…entre nous soit dit…

between me you and the gatepost.

I’m so stupid…

It is currently 2.45 and there is just over 2 and a half hours until I have to get up and get ready for work tomorrow – I’m going to be dead… or not be able to wake myself up…. which would result in me losing my new job. Why can’t I just be sensible and go to sleep?!?!?

Anyways, I have to write an assignment – an outline of what my folio piece is going to be for my creative writing unit this semester. I did the same thing last year except on a higher scale because it was a second year unit – this one is only a first year unit (and yes I’m aware of how strange that seems working backwards, but anyways!

I’m trying to choose what story I might want to write about. i just read A Street Car Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and that got my passion for plays thriving again (it was previously started by Shakespeare). Problem is, I don’t know if I’d be able to write a play, as much as I’d like to. My creative writing is usually very subtle and plays should be dramatic or bold, so I don’t think I would convert well to that. So for the mean time, I’m sticking with a short story idea. These are my current ideas:

  1. A story from the point of view of a person inside a village in Vietnam or Cambodia during times when there were attacks constantly
    eg1: in Vietnam the story of the naked vietnamese girl (Kim Phuc Phan Thai) running from her village after a napalm attack, but from the point of view of someone else in the photo. Over 65% of her body was burnt and the photo taken of her in 1972 by Nick Ut became the most iconic photo of the Vietnam war.
    eg2: from the point of view of the Khmer man that used to cut palm trees for a living and was one of the first to notice the killings going on in the main killing field on Cambodia, and one of the first to step forward and actually talk about it – OR – from the point of view of a prisoner guard that didn’t want to be there but was forced to work at Tuol Sleng Prison (S21).
      
  2. A autobiography style extract about my parents as I grew up and the mayhem they caused – especially and particularaly in reference to my grandfathers death – OR – turn those memories into a fictional (and less whiny) story about a boys relation to his grandfather seeing as his parents were always fighting and neglected him.
     
  3. A story about a sad old house that is basically a representative of the little old lady inside it. Each house room is like a memory or part of the woman and as she dies, the house seems to as well, yet the world keeps moving.
     
  4. A rape scene, which is only a small portion of a book that I started to write once upon a time years ago. I unfortunately wrote this scene (which is traumatising enough) and then lost it when my computer crashed shortly after. I haven’t been able to bring myself to rewrite such a chilling scene, but this could be a cause – OR – I could try writing the ending scene from the novel in which one of the characters kills himself… but considering I haven’t decided how he’s going to do that yet, it’s a bit hard.
  5. A scene of a past romantic memory between a girl and the boy she’s just lost – either he can die or be leaving.
     
  6. Create the memories/reflections of one of the children I met at the orphanage in Cambodia – he had a family that included a sister who wasn’t all there in the head either as a result of how they were brought up with a violent father, who was sent to jail for beating the mother so badly; and a mother that eventually ended up going crazy from all the beatings to the head, and had to be tied to the floor in order to stop her from harming herself or others – she died whilst tied up.
     
  7. A guy that goes around killing people so he can harvest one organ from them – there’s always one really good quality one that he just can’t resist. Except he seems to be tormenting the main character by only killing people that she knows and meanwhile she’s stuck in a giant red maze. (It’s a weird dream I had)
     
  8. Flashbacks from the point of view of a girl as she is giving birth. She looks back on how she was sent away from everything she knew because she got pregnant (which is outrageously shameful in her time and age). Looks at the shame of her family, her isolation and her thoughts.

So my question for you is, which story idea seems the best so far, because I’m stuck and out of ideas. So far I’ve written three very very short stories, but the best is the one about the house and the old woman. So this is my call to PLEASE TAKE YOUR VOTE AND DECIDE WHICH IDEA IS BEST!!

Thanking you very kindly gentlemen and ladies. And now I’m going to get my measly 2 hours of sleep – Lord help me tomorrow.

Advertisements

March 29, 2010 Posted by | essays, homework, My Story, my writings, photography, procrastinating, university | 4 Comments

Subjects to Ponder…

I have just joined the team writing the University Newspaper and today I went to my first meeting. I managed to get quite caught up in the theme of ‘America’ and ended up volunteering to do both an article on the theme, as well as a music review. Seeing as I live in a college at University, I decided to write an article on college life and how it is not only considered a social aspect, but also a almost necessary and important aspect of university in America. College life here is not common and rarely done by the average student, but I think we should be adopting a more American or British style in this aspect. So this is a shout out to anyone who feels like sharing an opinion or two about that, because for my article, I’d really like to get an idea as to the American’s perspective on College life as well.

