Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All Must Come to an End

To begin my farewell, I would like to point out that I enjoyed this class immensely. It was by far the most entertaining class that I took this semester, and I really enjoyed the texts that we read as well. To be completely honest, (and please don't take offense to this Dr. Sexon, I try not to stereotype, but sometimes do make incorrect assumptions based upon previous experiences) upon entering the classroom and seeing Dr. Sexon I did not think I was going to enjoy it very much. I have taken classes from numerous courses from older English professors that were so dry and boring that I had to drink a red bull after class to make it through the day. Although many of them were very knowledgeable about the topic that they taught, I was unable to learn anything through their monotonous droning on. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Dr. Sexon was by far the most entertaining professor I have had thus far in my college career. I love that he is not afraid to talk crudely and refer to the fart jokes made in Hermes. He made everything interesting and made us all laugh numerous times throughout the semester. I never found the class boring, which quite frankly is unheard of. Overall, it was a wonderful course and I can't wait to take another from Dr. Sexon next semester.

Coming into this class I knew very little about classical literature and mythology. I knew a little bit about the gods, and bits and pieces of well known myths, but that is about it. It's funny actually, I took a mythologies class this semester thinking that I would learn all about Greek and Roman myths, but it was in this class that I actually did. I feel much more knowledgeable about the Greeks and Romans and their myths after taking this class. Not only has reading their works helped me to learn about them and Thieu culture, but it has given me new insight to today as well. During the first week or two of class Dr. Sexon asked us to bring in a paper, read the articles, and to see what aspects of the past we could find in our present. I'm pretty sure that I gave him a weird confused look because I had no idea what he was talking about. All that I saw were events that occurred during my lifetime, and I could not connect them to the past. I guess I didn't really see how the past and the present truly are connected. I feel like I am much more able to find such connections now than I was before. Learning the background information, such as the myths and stories, has made me much more equipped to find the connections. It is extremely difficult to compare two things when you know absolutely nothing about one of them. The class has not only given me more information, but has helped me view things differently. Although, I am not going to lie, I was not particularly fond of the blogging, I think that it did help me to find connections with the readings and my circumstantially bound life. It forced me to think more deeply, and I am thankful for that.

I am not really sure what else I have learned from the class. I think that it is something that I will have to look back on to really tell, but I am okay with that. All I know is that it has helped mold the person that I will become, and I am thankful to Dr. Sexon as well as my classmates for enabling that.

I wish everyone good luck in the future, and will probably see many of you in other classes. Have a great summer, and take care.

Thanks again Dr. Sexon, and please forgive my mistake on the first day. I have learned from that as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Modern Midas (Presented by Group Four)

While trying to decide on a topic for our group project, we had to take into consideration that one of our group members was going to be gone the day that we were supposed to present. This, of course, posed a small problem. However, through our extremely innovative and creative thinking, we discovered a way to include her in our class presentation and rid ourselves of the stress of actually speaking in front of the class. We would make a movie.

At first, I was a little ambivalent because my acting skills are sub par to say the least. It's true, I have stage fright. But after a long nail biting session that left me with very sore fingers, I realised that my stage fright is even worse when it comes to public speaking. Making a movie was in fact a great alternative for me, not only because it was very informal, but because I had almost no audience to worry about during the filming. Although we had an outline of what we wanted to do for each scene, there was no pre-written script to memorise, so I did not have to worry about forgetting my lines. Not to mention, it was a fun experience and I think that it turned out pretty well.

Anyway, back to the topic of our group presentation as a whole. We decided to base our movie on the story of Midas. Since greed and rumours are such a relevant thing to today's society, we figured it would be an easy tale to modernise. Naturally, we picked Donald Trump to represent the character of Midas. Not only is he is a figure that everybody knows well, he is also so wealthy that it seems everything he touches does in a sense turn to gold. Going along with the idea of Pan, Apollo and music, we decided to incorporate Trump's show "The Apprentice." The two surviving contestants on the show, Paula and Pam, are required to put on a charity concert event. Even though Pan and Apollo are males, we decided that they could be females in the new version and came up with names that corresponded with the original ones. The concert that Trump and his assistants like the most wins, and the competitor who put it together gets to be Trump's apprentice. Although Paula's concert is more thought out and obviously more popular with the crowd, Pam wins the competition. Paula vows that Trump will regret his decision, and you see later on that he does. Originally we had thought about actually giving Trump donkey ears in our video, but decided to change it up a bit. One thing that Donald is known for is his hair, so we thought, "why not make him bald or give him a receding hairline instead?" Thus we had him go to the barber where Paula, disguised of course, begins to cut his hair. As she indicated that he would, Trump receives an unwelcome surprise for picking the worse contestant. His hair disappears with the blink of an eye. Rather than whispering the secret to the ground in our movie, we used the idea of picture messaging. Cell phones are something that literally everyone uses today and that many people base their life around, so what better way to get the word out that Trump is now bald. Another small detail that is worth mentioning is that all of the customers waiting in the lobby at the barber's are reading books that we have read and discussed in this class.

