Life of “Story”

Truth is subjective, affecting the individual in the present moment. In efforts of survival, Yann Martel’s protagonist Pi Patel shares two stories of the same incident in Life of Pi. Human thought and imagination use critical thinking skills as creative ways of envisioning outcomes for situations. Jonathan Gottschall calls imagined scenarios elements of “story” and sees “storytelling” as an evolutionary adaption. In The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human, Gottschall illustrates the authoritative human voice found in “story.” Forms of fiction such as literature, film, and video games, provide imaginative experience that propels the participant through the critical world of “what-if.” Reality can be harsh. This essay shows that creating elaborate delusions soothes one’s spirit and presents room for possibility.

The facts of Pi’s tragedy are:  the Patel family, with their zoo animals, were aboard the Tsimtsum; the ship sunk in the oceans’ depths, leaving Pi as sole survivor. Japanese officials investigate the occurrence and interview Pi who issues his circumstance through two “storytelling” methods:  subjective-spirituality and objective-rationality. In the first “story,” Pi’s narrative voice constructs the events by offering a rich, detailed observance of the animal world and religious connection with three belief systems. However, the second rendition of the same event at sea presents an anticlimactic dose of reason that issues the ugly truth. Neither “story” explains why the Tsimtsum sunk, and the reader is left deciding which tale holds preference:  the facts or the fabrication.

The second “story” rudely shows face at the end, shocking the reader who longed for Richard Parker’s noble inclusion. This action turns the tables on truth, showing the reality of Pi’s situation as distasteful. The reader comes to love Pi and finds disgust at acts of cannibalism and primal brutality. The reader wishes the truth was not real, that the first “story” was instead possible and accurate. More than likely, the “storyteller” also sides with the tale involving the tiger because the means for creating this “story” lives in survival. In order of simply making it through, Pi relied on the authority of his imagination. Pi created another individual – Richard Parker – from his memory and veterinary knowledge. In avoidance of absolute solitude, Pi utilized the power of “story” in creation of a reality he could deal with or accept.

“Story” is not limited to fiction, and Gottschall notes religious institutions as harnessing societal needs with “story.” The catch, however, is that different religions may tell contrasting versions of “stories.” He said, “Religion draws coreligionists together, and it drives those of different faiths apart” (Gottschall 123). Pi connects with three opposing religions. Forming a bond with each deity, Pi picks and chooses which religious message he prefers. In this way, Pi internally avoids religious disagreement. By subjectively addressing belief, Pi sculpts his own understanding. This essay notes the value lay in accepting multiple “stories” for individual comprehension.

The evolutionary benefit lay with the first “story.” Evolution supports the betterment of species. Gottschall calls the characters from “story” – including fictional, historical, and religious figures – “ink people,” recognizing the “ink people’s” way of wielding authority inside reality (144). He said, “[Ink people] shape our behaviors and our customs, and in so doing, they transform societies and histories” (Gottschall 144). Giving slave-narratives as reference, Gottschall shows that through Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe brought atrocities of Southern slavery into the consciousness of Northern citizens. Readers connected with Eliza’s character and empathized with her plight. Pi presented a case for relation and interaction with the animal world as means for survival.

Humans are social creatures. In absence of society, Pi’s “story” provides a sense of community with Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the hyena, and the zebra. Pi creates an animal society in avoidance of insanity, he said, “Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it” (Martel 91). Pi could not accept that the Chinese sailor was murdered and eaten by the French Cook, or that his dear mother stood up against inhumane cannibalism, also falling at the cook’s hand. Instead, Pi let the cook be a hyena, his mother Orange Juice, and himself Richard Parker. After all, a tiger is not afraid of a man. Better to be a tiger than a victim.

Truth alters along with the individual, and what is true for one now may not be true after experiencing a challenge or traumatic event. Truth – like humans – is victim to subjective encounter and interpretation. Pi’s truth is that he survived by any means necessary. Pi’s struggle was holding onto his humanness. “Storytelling” is a unique trait of humanity. Through art and literature, humans envision wonderful and terrible outcomes in efforts of lessening life’s struggle. Pi’s “story” encourages that the reader becomes their own tiger. Accept what one has but work towards creating the best scenario.

