Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box

Plato and JeanPaul Sartre both wrote extended metaphors about...well essentially hell. Plato wrote is his "Allegory of the Cave" that ignorance is bliss but in the overall scheme of things ignorance becomes hell. Sartre wrote in his "No Exit" that simply "Hell is other people."

Plato's thinking that the choice to give up the pursuit of knowledge and stick with ignorance is easy. This choice leads you to stay in ignorance for the rest of your life, hell if you will, since it is all you know and care to know. Plato used metaphors, symbolism, and figurative language to describe his allegory and convey his message.

Sartre, on the other hand, was a little more direct with his theme. "Hell is other people." Sartre straight up told us what the message was. He also uses some symbolism and figurative language much like Plato but in the end he left nothing to chance in leaving interpreting the theme to the audience, might as well just tell them incase.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Allegory of the Cave Sonnet

The Greek philosopher Plato once wrote
Of some men who spent their time in a cave,
A prison in a location remote.
Some stayed, in ignorance, till their grave
While others left to explore the world.
There are some who feel ignorance is bliss
Others wish for knowledge to be unfurled,
Leaving the cave is a chance they won’t miss.

Knowledge or ignorance it is your choice,
To turn from the cave or be released.
To leave is to follow your own voice
To stay is to let free thought be deceased.
When you decide to stay or to leave
Make sure to think long and hard, choose wisely.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Plato Study Questions

1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?

2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?

3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?

4. What do the imagery of "shackles" and the "cave" suggest about the perspective of the cave dwellers or prisoners?

5. In society today or in your own life, what sorts of things shackle the mind?

6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners?

7. According to the allegory, lack of clarity or intellectual confusion can occur in two distinct ways or contexts. What are they?

8. According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom?

9. The allegory presupposes that there is a distinction between appearances and reality. Do you agree? Why or why not?

10. If Socrates is incorrect in his assumption that there is a distinction between reality and appearances, what are the two alternative metaphysical assumptions?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From Sonnets From Space

Here is me reciting a sonnet from Sonnets From Space by George Motisher so I don't have to do it in class. The quality is a little bad, I was using the video camera on my Mac, it's the best one I've got.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read, and explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).

Of Mice and Men is about two migrant farm workers, George and Lennie. George and Lennie are traveling to a California farm to find work. Overcome with thirst, they decide to stop and set up camp for the night. Quickly it becomes obvious to the audience that Lennie, a giant of a man, is mentally disabled and deeply devoted to George, a smaller sharp man. Even though Lennie is much bigger than George, Lennie depends on George for protection and the two have a deep friendship. Lennie is obsessed with petting small fuzzy things the only problem is that usually he ends up killing the fuzzy things as shown when George catches Lennie petting a small dead mouse. Both Lennie and George share the dream of buying their own little portion of land and, to Lennie’s delight, keeping rabbits.
         The next day George and Lennie arrive at the farm ready to work. George does must of the talking, telling the boss that him and Lennie are cousins and Lennie was kicked in the head as a child. They are hired and meet the rest of the farm hands. Candy, an old handyman, Curley, the boss’s mean-spirited son, Slim, the ranch’s high authority mule driver, Carlson, another farm hand, and finally Curley’s newly wed flirtatious wife.  Curley’s wife flirts with George and Lennie and George warns Lennie to stay away from here.
           The next day George confides in Slim, telling him Lennie and his story and how they were driven out of the last town because Lennie was accused of rape. Slim agrees to give Lennie one of his puppies. Slim agrees with Carlson on putting down Candy’s ancient dog and getting a puppy. Slim goes off to the barn to do some work and Curley, who maniacally searching for his wife, heads after him to accost him. Candy overhears George and Lennie discussing their plans to buy their own plot of land and offers to throw his life’s savings into the plan if he can live on the land too. Slim and Curley return from the barn with Slim berating Curley for his suspicion, Curley is engulfed in rage and chooses Lennie as his target. Lennie easily crushes Curley’s hand and Slim warns Curley that if he tries to get George and Lennie fired, he will become the laughingstock of the farm.
         Next night, the farm hands go to the brothel and Lennie is left at the farm with Crooks and Candy. Curley’s wife comes by and flirts with them. She notices Lennie’s injures and infers that Lennie is responsible for Curley’s injuries. The day after Lennie accidentally kills his puppy. Curley’s wife consoles him and tells him of her dream of becoming a movie star. Lennie tells her that he loves soft things and she lets Lennie touch her hair. Lennie grabs her hair too tightly causing her to cry out. Lennie silences her by breaking her neck.
         Lennie runs away from the ranch to the pool that he and George camped at before they arrived at the ranch. The men put together a lynch party and set out to kill Lennie. George finds Lennie and comforts him, telling him about their farm they will buy in the future. As the lynch party approaches, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head. George tells the men that he wrestled the gun from Lennie and shot him. Only Slim understands and consolingly leads him away.