The movie is definitely ridiculous and cheesy, but that was our objective from the beginning. Comedy has played a large role in this class, so we decided to take it to another level and just go over the top like Aristophanes did in Lysistrata. Zach had a Jesus costume, and someone had to give Trump the golden touch, so we incorporated him in as a silly character. The dialogue was of course also somewhat vulgar and ridiculous as well. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it and was able to see the reflection of Ovid's story of Midas in our video.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day Three Individual Presentations

Unfortunately I was unable to make it to class for the second day of individual presentations, so I am skipping to the third day. Once again, I really liked all of the things that people talked about and had to say. It amazes me that although certain topics were discussed by more than one person, each presentation was very different. A number of people wrote about how taking this class has changed them, but it has affected each and every one of us in a different way.

One presentation that stuck out to me was Biz's. It is funny because the first thing that came to my mind when I learned that we were going to read Ovid's Metamorphosis was Kafka's book. I had actually even though about writing my paper on it as well, although I would have taken a very different approach. Her idea that both Luscious and Gregor's transformations were caused by their soul settling in its correct form. I thought that her comparison of the two books to The Golden Compass series was an interesting one. I would not have made that comparison had she not pointed it out. Her approach was a very different and interesting one, and I enjoyed hearing it.

Another presentation that I liked a lot was Chloe's. I can totally relate to her desire to want to be children again sometimes. Although I still thoroughly enjoy the Harry Potter books, the innocence and dreams that we had as children was a great thing. As kids all girls dreamed of being a princess and finding her prince. Fairy tales became reality through our imagination and we could be whoever we wanted to be. Last night I watched "Bedtime Stories," and at one point Adam Sandler says something like, "There are no happy endings in real life." The children insisted that the bedtime stories that he told had happy endings. Like the children that Chloe speaks about, they feel that anything can happen in stories and that such things do happen in real life. They have an innocence about them that keeps their outlook on life. It is not until we become adults that we become disillusioned and can no longer find the wonderful/magical parts of life. We know that life is suffering. This loss of innocence is sad, and I too often wish to have it back.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day One Individual Presentations

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the individual presentations given today. I wish that we would have had more time to discuss what everyone wrote about, but the lack of time made that impossible of course. Since numerous peopled presented today, I can of figured that it would be best to kind of focus on a point or two from the ones that I found most interesting.

Alyssa wrote her course paper on transmigration. Although we did talk about it in class, we did not really go into much depth, so I found what she had to say very interesting. In her research she found that throughout history numerous cultures from all over the world have believed in some form of transmigration. One thing that she said that I had never heard before was that some people believe that the reason why children resemble their families so much is because a family member's soul dies and then enters an infant. I thought that this, along with other points that she discussed, were very informative and interesting. It is always great to learn something new and different.

Another presentation that I enjoyed was Brittany's. A number of people wrote creative stories, but hers was quite different than the others. She wrote about falling asleep and waking up in an imaginary life. This life took place long ago during the festival of Dionysus in Greece. The way that she approached the Eleusinian Mysteries was unique and entertaining. I liked that she wrote about in first person as if she were there because it helped me to imagine how it might have been.

The third presentation that really caught my attention was Kate's. The fact that she spent time with a group of elderly man as a form of research for her paper is great. I have spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and it is funny because one of my grandfathers is just like them. There is little better than listening to funny old men and the conversations that they have. I found her topic hilarious. It seems like she really enjoyed spending time with them, and I am sure that they enjoyed the company of a hot young specimen as well. Haha.

