Thursday, September 30, 2010

Freaking Awesome

The events recounted in this post are entirely true to the best of the author's and her source's knowledge.

A few days ago my math teacher, Mr. Zappia, told us a story. It took over half an hour to tell. This is the short version.

A few years ago, he had a mini-stroke. Ever since, he has had a migrane every single day.

A few weeks after that happened, he got in a car accident. 

The back of his car was considerably closer to his head. The passenger's side of the car was considerably closer to his body. His seat was at a 45-degree angle (that's Pi/4 radians, which I have put here for his benefit in the off-chance that he finds this) to where it should be. Somehow, he was alive and entirely uninjured except for being in shock.

Hospital bills are expensive. New cars are expensive.

The car accident happened over spring break. A day or two after school was back in session, he got an email from a former student attending college in Arizona saying "Heard what was going on. Let me know if you need any help." He thought That's very nice of (him/her)." He typed back "That's very nice of you." 
Later that day, he received a call from a different former student attending college in Ohio, saying much the same thing.
During lunch, he was eating in his classroom with a few of his current students. He told them about this and remarked on how odd it was that they'd both gotten in touch with him on the same day.
The students started edging toward the door.

"You know something," he said.

"No we don't.

"Yes you do. What is it?"

"We don't want to tell you."

"(laughs) I'm not giving you a choice."

They walked back towards his desk, and one of them asked "Have you ever read Harry Potter?"

This, understandably, confused Mr. Zappia. "Um, yes. Are you changing the subject?"

" You know how Harry Potter had an army?"


"Well," the student said, "You have an army too."

This group of students had made shirts with lightning bolts on the front reading "Zap's Army" with math symbols on the sleeves. They had started a group of Facebook to sell these shirts to a greater span of people. The cost was variable, so people could pay extra if they wanted. All of the extra was to go to Mr. Zappia to pay for his expenses.

"(in shock) I can't accept that."

"We know. That's why we didn't want to tell you."

He wrote a letter, emailed it to these guys, and they put it on the Facebook group saying that all of this was very nice, but he wasn't going to take the money.
In the end, they gave him $6300 and he gave it to Habitat For Humanity.

He had an army. With T-shirts. How awesome is that? 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lord of the Flies: Inner Darkness

This is a multi-faceted, complex, and incredibly fascinating topic. It is also one that I will not do justice to in this post. This post is about Lord of the Flies. This post is about my assigned character (Simon) in particular. Sorry if you saw the post title and are now disappointed.

Today (in English) we were discussing different characters within the book and how they view the Beast.
In chapter 5 ("Beast From Water"), the boys are battling the island (islands are often described as "popping up out of the water," and this particular island is described as a leviathan). Ralph calls a meeting to discuss how the boys aren't following through with their decisions. Jack is still as hunting-centric as ever.

Chapter 6 ("Beast From Air") begins with a dead parachutist descending from the sky. Simon's internal view of the beast is a human, even though he doesn't really believe in an actual beast.
One of our discussion questions was "Why doesn't Simon believe in the beast?"

The beast is a metaphor for our own inner darkness, and that of humanity. It's the savagery lurking below the surface (closer to it in some than others) in all of the boys, and indeed in all of us.
Simon is the boy who wanders around the forest late at night, surrounded by darkness.

I take this to mean that Simon has come to terms with the darkness and ergo the world. When we're little, we use a nightlight. When we're a bit older, we can sleep in our own rooms with no light, but we run to and from the bathroom as fast as possible- from one safe zone to the other. Only when we're very familiar with the darker side of our house can we comfortably and leisurely walk around without fear. Only when we understand the house can we do this. Only when we understand the world and ourselves may be be like Simon walking about the island in the dark without fear of the beast. He is the beast, in terms of what the littluns see wandering around as well as in a more metaphorical sense. But who says the monsters under the bed are mean?

We later moved on to discussing where various characters are on the maturity spectrum.

