Hello all, I know I haven't written here in a couple weeks. That doesn't mean that I haven't been writing, however. In class in the past two weeks, we managed to read "Oedipus Rex" along with watching an array of TED Talks. In response to those pieces, we were asked to write posts in a tragedy blog, which is supposed to be about our ideas on tragedy and how they are confirmed, challenged, or unchanged. Those of you who are a bit more perceptive probably noticed that you can find those posts under the first trimester tab in "Tragedy Blog." Through these blogs, even though I did not realize it while I wrote them, I think I have managed to come up with my own abstract concept of tragedy and how it relates to different aspects of the real world. One key thing that sold me on tragedy was the TED Talk that we watched about choices. In it, the gentleman who gave the talk suggested that we are not in full control of our choices. One example that he gave that stuck out to me was that when there is a default choice, people are usually too lazy or unable to make a decision about changing the choice. This example sold me on tragedy and this TED Talk for one reason only: I could easily see that it relates to Linux, a free and open source kernel that is usually combined with GNU to make a complete operating system that comes in many 'flavors' or distributions. This talk relates to Linux because most computers come with Microsoft Windows or macOS preinstalled. Using Linux requires the user to be active instead of passive by installing the operating system. This explains why Linux does not make up a larger portion of the desktop OS market than it does. This relates back to the point about default choices that I mentioned earlier. You can find Linus Torlvalds, the creator of Linux, talking about why Linux does not make up a larger portion of the market here. See you next week (hopefully)!
This week was largely a week of work. We started each day with our normal routines for that day, but we spent most of the rest of the time writing our connecting evidence to claims essays and completing the worksheet that accompanied it. I would not say that we learned an expansive list of new material, but we did solidify old material that we knew. One such item would be the writing process. Having covered it last week, I will not talk about our adventures in the writing process in depth. I will, however, mention how all of the focus on writing in this class is finally getting to me. Don’t get me wrong – my general views of reading and writing have not fundamentally changed, but I am seeing more use for the stuff we learn in class in the real world. For example, I wrote a college application essay a few days ago about a community I belong to: Mount Pleasant Soccer. Writing this essay was not what connected to the class; what happened afterward was. Having just ended my senior soccer season, I was filled with many emotions about the bittersweet goodbye I was saying to the fields that I had been playing on since I was 11 or 12. The essay brought these emotions to the front of my mind. For whatever reason, I kept thinking about writing a poem about the feelings I was having and calling it “A Bittersweet Farewell,” but alas, the poem has yet to find its way into existence. Perhaps I will write it in the creative writing time next week. If you’re looking for some good music that might help inspire you to write a poem, I would suggest the album “Epicloud” by Devin Townsend Project. You can find it on Spotify here.
For whatever reason, this week writing seemed to be the main theme. It also is a happy coincidence that it happened to ‘click’ for me this week. Sure, I don’t know anywhere near everything about writing, but the bit that I do know finally makes sense. Perhaps it’s the good feeling that comes from finally finishing a piece that I thought was great, and perhaps I just intuitively understood it suddenly (maybe a bit of both?). Whatever the reason, writing is interesting now. That interest certainly was not wasted this week. I wrote what I will call the first version of my short story “Lost in Memory” as I plan to update it in the future. I really struggled to make time to write outside of class, so I probably will finish it last minute on Sunday night. The writing process work we did this week was helpful since it coincided with my sudden interest in writing (more on how long that interest lasts in a future post). I also think the guest speaker was relevant and useful, even if it was just his explanation of why other people not liking your writing is not the end of the world that really stood out. I hope that my excitement with writing lasts into the next few weeks so I can truly finish my short story, even if the version I turned in was a complete story. If you visit this page from outside the AP Lit ecosystem at my school and wish to view my work, the homepage of the site has links to works I write during the class. If you're interested in "Lost in Memory" (you know you are) you can read it here.
