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Righteous Rage: 
A criticism of female oppression in ancient China    

    When reading both Lu Hsun’s story of the “New Year’s Sacrifice” and Mary Daly’s impassioned article about footbinding, I found myself moved to extremes of emotion in more ways than one, but one peskily pervasive sensation proved common to both, and it was one that I had long since thought to be extinct in myself: the feeling of righteous indignation, bordering on rage, on the behalf of women. Understand, please, that I by no means wish to dishonor my sex in making this claim, but I consider myself to be a proud anti-feminist, as I see no benefit to empowering the ostensibly ‘weaker’ sex by denouncing, dismissing, and demonifying the views and feelings of men, and simultaneously reinforcing societal conventions of feminine weakness by relentlessly branding women as ‘vulnerable’ and in need of safe spaces and protection. That being said, however, the treatment of women in ancient China, as portrayed by both of these articles, could never feasibly be said to anything less than utterly deplorable. Women were treated as playthings, as chattel, as beings of nothing more than monetary worth; they were “grotesquely crippled from very early childhood,” and made into objects of the fetishistic carnal desires of a patriarchal society (Daly 135). No matter how culturally rich as China may have been in its days of pre-Communist glory, its callous attitude towards societal abuse of women is a tarnished blight on the face of its golden outward image, one that no amount of historical pussyfooting can ever hope to hide.
    The depiction of female suppression in New Year’s Sacrifice was nowhere near as brutally graphic as it was in Daly’s article, but it was precisely that puissance of indifference, of apathy, which was woven into the fabric of the tale that could easily be construed by the feminist mind as loathsome. The sole female character of note, Hsiang Ling’s Wife, was never named, and no one seemed particularly keen to learn her name; she was defined purely by her role as wife, as mother, as worker: subject to the whims and wills of all around her, even as she grew too feeble in mind and body to work and was forced to wander the streets of Luchen, forlornly babbling the tragic tale of her son’s death to anyone who would (or wouldn’t) care to listen. She was described, after her ill-timed and largely unexplained death, as a “tiresome and worn-out toy” by the narrator, and as the story began to delve into her life, she was assigned value in much the same way that one would assess an animal for work, being praised for her “big strong feet and hands” and “meek expression…(showing) every sign of being tractable and hardworking” (Hsun 130-131). Her intelligence was only considered a virtue insofar as it blessed her with the ability to serve attentively and work well; in essence, she was viewed as an object by the society to which she was bound: fit to serve, fit to be negotiated for, but easy enough to cast off when her usefulness ran out.
    Of course, casting a woman aside for failing to maintain the standard of perfect obedience and utility expected of her is all well and good if no other harm is done to her, but actively crippling her to forcibly induce submission and dependence in spheres mental, emotional, and physical, is another matter entirely. Though I cannot help but laugh slightly at Daly’s overly opinionated, even radical, outcry against the patriarchal structure of Chinese society (or, indeed, the dominance-- nay, presence-- of men in society at large) in her facilely flippant inclusion of such statements as “men prefer women to be bent badly “out of shape” on all levels-- physical, mental, and spiritual” and “it was men who desired this portion of the mutilated female anatomy,” in which a puissant misandry is palpably present...I cannot bring myself to truly contest any of the claims she makes regarding the utter wrongness of this systematic subjugation of womens’ wills (Daly 145). Crippled and condemned to lifelong agony from childhood, Chinese girls learned quickly that one ought to “never trust a woman,” cementing their bondage to the word and whim of the men in their lives without ever clueing them into the scope of the patriarchal abuse they were made to suffer at these same mens’ hands. What sort of society, one might be tempted to ask, would permit, even insist upon (for unbound women were, for a long while, considered ugly and therefore unmarriageable) such grossly degenerate methods as these to dominate a group that had done no real wrong? Why was ancient China so obsessed with patriarchy and filial and/or spousal obeisance, that it could mistreat its women with such complacent ease?
    While these are not questions that I was able to answer fully in reading these pieces-- nor, indeed, questions that could be answered fully without carrying out a great deal of extraneous historical research-- I was struck by the fact that China’s misogynistic practices dated back to Confucian times and teachings. Confucius, half-divine editor though he was, had precious little to say about women in his meticulous prescriptions of the Way, and what he did say tended toward the tyrannical, suggesting that one of two scenarios could come about: that women were meant to be either wholly obedient and subservient to the men in their lives, or that they were inferior and unclean beings prone to getting “out of hand” if they were treated with kindness, or becoming resentful and contrary when distanced (Waley 217). Such derogatory views were intrinsic aspects of Chinese schools of thought for centuries, so really, it’s little wonder that mistreatment and oppression of women occurred so blithely, and with so little contestation, for so great a period of time...though of course, that does little to change the fact that it was, is, and always will be incontestably WRONG.
Righteous Rage
YET ANOTHER ESSAY. :faint: So...you probably want to read the two articles I mentioned in conjunction with this piece, but hopefully you can muddle your way through without doing so if you're like me and enjoy being lazy and uninformed. ^^; This wasn't done for Gothic Lit, for a change, but for a class I'm taking on East Asian religions...and I can honestly say that this is the first thing I've ever written that even comes close to being feminist literature. God help me. :iconstrongbutgentle:, smite me. :XD:
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Love’s Labors Lost 
(Or, how college robbed me of my cultural identity)