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Works Cited

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human. New York:

Mariner Books, 2013.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York:  Mariner Books, 2003.

 

Reading assignment written for Bev Zizzy, on Martel’s “Life of Pi”
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Historical Consideration for Science and Religion

Science and religion offer different methods for the human being to interpret one’s place in the universe. Prior to the Enlightenment, religion was the ultimate authority of information as to where humans came from and what their purpose in life entailed. Science utilized empirical evidence to assert truth while religion required the belief of those who practiced their faith. Both offices ask for society to believe in the policy and procedure ascribed by the officials, however, science offers observable proof to back up their claims. Religion is not empty handed, and the believers incorporate compassionate consideration for the existence of a higher power – displayed not in empirical terms but relying on sentiment, feeling, and a natural connection to their deity. Science and religion are not equal contenders. I see a place for both offices in modern society, I do not see them sitting at the same tables – they are different, and at times, opposing methods used to address the human position.

Science and religion have different theories regarding the origins of existence as well as the place and purpose of homo sapiens. William Paley offered a theory to unite science and religion. His book Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), was required reading at Christ’s College of Cambridge University.[1] The text included the famous metaphor of the watch and the watchmaker, presenting a case for God as the watchmaker to create and tend his watch (life). BMW noted Darwin as developing his theory of natural selection from inspiration presented by Paley; he said, “…Darwin took from his reading of Paley a belief in adaptation – that organisms are somehow fit for the environments in which they live, that their structure reflects the functions they perform throughout their lives.”[2] Religion, when forced to answer difficult questions, had to accept that bad things happened even though God was granted the ability to “fix” any error in the organic world. BMW said, “Paley struggled to reconcile the apparent cruelty and indifference of nature with his belief in a good God, and finally concluded that the joys of life simply outweighed its sorrows.”[3] After all, philosophically, if one does not experience pain and sadness then one will not recognize joy and happiness.

In “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul,” Edward Humes spoke for the Dole Institute on the conflicts of evolutionism and creationist theory. The video showed me that people are completely able to believe different realities based on their subjective perspective regarding how they want to interpret their own existence. In Dover, PA, the teacher and administrators did not want evolution taught in science class. Humes said, “During the presentation on intelligent design, the administers of the district instructed the students not to ask questions.”[4] The fundamental purpose of education is to acquire information by answering questions. Robbing the students of simply questioning authority could result in those students not trusting authority. However, I suppose the belief must fill in all the cracks – the concept is to trust in one’s religion, therefore, those with authority should be in league with the ultimate power. I agree with Humes that teaching evolution is conflictive with religious belief. I think that the offices of religion and science do not belong together, and should not compete with one another anymore than I think home-economics and history should have a duel. They do not coincide or work with each other – one is objective empirical theory and the other is sentimental expression/connection with an outside force. Both, however, are human expressions. If religion wants a school of thought to support it, I think it would be more beneficial to turn to literature and the arts and wisely leave science alone.

The real issue I see is found in education – the information that is presented to the youth. Science offers evolution, and biology rather relies on it to justify medicine, surgery, and technological advances – withholding this information from young minds seems criminal to me, and also when they find out later in life, they may look back spitefully at both science and religion, or really, authority in general. Not providing any answer is still going to present a negative outcome because it makes it look like authority itself does not know what is really going on, therefore, why would anyone believe what authority said sometimes if it was not always aware. Before the Enlightenment, religion was not questioned but accepted as true. Look what happened when the scientific method stormed the stage – society still feels the shudder.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BMW. “William Paley (1743-1805).” ucmp.berkeley.edu. 21 Aug 1996. Web. 12 Jan 2016.

Humes, Edward. “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and theBattle for America’s Soul.” YouTube, 11 May 2012. Web. 11 Jan2016.

Picture c/o:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Religion_in_SF.png

[1] BMW, “William Paley.”

[2] BMW, “William Paley.”

[3] BMW, “William Paley.”

[4] Humes, “Monkey Girl,” 20:35-20:40.

Really…?

My MacBook, Archimedes, ate all my categories. And now it is self-selecting for this post. {gnashing of teeth} Trying to fix, hope it works.

ARGH…now…duplicity.