I (as well as most of the class) place Simon at the very top- emotional maturity- the most important, I think.
Ralph comes next, being the highest in social maturity. He has good leadership skills (knowing not to blow the conch when Piggy told him to), but not always the brains and, well, emotional maturity to make the best decisions.
Jack comes next. He's got the physical maturity and autonomy, but not the greatest social skills and he's not even emotionally mature enough to be consciously insecure in terms of the beast.
The rest of the boys (excluding Piggy) come below him- mostly because they're younger, and that they're scantly mentioned and therefore probably don't exceed any of the main characters in their maturity specializations.
Piggy comes at the bottom. He literally barely functions without the layers of rules and bureaucracy that modern society provides, always whining "but I've got the conch!" If he can't function as an independent person as opposed to an obediently working part of a greater whole (not bad-mouthing greater wholes- just saying that everyone should be able to function outside one, even if they prefer to be in one), then he gets to be on the bottom.

I like this topic of inner darkness very much. Expect more on it at some point.

To Be The Prettiest

Typed on 9/20/2010

I'm reading an anthology entitled Twice Told. The guy that came up with the idea is a professional illustrator. He decided that he spent all of his time artistically interpreting other people's stories, so why shouldn't it work both ways? He drew 9 pictures, and then had 18 authors write a story about one of them. It's very cool.

As of now, I'm joining my school's Debate Team. I'll probably go for the "Interpretation" category which is basically solo acting without costumes or props or anything. It's very adamant in the guidelines that the piece of literature I'm "interpreting" must be a printed and published work. 


I HAVE A PRINTED AND PUBLISHED WORK. It's not for sale (although I'm working on theory), but it is printed, and it is published through a valid publisher (yes, it's a vanity publisher, and no, I'm not proud of that, but in this case it's extremely convenient), so I'm perfectly allowed to interpret one of my own poems. I want to do the edited version of "In the Maelstrom" which *goes to check* I thought I posted but apparently deleted. Sorry.

Maybe it'd be better for me to do something else. But I have so little experience in acting that I want to focus on that, instead of the "interpreting" part.

On to the English journal.

"If you could be the prettiest/handsomest in the world, what would you look like?"

Hey, a journal where I'm expected to be vain. Fun.

If I were to truly be the prettiest in the world, I'd have some sort of glamour (for those of you who aren't familiar with fantasy terms, that's a magical disguise) that made everyone see their own definition of beauty when they looked at me. When it comes to pictures/video, I guess it'd be sort of a blur and people would come away with only a vague idea of what they'd actually seen.

I'd hate that- to look like everyone's ideal. For one thing, I'd mostly be perceived as just a body and not a mind. Not only that, but I'd lose my physical identity, and while yes, the inside is more important than the outside, that doesn't mean that the outside isn't important too (case point: eating healthy and exercising is good for you). If I look like someone different to everyone...who am I?

Besides, being the prettiest in the world would draw attention (and I'm usually averse to attention in general) to the aspects of me I least want attention drawn to. If I'm going to be well-known, I want it to be for my writing. Not my appearance.
I'm not saying there isn't anything I'd like the change about my appearance, but I don't want to be the best.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Written 9/17/2010, typed 9/18/2010

"If you could be immortal, would you choose to be?"

What type of immortality are we talking about?

  • Elf Immortality- Live forever unless killed
  • Time Lord Immortality- like Elf except with regeneration
  • Twilight Immortality- CAN be killed, but is extremely difficult
  • Torchwood Immortality- don't age, revive after dying

Question: if Captain Jack doesn't age, you'd think he doesn't change physically. Yet he has varying amounts of stubble throughout the show. 


My answer used to be a resounding yes. Now it's a probably.

This is the question my English teacher made our parents journal about for a few minutes at open house (she made them write!!! See why I love her?).

My dad said something like "Definitely. However, I have no delusions about the personal challenges I'd have to face, but think of the good I could do."

