Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The Religion of Literature

I entered the field of literary study simply because I loved it. I had no desire to experience the critical debates that so inspired Gerald Graff, nor did I want to kill the author, “confront greatness,” or actualize my literary-community role in any capacity; the ability to enter a new world was more than enough for me. However, after meeting scoffs and laughter when I proudly announced my decision to study Literature, I began to think that love alone might not be a sufficient basis for a lifelong study. This hesitation prompted me to take the first steps on a path to understanding: I began to ask questions. And in the words of Robert Frost, “That has made all the difference.”

While attempting to justify my choice of study, I found myself justifying the entire premise of my life. “Why do I read?” became synonymous with “Why do I live?” The act of opening a novel became a reenactment of my premortal choice to enter this world. The standards I brought to each work were a perfect copy of those I practiced in my real life. Seeing the literary realm juxtaposed with the physical one highlighted the similarities much more than the differences. It became apparent that, as a creature of both worlds, my choices in one absolutely affected the other.

This concept of our decisions influencing the outcome of a scenario is part of what makes literary studies so unique. Seldom are the results of our work so completely part of us. In mathematics, a problem solved one way or another will equal the same thing. Literature is one of the few fields in which we are given an absolute – a text in print – and then we are allowed to determine what it accomplishes.

Another benefit of experiencing life in two worlds is the potential for progress. We can learn things through literature that would be much harder to learn in reality. For example, by reading something as fantastical as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, we begin to understand perfectly real problems, such as addiction or betrayal, without a physical jeopardy. That is, we can face dangerous trials from a safe distance. Thus, experiencing a removal from the author (not necessarily an authorial death, but a distinct separation), we are given an agency with the text that mirrors our agency in reality. The ultimate lesson we learn depends entirely on our own decisions.

We need not forget the inherent beauty of good literature. Reading something we find personally inspiring or lovely is as important as reading “the classics.” While the actual definition of “great literature” is completely subjective, the idea that it exists is fairly universal. Many books contain elements of greatness. We shouldn’t operate under the assumption that a book must be completely perfect; those books are few. Rather, we should focus on appreciating the small pieces of beauty that exist in an imperfect text-world, much as we are advised to appreciate the things “of good report or praiseworthy” in the physical world. This task to seek out the good and confront it may seem daunting, but it is also marvelously rewarding.

Why, though, is it so important to study at a university? Reading is a simple enough process, and as previously mentioned, the ultimate take-away is based on personal decisions. The answer, simply, is because one crucial element in literary study cannot be accomplished alone: communication. Upon entering a classroom setting, we are entering into a community of people with the same designs. It provides not only a way to communicate with the texts themselves, but also new methods of communication with other people who appreciate literature. Indeed, our chances of meeting the author of a text are fairly low. Literary communities, then, have the responsibility of actualizing debates. Completely alone, we have a hard time approaching a text with different points of view. With the help of a community, however, we can learn to expand our outlook. Teachers and peers who belong to this literary community present us with new ideas – concepts that we might never have discovered on our own.

It is this development of viewpoint that truly validates the pursuit of literary study. We enter into critical discussions because we desire to grow. As Gerald Graff said, “Nobody lives or thinks in this world without theories.” It is true that theory is inescapable. But by acknowledging our own entrance into the world of discussion, we allow those ideas to work upon us. And ultimately, if we enter the critical debate with an aspiration to grow beyond ourselves, we can create the exact character that we desire: one that functions soundly in both literature and reality.

English Professor Zina Petersen once said, “If someone asks you what you’re going to be with a degree in English, look ‘em in the eye and say, ‘Educated!’” That is precisely what I intend to become. But I am not merely studying literature; I am studying life. An understanding of texts is an understanding of created worlds. In this regard, few other courses of study lend themselves so wholly to the emulation of divinity. This emulation is the greatest thing we can ever hope to achieve. C.S. Lewis wrote, “A mole must dig to the glory of God, and a cock must crow." I would add to that, a student of literature must read, for by reading with the desire to learn, we expand ourselves on every level. I entered the field of literary study simply because I loved it. I stayed because I’m learning to live it.

I think, for the very first time, I truly comprehend what it is I'm doing.

I've been absent from my kingdom for so very long. But words have restored worlds.

It's good to be home.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


In a drowning world of apathy, I search only for feeling.

Friday, December 4, 2009


This week has been crazy, especially with preparation for finals. But I absolutely subscribe to Socrates' theory of Pleasure and Pain being hung together.

Prof. Westover asked me to stay after class today. He just told me that he's recommended me to the writing center for a job/internship next semester (or next year? I'm not sure). He said that they're losing some of their best writers to graduation, and he felt that I would be a wonderful replacement.

Warm fuzzies. :)

And guess what? I love people, heartfelt connections, and discovery.

Plus, I currently have a pair of french pastries which will be consumed whilst watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly with a friend that I've taken too long to appreciate.

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." -John Lennon.

P.S. OMD, I've never really gone through that experience, but when I do, it's good to know that you'll be there for me.

Friday, November 27, 2009


See, what I love about '80s movies is that they're so beautifully contrived that they're almost more real.

You know?

Seriously, I'd marry the guy on the spot.

Could a Loyd Dobler really exist?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