 

Quick Note: on Whitman and James

{originally written in message to esteemed peer from HUMN 555}

In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James noted Walt Whitman’s theory to personally refuse that negative factors hold any authority, but Whitman successfully led an optimistic life – success defined as fulfilled, he led a full life and saw challenges as experience. Maybe Whitman was a little out there, but he says “I am large…I contain multitudes” (Leaves of Grass, p. 67). He is evidence that human nature is malleable and apt to alter via subjective perspective. Aware consciousness is able to recognize the ability to alter one’s viewpoint and implement positive factors to improve one’s experience. {bows to Whitman}

#PursuitofOptimism #Dionysian

“Renegade” by X Ambassadors as Message to Dionysian Mind

Granted, Wagner, the X Ambassadors is not, lol, but… Nietzsche saw music as the best way for humans to express themselves or as an avenue to happiness. You asked about commercialism – combing through our text, I find it interesting that there is not heavy influence in capitalism, commerce, or materialism – only reference to seeking a pleasure filled life. However, there is a note from Bernard Williams in the introduction, that I feel supports my inclusion of the modern song; Williams said, “[The Gay Science], like all his others, makes it clear than any life worth living must involve daring, individuality and creative bloody-mindedness” (Nietzsche xiv).

Yes, the message I see in the song indicates that the lyrics are addressed to the Dionysian. It is a call to arms, so to speak. Another piece, “Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz from 2014, has a similar connotation where the individual rejects the modern understanding of right/wrong. One of the chorus verses altered from “I” to “We” indicating that one person’s concept became mutual understanding – “collective thought” (Nico & Vinz). Before the song hit the charts, Nico & Vinz were addressing the modern group “Anonymous”; the first time I heard it was when I was tagged on a link in Facebook from one of my groups. My experiment with social media is still on-going, so I have not been exposed to collective thought for nearly a year now – I am not certain that X Ambassadors is addressing the same audience as Nico & Vinz, but I can deduce relation. It could be a ploy on consumerism, but I do not think the average person gets the same message from listening to the song as few are well read in Nietzsche. If it is just for the money, all they got from me was $1.29, so I can live with that. The message is worth far more – it is one of hope.

Here is my breakdown of the song. Enjoy!

“Run away with me / Lost souls and reverie / Running wild and running free / Two kids, you and me” (1-4). The X Ambassadors are encouraging the individual to break free from the norm and to find oneself – to release adult hibition and return to natural carefreeness of youth. I sense dualism; you and me could be two versions of one person, or body/mind.

“… Living like we’re renegades …” (Chorus 5-11). The word choice of “renegade” means one who leaves one system of order or belief for another path – one can then create a new path for themselves.

“Long live the pioneers / Rebels and mutineers / Go forth and have no fear / Come close the end is near*” (12-15). These are the types of individuals, Dionysian for Nietzsche, who are brave enough to challenge the norm. Renegades can be comparable to the Overman or ManGod because they refuse to accept what is given so that they can create what they want. They are more human than human – more than the average bear. X Ambassadors ask the Dionysian to come closer because normality is nearing its end, society will need Nietzsche’s physicists to rebuild.

*I’ve listened to the song over 100 times now, and it rather sounds like they say “Come close and bend an ear” for line 15. Maybe it is just stage 3 madness, lol, of over-listening, but just in case, it still fits: gather the unique thinkers together to sort out the plan of action.

(Chorus)

“All hail the underdogs / All hail the new kids / All hail the outlaws / Spielbergs and Kubricks” (22-25). More Dionysians: Underdogs – those that should not win but will pull through despite the odds, New Kids – evolved thinkers with fresh concepts, and Outlaws – those that reject directed order and law. And finally, the dreamers of the future, modern artistic expression – directors and writers sculpt concepts into film and literature allowing the individual mind to imagine altered conditions for life.