    The large, wood-panelled kitchen is suffused with the soft, effulgent radiance of late summer evenings. Dust motes dance through the slanting rays of dying sunlight, boisterous and volatile in the quiet calm of the warm room, and the familiar sounds of the white stove roaring, the birds and insects chirping merrily outside, and my mother’s broken English inundating my ears with stories of her day weave together to create what I’ve come to call the dinner-music: gentle and soothing and constant, a little kiss of home.
    I serve myself from the wide, shallow, rectangular glass dish, making sure to scrape up all of the loose bits of ground beef and burnt
ufka that I can find onto my ceramic plate and burying the little picture of Mother Goose beneath the two square pieces of börek in the process. The ufka is perfectly done: beige-gold on top, charred brown and black on the bottom, just how I like it best. As I take the plate back to the table and set it atop the old blue-and-white place mat, I pause to call thanks to my mother and to inhale the börek’s unique scent: of dusty ufka, of sharp parsley and oiled and spiced ground beef and the slightest hint of gas from our ‘wonky’ stove. My hand, darkly tanned from summer sun and toil, gleams nut-brown against the pallor of the ufka, and I laugh a little to myself about that one miniscule detail as I lift the first piece to my mouth. It’s Heaven baked into food, as it always is, with the dry ufka crumbling and flaking around my fingers to reveal the moist softness of the dough inside, the ground beef and herbs tucked away, melting on my tongue and making me grin with delight from their sharp bite.
    The conversation fades slightly, but never wholly, as my mother and grandmother join me at the table (my sister is, of course, taking one of her daily three-hour showers) and our attention turns to the food before us. The lilting, rolling rhythms of my family’s many languages rise and fall around me, the
börek burns warm against my fingertips, and as we all sit in companionable quiet, I am overwhelmed by the sudden sense that there is little else about me but gold: gold permeating sight, smell, sound, and filling my body and spirit with an ineffably poignant sense of HOME.
   
