Friday, April 30, 2010

Animals in Animal Farm

In George Orwell's Animal Farm, farm animals represent the people of Russia during the period immediately following World War I. His use of this representation increases the effectiveness of the novel perhaps ten-fold, for under this guise, he could write against the Soviet Union, as he did, without having to worry about his life suddenly ending in a Soviet execution. This opaque shield also may have allowed the book to circulate inside Russia, without a second glance from the KGB. However, the use of animals also makes this novel reminiscent of Aesop's fables. Such connection attract fans of Aesop in droves. Another attractant lies in George Orwell's characterization. He always kept the fact that the animals were just animals painfully apparent. Despite his personification of every farm animal, he still acknowledges the fact that they are, in some cases, unintelligent, not bipedal, and unable to manufacture certain products. This unique methodology could possibly appeal to some readers. All in all, Orwell's choice to use animals instead of humans as the main characters in Animal Farm probably attracted far more readers than simply casting humans into the roles would have.

Lois Lowry's The Giver

To the people of various Communities located around the world, life involves little pain or suffering, as well as minimal dissent and disagreements. People in the Communities have no conception of true suffering, of starvation, of chaos, or of war. Every aspect of their lives are carefully controlled, from what they do as a career to who they are in a "family unit" with. They have no worries, no desires, but also no choice nor aspiration. However, one boy gets the opportunity to experience all that no one else has, both good and bad. Actually, this boy does not truly get to choose to take all of these experiences in, but the role is forced on him by the Council of the Elders. The boy, Jonas, through his new found experiences and the wisdom that he gains through them, realizes that without the good and bad in life, life simply becomes a waste of time. Lois Lowry's The Giver entranced me with the sheer oddity of a seemingly perfect society, then horrified me with the truth about every action behind the scenes.

As previously mentioned, Jonas has been chosen to receive experiences in the form the memories of ancestral people. One person in the Community must bear this monumental task for the rest, and every once in a blue moon a new "receiver" must be chosen. Needless to say, Jonas is the newest receiver and must obtain the memories from the previous receiver, now known as the "giver." As time passes and Jonas receives more and more memories, he begins to realize that his "perfect" world possesses some flaws. In order to maintain complete equality and perfection, in addition to every aspect of life being controlled, the climate, landscape, and even color of everything is strictly manipulated into a never-changing, flat, and bland world. Jonas, caught between his duty as the new receiver and his desire to show the world what he sees and feels, must choose either to stay and live in a pretended ignorant bliss or to relinquish everything he has known and cherished for the sake of the populous.

Lois Lowry's main goal in writing this book must have been embedding serious themes subtly within. One of the most prevalent throught the novel is the question, "What sacrifices should be made in order to obtain perfection, and moreover, would they be worth the loss." The people in The Giver sacrificed their strongest emotions, the variation of the Earth, and their freedom to make their own choices, but were their decisions worth the peace and leasure that served as a replacement? Is peace and prosperity worth blandness and a pre-decided fate?

Lois Lowry and her book, The Giver, provoke many difficult questions that must be answered, while simultaneously telling an imersing tale of love and sacrifice. Honestly, this book belongs among the best that I have read, and that is saying something. I cannot think of any reason someone should not read this book, so to all, go pick this book up somewhere, find a comfortable position, grab a glass of sweet tea, and begin reading. Chances are you will like what you read.

179 Pages

My Cross-Examination

In places from courtrooms to classrooms to household the world over, cross-examination occurs time and time again. Lawyers, teachers, and parents all wonder why in the world some sort of event has occurred and try to extract the explanation from an unlucky victim through any method, no matter how painful or embarrassing. I myself often have to endure cross-examination by the final mention of the said list, or by a certain friend that must enjoy playing mother hen, over a variety of topics, many of which, I am sad to say, I do not understand the gravity that they seem to see.

One such example of my parent's unnecessary interrogation of my life revolves around my schoolwork. I understand their concern and the fact that they would like me to excel, but asking me every single day how I did on a quiz or a test or a project can become a bit much. Especially if I took the test or quiz or did the presentation that day, in which case I have no clue as to how I fared. My casual, "I did well, I suppose," never cuts it either, and always heralds the explanation, "I just took/did the (insert graded work name here) today, I believe that I did quite well, but I don't know my grade, so I cannot be one-hundred percent certain of anything." However, I fear that I should get off this topic before a rant suddenly appears before me.

Another cross-examiner happens to be a very close friend of mine, whose name I shall not mention for her sake. She claims that I have a gambling addiction, which I do not, and constantly nags and gripes about how I am going to gamble all of my money away. This will not happen of course because I do not gamble and I do not plan to. I just happen to love card games... and bets... but not the two combined! Moreover I never bet money, so I am pretty much safe. I appreciate my friend's concern, no matter how unnecessary, but she should not worry about me, such an act surely is bad for her health!