An Addition to Plato’s Phaedo
By: Tana M. Frechem
Pen & Sword

ECHECRATES: Are you quite certain that nothing else was spoken? Socrates said nothing else before he took the potion?
PHAIDON: Yes I am sure that I have accounted for all that passed between Socrates and the others present. Do you doubt my memory, good Echecrates?
ECHECRATES: No, not at all. I merely wanted to be certain that I had missed nothing.
PHAIDON: Hold a moment. Perhaps I spoke too soon. It seems to me that I have left something out. Yes, I have forgotten something indeed. After Socrates had spoken a bit about the nature of body and soul, he called Criton to his side.
“Criton, it strikes me that this discussion may relate very closely to our conversation of laws. When you left me the other day, I did not feel that you were quite at peace with my decision to remain in prison, despite what I said to you. Is this true?” said Socrates
“Indeed, you are right,” said Criton. “I am not at peace that my dear friend willingly submits to such an unjust treatment. For all your praise of Justice, I see none here.”
“Ah my friend, Justice is the very heart of the thing, no, even the very Soul!” replied Socrates with a small laugh.
“Socrates, I do not see any cause for laughter. This day is a somber day if ever I knew one.”
“As I have said, this day is not a somber one. But perhaps the laughter was out of place. I laughed only because I spoke more truth than I knew!” said he. “Let me explain myself. Maybe one you see Justice robed in all the glory she deserves, you will understand.”
“I will listen to you, Socrates,” said Criton.
“Excellent. Now, we have already spoken a bit on the relation to soul and the body, correct?”
“Yes, but I do not see how that relates to this present topic,” said Criton.
“All in its proper time, dear friend. In my explanation to Simmias upon the nature of body and soul, we determined that they must be two separate, but both important things, did we not?” said Socrates.
“We did.”
“And what did we decide was the nature of death?”
“Only that it would be the separation of the body from the soul. Nothing more,” replied Criton.
“Precisely. And while we have made the case that the soul lives on, in our physical existence, at least, the body is equally important to life.”
“It would be folly to think otherwise. But the body, as you said, ought to be the slave to the master of the soul.”
“Well remembered!” said Socrates, “But regardless of the extent to which the body obeys the soul, without a body, a soul has little effect within the physical world. Likewise, without a soul, a person ceases to live and is therefore dead.”
“All correct, Socrates,” replied Criton.
“Now, let us discuss Laws. There must be two separate parts in order for Law to function correctly. There must be a physical body of people to be governed, and then the Law itself, correct? And without one, the other cannot perform, also correct?”
“Of course.”
“And it is understood that if a body of people exists and functions, there must be some form of a Law that gives their societal group a life. Even for the most savage of people, living in a society where every man looks after himself, that is the law, and man is expected to conduct himself in accordance with those guidelines.”
“I have found no place for disagreement, thus far,” said Criton.
“So you would agree that the relationship of dependence of Law on governed body is the same as the relationship of Soul and body?”
“Well, yes, I suppose in that regard I would. It would go against logic, if I were to disagree.”
“Yes, logic, and other powers as well,” said Socrates, laughing again. “But now, let us soldier onward. I will make you understand my reasons for remaining a prisoner yet.”
“I listen still,” said Criton with a sad expression.
Socrates sat for a moment, choosing his words, and then began: “Alright. If we are agreed that the relationship is precisely the same, then it is safe to call Law, or Justice, the Soul of a civilization, correct?”
“I suppose that makes sense,” said Criton.
“Indeed, it does, because as a body of humans, we are mastered by Law. It is the omnipresent. And Law, too, is eternal as the Soul. The man who lays it down may die, but his Law continues onward, supported by a healthy society. And even if a society were to fall, the concept of Law would still live on. It ends never. That, my dear Criton, is why I could not and cannot bring myself to trespass against the Law. It would not only be a matter of a child striking a parent, which is bad enough on its own right, but also a matter of a body breaking his own Soul. This I cannot do.”
Criton looked down for a moment, pondering what Socrates had spoken. Then he said, “I agree with you, that such a relationship is sacred and ought not be broken, but how is it that Law can change?”
“You always thought well, Criton. I am impressed with your desire to understand. I will answer your question with another question: Can a Soul change?”
“I do not understand, Socrates. Change in what manner?” answered Criton.
“Very well, I shall assist you. The Soul itself will always be a Soul, made from the essence of Soul-stuff. But the nature of a Soul is absolutely subject to change. We have discussed that the Soul, being on a higher level, ought to be master over the body, have we not? But as with a real slave, the body is capable of rebellion. As I told Simmias, a body that revels in the physical things and does not heed the divine whisperings of the Soul, can, indeed, become master. But this is an unhappy circumstance. Neither body nor Soul is in its proper place, and the result comes down to nothing more than misery. It is the very same with Law,” said Socrates.
“I think I am beginning to see,” said Criton
“Good! Let us continue, then. Law is like the Soul: subject to the rebellion of the physical body, because the physical body holds a power in a physical world, is it not true?”
“Perfectly true,” said Criton.
“Then if the body of the governed becomes corrupt and no longer concerned with the eternal welfare of the people as a whole, it is the same as a body becoming a master over a Soul. Misery is the only possible outcome.”
Criton was very still for a moment, and he looked very sad. Suddenly, he turned to look at Socrates.
He said, “Socrates, I think I have finally understood you. All this time you have been talking, I was angry with you. I could not see how you could be so blind. You would break the express orders of the Tyrants. Indeed, it was that breaking of their Law that landed you in here, despite the excuses they used in court. We all know it. They still bear a grudge. And I could not understand how you could break their Law, but when they put you in prison for breaking it, you could not break that rule as well.”
“I see your confusion,” said Socrates.
“But things have become much clearer. When the Tyrants reigned, their thoughts were not on the eternal welfare of the people. It was a rule of body. And the rule of the body need not be heeded. But now that our government has been restored, the focus is once again on the betterment of the whole. That Law, that Soul, is truly a righteous one. You cannot disobey.”
“My dearest friend,” said Socrates softly, “ In all of the explanations I have put forth, I have never been more grateful for true understanding than I am right now.”
They embraced, weeping, Criton shedding many tears of sorrow for knowing so little, and Socrates shedding a few tears of joy for knowing so much.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Cowboys and Indies was the best. Well, maybe not the best, but pretty dang close. I challenge you to go to an ER show and try not to dance. Just try it. Seve vs. Evan was epic, too. Moses was a lot more mellow, so I wasn't quite as drawn in, but the other Cowboy band, Code Hero, was fantastic. Unfortunately, the crowd sucked. Droves of insolent, rude high school seniors talked over both Code Hero's and Moses' sets; I think part of the reason that ER and SvE stuck out was because they were loud enough to drown out the chatter. Also, apparently there's an ongoing joke betwixt the members of Seve vs. Evan, that involves the removal of shirts:

On another note, I am pee-my-pants excited for the Dec. 4 show. The Russel brothers, as mudbison and Isaac Russel, will be playing together, and I cannot wait.

Come on Wednesday. You're almost here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Life life life.

My goodness, where to begin?

I'm in love. With Walt Whitman. As if you couldn't already tell. I've got several poems taped up around my room.

Hair Peace sign is in development.

Reading the heck out of Plato. I also know what I'm doing for my next Pen & Sword project (after this blasted exam is over): I'd like to take over Plato's style and create a "lost dialogue" of sorts, entitled "Justification." I have this idea that in Crito, Socrates is (without directly stating it) equating Law with Soul, and the governed body with the physical body. It's a multifaceted concept, and I think I could pull enough out to satisfy Griggs.

I desperately need to go to the Cinema. I haven't been in so long! After this crushing week is over, I think I shall. Pirate Radio looks good. Then, too, if Bright Star is still anywhere around, I might see that. Also, whenever it gets out, Fantastic Mr. Fox, because I'm actually still a fourth-grader at heart, and Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors, and the animation style looks gorgeous!

I'm euphoric. The almighty internet told me that Good Earth Natural Foods stocks Tofurky! Hoorah! This Thanksgiving is going to be excellent.

Lastly, I am seriously looking for a nature-oriented job this summer. Somewhere in the mountains. A paid Hermitage would, I think, be most premium, but those aren't super common anymore. Alas and alack, I will search on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Dear Walt,

Thank you.

Love, Tana

Pioneers! O Pioneers!
- Walt Whitman

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
blood intervein'd,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon'd mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill'd,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill'd.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call--hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!--swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The old forest was nearing the time of talking.

Sap ran cold, and the first hints of color tinged the foliage. The tame trees in the field bore their fruit, and the men plucked the children from their reaching arms. Year after year, the future was lost. The cold hit the hearts of the tame trees, same as the others, but the tame trees said nothing, and died silently, without complaint.

The wild old trees, on the other hand, pumped their blood with hearts too slow for ears to hear, and awaited their voices.


The first autumn breezes blew. The cold October gray smeared away the last of the green, and the ancient tongues began moving.

The oaks spoke first, in their solemn groans. Old men, they twitched their leaves and encouraged the young to whisper along. One by one, the others breathed the wind's breath and sang the wind's song. Maple, ash, birch, twitchy as crickets, and talking soft.

The great pine said nothing. His needles held nature's gold, fresh as July clippings. The other trees paid no mind and sang on.

A week passed, and the milky cotton of the sky turned sick and poured out rains. Leaves fell, and the voices became quieter.

Still, they talked. The nature of their words was changed. The impending sleep weighed heavy on their minds, and they began to envy the old pine for his immortality. They hissed questions to him, but his needles offered nothing, and their queries went unanswered.

The wind that had given them their voices was as steadily taking them away, plucking their leaves, their tongues, and burying them in time. The once full aspens that had quivered in ecstasy at the discovery of expression now shuddered, empty and afraid.

Days passed, each hour bringing deeper desperation. Leaf fluttered, broke, fluttered, fell.

The final minutes of speaking were disjointed and weary. Then the wind took back its gift, and the last tree fell silent.

