Monday, December 12, 2005

Last Post

It has been a great semester and I have enjoyed reading everyone's journals. Good Luck on Finals everyone and have a great Christmas break!

Mick's paper

Wow, after reading Mick's final paper in its entirety, I now have a new-found respect for the Matrix Trilogy. My favorite movie has been the Matrix since it came out several years ago and after doing some research, I found some information on the Biblical references and images in the movie. But, wow-Mick did an excellent job of researching this topic, uncovering far more imagery than I even could have imagined. I was intrigued and thoroughly interested by his insight and now I'm going to have to go watch all three movies again and keep his paper close by!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Final Paper

Memory is the mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience. Without memory, we, as human beings would not be able to function. Cultures, before writing was invented, were oral. In other words, everything was communicated through speech. In an oral culture, members trained themselves in the art of memory so they could successfully survive in their environment. In an oral culture, a town storyteller, who has committed thousands of lines to memory would be the source of literature and entertainment.
Obviously, memory is a main aspect of human existence. However, in the United States, as members of a written culture, most people do not train themselves so eloquently in the art of memory. In fact, most rely on written literature to communicate stories and many things are remembered through writing.
This semester, in Biblical and Classical Literature this semester, I began thinking about memory and its importance to our subject matter. First, I recalled the Muses from Greek literature. Mnemosyne, whose name means memory, was mother of the famous Greek Muses. From reading Greek literature, we can see the importance of this goddess and her importance, in turn gives illustrates memory as a central theme. Plato recognizes her importance, "... and in addition to the gods you mentioned I must call upon all the rest and especially upon Mnemosyne. For practically all the most important part of our speech depends upon this goddess ..." (Critias to Hermocrates. Plato, Critias 108d). And it is true that memory is the most important part of speech because, without it, we could not function.
The first reference to memory that I think of when recalling the Bible is the “last supper”. Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his disciples, saying, “this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22.14). Remembrance of Jesus, after he died was successful. The writers of the Gospels remembered Jesus’ life for years and eventually wrote his story down on paper. And now, 2000 years later, we still remember a man who lived so long ago. Although written literature played a large part in remembering his life, generations still had to remember that the stories were important, and read them.
There are countless other references to memory throughout Classical and Biblical literature. However, being in class this semester, with “memory” in mind, something sparked my interest. Several people in the class amazed me when they successfully recited passages from the Bible. These feats of memory really got me thinking about why people memorize the Bible and how they do it. I have never memorized a passage from the Bible on my own accord. Of course, hearing verses and prayers in church has instilled lines in my memory. But, I am curious about the people who actually spend great amounts of time memorizing.
In a way, these people are keeping the oral tradition alive by training themselves, through technique and structure for the ultimate goal of memorization. There are several reasons why people memorize the Bible. First of all, people are essentially testifying to the validity of the Bible when they choose to memorize. For many Christians, the whole book was inspired by God, and every word is seen as the word of God. So, therefore, they must memorize God’s word. Second, people say that memorizing the Bible is one of the best ways to integrate the Bible into your life on a daily basis because moments in meditation and memorization will be beneficial to you relationship with God. Third, knowing the bible from memory can help one explain and quote passages to others who do not know scripture. Furthermore, the argument for memorizing whole chapters stems from the fact that Bible verses can be taken out of context if chosen from the middle of a section and “God’s word” could be interpreted incorrectly.
Whatever the reason for memorizing scripture, one must practice certain techniques for accomplishing the feat. One of the first places I searched, I found techniques on memorization using visuals that closely resembled the “Memory Theatre” of Giulio Camillo. Lists are everywhere in the Bible and the ability to memorize a complicated list can be very beneficial to a person. By placing pictures in strategic locations in your mind, one is able to successfully navigate through the visuals, making associations and remembering words or things. Another technique is memorizing through computer programs. I was amazed to find so many different programs solely designed to help a person memorize scripture. A more complicated technique that I came across dealt with a digit-number system. In this system, each letter of the alphabet was assigned a number. Eventually, through this process, one could master the ability to recall page numbers and exact locations of verse. There are countless other techniques for memorizing scripture. However, whatever technique a person uses, he or she must diligently repeat and practice or else the Bible will “fall out of memory”.
No matter what a person’s motivation to memorize the Bible, I cannot help but appreciate the skill and time it takes a person. It is true, that even now, in this age of written and electronic communications, people can still accomplish monumentous tasks of memory if they put their minds to it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Group 3 presentation script

David vs. The People

All rise for honorable Judge Debbie (everyone in class)

Judge-
You may be seated. I call for opening statements.


Prosecution-
Today in this courtroom, we will witness an open and shut case. The defense may try to fool you into believing falsehoods and supernatural occurrences. However, do not allow yourself to be fooled. What we have here today is a man who so eloquently trained himself in the art of fighting. A man who honed his skills till the opportune moment arose where he could showcase them. However, although his skills may seem impressive, we cannot forget the real reason we are here today. A man was killed. Now this was not your ordinary man. True, he was tall in stature and big in girth. But appearances can be deceiving. Goliath was in fact a caring loving individual whose life was cut short when he was viciously murdered by this man, David. When you decide today what the outcome should be, keep in mind that this man has free choice and he chose to do evil.

Now, may I direct your attention to a reenactment of this brutal murder.

Defense-
Now, we have heard the prosecution speak of murder and free choice. But I want everyone here today to take a step back and realize this situation in its entirety. Goliath was not a good person. He was ruthless, he was heartless, he was a killer. David, on the other hand is just a simple little shepherd. He is practically harmless to anyone. On the day in question, he was only doing what any of us would have done- defending himself from a tall, frightening individual. So I call on everyone today to realize that people do have free choice and that defending yourself is a choice that David made.