Another research topic that I have to cover is one that I have to present for politics: 

“Is the current military operation in Afghanistan by NATO and US allies such as Australia a just war. Discuss with reference to all the conditions for a just war.”

Not only do I have to research and present this topic to my tutorial group in 8 weeks time, but I also have to read up on all of this information and the facts in order to be prepared for discussion group at college next week. Tonight we discussed the style of curriculum at our University and whether or not it should be changed, but when thinking of a new topic for next week, I mentioned our involvement in the war on terror as a topic of discussion. Everyone chose this topic, however no one really knows much about it specifically and accurately. As a result, seeing as I’d mentioned I have to write an upcoming piece on it, I was volunteered to find out all the facts and figures on it for next week. It doesn’t exactly help that I was one of two students there that did politics – most of the students in the discussion group were either Engineers or Commerce students (or both), as is most common in my college as a whole.

So, looks like I’ll be doing my research seven weeks early – I think this could possibly be a new record for me! So another shout out for anyone that stumbles across this, if you know of any websites or articles relating to the war on terror, the war in Afghanistan or anywhere else (or anything else relevant to my question), please leave me a comment and let me know, so that then I can at least get a grip on a few different perspectives and facts.

Well I’m off to do my french assignment and then look at the questions for my philosophy essay due next week… The joys of overloading at university… *sigh*

August 18, 2009 Posted by | college, essays, homework, my writings, Politics, university | 2 Comments

Le Phénix (1951) by Paul Éluard

I just found the most gorgeous poem. It’s the first poem I’ve had to translate from french, so naturally I fell in love with it.

J’ai regardé devant moi
Dans la foule je t’ai vue
Parmi les blés je t’ai vue
Sous un arbre je t’ai vue

Au bout de tous mes voyages
Au fond de tous mes tourments
Au tournant de tous les rires
Sortant de l’eau et du feu

L’été l’hiver je t’ai vue
Dans ma maison je t’ai vue
Entre mes bras je t’ai vue
Dans mes rêves je t’ai vue

Je ne te quitterai plus.

(Paul Éluard, Le Phénix, 1951, in Derniers poèmes d’amour)

 

After my pretty dodgy translation (mostly done by my computer let’s face it) I think it roughly means this:

I look in front of me
In a crowd  I saw you
(dont know this line)
Under a tree I saw you

At the end of all my voyages
At the bottom of all my torments
 With the turning of all the laughter
Leaving water and fire

The summer the winter I saw you
In my house I saw you
Between my arms I saw you
In my dreams I saw you

I will not be left anymore.

July 29, 2009 Posted by | bored, homework, Poetry | Leave a comment

Philosophy Essay Two: The Meaning of Life.

“Human life can only have meaning if God exists and there is an afterlife.” Demonstrate why this claim is true or false.

Many people hold different beliefs as to what the meaning of life is, and for thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have pondered over the truth of it – some producing theories on the subject. Among them are Epictetus, a Greek-born Roman slave who developed theories on stoicism and Robert Nozick who wrote about ‘The Experience Machine’ [1] and held an anti-hedonistic viewpoint. While both of these philosophers developed different ideas, they both shared a common goal: trying to understand what the most important thing in our lives is. Many believe that through theology and belief we gain meaning to our lives, but what if there is no God and no afterlife? Can we still have meaning? Atheists believe that there is no meaning to our lives, but we seem to be unable to accept this so we ‘have to invent meaning (and as a result we create) religions and areas of study which help structure and give explanation and purpose to our lives.’ [2] Although some believe this – that we use religion as an explanation for the meaning of our lives – others such as Nozick and Epictetus developed other ideas and tried to prove that there can in fact be meaning to our lives if there is indeed no god or afterlife.

