view toward women, drive him to seek women as an instrument of knowledge, and initially transform him into a man who learns from what he lacks.
In the first chapter Stephen is put in a situation where he is under the paternal threat of Well’s and other kids that are in his school because they tease him about kissing his mother. In this passage James Joyce suggests that Stephen Daedelus is striped of his innocence and in times of discomfort Stephen reverts to the thoughts of his mother. This is related to Sigmund Freud’s oedipal complex that a boy has repressed unconscious desires to be with their mother and want kill the father figure or paternal threat in order to accomplish the maternal goal.

O, I say here’s a fellow says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed. They all laughed again. Stephen tries to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right way to answer the question? (27)

By laughing along with the kids, Stephen is trying to accept their jokes and be more like them as if he were included but that is impossible because they are teasing him and he is being emasculated, or castrated for not knowing the correct answer when asked if he kissed his mother. Stephen tries to not give in to the paternal threat by laughing along but in the end he is let down and mad a fool of. “He did not dare raise his eyes to Well’s face. He did not like Wells. It was Well’s who shouldered him into the square ditch… and how cold and slimy the water had been” (27). Well’s can be looked at as the paternal threat in this passage that Stephen is in conflict with. The fact that Stephen can not meet the eyes of Well’s is related to the idea of castration and Oedipus complex. Oedipus gouges out his eyes in realization of sleeping with his mother and it is marked as a symbol of making himself less of a man similar to how Well’s has made Stephen feel less of man for kissing his mother before he goes to bed. The dislike that Stephen feels towards Well’s makes the competition more obvious to the reader and makes it easier to know that Well’s is a paternal threat. Stephen is almost instantly thrown into confusion and embarrassment under the masculinity of others, under their eyes, and under their laughter.
There is imagery in the environment of the square ditch that Stephen is pushed into by Well’s. “The cold slime of the ditch covered his whole body; and when the bell rang for study and the lines filed out of the playrooms, he felt the cold air of the corridor and staircase inside his clothes” (27). The cold slime is imagery of a mother’s womb. Stephen longs to be comforted by his mother. He mind wanders back to the thought of his mother at times of discomfort because his mother is initially the first thing that Stephen has ever experienced as physical pleasure and comfort. The womb is not warm and comfortable though in this passage because in the ditch it is cold, and damp which signifies Stephen’s deeper confusion of his thoughts about his mother because he has been forced into this ditch by a paternal threat so that it is no longer a warm comfort. Stephen could feel the cold air inside his clothes. The feeling has been absorbed into his clothes and he could feel it now and it was really cold almost as if it was an awakening. At this point in the story Stephen innocence is shattered and he realizes his current thoughts before may be wrong due to the reaction of others.
James Joyce tries to help the reader understand Stephen Dedalus’s feelings without straight out telling the reader. Joyce’s does this by allowing the reader to connect stories and feelings from the present and past by the use of flashbacks to further show the height of confusion and embarrassment; the present feeling of hotness from embarrassment opposing with the past feeling of the coldness of the ditch.
Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did it mean to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight … Why did people do that with their faces? (27)

Joyce’s style of writing in this passage makes it seem as if Stephen is really troubled. Questions are asked over and over, repetition is used to show the readers the distortion of Stephen’s thoughts. Throughout the novel Stephen comes into contact with a paternal threat while he is trying to reach his maternal goal.
Stephen struggles by trying to balance the image of a woman between a strumpet and a virgin. Stephen creates his own fantasy similar to the story The Count of Monte Cristo and in the romantic adventurous fantasy Stephen pictures himself with a girl by the name of Mercedes. The fact that Stephen creates his own love fantasy can be a way that he displays his love as defense mechanism or sublimation. This can also be related to idea of displacement, when ideas are shifted to be less threatening and more acceptable through dreams, fantasies, and ideas and not actual acts. In his fantasies Stephen is can do whatever he wants in the story because it is his story. There is no paternal threat present and Stephen is in complete control of the women in his story therefore he feels that he is the paternal authority in his fantasies.
Stephen does not view Mercedes as an object of sexual desire but more as an instrument of knowledge. He refuses her offer of muscatel grapes (67). The grapes are symbolic of sexuality and a way to be free by means of ecstasy and his proud refusal shows that he is not interested in Mercedes that way. The refusal of the grapes may also be symbolic of Stephen refusing to give in to his desire for women. Grapes are associated with Dionysus who is also known for youth, healing, joy, and freedom by madness and ecstasy just as how drinking a large amount of wine can relieve thoughts and free the mind.
He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him… He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how. (69)

When Stephen thinks of Mercedes he gets excited and aroused. It is kind of a sexual thought when he thinks of Mercedes. Stephen wants this dream of his to be real. He feels like he needs to experience his fantasy because he is still not experienced and the lack of this experience holds him back from being a successful artist. In order to create art and language there must be some level of experience and Stephen feels like he lacks this. He longs and aches for some type of experience but he does not know where to find it.