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.

The two themes of Of Mice and Men are the impossibility of the American Dream and the idealized male friendship. By the end of the novel almost every character confides that they had a dream once that they were forced to give up on therefore the impossibility of the American Dream. As for the ideal male friendship George and Lennie stick together as much as possible and the other men of the farm wish to come together in a way that would allow them to be like brothers.

3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).

The tone has a realistic feel to it. The author tells it how it is and this is shown the most in the way that dialogue is written in the novel. “It ain’t so funny, him an’ me goin’ aroun’ together.” (pg 37) The improper speech “tells it how it is”.

4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.)

Foreshadowing – “I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along.” (pg 5) Lennie’s obsession with petting things, and eventually killing them, is foreshadowing the demise of Curley’s wife.

Symbolism – “Why’n’t you get Candy to shoot his old dog…” (pg 33) The death of Candy’s dog and the death of Lennie are one and the same. The death of an innocent character.

Imagery – “…walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.” (pg 2) The description of Lennie equating him to a bear.

Setting – “A few miles south of Soledad…” (pg 1) This sets the setting and the culture of the characters.

Dialect – “I ain’t sure it’s good water.” (pg 3) The dialect establishes early on the type of characters and the culture of the area.

Conflict – “Come on ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I’ll  show ya who’s yella.” (pg 59) The conflict between Curley and Lennie sets up the plot for the climax and the resolution of the novel.

Internal Conflict – “No, Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never been mad, an’ I ain’t now. That’s a thing I want ya to know.” (pg 101) George face an internal conflict on what to do with Lennie. Lennie is his friend and George cares deeply about him but Lennie is dangerous and killed Curley’s wife.

Oxymoron – “His name’s Lennie Smalls.” (pg 20) This one is quite clear. His name is Smalls yet his is described as a lumbering oaf of a man.

Simile – “ …in and out of the beams flies shot like rushing stars” (pg 16) In this novel similes are used to help describe the setting and also to describe the characters in a manner that catches the readers’ attention.

Microcosim – Truthfully I couldn’t find a proper quote for this one. Every sect of society can be found on the ranch. The mentally challenged, the black man, the old man, the cripple, the woman, they’re all here in a single location.

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization.  Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?


“The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp strong features.” (pg 2)

“…a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders…” (pg 2)

Steinbeck uses driect characterization to set up the initial appearance of the characters and this allows readers to infer nonphysical characteristic of the characters.


“Red and blue and green rabbits, Lennie. Millions of ‘em.” (pg 15)

“Sure I gotta husban’. You all seen him. Swell guy, ain’t he? Spends all his time sayin’ what he’s gonna do to guys he don’t like…” (pg 74)
In contrast to how Steinbeck uses direct characterization, indirect characterization is used to bring up nonphysical characteristics of the characters.

2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?

“…a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.” (pg 2)

When Steinbeck focuses on characters his syntax and diction take on a more descriptive style. He uses similes and metaphors a lot more than he does during the rest of the novel.

3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.

The protagonist, George, is a static character because his values and point of view does not really change. His situation changes to a point where he can no longer protect Lennie.

4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction.

“His name’s Lennie Smalls.” (pg 20)

I feel like I read a character. Nothing really stood out to me that made me feel like I’ve met anything more than just a character. There was no emotional connection.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Big Question

Everyone has a "Big Question" that they want answered. For some it is philosophical questions like "who are we?" or "what is art?"and for others it is things the that they wish they could do like "can I time travel?"My question is, I guess, a little bit like the latter because I hope to be a part of answering it. My question is "What is the future of space travel?" 

The modern solid rocket thruster has put man on the moon and sent probes across the solar system but now isn't it time for something new? I like to consider myself a man of science so I pose the question in a serious manner. Science fiction has always had us believe that we can travel faster than light even though currently it looks to be impossible. So with that faster-than-light travel off the table, what else can we try? Worm holes are another suggestion, little short cuts you can take across space. The best way I can explain worm holes, with my limited understanding, is a piece of paper. Traveling across it to get from point A to point B would be business as normal while folding the paper in half so A and B are closer together would be going through a worm hole. Or we can forget worm holes and try to travel by microwaves. Firing microwaves from a station at a "sail" of a spacecraft to propel it through the cosmos. Or maybe ion engines shooting ions out the back of the spacecraft to get forward momentum. 