The old pine sat alone, buried alive, caressed occasionally by an old corpse hand. His center ached, and his blood ran cold as all the others, but he found no rest. A bleary haze of loneliness descended.

The pine stirred at the sound of footsteps. Two men were picking their way through the graveyard. They drew near.

Swish-thunk, swish-thunk, the silver blade flashed. The survivor was too cold to feel at first, and the men swung their hatchets unhindered. Soon, they reached the tender core, and sap trickled more and more from each blow. The tree shuddered, but his needles gave no cry. He suffered in silence.

Swish, thunk, crack. The heart was pierced. The pine wheezed, shocked at his own sudden voice. He whimpered a moment, unsure.

And with one breaking groan of agony and relief, the old tree fell.

Fall does weird things to me. This was just some cathartic writing, not edited or anything. I wish I was more capable of expressing these feelings. They're really exquisite.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I feel like a crappy blog owner, because when I started this blog, I wanted to use it as a sort of e-journal thing. Because unless I feel particularly passionate, I don't usually write down my experiences. Lately, it seems to have become a dumping ground for all of my random whims and notions; half finished essays and semi-thought-out ramblings litter the "drafts" page. I'm not saying I'm upset about it. On the contrary - I'm quite pleased with the result of some of the stuff. I just feel that perhaps, once a month at least, I can actually come out and say what's going on in my life.

And so we go!

I work, and go to school, and sleep sometimes.

Wow . . . Now I remember why I focus on ambiguous metaphysical stuff. It's a heckuva lot more interesting.

Friday, October 2, 2009


"Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave; no one was saved."
-Paul McCartney, "Eleanor Rigby"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Prof. Griggs ripped my draft apart. He said that I have a beautiful style, but that I can't quite control it. I think he also accused me of "logorrhea." He said that my first paragraph was full of crap statements that didn't really mean much (my words, not his). It wasn't all bad. He commended me on being literate, and told me that he was going to hold me to a higher standard than my colleagues, because I was obviously more capable. He fussed over a few phrases I had used, and challenged me to closely examine every word to make sure it has the feeling and definition that I need and want. He also jokingly said that I would be really good at writing really bad novels. :)

Thus, after two more hours of work and rewriting:

Trading Blood for Tears

Sorrow has long been one of mankind’s closest companions. Whether it sprang from a box, or trickled with the sweet juices of a tempting fruit, bitter sadness has plagued humanity for centuries. Because of this longstanding relationship between mortality and tragedy, sorrow is often a central theme in ancient writings. Homer’s Iliad – despite the fact that a large portion of it is devoted to records of violence and hostility – is not the quintessential “war epic” it first appears to be, but rather an astute commentary on the import of sorrow not only in mortal lives, but in immortal lives as well, and in the drawing together of the two.

The lives of the humans in The Iliad are much more complicated – and more importantly more sad – than is sometimes acknowledged. Two particular scenes leap out of the continuous stream of battles and bloodshed: the discussion between Hektor and Andromache, and Priam’s plea to Achilleus (Il. VI, XXIV).

The scene between Hektor and his family is one of the most moving displays of emotion in literature. Hektor’s dear wife, Andromache, entreats him not to go to war, as she fears for his life. She cries, “For me it would be far better to sink into the earth when I have lost you, for there is no other consolation for me after you have gone to your destiny – only grief” (Il. VI:410-413). Hektor replies that he will not surrender his honor, and intends to fight (Il. VI:440-461). Homer then goes on to describe Andromache’s state after hearing her husband’s decision: “[She] mourned in his house over Hektor while he was living still, for [she] thought he would never again come back from the fighting alive” (Il. VI:500-502). And so the wife of Hektor spends the last few days of her husband’s life as if he has already passed on, living in a state of sorrow for what will come.

The second memorable scene from The Iliad involves two enemies. Priam, king of Troy, has lost his son Hektor to the warrior Achilleus. With the help of divinities who pity his sorrow, Priam approaches Achilleus to beg for his son’s body, that he may properly bury him (Il. XXIV:485-506). The true tragedy of the situation is summed up in one line: “The two remembered, as Priam sat huddled at the feet of Achilleus and wept close for manslaughtering Hektor and Achilleus wept now for his own father, now again for Patroklos” (Il. XXIV:509-512). Two men, divided by a war, share the tears that are blind to such division. Together, they weep for what has already come to pass and cannot be undone.

These two examples portray the raw human pain that springs from the fury of war. While the audience is accosted with accounts of battle after battle, until they all run together into a mass of angry chaos, these two interludes are quite distinct (Griggs, class). Homer describes these sad scenes with a softer tone, and the gravity of such emotion is evident in its contrast to the repetitive feeling of the war passages. When tragic situations such as these arise, those same battle accounts that cause the sorrow seem to be nothing more than a tool to convey the emotion of the poet’s true concern: the utter consumption of mortal life by tragedy.

However, it is not only mortals who suffer in these old stories. Gods, too, are vulnerable to sorrow. In the very beginning of The Iliad, the mother of Achilleus shows surprising sympathy for her son’s grief and shame. We see the depth of her pain when Homer says, “Thetis answered him then letting the tears fall: ‘Ah me, my child. Your birth was bitterness’” (Il, I:413-414). Thetis, a goddess of Olympus, sits beside her mortal son and weeps for the pain he must endure.

This Greek story bears a semblance to the account of Enoch in Heaven. According to Moses, “it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept” (Moses 7:28). The great and powerful God of men sat and wept on behalf of all his children. One cannot read such a passage and remain unmoved. The pain of a deity, in whom we wholeheartedly believe, is incredibly poignant. It is relatable; as humans, we can read such passages and draw from our own experience to try to comprehend that divine mourning.

So what is the purpose of sorrow? What could possibly be the benefit of living such a tragic existence? Simply, we experience sorrow to relish the deific connection it creates. If mankind didn’t know sorrow, deities would have no need for pity; conversely, if gods knew no sadness, they would not understand humans, and man would be left alone. The role of sorrow is absolutely crucial.

As humans, our earthly endeavor is to please our gods, and ideally, become like them. We emulate our deities in every manner we can conceive. The race of men is a race of creators – albeit not yet functioning at a level of deific proficiency. Every experience we have is a step in the process to achieve divinity. We read histories of our gods, learn how they speak, and how they act. We lay out rules and guidelines for living in a manner agreeable to these higher beings, in the hopes that they will take pity on us, and that their sorrows will sympathize with our own. Thus, as our gods weep, so do we.

Unfortunately our mortality gets in the way, sometimes. Rather than seeking to emulate our gods through appreciation of divine joy in addition to sorrow, we may be tempted to settle for the sorrow alone. This pain, while as passionate as joy, will not suffice. Only by ending our search for new causes of sorrow, and acknowledging the divinity of sorrow itself can we hope to discover its opposite, and truly trade the lowly shedding of blood for the shedding of pure, divine tears of both sorrow and joy.

I think it reads much better now. Yay constructive criticism!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm a liar. I didn't post this dumb thing this morning. Rather, I spent the majority of the day screwing around with it myself, before actually getting it down in a form that other people can comprehend. Still, here it is, to read and enjoy.

Trading Blood for Tears

Sorrow has long been one of mankind’s closest companions. Whether it sprang from a box or trickled with the sweet juices of a tempting fruit, bitter sadness has plagued humanity for centuries. Oddly, though humans have lived with it for so long, the role of this sorrow is frequently downplayed. People tend to view it as nothing more than the result of a larger issue, the unimportant aftermath of a more noteworthy situation. Despite the fact that a large portion of ancient texts are devoted to records of war and hostility, sorrow itself is often the writer’s true focus.

