An Analysis Of The Roles Of Kings In “Beowulf”

DISCLAIMER: This was written as an assignment for my British Literature class and was originally posted on Academia.edu

 

In the days of the epic poem Beowulf, a king’s strength was determined by his will, competence, wealth, and power. He had to rule over entire tribes of people and had to be willing to put down any rebellion. But he was human, for he needed warriors to fight for him and counselors to advise him. Even in old age, a king had to set for himself and his people a good example and prove himself worthy of continuing a line of successors. It was a time within the poem when danger manifested itself in the form of monsters and enemy tribes, when the tribes needed a figure to inspire and lead them.

The kings who are mentioned in Beowulf may appear to divert from the main plot but their reigns are compared between Beowulf, Hrothgar, and the kings before them. They are presented both as examples to live up to and cautionary tales to avoid becoming bad kings. Hrothgar was compared to King Eormenric, who acts as a negative foil to him, since he was very greedy, whose wealth was eventually claimed by a warrior named Hama (Beowulf 67, Lines 1197-201). When praising Beowulf, Hrothgar brings up King Heremod who killed his own comrades, refused to pay tribute to the Danes, and lost happiness in the end. Like Eormenric, Heremod is also used as a foil making Beowulf appear noble by comparison. Hrothgar forewarns him “So learn from this and understand true values” (Beowulf 77-8, Lines 1709-23).

The epic poem begins by narrating the lineage of Hrothgar going back to his great-grandfather Shield, an orphan who directed the aggression from his earlier years within the mead-hall and among his enemies into maintaining order among the tribes. It begins with Shield in order to magnify the significance of Hrothgar’s background as an inheritor of the kingdom founded by his ancestor (Beowulf 41, Lines 4-25). Lineage determined how a king was recognized for his legitimate right to leadership, which was important in the poem to refer to him by his relations to past royalty. A common name that is given to some of the characters are based on their filial ties, such as Beowulf being called “son of Ecgtheow” and Hrothgar as “son of Halfdane.”

Since the lineage of the king provides legitimacy to his reign, so would his wealth, especially if it was earned. Kings had to exhibit their wealth, particularly when the kenning “treasure-seat” was used to describe Hrothgar’s throne, which was surrounded by all of his hoard and war spoils (Beowulf 44, Lines 168). Hrothgar also had to ride fashionably atop his royal saddle while being surrounded by shield-bearers, when accompanying Beowulf to the “troll-dam” of Grendel’s mother. This was to demonstrate his power to any in the way as well as to protect him (Beowulf 71, Lines 1390-411). The construction of the mead-hall would have to be suitable to a king’s companions, since it is what unites them amidst the struggles from other tribes and—in the case of the epic poem itself—monsters. Heorot, the mead-hall where Hrothgar and his men celebrated, comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “hart,” which refers to antlers and represented royalty among the Anglo-Saxons (Beowulf 42, Line 78).

Even though kingship was passed to the next generation, members of royalty still had to earn that right, just like Shield did to become king and just like Beowulf receiving the title “hall-warden” which was rare to give anyone (Beowulf 54, Line 653-61). In some parts of Beowulf, Hrothgar was dubbed “the helmet” of his people, which could suggest that the king had to be both physically and mentally impenetrable (Beowulf 37). In order to exercise his authority, a king had to be competent enough to do it. It was the reason why Beowulf was chosen by Hygd, Hygelac’s wife, to become king of the Geats over Hygelac’s own son (Beowulf 90-1, Lines 2367-72). What was evident by this sudden shift of traditional primogeniture was that life was brutal during the time this poem was told and the only opportunities of social mobility were to found in the battlefield. Beowulf also had to earn the trust of allies, like Eadgils, who he aided in his struggle against King Onela (Beowulf 91, Lines 2391-6). Not only did he have to be competent, but a king also had to be brave. This was especially the case when Beowulf was willing to confront the dragon and endure its fire and poison, even in his older years. He even advised his men to stay back while he fights it (Beowulf 93-4, Lines 2510-37).

 

To read more, visit the paper uploaded on Academia.edu

 

Sources

“Beowulf.” The Norton Anthology English Literature: The Major Authors: Volume 1, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, 9th edition, W. W. Norton & Company, 2013, pp. 36-106. 12 Oct. 2016.

10 YouTube Channels With Videos I Watch More Than Once

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

These videos uniquely mix informative and aesthetic content into an addictive connection which gives me more than one reason to watch them. This is definitely important if the reasons are to entertain and educate.
As for political opinions, although I do not completely agree with all of them, none of these YouTubers have this dogmatic attachment and understand the complexities within the human sphere.

1.  Brows Held High (Kyle Kallgren)

It is interesting seeing the references of old art being used with a modern twist. Kallgren offers brilliant insight into any topics involving avant-garde films or William

Shakespeare’s plays, by making connections that are not usually seen, whether it has to do with the common speech inspired by Shakespeare’s literature or translating his plays into different languages.

2. ContraPoints (Natalie Wynn)

Specifically, I am more fascinated by Natalie’s more recent videos, which are when she was transitioning her gender and when she started relying more on the trippy effects of the colored lighting and the dynamics of her complex characters personifying any part of the political spectrum.

Although there are long skits, what makes them appear less time-consuming is the use of lighting and props that make the experience about as interesting as the topics themselves.

3. Geography Now! (Paul Barby)

It’s time to include Geography…NOW!

This is an ambitious project including a collaboration from many types of people, from many vocational and cultural backgrounds. What makes this channel so fascinating is how Paul is able to elaborate on these countries as though they were individuals with unique relationships and personalities.

4. Jim Sterling

Coupling gameplay footage with his undying devotion to the consumers, Sterling manages to criticize the TRIPLE A gaming corporations whenever they actively take advantage of their products’ cult followings. He relates this information alongside his raunchy humor.

5. NativLang (Joshua Rudder)

Rudder may be the only YouTuber who can actually make linguistics into a fun topic to learn about. That should tell you something when would be typically viewed as a very dry topic. Whether it includes 2D or 3D animation, what really matters is how the linguistic information is easily explained.

6. Overly Sarcastic Productions

What makes these videos unique are the hand-drawn 2D still animations which can show the candid, organic nature of the channel. The narrators summarize plays and historical events with humorous and sarcastic acting (thus the title of the channel).

7. Rousseau

If you have ever wanted to know what that classical song was but was unable to find out what it was or how it is played, then I would highly suggest Rousseau. She plays these songs on the piano with the keynotes being shown in various colors. She not only plays classical songs but also covers modern songs in a piano version.

8. TEDx Talks

There is a lot of in-sight when it comes to TED talks, especially when it is a subject you are interested in. They can definitely blur the distinction between creative and scholarly work, when searching for many topics to learn about. This particular video encapsulates it because I think the subject is intricate in itself and the presenter has a lot of energy.

9. Terrible Writing Advice (J. P. Beaubien)

I already wrote an article about Beaubien, but what I didn’t discuss further was how addictive his content can be. What can truly make these videos so entertaining is how relatable they are to any writer who may have encountered mistakes in the past, as well as the simple yet effective still animations that illustrate the tropes that he talks about.

10. Thug Notes (Greg Edwards)

This is a special shout-out to my homeboy, Dr. Sparky Sweets!

In delivering the summary and the scholarly discussion about the particular piece of literature, Edwards uses a lot of slang for humorous effect. This is definitely what makes the reading humorous and insightful.

 

Image Attribution: YouTube

AOG Poetry | Conjuring Prayers Toward The Aether Gods-Woven

DISCLAIMER: This poem was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

Salt-riddled droplets stream downwards

While conjuring gods-answerable words

Is wanting a bountiful increase

And the violence and temptations to cease

Too much for the flesh-and-blood to consume

And should we live with our earthly doom?

These words effuse towards never-ending lights

Beaming from cloud-estates where angels take their flight

O’er the buildings made from earth-as-hell fiends

Towards lambs of gods to absolve sins uncleaned

Who produce fleece for the aether gods-woven

That keeps Earth and the Heavens cloven

Tapestried beyond skies unflown and planets unmined

That bedazzles Men and makes devils blind

But are Men just devils-waiting-to-roast?