But a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst…They would be alone, surrounded by darkness (69)

The idea that “They would meet as if they had know each other” ties into Mercedes being symbolic of a mother figure. Stephen feels as if they have known each other before he is referring to the idea of his mother. Stephen knows that he does not have to do anything in order to have this experience because “without any overt act of his it would encounter him”. Without looking in terms of sexuality, this passage is referring to the things that a person may learn from a motherly figure as far as from what is right and what is wrong. Stephen feels that he can learn a lot from a mother. A mother teaches a child many things from the time of their birth, a mother figure is the nurturer and sense of comfort in a child’s beginning life. In the fantasy of Mercedes, Stephen longs for Mercedes to teach him just as a mother would therefore viewing Mercedes as a pure virgin-like figure just like how he views his own mother. Stephen longs for his mother in the fantasy that he longs for Mercedes which is tied back to the oedipal complex. The darkness that surround Stephen and Mercedes in his fantasy brings out the secrecy of his thoughts. Stephen’s thoughts of Mercedes is essentially thoughts of his mother and therefore they must be secret because having feelings for his mother is not socially acceptable. Repressed feelings are feelings that have been filtered by the ego by society and morals and therefore put into the unconscious mind. Usually darkness is associated with uncertainty and can symbolize Stephen’s struggle of knowing what is right and wrong as he grows up.
And in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then. In a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall form him in that magic moment . (69)

Stephen feels that in a moment he would turn into something that is difficult to perceive and understand and that he would change. In that moment Stephen would learn and be experienced and therefore be capable of changing and transforming into the artist. The weakness and timidity and inexperience that fall from him can also be interpreted as the loss of self. The technique of using dreams to bring out all these unconscious feelings is related to the ideas of Freud how dreams and language are just projections of our unconscious desires that are being masked and revealed through interpretation and analysis. (263) Stephen feels that when he comes in contact with a woman he will no longer be weak timid and inexperienced. Therefore it is revealed to readers that Stephen feels that women are strong, don’t fear anything, very confident, and experienced. Stephen feels that when he is with a motherly figure that he will learn to be more like them and gain experience so that he may produce art.
In Stephen’s final stages of maturity he feels the need to flee from the mother figures in his life such as his real mom, the church mom, and mother of Ireland.
The image of woman metonymically absorbs all the paralyzing nets that constrain the potential artist ...Stephen resolves to detach himself from “the sufferings of women, the weakness of their bodies and souls. In casting off the yoke of matriarchy, he asserts his manhood in filial collusion with the Daedalus, his classical mentor. (Henke 331-32)

Stephen’s art is an outlet for his emotions. The constant struggle between reaching the maternal goal with the paternal threat, and the back and forth conflict of different views of women confuse Stephen’s emotions therefore can be seen as “paralyzing his art.” In this passage there is imagery of Stephen taking off the yoke of matriarchy. The yoke is essentially a device or frame that is placed on oxen so that they can be enslaved and controlled to pull a load of materials. The image of Stephen taking off his yoke that has been set on him by a matriarch, mother figure, shows the freedom that Stephen will accomplish once he flee from Ireland.
By getting rid of the yoke that he feels has been place upon him by the women in society he is trying to take away the power and effect that women have on him. In psychology Karen Horney developed the theory of womb-envy to counter the theory of Sigmund Freud and the penis envy. The womb-envy theory states that women are only envious of men because of their status in society but men have an unconscious jealousy of women because of their capability to bear children and create life. “The artist must successfully usurp her procreative powers” (332). Stephen Dedalus must successfully take away the power that women are able to carry children. The only way that Stephen would be capable to do that is if he was capable of impregnation as well. Stephen takes his art as a form of impregnation. His creation of art makes up for the fact that he cannot create life. Stephen relates this to the Virgin Mary’s impregnation of the Holy spirit and he imagines his own impregnation which results in his art and poetry.
Henke’s choice of wording “filial collusion with Daedelus his classical mentor” shows the real intent of James Joyce’s choice of naming the main character after the tragic hero in the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. The idea that removing his yoke of matriarchy and how it asserts his manhood in relation to Daedalus opens a comparison between the two characters that are similar in many ways. Stephen Dedalus, like Daedalus/Icarus both are imprisoned and they are both trying to escape whatever is trying to hold them back. Stephen feels like the women in Ireland hold him back so he tries to escape that and Daedalus/Icarus feels that his imprisonment holds him back so he tries to escape by flying away on wings. They both reject authority into their lives. Stephen’s rejection of authority may also be looked at as rejection of fear.
“I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too” (218)

In this passage Stephen is depicted as a fearless person because he does not fear what most people are fear. Fear can be capable to hold a person back from acting. Fear can bring out the cowardice in a person but Stephen is not afraid. Stephen is at the peak of his maturity and feels that he can not achieve his potential if he was to remain in Ireland. He needed to break free from the things that hold him back from experiencing and open up in order to become an artist and dedicated to art. He is aware that women inspire his art but now that he feels that he has learned to be less timid, more experienced, and strong Stephen feels that he just needs to get away and fulfill his destiny of being an artist.
James Joyce develops the character of Stephen Dedalus as the artist as a young man. He follows up the experiences that Dedalus goes throughout his lifetime that initially lead him to his an illuminating discovery, realization of his own nature as the artist.