Homer’s Iliad is a perfect example of this idea. While at first it appears to be the quintessential “war epic,” upon further examination of the story, concepts far beyond simple contention become apparent. The lives of the mortals in this epic are much more complicated – and more importantly more sad – than is generally acknowledged. Two particular scenes leap out of the continuous stream of battles and bloodshed: the discussion between Hektor and Andromache, and Priam’s plea to Achilleus.

The scene between Hektor and his family is one of the most moving displays of emotion in literature. Hektor’s dear wife, Andromache, entreats him not to go to war, as she fears for his life. She cries, “And for me it would be far better to sink into the earth when I have lost you, for there is no other consolation for me after you have gone to your destiny – only grief” (Il. VI:410-413). Hektor replies that he will not surrender his honor, and intends to fight (Il. VI:440-461). Homer then goes on to describe Andromache’s state after hearing her husband’s decision: “[She] mourned in his house over Hektor while he was living still, for [she] thought he would never again come back from the fighting alive” (Il. VI:500-502). And so the wife of Hektor spends the last few days of her husband’s life as if he has already passed on, living in a state of sorrow for what will come.

The second memorable scene from The Iliad involves two enemies. Priam, king of Troy, has lost his son Hektor to the warrior Achilleus. With an entirely broken heart, Priam approaches Achilleus to beg for his son’s body, that he may properly bury him (Il. XXIV:485-506). The true tragedy of the situation is summed up in one line: “The two remembered, as Priam sat huddled at the feet of Achilleus and wept close for manslaughtering Hektor and Achilleus wept now for his own father, now again for Patroklos” (Il. XXIV:509-512). Two men, divided by war, share the mutual tears that seep up from battlegrounds, born from the blood of the fallen.

These two scenes portray the raw human pain that springs from the fury of War. But when the audience is confronted with situations such as these, those same battle accounts that cause the sorrow seem to be nothing more than a tool to convey the emotion of the poet’s true concern: the utter consumption of mortal life by tragedy.

However, it is not only mortals who suffer in these old stories. Gods, too, are vulnerable to sorrow. In the very beginning of The Iliad, the mother of Achilleus shows surprising sympathy for her son’s grief and shame. We see the depth of her pain when Homer says, “Thetis answered him then letting the tears fall: ‘Ah me, my child. Your birth was bitterness’” (Il, I:413-414). Thetis, a goddess of Olympus, sits beside her mortal son and weeps for the pain he must endure.

This Greek story mirrors almost exactly the Christian account of Enoch in Heaven. According to Moses 7:28, “it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept.” The great and powerful God of all men sat and wept on our behalf. One cannot read such a passage and remain unmoved. The pain of a deity, of one in whom we wholeheartedly believe, is incredibly poignant. It is relatable; as humans, we can read such passages and draw from our own experience to try to comprehend that divine mourning.

But why is mankind doomed to sorrow? What could possibly be the benefit of living such a tragic existence? Simply, we experience sorrow to relish the deific connection it creates. As humans, our earthly endeavor is to please our gods, and ideally, become like them. We emulate our deities in every manner we can conceive. The race of men is a race of creators – albeit not yet functioning at a level of deific proficiency. Every experience we have is a step in a process to achieve divinity. We read histories of our gods, learn how they speak, and how they act. We lay out rules and guidelines for living in a manner agreeable to these higher beings, in the hopes that they will take pity on us and allow us to be raised up to more than we naturally are. Thus, as our gods weep, so do we.

Such a pursuit – to actualize our potential – is hardly of small import. Unfortunately, as humans, we are often overwhelmed by the intensity of our task. Rather than seeking to emulate our gods through divine joy in addition to sorrow, we settle for the tragedy alone. This pain, while equally as passionate as joy, will not suffice. Only by recognizing our mistake of searching for new causes of sorrow rather than appreciating the divinity of sorrow itself can we hope to discover its opposite, and truly trade the lowly shedding of blood for the shedding of pure, divine tears of both sorrow and joy.

Phoo. It's sort of ambiguous, no? Hopefully the teacher is into that sort of thing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I was driving home from work, thinkin' about my Civ paper and how I wanted to word different parts, when suddenly, Snow White popped into my head.

So then I was thinking about Snow White, and how the 7 dwarfs must be a metaphor for the 7 days it took God to create the world, and how the poison apple was a symbol for . . . well, duh. And then the whole "true love's kiss" was a representation of the love of Christ, and that His is the only way to salvation.

And then I remembered that Snow White is a Disney movie, and that I was really tired. Then I felt foolish.

Such are my thought processes on a daily basis.

P.S. My paper is due on Tuesday, but I'll hopefully have a finished draft on Monday morning, so comments and editing things are welcome. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Over the past month, I have come to a realization that I feel will be a defining shift in my life:

I love the Beatles.

I've always liked them, but something just snapped and now I absolutely ADORE them.

Especially Paul McCartney. He's a lyrical god, and a vegetarian. How awesome is that?

Hard Days Night is now one of my favorite movies, and Help! wasn't bad either. The LRC folks think I'm a bit crazy, though, as in the past two days I have come in and rented two Beatles movies, and then sat at the desk laughing my butt off at the Fab Four's crazy antics.

Sure, I've missed the "real" Beatlemania by about 45 years, but what I lack in timing I intend to make up for with passion!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


"The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.

This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies.

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.

From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless."

-Oscar Wilde, Preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

So, what is art really? I'm intrigued by this whole idea. I wish I could meet Oscar Wilde, and shake his hand, and talk to him about life.

Also, should literature be considered art if you accept Wilde's definition? "All art is quite useless," makes me think that if something is used as a teaching tool, it's no longer art, as it serves another purpose. We can criticize it, sure, but we mustn't learn. Or, on the opposite end, if we do learn something from it, it is useful, and therefore shouldn't be admired.

I, personally, am of the opinion that something can have both beauty and purpose, but Wilde portrays his ideas with such gorgeous writing, that I can't help being a bit giddy. All through that book, Lord Henry spouts off the most immoral things, but they're so lovely, I find myself nodding along.

If the devil is a poet, I need to watch out.

Monday, August 31, 2009


"If someone comes up and asks you, 'English Major? What are you going to be with an English Major?' look them in the eye and say, 'EDUCATED!'"
-Prof. Petersen

I am in love with my classes, my teachers, my books, my fellow students, and just about everything else.

My schedule this semester is pretty much the best one I could have ever conceived:

German 102- Kajsa Spjut
French 101- Randy Demetter
English 251- Paul Westover
English 291- Zina Nibley Petersen
Honors 201 (The Pen and the Sword)- C. Wilfred Griggs

Consequently, I am fairly euphoric.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Okay, I'm gonna have a super-post about this last week on the east coast, but I want to document a few instances of utter awesomeness with my most adorable cousins:

Unknown Adult: What would you wish for if you could have anything in the world?
Anna: Um, that this next year would be good, and I could have fun in school.
Maya: I want a big fat monkey eating a chocolate milkshake!

Casey: Get a birds eye view to do the puzzle.
Maya: What's a birds eye view?
Tana: It means that Casey is crazy.
Maya: Casey, you're a birds eye view.
Casey: Correct usage!
Maya: Yes. Correct sausage!

Anna: I like to sleep on the floor sometimes.
Tana: Yeah, I slept on the floor a lot when I was younger.
Anna: . . . Did they have beds back then?

Tres: I'm really hungry, Tana. I need something sweet and fresh!
Tana: Like what?
Tres: Well, um, like, Cheese-its!
Tana: Those are neither fresh, nor sweet.
Tres: Yes they are. Well, maybe not, but they are salty and delicious.

