Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

Grendel and the Higgs Boson

I’ve just finished reading John Gardner’s Grendel and I had to write a short blurb about it. This is what I wrote, I intended to make it longer, but I had a page limit.

The Higgs Boson.

Grendel’s attitude and his behavior are highly elegant and philosophical. And as Ayn Rand once put it, “all work is an act of philosophy” and extending the assumption further, all existence is an act of philosophy as well, especially Grendel’s. It is because of this that Grendel is the only solid character and the only defining thing in the entire novel. The story is entirely defined and dependant on him.

If it were not obvious from the title of the novel, Grendel asserts himself as the stronger (and almost only) force in the work. Unlike in other works, where titular characters are unaware of their situation or their influences, Grendel is aware of his situation: “Nothing was changed, everything was changed, by my having seen the dragon (Gardner, 75)” He is aware of both the fact that for the world around, him, everything remains exactly the same, yet as for himself and the dragon, everything is different. Grendel is incredibly aware of the changes, or rather, the flux, of his existence and its ultimate meaninglessness. Grendel’s world is reduced to himself, although this discovery, this philosophy, does in no way stand against its opposing force: the importance of the self and the individual.  His voice then, characterized by short, descriptive clauses: “I blink. I stare in horror (Gardner, 5)” sets the tone for the further expression of his ego, and allows for the reader to understand that the world is reduced to Grendel because he considers himself to be the only thing worth noticing.

Grendel’s reductionist philosophy takes him down a nihilistic rabbit hole: “nihil ex nihilo (Gardner, 150)” Out of nothing, nothing exists, except for the observer, that is, both Grendel and the reader. This is exemplified and clearly pointed out in the one statement that defines him: “I understood that the world is nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly place our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or that I push against, blindly- as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. I create the whole universe, blink by blink. (Gardner, 21-22)”

Each sentence containing the word ‘I’ is then set apart, not merely as a causality, but as a rigid, undeniable and unquestioning statement of Grendel’s unshakable sense of life. It is obvious, that Grendel Is. Like the Higgs Boson, Grendel gives existence to himself and it is only when he tricked by Beowulf that he shows any sign of losing his control, even then as he lies bleeding to death, his final words haunt and define the future of his destroyers: “So may you all (Gardner, 174)”

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Why anything with Nature vs Nurture should be Immedietly Ignored.

In English, we read this very interesting article by Evolutionary Biologist Olivia Judson, and naturally, almost no one actually read it. I strongly believe that the teacher might not have read the article herself, because she really let the entire class move in a completely different direction than the article led. She began with the idea of Nature (Biology) and Nurture (Environmental) and that amused me, because i personally don’t believe in the idea or Nature vs Nurture, to me, setting up that distinction is similar if not identical to calling water and the plant opposing beings, rather than synergetic beings, of course, people still do the entire Fifty-Fifty argument, where they still separate both entities.

The discussion ignored the article’s idea of complimentary situations and moved into a rather boring and insanely repetitive and completely moronic discussion of Nature vs Nurture. The general consensus was proposed by one of the girls in my group and that was perhaps what shut me off to the entire discussion to begin with. She said that she did not see the point  of the women’s lib movement, because she really did not believe in the entire “women’s power” movement, she used a somewhat negative phrase that i purposefully forgot. But that sentiment, that men are just better at things and therefore deserve the larger salary, and that women were just better mothers and quote “rule and think with their emotions, while men do not” was prevalent in the entire discussion all while saying that there was nothing more to be done in women’s lib.

At this point i made a completely unintelligible sound in the back of my throat and had to restrain myself because i really wanted to yell at her. I really could explain what is wrong with that, but i think everyone understands.

I think that now, i really hate that class, and mainly because of the people in it. They seem to be incredibly stupid and i hope that i never eve3r have to see them again in my life. Luckily, class only meets nine more times this semester!!!

Environment affects the outcome of the entire biological process, and that biological process is likewise affecting the environment in which its housed.It reminds me of the book by Judith Rich Harris’s about the effect of parenting, where people generally believe that parenting has an effect on the raising of their children.

Long Time Gone.

Its seems that as soon as Heroes was over I stopped blogging and then, today, one day Before Fugitive’s starts, I come back.

Well, I have a reason for that, I’ve been busy, terribly terribly busy.