Now, watch the defense’s reenactment.


Prosecution-
The people call David to the stand your honor.
Now, David, may I trouble you for you full name?
So, you have no last name, just David?
Alright then, Mr. David, how old were you at the time of this incident?

Defense
Objection, relevance!

Judge
Overruled- get to the point


Prosecution-
So, would you consider yourself a man, fully capable of deciding between right and wrong?

Is it true that at an early age, as a shepherd, you developed fighting skills by defending your flocks from wild animals including lions and bears, which, if I might add, are two of the fiercest and most threatening animals in these parts?

Is it also true that these skills are now great enough and have developed with age that you could not only fend off wild animals, but that you could possibly kill a man?


Defense-
Objection- how could the witness possibly answer this hypothetical question?

Judge-
Sustained- watch it!

Prosecution-
Is it true that the man you murdered, Goliath, was in fact a man with a family, a wife and 8 children?

David-
Well, I don’t…

Defense-
Objection your honor!

Judge-
Sustained

Prosecution-
Alright, Mr. David, on the day in question, were you present on the hills of Elah?
And, is it also true that although short in stature you readily volunteered to take on a man 9 feet tall?
And, furthermore, after you volunteered to fight this man, Goliath, did you go to a nearby creek and gather five stones which you intended to use for murder?

Your honor, if you will allow it, I have a picture to show everyone.

As you can see, in Exhibit A, this man was killed with precision and skill. The stone did not bounce off him. It in fact went directly through his skull. This shot was not meant to defend a person, it was clearly meant for murder. No further questions your honor.
Defense-
David, when this event occurred, you were in war time, correct?

David-
Yes, this is true.

Defense-
Was Goliath armed?

David-
Most definitely- sword, shield, the works.

Defense-
And did he threaten your life?

David-
Yes.

Defense-
Can you tell us the exact words he used?

David-
“Come to me and I will give thy flesh to the fouls of the air and to the beasts of the field.” I’m gonna kick your trash.

Defense-
I see. And David, how much would you say you weighed at the time of this incident?

David-
Around 125

Defense-
And how much would you say Goliath weighed?

David-
Around 450

Prosecution-
Objection! Speculation

Judge-
Sustained

Defense-
No further questions, your honor.
Judge-
Closing statements please.

Prosecutor-
In closing, I ask the Judge to do what’s right. Send this man to prison.

Defense-
David is innocent, he was clearly defending himself against a man four times his size.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Memory

I was perusing through Frye's, Words With Power and I stumbled upon a quote that I feel illustrates Frye's title.

"Thus when the god Thoth, at the end of Plato's Phaedrus, proudly displays his invention of writing, he is merely told that he has discovered a means of destroying the human memory"(295).

If you ask me, the people heralding the destruction of human memory could be considered Luddites. There are many people today who still keep the oral tradition alive. Writing hasn't completely destroyed memory. It has just made things a little easier on us!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Furnace

Frye gives us a very detailed description of "nothing" on pages 288-289. First he asks the question, "What did God make the world from, or out of?" The orthodox answer is "out of nothing." Frye goes on to write, "A part from the 'no thing' aspect of the word, which is an accident of the English form of it, we are confronted first of all by the double meaning of nothing as meaning both 'not anything' and 'something called nothing.' The ladder is normally spelled with a capital N, to distinguish the non-existent from a negative existent. For something called nothing is something, whatever it is called. So if we say that nothing is co-eternal with God, we make a very innocuous, not to say tautological, statement, but if we say 'Nothing (nothingness, something called nothing) is co-eternal with God' we are making a very different statement, and to many people a most disturbing one. . .

A. There is nothing to be afraid of.

B. Wrong. There is Nothing to be afraid of. . .

Where there is nothing, there is God."

The Furnace Chapter was hard for me to decipher- especially the "nothing" section. I did, however, pick out some key points which I believe Frye was trying to make. First, he states that humans cannot understand the concept of making something out of nothing and for some people, this notion can be quite disturbing. It's kind of like imagining the end of the universe- it just can't be done- our minds cannot fathom it. Second, Instead of there being nothing to be afraid of, there is Nothing to be afraid of. God, could be said to be the Nothing which we are afraid of. I;m not sure if I interpreted this even close to the mark, but I tried! If nothing else, this passage from Frye could be a good topic of conversations for you and your roommates over a couple of beers.

Our group tried to piece together Frye's thoughts into some sort of order. To accomplish this order, we ended up making sockpuppets! I hope the class enjoyed our Furnace of Hell, purgatory, of perhaps, even Nothing.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Answer to an Interesting Question

On Rae Ann's journal, she posed the question, why weren't Orestes and Electra angry about the death of their sister? This really is a great question and I've wondered the same thing too. It's like Iphigenia didn't mean anything to them. But, obviously, their murdering father did. I have to agree with Rae Ann on this one, this question definitely troubles me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lightbulb # 4

On page 113 of Frye in the Spirit and Symbol chapter, Frye writes, "Sentimental readers say that it will kill a poem to analyze it, but reading, like eating, is a predatory activity, except, of course, that what is read exists both en soi and pour soi, in itself as well as for itself, and, like Robert Graves' white goddess, obligingly renews its virginity for the next reader. In fact, it can, and should, renew it for the next reading by the same reader."

A poem can be analyzed and interpreted in countless ways, depending on the person. Obviously some people do not agree with poetry analysis. However, I like how Frye put it when he said that a poem "renews its virginity for the next reader." I believe this is how poetry should be - interpreted differently from person to person.

I think an interesting question to ask yourself is "If an author of a poem says that a line should be interpreted a certain way, does that make that interpretation fact and close it for future interpretation? After all, the writer of the poem can't be wrong. . . ."