    If you, or anyone, asked me to describe to you what I had felt the first time I ate börek, I would find myself completely and utterly lost for words. The fact of the matter is, I am simply incapable of casting the line of my memory so very far back, into the earliest and most halcyon days of my childhood, that I might be able to recall such a thing. All food was the same to me back then, and I merely happened to grow up eating a different sort of food than that which all of the Americans I wound up going to school with had access to. Those kids have early memories of PB&J sandwiches, store-bought salads, Hostess pastries, and Wonder Bread; I have chorek, börek, ichli kofte, and patates dzhash. It’s all a matter of perspective.
    Now, a person’s perspective, I think, is some domineering force comprised of the sum total of all of his experiences, biases, sense impressions, connotations, and desires. All of these things vie for power in trying to determine how said person responds to any given situation, but often experience seem to be the most capable of brute force over the others, simply because of the strength of the imitative model it provides.
    In my case, experience has provided me with a strong sense of cultural place. I am American-born, but my parents are full-blooded Armenians (hailing from Turkey...but I won’t delve into the bastardy of the Turks here, as it’s neither the time nor the place to wax bitterly political), so I have always considered myself, first and foremost, to be exactly that. I grew up eating Armenian food, listening to Armenian music and words, and those early experiences, those years of being immersed in a culture alien to the Americans around me, gave me a rather unique view of the world I inhabited. I consider myself fluent in ‘Turkarmenglish,’ that most curious conglomerate of Turkish, Armenian, and English that I’ve heard all my life. English was not my first language, and will forever seem a foreign, ungainly tongue to me when compared with the comforting familiarity of Armenian’s thick, guttural lilt. American music will never make sense to my ears, having been introduced to them too late; American food will always seem second best, even second rate. Oi, all you Nicks and Sarahs and Sams and Kates out there! Hear that: that latter point? You can keep your bloody bland PB&Js and sugar-wrapped diabetes pills-- ah, pastries. Give me a good, savory kuymali börek any day. You lot have been seriously lacking in the spice department.
    You may have noticed by now that I have a proclivity for referring to American teenagers in what the more cultured among you might term a ‘decidedly contemptuous’ manner. While I cannot honestly say that this is not done on purpose, I would like to assure those whom I have offended that I speak more from insecurity than any real sense of rancorous superiority. I am, to put it mildly, wholly uncomfortable within my sense of self and skin at this moment in time, and though I’m certain I’m not alone in feeling this way, I can’t help but see myself as isolated from a society that seems to (pardon my nonexistent French) have its shit completely together.
    The beginning of college marks the birth of a puissant transition period in the lives of all of the countless students taken into its fold, and I am no exception. Though the metaphor of food seems an overly simplistic, even childish, one, I see no harm in returning to it to try and illustrate my point. I’ve grown up with Armenian food, yes? Now, you Americans have it easy, if only because what you’re getting in the dining halls is familiar to you. I’ve been all but deprived of the stuff and sustenance of my childhood since my arrival on campus, no matter how good the food and its variety and attempted globality may be, and in that sense have been deprived, by proxy, of the stuff that connects me to my culture, my people, my home. I feel myself to be set adrift in a sea of alien insecurity, lacking the backbone strength of the strong cultural ties that granted me a sense of identity and belonging back home. Now, obviously, I realize that it’s pointless to rant so vehemently about so mean a grievance when it’s certainly not one unique to me. So what, so bloody what if those indolent, flippant, devilishly handsome jocks and those too-perfect, too-pretty preps seem so much more at ease, at home, than I? That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re coping with unfamiliarity any better. It doesn’t mean that they miss home any less.
    That being said, I’ve been asked to relate a personal story, and I’ve attempted to be honest in the doing while staying...somewhat true to the prompt provided. If being honest means ranting and raving about how much I miss Armenian food and how much I hate American teenagers, so be it. Apologies if I’ve offended anyone, but...again, I’ll be honest-- I don’t much care. You lot are aliens to me, as much as I may seem alien to you, and if we’re both willing to accept that fact and let it lie, I’ll have no need to inject so much venom into my next anti-American food rant. You may need spice to enliven your bland food, but you certainly don’t need it to enliven your blood and choler. You’ve enough of those things already. Far be it from me to stir your fires more...but I’m getting off course. Personal story. Let’s stick with that.
    So. I’ve waxed poetic, idiotic, pedantic, vitriolic, and nostalgic in the space of one thousand words, when I really could’ve dispensed with all of that folly of formality and hearkened to my purpose straight. Armenian food was my childhood. Armenian food helped give me a sense of cultural identity that tied me to my family and home and allowed me to be secure in myself and in the knowledge that I was, and would always be, Armenian. College took away my opportunity to partake of Armenian food. College, therefore, took away a quintessential part of my identity. If that this simple syllogism will serve, so. If it will not, well...what remedy?
    Such a simple line, that: so uncharacteristic of Shakespeare and his typical slew of myriad carefully wrought and crafted words. The phrase is, however, quite apt, no matter how much it takes advantage of chop-logic (which, I suppose, my drastic shift from lack of a certain food to lack of identity employed to the utmost). It’s a simple syllogism. Simple comparisons, simple words, but even in their simplicity those words can communicate so much: a noblewoman’s foolish, delusional mourning or a college first-year’s otiose and puerile existential angst. ...Yes, that’s as idiotic as it sounds, but I suppose there’s no better way to write a personal story than to poke fun at oneself and one’s habits in the doing. If I can have neither my food nor my cultural identity, at the very least I can keep my sense of pseudo-humor. There’s hope for me yet.
Love's Labors Lost
Or: how college robbed me of my cultural identity. So...yeah, this was the first actual essay that I had to write for college (specifically, for Gothic Lit), and all we were told was that we had to write a personal narrative, and it had to involve a special kind of food in some way. We also had to write a 'rhetorical' analysis on the essay-writing process, in which I basically spewed eloquent vitriol regarding how much I hated the assignment. Still, as I so eagerly mentioned to :iconstrongbutgentle: earlier, I got an A, so.... :boogie:middle finger smiley 

Here's the rhetorical analysis, if you're interested:

    "I entered into this assignment with what could only be considered an unhealthy dose of skepticism...in fact, the precise words I used, to my later chagrin, to describe it were “asinine and, to be frank, childish.” At the risk of sounding ineffably arrogant, I didn’t believe that there was anything I stood to gain from what I took to be a typical ‘introductory’ writing assignment. The personal narrative, or memoir, has always been, and always will be, my least favorite genre to work in, simply because there are so many more interesting ways to exercise and stretch one’s powers of creative writing. Being forced to work within the mold of one’s own experience, and being still further constrained by rigid guidelines-- in our case, to center our ‘stories’ on experiences related to food-- stunts and stymies idea growth rather than encourages it, in my opinion...but that is, of course, a mere opinion.
    I will admit to being so skeptical of this assignment and its structure that I was even tempted to renounce this part of it. Ostensibly the purpose of this addendum is ‘self-evaluation,’ and I, being the contrary and naturally vitriolic person that I am, took offense with both the title (‘rhetorical analysis’ connotes and denotes a careful analysis of the rhetoric of the essay, in the style of AP English Language and Composition) and the nature of the assignment. What was the point, I wanted to ask, of self-evaluating an essay that already achieved that purpose, simply by virtue of its being a memoir?
    I recognize now, though, that the purpose of both the essay itself and this little tag-along essay are one and the same: to acquaint ourselves with our own writing styles, and to recognize where our strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of writing. Now...I have a confession to make, and I’ll make it proudly. I have not, as you so callously assumed, “taken a break from writing” all summer. Actually, I spent a good deal of the summer writing stories, and while they were by no means personal narratives, they did give me a strong sense of where said strengths and weaknesses lay in my writing. Strengths: the creation of long and convoluted sentences, scene description, character introspection, point-of-view shifts, portrayals of madness. Weaknesses: action, dialogue, concise introduction and elucidation of a point, editing and revision. If anything, this assignment only reinforced how puissant of a weakness that latter point really is...and I will admit that allowing others to edit my work is far more valuable than editing my work on my own. Others lack the biases that I possess, which are concurrent with those of any author knowing they need to prune their mental children and quailing at the thought of doing so. Allowing fresh eyes to look at something to which they have no prior exposure is a truly refreshing and enlightening experience, as it really serves to highlight the virtues and “cringes” (as a friend of mine, another aspiring author, would say) that they, the true audience, will perceive. That, I think, was the most valuable thing I took from this assignment...and yes, the experience of having others point out flaws and inconsistencies in my work took the aspiring author in me down a peg. Yes, I needed that, and yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I deserve the mild humiliation after so conflagrantly deriding this assignment, wouldn’t you say?"
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“Facile credo, plures esse Naturas invisibles quam visibles in rerum universitari.”