My life has been yanked out of its cyclical routine and I was completely dazed and lost, and forgot to come here. It’s a new semester you see, and it looks like, unlike last semester, this one is going to be GOOD!!

I am taking six classes, a full eighteen credit hours, and across three campuses too: One at Downtown, Two at West and three in Main. Which means that I’ve become very familiar with the new Light Rail and the Shuttles that ASU provides.

So this semester I’m taking:

STP 226: Elements of Statistics, which seems fun and I am enjoying, strange, because I usually hate math.

ASM 455: Primate Behavior Lab, which rocks!!! Because Dr. Nash is the instructor and its already a major challenge, making it my hardest class this semester.

ASB 102, because I got bored last semester and failed it. This semester I have a good teacher and the classroom is not full of idiots.

SPA 413: Advanced Spanish Grammar, and yes I very much like it.

SPA 426: Spanish Literature from 1700 to Present, which seems like it will be very interesting, plus the teacher is way smart, and a tad bitchy.

ENG 102: Composition, because I finally finished 101! Yay!!

I’ve also discovered that my much planned and expected trip to London may not work out, because I have no money, well, I have money, just not enough, Britain will have to wait for me, unless I can talk people into giving me money. And a lot of it, right now I’m a whole two thousand dollars short. I may have to find another way for getting the hell out of America. I will try and I swear I will go to London soon, maybe in the Summer if I can find those 2k’s or the Fall semester.

I went to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and loved it!! I also went to see Slumdog Millionaire, and I absolutely loved it (they will each get a post later on, after Heroes: Fugitives ep. 1)

The Borders closest to me closed about five hours ago, permanently. I am very, very sad and require coffee to cheer me up. 😦

I’ve read more of Le Guin’s Works, including The Tombs of Atuan, Very Far Away From Anywhere Else, Gifts, and I’m working on The Telling, Changing Planes and The Word for World is Forest.

Oh and January 20 was one of the HAPPIEST DAYS OF MY LIFE!! PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!!!!

I was very pleased when he cut salaries and finally closed Gitmo! It looks as if America will finally grow a backbone and start respecting Human and Civil Rights. I was disappointed when Obama replied to Hugo Chavez’s congratulations by saying that he (Chavez) was impeding progress in South America, in fact, I’m still pissed at Obama for that, he really needs to stop making the same shitty mistakes that Bush made by pissing off Latin America.

For now, that’s all because it’s very late, or very early depends on how you look at it, either way i WANT COFFEE!!!!

Ciao.

El Estudiante De Salamanca

Estoy leiendo y analizando el poema El Estudiante De Salalmanca de Jose de Espronceda.

Tuve una presentacion ayer, y fue la peor que he dado. Los otros estudiantes de la classe no estaban poniendo attencion, me ignoraron. La unica persona que si puso attancion y pregunto pregundas y pidio clarificasiones fue el profesor.

A media presentacion, todos los estudiantes emperaron a reir, de que no se. Pero tuve que parar y esperar que se callaran, me senti como un idiota, parado halando de la era romatica a un salon que podria estar vasio.

Lo unico bueno fue que lei el poema y no me arrepiento, lo recomindo a todos.Aunque tengan en mente que yo soy un fan de lo Gotico y lo grotesco.

Why the Tao Te Ching (daodeking) Can Never Be Briefly Disscussed.

First day of ENG101 (yes, i am picking on the class again!, but I bring this up again for a reason, as previously mentioned, born in my ASB102 class)
We had a small discussion about Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. One student said that one chapter in particular (Chapter 3: Hushing in Ursula K. LeGuin’s translation, my favorite version) where it says:

  So the wise soul
  governing people
  would empty their minds,
  fill their bellies,
  weaken their wishes,
  strengthen their bones.
 
meant that the wise government would have to keep their people in ignorance. But this idea is completely contradictory to the fundamentals of Taoism. Especially if taken in context, not only with the culture, but with the rest of the text. For example, as i told Rob, my favorite chapter, Taoing says:

  The way you can go
  Isn’t the real way
  The name you can say
  Isn’t the real name.

As LeGuin says:

  “to those who will not admit morality without a deity to validate it, or spirituality of which man is not the measure, the firmness Lao Tzu’s morality and the sweetness of his spiritual council must seem incomprehensible , or illegitimate, or very troubling indeed.”

  So, the very idea that a government would act while keeping ignorance among the people could be understood, especially after reading Chapter 17, it again appears that the ideal leader should be manipulative and keep the people without thinking. But the meaning, once place d in context, is just the opposite.

