The End…A Farewell

December 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hello all,

It has been wonderful being in a class with all of you. I had a great time and it was easily one of my favorite classes, in no small part due to the our awesome class. I doubt many of you will read this – what with the class being over and second semester seniors to boot – but I wanted to thank all of you for such a great semester. Especially Carla, since it’s not often that I get watch The Lion King and call it research =D

 

Have a great 5 days and 2011 everyone!

-Matthew Roy, “sǝɹıɟ & sɹıɟ”

 

 

Dealing with Loss

October 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

In response to the recent tragedy that struck the Menlo community, I feel it is appropriate to discuss how different characters we have read about deal with loss. In Tom Sawyer, Bambi, and The Lion King death and loss is an very present issue. On more than one occasion, Aunt Polly believes that she has lost her beloved Tom in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In the Lion King, Simba and the all of the pride-lands deal with the loss of the great king, Mufasa. Similarly in Bambi, Bambi’s mother is shot and killed by hunters when she is unprotected in the meadow. The differences between how the different age groups are portrayed dealing with loss presents an interesting idea of maturity and adolescence.

In Tom Sawyer, when Tom and his friends decide to run away from home and be pirates on a nearby island, his Aunt Polly is overcome with grief because she believes that Tom has died. When Tom returns home and watches Aunt Polly sobbing, yet does nothing to make her aware of his presence, he demonstrates that he does not fully understand the concept of loss. Similarly when Mufasa dies, Simba repeatedly tells him to “get up,” and refuses to accept that he is gone until Scar explains the situation. Lastly, in Bambi when his mother is shot, Bambi is confused and relies on his fathers explanation that “[his] mother can no longer be with [him].” All three of these examples seem to suggest that children do not fully comprehend the idea of loss.

Conversely, all three have interesting portrayals of adults in tragic situations. Both Sarabi, Simba’s mother, and Bambi’s father are depicted as very strong in the case of the loss of their spouse. We see Sarabi’s overwhelming strength as she approaches her husband’s successor, Scar. Similarly we see Bambi’s father’s strength when he does not display emotion and instead takes Simba under his wing. Both of these characters seem not to display their emotions in a healthy manor. Each character seems weighed down by the responsibility they feel to either their kingdom (Sarabi) or their child (Bambi’s father) and thus deal with loss by just simply moving on. Alternatively, Aunt Polly in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is petrified by emotion and is unable to do anything productive to help her cope with the loss of Tom. Aunt Polly somehow feels she is responsible for Tom’s death which causes her to deal with her grief in such a unhealthy way. These examples portray adults at one extreme or another in terms of how they deal with losses that they face.

In seems that teenagers seem to deal with loss in the most healthy manor of all of the age groups. They are old enough to understand the concept and comprehend the implications of losing someone that they love, but their emotions are not clouded by their sense of responsibility. Simba fights for revenge to save the kingdom, tom finds a way out of the cave, and Bambi is able to overcome his own gunshot wound. While all three of these stories are consistent in their portrayal of teenagers as dealing with loss in a more balanced manor, I don’t think that there is one “right” way to deal with loss. The teenagers are portrayed as being empowered by loss, but I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Loss brings about such a complicated set of emotions that it upsets me that it seems to be simplified in such a manor in these examples.

Dear Tom Sawyer (and the ENTIRE world)

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dear Tom Sawyer (and the ENTIRE world),

Please stop smashing me into the concrete so that cloudy gray looks like a turnip brown, poking me to the point of breaking my exoskeleton, burning me into multiple pieces, forcing me to go in circles, elongating me who has an unstretchable body, controlling me in my every movement etc.  If you say it’s an accident, did you “accidentally” laugh at my pain and “accidentally” strategize about how to corner and push me around most efficiently.

As the caterpillar best says, “Who are you?” You are more than 1/2 a centimeter high, an ungodly size, and mar the reputation of other things like you with your hostility and outright rudeness towards me.  I dearly hope (in vain I think) that you are not a representative of your population.

Yes, I may occasionally attach myself to you by inserting my chelicerae and hypostome into your nicely pruned skin and drinking your oh so tasty blood.  Sometimes, I will inhabit you forever.  Sometimes, I will pass on deadly diseases.  But do I do this because I dislike you? No!  I merely choose life over death and without your small sacrifice I would not be able to survive.