His reasons (well, the paper ones, anyway) are better than mine. I just want to see what humanity ends up doing. Doing good in the world would be a bonus. Sorry.

It's those personal challenges that make me waver, though. Captain Jack is way tougher than me (granted, he also goes through a lot more than I do) and he has issues with handling it.
I could steer clear of a Torchwood-esque place, but if I'm immortal and all of my loved ones are dead...why not do something cool like that? I'd definitely have to find a non-monotonous job, or else I'd go crazy. 

One other requirement for immortality: I must have a "suicide button," or a set of things I must do in order to revoke my immortality. Having it will help me not use it, and I don't know what sorts of horrible things might happen to me in the millennia (heck, MILLIONS of years) to come.

A Talk With Mom

"Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing." - John Erskine

I think I see a challenge.

Yesterday I had a conversation with my Mom.
Now, this happens often, but what made this one different was that it was about important, "deep" things.
We talked about life, death, religion, parenthood, childhood, and lunch (that's for irony) without either of us getting angry or upset or yelling at each other. And furthermore, I didn't lie once- because that often happens in religious conversations with her. I go into them expecting wrath, so I lie to avoid it.

But this conversation was very nice. 

Usually I have difficulty getting her to talk about anything remotely philosophical just because she doesn't think about it much like Dad and I do.
But while we were playing disc golf yesterday morning, I asked her how many parenting books she read before/soon after I was born and she said none, and we went from there.

I mean, yeah, every kid is different, so no book can tell you what to do, but I would have read at least 5, ignored most of the stuff in them, and then at least had some idea of how I wanted to raise my child.
She went by more of the observation route- how she was raised, and (since Mom and Dad lived with them for a few months before they bought our house after they moved from California) what things my aunt and uncle did.

I explained to her how I don't really understand the sacraments of communion and baptism. I get what they are and what they mean, but there's so much hype about it. Apparently they're more important than I realize. My relatives are shocked when they find out our church doesn't have communion at every service (they alternate from weekend to weekend), and I don't understand why you have to be baptized to go to heaven.

I know lots of extremely nice people who have never been baptized. They're compassionate, empathetic, and (almost, because "only a Sith deals in absolutes" - yes, I've been watching Star Wars this weekend) always put others before themselves. Why should they go to hell just because they haven't been washed with holy water?

The father of two of my friends believes religion is a choice, and they have to choose whether or not they want to be baptized. Their mom is worried they'll choose not to and that they won't go to heaven.
If they choose not to, it won't be because they hate God or anything. It'll be because they don't think it matters, so why bother? They're not evil. 

I've been baptized, but it doesn't mean that much to me. It's just something that happened when I was a baby. It was more about my parents and godparents than it was about me. 

I don't feel the power in these sacraments. I never have. So I told Mom this and she said it was okay that I didn't. She said nobody knows what comes after death and religion is just a way of dealing with what life throws at you.
I was internally gaping. This is what Dad tells me about religion.

She also said that the only time she's truly felt the presence of something supernatural was when we were driving up to NY for my grandpa's funeral and got a flat tire. A fireman's brother knew some guy with a garage and called him...or something. It was a long chain of events that were terribly convenient. I don't remember it very well, because I was barely 7.

I guess I learned a lot about my mom this weekend. It turns out she's not that much different than me.
I also learned some about my dad. He's not always right about my mom.

I may take this post down later due to its personal nature, but for now, here you go.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some Cool Stuff

That should take you to the right page. If not, just go to and read the latest blog entry.

How awesome is this?

As we're reading Lord of the Flies in English, our optional assignment for the weekend is to live as long as possible without knowing what time it is. Some of our clocks are covered up, some are unplugged, and some are set to decidedly incorrect times. My family is awesome for going along with this. It's hard to go anywhere on the Internet (or to watch TV) without getting some sort of hint, though. For instance, the "draft saved at" feature informs me it's a bit after 11. Damn you, convenient features.
It's been quite fun so far, though.

