I think random acts of kindness are addictive. I got such a high doing little things this week like opening a door for someone or always adding to the donation jars or buying the “would you like to donate a dollar to (fill in the blank cause)” at various stores. My random act happened one day as I was leaving the grocery store and I saw an older woman with who had a case of water bottles she needed to put into her car. I helped her load her groceries and we ended up talking about different kinds of dogs. I think I do things like this more often than not having worked in various types of retail jobs. I worked for a large home improvement store and had a management position one summer and very regularly I would discount or not scan different items for people who seemed like good people who deserved a little extra. A small amount of kindness can go a long way. Karma is very real and why not earn good karma points when you can!
I really enjoyed watching this movie. During this course I have felt that the readings or assignments have spoken to me at a time when I needed to hear it most. For example, the letter writing assignment helped me to reconnect with someone I had really missed having in my life. Watching Shakespeare Behind Bars and hearing the line “people who need mercy the most are sometimes the ones who deserve it the least” really allowed me to reconcile some feelings I have been having.
Moving on, I found this video to be really enjoyable and sweet at times. It reminded me of a documentary I have seen several times and of an author I love from my field of study, Rafe Esquith. He is an educator of fifth grade students in a poor, urban community. Rafe decided that much like the prisoners in this movie, fifth graders of varying cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds were very capable of understanding and learning from Shakespeare. It has always amazed me how the students he worked with were able to take Shakespeare and break it down line for line and truly understand the characters and meaning. Just like the prisoners, the kids who most people would assume would never have the capability to comprehend something like Shakespeare get something so much more than meaning from the writing. The children, like the prisoners grow to understand themselves from the characters and are exposed to various levels of comprehension beyond just mere words.
I have attached a link to a youtube clip of Rafe’s “Hobart Shakespeareans” the kids are performing “The Merchant of Venice.” I think it is obvious from the clip that the kids truly are aware of their characters. I think its also inspiring in a way that Shakespeare Behind Bars can be. It can get old reading literature and trying to make meaning of it to write a paper but seeing these movies and clips of people or children who get so much from it gives me new inspiration and love for the literature I’ve always enjoyed.
While reading Volpone, I felt terribly for Celia. She is the flattest character presented in the play and the one who seems to suffer the most. When Celia is introduced she is explained as having several guards watching her. It can be inferred that she too is somewhat of a slave, almost a foil to Mosca. Celia is moral and does not display any high level thought process in comparison to Mosca who is conniving and immoral. In the end, all of the characters get what they deserve. The greedy and immoral men are imprisoned, stripped of their wealth, and Bonario inherits the wealth he deserves from being one of two morally acceptable characters in the play. We don’t really learn anything about Celia. I disliked the fact that she had the apparent misfortune of being an attractive and moral woman and is unable to escape the fate of leading a terrible life due to her of naivete.
This left me feeling like I didn’t have enough resolve. I wanted something more or more resolve for the highly moral characters; however, I think that is part of the overall satire. Being a good person doesn’t get you ahead it just keeps you out of jail. I think this also ties into the question given at the end of the drama about the viewer enjoying the play. I don’t think it is really possible to walk away with a happy feeling after this drama because it is just so empty. The lesson in this is that money is empty and so is wealth if you are as immoral as the main characters of this play. I think in any society that is driven by wealth this drama highlights a few unsavory realities.
Reading Utopia was really fun for me. I had never read it in its entirety and it was very enjoyable. Norton explains the various readers who praise the work as well as those who distain it. As I read, I kept thinking about being a child and wanting to make and live in my own imaginary world. It is only natural to criticize and judge the world around you and I think that reading any more into what More has written would be as silly as most of his Utopian concepts. For More to have intelligently created this well thought out societal plan he must have also been aware that such a world could never exist. An example of the point I am trying to make is when More is discussing the common eating hall in which elders are served first and with the highest quality food. Before dinner, the hall is given a moral lecture which More describes as being short in length to avoid the topic becoming a bore. Likewise the elderly citizens never ramble on and tell stories about their youth; rather, they engage the young in their thinking as to keep themselves from being a bore to the younger citizens. This made me laugh out loud and think about the thought process of a child who had just endured something like an Easter church service followed by a painfully boring dinner with their grandparents who ramble on about how they never even got an Easter basket as a child. Children often attempt to create their own language as was shown in the Norton, second book page 568. This is another example of the humor in which More wrote Utopia. Unfortunately, More did act separately from the moral code he describes in Utopia in which Utopians are tolerant of all other religious practices. This proves my point earlier that More was educated and realized that this type of world is not possible, that does not excuse the reformation; however, it does shed more light on his motives for writing Utopia as a creative work not necessarily a political ideology.