Although I only touched on three specific presentations, I liked them all and cannot wait to see what everyone else wrote about.

Term Paper: Metamorphosis in Our Life

Caitlin Murphey
Classical Literature
20 April 2009
Final Paper
Metamorphosis in My Life
Although to some it may seem that the topic of metamorphosis has already been exhausted in class, I feel as though we have neglected to tie it into our own lives. The process of metamorphosis can take on an infinite number of forms. Some take many years to complete, while others occur in matters of minutes or hours. Numerous transformations are evident to the human eye, while many others take place at a molecular level and are essentially unnoticeable. Such transmutations are forever and unquestionably present in the world. Every single organism in the universe undergoes some sort of transformation at some point during its own existence.
Ted Hughes’ Tales from Ovid represent only one facet of the term “metamorphosis.” Specifically, the transformations presented are more or less caused by supernatural powers and generally occur instantaneously. However, an infinite number of organisms undergo a different kind of metamorphosis every day throughout the expanse of the universe. Granted, such transformations typically require more time to occur and are often less apparent, but they still bear a significant change. Take, for example, a caterpillar. From the day that it is born it begins to grow, and after a certain amount of time in the larva stage it crafts a cocoon. Within its temporary home a caterpillar undergoes an extreme transformation, and when it reemerges into the outside world it does so as a butterfly. Although transformations such as this are so commonplace that they have lost their element of mysticism and we have a tendency to overlook them, the metamorphosis that occurs is fascinating and extremely widespread.
David Malouf presents a different kind of metamorphosis, one that we as humans can more closely relate to, in his book An Imaginary Life. Ovid’s character alters throughout the period that he spends in a foreign world due to his exile. Malouf’s story exhibits the way in which the occurrences and conversations that humans participate in, both consciously and unconsciously, mold the people that they become. Humans are an ever changing species, and we experience countless transformations throughout our lives. Our bodies, personalities, beliefs, and desires all undergo continuous metamorphosis. As a result, humans are very dynamic and the person that one of their childhood friends might remember is very likely extremely different than that same person thirty or forty years later.
Although the difference may be apparent to outsiders, pinpointing one’s own transformations can be difficult. Often, changes occur so gradually within us that they can take hold without us noticing them. Every time a child attends a family reunion and visits with people that he/she has not seen for a long time at least one relative is bound to exclaim, “You have gotten so tall!” While it is likely that the child has not really noticed the extent of his growth, it is much more obvious to someone who has not been around to see it. An example that applies to my life, and those of many other women, is a stage that I went through during my teenage years. I went from the sweet and innocent child to the uncontrollable and resentful teenager. Like many adolescent children, I had a very strained relationship with my parents during my teen years. My friends and I partook in a number of activities, some of which were illegal, that I would have never dreamed of doing a few short years before. Thankfully, I have undergone another transformation and moved beyond that stage. Even though I no longer act like I did in high school, certain aspects of my character were inadvertently shaped during that stage of my life.
While some transformations are brought on unnoticed within us due to psychological or physical stimuli, other transformations are brought on by choice. In Imaginary Life Malouf states, “We have some power in us that knows its own ends. It is that that drives us on to what we must finally become. We have only to conceive of the possibility and somehow the spirit works in is to make it actual. This is the true meaning of transformation. This is the real metamorphosis” (64). One can chose to become a better person or transform certain aspects of themselves by directly addressing whatever it is that they would like to change and making a staunch effort to do so. By choosing to immerse oneself in another culture, one has made an effort towards broadening one’s one perspective on things. Three years ago I spent a summer in Mexico and worked with the native people. Although I lived in similar conditions to those which I live in here, the majority of my interactions were with those who did not. I visited a fishing village that had no electricity and lived in absolute poverty. Even those who were considered to be wealthier could not afford a house in which each child could have their own room. The experience was both eye opening and humbling, and I truly did become a different person. Although this was a life changing experience, one is transformed by the interactions that they have with others every day. It does not take something huge to change a person. Every choice that one makes shapes who one becomes.
When assigned this paper I struggled with the task of selecting a topic that I found both relevant and intriguing. The prompt could not have been more open ended, leaving me somewhat overwhelmed. I found Dr. Sexon’s suggestion to write about what I have learned in this class and how it has affected me to be rather boring, so I elected to write about something else. However, his suggestion is in fact exactly what I have inadvertently discovered in writing my paper. I am now able to recognize that I personally have transformed as a result of taking this class. Not only has my knowledge regarding classical literature grown, but the way in which I look at the world has been transformed as well. I feel that as the semester comes to an end I have become much more capable of seeing the “eternities rather than the times,” and recognizing that what takes place around me has occurred many times before in slightly different variations. Our world is filled with metamorphosis and things are ever changing, yet as is presented in the idea of the eternal return, everything is destined to repeat itself in some form. The way in which I now look at life as well as literature has gone through a phase of metamorphosis because of the experiences that I have had in this class.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reaction to Group One's Presentation

