On Symbolism, Part 2: What is a Symbol?

One of the biggest downsides to how symbolism is taught in English class is that it gives students the wrong idea of what symbolism is. By graduation, students are split into two camps: one camp where all symbolism is a myth made up by academics and another camp where the blue-curtain brand of symbolism is sacred.

Symbolism is a real thing, but its name has been so warped by public English classrooms that I’m more tempted to call it something like “associative meaning,” “connotation,” or “object emotion.” But the most basic definition of a symbol is something that has meaning beyond what it is in a literal sense. The key here is that the meaning has to be understood in order to be an effective symbol, even if that understanding is subconscious.

In other words: people don’t need to be taught how to find symbolism. If it’s an effective symbol, then the intended audience should register on some level that the symbol is important. Symbolism analysis, then, should focus on articulating the feelings that one already experiences when coming across a symbol, not digging to find made-up symbols. … More On Symbolism, Part 2: What is a Symbol?

June Newsletter

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou News: As you can tell, I’ve been enjoying my Maya Angelou quotes… This summer, I’ll be working on looking for writing agents! If you know any, please feel free to make my search a little easier and let me know! … More June Newsletter

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (2017)

I’m not sure whether to call this “Girl Power: the Novel” or “PTSD: the Novel.”

The Alice Network is a historical fiction novel telling the combined stories of Charlie Sinclair and Evelyn Gardener, who both lost a close, spirited friend to the cruelties of the two world wars. They team up in search of Charlie’s missing cousin, Rose, and in the end discover that their experiences were quite similar, embrace independence, and finally hunt down the person who wronged them both.

Now, I don’t think you should read this book. … More The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (2017)

Epigenetics (2012) and Game Theory (2008)

Originally posted 1/3/2016. Lead images from Amazon.   5 STARS and 3 STARS (respectively) So the full titles of the books are: Epigenetics: How the Environment Shapes Our Genes by a professor named Richard Francis and Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life by Len Fisher. These are both non-fiction books, so I won’t exactly be focusing … More Epigenetics (2012) and Game Theory (2008)

Why Are People Ashamed to Watch Kids’ Shows?

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?

Motivation: Fun vs. Fear

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

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman (2013)

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman.

It’s not very often that I don’t finish a book. Generally, when I start a book, I finished the series. If I don’t like a book, I’ll still read it; I just won’t look any further into its author or its series.

But then there’s the occasional book that I dislike so much, I stop reading it. Nothing to do with time constraints. Nothing to do with reading another book. No. As in, if I had to choose between sitting in a room doing nothing for three days straight and reading said book, I would choose to sit around doing nothing.

I Wear the Black Hat is one of those books. … More I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman (2013)

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

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?