Tana: Oh, boy, Tres-butter. Whatcha got there?
Tres: [motioning to his growing sponge dinosaurs] This one is a Trioctagon, and this one is a Giggassa Rapper.
Tana: A Velociraptor?
Tres: No! A Giggassa Rapper!

In addition to a hundred other awesome stories of a similar variety, all three of them know the Thriller dance.

Friday, August 7, 2009


"Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed: my imagination and my memory."
-Jean-Do Bauby, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

Stop reading this blog and go watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Right now.

Still reading? Tush!

It's a wonderfully inspiring film, documenting the paralysis of a man's body, and the liberation of his mind. Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of Elle, suffers a stroke, and when he wakes he has lost all sensation in his body, save for his left eye. His brain, miraculously, remains unaffected, leaving him with a rare condition called "locked-in syndrome." His immovable body becomes a prison for his desperately active consciousness. The major part of the movie deals with his struggle to accept his situation, and his attempt to trade his lonely diving bell for butterfly wings. (Oh! It makes sense now!)

I've been reading Letters to a Young Poet, and I was surprised by the discrepancy in Rilke's view of isolation and Bauby's view of it. Rilke stresses, again and again, the need to remove oneself from the world, to become as foreign as a child in a land of adult thought. That, he proposes, is the sole method by which we truly comprehend "self." Bauby unquestionably found that solitude after his stroke, but was unable to live a life without some form of communication. I agree with Rilke that the most intimate understanding of myself is found at the end of a path which only I can follow, but without some interaction with others, I've lost all standards for comparison. I mean, could I define myself without the people who have given me basis for not only desire and appreciation, but loathing and detestation as well? Would I really want to?

I have always advocated a degree of isolation (though I rallied under the banner bearing the title, "self-efficiency"), but perhaps not as vehemently as I would like to believe. I write, don't I? That in itself is a cry for human interaction, a cry to be known. It's my attempt to draw those around me into my lonely world of dreams and beauty. I want to give them a set of lenses to see the world as I see it, and once they have, we can sit back together and savor the spice of whispered secrets.

I suppose that, as with all things, a balance must be obtained. I've got to keep one foot in the real world, and one in the world of my mind, and be cautious to never (or very rarely) stray completely into one or the other for any extended length of time. By dancing around the borderline, I can live as both the natural, uncensored creature of my consciousness, and the tame, civilized woman of society. I have the beautiful opportunity to select the building blocks of my own reality, which is, assuredly, as real as any other, since I opt to make it so.

Now, what shall I choose?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


"Some say that we are different people at different periods of our lives, changing not through effort of will, which is a brave affair, but in the easy course of nature every ten years or so. I suppose this theory might explain my present trouble, but I don't hold with it; I think one remains the same person throughout, merely passing, as it were, in these lapses of time from one room to another, but all in the same house. If we unlock the rooms of the far past we can peer in and see ourselves, busily occupied in beginning to become you and me."
-J. M. Barrie, A Dedication to PETER PAN or THE BOY WHO WOULD NOT GROW UP

In summer, time is a funny thing. Moments of hot breath under twilight stars hang immovable and delicious around a sun asleep on the horizon, until the great orb wakes, blushing the sky crimson, and rushes below my line of sight. The world sits dark and endless, waiting to be tasted, touched, lived.

I am unquestionably up to the task.

The strange passage of time excites me. It's a new experience to actually comprehend the steady trickling away of existence - or the collecting of it? These seconds by which we measure our lives will indefatigably fade away; that is inevitable. But every tick of the clock is another step towards eternity, and within eternity. I don't want to lose any of it. Each moment is spent growing a little more into myself, expanding onward, upward, and inward in search of some potential to be actualized. And without a doubt, in the casual step of time, I will find it.

Words of advice from Rilke: "You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can to be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue . . . And the point is, to live everything."

That's the secret, then, isn't it? Appreciating the locks? Because, like placing the final piece of a puzzle, there's a unique gratification that comes from personal accomplishment. And when you've found just the right fit, an entirely new scene unfolds, ripe with unpicked thought and discovery.

I used to envy people who were older than me. I longed for their experiences and wisdom. Lately, though, I've begun to realize how much room is taken up by the emotional baggage of jealousy.

Awe of pure sensation (and I mean my own sensation) is so much more worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

O Embleer Frith!

Guybrush Threepwood: Do you know anything about lifting curses?
Murray: Oh, right. I know a lot about lifting curses. That's why I'm a disembodied talking skull sitting on top of a spike in the middle of a swamp.
Guybrush Threepwood: You seem bitter.
Murray: I'm sorry. It's been a rough day.

-Guybrush and Murray, The Curse of Monkey Island

I'm still alive. I was playing Perseus for a bit, battling a hideous Medusa, and I fancied myself turned to stone. Not to worry, fair Readers; The gorgon is slain, and I am no worse for wear.

A longer, more intelligent post is hopefully forthcoming.

Love, Tana

Friday, July 10, 2009


Good friend, and knows she what her heart doth seek?
For time and trial will all attest, that all
Done naught but for its sake will naught but dregs
Of bitterness impart. And mark it well:
'Tis true for bitter hearts that cup is sweet,
But for the summer's youth 'tis poison'd draught
Which cannot in its life deliver breath, but steal away
That heated breath of maids, and leave them none
Save widow's ice to fill their hollow breasts.
To cast off what she were, and seek instead
A mask : oh ho! now that is folly sure!
So tightly has she set the thing upon
Her face that 'fore a fortnight has been pass'd,
A common friend should pass her by
All unaware of who it is beneath.
The dev'lish front will quickly turn what dwelt
As gentle smiles and nods to gruesome frowns.
Yes, 'til at last her dearest kin, the flesh
from painted mask, will, by no chance, divine.
Why want you that the ends be change? 'Twould best
Be that the means be so, to some new good,
Else I am learnéd not, in thoughts or deeds.
Here, thinking for a change, now that is great,
I'll there concede; but doing for a change -
And naught but for a change - now that is false.
If sport be sport, and prize be sport, who then
should want to play? Or play, indeed, they should,
But hopelessly. And one who calls his change
Both means and ends, has traded pay for work.
At none and two, and ten and two, has she
Been given golden chains to wrap about
Her throat; yet calls she these by what they are?
Oh nay! She calls the pretty things as cords
That bind and cut her skin in malice cold.
Instead, in search of new and fresh, she takes,
For gems, dead iron cuffs, and cries that though
They seem to bear less worth by rite, that they
Are new must give some value to their weight.
Stand I by what I spoke before: that wise
Is one who takes his prize as prize, and names
It by its name, and adds his wealth to that
Which hath he so already earn'd in faith.
An heed this not, nor live by 't shall you find,
A swift right death to heart and might and mind.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

Sir Bard, I love thee.

P.S. Iambic Pentameter is fun.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Cool things are going down:

1. The Payson Scottish Festival -Every year, I hear about this awesome festival, and somehow manage to miss it. Not this year - oh, no! It's on Friday and Saturday, and it's going to be phenomenal. I can barely contain my excitement. There's even going to be a bunch of highland event things, like a caber toss! Should be good times.

2. The Winter's Tale Workshop - Grassroots Shakespeare Co. is doing it again! Only this time, it's a workshop, meaning that if you're interested, you email them, and if there's a spot left open, they'll give you a script and stuff. It's on July 16 (rehearsal starts at 6, if you're participating), with the sole performance beginning at 9. I have taken a gigantic leap outside my comfort zone, and signed up to play a part; I don't know which one yet - they'll send my script this weekend. It's going to be splendid!

