The Positive of “I WANT THAT!”

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Everyone knows the feeling..you’re walking down the street and you pass someone with an amazing a car… or an adorable outfit…or… well it could really be anything! Why does that happen? Why do we create tensions between every single one of us by comparing what someone else  has to what we have? And yet are these tensions even a bad thing?

I’d like to start with the scenario of Tom white washing his aunt’s fence. It is a chore to him, a punishment, and yet he turns it into a desired experience for all the other boys in the town by telling them how fun it is and how most boys never get to experience it. The boys end up paying Tom in “treasures” of bugs and trinkets so that they can take a turn finishing tom’s”privilege” of painting his aunt’s fence.  This  is such a perfect example of humans wanting what we can’t have.And yet I don’t see it as a bad trait when exhibited in small doses.

The consequences of this trait in humans often seems to lead to more social interactions between people. All throughout the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the children are trading special objects between each other for multiple different reasons. They gather in pairs or large groups to see who has what and make trades. It turns into a form of social gathering..and guess what? this STILL happens everywhere. Today at lunch there were at least four girls around me trading dinosaur silly bands for sea creature ones. And a while back in elementary school it was pokemon cards. This tradition of “you have that I REALLY want it, I’ll give you this for it,” seems to be a never ending characteristic in the lives of humans.

But it is an essential characteristic, because this tension creates interests in each other and what we have to offer each other whether it be something tangible, like a silly band, or something not so tangible, like knowledge. As a society it is this drive that has led us to explore the frontiers of our world and evolve into what we are today. And it is this characteristic that will keep opening up new frontiers to us and allowing us to continue to evolve.

Nature is better than you.

August 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat. – Mark Twain

It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions. – Mark Twain

And so it seems that Mark Twain, who’s real name is Samuel Clemen’s, does not have a very high opinion of mankind.  He perceives humans as having “dull perceptions” in comparison to animals, and believes a cat would be the one to be deteriorated if crossed with humans.  His respect for nature is extremely high, and this is evident through the way he elevates nature and its animals above mankind.

Even Mark Twain’s choice to change his name from Samuel Clemens to Mark Twain supports his wish to embody nature. Mark Twain’s  pseudonym comes from his work as a river pilot. Mark Twain is a term for when a river is deep enough, 12 ft, for a boat to pass through. If the river is deep enough, “Mark Twain” is the code for go ahead and navigate. Mark Twain’s choice to be called by the term for “navigate the river” relates to his wish to navigate through nature and learn what he can from it since he views it as a greater creation than human life.

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. – Mark Twain

Nature’s Power

August 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, the main character Tom Sawyer is a very playful fellow who is full of life. He is constantly getting into mischief by breaking societal rules, and instead lives by his own bizarre set of childhood boy rules. All these rules tend to involve animals or nature’s foliage and apply to games and adventures he creates.  He has a relationship with nature as a higher power that creates rules for his life, but also as a playmate that contributes to his life through its ability to create fun for him. 

One morning when Tom awoke before his other pirate friends on the island, he watched “the marvel of Nature shaking off sleep and going to work…” (104.) The fact that Tom finds nature marvelous immediately shows the respect he has for it. When he personifies nature by seeing it “shake off sleep” and “go to work,” Tom demonstrates his belief that nature has work it must get done, because it is an important controller of life. This becomes even more evident when “ a little green worm (comes) crawling over a dewy leaf” (104,) and causes Tom to make an assumption about his life off of the movement of that worm. “When the worm approached him..(it) came decisively down upon Tom’s leg and began a journey over him, his whole heart was glad- for that meant that he was going to have a new suit of clothes- without a shadow of doubt…” (104.) In Tom’s mind whatever that worm did would affect his future clothing, and that illustrates the control nature has over Tom. “Without a shadow of doubt” Tom trusted what nature was saying to him, and didn’t even think twice about it. 

Nature doesn’t only play the role of god in Tom’s morning on the island though; it also plays the role of playmate. After the worm comes to Tom, he takes the time to entertain himself with other creatures of nature. For example, a tumble bug came and Tom “touched the creature, to see it shut its legs against its body and pretend to be dead” (105.) By touching part of nature, Tom is bringing the power nature has over him to a lower level. Tom shows his respect for nature by not killing the doodle bug, but does alter nature by playing with the bug and causing it to pretend to be dead.

Tom has awe for nature because he personifies it as a thing that creates his outdoor world where he goes on his many adventures. While he follows nature’s rules and believes in them without a doubt, he relates them all to his life with a sense of playfulness that is always about entertainment.

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