I may never get to know what eventually happens between man and the cosmos, discoveries relating to space travel may not happen anywhere near my life time, but it is my hope that I can help to solve the question that plagues my mind: "What is the future of space travel?"


I just finished the campaign for the most recent of the Halo video games, Halo 4, and I have to say the stories that these games tell rival some of the best novels I've read. Not just Halo but so many games being developed in recent years tell better stories than movies that have come out in recent years. I will not spoil anything about Halo 4 since many are still waiting to play it but I have to say I believe it has the best plot of any video game I have ever played.

Sonnet Analysis Part I

Well I decided to change my sonnet here because well frankly Hamlet wasn't exactly cutting it for me. I chose this sonnet from SONNETS FROM SPACE By George Motisher instead because it reflect me a lot better than Hamlet did.

The universe is mostly empty space, a fact quite predominate in this sonnet. The sonnet is basically reaching into that question that many of us ask each other: "Have you ever wondered why we're here?" We spend our time on this planet creating art, music, and literature, but what affect does this have on the universe at large. We sit in the edge of the galaxy lost in the universe so what can we do? As a person? As a species?

Between the galaxies so far apart,
Among the stars and planets of the night,
There’s emptiness to give our souls a fright,
To leave us with a vacuum of the heart.
Although we call in space with words and art,
We try to beam our thoughts to cast a light,
And send our love to make the blackness bright;
The unmapped darkness still leers from our chart.
There’s so much emptiness, it goes beyond
Our dreams, our hopes, our hearts so overfull;
Few lights reflect across the endless pond
Of space, so infinite, and past our pull.
Though love, I’ve heard, can last eternally,
Can it fill up a bleak infinity?

Monday, November 5, 2012

fall vocab #11

Affinity - A spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something
Bilious - Affected by or associated with nausea or vomiting
Cognate - Having the same linguistic derivation as another; from the same original word or root
Corollary - A proposition that follows from (and is often appended to) one already proved
Cul-de-sac - cul: a passage with access only at one end
Derring-do - brave and heroic feats
Divination - The practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means
Elixir - A magical or medicinal potion
Folderol - Trivial or nonsensical fuss
Gamut - The complete range or scope of something
Hoi polloi - The masses; the common people
Ineffable - Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words
Lucubration - Study; meditation
Mnemonic - A device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something
Obloquy - Strong public criticism or verbal abuse
Parameter - A numerical or other measurable factor forming one of a set that defines a system or sets the conditions of its operation
Pundit - An expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public
Risible - Such as to provoke laughter
Symptomatic - Serving as a symptom or sign, esp. of something undesirable 
Volte-face - About-face: a major change in attitude or principle or point of view

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We were told to search for a sonnet from Hamlet that we would like to study in class and this is the one I came up with. I just hope we don't have to memorize it...

 Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
Ha! 'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
A stallion! Fie upon't! foh!
About, my brain! Hum — I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick. If he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play's the thing 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.


When trying to find other learning communities learning about Hamlet I found that a lot of the time that it isn't an actual learning community but a single person commenting on Hamlet. Also I found that when you ask fifty some students to come up with other learning communities on Hamlet you will find more than just a few repeats. I posted to one of the learning communities, namely a high school blog on Hamlet ( ), but the blog seems like it has been abandoned a long time ago....

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Today we were told to look for other courses to expand our own Personal Learning Network. These are what I came up with. Not all exactly have to do with the content of Hamlet but the approach to teaching Hamlet.

Ok this first one is truthfully not a different course than our own, rather it is a teacher's perspective on Hamlet. It is an overview of a teacher's opinion of the benefits that learning Hamlet has on students. To me it helps put into perspective just why we are put through what some students consider a punishment worse than death. Along with this teacher's perspective also comes a short summary and study guide.

Next we have a similar blog to that of our course blog. The major difference is that it is used in the fashion that most teacher use the internet and not how we use it here at Righetti High School. This teacher uses the blog to post reading schedules and homework while our counter part (Dr. Preston) uses the blog to basically teach the class. It is interesting to me to see the two different approaches side-by-side.

Third up on the list is a group of students Dhahran High School that acted out Hamlet on their own. I assume that the video was part of a project assigned to class but visual learning is always a great help. Especially when it isn't just a picture dictionary or something along those lines but an actual video.

Fourth up we have something that isn't exactly course work. I wish I could have found a play that is currently playing but I think this still shows my point. It is one thing to watch a video and another thing entirely to watch a play. Hamlet in this setting is its natural habitat. Hamlet is a play.

And finally to finish up my little learning network I have a college's resource guide to the world of Hamlet and Shakespeare. From here I can find nearly anything I need to know about Hamlet and Shakespeare without having to go through hours of frustrating searches.