Friday, April 4, 2008


Explications. One of the many types of writing I improved over the course of this year in English class. This year was truly a productive year because it allowed me to open up my mind, fully redesigning a new thinking architecture to aid my writing. The year started a bit bumpy as I received low, unsatisfactory grades on all of my writing assignments. I simply could not grasp what exactly was required in an explication. Slowly, by reading examples and testing many methods, I improved my writing skills to a noticeable stage beginning in third quarter.

It was the Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man theory paper that invoked this change. The paper had to be quite long in both length and depth. Explications always proved difficult to me. I have tried various ways to improve my skill in writing them. At first all I had was context and a small summary. Then I added some analysis and took away some of the summary, however, the thesis was not good enough. So then when I do have a good topic, I would not be able specific enough about it. My mind thinks extremely logically. Abstract thoughts could never enter into my mind. My strand of Apollo was never mentioned once in the entire book. Not surprisingly, I had a difficult time and received a bad grade for my explication. However, after reading through this novel and the criticisms it contained, I felt as if my mind upgraded. The psychoanalytical criticism particularly helped improve my writing as it mended both logic and abstract ideas. It was able to help form a new module in my mind to be able to see things abstractly.

Writing assignments in English class this year did improve my skills. By being able to read and learn from a fellow student’s essay, I could spot the flaws in my own writing. When the time came to write my Portrait explication, I had to crank out multiple ideas, both logical and abstract. I was forced to integrate both logical and abstract ideas fluently in my essay in order to complete it adequately. I have gained a valuable skill that helped me further improve my writing. Writing explications does not seem as hard as it did earlier in the year. Now, when I do my assignments, it takes a significantly less amount of time to finish.

Throughout the course of the year, I would say that I produced the best results in this final third quarter. My transitions improved greatly compared to my trial products earlier in the year. The recent paper on Tom Phillips’ Humument was one of my better works in class. The assignment was to examine and explicate a picture drawn by Tom Phillips. The initiation of the piece carried on smoother than I thought it would. I used to hesitate and stress before starting essays. I would sit at my desk for minutes, even hours to plan my writing. This time it was different. I looked at the picture for a few minutes and ideas seemed to pop right into my head. Multiple ideas would conflict with each other and I could find a solution to combine both messages in a coherent way. The ability to connect both my logical and abstract thoughts truly does help. And this is when I thought: English is definitely easier now.

From the vocabulary to the class discussions, every aspect of class aided the growth of my writing. I have gained much knowledge and insight through class analysis. By writing more and more, my writing although slowly, has definitely broadened. The class has read a number of novels this year. I learned a lot from both of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger, A Portrait, and Hamlet. I liked how the teacher tried to portray certain messages by performing amusing acts. The accents always help the mind with memorization. Whenever the teacher spoke in a weird accent, I would remember it later whether it be on a test or in another class. It was great; especially the funny postures actors took during Hamlet. The beginning of the year was a bit crazy. Some of the books I hated. The story line of A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man was good, but the writing style did not interest me. It was difficult. I believe that the more creative assignments were easier to accomplish because of the increased freedom on the subject. There wouldn’t be a fixed topic to stay on—meaning that I would not have to come up with a forced connection. I did not expect my grade to increase at all this quarter, but it did anyway. That just means the class helped me grow. The experience will surely help me in college. One final note I may add: procrastination hurts—especially in an English class. Anyways, thanks so much Mr. G, it’s been a pleasure.

Modernism Test

Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy is “to arouse pity and fear so we may be purged, or cleansed, of these emotions”. Robert Duncan, like Aristotle, Belives that in downfall, meaning is gained. One thought of Modernists is that absurdism and mythology pave the path to truth.