So when I saw the assignment to write a letter I thought it was the world telling me to be a better friend . A friend of mine has a girlfriend in France who sent him a post card saying “Here’s your f*cking post card” because she had been sending them to her other male friends whom he lives with which hurt him a little. So being a friend, I used this assignment to write a letter telling him I didn’t think he deserved to be treated that way considering the fact that he is a genuinely nice guy. It was interesting because I got nervous to use poor handwriting and I even made a draft for a letter I was sending to someone who I text every day. It seemed much more personal to use my own cursive and put my name on the return address. I took much more pride in the words and look of the letter especially when I know my iphone wasn’t going to read my mind and write the words for me. I loved the project, might write people more often now.
Edit, people! I don’t know if it was just the writing style of the time or genre, but almost every sentence written in Sir Walter Ralegh’s and George Best’s respective “Discovery…of Guiana” and “Passage to Cathay by the Northwest” was an interminable stream of words which…
I am not ruminating this week, I just wanted to say a bit about the Donne reading this week. I really enjoyed it, it was rather sweet in comparison to the earlier readings assigned from Donne. I enjoyed the sentiment and if you didn’t read it you should, it is lovely.
In the poem “The Indifference” John Donne is a bit of a jokester, or was he?
From this week’s Podcast and Norton Anthology it is known that Donne was a bit of a flake when it came to his religious practices. Additionally, a lot of his works within “Songs and Sonnets” had a mocking and satirical tone, this is far from the persona a religious man such as Donne should have. It would be farfetched to believe the author of “The Indifference” would later write religious sermons; however, it is true.
The poem “The Indifference” describes a man who loves all women, and thinks everyone should be free to engage in lustrous relationships with as many partners as they choose; the narrator even convinces Venus that his philosophy on multiple intimate physical relationships is the correct one. The tone of the narrator is cocky and boastful in this sense. He sounds a bit like one of the boys from MTV’s the Jersey Shore. The reader is supposed to find humor in the slight crudeness of this work.
After thinking about Donne’s religious indifference, I wondered, is he really kidding around? Donne was well versed in religious practices, both Catholic and Protestant, but he was also indifferent in his writing. Donne supplies a variety of theme and tone in is writing, almost as if he is several different authors. As the Norton anthology states “It is possible that he added to Songs and Sonnets after he entered the church.” I think religion and biblical references are powerful and alluring which is why he may have chosen to write about them; however, Donne’s writing was clearly provocative and I believe this provocative tone was just a reflection of his own nature. The poem “The Indifference” may have been written to be satirical or could have been a fun way to playfully disguise and confess his own lusty personality. The old adage comes to mind “it takes one to know one.”
Lines 7 and 8 both talk about the suppression of a tongue holding back secrets. As if to say “hold your tongue.” This is interesting when put into a poem about love. Shakespeare says that he is older in age and that his mistress is a liar. This poem needs to be read a few times for the reader to realize that the lying mistress does so out of love. People who love eachother are possibly liars to their partner because they don’t always tell them the truth. The age old joke of a woman asking a man “Does this look good?” comes to mind when reading this poem because out of love a man does not always tell the truth. The tongue is also a seductive symbol, which does not seem to imply an unhappy tone. It is more flirtatious which, again speaks to the happy and sweet meaning of the poem.
I selected the John Mayer album “Continuum” as my wild card assignment topic. The song “Gravity” discusses the feeling of life getting you down. The lyrics in gravity tell the story of a man wanting more in life and being unable to sustain the lifestyle he has created. The term “Gravity” seems to be symbolic of life’s stresses. In this song he says “Oh Gravity is working against me/ And gravity wants to bring me down/ Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good/ And can’t sustain like a one half could/ It’s wanting more/ That’s gonna send me to my knees/ Oh gravity, stay the hell away from me/
And gravity has taken better men than me (now how can that be?)/Just keep me where the light is. This is the beginning of his story about life’s struggles.
He continues the commentary on life’s hardships in the song “Stop This Train” which describes the feeling of life moving too fast, or feeling out of control. I think this song was added to further the emotional story of someone struggling to maintain in a fast moving world and not having time to consider how you are living. This song also brings to light a change in the way he is thinking in the lines about a conversation with his father. He begins to think more positively.
Finally the song, “The Heart of Life” finishes the story he is telling about life by discussing the fact that life might be difficult but overall it is a gift and joyous. “Pain throws your heart to the ground/ Love turns the whole thing around/ No, it won’t all go the way it should/ But I know the heart of life is good.”