No matter how much they chest-beat and boast

Their compositions would decay with age

And their coffins would become their cages

No matter how much they pray, grovel, scream, and cry

Their gnashings-of-teeth might continue after they die

But, in sooth, the firmaments hear no songs

Since the clouds are not where angels belong

Nor do the heavens govern outer space

For bleak emptiness has humans to displace

Since they are ant-sapient dust

With their innovations easily given to rust

They live in this world of death and rot

And creativity is all they got

 

Image Attribution: Pixabay

An Insight Into William Shakespeare’s Portrayal Of Outsiders

DISCLAIMER: This was written as an assignment for my Shakespeare & His Contemporaries class and was originally posted on Academia.edu.

 

Within this analysis, the discussion will be focused on the way in which William Shakespeare portrays outsiders in his plays—five to be specific. These characters’ importance to these plays are underestimated because they define the play’s plots and conflicts. Because they are either anti-heroes or villains, their positions in the plays give the audience a much more thoroughly detailed exposition of their motivations and their complex personalities and emotions. Although states of being an outsider vary, this essay will focus on characters who were outsiders in the first place; in other words, characters who are defined as outsiders based on their race, ethnicity, disability, or other nonnegotiable forms of isolation.

In Hamlet, the outsider of the story is the titular character partly because he studied in Wittenburg before returning to Elsinore (and he is later exiled after killing Polonius), but mainly because he may have a mental disorder, such as depression, as Juliet Mitchell would argue. He especially becomes an outsider for this very reason since he is the only one who is deeply affected by the death of his father (Mitchell 33). Shylock in the Merchant of Venice is an outsider because he is a Jew in Venetian society. Although Richard III is an aristocrat, he is an outsider among the other aristocrats because of his physical disability, which would be his hunchback. In King Lear, Edmund is introduced in the play as the illegitimate child of the Earl of Gloucester. Because of his status, his legitimate half-brother is more favored by Gloucester than Edmund is. While almost all of the characters in Titus Andronicus are Romans and Goths, Aaron is the only African character in the play (excluding the illegitimate child he has with Queen Tamora).

Those disadvantages are what lead them to be treated condescendingly at least and abusively at worst. In Hamlet’s case, no one takes him seriously and he is treated like a child by being told little lies while his father’s ghost will actually tell him the truth (Mitchell 45-6). While the struggle within royalty also exists in Elsinore, Hamlet is not despised but he is mistrusted, primarily by Polonius and Laertes who inform Ophelia to not develop strong feelings for Hamlet (Hamlet 1.3.1-136). While Hamlet is talked down to in his own court, Richard III is despised by even his own mother (Richard III 4.1.52-5). When Edmund is introduced, he is snubbed by his own father in favor of Edgar (History of King Lear 1.7-30).

Although Aaron is trusted by Martius and Quintius in hunting for panthers and taking Titus’ hand (Titus Andronicus 2.3.192-3, 3.1.157-61), these acts of trust are only as a result of his status as a slave. When he is not well-received is when he violates decorum, which is why Bassianus and Lavinia are willing to report Tamora’s affair with Aaron. Then they proceed to insult Aaron with Lavinia comparing him to a stag to be hunted by Jove’s hounds and Bassianus calls Aaron “barbarous” (Titus Andronicus 2.3.66-87). Titus, when he is met by Tamora and her sons in disguise, calls Aaron a devil (Titus Andronicus 5.2.85-6).

Although insults are directed at Aaron, the child he has with Tamora is even less respected by the other characters. The nurse who helped Tamora give birth to the child calls it a disgrace since it was birthed by a high-ranking authority figure like the Empress (Titus Andronicus 4.2.66-70). The nurse, Demetrius, Chiron, and Lucius wish to kill the child, which Aaron the Moor strongly forbids (Titus Andronicus 4.1.70, 79, 84-5, 5.1.51).

Shylock is the victim of anti-Semitism specifically from Antonio who insults, kicks, and spits on him (Merchant of Venice 1.3.102-124). Though, later in the play, the bias that the Venetian court has is demonstrated by Portia’s “Quality of Mercy” speech, even though Shylock is a Jew (Merchant of Venice 4.1.179-200). Although the concept of mercy is found in Micah of the Old Testament, the overall message of Portia’s speech talks about mercy from the Christian interpretation (Weinstein 188). Her speech implies that Shylock would have no other choice but to convert to Christianity in order to become a participant of Venetian society, which he eventually does in the end (Merchant of Venice 4.1.389).

A way in which outsiders are actively being despised beyond assigning their labels is by comparing them to animals. This is a theme that connects these plays in providing an insight into how these natural outsiders are treated. In Shylock’s case, he is called a “dog” by Antonio (Merchant of Venice 1.3.107) and Solanio (Merchant of Venice 2.8.14). Richard III and Edmund are referred to as “toads” which is an animal that has negative connotations associated with disgrace (Richard III 4.4.145, History of King Lear 24.134). Aaron the Moor is described as a raven (Titus Andronicus 3.1.158), because of how the creature represents ominous death (Deroux 97), as well as raven-colored (Titus Andronicus 2.3.83), due to his skin color. He is also compared to a fly that Titus’ brother Marcus kills, saying how it was black and ugly (Titus Andronicus 4.1.66). Although Hamlet is not referred to as an animal by any of the characters, he does refer to himself as “pigeon-livered” because he cannot build up enough courage to immediately kill Claudius (Hamlet 2.2.554).

Since they are compared to animals, the insults are meant to dehumanize the characters and to place them below the other characters. Although those insults are directed in part to their statuses, the reasons behind them are due to the characters’ actions. The way in which Titus insults Aaron happens after he is deceived by him. Richard III and Edmund commit atrocities, or played a part in them at least, that would cause them to feel disgraceful.

Because of the marginalities that they have, these outsiders would not have been accepted among the majority group if they did not have any sense of importance, or at least if the characters belonging to the majority demographic will not do (Heller 150). Throughout the duration of the plays, they have to demonstrate why they matter to the rest of the characters in spite of their statuses. Although Peter Berek discusses the concept of “self-transformation” as it historically applied to Jews who would change their identities and names in order to assimilate into the various European societies, this concept also applied to their practice of usury which could make any commoner rise in wealth and power (Berek 148). As such, this concept can easily relate to any outsiders in the plays, whether they are Jews or not.

Self-transformation most definitely fits all of the outsiders, though it is only Shylock who is considered important because of a trade—which in his case is usury. No Venetian would want to associate with Shylock if he does not lend out credit through usury, especially since Jews could only work with usury in that time period (Weinstein 191). Richard III acknowledges that he has no purpose in the new British society that was birthed after their civil war, so he seeks to make his new purpose as the man who is able to be persuasive, charismatic, wooing, and able to make witty comebacks, with the example of Richard III causing the other characters to turn against Margaret of Anjou after she curses him (Richard III 1.3.235-301). In his “Winter of our discontent” soliloquy, the way in which he frames it is spoken as though it is a victory speech addressed to an audience that has recently seen peace (Van Elk 5).

A way in which Hamlet is self-transformed is that he is well-versed in the arts. While Polonius hints to Ophelia that Hamlet plays music, he is enthralled in the art of stagecraft and is constantly directing his actors and having long conversations with Polonius about plays in the past. Since art is a field that typically would be associated with interpreting the world around the author of its creation (Mitchell 30), Hamlet especially manages to evoke guilt within Claudius by revealing the poisoning scene that he himself had done, which causes him to retreat to the arras to attempt to pray (Hamlet 3.2.233-48).

With Aaron the Moor’s importance, he would not have become Tamora’s servant if he did not become her openly secret lover or be able to tame Demetrius and Chiron; such as when the latter circumstance introduces Aaron as he stops the two brothers from dueling for whoever can woo Lavinia by convincing them they can both rape her (Titus Andronicus 2.1.104-32). In this way, he uses his brutishness as a form of babysitting, going so far as to tell Lucius that he was their tutor in orchestrating the plot to rape Lavinia, murder Bassianus, and frame Quintius and Martius—two of Titus’ sons (Titus Andronicus 5.1.98). Since Aaron is instrumental in Tamora’s war against the Andronicus family, she expects him to do his deeds, especially since she brags, in her aside speech, how she can orchestrate Titus’ destruction via Aaron (Titus Andronicus 4.4.34-8).