Although I have enjoyed all of the group presentations thus far, I really enjoyed group one's presentation today. I found every individual speech interesting, and was really surprised that the group members had not really discussed what they were going to say before they did it. Each speech was so different, which just serves to prove that love is not something that is easily defined. Its meaning and the feelings associated with the word are subjective. Every person's experience of love is very different.

The point that Kayla brought up about the word "love" not having a synonym is something that made me think as well. The more and more I pondered, I realised the veracity of this. There is no other word in the English language that carries the same depth of meaning. I think there are a number of reasons that there is no other word that can express the same things. Like I said before, "love" has a large multiplicity of meanings. There are numerous kinds of love, such as romantic and familial. Although each kind of love is different, they all have certain things in common, and can therefore be compiled into one category. This multiplicity makes it extremely difficult to find a word to substitute for it. Another possible explanation for the inability of another word to take its place is that although there are different kinds of love, it is extremely personal and has such specific characteristics. For one, it is very deep and true love can be felt in the very bottom of the soul. In my opinion, there is nothing else that has the same kind of control over a person and their emotions. It is a bond made between two people, and there is nobody in the world that shares the same exact bond. It is something that is extremely different than any other feeling in the world.

Moving back to the presentation as a whole, I was curious about whether or not each person was assigned a certain character from the Symposium to portray. They said that they didn't really discuss what they were going to write beforehand, but each person's speech seemed to correspond with a character from Plato's writing. Obviously the hiccups were something that they took from Plato. Although the last speaker took a "mushy" approach on love, he did not tell a story as did Alcibiades. Vernice's spoke about how love is not like a disease, and how "love-sickness" is in the mind. This speech seemed to kind of correspond with the doctor's in that it seemed to focus on the scientific and psychological aspects of love. There were other aspects of the presentation that corresponded with the writing as well.

Lastly, I liked the speech that talked about love in respect to art. The artwork that was put on the board was beautiful, and in my opinion did a great job of embodying the idea of love. It was a very interesting take on love, and one much different than mine since I am not in any way shape or form an artist.

Overall, I really enjoyed the presentation and the different ideas about love presented in them. Well done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Golden Ass

I really enjoyed Robert Graves' The Golden Ass and wish that we would have had more time to discuss it in class. It was an intriguing tale and the connections between Cupid and Psyche's story and that of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast were interesting. Overall I liked the book a lot. However, to be completely honest I did not like the character of Psyche very much. I feel like she represents the stereotypical woman that has to be told what to do because she can't think for herself. Whenever her step sisters tell her to do anything she obeys without question even though it is obvious to the reader that they are giving her bad advice. Then, after her lover leaves her, she becomes helpless and cannot see the purpose in living so she tries to kill herself. I feel like this is also a display of the stereotypical woman who needs a man and his direction in order to find purpose in life. Not only can she not make her own decisions, but she cannot take care of herself and is reliant upon Cupid and his love for meaning in life. As all women have pent up rage inside waiting to burst forth, she decides that she needs to kill her sisters for making her lose Cupid. Again, she does not take responsibility for her own actions and puts it all on her sisters. Also, I would say that making them jump off a cliff was perhaps a little harsh too. They are portrayed as stupid women as well in doing this task.

Overall, it seems like women are presented as helpless and mindless creatures that are completely reliant on men in the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Granted, I realize that women were not highly esteemed in the past and this might have something to do with it. I am not one of those crazy feminists who would say that we shouldn't read this book because it is sexist, but it still does bother me a little bit. I simply find it annoying and know that I would not like her at all if I were to meet Psyche in person.