Also, considering that I meant to get this stuff done in August, I'm finally re-starting work on some of the secret projects that have to be finished by varying dates in the next month. This involves major homework procrastination.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've Got To Get Back To Hogwarts

Written on 9/16/10, typed on 9/18/2010

"If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?"

My first and boring answer is "here," but since that isn't what the question wants, I'll head into my other answer.

I feel that that speaks for itself as to why, but since the end of journaling hasn't been declared...
Boarding school in a CASTLE with ghosts and secret passages and fantastic food and MAGIC THAT WORKS. And owls that carry your mail-- come on, that's awesome. Also Quidditch.

Even if I had to live there as a Muggle, I could still take some classes: Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, History of Magic, Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Muggle Studies, and Astronomy.
That's more than a full schedule for 1st and 2nd years. I just don't get to take the fun ones- (Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, and Charms).
I'd only be able to add one when I reached 3rd year (which would probably be Muggle Studies, because I'd want to take that as little as possible-- I know about Muggles.)

The only issue I have with Hogwarts is that their library doesn't appear to have much fiction.

And while I'm talking about Harry Potter...

There's this thing called A Very Potter Musical (as well as A Very Potter Sequel) on YouTube done by a college acting department. It's downright hilarious. Go watch them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eyeballs Are My Passion

"Being a woman is a terribly difficult task since it consists principally in dealing with men." - Joseph Conrad

This quote makes me want to share this with you:
It's a blog post by Maureen Johnson, whom I've quoted on here before.

Also: "Eyeballs are my passion." - Nyssa

That story was great, but what was truly amazing was how well she reads aloud. I am impressed.


Written 9/15/2010

I learned something cool about Anne Frank a day or two ago. She didn't just write in her diary because she was locked up in an attic bored out of her mind. She wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Her papers included short stories and the beginning of a novel as well as diary entries.

I got to choose today's journal entry.

"What are your thoughts on the necessity of friends?"

This is going to a sound a bit mean, and I don't intend it that way at all, but for most of my life (not including the past 2 years or so), I would have said that friends are very nice to have, but not at all necessary. I had my family if I wanted company, but I mostly spent my free time reading, watching TV, sleeping, or playing games on my computer. I was happy.

Now, I still spend my free time reading, writing, sleeping, watching Hulu or Netflix, or on my computer (and I still love the games- I just spend more time online than I do with them). Yet something has changed. Friends mean so much more to me now. I'm not sure why.
Maybe it's because of the saying "friends are family of your own choosing," and I'm growing (I don't want to say away- let's go with "independent") from my real family, and more toward those I choose to "be related to." Peers instead of parents, if you will. But maybe I say that only due to the abundance of me vs. parent arguments in the past week or so...
Either way, my closest friends are now of infinite value to me. There's stuff I just won't talk about with those related to me, or stuff they don't care about, so I turn to friends.
It occurs to me that maybe we only need one "complete" friend, but since no one is "complete," we need to have lots of friends so the individual pieces can fit together to encompass all of the individual's friend-wise needs. I've got writing-friends and general-friends (and all of these have their subcategories) and...okay, that's about it. So I'm generally anti-social. But that makes the friends I do have just that much more important.

So, to the giant list of things I have turned you readers into in my time blogging, you are now parts of a Giant Friend Frankenstein (and while I was typing that, I accidentally wrote "pants of a Giant" - lol.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


“Reading with an eye toward metaphor allows us to become the person we’re reading about while reading about them. That’s why there are symbols in books and why your English teacher deserves your attention. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if the author intended a symbol to be there because the job of reading is not to understand the author’s intent. The job of reading is to use stories as a way into seeing other people as we see ourselves.” - John Green

I used to read these books starting in 4th or 5th grade by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor called the Alice series. About (gasp!) a girl named Alice. She's in 4th grade in the first book, I think, and there's about 25 of them total. I haven't read all of them, but I adored them then.

