Keepin’ it Real

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

In our society with plastic surgery, prosthetic limbs, and numerous other amazing technologies, its seems that we can fake just about anything. But does “fake” nature, still count as nature? Can one really experience the Great Outdoors indoors? Either way, it seems a great many people have tried.

Indoor Ski Slope – Dubai

Having actually seen this indoor ski slope with my own two eyes while on a family vacation in Dubai, I must admit it does look very realistic. However, something about above 100 degree weather outside and it’s being inside a shopping mall that really killed the “winter wonderland” mood for me.

Man-Made Waterfall

Would a waterfall be the perfect finishing touch to your serene backyard? Not a problem. Whether using elaborate underground pump systems, or simply changing the course of already existing water, the waterfall of your dreams is finally within reach.

Fake Christmas Trees

Don’t worry, it looks real enough to fool Santa.

Click here for some great decorating ideas.

Palm Island – Dubai

This elaborate set of man made islands was designed in a way to maximize the amount of waterfront property. At least the designers tried to capture the essence of nature by building their islands in the shape of a tree.

Frass

Perhaps it’s a little bit too close to home for me to comment.

Indoor Beach – Japan

Saving my personal favorite for last, Japan’s newest water park offers all the perks of a day at the beach without the risk of sunburn. Unfortunately, no matter how many hours you lay out on this beach, you will not get any tanner. I promise.

Coming of Age

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I agree with Serena M.’s post and others who discussed the topic of age as a major conflict in Tom Sawyer. While I do believe that there is significant tension between adults and children in St. Petersburg, I think that Tom and Huck begin to act as a bridge between youth and maturity. Throughout the story, the boys cause a lot of mischief, but nonetheless also gain stronger senses of maturity and responsibility.

While on the island, the boys are forced to fend for themselves and they catch a glimpse of what life is like without adults around. Despite tension with the adults in their lives, all three boys eventually grow homesick and want to retuen home. Once Tom returns home and sees the agony he caused Aunt Polly, I think he beings to be more understanding of his relationship with Aunt Polly and adults in general.

In his toughest trial, Tom proves himself mature enough to take care of himself and also Becky. During their time in the cave, Tom takes full responsibility for Becky’s wellbeing and safety. He pushes himself past his own limits because he feels obligated to help Becky. This experience is similar to the feeling that many parents experience on a daily basis.

Huck shows his maturity in a different way. At the end of the story when he overhears Injun Joe in the forest, he goes and asks adults for help. While this may not seem very tough, it was definitely very mature of him to realize that he couldn’t handle the situation on his own. The ability to recognize when you are in over your head and ask for help, in another sign of maturity.

In the book and in real life, maturity and adulthood is a metaphorical frontier. Adulthood is dangerous, uncharted territory, just as the western land of the American Frontier was to the early settlers. Growing up involves opportunity, risks, and independence. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn struggle to conquer wilderness surrounding St. Petersburg, but by doing so they also begin to explore the frontier of adulthood.

Growing up in society today, we too must conquer the frontier of adulthood. For many, leaving home to attend college posses itself as a challenge and adventure of settling new unknown territory. In college, without parents to tell us what to do and how to act, we will all have to show the same types of maturity and strength that Tom and Huck developed over the course of the novel. This book put a new spin on the meaning of what it is to be mature for me: Tom displays that maturity is being able to be responsible for yourself and those around you, but also Huck demonstrates the importance of being able to realize when we need help and have enough courage to ask for it when that time comes.

Write what you know.

August 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

As many people have noted in previous posts, Samuel Clemens’ writings seem to echo many experiences of his own. It seems that Clemens created children who mimicked the restraints and guilt that he felt during his own childhood. In his writing the characters were eventually freed from these troubles, where in real life Samuels was not and suffered from severe depression. I think Samuels may have made the characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in particular as a way of reflecting on his youth and as an attempt to change the things he regrets from is own childhood.

As a young child Samuel Clemens was kept indoors due to a severe sickness. Illustration from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain

In 1857 Clemens became licensed as a river boat pilot. He worked in this trade until 1861, when the Civil War brought a stand still to much river boat traffic. Samuels’ later penname, Mark Twain, comes from an expression used when a river boat is navigating shallow water.

Cover of “The Adventures of Huck Finn” (A Walt Disney Motion Picture adapted from the book by Mark  Twain)

Cover of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

On June 21, 1858 Clemens’ younger brother, Henry,  was killed when the steamboat on which he was working. Clemens held himself responsible for the rest of his life.

Illustration from “The Adventures of Huck Finn” by Mark Twain

Biographical Information From:

http://www.cmgww.com/historic/twain/about/bio.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain

http://kirjasto.sci.fi/mtwain.htm

Personification and Admiration

August 29, 2010 § 3 Comments

In the beginning of chapter XIV, Tom awakes in the forest and observes the plants and animals round him. In this passage, Tom classifies nature as something separate from himself, but personifies the nature that surrounds him in order to depict the nature as even more impressive than humans. Tom separates humans from nature by characterizing the animals as “wild things” (99). In this case, the use of the word “ wild” suggests an aspect of freedom, which by running away to be pirate Tom and his friends show is a quality that they admire. The fact that Tom capitalizes the “N” in “Nature,” alludes to a personification of the surroundings as a whole. This concept is furthered in the description when Tom describes the nature similarly to how one might describe a human being. He describes the “great Nature’s meditation” (98), which demonstrates not only an element of Tom’s respect towards nature with use of the word “great,” but depicts nature as a whole as an entity capable of the complex thought involved in meditation. Tom assigns personalities with particularly colloquial language to further the image of nature as a human being. He depicts ladybugs as a creature “credulous about conflagrations” (99) and the blue jays as having “consuming curiosity” (99). Although the qualities of fearing fire and curiosity are not unreasonably a part of wild instincts, the civility of “consuming,” “credulous,” and “conflagrations,” re-enforces the human-like qualities of the nature. Furthermore, the personification is a vehicle to portray Tom’s admiration for the nature. He studies the nature closely and with awe, even though it is doing human things. Tom closely watches “the marvel of Nature shaking sleep” (98), suggesting that it is somehow more impressive than the awakening of an average human. Lastly, he passage is riddled with awe-inspiring descriptions such as “there was a delicious sense of repose and peace in the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods,” (98) and “long lances of sunlight pierced down through the dense foliage far and near” (99) in order to further inflict a sense of marvel on the reader.

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