Despite the fact that I mentioned earlier that I did not understand why such topics held such importance to my friends and family, now, after writing this post, a new ray of light has been shown on their arguments. I suppose that all they do is care of my well-being, my future, and in my friend's case, my wallet. Hmm... I wonder if she has some ulterior motives there... (I am kidding, she would not.) Either way though, cross-examinations can have varied results on me, although the results typically benefit all parties.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Regarding Celebration

In places the world over various people celebrate an equally diverse myriad of occasions. Some celebrate national holidays such as Arbor day or Memorial day whereas others celebrate church occasions such as Christmas or Buddha's birthday. Others celebrate more personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Some athletes celebrate their victory over others in their respective events. However, most people celebrate some combination of these, and I, falling in the category of most people this time, celebrate a conglomerate of these.

Among the multitude of events that I celebrate there are many birthdays, my own naturally, but also my friends' and family's. Some people I know celebrate just the fact that they are alive each and every day in some small way, which I can see why I suppose. I do not really celebrate each new day, but I do have an appreciation for each one.

Although some national holidays I do not understand the point of, such as Arbor day, I celebrate quite a few of them. Among those are ones considered church holidays like Christmas and Easter as well as strictly national ones such as Independence day. I suppose that you could say that I celebrate all these holidays in a normal manner, with presenting gifts and a dinner on Christmas, a nice dinner on Easter, and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Prior to yesterday, I had no reason to celebrate any anniversaries unless one were to count a birthday as an anniversary of the day of a birth. But either way, as of yesterday, I actually have a reason to celebrate an anniversary, because in 364 days, if nothing goes wrong, one year will have passed from the day that Katelyn and I became boyfriend and girlfriend. So... Here's hoping for a great almost-year!

To be blunt, I would be hard pressed to find a person that literally celebrates nothing. I mean we all have to celebrate something sometime, I hope. Without any celebration there would be no joy, nor any excitement. Such a bland world would be such a burden to live in, and a pathetic existence would probably be the only destiny to be manifested in us. However, fortunately we do not live in such a bland world. Our world possesses the joy, excitement, and love that such a bland place does not. And we display all three in acts of celebration, which make life so much more livable.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ayn Rand's Anthem

In a highly socialistic seemingly-medieval aged world of the future every person follows the council's guidelines to a "T." In this world no hunger exists. No strife or outright evil presents itself readily. In fact the criminals keep themselves locked in prison, for they understand that they have done wrong and they must have adequate time to repent from their wrongdoings. In this world the council of vocations decides what a person's career will be after they finish schooling. And in this world, the word "I" and "you" cannot be found. Everyone uses the words "we" and "they" instead, as well as verbs to have correct subject-verb agreement. These people possess no individuality, no hope. However, one man decides not to be like the rest. Equality defies the rules and regulations of the government to blaze his own trail and attempt to restore the world to the heights civilization once achieved. Ayn Rand's Anthem engrossed me with constant plot twists and unexpected happenings.

Despite the adequateness of the storyline, one fault of this book lies in the very stylistic substitution of plural words for singular ones. At some points in the book multiple people are in a given area, and the use of "we" can either mean that Equality or the entire group of them do something. In all fairness I must admit that most of the time the author covers this weakness by preceding the action by mentioning how Equality goes off on his own. Moreover, whenever the number of participants is indeterminable, the action they are doing seems irrelevant or otherwise unimportant.

Ayn Rand used this book as a discreet method of spreading her theology of objectivism. Essentialy this theology highlights man as his own reason for existance. Objectivism states that we as humans exist to fulfill our own desires, and only we alone can do this. Objectivsim states that there are no "higher powers" at work, and that human altruism wastes lives. She does this by setting equality in a world where altruism is the way of life, and the government, although it claims to be equal with the people, is essentially worshiped as a god. By breaking free through his own power he shows that as humans we have all we need at our fingertips to survive and thrive. Needless to say, Ayn and I do not see eye to eye on all the points of objectivism, although some I do agree with.

Anthem, as a novel, presents a compelling story of the triumph of the human spirit over any and all opressive forces. The pace seems fast enough, although sometimes confusing as the story is written in retrospect. The manuscript also serves the role of propaganda supporting Ayn's objectivism. Despite this subliminal influencing, Anthem reamains a good read and a decent way to pass some time.

105 pages

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That Four Letter Word...

Hunted by

A four letter

Painful at

Yet worth
any great