“It’s our time to make a move / It’s our time to make amends / It’s our time to break the rules / Let’s begin” (26-29). X Ambassadors is prepping the Dionysian. Social media allows like-minded individuals to find one another over vast geological separation. Unique individuals, the physicists, realize that they are not alone, and that by uniting with other’s of similar disposition a new understanding is possible. Down with the old order, in with a new; le roi est mort, vive l’auto.[1]

“… Living like we’re renegades” (Chorus 30-35). Nietzsche’s belief that evil upset good in efforts to create a new understanding. Good did not change, it clung to what was “good” for the past – keeping society in stasis. But humanity, like existence itself, is static and must be able to change/adapt or species will not survive in the constantly evolving world. The opposite of adaptation is extinction. Nietzsche did not say there was no morality – he thought that societal opinion had morality wrong from the start. Good and evil were masks created to cover the true self. Evil looked for improvement, and many results are definitely good: modern necessities like indoor-plumbing, roads, electricity, and technology. However, Nietzsche was not expecting people to turn into cartoon villains – he suggested a closer look at human consideration for the term and expanded possibilities removed from black-or-white configuration.

 

Works Cited

“Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz, 2014.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“Renegades” by X Ambassadors, 3 Mar 2015.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lyrics+renegades&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Picture c/o:  https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-SytFteQnYY/hqdefault.jpg

[1] “The king is dead; long live the self.”

#PursuitofOptimism #DionysianLifestyle

Dionysian Roll-On

it seems to me that Nietzsche’s Dionysian is comparable to Kierkegaard’s aesthetic, with the main difference being that the Seducer was viewed negatively while Nietzsche does not leave room for others to critique the man-god Dionysian. Or…Kierkegaard [in my opinion] did not like the aesthetic and sided more with Judge Wilhelm and ethics; whereas, Nietzsche was a Dionysian himself and was attempting to encourage society to embrace new concepts while letting go of past misconceptions.

The Dionysian was a man-god: a human person with exceptional abilities in which one utilized personal preference to shape one’s experience. Based on Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, the Dionysian movement encouraged participants to live fully and to try anything interesting that crossed their path. They were expected to experience severe misery because they were able to know the fullest joy. In a way, they were extremists – when they loved it was true, when they cried it was agony – there was no middle ground. Nietzsche said, “He who is richest in fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, can allow himself not only the sight of what is terrible and questionable but also the terrible deed and every luxury of destruction, decomposition, negation …” (370). The Dionysian knew that they were creating themselves, and they were able ignore labels such as “good/evil” because, as gods, they knew that there could be good as a result of evil and evil from good intentions – it was not their playing field. Their goal was to experience, to live, and most of all, to create.

Aesthetic value is found in art and music for Nietzsche, here lay the true beauty of the human experience. Once Nietzsche stripped away the need for a god, what was the human left with…music. Art and music were the human engines of creation. I have loved Nietzsche for roughly half of my life. My motto used to be: Live one’s life as art! I still find pause with process, I see much beauty in the ability to express, not just the final project. I would pay five times as much for the same piece of art if I were able to watch the art being created before I purchase it, because later, when viewing the art, I would remember the moment the artist took his stroke or the scent of paint and mad creation in the air.

Overall, I see the Dionysian as opposite to moral expectations of the masses. Dionysian is very close to “pleasure living” with their concerns fixed in the present – they want to live life while they can because there is no afterlife, this is it. Now, I know Nietzsche gets attacked from every angle, but look at what he was arguing against – set belief aside and work with only organic natural possibilities – the religious belief system is not very believable if one is not raised with the message harped into one’s existence. Christianity, boiled way down, basically says that the physical life [the one each person actually lives] is nothing compared to the afterlife [the one we have zero proof or evidence of]; that living is just a phase before one can spend eternity in heaven. Please take a moment and truly consider this. Now tell me why it is that Nietzsche is the one off base?

 

Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Picture c/o:  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sumer_anunnaki/reptiles/serpent_tribe/images/bacchanal_b4a_herm.jpg

Dionysian Origins

, I have not found a specific term to label Nietzsche’s alternative considerations, but he advised individuals to create themselves by experiencing pain and pleasure, allowing room for one’s own selfish concerns, and acknowledging progress to belong to evil intentions. Or, rather, asked for a redefinition/understanding of the terms “good and evil.” I think Nietzsche wants us to be honest and ask ourselves, “What do I think I want? Let us see…I’ll have to try each flavor, as I cannot rely on a universal demand to tell me I prefer lemon. I think I like chocolate better.” Here, duty would demand that lemon was the flavor and sucking a lemon tart was the moral thing to do. “Evil” urged that another flavor would not be as tart. Experience showed chocolate as personal preference. Evil encouraged change. {Imagine room full of stiff philosophers sucking on lemons, and Nietzsche stretched out with a box of Godiva. lol<>}.