3. Hot & Sour Soup - This isn't really an event . . . It's just a personal undertaking. I'm still pretty excited for it. I've got a recipe to use, but it's not exactly vegetarian friendly . . . yet. If it turns out decent, I'll post my version, so that you may all enjoy the Hot & Sour goodness.


Edit: Well, I made the soup, and it worked out excellent. Here's the recipe:

3.5 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger root (finely grated)
1/2 tsp pepper
4-6 oz. tofu (bite size)
1 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs water
1/2 cup frozen peas (they probably don't need to be frozen . . . Just what I use)
1/2 cup carrot (grated)
2-3 Tbs green onion (chopped)
1 egg (beaten)
10-15 dried red chili peppers

1. Cook the tofu. I take half a block, dice it, press as much water out as I can, then dry fry it with a little bit of salt until it's firm.
2. Combine the broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and pepper in a pot and add the cooked tofu.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the water and corn starch until thin, then add to the pot with other liquids and cook over medium-high heat.
4. Add peas, carrots, and green onion.
5. Drizzle in the beaten egg while stirring.
6. Break the peppers into a sieve or a tea strainer and then soak them in the hot soup. Do NOT put the peppers directly into the soup (unless you are a masochist). Let them soak until the soup is spicy enough for your taste, then remove.
7. Continue cooking over medium heat until warm all through (usually when the frozen peas are all thawed out and hot in the middle). If you cook it for too long, the vinegar will start to boil out, so just be aware.

Sorry if the details aren't great; I'm kind of a haphazard cook. I ended up adding more vinegar, more ginger, and more carrots. For those of you who are carnivores, feel free to replace the tofu with any kind of meat (my friend uses pork a lot), and use chicken broth instead of veggie broth.

Note: It doesn't have much to do with the actual recipe, but it's really awesome if you cook this while listening to a mix of Cut Copy and Chromeo. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I am endlessly fascinated by the concept of collective human consciousness.

I was introduced to the concept by my AP Biology teacher. He told us about an experiment where a group of chimpanzees were split into two separate troupes and taken to opposite ends of the continent. Both groups of monkeys were put in identical cages, and taught how to use a key to open the door. In the next phase of the experiment, they placed the key a few feet away from the bars (out of the chimps' grasp) and gave them a pole with a hook. For a month, the chimps remained oblivious to the simple tool that would so easily facilitate their escape. Then, the scientists taught the first group how to use the hook to grab the key, and within a week, the second group - on the other side of the continent, mind you - figured out how to use the pole without any human assistance. Jesse mentions a similar experiment dealing with crossword puzzles in Waking Life.

To be completely honest, I love the idea. It gives credence to a lot of little things in my life; things like the euphoric sense of oneness with an author who somehow manages to define an idea I've wanted to vocalize but couldn't, and the unshakable feeling that when I'm sitting completely alone at the top of a waterfall, dangling my feet in the spray, that I'm closer to the essence of humanity than I've ever been before. I like the potential it has; I mean, when I'm happy, I have the joy of 6 billion other humans to feed my own, and at the same time, I have a reason to try and feel the most brilliant joy that I can, to give something back. It's also a cool new facet to explore in the understanding of personal relationships. Perhaps a friendship isn't just two people who can talk or appreciate the same things, but who are actually feeding off of the "mental broadcasts" of one another. It's a little more intimate.

You start to walk a really fine line, though. Ayn Rand seems to really dislike the concept of collectivism, and when it reaches a certain extent, I guess I'd have to agree with her. For example, in Atlas Shrugged, Dr. Ferris says, "There's no such thing as the intellect. A man's brain is a social product. A sum of influences that he's picked up from those around him. Nobody invents anything, he merely reflects what's floating in the social atmosphere. A genius is an intellectual scavenger and a greedy hoarder of the ideas which rightfully belong to the society, from which he stole them. All thought is theft." I don't agree with that at all. If we begin to look at life that way, thousands of new ways to break man's spirit begin emerging. In another of her books, Anthem, Rand discusses the possibility of the other extreme: not the concept that all new ideas belong to society, but the concept that unless all of society discovers it, there is no idea. I think that the second possibility is almost worse, you know? There's not really a way to give anything back; it's all consuming, no producing. What sort of bleak existence is that?

So, it's not that I want to become an emotional or an intellectual monopolist, but at the same time, I don't want to owe my musings to a society that demands it.

Boy, who is John Galt, huh?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


"The woman had a coat thrown over a nightgown; the coat was slipping open and her stomach protruded under the gown's thin cloth, with that loose obscenity of manner which assumes all human self-revelation to be ugliness and makes no effort to conceal it."
-Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand makes me bitter.

It's only been four days since I last posted, but it feels like a year. Every day, I wake into this world, but slip suddenly into another, lost existence. This book, this trapdoor into an alternate universe, sits innocently open, masquerading as nothing more than dead words on aging pages . . . But I know better. Words are the last things in this world to taste death. There is no stagnation in the solemn black print; eternity, but not stagnation. Every phrase is unabashedly alive, weaving an intricate and untraceable path through my own reality. By the end, I have nothing to do but stare out across the knotted landscape and attempt to separate my anger with the human race from the crumbling precepts of true morality.

If I haven't drowned in the last 300 pages of Atlas Shrugged, I'll hopefully have a more insightful post within a week.

Friday, June 26, 2009


So . . . I've been piddling about with a bunch of disjointed ideas; writing for the sake of writing, living for the sake of living (is there a distinction?). Maybe eventually I'll post the whole big entry, and give you all a frightful insight into the workings of my mind.

But not now.

Instead, I'll tell you that I am reading Inkheart, and that I just ate one of the most phenomenal desserts in the world:

Caramelized cashews, fresh strawberries, and melty vanilla ice cream.

Makes me giddy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

9:00 last night found me carrying a blanket and a belly full of strawberries up a steep dirt hill towards the Rock Castle Amphitheater in East Provo. The setting sun gently withdrew his hot fingers from the back of my neck and bid farewell 'til morning.

I found a seat in the center of the theater, and spread my blanket. The rocks were warm, like living things, and I pressed my back into the step behind me, letting the sleepy calm descend. A man with a red sash paced the stage, singing The Crane Wife while strumming an old guitar. Suddenly, a group of people flooded the stage, and the performance began.

The sparse set and costumes quickly faded out of perception as the characters took over. Words flew flawlessly, and the energy was infectious. The audience laughed and applauded, hissed and booed, as if on cue. All throughout, an orchestra of crickets added their melody to the lone guitar and accordion.

This, I think, is exactly how Shakespeare intended his plays to be seen.

If you're at all interested, you should check out the Grassroots Shakespeare Company to see when and where their next show is going to be. I'm definitely gonna try to see them at least once more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Interstella 5555

Okay, if there's a better way to spend an hour, I have yet to find it.

Get up and dance. You know you want to.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I am in love with carnivals.

There is some undefinable surrealism that dwells among the tents. During daylight hours, the thing sleeps, waiting. Then, just as the sun dips below the horizon, a surge of electric blood trickles through the veins of the great steel frames, and the carnival really comes alive.

I went out to the Strawberry Days carnival last night, and once the sky had gone dark and the firefly lights had begun dancing, everything changed. No longer did I belong to a world of sunlit frivolity. Here, indeed, was that infamous Pandemonium Shadow Show. G.M. Dark himself slunk elusively through the crowd - those roaches of society that seep up from dark basements for no other purpose than to add their own confusion to the mass of twitching chaos. Faint snatches of a buzz buzzz buzz could be heard throughout the night; perhaps from a generator . . . Or a stinging tattoo needle?