In Camus’ Stranger, the character Meursault finds himself in a moment of truth as he walks down the path towards death. He learns that every person in his life is important. In jail, he says, “Maman was free and ready to begin again”. During his confinement, Meursault learns about his meaning in life. It is his moment of truth that one gains through loss and suffering. Meursault, always rejecting society, finally gave up and accepted the world. Throughout the Modernist age, there were improvements on technology and wars. People of the world experience war over and over again, but at one moment, they accept all of the destruction and death. It can’t be helped; if events such as war occur, one must make the best out of it.

Tragedy is used by Modernists to show that something is gained through loss. In the myth of Daedelus and Icarus, the fall of Icarus teaches Daedelus about karma. Icarus was told to “keep to the middle path”, but he flew too close to the sun and lost his wings. They should have stayed confined on the island of Crete to avoid this death. Icarus would also realize that he should have heeded the wise words of his father. Daedelus’ futile creation of the wings only led to despair, but in return he gains a glimpse of how the world operates and its consequences.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Journal Entry

"His silent watchful manner had grown upon him and he took little part in he games. The children, wearing the spoils of their crackers, danced and romped noisily and, though he tried to share their merriment, he felt himself a gloomy figure amid the gay cocked hats and sunbonnets." (72)

This is a moment where we first see that Stephen has matured. Well, at least towards other people. His "watchful manner" has now become part of his life. He is mature enough not to scream and romp around the floor like a gorilla. Stephen was too old for for the games now—his mentality has matured. He did not fit in with the children anymore. Stephen is not as pure or playful as he used to be. We also see that "he tried" to join in too, signifying that he may want to be a child again. Children are embraced by warm women—and that is why Stephen wants childhood back.

I also compared Stephen to the sun here. This sun represents the maturity or any loss of Stephen. The sun emits light, but the children have hats and sunbonnets, effectively blocking the light. They are shielded from any influence Stephen may have on them, staying pure. Also, notice that he is a "gloomy figure". I think of gloomy as dark and depressed. Thus, the rays of the dark sun, him, are rejected by the happy innocent children.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

College Essay

Sitting in English class, I was forced to partake in a group seminar. It was called a Socratic seminar, where a small group of students analyze the themes of a piece of literature. The other students scribbled notes down, commenting on the flow of the conversation. Of course, as a reflection of my middle school experience, I was not eager to share just yet. To my surprise, I was selected to discuss. My legs bounced up and down and I fidgeted with my multi-colored pen. My heart rate also jumped up by nearly twenty pulses. I was nervous and did not start the conversation.
The feeling of content that I missed in class was back. Filled with satisfaction, I knew I could do it again. After a session, the class would comment on the productivity of the topics discussed. I would take mental note of my flaws to improve myself. Legs shaking, hands fidgeting, and pencils flinging, it was all conquered due to self control. My English teacher, Ms. Foley, said that practice will always lead to improvement. Thanks to this English class, I was able to come out of the shell of shyness I stuck myself into.
Another part of me that has grown is my computer and my hobby with computers. Seven years have passed since I partnered up with him. I remember when I first received him, he was fast and efficient during the time period. Nowadays, technology expands at a magnificent rate, too fast for my buddy to keep up. It may not run the latest programs or the latest games, but it is enough to do homework on.
Computers have interested me since I was a child. By now, my accumulated knowledge and experience of computers allow me to identify errors a machine may have. Because of malicious binaries, my computer has contracted numerous problems that are easily fixed. Now, I have programs to prevent such occurrences. “Your system is low on virtual memory.” However, one problem that cannot be fixed is memory. My computer was old; it was slow. It cannot even compare to my friends’ mid-end machines. A vast amount of patience was needed to keep up with my partner. Working slow enables for proficiency and accuracy, just like an ink printer. I would persevere. I could still do my essays, research, calculate math problems, and surf the internet efficiently.
My fervor for computers still grows. And so, I finally conjure up the confidence to ask my mom for a new computer. Whatever the assignment may be, if it has to be done, it will be done. I know that experience and perseverance pull through in the end. It is important to learn and integrate that experience into everyday life. Whether I am helping a fellow student or fixing my relative’s computer, I receive gratitude and for me, that is an accomplishment.