  These are the words that open Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and if I’m to be perfectly honest, I find myself hard-pressed to think of a more romantic way to begin a poem that is a ballad in and of itself. The Latin flows with a lilting rhythm that is somehow quaintly delicate and bitingly rough all at once, just as the rest of the poem (and, indeed, the Mariner himself) is, and the words themselves, while rendered initially incomprehensible by the antiquated tongue in which they’re penned, give pellucid voice to an idea that threads its ambling and uneasy way through the entirety of the Mariner’s tale. I well believe there to be more unseen natural things than visible in the universe of things, the narrator of those stirring opening lines claims, and nowhere else in the poem is that overarching theme, that uneasy juxtaposition of natural and unnatural, human and spirit, life and death, put more simply than in that small introduction. A good south wind springs up behind, however, pushing me to the Line, so I must hie to the remainder of the poem ere I delve into that thematic tidbit in greater depth of detail.
  Now, this is a poem meant to be read aloud, nearly chanted, and even before I was told to do so in no uncertain terms in class, I did exactly that, so first (without any segue whatsoever, I know) I must comment on the strength of Coleridge’s imagery. Reading the poem, I found myself not lying across a dirty rug in a stuffy, cramped dorm room, but chilled by a southerly wind, rocked by the creaking planks of a ship with a ghostly crew, burdened by the dull weight of a dead albatross about my neck, fevered by the warring impressions of guilt and reprieve and astonishment plaguing my psyche. Coleridge managed to draw the reader (and the wedding guest, who was ‘spell-bound by the eye of the old seafaring man, and constrained to hear his tale’) wholly into the fabric of the Mariner’s story, rendering each of his experiences-- the storm pushing the ship inexorably southward, the eerie landscape of the Antarctic, the albatross’s blessing and death, the arrival of the skeleton ship, Death and his lady’s dice-game, the Mariner’s torment, the angels driving the ship without wind or tide, the blessing of the seas, and the Mariner’s eventual rescue-- in such vivid detail as to make the reader feel as though he himself were the Mariner, reliving this strange odyssey as he related it to the poor befuddled guest.
   Aside from that, the language itself is beautiful in this plain clarity; phrases like ‘land of mist and snow,’ ‘ice, mast-high, came floating by, as green as emerald,’ ‘nor dim nor red...the glorious Sun uprist,’ ‘idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean, ‘with throats unslaked, with black lips baked,’ ‘thicks man’s blood with cold,’ ‘heard the sky-lark sing,’ ‘like a lonely flute,’ ‘leafy month of June,’ and myriad others imbue the poem with a sort of poetic, almost song-like spirit that calls to mind images both jarringly dire and beatifically pastoral: perfectly typical of its Romantic origins, but somehow never seeming wholly conventional or tiresome. The moments of chaos, of fear, of suspense, and of high emotion are perfectly balanced with ones of reflection, description, numbness, and spiritual contentment that gives the poem an excellent narrative flow-- a steady rise and fall reminiscent of the ubiquitous swelling and levelling of ocean waves like those that...well. In any other case, I would have said ‘those that moved the ships along,’ but one of the more amusing (in a morbid sort of way) motifs within this poem was the frequency with which ships moved of their own accord, tide and wind and waves be damned. In this mad world of the Mariner’s history, the spirit of a slain albatross could steer a ship along from ‘nine fathom deep,’ and once-dead crewmembers could work the rigging and wheel just as they could in life, their lifeless corpses animated by a ‘blessed troop of angelic spirits.’ Death and his demon Lady could sail a skeleton sloop out of mist and a dying sun ‘without a breeze, without a tide,’ and no one would think it amiss to see them there (or to see them gambling for the crew-mens’ souls, for that matter). So fantastical has the Mariner’s tale been thus far, and so spellbinding, that the audience is willing to suspend disbelief just as the crewmen do, lest they interrupt the musical flow of the story.
   All stories must to an end, though, and the end of the Mariner’s is a sad one, though I suppose that could easily have predicted, given how much he was made to suffer for one careless mistake. To be condemned to eternal suffering and compulsive relation of this tragic tale for the sole transgression of disrespecting one of God’s creatures seems extreme...and yet the moral presented as the tale draws to a close is one that speaks to the most fundamental, yet most unattainable, human desire:
                 “Farewell, farewell! but this I tell to thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
                 He prayeth well, who loveth well both man and bird and beast.
                 He prayeth best, who loveth best all things both great and small;
                 for the dear God who loveth us He made and loveth all.”