Nietzsche saw the qualities of good and evil as motivating forces for humankind to determine their own path. However, the ability to improve fell on the side of evil and not good; Nietzsche said, “The strongest and most evil spirits have so far done the most to advance humanity… they forced men to pit opinion against opinion, ideal model against ideal model” (4). Real change were implemented by men of evil intent – the people who were not satisfied with current rule and used force to upend reality – while the men of good intent were attempting to keep life nice and easy. Nietzsche saw anything “new” as linked to evil because it disordered the previous good. Nietzsche said, “All refined servility clings to the categorical imperative and is the mortal enemy of those who want to deprive duty of its unconditional character…” (5). He saw duty as created obligation used as means to ensure that the average human fed the artificial system of society. He advised humanity to give up their moral high-horses and to recognize their own selfishness; Nietzsche said, “For it is selfish to consider one’s own judgement [sic] a universal law, and this selfishness is blind, petty, and simple because it shows that you haven’t yet discovered yourself or created for yourself an ideal of your very own…” (335). Selfishness is not all bad, as we have seen in previous texts this session. What matters is what one does with their selfish considerations.

The message I receive from Nietzsche is that we are all master’s of our own universes and not limited to strict morality as society understood it – individually, people are able to create themselves, and they do not need society to tell them how to do it. Dionysian pessimism was predicted for the future, in the hands of anarchists – those seized with romantic pessimism that extended their torture on the lot of humanity; Nietzsche said:

 

The desire for destruction, for change and for becoming can be the expression of an overflowing energy pregnant with the future (my term for this is, as is known, ‘Dionysian’); but it can also be the hatred of the ill-constituted, deprived, and underprivileged one who destroys and must destroy because what exists, indeed all existence, all being, outrages and provokes him (370).

 

Is this ‘Dionysian’ his term to replace morality? The becoming process was a path for unique and incomparable individuals who wanted to create their own laws as well as themselves, he said: “Sitting in moral judgement [sic] should offend our taste” (Nietzsche 335). Life was a process that required physicists to create reality.

 

Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Thank you for the picture:  http://content2.beyondretro.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/THE_DIONYSIAN_STILL_21.jpg

Forum: Why does God have a man-crush on Adam?

{Graduate Studies; forum discussion regarding early Christian infatuation}

These issues of love between Abelard and Heloise…and God, put me in mind of another “love story” – the creation myth of Christianity via Paradise Lost by Milton.  God created the animals and plants and man – the plants and animals He originally created in male and female flavors so that they were able to reproduce.  Adam, however, is created solely in God’s image {fine, may sound sacrilegious, but I’m saying it anyway} and for God’s enjoyment only.  God wants Adam to love Him more than anything; God wants Adam to be happy – so He says – and not feel alone; God tells Eve, “{…}follow me, / And I will bring thee where no shadow stays / Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he whose image thou art; him thou shalt bear / Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called Mother of human race” (Milton Book IV, 469-475).  God creates Eve for Adam but then incessantly pouts over Adam’s attention being given to Eve.  God is jealous of Adam and Eve’s connection.  Eve is jealous over Adam’s intelligence and ability to speak to God.  Adam is awestruck and madly in-love with Eve.  Vicious love triangle going on here, with animosity from Eve directed at God, animosity from God directed at Eve, and Adam’s ignorance of the conflict.  Unlike Abelard who finds contentedness with his love covenant with God, Adam focuses his attentions on Eve primarily, leaving God to long for His male bonding bromance.  Adam and Abelard, then, are the two characters from each story who are able to choose their most important element to complete their pair:  Adam and Eve, Abelard and God.