Because these outsiders are self-cultivated, they are extremely intelligence, since they spend the duration of the plays devising plots and fooling people into doing what they want. Edmund especially represents this characteristic of an outsider when he blatantly stated “Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit” (History of King Lear 2.157). He exercises that wit by framing Edgar in a feigned plot to kill Gloucester, which leads to Gloucester replacing Edgar with Edmund as the heir (History of King Lear 6.1-63).

Because of the outsiders’ uses in their societies, they are both useful but also despised. Shylock is the most notable example since although he is able to produce wealth of merchants through their use of his loans, he is still despised by the Venetian society (Heller 151). His business is also undermined by Antonio who loans his money without interest, which thus reduces the rate of Shylock’s usury (Merchant of Venice 1.3.39-42). Aaron the Moor would not have been useful to Queen Tamora if he could not tame her sons or carry out her deeds. Although those characters are instrumental to the fabric of their societies and how they appease the majority, in Hamlet’s, Edmund’s (though later in the First Act), and Richard III’s case, their roles in their own societies are based on their lineages, since they are in line for succession for the royal crowns. In either case, whether as servants or as nobility, the outsiders’ function within their plays is to feed into the majority’s system.

Michael D. Friedman coined the term “accommodationist” in order to refer to Ian McKellen’s supposed pandering to the heterosexual majority audience when portraying Richard III as the bloodthirsty tyrant he was meant to be portrayed as (Friedman 577). However, that term is more applied to figures like the Shakespearean Richard III himself, as well as the rest of the outsiders. Since they have no power—at least not one that was never attained in the first place—they have no other choice but to accept the rules of the societies they live in in order to fulfill their nefarious agendas (Heller 156).

This reason is why Richard III cannot just simply marry himself to Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, rather he would need to follow the rules of courtship. When Shylock loses the case, he is willing to convert to Christianity and let his wealth be passed down to his grandson who would be produced by Lorenzo and Jessica (Merchant of Venice 4.1.389). Edmund is the only one who seeks to subvert the British law that labeled him a bastard in favor of worshipping Nature as a goddess that permits him to do whatever he can to remove this stigma. Though even he does not seek to change the law, rather he simply works within it by replacing Edgar as the legitimate heir to Gloucester’s title (History of King Lear 2.1-21). However much they are insulted, these outsiders provide importance to the societal and social functions within the plays. Although these outsiders attempt to become accommodationist (Friedman 577), they develop a deeper, more familiar connection with either the majority or their opposites. They often do this in order to obtain a much higher position that the one they are in at the moment.

 

To read more, visit the paper uploaded on Academia.edu.

 

Sources:

Berek, Peter. “The Jew as Renaissance Man.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 1, 1998, pp. 128–162. JSTOR.

Deroux, Margaux. “The Blackness Within: Early Modern Color-Concept, Physiology and Aaron the Moor in Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus.’” Mediterranean Studies, vol. 19, 2010, pp. 86–101. JSTOR.

Edited by Greenblatt, Cohen, Howard, Maus. “The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition.” 2nd Edition. Norton (2008).

Friedman, Michael D. “Horror, Homosexuality, and Homiciphilia in McKellen’s ‘Richard III’ and Jarman’s ‘Edward II.’” Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 27, no. 4, 2009, pp. 567–588. JSTOR.

Heller, Agnes. “The Absolute Stranger: Shakespeare and the Drama of Failed Assimilation.” Critical Horizons, vol. 1, no. 1, Feb. 2000, pp. 147–167. EBSCOhost.

Mitchell, Juliet. “Hamlet – The Lonely Only and His Siblings.” Psycho-Analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, vol. 21, no. 1, May 2013, pp. 28–60. EBSCOhost.

Van Elk, Martine. “‘Determined to Prove a Villain’: Criticism, Pedagogy, and ‘Richard III.’” College Literature, vol. 34, no. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 1–21. EBSCOhost.

Weinstein, Brian. “Shakespeare’s Forgivable Portrayal of Shylock.” Jewish Bible Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 3, July 2007, pp. 187–191. EBSCOhost.

Disney Fixes “Vader” Fan Film Controversy

Basically, what happened was that Matt, a YouTuber dedicated to Star Wars lore, has taken it upon himself to spend his own money to produce a fan film revolving around Darth Vader’s psychology and his relationship with Emperor Palpatine.

Where the controversy lies is when Lucasfilm, which was sold to Disney, put a copyright claim on the first episode, even though the video was already de-monetized. This caused the YouTube channel Star Wars Theory to receive a strike and potentially jeopardized the production of the fan film.

Although Disney ordered Lucasfilm to refrain from the claim after massive backlash from the fans, the backlash should not easily dissipate.

Disney already set their standards when Matt asked for permission. No monetization. No crowd-funding. No rights or ownership over the content. They did not need to push more standards when the film was already being uploaded. If the opposite circumstance happened and Matt violated the standards, you can bet that Disney would have the Force power of Emperor Palpatine and would Force-lift all of the courthouses and hurl them at him (which is an interesting comparison to make).

If a giant corporation worth billions of dollars is going to abuse its powers on a fan film that was produced with $80,000, then this should not slide. That type of action is about as dignified as the most powerful Force user in the galaxy battling younglings who can barely learn the Force. Because there is a tight budget on the film, that claim could have ceased the production of the future episodes. So who is to say that Lucasfilm or Disney itself would not put the same claims on future episodes?

An advice should be given to any giant corporation that purchases the rights of a company like Lucasfilm. When you acquire ownership over a franchise like “Star Wars,” you not only have to deal with potential future audiences, but entire generations of audiences. The fans, devoted or casual, helped create the following that the franchise had, whether through Expanded Universe novels or working the dialogue into everyday speech.

This YouTuber especially represents this because he is helping to keep your brand relevant in the midst of culture war controversies with Episodes VII and VIII. You should WANT him to be the internet influencer who is keeping YOUR franchise alive. You should encourage this YouTuber to continue with his project, which he himself had stated that it was never about the money, rather about the love and dedication to the franchise.

I can understand that Matt was cool with Disney as soon as the claim was lifted, since he sounds like a nice guy. However, I do not have any solutions to keep Disney at its word, other than that the fandom should not forget the day that Disney disregarded their own standards to go after a YouTuber, and it should most definitely affect the turn-out for Episode IX.

What I want to say to Matt and all of the people who have worked diligently on this fan film is this: May the Force be with you, because you’re going to need it for any more controversies with Lucasfilm or Disney.

AOG Short Story | So Far Above His Social Class

DISCLAIMER: This was started as a 2600-worded short story written by C. J. Sahadeo as part of her freelance service in creative writing. Her in-sight as a Trinidadian helped materialize this story.

Also “James-Joseph Hemhowzer” is my pseudonym for my literary fiction works.

 

It was a warm evening in the city of Port-of-Spain. The green hills that usually governed the city were crisp browns and yellows. Rajesh looked out at that view from the window, seeing that the heat would not be worth the air-conditioning inside the Gale Hotel.

Although the lobby was cool, Rajesh wiped away the sweat permeating from his forehead on the back on his gloved hand and breathed noisily as he hauled up the suitcases up the seemingly never-ending stairway. He still had two hours before his shift ended.

“Boy dis place hot eh?” Sammy said. He was his fellow bellhop in the Gale Hotel, their workplace, their only hangout.

“Is the dry season,” Rajesh said, irritably. “Even de nights hot.”

“They hotter if yuh not alone!” Sammy said grinning sidelong.

Rajesh laughed. “Always. But doh let the boss-man hear yuh say that.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Sammy, “Be polite like we is white people.”

“Be polite like yuh mother teach yuh!” Rajesh rejoined in mild rebuke. Sammy just laughed. They had known each other since boyhood and always engaged in bawdy exchanges. Rajesh used to feel disgust at Sammy’s humor, but as time went on, he grew to accept it and even tried to mimic it.

Sammy looked over his shoulder. “Eh, eh, talking ‘bout white people, watch de boss-lady reach.”

Rajesh turned to see the wife of their boss walk into the hotel, back from her job as a school teacher in the Private Ansley’s Academy.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” she said as she entered.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Charles,” the employees in the lobby chorused.

Mrs. Charles’ eyes swept the lobby once. He could see that Mrs. Charles was looking quite pretty today, with her formal attire and her bundled blonde hair. She was also the same height as Rajesh, as he could tell when she walked past him.

Then, Rajesh discovered that she paused at the section he was in.