The carousel was beautiful. Angry, paint-chipped stallions screamed on their posts. I was Jim Nightshade, riding forward, counting the passes around. Once, twice, thrice - I was 21. Again and again, the years went flying past, my mind pressing against the hard walls of reality in the hope of seeing a physical change - to no avail. The broken tinkling of music that shrieked over the crowd was not the Funeral March, backward or forward, and I was still the same.

Finally, I rode the Ferris Wheel. The bench stopped at the very top, and I wiggled forward to look down at the world below. Hundreds of bodies squirmed past one another, inwardly laughing with joy at the power of even the slightest human contact. A few pinpricks of light were the insect eyes that watched the riders. They stared so intently and twinkled so brilliantly that I could not believe them to be anything but sparkling intelligences, asking and answering the very question of life with a single glance.

Hah! Everyone in this world deserves a night that neither offers nor needs an excuse to eat funnel cake and strawberries and cream for dinner.

Friday, June 12, 2009


"Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's."
-Amelie Poulain, Amelie

I picked up the violin today. I am determined to tame the wild, unruly potential that resides therein. Sheer determination is the thing that is keeping me going. She's a beautiful instrument. I want the tones that come from her to be beautiful, too. Musik ist eine Sprache. Ich werde üben.

I've gone on hikes up to the waterfalls for the last 5 days. I love walking alone, because I can get wrapped up in my thoughts. I need no company. Sometimes I listen to my i-Pod, sometimes I listen to the birds. Both are marvelous.

I am becoming incredibly aware of my body and its limitations and power; and I love it. It is nothing short of thrilling to me that such elegance and strength is mine to own. Singularly mine. Each muscle is mine, each drop of blood, each tiny cell. For the first time in my life I am truly comprehending that I am a temple. A glorious, functioning temple.

Also, I'm learning to skip stones. I'm getting fairly good at it. Today, one of them skipped four times straight across the pond. It was so beautiful.

I take so much delight from the simple things around me.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This is one of my favorite songs from The Mountain Goats:

I love the line, "In your eyes were all the colors that the rainbow forgot." It never ceases to astound me that such a simple combination of common words can evoke such a strong emotional response.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I just listened to the (relatively) new Decemberists album, and I have to say, it was not what I expected.

I was hoping for something beautiful, and I guess in that respect they didn't disappoint; Colin's voice is divine, and his lyrics are poetic. It's just . . . Really dark. Their other CDs haven't been super happy. I'd probably go so far as to call some of the songs exquisitely tragic. This album certainly fits into that category, but I think I'd add "haunting," and "chilling," as well.

I'm not blaming them, and as I said before, it's definitely beautiful. But based on their previous albums, I wanted something different. The music was cold (especially The Rake's Song), and that wasn't what I needed today.

In other news, the travel bug that usually dies down at the end of winter is not going away. If anything, it's getting worse. I've just got to hang on 'til August and pray that a brief trip to the East coast will satiate this ever-growing desire.

Also, I'm trying not to lose my faith in humanity. I know there are good people out there. I just need to look harder.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Yesterday was an amazing day full of Vegetarian foods, skipping stones, and candy kabobs. Also, an amazing mix CD:

1.Und Wenn Ein Lied - Xavier Naidoo
2. Les Limites - Julien Dore
3. Comptine d'un autre ete l'apres-midi - Yann Tiersen
4. New Slang - The Shins
5. West Virginia - RuRu
6. Desert - Emilie Simon
7. Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left - Andrew Bird
8. The Crane Wife III - The Decemberists
9. Der Erlkönig - Schubert
10. 156 - Mew
11. This Year - The Mountain Goats
12. Red Right Ankle - The Decemberists
13. Past and Pending - The Shins
14. Love Love Love - The Mountain Goats
15. Wuthering Heights - Pat Benetar (cover)
16. Winter Windows - Sea Wolf
17. Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Gregorians (cover)
18. Bublitschki - Gogol Bordello

Ah, summer!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Response to a Query

The following post is a response to THIS blog entry, because I didn't want to totally dominate the comment box with this beastly reply. Love, Tana

Every living being is a soldier, willing or not, in the great battle against that chaotic Entropy toward which our universe is constantly drifting. Simply by existing, we fight. Each cell in a body is something - held together - serving a purpose. Thus, we are born into this world with a responsibility: namely to be, and to add what little touch of order we can in a world dissolving around us. Maybe this destiny is of a primitive nature, as simple as a farmer planting corn in rows to ease his task of caring for the plants; but perhaps - and this is where I place my belief - it originates in an innate deific desire to create our own worlds as God did for us. Accepting this second possibility as truth, it seems logical to assume that this organization, this doling out of responsibility, is a characteristic of that holy Infinity himself.

My personal favorite part of Waking Life is the "We Are the Authors" segment. The man on the bridge says, "The world is an exam to see if we can rise into direct experience. Our eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity. Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality." So, I guess, we emulate the Divine in setting those limitations, the "social roles" as you called them, and in doing so, we lay a path for the others in our lives to exceed the expectations (in the correct way, of course), and realize their own infinite potential. You can't define light if you have no concept of dark; similarly, you can't comprehend the infinite without an understanding of the finite.

It's an ideal situation, I think, especially if the relationship is reciprocated, because it allows me to act divinely while simultaneously striving towards actualization of that divinity.

So, for me personally, I try to appreciate the uniqueness of moments, but place limitations and expectations on those I really love, to preserve the holiness just for the few who are willing to make the journey with me to the Sublime.

Friday, May 22, 2009

WTF? 2

Today I made infinity pizzas
and also wore a Superman costume for two hours.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If My Life Was a Novel . . .

. . . I think this would be one of my favorite chapters.

The dim light painted everything golden as I slid off the trampoline and landed on my toes. The ground was still too hard to trek barefoot, and the briers had just begun to creep up through the cracked soil. The careless attitude that springs so infectiously from summer evenings kept me from putting my shoes on all the way. I started toward the old fence, hardly aware of the pebbles that had already found their way into my undone sneakers.

Once I reached the fence, I turned and followed it towards the setting sun; when I was halfway, I stopped. I peered through the chain links, pressing my nose through to smell the fresh cut grass. It was silent, as always, but in a different way. Cemeteries sleep in fright, sorrow, and reverence, but today it slept in contentment. No one cried, and no empty holes yawned hungrily; a pinwheel stuck next to a tiny headstone spun in a breeze I couldn't feel.

I turned back to my side of the fence. Looking past the old saw, the neglected cars, to the westernmost side of the yard, I saw the pile of logs. They had lain in the same spot for years, outlasting time and tragedy. The three largest trunks had become smooth with age, and each had too many rings to count. Hundreds of dandelion mourners encircled the ancient wood, heads bowed forward. Tiny, white wildflowers sprouted at the base of the trees' resting spot as nature's tribute to the dead. When I turned my head, a deer grazing thirty feet away started and leaped across the field. As he jumped, the dandelions wept cottony tears and the crickets began to keen.

I looked up at the tall Birch above me, one of the 17 that lined the fence between the two graveyards. His new leaves quivered as the sun finally dipped below the horizon - a timid watchman!

I turned back to the house, following the fence again. It's comforting to know that on soft summer evenings, even death finds calm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sophie Roux

Love, thy name is Lady Danville.

Okay, not really, but still, this song is nice:

This was written when one of the band members went to Paris and fell in love.

Awww! ♥

P.S. Why doesn't Esmerelda get it? I would give my heart to a poet over a soldier any day. Poor Gringoire!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rent in Twain

Several years ago I made a decision. It was my sixth grade year, and I had just finished reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Consequently, I had also resolved to loathe Mark Twain until my dying day.