   Love, unconditional love, is an idea that seems, at first glance, to be out of place in the midst of this hearty sea-tale, but it had been weaving its quiet, insidious way through the entire time. Said way, of course, manifested itself mainly in the lack of love bandying itself about-- between the Mariner and the creatures of the sea (until he blessed them and was able to repent), between the Mariner and his crewmates (for bringing them ill fortune by shooting the albatross), between the Mariner and the albatross (for bloody shooting the thing without reason), et cetera-- but only when it entered as a positive force could the Mariner begin to be forgiven for and absolved of his sin, and this idea of loving all creatures great and small, and loving enemies as you would friends, is one that Coleridge parrots directly from the teachings of Christ himself. The Mariner, then, in being doomed to tell his tale forever, can be seen almost as a biblical figure in his tragedy of sin, repentance, and eternal caution. Certainly he instructed the wedding guest, who left his company ‘a wiser and sadder man’ for having heard this tale of love abused, and even I feel myself to be slightly altered by this tale; the thread of morality runs strongly enough through it that even one lacking much of a serviceable conscience, such as myself, can appreciate the power of the story and the words, in preaching unconditional love. If Coleridge intended his story to be a sort of parable in light of that, he achieved enormous success in doing so...in my case, at least, no matter how much time post-analysis it took for me to actually be moved beyond bouts of profanity at the text.
Mood: Procrastinating Writer's Block and slightly terrified :fear:
Reading: Emails, Romeo and Juliet fan fiction, and news articles
Eating: S'mores cereal
Drinking: Water 
Watching: Nothing
Weather: Cloudy Rain Cloud Bullet - F2U! 

Also known as: me ranting and giving you all pointless life updates, because I don't have any homework that isn't due until next week. ^^;

So, ah...yeah! Wow, this is the first journal entry that I've posted since starting college. Bit of a milestone, that. :boogie: Anyway, college has been a bit of a wild experience for me thus far; I've made quite a few more friends than I'd foreseen making, and haven't yet been so overwhelmed by work that I want to throw myself off of a roof, which is a plus, considering I'm taking five classes (though I DID punch a tree on my first day of class because I had a bunch of articles to read/write about and a printer that wouldn't bloody work, forcing me to miss dinner). I'm getting along really well with both of my roommates, and have had more guys than I can count on one hand (and one girl) express some...shall we say...interest. Either they're flirting with me, or they're just being nice. I can't really tell. :hmm:

So...what to relate, what to relate...well, part of our orientation included a three-day trip to some remote part of the state, which was a FANTASTIC bonding experience. I wish I had pictures of the lake my group was at to show you guys, but we weren't allowed to have our phones, which was honestly very nice. =P Aside from that...I just finished acting in a production of Alice in Wonderland that my school's theater club (of which I'm now a proud member) put together in a week. Unfortunately (:iconstrongbutgentle:, this is for you), no one took videos. :P I also auditioned for the orchestra (the director of which was completely floored by my playing ability; he literally said to me "how have you never taken lessons? You play so beautifully!", which was nice :D) and the wind ensemble, the latter of which I'll hopefully be joining next semester. 

For now, in addition to the theater club (more on that later), I also joined, in a spur-of-the-moment sort of way (as in, I stopped to watch them set up and was asked if I wanted to join), a taiko drumming club, which I'd seen perform last spring at a program for admitted students. Taiko is a traditional Japanese style of ensemble percussion, and the long and short of it is, it's badass. The drums are almost deafeningly loud, and you can literally feel the vibrations in your chest when you play. Also, yelling whenever you feel like it is totally acceptable, even condoned. I was actually really good at it, which I hadn't been expecting, seeing as I've never played the drums before. It's FUN. 8-bit Raiko Horikawa 

Back to theater! So, one of the shows we're putting on for the fall season is Romeo and Juliet, and the cast list came out today. I'm playing Mercutio, and words can't even begin to describe how excited I am. :excited: revamp... again. Mercutio is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters of all time, and is definitely my oldest Shakespearean character crush (I loved him even back in sixth grade, which was when I first read this play...and also when I was obsessed with the American Revolution and had a weird crush on Paul Revere O.o ). Basically (:iconstrongbutgentle:, you'll enjoy this)...I have this hierarchy for my Shakespeare crushes. Top level: Feste and Iago. Second level: Puck, Iachimo, Mercutio, and Edgar. Third level: Benedick, Beatrice, Viola, Balthasar, Peter Quince, and Tranio. Fourth level: the Earl of Kent, Lear's Fool, Edmund, Troilus, Conrade, Maria, and Grumio. Obviously, getting to play a second-level crush onstage is going to be FANTASTIC...and honestly, Mercurio's just a fun character to play. He's sassy as all hell, and I think the director and stage manager kind of liked the weird hint of a Mancunian accent I gave him...or the performance of the Queen Mab speech itself. They must've liked something. :shrug: In other news, the casting was gender-blind, so Romeo and Juliet are now a lesbian couple, and all of Romeo's friends are also female. This is going to be an interesting show. :eager:

What's less of an interesting show is the curious phenomenon of 'teasing the misfit' that I see every Tuesday and Thursday in my religion class. Now, all throughout middle school and high school, I was one of those people that pop culture would consider a 'misfit.' I was the one that people talked about behind my back, was subtly and snidely teased without my understanding, what you will. Now...I'm on the opposite side of that line. There's a girl in my class who is...a bit immature, for one thing, and more than a bit zealous, for another. She wears Pokemon t-shirts (which I condone one hundred percent), has braces, and speaks so quickly and trippingly that it's impossible to understand half of what she's trying to say; it's as though she's trying to get all of her ideas out as quickly as possible lest she be cut off (which the professor often has to do). The sad part about this is that a lot of what she says is actually very intelligent, no matter how naive she seems...but naive she is. She seems to be perfectly unaware of the exasperated looks that my classmates flash to each other whenever she puts a frantically waving hand up to speak, and to the fact that said classmates are teasing her behind her back. Now, I can't pretend that I haven't been annoyed by her eagerness one more than one occasion, but I don't like seeing the bullying from the 'other side,' as it were. I've never been in the position where I've been complicit in the teasing of another classmate, because I was always the one getting teased. Seeing it from the other side is heartbreaking, more so because she's neither aware of nor bothered by the fact the way I was. It's just...a very strange thing. :no:
    Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764, is generally hailed as the foundation upon which the rich literary tradition of Gothic romance was built. Now, I’m all for 18-19th century Gothic literature; give me some classic Poe horror stories, some tragic and twisted Bronte novels, or some rambling poems about Young Goodman Brown any day, and I’ll sit like Patience on a monument smiling at the characters’ grief, myself delighted as the knavish Puck at his mortal-meddling games. Otranto, however, may well have been the single most cumbersome book I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading, and I say this having read 100 Years of Solitude, a book I despised for its convoluted repetitiousness.
    My first point of contention with this story was, funnily enough, a stylistic one-- shallow and trifling, perhaps, but said stylistic mishap irritated me enough that the any potential appreciation I could possibly have fostered for the story was colored dark from my frustration. To put it simply, there were no quotation marks. None. There was no marked way in which dialogue was delineated, apart from the odd dash indicating interruption. Perspicuously, this made it difficult to discern, at any given time, who was speaking when, which lent itself to a juxtaposed confusion regarding plot details wrought of this inability to be certain of whose lines belonged to whom.
    In conjunction with this, I found the dialogue itself to be ineffably awkward and difficult to puzzle through. The writing was Elizabethan in style, but unlike the more lyrical, poetic flow of, say, Shakespearean prose, this dialogue was ungainly and plain, broken everywhere with interjections, bracketed descriptors of action, and (to call my previous point of contention back to mind) the dialogue of other characters. I found myself so busy trying to decipher the tangled maze of warring speeches that I could barely follow the plot as it unfolded (not in the least because I kept losing my place in the unbroken block of text that made up every page).
    The plot itself had precious little to commend it. Though the various supernatural occurrences leaping out of dark tunnels and feverish minds were ostensibly alarming enough to make a receptive reader “afraid to go to bed o’ nights,” I personally could find nothing in them to be thus frightened of. All right, so perhaps a massive helmet crushing and mutilating a weak young boy, the ghost of an old hermit speaking direful prophecies, and blood seeping from the nose of an animated painting might be cause for terror in any other novel, but Walpole’s powers of emotive description leave much to be desired. So dry and bland were the descriptions of these fantastical events that they seemed, within the world of Otranto, to be wholly uninspiring, even mundane. The only really shocking twist was the brutal death of the meek and chaste Matilda at the hands of her enraged, jealous, and humiliated father, when he mistook her for the princess Isabella (whom he intended to take for his bride after her betrothed, his son, was killed by that unfortunately timed monster-helmet mishap). That, I think, was the only point at which I felt myself to be truly moved, and even then, I had become so jaded, so wearied of these characters and their senseless submission to their passions, that I couldn’t bring myself to feel much sympathy for any of them.
    Indeed, none of the characters, save Theodore, perhaps, had much by way of admirable traits. Manfred, the prince (and Matilda’s father, as aforementioned in the previous paragraph), would have been sentenced to anger management classes were he to reside in today’s society. He was brash, tempestuous, stubborn, proud, tyrannical, cruel, and cold, abandoning his wife in her (and his) time of grief and need because she was unable to provide him with an able heir, decrying the merits of his doted-upon and dead son to said son’s fiancee (whom he intended to take for himself in the hopes that she could produce him an heir when his own wife couldn’t), and murdering his own daughter. Granted, he was under a great deal of pressure to set his estate to rights in the wake of his son’s accident before the lines of an ancient curse (“that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it”), but that does little to excuse his frankly atrocious behavior.