#

It was two months into his new job in the evening shift and while he’d seen the wife of his boss many times, he’d never actually spoken to her. This time he was coming back from bringing up a customer’s suitcase when he ran into her in the landing.

“Oh gosh, ah sorry!” he blurted, steadying the woman.

“It’s quite alright,” replied the woman as she regained her balance.

“No really,” Rajesh began but stopped short. Mrs. Charles was slim and her skin was smooth and fairer than anyone’s he’d ever seen. Her eyes were a twinkling grey and her mouth was curling into a smile that was accented by her lipstick. It took him entirely too long to realize that she was amused by him, that she’d noticed his sudden attraction. He’d blushed and made to perform a quick and strategic retreat when her hand reached out and clasped around his wrist gently.

“I don’t know you so well. Who are you?”

“Ah is,” he began and then quickly shifted his speech, considering how speaking the Trinidadian Creole was only settled for his family and peers, whereas Standard English was the acceptable form of speech inside the Gale Hotel. “I am the new bell-hop,” he said.

“Oh, I see,” she said. “Well we haven’t officially met. I am Mrs. Fara Charles.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said, still blushing and trying hard not to. “I’m…Rajesh.”

“Rajesh,” she said and the way she rolled her tongue around her mouth made heat pool in his belly.

“It is certainly nice to meet you,” she replied. She patted his cheek twice. “I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.”

This time Rajesh was sure he hadn’t imagined the answering heat in her gaze.

#

He’d spent the next four days convincing himself it hadn’t happened. He’d just managed to convince himself that nothing was going to happen, that he wasn’t attracted to Mrs. Charles when he’d spotted her saying goodbye to her husband as he left for an important business dinner.

She’d kissed Mr. Charles goodbye and Rajesh’s stomach had clenched, not with jealousy, but with want. It must take a man like Mr. Charles to please a woman like her. However, he was merely a bell-hop and not the owner of a hotel, so he could never find anyway to please her, nor please any of the women in his life, for they all dismissed him as soon as he showed any sign of weakness or insecurity.

After Mr. Charles had driven off, Fara had turned her head and given him a sly smile that made his toes curl. That gesture made him realize that she knew he was watching her.

Stumbling to save face as soon as she came close to him, Rajesh asked “Do you need any further assistance, Mrs. Charles?”

“No,” Fara said. “Thank you.”

To save his sanity, he had thrown himself into his work by carrying loads of luggage. But no plan survives first contact. The next time Mrs. Charles caught Rajesh alone without work in the evening shift, he would have to tell her that he will not participate in whatever she’s planning.

Yuh cah get into them thing. Yuh need this job and if the boss-man fine out yuh screwing he woman, yuh going an get fired.

During late shifts, when the guests had headed off to bed, Rajesh’s job basically became non-existent. Usually, he’d have to find some way to pass the time. In this instance, he wanted work to outweigh his feelings for Mrs. Charles. It was clear to him that her love is something he could never have, or could not have, money-wise or emotionally.

He was once more returning from bringing up a customer’s lost bag when he saw Mrs. Charles in the empty corridor. She smiled when she saw him and Rajesh found himself moving toward her without thought.

“Rajesh, isn’t it?” she’d practically purred.

“Mrs. Charles,” he’d replied, his own voice dropping into a deeper register instinctively.

“Oh, don’t be so formal,” she chided gently. “Called me Fara.”

“Fara.”

He’d rolled the name in his mouth like she’d done his and had been pleased to see her mouth tip into a smile.

“Was there something I could help you with Fara?” he’d asked.

“Oh definitely,” she’d said. “But I’m afraid it’d take a long time.”

“Well,” he’d said, inching onto her space. “Ah pretty sure I have de time for you.” He’d smirked, letting his gaze tip down and back up. “Ah very long time.”

“I need you to pull away from your job for a little bit,” she’d said, leaning into him.

“I does do what the boss say,” he said, shrugging. “Since he not here, I guess you is the boss.”

She’d laughed then, tipping back her head and exposing her throat. Then her gaze was locked into his fiercely and she’d said, “Kiss me.”

The moment his lips had touched hers, he was lost.

#

Soon after Fara had swept through the lobby the last influx of guests came in and Rajesh and Sammy were busy settling them into their rooms. One of the guests, a woman who was an American tourist, was particularly picky and spent a good ten minutes quarreling with Rajesh for spilling something inside her suitcase, when Rajesh was pretty sure it had been spilled before he’d even touched the suitcase.

Rajesh was just thinking that the woman was finally winding down and he’d be able to escape when a voice interrupted.

“What is this?”

It was Mr. Charles.

“Nothing, sir,” said Rajesh quickly. “Just a little mishap.”

“Mishap?!” the lady shrieked. “This was no mishap!” and then she went to customer service, shrieking like the cats making love on Rajesh’s roof at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Mr. Charles rushed towards her and managed to soothe her feelings. Rajesh apologized for what felt like the hundredth time that night before the lady finally went into her room. No sooner than she had though, that Mr. Charles had spun and looked at Rajesh.

“I didn’t move it from its position!” Rajesh protested.

Mr. Charles quickly lifted his finger for silence. He told Rajesh calmly “Do you like this job?”

“Yes, Mr. Charles,” Rajesh said.

“Yes, sir,” Mr. Charles corrected. “Don’t speak to me like I’m your equal, boy. I can fire you whenever I deem fit.”

“Yes sir,” Rajesh said.

“Do you know why I hired you?”

In reality, Sammy had helped ease Rajesh into this job by convincing the employment office of how loyal Rajesh can be. Evidently, there was a lot that Rajesh was loyal towards in this hotel, especially when it involved a woman. A woman who was married to the boss-man.

Rajesh replied “No, sir.”

“I hired you because you appear dedicated and loyal.”

Although Rajesh was not well-educated, he understood how that subtle statement harkened back to what little Trinidadian history he could remember learning about. Most definitely, had Rajesh existed as his African slave ancestor or his Indian menial worker ancestor, he would have appeared dedicated and loyal; because he would’ve had no choice to begin with.

He shooduh say you is uh coolie!

He continued “You merely exist here to serve them. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good,” said Mr. Charles and then stalked off.

Rajesh watched him leave with a feeling of burning fury. If only he could get rid of him, for he was the only thing keeping him and Fara apart. They would be free to be themselves.

He fought down his fury and walked to the next customer.

#

When Rajesh came to an end he picked up his bag and said goodbye to his fellow workers and left out the front door. When he was sure that no one was watching, he quickly went around to the side of the building and re-entered through a little side door.

He slipped up the stairs fast enough and made it to the owner’s suite at the top without meeting anyone. He tapped the door lightly and in a few seconds the door opened. Fara stared at him and then said:

“He’s going to be here the entire afternoon.”

“He downstairs now. You know he go be at least an hour there,” Rajesh said.

“Well…” She drew out the word and then smiled slyly. “It isn’t the first risk we’ve taken isn’t it, love?”

“I go take wust for you,” he said and she smiled and pulled him inside.

#

When they were breathing harshly in the darkening room, Rajesh rolled over and brushed her hair back from her head. She smiled and kissed his fingers.

“I wish we could be together,” he said. It wasn’t the first time he’d brought up the topic but as before Fara deflected.

“What’s wrong with us now?” she asked.

“Nothing!” he said. “But I love you more than he. I love you better than he.”

“Rajesh,” she said sighing. “You know we can’t.”

“Is it because I’se ah Indian and you is white?” he asked, lacing their fingers together. “I doh care what people say.”

“I don’t either,” she said with a flick of her hands. “What do I care what those ignorant creoles and coolies say?”

Rajesh felt a little pang in his chest at her words. Wasn’t he like those other people? He wasn’t educated beyond secondary school. Still he soldiered on, determined to get somewhere tonight.

“Then why?” he pleaded. “Why you doh leave him?”

“It’s complicated,” she said sitting up as well.

“How is it complicated?” he asked, almost shaking with rage. “You say you love me! You told me yuh didn’t love him anymore!”

“If I leave him and he finds out then he’ll fire you and your family needs the money.”

“I go get a new job!” he said.

“My husband is a very influential man,” she said. “He would spread the word for you not to be hired. You’d never get a job that pays this well. Besides your family would never let you marry me. And what would happen to me when my employers find out that I was with someone like you? They would fire me for being a bad influence on their children because then their daughters might think of marrying Indians and Negros.”