Yet, you who knows nothing about the pangs of hunger and guilt of adultery choose to quantify my worth as a little more than a tooth and make me your play toy since school is simply boring…safe, loving, sheltering, providing, educating, but also boring.

But let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friend.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day even the city of St. Petersburg, a place sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my five thousand five hundred children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the amount of space they take up but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Sincerely,

The tick they call Edmond

Tom Sawyer, the quintessential tale of childhood?

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer is often heralded as quintessential child. But is this reputation deserved in a world so different from that of quaint little St. Petersburg? The classic tale of childhood represented in Tom Sawyer may not be more than a fictitious ideal.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was for a large part drawn from Mark Twain’s own childhood. In the preface of the novel he states:

“Most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, but not from an individual—he is a combination of the characteristics of three boys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order of architecture.”

Many of the characters appear to be linked with his real life associates, such as his mother and Aunt Polly’s fondness for quack remedies. Furthermore, the phrasing and superstitions in the book were all accurate for the time period. All of these aspects together gives The Adventures of Tom Sawyer a genuine feeling that makes the reader relate to Tom Sawyer. Tom’s childish antics and outlandish exploits continue to bring smiles to readers faces over a hundred years later.

On the other hand, you have to keep in mind the real origins of the book. When reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer it is easy to imagine them the work of a down to earth writer living in a log cabin somewhere in the wilderness. But it is important to keep in mind that the author in question enjoyed an obscenely rich life in a mansion.  Also, Mark Twain wrote this around 30 years after his own childhood. Furthermore, Mark Twain, otherwise known as Samuel Clemens, had a childhood that was  actually quite different from Tom Sawyer’s. While some aspects of Tom Sawyer are drawn from his own childhood, Mark Twain romanticizes it into a collection of one magnificent adventure after another. There is none of the sickness that plagued Mark Twain throughout his childhood, and the emotional and financial strain of his father dying at age eleven is non-existent. At best, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer can be considered a loose example of what life might have been like for a fortunate child (scratch that, an exceptionally lucky child that finds chests full of gold) living in that time.

So, the question stands. Does The Adventures of Tom Sawyer exemplify what a perfect childhood should be? It is hard to know. Today’s world is so different from that of the mid 1800’s. How many children in American suburbia go to swing dead cats over witches graves at midnight to get rid of warts? How do you think people would react today if a group of young children decided to “play dead” and let everyone in their town assume they had drowned?

But despite it all, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer continues to speak to people in a world almost alien to Tom Sawyer’s. Can Tom Sawyer be considered the quintessential child? That is for you to decide.

What to Wear in the Wilderness

September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment


Whether you’re camping, hiking, or taking a Tom Sawyer style escape into the wilderness, every frontiersman must dress the part. Comfort is a must but style needn’t be neglected.

Even Twain, a rugged outdoorsman, was a man of style. You’d never catch him in striped suspenders!

Look stylish and outdoorsy in a Ralph Lauren Blue Label Collection Kincaid Leather Newsboy Jacket. This effortlessly classy coat would make any buccaneer proud.

For more affordable outerwear try these Eddie Bauer jackets.

Store all of your camping gear in this camo tote by Michael Kors, available at a discounted price on ebags.com!

Get the look for less– Target carries a variety of stylish and practical hiking boots perfect for exploring the frontier.

Layer up with these Eddie Bauer long underwear, after all, comfort comes first!

In a rush? Get it all done in one stop with this easy to capture look inspired by the frontier.

Don’t forget to accessorize! bomber hats, aviator scarves, and gloves are a must for both warmth and the perfect frontierswoman look.

A Domesticated Love

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Kyle Preston Petkanics Gerstenschlager once remarked, “The only reason why Serena’s parents bought her a cat was so she wouldn’t lose her cell phone.”  This theory as ridiculous as it may sound holds some validity.  I use to always misplace my cell phone since I would only ever pull it out to call my mom.  But now due to a short (4 hour) photo shoot and an absurd obsession, whenever I meet someone who doesn’t know my cat, the vast majority of America, though gap steadily decreases, I whip out my iphone and scroll through cute pictures of Lily (my cat).

But what is the reasoning behind my love for my cat and human’s positively around domestication?