Why does the Christian God choose male bonding love over allowing man to happily accept his female counterpart?  Could it be because there is no romantic love afforded in the Christian plan?  Or…is God jealous of the sheer ability for his creation of man to find an equal, when the creator will always be a solitary element?  …and the million dollar question –  if the creator is so magnanimous why does he not create his own Goddess instead of chasing after his same sex sons?  Also, Christianity sets women up as the villain in the majority of the bible stories – is this still in response to squashing the Old Religion?  Is Heloise seen as the one in the wrong because she is true to her emotions and adamantly loves Abelard romantically – in the sense, more than God?  And why in the world does love between man and woman have to be compared to a human being connecting with deity?  I believe they are most definitely two different creatures.

Works Cited

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co., 1857.

Picture c/o:  http://www.catholichack.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Adam-and-Eve-are-given-fire-by-God.jpg

Essay: Testing Morals Green Knight Style

Testing Morals Green Knight Style

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for Humanities 520 Fall 2014}

Gawain discovers he is two miles from his destination of the Green Knight’s castle and decides to take his host up on the offer of hospitality. Gawain’s host offers unusual stipulations for his knight – excluding Gawain from the hunt so as to allow him rest and relaxation with the lady of the house. The hunt itself is seen as means to avoid sin by partaking in the natural thrill of the chase of man versus animal instead of man versus woman. These are moral tests: will Gawain give in to his lovely hostess and take advantage of his position of the unsupervised guest? Will he succumb to the seduction of a married woman? Gawain appreciates the beauty of the lady – but once he realizes that she is the host’s wife, the desire is removed. The lady wishes for Gawain to school her in the art of love as knights are deemed to do, but Gawain relents to only a kiss: “Watz neuer freke fayrer fonge / Bitwene two so dyngne dame, / Pe alder and be zonge; / Much solace set bay same” (Pearl Poet 1315-18). The crone and the coquette are Gawain’s company while the men continue the hunt – the Green Knight has left Gawain in temptation’s domain in samplings of his moral fiber.

The motivation of the Green Knight is to see if Gawain is morally astute. While the two continue with the hunt/bedroom activities during the day, the prizes are dealt out at the end – with Gawain receiving feasts of food and the host receiving secondhand kisses from his wife. All the while, the wool is pulled over the head of the knight as the host is the Green Knight, and the lady is Morgan la Faye…the tests of the Green Knight begin long before Gawain realizes that he is in peril. Fortunately, for Gawain, he is a good person who wishes to follow the love and light of Christ. The last gift of the lady, the magical girdle, is dual purposed. The girdle protects the wearer from any mortal damage, and the girdle is symbolic of purity of self as it protects the soft underbelly of the wearer. As the girdle is worn against the skin it is related to the lady’s susceptibility and tenderness; the fact that Gawain gives his host a kiss instead of the girdle expresses his guilt for accepting the gift from the man’s wife as such an intimate piece of clothing may have been removed pre-coitus.  Gawain’s acceptance of the magical item also diminishes his faith in God by replacing deity with a supercharged piece of Pagan lore, he said, “Lo! ber be falssyng – foule mot hit falle! / For care of by knokke, cowardyse me tazt / To acorde me with couetyse, my kynde to forsake: / Pat is larges and lewte, bat longez to knyztez. / Now am I fawty and falce, and ferde haf ben euer / Of trecherye and vntrawbe – bope bityde sorze / And care!” (Pearl Poet 2378-84). Gawain’s faith was placed in the belt not in the strength of God; his confession wipes the slate clean and the two are still friendly with one another.

This exchange of kisses and underwear happen during the day while the host and the other men are on the hunt. Gawain is left with the women to lounge around the castle: “Pe lorde is lyzt at be laste at hys lef home, / Fyndez fire vpon flet, be freke perbyside, / Sir Gawayn be gode, pat glad watz with alle – / Among be ladies for luf he ladde much joye” (Pearl Poet 1924-27). The host places Gawain in the lair of temptation to test his mettle – Gawain succeeds with modesty, accepting the meats and pelts for harmless kisses. This suggests that Gawain does not require the distraction of the hunt to resist sexual digression because he is an honorable knight, in tune with the purity of Christ.

Works Cited

Pearl Poet. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript:

Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Ed. Malcolm

Andrew and Ronald Waldron. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 2011. pp.

207-300.

