In early middle school, we began annotating for metaphors, imagery, similes, and character development in our books. Once we’d reached the 8th grade, it was time to stop identifying the elements of a story and start identifying symbolism. We began by picking apart The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Did you know that Santiago was a Christ figure? Or that the fish was also a Christ figure? No, you never noticed that? There’s a reason for that: that religious symbolism likely isn’t really there. At best, most of the symbols we analyzed for the next five years were analogous to conspiracy theories. At worst, they were completely imaginary.
I remember complaining to my parents about how much I hated the The Old Man and the Sea, and they were shocked. They’d loved it! They asked me what I didn’t like about it, and I told them simply, “The religious symbolism. It’s too pedantic.”
They looked at me with utter confusion. “I don’t remember any religious symbolism. That doesn’t sound like Hemingway.” … More On Symbolism, Part I: What I Learned in English Class
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a writer, it’s that word-choice can drastically change a person’s impression of a situation. If that person comes from the same culture as the writer, then the impact of the right word can be fairly predictable. For instance, here in the US, the word “confidence” is almost always viewed in a positive light. We tend to think of its opposite as something along the lines of “shyness”, “fear”, or “anxiety”. Something negative. But for every word in the English language, there is an equal and opposite word. In this case, opposite words that still have positive connotations: sincerity and humility.
In the US, rumor has it that confidence can gain you practically anything. Act confident all the time, and you will go far! But will you really?
Below I explore the pros and cons of being confident and being humble. … More Confidence and Humility
You’ve been climbing a mountain for days. You’ve made good progress so far, but you come across a gravel-strewn slope and cannot for the life of you get a foothold. Your progress comes to a halt. You are stuck, constantly moving your feet but getting no where. You look around desperately for another path to the top, but you’ve already come so far on this route…
So why does everyone keep trying to climb the gravel? … More Take a Break
Many of you have heard that there is only one story, and it keeps being retold in different forms. Is this real, and should we even care?
The side you take in this debate boils down to your definition of a “story”. Of course every combination of letters in the alphabet is different. But the “one story” theory states that every story ever told asks the question, “Who am I?” or “What is man?” or something along those lines. In a way, this is true. Every human wants to find herself, and every society wants to know its place in the world.
But in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t entirely matter.
Today, we’re talking about the implications of “cliches”, and how many people believe that it’s impossible to have an entirely original story. … More Is there only one story?
Originally published 8/20/2016. Minor grammatical edits. Lead image via Pexels. Scifi Question: “Would we be at the mercy of any aliens advanced enough to travel to earth? Could aliens invade successfully?” I know most of my insomnia posts aren’t about random science fiction questions, but I would just like to set the record straight on … More 6 Real Problems with an Alien Invasion
1. If you have not reproduced, you are not alive
2. If you are asleep, you are not alive
3. If you don’t learn from your experiences, you are not alive
4. If you’re disorganized, you are not alive
5. If you’re environmentally-friendly, you are less alive
6. If you are composed of cells, are you alive? … More The Definition of Life
I hear lots of complaints about bronies.
For those of you who don’t know, a “brony” is a male who enjoys the hit show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, currently in its 6th season on Discovery Family. For a 4-minute introductory video on the topic (in the form of song, of course), see this YouTube AMV: Let’s Go and Meet the Bronies (Note: AMV stands for “Animated Music Video”).
Despite the amazing, original songs (personal favorite: “Don’t Mine at Night”), shorts, animations, and artwork that bronies have contributed to the online community, they get a bad reputation. Why? Two reasons:
1. Rule 34, which we shall not go into
2. There’s “something wrong with a grown man watching a show meant for little girls.” <— THIS is the statement we will be debunking today. … More Why Are People Ashamed to Watch Kids’ Shows?
When I was in the sixth grade, my English teacher told us a story about the best persuasive essay she’d ever read from one of her students. The argument of the essay? Everything we do in life is motivated by fear.
Why do we go to work? To get money. Why money? So we can buy food. So we don’t starve. Fear of death = motivation of everything.
I accepted this as fact for a while, listing different examples in my mind. Students taking extracurricular for fear of not getting into college, giving into peer pressure for fear of being an outsider, dieting for fear of ridicule or health problems…
And then I got to roller coasters. Why do we ride roller coasters? For fear of…not having fun? … More Motivation: Fun vs. Fear
Everyone seems to know the name “Dungeons and Dragons” and picture something in mind at its mention, but few people seem to know what the game actually is. “Math geeks dress up to play a Medieval board game that makes them forget about how crappy their lives are” is usually what I hear.
Well, just as Luke Skywalker said: “Impressive…every word in that sentence was wrong.” … More What is Dungeons and Dragons?