The hatred was not difficult to cultivate. Over the next few years I was forced to read Huckleberry Finn, not once, not twice, but three more times. Each reading served only to feed the blazing feelings of contempt I had for Mr. Samuel Clemens. [It should be noted that when I was in seventh grade, I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and did not object so violently. I'm still unsure why.] In eleventh grade, in the midst of Anger and Disagreement 101 (Junior English, to those who didn't have P.H.), at the mention of reading Huck Finn again, I very nearly became sick on the spot. Vehement objections were made, and Trent and I were allowed to read a different book (what a rebel I was, eh?). Yes, my distaste for Twain had grown so uncontrollable that I took refuge in My Antonia. Oh the desperation. Upon completion of the novel, I determined that I had never read anything so droll in my entire life (with the exception, perhaps, of David Copperfield, read at the beginning of sixth grade, although in the book's defense, I was only 11; I ought to give it another chance) and promptly forgot everything I could about the story - except for the wolves . . . What I wouldn't give to forget the wolves . . . Ah, but I digress; this is the tale of my relationship with Mark Twain, not Willa Cather. So, upon returning to class and hearing my fellow students' tales of woe, I nodded knowingly and shared their indignation.

Now, here I stand, two and a half years later, holding on to - no, clinging to - the traces of loathing that are slowly trickling out of my hands like river water. A hatred nearly eight years in the making is a difficult thing to relinquish. Yet as hard as I try to despise it, I find myself loving every Twain snippet I come across. Today, for example, he sympathized with nearly every hang up I have with the German language. Given, his objections are a little stronger than mine, but the idea is the same; He provided a way for me to laugh about it, anyway.

So, if you study German (or even if you don't), check it out:

The Awful German Language

Well, Mr. Twain, it seems that this may be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can it get any better than this?

I submit that it that it cannot.

Come, friends. Love with me.

And yes, I do believe that is a bassoon. A glorious, glorious bassoon.

But hey, you can't please everyone.

Set your phasers on STUNNING

I attended the very first showing of Star Trek in Utah county. It was on May 7th at 7:00 PM. Being among the first to see the show, we got one thing that few later show-goers would get:


Oh yes. I almost touched one.

It was so crazy, because they were so realistic. I mean, the Spock-trekkie looked exactly like Leonard Nimoy! He was 5'4", had a Mountain Dew belly, and smelled like hot pockets. I know, right? It was like we were actually on the U.S.S. Enterprise, staring into the face of the greatest Hucan (Human/Vulcan hybrid) this galaxy has ever known.

Also, watch THIS, 'cause I love you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Star Trek. Was. Awesome.

I have a complaint though: I don't understand time travel.

Hypothetical situation time.

Let's say that there's an interplanetary war going on, which began when you said something impolite to some high-and-mighty Romulan (this isn't the plot of the movie, so no spoilers, just a big mess of confusion that I can't talk myself out of). Naturally, if the option was available, you'd go back in time and stop yourself from saying whatever it was, right? I would. So, you go back and stop yourself, and the war is averted. Which means that there was never a crisis, and therefore no need for you to go back in time to stop yourself from saying anything. But if you don't go back and stop yourself, you've got a war!

Alright, let's say you've wised up a bit. You've realized that, war or no war, you need to go back and stop your big mouth. Present-you is about to blab, when future-you pops up and says, "Shut up. Okay, two weeks from now, you're gonna zip back here and stop yourself from saying what you're about to say. If you didn't (or don't?), I wouldn't (or won't?) be here. And then Earth is doomed." Aside from the fact that you've now created two of yourself, you have also, either, A) Made time into a loop (what with continually having to go back and stop yourself, present-you has no choice but to go back at the same point that future-you did), or B) Proved the multiverse theory.

Personally, I find B much more probable because it means that rather than travelling through time in one universe and disrupting everything that defines it, time travel is just an interaction between two beings from separate universes founded on the same reality. Plus I just like the multiverse theory. But really, it's the only feasible way for time travel to be possible, isn't it? I mean, option A is just a convoluted way of explaining multiple universes; every time you go back, you're creating another path to be followed.

Multiverse theory also allows for some wicked speculation on electron particle/wave duality. Sure, Schrödinger had a cat, but I'm talking interuniversal relationships on a subatomic level!

Heh, wow. I think this whole post needs a disclaimer. Or three.
1. I'm not crazy
2. I don't submit to the multiverse theory, I just like speculating.
3. I loved Star Trek and honestly, the time travel thing was so inane that it doesn't even matter. And I'm still not crazy.

P.S. I secretly adore Spock.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Move Over Judd Nelson . . .

Looks like Mr. Jackman has taken a leaf out of your nostril-flarin' book!

I like it, 'cause we can tell exactly how angst ridden he really is.

Not that I don't adore both Judd Nelson and Hugh Jackman, but come on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Alright, where was I when THIS was going down?

Oh, right.

Still . . . How awesome would that have been?

P.S. I always thought that David Bowie had two different colored eyes. As it turns out, he doesn't.

I'm little disappointed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life, the Universe, and Everything

"Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between [people], and their beliefs -- in religion, literature, colleges and schools -- democracy in all public and private life...."
-Walt Whitman

These last few days have been kind of hard for me.

I'm not saying that I haven't had a place to live, or food to eat, or good friends to talk to . . . So I guess I'm better off than many. I should try to focus on that.
But, since this is my very own blog, I'm going to tell you exactly why I'm feeling the way I am.

I've been having thoughts about life, people, existence . . . All that, you know? The thoughts are kind of heavy. They're not bad, per se, but they don't exactly make me want to frolic through a field of daisies. Or maybe they do, but in a totally different, twisty way.

Anyway, mostly I'm concerned with relationships. Not romantic, but just between people. I don't know if I can vocalize this correctly . . . Bear with me. It feels like, whatever you're talking about, one person is more involved, more passionate. Ordinarily, that isn't a bad thing; it's what feeds conversations, isn't it? One person explaining, the other questioning, each adding a little and taking so much more. Sometimes, though, it gets really tricky. People don't let on to how much they care about something. I certainly don't. I wouldn't call myself disingenuous, but I definitely hide my passions from people. It's because I don't know how they feel. That, however, leads to a vicious cycle: I don't share the depth of my feelings, so the other person doesn't know, so they don't show the depth of their feelings, so I don't know, so I don't show . . . You see?

It's when I don't know stuff that I get scared. That's why people are supposed to be afraid of the dark, no? Because they don't know what's in it; the lack of knowledge is terrifying. It's the same with interactions with other people. A few days ago, I was talking with a friend. For me it was a relaxed conversation, very open. I was happy. Suddenly, my friend was crying. I had no idea that the things we'd been saying had been so moving to the other party involved.

I don't want my words to have such a profound impact. Well, no, that's not true. I would like my carefully thought-out, edited and re-edited, weighed and measured words to have an impact. This whole idea of just general conversations affecting people . . . It's alarming. I'm only human. I'm flawed (boy, howdy)! If I'm going to discuss something that's really dear to me, I'm going to put a lot more thought and effort into it. I mean, it takes me forever to write a blog entry, and I edit it several times before and after I've posted it . . . And no one even reads it. But that doesn't matter. I think it's important, so I take care.

Maybe this is just a bit of a wake-up call. Maybe I'm the one who's never as passionate. Maybe I should be better about that. It's like someone just handed me a key and said, "Here, there are six billion people in the world. That means six billion doors. You've got roughly 70 years. Start opening."

This might be fun.