I still do, actually. It occurred to me today just how much I still think about things that happened in them (weekly), and I haven't read them in 3-4 years. Today I checked out 6 of them from the library that I don't think I've read before.
The really cool thing is that since there's so many of them, and they cover about 8 years of Alice's life, if you start at the right time in both your life and the life of the series, you can pretty much grow up along with Alice.
Case point: the majority of my early sex-ed came from those books. Instead of reading about someone doing things, I was reading about someone learning about them in normal ways. It was very...comforting? I'm not sure if that's the right word.
The 6 I have out right now are all spring of freshman year and beyond. I'm hoping to get my youngest sister started on the earlier ones (she's in 6th grade, but she'll get through the ones below her age fast).
 I highly recommend them to any girls (or boys, I suppose, but I doubt there are many boys who would like them) in or around 5th grade, but they should read them slowly, because the content gets progressively more mature as Alice gets older. Keep Alice a year or two or three older than you, and you should be all right. It depends on the kid, though. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Avalon: Beauty (and Driving Nightmares)

The 1-year anniversary of this blog slipped by unnoticed. It was September 12th. 

As my birthday approaches (bringing with it eligibility for my driving permit), I've been having a lot of driving-related nightmares. Although I always seem to be driving from the passenger's seat.

For instance, a few nights ago I had a dream that I was driving along down a well-known road near my school whose name I am leaving out for privacy reasons. My dad said "Oh, there's always a cop hanging out behind that building" which made me nervous, which (since it was a dream, and therefore my emotions affect my surroundings), cause a whole platoon of cops to drive directly into the line of traffic in front of me. I swerved to avoid hitting them, which brought me smacking into the rear end of a flat-bed truck, except the flat-bed part inexplicably flew into the air and I drove under it into the next lane. Scary.

Today's Avalon question is this: "Is Gwenhwyfar (King Arthur's wife) a sympathetic character? Does Bradley treat physical beauty in a positive, negative, or neutral matter?"

Sympathetic shall be defined as this: "appropriate to one's mood, inclination, disposition."

NO. I'm sure I've mentioned that I despised Gwenhwyfar for the majority of the book. She's a simple woman, with simple wants, who doesn't think. (I'm not saying I despise all people who meet those criteria. It's just that those things, combined with her specifics, made me not like her).
I am a complex woman/girl/female adolescent, with complex wants (and I know this because most of the time I'm not sure what I want, therefore it has to be complex), and I know I think about things more than I should. I spend too much time thinking and not enough acting. I know this, but I don't do anything about it, which proves the point.
But I understand why some people might find her to by sympathetic. I sympathize far more with Morgaine.

But to the second part of the question...

I don't want to say she portrays it in a neutral way. Bradley portrays physical beauty like this: It matters to people, and in that sense, it is important, but it's not necessary to accomplish things, and it won't solve all of your problems.

Gwenhwyfar is often described as beautiful. Morgaine is often described as ugly (even though she's not- she's just not conventionally beautiful). Gwenhwyfar failed at her greatest goal (bearing Arthur a son), and Morgaine did do that, but she also did loads of other stuff (such as manipulating the entire country and being an awesome priestess of Avalon). Lancelet is loved by "every young maiden in all of Britain," and he was very successful in battle, but in the end, he wasn't happy, and his desirability got him into a lot of trouble.

I guess all of this talk about beauty goes along with the English journal you'll be seeing in... a little more than a week, I think.

Also: who on Earth was reading this blog at 3:00 in the morning? Unless you live in a different time zone, go to bed.

Elements of Society (A Post About Patterns)

Written 9/14/2010

In preparation for reading Lord of the Flies (although by the time you read this, we'll have already started), we had to answer a bunch of questions including "What are the elements of society?" "Is government necessary?" "How should the work/fun ratio be determined?" and "What is the best way to hold people accountable for their actions?"