    His wife of old, Hippolita, was just as deplorable, albeit in a completely different way. Unlike her strong Amazon of a Shakespearean counterpart, Walpole’s Hippolita was the epitome of the submissive wife. In all things she deferred to her husband’s will, putting his every whim and need above her own and even going so far as to chastise a priest for daring to oppose him in speech. She herself had little to no personality to speak of-- her entire existence within the scope of the story was inextricably linked to that of her husband, and to sever that bond would leave nothing but a bare husk of a woman lost without orders to obey and emotions to subjugate.
    Manfred’s two children, and daughter-in-law-to-be, were also relatively weak, as far as characters go. Conrad, the dearly departed prince, was described as “a homely youth, sickly, and of no promising disposition,” and the only thing of value that he brought to the story was the basis of Isabella’s indifference towards him and his death. Matilda, the murdered princess, could and probably would have been euphemistically described as ‘Matilda the meek,’ because her virtue, chastity, mildness, haughty shyness, and fervent desire to shut herself away in a convent comprised the vast majority of the personality allotted to her. The one vaguely admirable trait she could boast of was her proclivity for self-sacrifice at the expense of others, as evinced by her willingness to let Isabella, and not herself, wind up with Theodore, whom she loved passionately (despite having known him for less than two days). That being said, Matilda was the one who got him in the end, and was setting about marrying him (a plot development that escaped me, to my chagrin) when her father decided to crash the impending wedding in the most efficient way possible: by stabbing the bride-to-be in the back. Damned sod Isabella is, for causing so much strife within Manfred’s family. Honestly. She really didn’t do much else besides scream and run hysterically (little wonder, with Manfred chasing after her so often), flirt with Theodore, and cry...but then, she was the archetypal Gothic ‘heroine--’ she didn’t need to do much else.
    Theodore, however...suffice to say, he had the most substantial role in the story’s action, and was the story’s most sympathetic character, to boot. His blunt forthrightness, his understated, quiet charm, his plain-spoken, trenchant wit, and his unwillingness to mold himself into the guise of ‘action hero’ allowed him to stand, right from the outset of his arc, in diametric opposition to the ill-tempered Manfred, who could have been the Byronic ‘hero’ before Byron were his role any less antagonistic. Theodore was the character that the audience could relate to most, even after he was revealed to be the son of the count of Falconara despite his current status as an overly outspoken peasant; he was the character that we (or I, at least) wanted to see more of, to see succeed (and succeed he did, being of the blood of Alfonso and ultimately usurping Manfred’s ill-gotten, cursed place as lord of Otranto). In a world of encroaching madness, terror, hysteria, and familial strife, he was the sole harbinger of calm, of peace, of stability, and even then, he only just barely managed to survive and thrive after the tenuous restoration of order to the estate.
    The long and short of it all is that I found precious little to like in this story. The characters were, by and large, either detestable or underwhelming; the plot was bizarre, obscure, and gratuitously convoluted; the terror and romance that create such puissant emotional impact in later Gothic literature were lackluster at best, and downright dull at worst. While I can respect this novella for providing a font of material upon which to build and polish Gothic romance literature, I doubt that I could ever appreciate it for itself, if only because it was inherently flawed. That being said, Walpole did manage to craft an excellent framework for later works that would come to master this genre, spearheading the invention of a variety of Gothic tropes (the ‘damsel in distress,’ the Byronic character, the dark and ruined setting, the supernatural elements, the blurring of the lines between the real and the spectral, the heavy emphasis on high intensity and emotion, the melancholy, even tragic atmosphere, et cetera) despite his insipid and anodyne application of said tropes to the plot. When being taken as a ground-level work, then, The Castle of Otranto is fantastic. When being taken as nothing but its own work, though...well. I think the helmet that crushed poor Conrad wouldn’t have much difficulty levelling this book down to size.
Book Review: The Castle of Otranto
So, I had to read this book for my Gothic Literature class (college is SO fun :roll: ), and I hated it. We did, however, have to write 'reading responses,' and since we weren't actually given any guidelines regarding what to write, I decided to write a scathing review of it (archived on Goodreads if anyone's interested in following me there: www.goodreads.com/review/show/…). Go, me! :XD: 
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Mood: Procrastinating Writer's Block and slightly terrified :fear:
Reading: Emails, Romeo and Juliet fan fiction, and news articles
Eating: S'mores cereal
Drinking: Water 
Watching: Nothing
Weather: Cloudy Rain Cloud Bullet - F2U! 