Rajesh fell silent but then rallied. “We go find a way.”

“Rajesh!” She was clearly annoyed. This was the first time that she’d sounded like that but combined with the constant deflections from the topic, a seed of doubt sprung up.

“You want to leave him right?”

“Of course,” she said, running a hand down his chest. But Rajesh had been her lover long enough to know that she always looked away when she lied.

“Yuh don’t want to leave him!” he accused.

She sputtered, “No.”

“Yuh still love him.”

“I don’t.” She looked away again.

Rajesh sat up and stared at her. “You do!” he said disbelievingly “Doh lie t’meh!”

“You have no idea what it’s like being married to that condescending prick!”

“But yuh no wuhk fuh dat condescendin’ prick, do ya?!”

“He’s always looking down at me.”

“Just like how you look down at me?”

Rajesh dished out all of the times Mr. Charles threatened to fire him, either implying it or flat out telling it to him.

“I still love you!”

“Yuh lying,” he snapped. “You is a lyuh like every othuh ooman!”

“Don’t compare me to your Indian whores!” she snapped back.

His head snapped over to her. “What?!” he said. “You think yuh better than we Indian?!”

“I taught enough little coolies to know how unruly you all are!” she snapped back.

He reeled from the sudden shock of hearing her say something like that after she’d insisted for so long it had never meant anything to her. He’d never really thought…but of course. What would a woman so far above his social class want with him?

“You really think I want to leave my husband for you?!” she continued viciously. “A poor, uneducated coolie like you will never be able to give me what I want!”

Rajesh slid of the bed and stood fists balled. “So, it was all a lie?”

Fara slid of the bed and stood on the other side. “We could have had a good time. But you just keep asking for me to leave the life I’d built for myself. I can’t do that for you.”

“Would you have done it wid a white man?” Rajesh said.

Fara froze for a second and then her jaw clenched and she lifted her chin. Her answer was clear.

“Look, Rajesh,” she said, in an attempt to calm down the situation. “We’re just not compatible for a long-term relationship. It would harm us both.”

“Yuh mean your reputation,” Rajesh scoffed. “Yuh still love Mr. Charles.”

There was a pause and then she nodded. “I do,” she said. “I don’t want to leave him.”

There was another pause while Rajesh reeled inside from the blow but he shored up himself and said, “Den we done. Good day Mrs. Charles.”

He tugged on his clothes and left.

#

His first impulse when he’d cooled down some was to apologize. Though, he couldn’t expect her to abandon her comforts, her job, and the life she’d worked so hard to gain. Of course she was his comfort; and what about the job and the life he worked so hard to gain?

His second impulse was to ask her to forgive him for being too pushy, too hasty.

His third impulse was that he was and had been an idiot. She’d played him. She hadn’t cared about him at all, she’d just pretended to, to keep him with her. She’d had no right to look down at him, the way her husband had. Though her husband only had control over his job, not his heart. She’d no right to make him believe that she’d loved him, that she’d wanted to leave with him when she hadn’t ever planned to.

He sat down on the edge of the road, legs hanging into a deep drain and put his head in his hands. He’d been stupid. He’d truly loved her and all along she’d never cared.

His fourth impulse was anger. He held onto it.

#

When he showed up for work the next day, it wasn’t long before Fara cornered him.

“Rajesh,” she said, running a hand down his face. “I just want to apologize. I think we both said things we didn’t mean yesterday.”

“Actually,” said Rajesh, pushing away her hand. “I think I meant everything I said, Mrs. Charles.”

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Ah mean we done,” he said. “I not going back with you and I not gwaan apologize fuh anything I say to you.”

Her face contorted with anger. “So that’s it?” she said. “Do you really think I risked ruin for you to just decide to walk out of this?”

“Yes,” Rajesh said flatly. “Because I not going an stay here fuh this. I deserve better than second place to yuh husband. I deserve better than yuh condescension. I’m a poor, uneducated boy? Well I going and change that. But not fuh you. I going and change that fuh me. And when I make it big I going an walk straight pass yuh.”

She laughed, a beautiful trilling laugh that had thrilled him in more ways than one.

“Do you really think that someone like you could ever make it?” she laughed.

“Yes,” he said flatly and watched her eyes register shock. “You know what? All that time I spent with you? That is wasted time. I nuh going and do that again. I gwaan and pass and write books and get rich and I gwaan an fuhgit about you.”

She flinched back, something in her face turning ugly. “Get out!” she snapped. “You’re fired!”

The words should have caused him alarm but it didn’t.

“Good,” he said. “I need time to study!”

With that he marched out to the lobby, took up his things and walked out of the hotel.

#

He kept walking all the way until he reached the wharf and then stopped and breathed in the cool, salty air.

He looked out across the glittering Caribbean Sea, across the expanse of water that his Indian ancestors had crossed to find a way to a better life.

Rajesh began to think about how he would be able to pay for his tuition now that he doesn’t have a job anymore.

Then, a familiar, mahogany hand clapped around Rajesh’s shoulder. He looked up to see Sammy wearing a warm but soft smile, one that he usually had whenever Rajesh wasn’t faring very well.

Should The Modern Audience Reimagine Shakespeare’s Most Notorious Character?

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

Although technically, within theatrical jargon, the play The Merchant of Venice is characterized as a comedy, which meant during Shakespeare’s time a play with a happy ending–and the full title of the play is “The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice, or Otherwise Called the Jew of Venice“–that “comedy” label would only apply to some characters. Since Antonio is technically the “Merchant of Venice,” he clearly has a happy ending, while “the Jew of Venice,” which would be Shylock, has a tragic story. Although he does not die in the end–but it is implied–he does not have a pleasant point-of-view, for it is one filled with anger, resentment, exclusion, and the ultimately forced assimilation.

To provide a summary, “The Merchant of Venice” was written by William Shakespeare during Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1594. It takes place in Venice. Antonio is a merchant who has sent his argosies to the New World, who is willing to pay for Bassianus’s debt to the usurer Shylock, who has a personal grudge against Antonio and is willing to lend him money in exchange for a pound of Antonio’s flesh lest he cannot pay Shylock back. Meanwhile, Portia is a wealthy heiress who has to choose a suitor based on which one chooses the right casket, according to her deceased father’s wishes; which Bassianus wishes to woo and choose the right casket. However, besides the basic comedy aspects, there is a tragic point-of-view that is taken by Shylock.

For some audience members who also belong to marginalized demographics, Shylock is the personification of their histories, and it would not be hard to see how, since Shylock’s occupation involves a trade no one in the majority is willing to do, he is the constant victim of prejudice by Antonio and his friends, he is biased against by the Venetian court, and he is forced to abandon his identity at the end of the play. In the IMDb page of the Maori translation of The Merchant of Venice, it explains how significant this film was since it was the first Maori-language film ever produced, and it depicts Shylock as a sympathetic minority character. Considering how the indigenous Maori were subjugated by the British when they colonized New Zealand, all of Shylock’s struggles can easily relate to theirs. It even begins with Shylock’s “Hath not a Jew eyes” monologue at the beginning as he cries.

Definitely, that monologue Shylock delivers to Antonio’s friends is the prime component of determining whether Shylock is a sympathetic character or a bloodthirsty villain. It is especially important since he takes the opportunity to vent his reasons to Saleria and Solanio since they ask him what he intends to do with Antonio’s pound of flesh. Shylock does not want the pound of flesh itself, rather the means of getting it, in other words, he wishes to inflict pain upon Antonio. He goes on to say that he is trying to survive just like the rest of the Venetians and the only reason why Antonio is undermining his business and abusing him is that he is Jewish. Shylock concludes by saying that he will resemble the Christians in their desire for vengeance.

Within that monologue, Shylock provides his rationalizations not just to Antonio’s friends (and the nearby prostitutes in the Al Pacino version) but to the audience as well. Palestinian actor Makram J. Khoury especially highlights this as Shylock when turning from a laughing Salerio to the people around him and then back at Salerio. In this way, the audience along with the characters are given the opportunity to understand Shylock’s struggles in Venetian society.