Meanwhile, in Chemistry, we're discussing atoms and their components (more specifically electron clouds, but since I've already made comparisons with that, I'll leave it alone here).

What do these things have to do with each other?
Quite a lot, actually.
My Chemistry teacher mentioned something about "two atoms coming together to form a compound." Atoms are people. A compound is a family. Since I'm combing science with English with social studies, let's add math. (Yes, this is over-simplified.)

Atom(s) + Atom(s) = Compound
Person(s) + Person(s) = Family
Atom = person
Therefore Compound = Family

An atom/person is a bit useless on its own, as I've mentioned. Even a person who prefers to be alone, has a solitary job, etc. interacts with people in some way, be it directly or indirectly.

Compound(s) + Compound(s) = More Complex Molecule (or just something incredibly useful like a star. Yay for gravity.)
Family(s) + Family(s) = Town
Cell(s) + Cell(s) = Tissue

Complex molecules can do stuff.  (DNA, anyone?)
A town can do stuff.
A tissue can do stuff.
They only function in and of themselves and don't matter much to anything outside when they're alone, but they have worth to others (because you need two people for one of them to be valued by the other.)

Complex Molecules + Complex Molecules = Interactions That Do Stuff (I'm SO SPECIFIC and EDUCATED, aren't I?)
Town(s) + Town(s) = Region/County
Tissue(s) + Tissue(s) = Organ

See what's happening? The bigger the hierarchy, the more powerful/useful it is.

I'll drop the bits with the molecules here, since at this point they can hold so many functions there's no point. Just keep in mind that a similar pattern continues.

Region/County + Region/County = Fief/State
Organ(s) + Organ(s) = Organ System

Fief/State(s) + Fief/State(s) = Kingdom/Country
Organ System(s) + Organ System(s) = PERSON. (that's where we started.)

Kingdom/Country(ies) + Kingdom/Country(ies) = Global population

And then we start at the beginning of that line.

I guess this post is just me pointing out some things I've noticed to you.

We know that math is the basis of science. The universe itself can be described by equations, even though they're not by any means simple. Now I have just shown that science is the basis of society (in a very scientific "duh" sort of way) and we know, of course, that society is the basis of literature.

And look at the patterns. I love patterns. Stuff is building to form other stuff. Electrons in the Bohr model mimic a solar system (and even though the Bohr model turned out to be incorrect, it's still cool, and it was pretty accurate but for the whole quantum thing). Microcosms and macrocosms. I love it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More School Rants

Written 9/13/2010


Wow, in just one day (meaning the 12th/13th of September 24 hours preceding right now), the amount of views I've gotten from Brazil has increased by 16, making it the 6th most-viewing country of all time. Hi, Brazilians, be ye people or scanner bots.

On to the English journal, which starts with a list:

"What do you not like about your school?"

  • I wish it started at 8 instead of 7:20
  • I wish we (the school) had the money to continue offering some of the cooler yet less-mainstream classes (such as Honors Shakespeare, Creative Writing 2, and some of the AP classes that have been discontinued.)
  • I wish it was easier to get a schedule change, and that I'd get first pick of classes (I know that's an unfair request, but the rest have been pretty feasible, so I think I'm entitled to one.)
Now about the middle school (because I have more rant material now.)

According to Sarah, they've stopped playing "thumbs up, thumbs down" in Guided Study. Apparently 6th graders can now be trusted to know that stealing is wrong. Yes, I'm bitter.
Instead, they've progressed to doing the following list:

  1. Check your agenda (for homework assignments and such)
  2. Organize your binder
  3. Make up any quizzes/tests/what-have-you
  4. Read your AR book
**derisive noise** And they say they're supposed to be getting kids ready for high school. We don't even have time to hole-punch pieces of paper during the day. Any make-up stuff is done during lunch.
They may as well not call it homework anymore, if they get a freaking HALF AN HOUR to work on it at the BEGINNING of school. Why bother doing it at home when you can do it then? And that's not even counting the 15 minute minimum some teachers provide at the end of the class period for the kids to work on their homework THEN. 
AR books...I'm biased. I read for pleasure, and I read fast. So do both of my sisters. But for the kids who don't do that, it becomes homework or something to do after you finish a quiz early, and therefore there shouldn't be provided time for it. Homework is assigned to do AT HOME. The point of AR is to get kids to read without being explicitly told "you are going to read now."

