October 7, 2010 § 3 Comments

i·ro·ny n \ˈī-rə-nē\

The incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (Merriam Webster)

Used in a Sentence:
The man in the red sweater ironically states, “Be a good dog and all’ll go well and the goose hang high. Be a bad dog, and I’ll whale the stuffin’ outa you” (9), right after Buck “accepted the rope with quiet dignity” (5) and was choked.

There is much irony in Buck’s trusting, childish nature leading him to be a sled dog and forced to grow up. (Then again don’t all our childish actions lead to us learning and growing up?)

Viskovitz (as a dog) and Buck are both domesticated, which ironically results in the dogs being too trusting and being hurt by humans and having to revert to their wild state.

It’s not ironic that someone would think the man in the red sweater is a bitch; one would expect another to think that.

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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!


The tick they call Edmond

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.

Clash of the titans

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

In the town of St. Petersburg, just as in any town in the world today, there is a constant struggle between the adults and the kids. More specifically, there is a game of tug-of-war between the authoritarian figures and the troublemakers. The adults with authority are constantly trying to constrict the kids to do as they say and to conform to the norms of society. They constantly correct them and scold them when they don’t accordingly.

The kids on the other hand, are constantly pushing the boundary between appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. They try to do any little thing that they can to bend the rules and irritate the adults. Although most kids don’t bend the rules as dramatically as Tom Sawyer and his friends, by fleeing to an island and following killers, they still bend the rules nonetheless.

There is just something about being rebellious that has a strong appeal to young kids. As one gets older, for the most part they get less and less rebellious and follow on the path their elders set out for them, hoping to succeed in life. The older they get, the more consequences their actions have and the more responsibility others expect out of them. Kids at Tom’s age though, even if they are the most innocent kids, feels the need to not listen and be a “bad ass”. It frustrates adults when the kids don’t listen even though they were that kid not listening just a few years ago.

This clash of the titans is found in every setting. It is found at home, between the parents and children, in school, between the teacher and the student, and in every other commonplace. This struggle will never end, even though it has favored the adults more and more since Tom’s era, as they continue to have more control over the kids.

One major frontier in the lives of these kids is college. Similar to the frontiers in old America, the explorers are on their own and have to learn how to survive. It is a new way of life and is nothing like the explorers have ever encountered before. Expanding to the frontier and going to college make the kids become independent and learn to adapt to their new lives. It is the first time that they no longer clash with their parents, but instead have to use everything that they were taught by them.

“Make good choices!”

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

On my way to my first day of school my dad yells, “make good choices!” as I rush out the door. This is the same old routine since Kindergarten. At this point it’s just a family joke that’s become tradition, but when I was in elementary school I think that this was my dad’s way of managing a world in which he had no power or control – school as a frontier.

School is a place where children make their own decisions and parents must temporarily revoke their power. It is a boundary of parental power, creating a frontier between the world they’ve created at home and the real world. There is no way for parents to possibly know about every single thing that you do or who you talk to while you’re at school, and that’s scary for them. It is a place of unknown, where ideas, types of students, and interests mix, and people are shaped. This coming together of the unknown and known is reflective of the environment created at the schoolhouse in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

The schoolhouse is a place where respectable society and outcasts are forced to intermingle. Judge Thatcher and Mrs. Thatcher can’t stop Becky from playing with an outcast like Huckleberry Finn when he comes to school because in this frontier land Becky has the freedom to choose what she wants to do. Children who weren’t normally supposed to play together are now able to play when they are put into the same setting. This allows them to see that they are exactly alike regardless of which slot society put them in. Clearly Tom and Huck strike up a great friendship because they have similar interests – pirates, troublemaking, getting rich – and these aren’t necessarily things that Tom should be doing in Aunt Polly’s opinion. As “respectable society” and the “outcasts” are able to spend time together and forget about labels they are able to see that they are more alike than they thought.

This intersection is extremely pivotal in a child’s life because it allows them to realize that societal constraints aren’t always based in truth. School is a place that fosters this intersection and therefore this realization. As Tim Flannery writes in The Eternal Frontier, “…the frontier experience has changed them all, each time creating a new and distinctive manifestation of life.” The frontier is a place where students are exposed to and learn about the reality of society, and can ultimately make their own “good choices”.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I think a point of intersect occurs where the school meets the rest of the town. I believe the school is a basic representation for childhood and the town represents coming of age or being an adult. Although the children are looked upon as mostly naïve and immature, I think there are valuable lessons that can be taken from the beauty of innocence. One of them being that money can’t buy happiness.
Who defines how much something costs and how much something is worth? I think the idea of what defines wealth is brought up in Tom Sawyer. For example, at a young age, Tom and his friends fantasize little about big fancy cars and find more enjoyment in odd types of items. As Tom is manipulating the town boys into painting his fence he is trading and obtaining all sorts of possessions. When he is finally done with “the slaughter of more innocents” he describes himself as “being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning,” to then “literally rolling in wealth.” And with what? Money? Gold? Jewelry? Diamonds? Nope. Simply “a fragment of chalk…a tin soldier…a brass door-knob, a dog collar and four pieces of orange peel” (16). I think Mark Twain is trying to say that as a child, we are able to appreciate and find great joy in the simple items in life that are usually taken for granted. I think he is making a point that in a time where society is strongly centered around the price tag of something, it’s important to look back to our childhood and remember the times where we could spend hours and hours building castles out of a patch of dirt and twigs or collecting rocks and flowers. Twain is saying that we should remember to enjoy the simple things in life and ultimately that money can’t buy happiness.
Along with wanting money, people usually tend to want power as well. As our society has evolved we’ve become more centered around power and money. In fact, some argue that is what the United States is centered on. With the close of the frontier, it seems that is really all that’s left for the United States to focus on. There are no more unknown lands and dangerous territory that has yet to be explored. However, although the frontier has closed in the tradition sense, I think that it exists. I don’t think the word frontier is exclusivly referring to the land but instead it’s referring to change. For example, technology is a frontier because people are always striving for the best, new device and it is always undergoing changes. I think a frontier can also be a mind set and therefore be very personal. When a person goes through life, they have dreams and ambitions and are typically thrown many obstacles while trying to achieve those things. So the journey one takes through life is unknown, sometimes dangerous, and constantly changing- a type of frontier. So, I believe that the idea of a frontier is eternal and can truely never end so long as life exists.

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