Indeed, Shylock also points out the hypocrisy among the Christians in the trial scene when he tells them all that they are allowed to own slaves and not even treat them fairly. Outside of Shylock’s awareness, hypocrisy abounds the city-state of Venice as well as the rural Belmont. Portia preaches the “Quality of Mercy” when trying to convince Shylock not to take Antonio’s flesh, and yet she does not have mercy to suitors who choose the wrong caskets and condemns them to live the rest of their lives in celibacy. When audience members look at how the Venetians treat each other and Shylock, it is no wonder that they would be more inclined to side with Shylock than Portia, Bassiano, Antonio, or any of the other characters.

As Agnes Heller from the philosophy and social theory journal “Critical Horizons” and Brian Weinstein from the “Jewish Bible Quarterly” pointed out, Shylock is even more interesting than those other characters. He experiences a wide variety of emotions, from sadness to happiness to anger. Though even Shylock has a negative side since almost none of the characters in The Merchant of Venice appear to be absolvable. Not only is Shylock intent on possibly killing Antonio, and even hopes the argosies Antonio has sent to maintain his wealth are destroyed, he constantly abuses his clown-servant Lancelot. He gives him contradictory commands, which causes him to leave as soon as he is reunited with his long-lost father. So, there does not seem to be a way to rewrite Shylock’s relationship with Lancelot or the troubles he himself externalizes within his own household that causes his daughter Jessica to flee with Lorenzo with his ducats.

Without a doubt, The Merchant of Venice represents a lot of people the very definition of anti-Semitism. So much so, that the very name “Shylock” has wormed its way into the English language to mean “loan shark.” However, upon actually reading the play, Shylock actually cares less about money and more about his revenge against Antonio for his constant harassment. He even ignores the bond given to him–and more–and continues his attempt to take Antonio’s pound of flesh. In this case, his desire for revenge outweighs his desire for wealth. In another instance, Shylock relates to his fellow Jew, Tubal, how he kept a turquoise given to him by a woman named Leah, who was presumably his wife. Upon hearing that his daughter, Jessica, sold it to buy a monkey, he angrily states that he would not sell it for a wilderness of monkeys, thus showing the value he places on Leah which is more than the turquoise itself.

However, there is more to the conversation than the anti-Semitism that is typical within The Merchant of Venice. Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart points out the complexities of portraying Shylock, who was either depicted as a comical villain or as a sympathetic minority character. Not only does Shylock’s dialogue give off hints that he has genuine grievances about Antonio kicking at, spitting at, and insulting him, but the original play does not dictate HOW the character should be portrayed or even how he is even dressed. A myriad of performances can paint Shylock in completely different ways, whether–as Stewart mentioned a reviewer who described them–as the “wolfish, murderous, bloodthirsty dog Jew (as Antonio, Salerio, and Graziano call Shylock)” or as the “noble, suffering, dignified member of a persecuted race.” Today’s society would definitely be more inclined with the latter portrayal of Shylock, especially in the post-World War II world when fairly recently in world history the entire Jewish nation was threatened with extermination during the Holocaust.

There have also been political implications in the productions of The Merchant of Venice. The blatant anti-Semitism that is largely associated with the play is most definitely found outside of the play since it was staged as part of Nazi propaganda. However, The Merchant of Venice was also played in Tel Aviv in the Habima Theater in a Hebrew translation in 1936, along with another production staged during the Arab-Israeli War (1967) depicting Shylock as the personification of Jewish oppression. Although fierce controversies emerge in Israel and Palestine as a result of these productions, what does remain is the fact that The Merchant of Venice continues to be staged.

Should there be an ethical, responsible way to re-interpret The Merchant of Venice as a play? I think it is important to understand that in the historical context when Shakespeare wrote this play, it was written during a time when Jews only recently were allowed to enter England under Queen Elizabeth. As for the background behind the original staging of The Merchant of Venice, it was shown to an English audience taking place in Venice, which Shakespeare himself has never been to. So, to understand how to re-interpret The Merchant of Venice is to understand that Shakespeare is not the demigod of the literary arts that he is mythologized into being, since although he developed really intricate, colorful characters, he had a narrow ethos when it came to the background. Brian Weinstein makes it a point that Shakespeare was completely unfamiliar with the teachings in the Talmud, which led to Shylock directly contradicting its basic teachings.

Of course, modern perspectives on Shylock also come into question. Although Weinstein points out the fact that Shylock strays from Judaism, the issue with his character is that he only seems to reference his Jewish teachings in order to legitimize his usury. Shylock does not act upon getting Antonio’s pound of flesh by Talmudic teachings, but by how he perceives is the Christians’ notion of revenge. He even concludes his famous monologue:

“The villainy you teach me, I will execute. It shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.”

No matter how much attention is given to the original interpretation of Shakespeare’s play, the result might be an imperfect rendition. Stewart attempted to replicate the original Shylock as the comical villain, but the reality is that the very posh that he used is itself a modern method of communication. The English language is spoken today, specifically Modern British English, is completely different from the Early Modern English spoken in Shakespeare’s time. A notable feature of both Stewart’s and David Suchet’s (who is Jewish himself) performances is the lack of rhoticity, meaning that they pronounced the words without the “r,” so “hurt” becomes [huht] and sir becomes [suh].

Stewart also seemed to have a simplified view of Shylock’s status, almost coming off as tone-deaf. Not to be too hard on Patrick Stewart because he’s–well–Patrick Stewart, but he argued too confidently that “Shylock is an outsider who just so happens to be a Jew,” which completely ignores the broader context that led to Shylock’s “Hath not a Jew eyes” monologue. Although Suchet argued that he is an outsider “BECAUSE he is a Jew,” I can see where Stewart may have come to that conclusion. When Shylock searches for his ducats and his daughter, he manages to get Venetians to help him, which indicates that if Shylock really was excluded, no one in that society would care about what happened to his daughter or any of his possessions. In other instances, Shylock has access to go wherever he wants, since he has permission from the jailer to meet Antonio before the trial scene. He is also allowed to practice usury, practice Judaism (for most of the play), and go to the Venetian court. However, Shylock would not have been called “dog,” practiced usury, or be abused by Antonio if he was not Jewish to begin with.

If The Merchant of Venice is given new adaptations, then the re-imaginings would be less political and more contextual. Since Shakespeare is not as monolithic as we think of him as, we as the modern audience have enough creative liberty to interpret The Merchant of Venice differently from Shakespeare’s own interpretation. Since no preservation nor subversion seems to be suitable in producing the play, it would be best to let the character of Shylock become autonomous and let him speak from his own mouth and no one else’s. Plenty of Shakespeare’s plays were already re-interpreted, including “The Merchant of Venice,” either taking place in a different time period or having their themes entirely altered. Although John Barton of “RSC: Playing Shakespeare” TV series stated that Shakespeare’s characters were a mixture of black and white and that adapters tend to either solely focus on the black parts or the white parts, these characters need not reflect the issues at the time period in when they were created.

 

Images Attributions: TBradac. “SOC Merchant of Venice – Shylock.” Wikimedia. August 5, 2009. Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International. Changes include adapting image of Shylock (played by Michael Nehring) into a personally designed background.

PowerPoint As An Art-Form

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

Although this part of coursework does not appear to be worth looking into, the effects that your PowerPoint presentation can have on the rest of the class can impact how they respond to you. When you turn you slides into works of art, you tell them that you take what you are presenting on very seriously. My PowerPoint presentation that I have used as an example is not the best one, but it does help to show how I create my presentations.

At this point, as a graduate student, I find it a pet peeve when someone introduces their presentation as “This is about…” and then they click the next slide. I think that even the beginning slide should have some personality as much as any other slide, especially if it introduces the presentation.

For some courses, putting all of your citations at the end of the presentation is formally written as one of the requirements. However, I take a different approach by including one of each citation in a slide in where it is most relevant. I do this because I want to actually show the source and not for a split second.


Robert Scott III

Since a lot of academic papers employ this technique when writing in a title and sub-title, I have always tried imitating that, by taking a line or phrase from within the text and making it into the title in order to show just how relevant that line or phrase would be to the presentation and paper (and show evidence that I actually read the text).


Robert Scott III

Though you would want a background that is colorfully and tonally consistent. So you would need to either have or create a photo that is dark but also has dark colors, so that if you use light font, the text is entirely recognizable. You do not want font that is hard to see, so in any case, if you either use light font for a dark picture or dark font for a light image, you would need to use the Shadow option to make the font readable.

Trying to create that abstract background image really is not difficult if you have an iPhone. I have recently become addicted to the creative apps like Mirror Lab, which I used to create the image in my presentation about an assignment used in Digital Pedagogy. In order for the presentation to be about the internet, I decided to use a photo that best fit the description of sounds. The background image should be as thematic as possible.


Robert Scott III

As for what types of text should appear in the slides, I would prefer very simple phrases. I would prefer not pasting all of your notes on you slides, especially if you professor does not want that to be the case. By doing this, you are basically telling your audience that you are going to let the PowerPoint Presentation orate the speech for you.

In the slide above, I merely used a picture of the U.S./Mexico border wall while positioning it next to the complex analyses into its construction. Instead of writing all of what students in the New Media Pedagogy would do in this assignment–which would be to look into the complications that can occur if the border wall was actually built–rather I simply wrote in the simple sentences of what they are.

As for videos, for some reason, I cannot be able to actually use the video option when I link to a YouTube video. So instead, whenever I try to use a video that I would only use for a few seconds, I just highlight any words that most relate to the video and hyperlink the URL of the video there.

As for how I have started presenting my work, I have tried to push the boundaries a little and see how much I can evoke. When I was making my presentation about New Media Pedagogy, one of my fellow students remarked how the image represented people having conversations, which was definitely close to what the theme of the image was. However, I simply stated “It is not hard to make a photo like this.” But the art-making of a PowerPoint presentation does not just have to include the photo, rather the more integrated organizations within each slide that breaks the presentation stereotypes.

 

Image Attribution: Flickr

Desk Arrangement As An Art-Form

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

In one of my classes, we have to rearrange the desks into a semi-circle, which is characteristic of many other classes with a small size. Often, the students do it in a rushed, makeshift way, making a decent-enough semi-circle. For this one day, I decided to do it myself. I managed to get in the classroom and started rearranging the standard rows-and-columns on the far end of the room into the arrangement similar to the one in the headline photo.

As soon as the first students walked in, they were amazed and called the semi-circle “symmetrical” and “beautiful.” Even the professor noted how good the semi-circle looked.

I had always known that my art skills would influence my life outside of drawing, but what shocked me was that other students noticed as well. One of my peers asked if I draw, and I simply answered that I used to draw a lot. What is interesting about that question was that the need to look at one part of an entire design was exactly what I had to do as part of the Digital Animation & 3D Design major that I was pursuing when I was first entering my college education.

Perhaps another way this type of “beautiful” arrangement can be attributed to art is the need to create order out of asymmetry. Although the desks themselves are not actual art, what makes these objects artful is the use of space. What really matters when it comes to the rest of the classroom and the desks is the relationship between them. Since the desks are materials specifically put into this space, it would make sense that the desks’ positions would influence the classroom. In my case, I decided to make the room itself feel more organized while also saving the time needed by the rest of the class to arrange the desks in their positions. Since the object-positions are a semi-circle formation at the far end of the classroom near the windows, it would have been best to push back as many desks as needed in order to form this fully realized semi-circle.

Since that day, I continued to arrive as early as possible in order to rearrange the desks into this semicircle.

What I want readers to take away is that if they used to be art majors (or any other major related to that field), they should not take their techniques for granted, since the time spent in that major is not wasted.

6 Depressing Songs From Your ’70’s-’90’s Radio Station

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

For this list, I have focused on music from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. I don’t just judge how mood-killing a song is by looking at the lyrics, but by the sound of the music as well. As someone who grew up listening to the oldies radio stations in my parents’ truck, I can definitely recall some songs that at least made me frown and at most forced me to hold back tears.

6. Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” (1989)

This is the song that screams the 80’s era (or more appropriately, bawls and cries the 80’s era). The lyrics describe the narrator’s fear of his relationship ending becoming true with the lyric:

“I don’t want to know the price I’m gonna pay for dreaming.”

The vocals and the keyboard can be obnoxiously over-the-top, which does ruin the depressing nature of the song ad absurdum.

5. Creed’s “My Own Prison” (1999)

This post-grunge rock band is known for the religious language in their songs (including this one), however this song can be interpreted through both a religious and a secular perspective. But there is also a lot of legal language as well, with words like “court,” “appeal,” “sentence,” “prison,” etc. This signifies being trapped by a force beyond the narrator’s control. Religiously, it is about the narrator answering for his sins; secularly it is about the narrator feeling insignificant in a corrupt world with the lyric:

“We’re all held captive out from the sun, a sun that shines on only some. We are meek and are only one.”

The slow, hard-rock guitar riffs invite the listener as though he is making his way into a seedy bar. It fits the unwelcoming theme of this song.

4. U2’s “New Years Day” (1983)

The song mainly deals with separation. Originally Bono wrote this about his wife, but then shifted the focus of the song to the Polish Solidarity Movement when Poland was part of the USSR. Either way, the mournful piano accompanies Bono’s lyrics of distress at the rest of the world, which is encapsulated with the lyric:

“So we’re told this is the golden age. And gold is the reason for the wars we waged.”

The guitar wails in the middle of the song.

3. Genesis “Man on the Corner” (1981)

What definitely makes the song saddening is not just the homeless man, but the people who wonder about him. We spend so much time wondering why that man is in the corner, more so than realizing that we can do without asking so many questions with the lyric:

“But like a monkey on your back you need it, but do you love it enough to leave it?”

2. Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” (1974)

The narrator bemoans the loss of a relationship; especially since he is aware that he was responsible for it with the lyrics:

“You came and you gave without taking, but I sent you away.”

The entire song, accompanied by the mellow piano, is a plea for this Mandy to return knowing that it is meaningless.

1. Clarence Carter’s “Patches” (1970)

The concept of the song is about a boy who has to take care of his family’s farm after his father passed away. Lyrically, this song reminds the listener that he/she is mortal and susceptible to life’s unexpected troubles with the line:

“At the age of 13, I thought I was carrying the weight of the whole world on my shoulders.”

What also makes this song depressing is that even as the narrator’s life gets better, he continues to remember his father’s last, haunting words, which work as the main stanza of the song. The back-up vocals and the violins heighten the emotional intensity in this song.

 

Image Attribution: Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

10 Questions I Would Ask George R. R. Martin

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

If I was at a conference and I was given the mike during the Q&A session, I would personally ask George R. R. Martin one of these questions based on curiosities and unanswered questions.

About An Expanded Universe Of Ice And Fire

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Scott III, Robert. “My Collection Of Ice And Fire.” Flickr. Taken on July 26, 2018.

Considering how you did diligent work with “The Lands of Ice and Fire” and “The World of Ice and Fire” and how you collaborate with Daniel Abraham, Gardner Dozois, and other authors, would you trust them to write “Ice and Fire” canon stories that take place outside of Westeros, like writing about the Braavosi adventurer who recorded the Dothraki war against the Ibbish?

About “Avalon”

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burne-Jones_Last_Sleep_of_Arthur_in_Avalon_v2.jpg

You wanted to write a science fiction novel titled “Avalon” which eventually became “A Game of Thrones.” I found it interesting that in your early science fiction work, one of the planets was named “Avalon.” In fact, there are a lot of similarities between “The Song of Ice and Fire” and your earlier work. So my question would be: Where did you originally have “A Game of Thrones” fit in this canon, like as a sequel to “Dying of the Light” or as its own stand-alone novel?

About Literary Influences

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Scott III, Robert. “Grandiloquent View Of The Hall.” Flickr. Uploaded on October 27, 2018.

Which three of your literary influences would you like to have dinner with?

About Pronunciations

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Scott III, Robert. “Deoxyribonucleic Acidic Strands Of Ancient Runes.” Flickr. Uploaded on October 25, 2018.

When I first read “A Game of Thrones,” I admit that I had a hard time pronouncing the names like I would pronounce Tyrion as [tih-ree-AWN]; Daenerys as [DAY-neh-ris]; Yronwood as [ee-RAWN-wood]. Alongside the “The World Of Ice And Fire,” have you thought of working alongside linguist David J. Peterson in releasing a pronunciation guide?

About Another Writer Also Dubbed A “Tolkien”

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Phillips, Freddie. “BUST OF JRR TOLKIEN.” Flickr. Taken on March 6, 2012.

I am sure you heard of M. A. R. Barker. He was the writer of the “Tekumel” science fiction series and he was also compared to Tolkien, for the same reasons you were in terms of in-depth world-building. What would you say is considered Tolkienian?

About Fantasy

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Scott III, Robert. “Dreamsongs Of Ice And Fire.” Flickr. Taken on March 27, 2018.

I noticed a lot of similarities between the “Song of Ice and Fire” and your early fantasy short stories, such as “The Ice Dragon” and “In The Lost Lands.” Have you always wanted to write a fantasy epic before writing “A Game Of Thrones?”

About Tortured Artists

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Pixabay

There is a problem with creative people who are hurting. This leads to the archetype of the Tortured Artist. Considering how your suffering inspired “This Second Kind Of Loneliness” and “A Song For Lya,” what advice would you have for writers who feel cheap and disposable?

About Jack Vance

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jack_Vance_Boat_Skipper.jpg

I found it interesting how the people of the Thousand Islands and the Jogos Nhai plains have this Vancean variety of strangeness compared to Westeros and the rest of Essos. You mentioned how you were paying homages to H. P. Lovecraft but were you also paying homages to Jack Vance as well?

About Literary Fiction

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Scott III, Robert. “Books On Shelf.” Flickr. Uploaded on August 4, 2018.

Your short story “Remembering Melody” comes very close to what can be defined as literary fiction, since it seems to deal more with the fractured relationship between the narrator and Melody than Melody’s own supposed existence. Have you wanted to write literary fiction?

About The Struggle To Be A Writer

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Scott III, Robert. “Shakespearean Tower (Cutout Version).” Flickr. Uploaded on August 9, 2018.

You also helped to create the Worldbuilders scholarship, in order to help aspiring fantasy writers. Are there ways in which to pay for one’s education in such programs like Clarion West Writer’s Workshop?

 

Why I Write

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

 

There are two people in my community who wrote about why they write. After writing for “Millennials of New Jersey” for a month, I would like to share my own reasons. Here is what motivates me, as well as how I want to apply my aspirations to my writing.

Concurrently with writing, I also enjoy the thrill of taking unorganized matter and reshaping them into my own arrangement. Along with writing, I reshape jumbled paragraphs, (often separating sentences and putting them in paragraphs with a similar subject,) and materialize them into a cohesive essay or short story. There is also thrill in making transitioning sentences at the beginning and ending of a paragraph, which comes with organization.

I also keep in mind word choice, especially since it was instilled in me by my English Composition instructor at Brookdale to avoid colloquial phrases and generalities. Although such techniques can be familiarized with anyone reading, it would not be acceptable of me to write such words in both academic and creative situations. This has allowed me to expand my vocabulary and see which ones applied to any specific context. I have found that such restrictions can be liberating, as paradoxical as it seems. In the case of the words, “Why I Chose To Write,” I apply that phrase to writing in general as opposed to writing just for “Odyssey.” While the other writer has brought up her reasons rooted in childhood, I try to talk about all times of my life.

Trying to figure out what to write, in terms of a narrowed research topic, involves reading articles on what I hope to write about. As I read the parts that interest me, suddenly the topic and its supporting points I want to write about become more apparent. As a former History major, I developed this method of expanding those parts into an essay. If I’m looking for a specific word in a book, I look for it in the index and see how many pages it appears in.

Like coming up with a topic for research essays, I find inspiration whenever I read literature, watch a film, listen to music, or recall personal experience. The adventures and dramas are usually played out in my imagination without a cohesive story. It is only when I bring the fingertip to the keyboard or the pen to paper that I scribe the story and the characters. When I was little, it was video games that inspired my fiction. I can remember writing stories of Harry Potter-inspired characters within a setting modeled after Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64. It was not the plots of those two games that I paid attention to, but the mechanism of jumping through paintings, into a treasure chest, through a pipe, and inside a sunken ship into entire worlds which fascinated me.

While I do have the superfluous reasons for writing, I also have my more material reasons as well. I want to receive renown and prosperity. I was introduced to “The Odyssey Online” through a fellow student at Monmouth University, who used to be a Content Creator; as well as another student, who has written her articles about commemorating Carrie Fisher and managing anxiety. This reason also led me to eventually join “Millennials of New Jersey” as a Content Creator.

Although I was taught that Wikipedia is an unreliable source and should not be used as formal citation, I found that it can be a gateway to more reliable forms of information, primarily in the External Links sections. I am also grateful to have the privilege of attending Monmouth University where not only do I have access to the databases, but also the physically bound library books in the well-known Murray & Leona Guggenheim Library.

I also intend to write blogs; with one for general aesthetics (film, literature, music) and the other for science (linguistics). I do not want to hawk them on this article, but I hope that they can be a foot in the door for some opportunity. I can remember attending an English major conference when I was at Brookdale Community College and one of the panels had to do with journalism and how starting a blog is one way of getting into that field.

When I am writing a research article, such as the ones on the Gullah and Powhatan languages, I lose myself in the research and end up having a 2900-worded nerdgasm. This only happens when I am passionate about the subject I am writing about. One of my passions is endangered languages. One reason is because of the fascinating phenomenon of people shaping their identities around a world of information in the face of imperialism and capitalism, whether it would be indigenous or creole; even going so far as to name in their own language either their children or themselves. Another reason comes from personal empathy. As someone who struggled with social problems growing up and continues to struggle, I can understand people trying to reclaim their means of communication when I have spent my whole life reclaiming my own.

My writing also helped me live through hurtful moments in my life. Even today, I continue to struggle with the amorphous afflictions of melancholy, worthlessness, misery, and paranoia that have made my foresight into the future bleaker. My writing styles, settings, characters, and word choice enabled me to see such beauty in such ugliness. In that way, I make these problems work for me, not against me. Whenever I am tasked with a terrible experience, I always examine it and come to an almost-sociopathic conclusion “How can this benefit my writing?”

My problems becoming my benefits is another paradox. I can only describe such an idea in Aldous Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves. After remembering her deceased cousin in the middle of a dinner, Miss Thriplow was described as:

“…proud to be able to suffer so much; she encouraged her suffering…Mingled with her grief there was a certain sense of satisfaction. After all, this had happened quite by itself, of its own accord, and spontaneously. She had always told people that she was sensitive, had a deep and quivering heart. This was a proof. Nobody knew how much she suffered, underneath. How could people guess what lay behind her gaiety?…Her laughter, her little railleries were the mask that hid from the outside world what was in her soul; they were her armour against a probing and wounding curiosity.”

She then wants to write a short story with the experience as inspiration. It’s also on the part of a great author to instill the reader with empathy. Becoming a writer has been a dream since childhood. I want to be an old famous author rummaging through packages in the mail and finding all of my written work bound into volumes upon volumes.

By writing, I am following the footsteps of the authors who inspired me: Joseph Conrad, Frank Herbert, Aldous Huxley, George R. R. Martin, and Ayn Rand; as well as the authors who inspired them, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, H. G. Wells, etc.; as well as the authors who inspired those inspirations; and on and on. Not only am I inspired by these authors’ characters, settings, and themes, but also their writing style, whether it would be Fitzgerald’s one-liner dialogue or Martin’s wittiness.

My protagonists are my Charons. For a price, we travel with them down the River Styx and into the bleak, dreary underworld. To paraphrase George R. R. Martin, he said in interviews that:

All of us have it in us to be angels; and all of us have it in us to be monsters.”

He made it a point to me that human morality is very complex. That quote and reading the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series was what inspired me to write my point-of-view characters with Martinian greyness.

I am also following his advice on becoming a writer. I have yet to get a short story published in a literary magazine. Even though the short story that I wrote, edited, did research for, and revised for a month is yet to be accepted by any one magazine, I still pursue it. Either I would find a niche market for hard fantasy or I change my story to make it more speculative. That is also what makes short story writing fascinating; for it allows me to adapt to whatever market I end up in and forces me to either go beyond my imagination or compensate for lack of it. If I want to submit to a magazine that is based on the Weird Western genre, then I’ll push the limits of how I originally conceived the Wild West and immerse myself in the research in order to provide believability.

When I was a boy, I always imagined Heaven as having my own little cloud-estate where I would write quadrillions of pages. If my profession involves writing, I am already in Heaven. But even if the prospect is not present, I still have that urge to continue writing.