Also known as: me ranting and giving you all pointless life updates, because I don't have any homework that isn't due until next week. ^^;

So, ah...yeah! Wow, this is the first journal entry that I've posted since starting college. Bit of a milestone, that. :boogie: Anyway, college has been a bit of a wild experience for me thus far; I've made quite a few more friends than I'd foreseen making, and haven't yet been so overwhelmed by work that I want to throw myself off of a roof, which is a plus, considering I'm taking five classes (though I DID punch a tree on my first day of class because I had a bunch of articles to read/write about and a printer that wouldn't bloody work, forcing me to miss dinner). I'm getting along really well with both of my roommates, and have had more guys than I can count on one hand (and one girl) express some...shall we say...interest. Either they're flirting with me, or they're just being nice. I can't really tell. :hmm:

So...what to relate, what to relate...well, part of our orientation included a three-day trip to some remote part of the state, which was a FANTASTIC bonding experience. I wish I had pictures of the lake my group was at to show you guys, but we weren't allowed to have our phones, which was honestly very nice. =P Aside from that...I just finished acting in a production of Alice in Wonderland that my school's theater club (of which I'm now a proud member) put together in a week. Unfortunately (:iconstrongbutgentle:, this is for you), no one took videos. :P I also auditioned for the orchestra (the director of which was completely floored by my playing ability; he literally said to me "how have you never taken lessons? You play so beautifully!", which was nice :D) and the wind ensemble, the latter of which I'll hopefully be joining next semester. 

For now, in addition to the theater club (more on that later), I also joined, in a spur-of-the-moment sort of way (as in, I stopped to watch them set up and was asked if I wanted to join), a taiko drumming club, which I'd seen perform last spring at a program for admitted students. Taiko is a traditional Japanese style of ensemble percussion, and the long and short of it is, it's badass. The drums are almost deafeningly loud, and you can literally feel the vibrations in your chest when you play. Also, yelling whenever you feel like it is totally acceptable, even condoned. I was actually really good at it, which I hadn't been expecting, seeing as I've never played the drums before. It's FUN. 8-bit Raiko Horikawa 

Back to theater! So, one of the shows we're putting on for the fall season is Romeo and Juliet, and the cast list came out today. I'm playing Mercutio, and words can't even begin to describe how excited I am. :excited: revamp... again. Mercutio is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters of all time, and is definitely my oldest Shakespearean character crush (I loved him even back in sixth grade, which was when I first read this play...and also when I was obsessed with the American Revolution and had a weird crush on Paul Revere O.o ). Basically (:iconstrongbutgentle:, you'll enjoy this)...I have this hierarchy for my Shakespeare crushes. Top level: Feste and Iago. Second level: Puck, Iachimo, Mercutio, and Edgar. Third level: Benedick, Beatrice, Viola, Balthasar, Peter Quince, and Tranio. Fourth level: the Earl of Kent, Lear's Fool, Edmund, Troilus, Conrade, Maria, and Grumio. Obviously, getting to play a second-level crush onstage is going to be FANTASTIC...and honestly, Mercurio's just a fun character to play. He's sassy as all hell, and I think the director and stage manager kind of liked the weird hint of a Mancunian accent I gave him...or the performance of the Queen Mab speech itself. They must've liked something. :shrug: In other news, the casting was gender-blind, so Romeo and Juliet are now a lesbian couple, and all of Romeo's friends are also female. This is going to be an interesting show. :eager:

What's less of an interesting show is the curious phenomenon of 'teasing the misfit' that I see every Tuesday and Thursday in my religion class. Now, all throughout middle school and high school, I was one of those people that pop culture would consider a 'misfit.' I was the one that people talked about behind my back, was subtly and snidely teased without my understanding, what you will. Now...I'm on the opposite side of that line. There's a girl in my class who is...a bit immature, for one thing, and more than a bit zealous, for another. She wears Pokemon t-shirts (which I condone one hundred percent), has braces, and speaks so quickly and trippingly that it's impossible to understand half of what she's trying to say; it's as though she's trying to get all of her ideas out as quickly as possible lest she be cut off (which the professor often has to do). The sad part about this is that a lot of what she says is actually very intelligent, no matter how naive she seems...but naive she is. She seems to be perfectly unaware of the exasperated looks that my classmates flash to each other whenever she puts a frantically waving hand up to speak, and to the fact that said classmates are teasing her behind her back. Now, I can't pretend that I haven't been annoyed by her eagerness one more than one occasion, but I don't like seeing the bullying from the 'other side,' as it were. I've never been in the position where I've been complicit in the teasing of another classmate, because I was always the one getting teased. Seeing it from the other side is heartbreaking, more so because she's neither aware of nor bothered by the fact the way I was. It's just...a very strange thing. :no:

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Flute-Maniac
That crazy writer girl
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Well, let's get one thing straight. I'm no famous artist; I'm not even a good artist. I merely draw for the fun of it, and I really don't care if people talk **** about my work. I won't do that to anyone; I'm not that kind of person. We're all artists here, I presume. :) I also write (a hell of a lot): again, for the fun of it. Enjoy!

Come say hi to me on Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own! I am called Masked Man 2 and Masked_Man_2, respectively. Um...here. archiveofourown.org/users/Mask…
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StrongButGentle Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for :+fav:ing :glomp:
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Thank you for your support! I am a dummy! 
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Thanks for the favorite! Your pictures are AMAZING by the way O_o :3
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You're very welcome! :hug: Aw, thanks!
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www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DkJyx… OH SHEESH...I love it :clap:
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OOH!!! :evillaugh:
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:excited:
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I love insanity. Crazy 
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