Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Perhaps it is because I just finished (re)watching the movie Wit (2001) that I felt compelled to think this through.

Else, it could be my seeing a thread asking about one's favorite class, referring not to scholarly classes, though I mistakenly thought so. In any regard, the movie did remind me that my favorite classes were, since the eighth grade, largely English classes, and, as I grew older, became specifically poetry and literature classes.

Perhaps it is due in part to the prolixity of most poems, and some literature, that causes my enjoyment of the classes, but that can only account for, at most, less than half of my love, as though it were quantifiable. Indeed, the source for the majority of my utter revelry in such classes is the professors themselves. Every single one, whether considered 'good' or 'bad', causes in me gaiety as such I can hardly feel except under extremely specific, and unrelated to this subject, circumstances.

To elaborate, it is sitting in front of a professor, as an unseen observer, unseen insofar as I am not being personally seen by him, or her, seeing as I would be in a crowd of, say, 300 other students. But it is sitting in front of a professor and hearing him go on about a poem, or novel, and detail various ideas and theories to the extent that it is obvious, to me at least, of the love these professors have for their subject.

For example, in this movie, the professor Vivian (I am terrible with names and, as such, have already forgotten her last name...), as well as her professor from some time ago, have a scene where Vivian is lectured on a particular poem of John Donne. Now, an English teacher of mine from a few years back told me this story of John Donne and this poem, and I will retell it to you, but I may have it wrong, and for that, I apologize beforehand.

From what I recall, this particular poem of John Donne was published, I believe, sometime in the 17th century. In that poem, which is very beautiful in its own right, the last line goes:
And Death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.
And then, some time later, another version, written by Donne, naturally, of the same poem was found. This time ending with:
And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
 Note the difference. Not only is there an exclaimation mark at the end, but the comma has turned into a semicolon, thus, as Vivian's professor points out in the movie, turning what was a breath into some melodramatic line fit for Shakespeare (paraphrasing her words). Seeing as the two were dated quite close to each other, it is up to scholarly debate as to which rendition is the 'correct' rendition, hence Vivian's professor's poison toward the copy using the latter punctuation style.

Now, for all practical purposes, who cares, right? Nonetheless, it is in my seeing these professors, English, literature, poetry professors, all go on about a piece that sets my soul aflame. It does not matter if I care for the subject, either of the class or of the piece they're lecturing on, just hearing them talk about it, hearing the love in their voice, hearing all the hours they spent outside of class preparing for the lecture, researching, writing notes, discussing with their colleagues...

You have, of course, knowledge of people saying how they heard a wonderful piece of music, or how they saw a particularly beautiful field of flowers, and so were imbued with sheer love of life, yes? It is very much the same thing, though the cause of the feeling is different.

It is a bit odd, honestly, because, in the lectures, you are expected, both as student and simple observer, to not just hear them speak, but to understand their speech, to take notes, to absorb the knowledge they're putting forth. But...but it is just so much more enjoyable to hear them. To hear the tonations of their voice, the different pitches as they read aloud a particular passage, or emphasize a point in their lecture. I gather more joy from hearing them speak, even if, after their lecture is over, I retain nothing, than I do paying apt attention to the meaning of their words and forcing myself to understand what Locke means about material intercourse, or whatever the phrase was. Not very good for a student, hm?

It does not work the same way when, say, an electrical engineer, or nuclear physicist, or medical doctor drones on about their jargon. Indeed, in such cases, I automatically trigger the nod-and-smile mechanism and have my mind wander off to recite Henry V in my head, or thinking about how pretty the clouds are.

As I said, though, not only does listening to professors lecture give me joy, but hearing them read aloud, or even just myself reading silently, various pieces of poetry, or of literature with nice prose, grants me the same, if not greater, joy.

I think I want a book of poetry for Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular."

I always fashioned myself something after Dostoevsky's quote, but I must admit that, the longer and more frequent I keep myself knowledgeable in current events, and, in particular, public opinions of said current events (namely through eavesdropping, comments-section reading, and random googling), the more I find myself turning into a misanthrope.

A current case that caught my eye, which I will hold my tongue a bit out of paranoia from my watching a movie about the stasi earlier this morning, about that one book on Amazon's best seller list, which they defended against accusations and such, then took down in spite of that defense.

But that's not my problem. Indeed, Amazon is a private business and was acting in pure Capitalist desires. I've no qualms against such an action, though I'd prefer a defense of free speech, I am not so Idealistic to expect a big business to prioritize freedom of expression over money.

No, my problem is that newer story of the author being arrested in Colorado, to be extradited to Florida, and thus prosecuted under Florida Criminal Law, not for writing the book, deplorable though the book may be, but for distributing it across state lines.

To put it simply, people everywhere, in every corner of the country, in every news site, conservative or liberal, want this man to die the most gruesome of deaths for writing his book. And, while I do not condone the actions described in the book, I do not want him to die the most gruesome of deaths for writing it. If he broke the law in writing it, then by all means convict him.

That's the thing, though. He has essentially become the target of society's disgust for writing this book, but is going to be convicted under a criminal offense of distributing "obscene" material across state lines. Now, anyone who has had even the slightest interest in the US' policies concerning material deemed, shall I say, less-than-savory in the eyes of the majority of society should know this law very well. It is, unless I've slipped up on the names, the same law Chris Handley was convicted under. Indeed, while the 'normals' wanted him thrown in prison for his cartoon porn, he was only convicted for transporting "obscene" material across state lines.

Now, this is my problem. This law is obviously nonsensical. Why, nearly every single American in this country is in violation of it, if pornography crossing state lines via copper cables counts, and yet the law is not enforced against us. No, this law's purpose is to single out a minority and torture them, socially and legally, taking away all they have by publicizing their 'dirty little secrets' and throwing them in jail for good measure. It is in this way that, upon release, they will be hard pressed to find a job, their families will avoid them, friends will have mysteriously vanished or changed their phone numbers, and they will have their world flipped upside down. This is, in effect, the same qualms I have against Megan's Law, but never you mind that.

People across the world have an opinion over the American Legal System, mostly, if not wholly, negative. The reason, I believe, the justice system in this country is horrid is due, not to corrupt politicians, nor private jails, but for another matter.

It is not illegal for this man to write or sell this book. At all. Everyone who wants the author to burn in hell, to get violently raped in prison, to get shot in the forehead, to be tortured, to be flayed upon a stake, or whatever other graphic descriptions I've read good Christians and kindly Atheist neighbors demand of him, it is for an action that is not a crime. And thank god for it.

But because it is not illegal for him to write this book, the only way they can satisfy their vindictive desires for justice is by catching him on a nonsensical law that, as I have said, surely all of Americans are in violation of, but only those who go against the 'normal moral mindset' are convicted under.

It is in the minds of every American that its purpose is to extract vengeance from criminals. A sort of reparation to the victims, whoever they may be. Indeed, even people who are not the victims of a crime have become so self-centered that they demand revenge extracted from criminals and/or supposed criminals for 'crimes' not inflicted upon them.

This is why the US legal system is horrid. Not corruption of officials, but because the people themselves are selfish and corrupt.  And thus my slow descent into misanthropy, hating both man in particular and man in general, at least as defined by man in the particular.


My apologies, it seems I was a bit misinformed. I could type up my misinformation, but a screenshot with relevant links would be easier. And it would serve as an image for this post.

Well, that being the case, I take back my remarks on the Federal law concerning obscenity. Not that it matters, but it's good to be honest about these things. My opinions about American citizens and using the justice system as a means to their sense of satisfying their 'revenge' I still stand by, however.