Once such ideas begin to be understood or discussed there is a tenancy to forget the the original purpose of the Tao Te Ching was not to be a manual for leaders, but a guide to the Tao. literally, the having the Way guide the Way. much like the concept (or non-concept) of Zen.

Back to the point I was trying to make. The Tao cannot, and should not be summarized. It is not responsible, and not beneficial either to the students or to the Tao itself.

By the way, I strongly recommend reading the Tao Te Ching, several times of course. I read a chapter or two every day. I am not a spiritual person, or religious, but I read of the Way and I try to live in the Way. I especially recommend LeGuin’s translation. other translations are very forced, and forcibly translated in order to have political meaning. LeGuin’s version is translated with the poet in heart. Translated for the sake of Tao and beauty, not for classroom politics, and Western obsession with dry ideologies.

Actually I recoment all of LeGuin’s Works, especially The Telling, and Gifts. Both are beautifully writen and, if you really must, have deep meanings and parallels in society today/

Minimalism

I think I may have become a minimalist.

Apparently, I’m very good at summarizing things and giving minimalist examples. I came to this realization during my ASB104: Intro to Social-Cultural Anthropology Discussion. We were talking about language, one kid, a complete idiot named William or something, said that humans were the only um, being, that used vocal language as a mean of communication. My immediate though was “What the Fuck? are you kidding?” and then it occurred to me that he was a complete second hander. He only knew how to regurgitate whatever he’d heard before. I know that bush babies communicate because Dr. Nash specializes in bush babies. and i know that vervets have certain vocalizations that they use and each vocalization has a different meaning.

William defended his point with the argument that humans are the only species whose vocalizations differ in meaning across groups, but i know that in samiri, two different colonies may use entirely different vocalizations, and the species are still the same, because there hasn’t been enough time for speciation to occur. So we went on talking about language and thought.

The working question was ‘Does language determine how you think, or does you thinking determine your language’ I said that in a certain way language determines your thinking process. William, piped up and said something that i either ignored or forgot ( I seriously forgot if i forgot or ignored him) To which the teach responded with a huge smile. So i gave an example from my ENG class, where the different definitions of ’emptying mind’ came into play.  The entire process ended up falling on deaf ears because everyone ignored me, and the teacher moved over me. So my response was that in order for thoughts to form a language and completely prevent the influence of language on thought was if the community remained static, with no new births and no new members in the community. That was shot down quickly the the same argument that they used the first time.

Everyone agreed that i was wrong. But I have a reason I stick to this idea: I speak three languages.

What is the English word for soberbia? There is none, there is no such concept in English. So in English, you can be angry or you can be vengeful, but neither word really describes that feeling. Or if you’re in Mexico, you can be filled with soberbia.

Or even better, What is the English word for Arder, Ardeur in French? Well, you can itch, you can burn, you can be in pain, but you have no actual word for it. So in America we think in terms of burning, in terms of itching. In Mexico, in Spain, in France you can Arder.

I could go on.  But i fell, like I’ve proven my point. language does influence the way you think. the way you word things, the concepts you can understand, that’s how words are adopted. English such a rich language, has many words for concepts that we would have otherwise never some into contact with. And its thought eh language, that we arrive at the concept. True, originally the concept created the word. but eventually the word determined the concept. Poetry for example. the way that words are used give rise to concepts, they affect the way we think.

In class we ended up accepting the mild language has very little influence over thought. I agree, but I also believe that it has more influence than we believe.

Back to Minimalism. I’ve been thinking that i may be a bit of a minimalist because i use few words to describe certain things. At times i like being concise and at other times i like being verbose. So i may be a minimalist, only part of the time.

Work was Actually Busy Today!

Today i actually got to run all around campus running errands, it felt good to be doing something other than sitting around.

Classes today were interesting and i have quite a bit to say about that, but right now, i’m running on 23.5 hours without sleep and i have a test later today at noon and i really want to get some sleep in before that. (what i want to know is: what IDIOT schedules a test on a Saturday? Isn’t the weekend supposed to be, y’know, THE WEEKEND! with NO CLASS and NO WORK!!) Anyway, good night, morning, whatever!

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So the test, was a complete waste of time. It was terribly inconclusive and insanely arbritary. No more to say.

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Classes, yeah, i’ve posted more on that.