My sister's goal this year is to get at least 1000% (yes, a thousand) of her AR goal this year. She hasn't been saving up on books to test on like I did in 8th grade (I did all of the Harry Potter and Inheritance books at once and beat 1000% in one quarter). I have full confidence that she will make it. She'd make it even without guided study, but still. It's sad that she has the time during school to do that.

They are going to school to be taught. How about we see some teaching get done, please.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Time For Some Humor

In other news, I got another rejection. Now it's pretty much time to hit the envelopes.
In other other news, elementary school writing club is definitely a go for this year. (Yay.) We're hoping to start in time to do the NaNoWriMo YWP, but I don't have any more details other than that.

I've been hideously good at procrastinating for the past 2 months, so those secret projects I was working on...still aren't anywhere near finished. Hopefully I'll work on that this weekend, but I might just end up reading and playing Elderscrolls IV: Oblivion more than is probably healthy. 

Remember when we were talking in writing club (and I posted about it as well, for those of you who weren't there) about how just because something's fictional doesn't mean it doesn't have a basis in reality/doesn't affect you?
Two days ago, after reading about 100 pages of Mists of Avalon, I was asking my mom why the nuns kept telling people to "pray for so and so's soul" when just a few lines earlier they'd been completely confident he was already in Heaven?
She sighed with exasperation and said "It's just a book, Olivia."
I left.
She doesn't like it when I ask questions about religion. She also doesn't like it when I ask (her) abstract questions in general. Apparently they don't "apply to real life." I disagree, but whatever. I have another parent to discuss abstract things with.

And speaking of that other parent...haha...I have a new story in mind starring a caricature of him-- greatly exaggerated and narrowed, but based off of him, nonetheless. It is funny. Or at least it will be once I've written it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Mists of Avalon: Dualism

I started reading Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan today. It's shorter than I expected. It's better than I expected. Paul feels very real to me.

Which means that I finally finished Mists of Avalon. Fantastic book. Lots to think about. With "reader's circle" questions in the back, which I'm looking forward to answering on here. Avoid those if you're planning on reading it and don't want to be spoiled.

Before I get into the first of those questions...let's have a quote. Lyrics, actually.

"Hey Molly, can we go to the dance? 
If you don't want to, then I'll understand.
But if you like me, then won't you come take my hand
And if you'll love me, I'll never play Halo again."

-Mike Lombardo in "Hey Molly" from Songs For A New Day.

That song is amazing. And that last line (I wonder what this says about me) might be the most romantic thing I've ever heard. Maybe it's just that I know a few guys who love their Halo. Maybe it means I haven't heard much romantic stuff. Sometimes you've got to forgo the flowery language and be honest.

"The Mists of Avalon revolves around a number of dualities: male/female, Christianity/Druidism, duty/desire. How were these dualities represented in the book? What others can you think of?"

NOTE: In the answering of this question, when I talk about Christianity, I mean Christianity within the book. Not (necessarily) in general.

Male/female was constantly explored because in the religion of Avalon, sex (well, the bond between lovers) is one of the most powerful of magics, as well as one of the most powerful Mysteries. Plus, everyone in the entire book is pretty much lusting after everyone else.
It's the core of magical realism: the paradox of the union of opposites (according to the dictionary definition). Which means...magical sex, I guess, in this case. Some of the biggest magic Morgaine did was through the power of priest/priestess united. In this case, the male/female duality was very strong- especially when considered that it was alongside the Christianity/Druidism duality.