Picture c/o:  http://eng431.pbworks.com/f/1305234297/green-green-knight.jpg

Essay: on Boethius’ Gifts of Fortune, Philosophy, and Reason

Contemplative Nature of Humankind:

on Boethius’ Gifts of Fortune, Philosophy, and Reason

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for Humanities 520 Fall 2014}

Who better to offer guidance than real aspects of human nature? Human aspects that assist the self in distinguishing emotional experience are displayed through contemplative reasoning and the guidance of Wisdom, Truth, Fate, and naturally – Philosophy. Boethius invokes the celestial elements of the universe along with the human experience; Reason and Philosophy grant him comfort: “There is a moral here for you to learn: / Deceitful are the goods you first discern. / Withdraw your neck, and leave their yoke behind; / Then truth at once will infiltrate your mind” (Boethius Book 3 Chapter 1 Verse 11-14).  Speaking of the autonomic self and the ability to contemplate appropriate actions via Reason, man is able to achieve fulfillment to duty while maintaining a decent grasp on self-love and community expectations. Philosophy suggests he look inward first, and return to the natural now that deceitful pleasures cannot sate his hunger. His exile and eventual death equated to a separation of the luxuriant and worldly customs which his position afforded him, raised as a privileged, though orphaned, child.

The significance in contemplation and the acknowledgement of human thought thrives passionately in his words, retreating back to when man and nature held closer bonds, when man remembered the plentiful splendor of the earth. Philosophy reminds Boethius that long ago, when man was natural, he loved the earth and succeeded in his life. She said, “Acorns at hand, when day was spent, / Sated their hunger. None then knew / the liquid honey to apply / To Bacchus’ gifts; nor to imbue / The sheen of silk with Tyrian dye” (Boethius Book 2 Chapter 5 Verse 4-8). Manners of old are noted as wholesome; man would benefit from a natural approach to life. The narrator speaks to the elements, as old as time, and personifies the abilities of man – to think and put into action possible changes which effect the world at large. The winds and sky are prevalent in The Consolation of Philosophy which implies respect and significance of the air and/or the vastness of the unknown; the sky as a natural wonder sure to offer hope.

The writing style of the text, at once personable and quick to empathize with, utilizes the sense of the divine through verse, and then on a deeper level demonstrates that man holds great gifts which he needs only to activate by acknowledgement of the struggle of man – that joy may be appreciated only when great sorrow is inflicted, that lifelong gifts of Fortune, once withdrawn, were still grand gifts to be pleasantly remembered in times of strife. Philosophy sings of the greed of man: “Relentless greed devours those earlier gains, / Reopens wide its jaws; / Can headlong lust be curbed by any reins, / Be bounded by fixed laws? // Thirst for possessions* blazes all the more, / The more those gifts extend; / With anxious sighs, believing he is poor, / The rich man hates to spend” (Boethius Book 2 Chapter 2 Verse 13-20). Man is greedy, filled with a lust for riches but loathe to let them go once attained; man is constantly wanting more without the appreciation of what he already has/is experiencing. Philosophy urges to absorb happiness as it comes, to store it up in memories so that in times of strife grand pleasure may be contemplated.

The imagery cast by Boethius in divine revelry of the celestial bodies {such as: the directional winds, firey volcanoes, abundant sands, crashing waves, bountiful soil, natural man} imply not only that man is related to an a priori connection and understanding of life, but also that Wisdom, Fortune, and Reason may or may not assist during the mortal struggle. The key factor is that man, once enlightened to life’s systematic offerings, understands the need for his suffering – one cannot know safety without experiencing fear, or recognize happiness if misery had not been a shadow. The careful man is noted by Philosophy as wise for respecting the east and south-west winds, steep mountainous terrain, consumptive sands, and wave-tossed deep and building, appropriately for safety and success (Boethius Book 2 Chapter 4 Verse 1-14). She goes on to say, “Enclosed by your walls’ silent strength, / You’ll live untroubled for the length / Of all your days; and by and by / Smile at the anger of the sky” (Boethius Book 2 Chapter 4 Verse 15-18). A careful man will succeed once he accepts his slice of the vast universe of life – man is not the center of existence but a mere counterpart.

Work Cited

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. P.G. Walsh. New York: Oxford

University Press, 2008.

Picture c/o:  http://rjgeib.com/thoughts/boethius/hover.jpg