The Value of Shock

So we read some poetry today and as I soon as I skimmed it I knew I didn’t want to write about it, well I changed my mind. I’m not going to get into the content because it’s bad, but I am going to talk about why it is so bad.

Okay, so we read this poem called “The Imperfect Enjoyment” by John Wilmont, and it was shocking to say the least! It had a lot of curse words and it had really graphic depictions of a ‘rendez-vous’. We talked about why Wilmont might have made his poem so shocking and I agree with my teachers conclusion that he didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him whether or not people liked him or whether they bought his poems.

Today this is not the case. Today, artists like musicians, painters, filmmakers and actors use shock to get our attention and grab us. We buy so many things because they are shocking and they stand out from the rest. I can’t figure out why we do this. How much sex is too much sex. Sex in TV, movies, music, and fashion. How many ridiculous outfits are we going to put up with from fashion designers and celebrities like Lady Gaga and others?

I think this was true 300 years ago and it is true today…we like to be shocked, we like to be able to say we didn’t see this coming, and with “The Imperfect Enjoyment” I most certainly did not see that coming!


Living in Paradise

I consider the Bible to be, not just a book, but an authority on many things, so while we were discusing Milton’s Paradise Lost I found myself disagreeing with many things. At first I was getting upset because the story was not the same one I have read in Genesis. Then I realized that I needed to think about it like any other book, Milton got the idea of what could have happened in the garden and he wrote it. This was never meant to be a replacement for Genesis, it was just a story of what could have happened, it became a story like every other we’ve read. Once I realized all that I was no longer upset and I was able to think about it critically like any other story, full of metaphors and ideas about the fall of mankind.

We talked about Sin and Death coming from Satan and that Death had no shape because no one had died, the world being perfect and all. I hadn’t thought about that when I read it, and it struck me as being kinda brilliant. It is obvious to me that Milton didn’t just put his own ideas into this epic, but he spent time thinking about how things would be and why. Sin in a beautiful woman when you look, but the deeper you go the scarier things get. Not only is this a lot of effort, but it is logical and thought provoking, to me at least.

Of course there is an idea about feminism, that seems to be a very hot topic with us. I like the Bible’s version of this more than Milton’s. I like it better because it says that they were together and she ate and then he ate, she didn’t convince him, he was right next to her. In Paradise Lost Eve has to convince Adam to eat with her. I think the reason Milton wrote it like this is simple: he wanted to be able to blame women. Not to say he didn’t like women, but the idea that women are to blame for the fall of man would have been a readily accepted idea at the time.


God in Life and Literature

So me and my friend were watching this TV show called, The Legend of the Seeker, and we were amazed by how many things were references to the bible and allusions to Christ. Last week while reading John Donne we seperated his poetry into religious and secular, and I was amazed that even his secular poetry had religious vocabulary and some references to the church. It seems that God is in everything we are reading even when the authors don’t mean it. Then we started reading Paradise Lost and that work is full of religious imagery and allusions. Taking a story from Genesis about the fall of man and expanding on it to make Satan a central character and give him emotions and a purpose is never something I thought I would want to read, but so far I am being pleasantly suprised by how interesting it is. When we were talking in class about the characters and how Paradise Lost is similar to the Epic’s of Homer there was one thing that was missing. A hero, all epic are about a hero’s journey, usually through discovery. I’ve been thinking about it is and I think that the central character is obviously Satan, but he’s more of an anti-hero, than an Odysseus. He motives are bad and he continues to make choices to hurt rather than help, and unlike a classic hero he isn’t on a path of self discovery or a journey somewhere he is just trying to destroy.

I am cautiously optimistic about reading the rest of the story!


John Donne vs. Zack Morris

So recently I’ve been kicking it old school and watching a lot of Saved by the Bell because my Tivo thought I might like it, and I do! I will get to why this is important in a minute. We were talking about John Donne today, specifically “The Flea”. It is basically a poem of a guy trying to convince this girl to have sex with him. He uses a flea as a metaphor for sex, which to us today is really really gross. So gross, that I would have smacked a guy who tried to seduce me using a flea as a metaphor. All I could think of was that this guy was trying really hard, and that it takes a lot of gumption for a guy to think this would be a good idea. What strikes me the most is that he is rejected and he keeps trying, he doesn’t let the metaphorical slap in the face stop him from trying to convince this girl that sex with him is a great idea.