Animal domestication, along with human barbarianism, represents the overlap in nature of animals and humans.  Humans believe the distinction between us and animals is sophistication. We as humans love our sophistication because we think it makes us greater than nature and it’s other incumbents.  For the following two reasons:

  1. Sophistication makes us different from the rest of nature in that we think our choices are driven by larger, better purposes then just finding our next meal.  Our purpose (incorrectly maybe) lies somewhere in the middle of finding the cutest, most unbearable pair of pumps to wear and the cure for cancer.  Thus, we are superior to other animals because our purpose is superior.
  2. We have the ability to control our surroundings.  Most animals just affect other animal’s lives through the choices the former animals make; only nature really controls anything.  We humans desire and try to control other animals.  Thus since we can control other animals, we transcend other animals and consequently should have the ability to control, somewhat circular logic.

Before describing the reasoning behind animal domestication, it’s imperative to understand why barbaric humans aren’t approved of.  It’s because humans that aren’t sophisticated aren’t worth being called human, since that is what how we distinct ourselves from other common animals.

The reason for us loving domestication is best begun with the Christian biblical quote of God creating humans in his image.  It’s the transient property in math, if God = Humans and Humans = Domesticated Animals, then God = Domesticated Animals.  So by domesticating animals, we are being extraordinarily kind to animals and allowing them to be like God as well.  Unfortunately, not too many animals (as far as I can tell) are religious, let alone Christian, thus they could really care less.  We are egotistical beings who believe our state in nature is the best state in nature thus any animal similar to us has it better off.  By providing my cat with a house and Purina Premium cat food, I believe she is happier even though she might like a cave and some road kill just as much.

Another reason for our love of domestication is being given the ability to control something. I trained my cat to play hide-and-go seek with me.  While she may enjoy playing, I get much satisfaction from telling people I trained my cat to play a game with me.  So while we making the animals like us, we aren’t actually elevating animals to a level where they have equal amounts of control.  There are other reasons why I love my cat and why humans love domestication, but I think the key ones are stated above.

At the beginning of time, the frontier was everywhere and a place where both animals and humans lay coexisting harmoniously.  But with time, the humans decided to change the frontier into houses and other human commodities.  The fact  the frontier, a place where all being can coexist, is shrinking suggesting humans animosity  for the frontier.  Overtime, the wild animals and the entities untouched by humans began to be solely characterized with the frontier.  Using the frontier as a case study of what humans find uncivilized and unsophisticated, it’s easy to figure out that anything holding such characteristics are regarded negatively and as being dangerous.  Domestication is a way to tame and control animals so as to alleviate the human fear of being attacked by wild animals and a way to be kind to animals as no one wants to live in the wild, ruthless frontier.

Don’t tell me what to do mom, I’m a big kid.

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

After reading a few of my classmates blogs I got to Serena M’s blog
which touched on a subject that I completely agree with as well as feel that it is a tension filled subject both in the world of Tom Sawyer as well as our own world. In the the town of St. Peteresberg, the main setting in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the gap between generations is problem filled.

Tom and his friends, including Huck Finn, are adventuresome boys and with their own naive ways, seem to always find some sort of trouble. Whether it be on the island or in the cave, the boys do as please and what they find to be fun, with no consideration to how any worried adults may feel. Although I don’t think the boys do this out of spite, their inquisitiveness may appear to be a slight rebellion. This just exemplifies the differences between adults and children, kids want to have completely innocent fun while adults are narrow minded and a lot of the time unable to reminisce of what it was to once be a child.

This relationship is a two way street though, and not all of the blame should be put on the children of the generation. As parents or teachers they should demand the respect of their children as well as teaching them what is acceptable and what is not. They should set expectations so the children know when they are expected to do things and when it is acceptable to act in a certain way. The lack of communication between the two leads to many problems and misunderstandings.

In our recent readings of Flannery, the idea of the misunderstandings between nature and humans of the modern world suggests possible ideas of not only a disconnect but the fact that some people or things are not given enough credit for what they are worth. Some parents may think of children for being immature and semi brainless, where in some aspects they are much more knowledgeable than expected to be.

Now a days there continue to be a gap between the generations but for different reasons than before. Now there is a disconnect due to things such as technology, and lack of communication due to busy schedules and hectic lifestyles. In reality, there is no perfect relationship between elder and child, there will always be disagreements, challenges and conflicts. And although some kids may resent what they are being taught to respect now, in the long run they will appreciate what their parents have done for them and realize it will help them create a better future.

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