I liked the C/D duality best. Throughout the book, various characters are constantly saying that "All Gods are one God, all Goddesses are one Goddess." meaning that Christians should be okay with the Druids. Morgaine was constantly fighting against the Christianization of Britain, but in the process became just like those she fought - uncompromising, intolerant, and bigoted. 
Example: Morgaine mocks the priests for claiming they are doing the "will of God" when really they're just doing what they want, but she falls prey to that as well, claiming to do the "will of the Goddess," when really she's just clinging to the religion she holds near and dear.
While I adore the Mysteries of Avalon and their entire thing, I actually agreed with Merlin Kevin (there were two- the traditional Merlin and then he died and Kevin Harper took up the mantle) in that the Holy Druidic Regalia should have been put to use in Christianity. The age of Avalon was over, so why not preserve what remnants of the Mysteries that could be saved?
The entire message of the book (well, the religious message, anyway) was "all religions are one- so be tolerant of each other."

Okay, maybe I liked the duty/desire duality best.

Gwenhwyfar...I mostly despised her. She hated herself for loving Lancelet, but then she'd decide not to care anymore, and then she'd go back to hating herself...
Morgaine initially refused Lancelet because she'd sworn an oath to the Goddess to keep her virginity until the proper time...but everything would have turned out better if she'd ignored her oath. For Avalon, anyway.
Arthur was in love with Morgaine (his sister), but obviously couldn't do anything about that or even acknowledge the son they'd accidentally had together (long story- it was a Mystery rite for Arthur's kingmaking, and neither of them knew it was the other.)
Everyone would have ended up happy if they'd given over to their desire, but because they stuck with duty they accomplished more, whether for better or for worse.
And Morgause...hilarious character. We initially meet her with the description "looks lustfully on anything shaped like a man," and she doesn't change. Over the course of the entire book, she and her lovers were the talk of the court. And her husband was pretty much the same. She eventually turned over to blood sorcery- sacrificing dogs to gain power and plotting against her family in order to get her sons nearer the throne.
She and Nimue were the only ones who got to go with both. And Nimue ended up committing suicide because of it (VERY long story involving more of these famed Mysteries. I love the Mysteries.)

In this case, I think the book was saying "Stick to your duty because it's the right thing to do...but things might turn out better if you act impulsively...but you can't know until afterwards, and too bad for you."

As for other I thought of one earlier today.

The Golden Rule

Written on 9/10/10

"The symbol of the dragon should always be before them, that mankind seek to accomplish, not to think of sin and penance!" - The Mists of Avalon

I just clicked on a link that Stats said someone had used to find me...and it took me to a Russian porn website. SCARY. I'm assuming that was from a bot or something.

"Freewrite for 8 minutes."

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. A great sentiment, an impossible ideal, and an inconsistent motto.
It doesn't always work. Yes, the ultimate rule of moral goodness fails sometimes. It's the reason lots of people in my class, as they are now, should never be in charge of education. We've all heard it. The teacher says "If you could change anything about school, what would it be?" and they say "No homework! School only 4 days a week! Half days every day!"
If they were to follow the GR in that case, no one would learn anything and if all of those things came true, there aren't enough days in a year to make up for the lost time, even if we didn't have summer vacation.
It also becomes an issue when interacting with my more..."well-brought-up" family members. There are some things I'm totally fine with and don't find rude at all, but if/when I do them, they would be extremely offended. This has gotten me into heaps of trouble. I do exactly what I would have them do unto me...and then I'm the disappointment. Mhm.
This being the case, I think the Golden Rule needs some modification. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is too situation-specific when followed in the traditional sense. What we need is more of a "respect others as you would have them respect you." Then you respect what they find offensive, and they (hopefully) respect your wishes as well. If only that were so easy to do.

I also found a website via some other blog I follow where the goal is to compile sets of clothing...and I made one for The Clockwork Experiment's main character. Yes, I was bored. Here we are: