Borges, Hernandez, Arlt

From the beginning of “The Daisy Dolls” I felt it was pretty clear how crazy the story was going to be. The way things were laid out, though, I was expecting it to be one of those short stories where everything makes enough sense, initially, then at the end it’s revealed how completely insane the situation is. Besides that, I found the entire story quite confusing. It’s unclear where exactly the machines are, what they’re for, if they’re for making the dolls… And the whole thing with his shop. It’s mentioned briefly in the beginning how he has salesgirls in his “shop”, but then it’s never brought up again, like he doesn’t go back. And it almost seems like Frank could be working for him at the shop, but that is also unclear. The ending was not unexpected though. It seemed obvious that his affection for the dolls would wear off, because really, they don’t do anything. It must be exhausting taking care of them. You have to lug them around like a sack of potatoes, pretending that they’re real, dress them, and refill their hot water all the time. Seems like a lot of effort to me. Anyways, I liked the story well enough, just the details bothered me with their complete lack of clarity.

With “The Cooked Cat”, I thought the characters were really special. I couldn’t point out one of them that seemed completely normal. The husband is angry his wife went to the “dentist”. Not that anyone is believing that, but they all seem so strange. There’s the guy who’s consciously trying to make the other feel bad, by counting out his money on the counter right in front of him. The ending really fits with the character of the story. Completely strange, but not unexpected.

Borges has quite an imagination as well in his short stories. The Lottery of Babel was my favourite. It’s such a great conspiracy. The ending is really great, because it’s the kind that makes you question the rest of the story and what you assumed was true. I thought it was great how ludicrous it became. It was ingenious putting the negative side into the lottery and the myriad of punishments and how you could even choose your punishment for someone else sometimes. The fact that pretty much everybody played was confusing, but also added to the story. Just crazy good.

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The Metamorphosis, The Yellow Wallpaper

I’ve never really liked “The Metamorphosis”, probably because he becomes a disgusting cockroach-beetle thing, but also because I could never figure out how I felt about Gregor. On the one hand, he’s an idiot and his family takes advantage of that, living off of him, siphoning off money, locking him in his room, throwing apples at him, and he still thinks the best of them. On the other, he’s really just trying to be a good breadwinner for his family, and maybe a bit slow to not realize they’re actually quite hostile towards him, especially near the end. It may also be that none of the characters are likeable, they’re all very horrid. Grete puts on a brave face at first and tends to Gregor, which is nice, but she slowly develops resentment towards him. It seems that this occurs when she gives up hope he will return to being human. The mother is annoyingly fragile. The first thing she does when she sees bug-Gregor for the first time is silly, she faints. The whole women-fainting-because-they’re-delicate-and-fragile thing has just gotten irritating. Then, there’s the dad, who’s just selfish. He throws apples at his own son and lets them rot in his back. He’s also really disgruntled when he finally has to get off of his chair and out of his pajamas to go out and work. All in all, it’s a very depressing story, and I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

I liked “The Yellow Wallpaper” a great deal more. It has just the right mixture of sanity in the beginning and insanity for the end. It was written very well with the details. The yellow wallpaper is mentioned very subtly to start, and then the obsession develops, but the progression was really great. I’m not concerned with if she’s crazy or not when she’s creeping at the conclusion, but I am disappointed she remained stuck to the wallpaper, not even leaving the house. I was hoping that as her anger towards John grew, so would her craving to escape. It feels like a hollow victory. Yes, she’s finally defied John, but she still remains in his grasp. When he wakes from his faint, he will regain control of her, though probably not her mind, and she will be admitted to a psych ward. Really cool story, though.

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This wasn’t my first time reading Frankenstein, and I still love it. I found that the exact era where this was written had the perfect language. It’s not of the modern world with our lack of elegance in diction, but it’s not so far back that I need a dictionary to understand it, like with Shakespeare, where it’s completely ludicrous and pompous. I’ve always liked the different ways Shelley conveys the story, like with the letters to his sister, and the complex dialogue within narrative within letters. I’ve also always thought that Frankenstein should have made the monster a mate. Considering Frankenstein was supposed to be some sort of expert within his respective fields, I figured that he could have made a mate without reproductive abilities. He simply doesn’t think out the logistics too carefully, so that he even destroys the second monster partway through construction. It just seems that Frankenstein is altogether too rash and irresponsible. He never thinks things through or asks the right questions. He blames his father for telling him something was rubbish, instead of explaining that the scientist’s theories had been disproved. However, little Victor could have asked why. He always lays the blame on someone else. It’s his father’s fault he wasted his time on the scientist, it’s the monster’s fault that his brother is dead, that he’s miserable etc. He fails to consider that it’s really his fault for creating the monster and consequently running away. Victor is also so convinced of his righteousness he conveys it to Robert Walton on the ship. Then, later, when the monster arrives, Walton is completely convinced the words that speaks the monster are all lies, no matter how eloquent. It seems that Victor Frankenstein has surrounded himself with great people and taken advantage of their trust in him. His innocent little brother is killed, Justine is hanged, Elizabeth, after she marries him while he knows the monster’s threat to her, is also killed, poor Clerval, a great, loyal friend, is murdered as well. Finally, though Walton lives, Victor fills his head with his own truth, which remains warped and biased. Though Victor is a horrible man, it remains a great novel in my eyes.

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This was the first novel I was actually completely stoked to read. Before I started reading Watchmen, I was expecting a relatively fast read, like a darker Archie comic. I soon realized how wrong I was. When I first began reading, from all the books and texts from arts one, I went into an automatic reading mode, and for the first few pages I almost completely forgot about all the pictures, and the significance they could potentially hold. Once I started looking at both the text and the pictures, it got better and better. This was definitely, by far, the best selection from arts one. Considering I had seen the movie already, I knew very little of what was happening, or where things were going. Apparently the only thing I really remember very well is the Rorschach blots on the mask and how they moved. That’s the one thing I can say the movie improved upon. The rest, well, I don’t really remember. So, as I read I didn’t realize Ozymandias was going to blow up New York City, that was a surprise bonus. However, it seemed a bit lengthy getting to the whole plot to save the world, there was a huge amount of build-up, especially where not too much happened. I did love this graphic novel, but that was one bit I found a bit tedious. The rest was amazing. The drawings were pretty cool, and I love that Adrian Veidt blows everyone up. Though some people think that what he did was wrong, I definitely think he was the hero. Rorschach has his morals which he sticks to, and that works for him, but he really never accomplishes much past the petty criminals. Ozymandias saves the world from nuclear war. I just think that the hero is the guy that gets it done. Not necessarily the best guy, and he now has enemies in Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl and those guys, but he did save humanity from itself, which is pretty impressive. In any case, I thought this graphic novel is worth the hype. The illustrations are great, the storyline is cool, and I’m glad I finally read it and know what’s going on.

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The Prince

Well, The Prince was definitely something different. I found the topic of the book a little hard to relate to as, like probably most in our class, the whole war and aristocracy are foreign concepts. Also, the way it was written was so dry and “factual”. I put the quotes just because many of the things Machiavelli writes is probably right to him, no question, but I have no idea. The translator of my book, though different to the standard Arts One edition, wrote in a short preface that the reader is “struck by the elegance and novelty of Machiavelli’s language,” and that there is a “Latinate sophistication of the Renaissance sentence with its balanced clauses, but there is also a new, fresh Italian language.” I’m not sure if the translator read what he translated, but I certainly didn’t get any of that from the text. I also checked that the translation in my text is similar to that of the recommended translator. Pretty much the same word choice and everything. So, I was just completely confused as to where this “beautiful prose” was, when I thought I was reading some straightforward, bland book. To be fair, in the couple of pages where Machiavelli is presenting his work to Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was passably eloquent.

Back to the ideas of the text itself, I found it hard to follow along in some of his longer chapters. He kept going on about how to acquire principalities, and it’s great that he thinks he’s found the best way to do so in any circumstance, but I really have no idea if what he’s saying is really valuable. I suppose the easiest way to relate to this text would have to be finding something in our modern world to compare principalities to. So I then thought of today’s corporations. The more I thought about The Prince is relation to corporations, the more it made sense. The corporate takeovers are just like Machiavelli’s princes fighting it out. Although, instead of armies, you replace them with money. The pencil-pushers or factory workers act as the populace, and the CEOs and such the nobles. Anyway, after that tangent, I really found The Prince to be a more relevant text.

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Oedipus the King

As with most Greek plays, I enjoyed reading Oedipus the King. Creon had some very strong traits, like a calm and rational demeanor, which greatly contrasted with Oedipus’ raging, rash behaviour. I most preferred Creon to the others, because of his very rational character. Though Oedipus is accusing him of the murder of his previous king, he calmly refutes everything, and doesn’t answer to Oedipus’ anger. There was a line in the play, between Creon and Oedipus, that I couldn’t help but see the modern version. After Creon asks Oedipus if he is married to his sister, he replies, “A genuine discovery—there’s no denying that.” I immediately thought of the expression “No shit, Sherlock.” Oedipus’ sarcasm was something unexpected, since I don’t think there is much sarcasm in the ancient Greek plays.

When Jocasta is speaking of Polybus’ death, she shocked me a bit as well, “But your father’s death, that, at least, is a great blessing, joy to the eyes!” Normally, people wouldn’t say such things about the dead, let alone in front of other people, like the poor messenger. The messenger would have had no clue why the couple was celebrating Polybus’ death, and it seemed quite inappropriate. Along with that scene, I also found it wrong that Oedipus was questioning the old shepherd so rudely. Torturing the old man was certainly not necessary to get the answers Oedipus craved. But then again, maybe Oedipus was a bit bipolar. He had the craziest mood swings ever, especially when he took Jocasta’s brooches and shoved the pins in his eyes to blind himself. Lastly, though, I thought it strange the way the chorus was still accepting of Oedipus, even after they found out all the terrible things about him: Oedipus killing their former king, Oedipus marrying the king’s wife, who turns out to be his mother, and him behaving very irrationally the entire day.

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Reading a part of the Bible for the first time was very interesting. I’ve never been at all religious, but reading Genesis definitely gave me some great insight, along with helpful context. There always seem to be references to parts of the Bible, so this reading was very useful. I found the text itself fairly strange to read. Genesis obviously does not follow modern conventions, as it is thousands of years old, but some aspects of the text clearly cater to the more devoted readers. For example, if I were to evaluate this text as a modern piece of fiction, I would consider character introduction to be terrible. The entire paragraphs filled with family heritage and people’s names are pretty much blank zones in my mind. I could never remember every character mentioned in any single one of those paragraphs in only one pass. So as I read about the battle of Sodom and Gomorrah, I had not one clue what was happening, as there were many city names thrown in, just as many characters, and very little explanation. Of course, there are many other aspects I didn’t really understand, such as why the amount of years that every person lived was always included, even in the more minor characters. Another thing is why God put the tree of knowledge (can’t remember exactly what they called it) in the garden, since he is omniscient. He would know that Eve and Adam are to eat from the tree, disregarding his warning, so why not leave the tree out or forgive Eve? It doesn’t make sense to me to put a tree that one knows will be eaten from in the garden and then punish those that eat from it. The last thing I found strange was that when men took their wives to cities they always lied and said they were siblings. When the men from the cities found out that the women were actually the wives of the men, they backed off and were ashamed and offered the men animals and other treasures. It’s unclear what the husbands based their need to lie off of. In any case, it was an informative text giving me some interesting perspective.

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I enjoyed reading Medea, because it was so dramatic but with a fairly simple plot line.  While Medea is completely out of her mind with anguish, she’s still trying – and succeeding – to trick other people into conforming to her plans, which I found impressive. Although, when Aegeus presents the “clever” Medea with his riddle she turns out to be no use, and the riddle remains unsolved. I wish that the riddle’s solution, or relevance to the story, had been further mentioned. Also, Medea struck a really good bargain with the king of Athens. While she says she’ll help him out with fathering a child, and is fairly vague on how she really plans to help him, he agrees to shelter her in her exile. On top of that, Medea has him swear an oath not to exile her no matter what, which then makes him start to look a bit like a fool. The other characters in the play were quite unlikeable. Firstly, there’s Medea, who is completely set on killing her sons, the king in the city that she lives, and his daughter. All of that just to make her former husband miserable. Then there’s Jason, who leaves his wife and children for another woman, however it’s to help support his first family, allegedly. I found it unclear whether those were his motives, or just a rich new wife was his objective. Jason also hates women, and would get rid of them if he could, since all they want is sex, and that’s the only time that they’re happy. To top it all off, he is really stupid. One minute Medea is frothing at the mouth, the next she calls him back, shrugs it off and says she is now on his side, she understands, and he believes her completely. Though mostly in the background, the nurse was unconvincing in her concern for the children. She is at first very careful to keep the boys away from Medea while she is angry. Later on, when Medea is carrying out her plan, the nurse doesn’t interfere at all, even though she knows the details of the revenge, and disappears.

Nearing the end of the play, I thought it was amusing the way Medea and Jason were yelling at each other for a while. They both had important things to do – Medea to escape, and Jason to attend to his charred bride – yet they stood there bickering. In the end, I really appreciated the writing and the interesting plot, the bipolar characters, and Medea’s perfect execution of revenge.

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The Odyssey

This isn’t my first go through the Odyssey, having read it in grade 10, but I still enjoyed reading about all the Greek gods and heroes again. There are a few things I found a bit strange throughout the text though. From the beginning of the epic there is an astounding amount of generosity or greed/acceptance. Strangers attending feasts seem to feel no need to turn down the offers of their hosts, but accept the lavish gifts gladly. The characters tend to stay on one side of the giving, for example Odysseus and his crew; they show up at random places and accept all the gifts and enormous amounts of food easily. Then they get to the Cyclops’ island, start chowing down on Polyphemus’ cheese and such, and surprise! there’s finally someone who isn’t willing to just share all their things and treat them as kings. I sort of thought they had it coming when the Cyclops decided to start eating them. The crew just seemed so greedy, and it didn’t help their case when they got jealous of Odysseus’ treasures and decided to rob him, especially when they were so close to home. I suppose in modern day they would be lawyers. What I did find interesting was the way characters were introduced, always with at least an adjective, or sometimes an entire list of accomplishments, like giant-killer Hermes, sparkling-eyed Athena, or even Cadmus’ daughter with lovely ankles. It was better at first though, because recurring characters tended to get the same introduction or adjective placed in front of their name, which became predictable and boring after a while. It just seemed to lack creativity, like Homer couldn’t think of another aspect of the character, so he just went with the old description. On that note, it also was very strange when an entire paragraph was copied and pasted into another section. For example, when Athena instructed Telemachus in the beginning of the book, he later repeated his instructions to his people word for word. Seems a bit lazy to me. Despite my negativity, I did mostly enjoy the read, with the cunning of Odysseus, the ruthlessness of Polyphemus, and all the great stories amassed in this epic.

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Hi everyone, I’m Sophie Bishop. I like playing ultimate (Frisbee), learning languages, and most things musical. I can play – to a certain extent – piano, marimba, and drum kit. I started playing the marimba – a Zimbabwean xylophone – in grade 5. I really liked learning new music and getting increasingly harder parts, so I stuck with it. A couple years later I joined the performance group, Kunaka, and played with them in some really cool venues, and also a few miserable ones. Playing the Chan Centre was a great experience, but we also performed beside a cooking demonstration once, and I’m fairly certain the cooking demonstration drew the larger crowd. I played in Kunaka up until last summer.

Right after choosing UBC in grade 12 I decided I couldn’t bear going straight into university. So I looked at gap year programs and found an opportunity to teach English in an elementary school in Costa Rica, which was perfect, since I had learned some Spanish in high school. I headed down and was quickly thrown into everything. In the family I was staying with there were three siblings; two brothers and a sister, who then became my adoptive siblings. At the elementary school I was volunteering, my youngest “brother” attended grade 5, and I taught all grades, so I had the chance to teach his class several times a week. Because of me living with him he took advantage of homework help, which resulted in a few perfect assignments. All the kids I taught loved an excuse to get out of the classroom, so I took out my (Frisbee) discs and taught them all to play ultimate, before I came home.

I first learned to play ultimate in elementary school, but didn’t pick it back up until grade 9 at Kits. Our team always did relatively well each year, until grade 12. We went to Spring Reign – a tournament in Burlington, WA – and got ninth, while our rivals from Saint Georges – who everyone hates and always loses to – won the whole thing. Then came provincials. We massacred all our games on the first day and the first game on the second. All that was left was the final: Kits vs Saints. We finally won, after 4 years of losses, 13-9. Sweet revenge. Actually, it was a bit sad, because a couple of them were crying (and I’m not exaggerating).

With all that, pretty much all the interesting points in my life are covered. Thanks for reading.

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