While neither philosopher directly denies god and religion, each one says that there are other things more important. Epictetus writes that what matters for a good life (for most) is a peaceful state of mind that is tranquil. He insists that ‘all your attention must be given to the mind’ [3] and that the ‘price of a quiet mind’ and ‘freedom from passion’ [4] is by only caring about the things that are within your control – this includes everything that is our own doing – and to ignore all that is not in our control. Robert Nozick, on the other hand, does not condemn passion and desire or focus on the tranquillity of the mind, but instead says that in our lifetime it is not only our experiences and happiness that give our lives meaning, but also the contact with reality that we have. Nozick states ‘What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?’ [5] He then proposes for the reader to imagine that there is a machine that can simulate any experience we want, and asks the question do you plug yourself in? Nozick takes the stance that it’s not merely the experience that creates meaning in your life, but the lessons learnt and how actually doing those things forms you as a person, however for this to occur you can not have a simulated and unrealistic experience. This is completely contrary to a hedonistic view, which dictates that happiness is the only thing that matters in life – no matter how it is gained. Other philosophies can be seen to draw from hedonism, such as utilitarianism, which believes in the maximisation of utility for a good life [6]. The common factor throughout all these theories, however, is that mankind can search for, or reach, meaning in their life without the necessity of God or an afterlife.

Nozick and Epictetus seem to clash on the ideas of the involvement of emotion, passion and desire. While Nozick is relatively ambiguous as to how much weight must be given to happiness and contact with reality, he is certain that they must both be present. It can be assumed that to be happy you must have passion and emotion, and care for things that are “not in your control” as Epictetus would say. Based on this, with this happiness comes the contact with reality that Nozick describes as necessary, and in turn the downside of life that balances the out the happiness we are granted through our experiences. Without this touch of reality, we would be plugged into the theoretical “experience machine” unknowingly and without any individuality. We would not form self-identities and we would not be able to question reality. Of all the things granted to humans, some would argue that the ability to question “Why?” is one of the greatest and we need this contact with reality in order to use this ability. However, these emotions that comes with Nozick’s ideas are not included in Epictetus’ idea of a good life. Epictetus believes that all we need to have is a tranquil mind at peace with nature, and in achieving this, we shall also achieve contentedness. In a modern day society, Epictetus’ ideas may be seen as being submissive and impassive, but this is how he intends them. He says that ‘you will only be harmed, when you think you are harmed’ [7] and that the signs of a person that is making progress at achieving this tranquillity ‘blames none, praises none, complains of none, accuses none, never speaks of himself as if he were somebody, or as if he knew anything’ [8]. All of these aspects, nevertheless, would go against Nozick’s ideas of experience and contact with reality, because they veto the person from both feeling and passion, as well as the ability to adeptly question “why?” Despite these differences, both theorists have created plausible theories that would give, what they consider to be, meaning to our lives without the need of god or an afterlife.

Both stoicism, as described by Epictetus, and anti-hedonism, as argued by Nozick, can produce viable theories about what gives meaning to mankind’s individual existence without the need of God or an afterlife. Each philosopher comes to his own conclusion through different ideas, both with their positive and negative aspects to the lifestyle. Stoicism disregards emotion and passion for contentedness and tranquillity of mind, and in return doesn’t allow the person to be either hurt, or conversely, experience the joys of life fully; and Anti-Hedonism, which allows both as much happiness as we can gain, as well as contact with reality through our real experiences, that help to shape the person we become. Both theories involve self-development and education of the mind, whether it be questioning reality and life, or disciplining it to be at peace with nature. Neither of the theories involves the blind following of a religion created to satisfy our need for meaning to our existence, and in turn the necessity of a God or an afterlife.

 

References:

·      Manual’ extracted from: Oates, W.J. (ed), (1940). The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers. (New York: Random House)

·      BonJour, L. (ed), Baker, A. (ed),(2008) Philosophical Problems: An annotated Anthology, (Second Edition) (United States: Pearson Longman)

·      The Experience Machine’ extracted from: Nozick, R., (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. (New York: Basic Books)

·      Hawthorn, E., (1998). Atheism for Survival. (Australia: The National Library of Australia Cataloguing in Publication)

May 20, 2009 Posted by | essays, homework, life, morals, observation, philosophy, School Work, university | Leave a comment

"And Slacker of the Year… goes to ME!"