This week I achieved my goal of being in class for the whole week, but beyond that we did not do very much. The two main things we did were look at art as a window into literature as well as analyzing a part of the poem "Elegy in X Parts" by Matt Rasmussen. I’m not going to sugarcoat it - looking at art as a window into literature was not very interesting to me. I already do not particularly enjoy analyzing literature, even with the steps taken in this class, but adding analyzing art into the mix just makes it even less bearable. I do not think that I gained anything from the art, but I suppose that the best lessons might be the ones that you do not even realize you learned. I am open to looking at more art and literature, but I would prefer if it was only one day rather than being spread throughout the week. The poetic analysis was once again okay given the TPCASTT tool, but it seemed a bit dry. The poem was interesting enough and the logical analysis was fine, but I seemed to find myself sort of “faking” the subjective stuff (the “what does this poem mean to you” sort of stuff). I don’t mean this in the sense that my ideas were not my own, but I did not put nearly as much time into my thoughts as I had tried to let on. I think if I would have tried more at the subjective stuff my analysis could have been even better. One suggestion I have for the future of the class is to perhaps try analyzing some music instead of paintings. There’s a webpage about it here.
This week was another week that I was not present in class for some time. I missed Wednesday for a quizbowl tournament, at which we did very well, and Thursday for a homecoming court meeting. Once again, despite my absence from the class, I was able to glean some information from the week. I learned to look at literature in a slightly different way. The use of metaphors to connect works of literature had already been introduced to me before, but the activity this week of actually coming up with a metaphor helped me to apply it in a real situation. My group's metaphor was not that impressive, but it got the job done. We drew a building with the foundation being reading, and each successive level being a new level of understanding through discussion. This played really well into our quote which was something similar to “Discussion of reading might be more important than the solitary act of reading.” We struggled with connecting it to the chapter from How to Read Literature Like a Professor, but managed to do so, albeit loosely. I missed the day that our metaphor was supposed to be presented, so I have no idea how my group did. I did, however, find a list of tips that can be used to make visual metaphors. You can find it here. I am hoping to be in class more next week so I can have more to write about.
This week in class was interesting. I missed the end of class on Wednesday and there was a senior meeting on Thursday. In the time that I was actually in class, however, I still managed to learn a few things. One such thing is that poetic analysis does not always have to be dull and lacking in structure. I discovered this through the tool that is TPCASTT. For those of you reading this that have never had Andy Schoenborn as a teacher, TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude, Shifts, Title, and Theme. You might be wondering, "Why is title listed twice?" This originally confused me as well since I did not realize that there were instructions on the page and descriptions of each piece. The first title is simply your first impression of the poem and any assumptions you make based on the title. The second title is revisiting the title to look for new insight into the poem. This tool really helped me because it provides a structured, logical way to analyze a poem and learn about it deeper than simply reading it. The TPCASTT tool led me on a quest to find other structured, logical ways to analyze poetry. Most devices that I found use similar or even the same information as TPCASTT, however it is usually in a different format. One such device can be found here. I am looking forward to seeing more logical analysis of items in the class to help reduce the stress I feel about unstructured analysis.
I haven't exactly kept track of what I've learned this week very well, but looking back I can identify a few things. One of the things I learned, or rather had confirmation of, was that reading does not have to be fast to be effective. To me, this means that even though I might only read a few pages in a session, I can still glean useful information from the text. The activity with the reading rates also showed me that I can read more than I think. I have never been particularly diligent about finishing books that I start, even if I am interested in them. Realizing that I could finish a book every week and a half or so without much extra effort says to me that I must have been making up excuses not to read in the past. From now on, I probably will find myself finishing more books than I have previously. Another thing I learned this week is how much I dislike writing about myself in third person. My third person writing seems to me to be so detached and disconnected when compared to my first person pieces. This is different, of course, when it comes to writing stories in the third person. I think my story works are certainly more alive and connected. I think this AP class seriously has the chance to challenge my views of English class, reading for more than just information, and possibly the world. I am looking forward to the rest of the year and I am also excited to see what I can learn next!