 Now to my real point. In these last couple months I have been watching on average, four Saved By the Bell episodes a day, and one thing I have come to realize is that Zack Morris has no shame. No line is to low, no scheme is too hard tp pull off, and no punishment will deter him from getting his girl. Sometimes I will be watching and I think about how I would react to a guy saying that stuff to me, and sometimes it doesn’t end well for Zack.

I think that John Donne and Zack Morris have a lot in common. They are both committed to following through with their attempts to convince a girl to either go out with them, Zack, or to have sex with them, Donne. While sometimes I think that Donne uses strange metaphors to get his points across, there is no denying that he is original and the father of metaphysical poetry.

Til’ next time!

Life with Shrews

Me and Bill Shakespeare don’t really see eye to eye when it comes to literature. I appreciate his contributions to the world and I think for the quantity of his work it is incredible quality. I also think that the themes of his plays are not anything new, love, honor, princes and kings have been talked about forever. I think it is important that we read Shakespeare’s work especially considering what an impact he had on the culture at the time. However, Taming of the Shrew is not my favorite work.

We talked about attraction and whether or not Petruccio and Kate were attracted to each other. I think she was very intrigued by the idea of someone wanting her considering her reputation and attitude. I think he was in it for the money, and if he was attracted to her he definitely didn’t show it in his actions. We watched some different productions of the play and it occurred to me that we miss a lot of the play when we read it as opposed to when the people saw it in the Globe Theatre.

I was planning to write this about the play’s attitude towards women, but that was the way it was. I can’t change it, but I am so glad that it is different today for women. I hate the idea that women were thought of a property, but tons of articles and papers have been written on that and I feel it’s kinda tired. One thing I did want to say was about the bridles, I always thought that was a reference to a horse’s bridle. I still find it hard to believe anyone would do that to another person for basically embarrassing them.

Overall, Bill and me don’t get along well, mostly because of our different world views, but I appreciate his abilities and I am ready to move on to better and newer things!

Souls and Stuff!

After reading Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and talking to one of my friends about the idea of your soul I’ve got a couple ideas to share about this topic. Before I get into this I have to warn you, I grew up in church my whole life, and I wholeheartedly believe about the power of forgiveness and that repentance is there for anyone who wants it.

Now to the good stuff.

I was thinking about this idea that Faustus wanted to repent, and he didn’t. I think that if you are at a point where you are selling your soul to the devil you might not really care about repenting to live a normal life again. I believe that God forgives everything but I don’t think you would go to all the trouble of selling your soul and then change your mind.

I watch this show called Supernatural, and this past season one of the character’s lost his soul somehow. In the end his brother had to force him to take his soul again because he didn’t want it back. If you don’t have your soul why would you have any desire to give it back. I believe that without a soul you wouldn’t care about repenting. The only reason that Doctor Faustus talks about repenting is when he thinks about how it will one day end and he will have to go to hell with the devil.

In the end I think that a person without a soul is only concerned without what they want and when they want it. It has always been my belief that our souls make us who we are, and without them we would be fundamentally different. I think this story is very relevant when talking about how people lose their way, but in the end Doctor Faustus never gets back to who he was. Which is tragic, and thats how the story ends. I liked this story,  but I wish that he would have learned that it wasn’t worth it.


How Do I Love Thee…

So we haven’t really done Shakespearean sonnets yet, but that is one of the most famous sonnets in the world. We started talking about sonnets this week, and it occurred to me that no one really writes sonnets anymore. If they do I haven’t heard anything about them. I think this is sad because when you think about it the ideas present in most sonnets are still very relevant to life today. The sonnet is a dying art form and I think we should start trying to bring it back.

I realized today that a sonnet about a love that is mutual and happy is rare, but we still consider a sonnet very romantic. Spenser was one of the only people to write a sonnet about a happy love instead of a painful heartbreaking love. I think this is because as much as we love hearing about love stories where everything works out happily ever after we love hearing about the ones that crash and burn even more.

We started talking about how we could relate sonnets to our lives now and the culture we live and love in. We read a sonnet by Lady Mary Wroth about how to truly love you have to give up your freedom. I think this is true today. I’m going to use girls as my example because thats what I know but I am sure there are some guys who do this too. I have known many girls who have started dating someone and become a totally different person. People who stop hanging out with their friends to be with their boyfriend, and have continuously cancelled plans to be with their boyfriend. I stand by what I said this morning that our society embraces this idea that you should throw yourself into a relationship. I would like to back this statement up with something I hear all the time…”but I love him.” It is a excuse universally accepted and no one challenges it. Goes to show you just how much we are like our medieval counterparts. Let’s do what we can to bring back the SONNET!!

Laters! 🙂