Ok so I have a psychology Lab Report due in 3 hours give or take a couple of minutes now. I have known about it for the last couple of weeks and could  have easily done it, but as per usual, I was my normal slack self and didn’t do it. Now I’m left to try and do last minute scrapings to get it together. except I still can’t bring myself to do it.
How pathetic do my studies and attentions want to be hey?
Grrrr! I hate psychology. Pretty sure it would be easier to drop the damned subject and pick up an extra one next semester, then attempt to try and catch up on everything that I have missed so far. it’s my own fault I guess. Owell, guess I better go attempt to see what I’m supposed to be doing and actually try to get it done. 
Outeee.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | homework, idiotic, School Work, trouble, university | Leave a comment

Philosophy: Utilitarianism

So, I’m doing philosophy at university this year as one of my subjects. It’s pretty fascinating, although I must say that it is a whole lot more inspiring when you can actually discuss it in tutorials as opposed to just sitting there, listening and tuning out in the lectures. I usually tune out, and then get lost when the professors do the lectures. Either that or else I get all muddled up and confused and then I lose what was being said, because I’m busy trying to figure it out.
This past weeks topic was Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism has a quantative and reductionist approach to ethics and put simply is basically about achieving It can be simplified pretty easily to “the greatest good for the greatest number”. It’s all about the math really – the more people there are happy, the better. The numbers always win. Good old trustworthy Wikipedia describes it as:
“…the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all persons. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome: put simply, the ends justify the means. Utility, the good to be maximised, has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain)… It may be described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance.”
For out tutorial discussions, we were given a couple of situations that we had to consider both from a moral point of view and a utilitarian point of view as to what is the right and wrong actions. We got some good arguments going, but there’s always different moral answers.
Situation One:
You’re standing on a bridge over some train tracks and you see a train coming. Tied to the tracks right below you is 5 people. Next to you (coincidentally) is a lever which you can pull that will move the train from the track it’s on, to another one next to it and in doing so it will miss hitting the 5 people. However tied to the other track is 1 person.
The dilemma: do you pull the lever or not?
From a moral point of view, only you can answer what you would do – pull the leaver or not. Personally, I would if I was able to react fast enough. Of course it would be emotionally traumatising knowing that you had pulled the leaver that had killed someone, but you saved five others. If I didn’t pull the leaver I would feel even worse because I would know that I could have saved those people, but instead I just watched them die and didn’t do anything.
From a utilitarian perspective, the answer is a yes without hesitation. You would of course opt to save the five lives over the one life, because that maximises the happiness in society. By having five people who can experience happiness and create happiness, that is a lot more than only one person on their own can create or experience. The numbers always win.
Situation Two:
 Same situation with the train, except this time there’s only one track and instead of there being a lever to pull to save the five people, there’s only some big bulky muscled up wrestler who is big enough that if you pushed him off the bridge, he would stop the train with the sheer size of his body. He would die, but the train would stop after hitting him and therefore it would save the other five people. (and yes theoretically speaking you are strong enough to push him over and yes he will land on the tracks)
Once again, from a utilitarian point of view, the answer is without a doubt yes – push him. You would  be able to, once again, save those 5 people instead of them all dying.
From a moral perspective however, most people would say no or be hesitant. For me, I wouldn’t be able to do it. There seems to be a line which I draw between pulling an inanimate object that changes a course of fate, and pushing a warm blooded, living breathing person to their death. Having that physical connection and knowing what you’re dooming them to by that action, would have so much more of an emotional and psychological affect on you. 
By pushing that innocent person, you are condemning them to death and putting them in the situation that they were previously no part of. However if the person from the first situation was already tied to the tracks, then they were already involved in the situation to some degree or an extent. I think that physical contact with the man, makes it feel just that little bit more like you’ve made the choice to kill them and the blood is on your hands. Whereas in the first situation, I think I could have eventually persuaded myself that there was really nothing else I could have done.
Situation Three:
Continuing from the topic of the week before, abortion, we had one situation involving this, however it is probably the most complicated one to consider of them all. If a woman gets pregnant (no matter how that happens – rape or accident), but doesn’t want to keep the child, should she be made to carry through with the pregnancy for the full 9 months and then give the child away for adoption, instead of being allowed an abortion?
We decided that from a moral stance, the woman should be allowed to make up her own mind as to whether or not she wants to carry through to term, because it is her body and is a basic human right to decide what happens to your own body. She should be allowed to choose based on her own decision and not told what she has to do by other people. However, we never really decided on a definite answer from a Utilitarian point of view though.
Now on one hand, the suffering that she may go through for those 9 months will be far less than the lifetime of joy that the child will be able to have if it is born. So the happiness outweighs the suffering here. However it must also be taken into account, other factors such as what happens if both the mother and child are emotionally and/or psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives, as is often the case. Then the happy life that the mother could have had would be outweighed by the two now unhappy  lives, which is negative. 
What happens if the mother kills herself because she had to carry through the pregnancy or she dies giving birth? Then we end up with the same numbers as before – 1 life, which isn’t even guaranteed to be happy. What if the mother would have had 3 children later on in life, but due to being forced to carry through an untimely pregnancy, then she is put off childbirth for life? Then the world has lost the possibility of 3 more happy lives for only 1.
There are simply too many variables to consider in this situation. To simply say that if we stop abortion and as a result have more people being born, then there will obviously be more happiness in the world, and as such it will satisfy the utilitarian way of life, is to suggest that we should start up breeding farms in order to make the world a happier place. That idea failed tragically in Romania where contraception was outlawed in 1985 and abortion had already been banned in the hopes that the communist party could force the “pure Romanian birthrate” and population to rise dramatically. Their failed plan, implemented by Ceausescu, resulted in large numbers of dangerous illegal abortions and tens of thousands of unwanted children being abandoned into the state orphanages. The severely malnourished children that ended up in the orphanages were given micro-transfusions of blood (an archaic practice) in an attempt to raise their immune systems, but ended up resulting in an AIDS epidemic from needles being reused and unscreened blood. This plan was a disaster to say the least.
Situation Four:

At a hospital, there are five patients who all need an organ transplant in the next few hours in order to survive. One needs a heart, another a lung, two need a kidney each and the last needs a new liver. Coincidentally there is a patient in the hospital with a broken ankle that just happens to have the same blood type and matching tissues to the other 5 patients. The person with the broken ankle has just come out of surgery for their ankle and is still asleep. They other 5 people will be dead before the anaesthesia wears off. A doctor there knows how to remove organs quietly and make the bodies go away, so he takes out the organs and gives them to the other five patients.
Morally, we are shocked by this. Harvesting one man’s organs is a crime and shocking to our society of course. Fact is, that there is a black market out there that survives on exactly this kind of murder, although it usually happens in a more crude way and not in a hospital. Morally though, this is extremely and utterly wrong to the vast majority of people.
From a utilitarian’s perspective, this is (given a shallow and very basic analysis) right, because once again, the numbers win out. However, if examined closer, there are more things to consider. Such as if the society begins to think that their organs could be harvested if they go into hospital for something as small as even plastic surgery or a broken arm, then they will eventually stop going to the hospitals, and as a result people won’t have any health care, get sick, and that will mean mass unhappiness of society, which is the complete opposite aim of utilitarianism.
All these situations are hard to decide on, and I think it’s really up to the individual as to what is right and wrong morally, because it’s based on what our limits are. Utilitarian perspectives can be relatively easy to decide on because it’s just about doing the math, but on a deeper examination, there can be so many more variables and possibilities that need to be taken into consideration before the numbers can be worked out.

March 12, 2009 Posted by | homework, life, morals, observation, people, philosophy, university | 1 Comment

English Lit: Notes for Understanding

Social Context

The social context is the identical or similar social positions and social roles as a whole that influence the individuals of a group. The social environment of an individual is the culture that he or she was educated and/or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts. A given social environment is likely to create a feeling of solidarity amongst its members, who are more likely to keep together, trust and help one another. Members of the same social environment will often think in similar styles and patterns even when their conclusions differ.


Cultural Context

A culture may be defined as a system of communication and a body of learned knowledge. Intercultural and international communicators must face the challenge of overcoming differences. By understanding some of the systemic differences in the communication processes, structures and interaction patterns of a culture, we can acquire greater competency to deal with differences

Intercultural/ International Communication
Theories of cultural variability examine how differences affect interpersonal communication. Political, social and religious systems of thought around the globe shape attitudes toward interpersonal communication.

 Racial and Ethnic Identification
We define ourselves by the communities into which we have been born and nurtured — often along lines of race and ethnic identification.

Economic and Social Class
Social strata of class and economic standing affect the way we communicate interpersonally.

 Gender and Communication
We develop identity in light of sexual characteristics and acquire gender related interpersonal roles and rules of interaction.

 Sexual and Affectional Orientation
We realize an identity in terms of sexual attraction and affectional orientation.

 

Cultutal Identity

There are modern questions of culture that are transferred into questions of identity. Various cultural studies and social theory investigate the question of cultural identity. In recent decades, a new form of identification and with pieces broken off from the individual as a coherent whole subject.

Cultural identity remarks upon: place, genderrace, history, nationalitysexual orientationreligious beliefs and ethnicity.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Help for slack Lit Students, homework, Literature, school, School Work | Leave a comment