Thursday, May 22, 2008

This Year all around

This year in Mr. Ryan Gallagher’s senior honors class I was introduced to a new way of looking at English. In that little crowded room in the third floor of C-house art and literature was introduced and studied in a way that I was truly unfamiliar with. On the first day when I looked around at my classmates, I knew we were in for a real productive year. Full of opinionated, young and intelligent young people, room C337 was all about business. I remember walking into that classroom and seeing all these images on the walls from collages to portraits to things that I could spend 1,000 words writing about. I was truly overwhelmed with how out of place I felt, I didn’t know anything about art or how to write about it and it took nearly 4 months for me to learn how to explicate a passage properly, and I still have not mastered it.
The characters in the books we read were real to me. My reactions to the books were real as though I knew Hamlet like he was my boy and I really felt bad for him. When we would come in and Mr. G would just talk about agenda and leave the discussion up to us, my class nailed the important subjects. The only time G-man would butt in was if we were beating a subject to death or to refresh our memories about why things happened the way they did and what we thought. Hamlet was the best part of the year for me. Every class was so much fun and I am the last person on the face of the earth to ever say anything remotely even close to that. Reading in class and going back and actually learning how funny puns are and who was trying to fool who was a blast. When I was first introduced to Shakespearean writing in tenth grade, I thought to myself wow if only the test were tomorrow so I could just fail and get it out of the way. Not this year, not period 5, we had fun. When Hamlet was acted out by Mr. G when he had his pants all over the place and his shirt all messed up (not by Mr. G in class but Hamlet) was absolutely hilarious because we kept going back after Ophelia would say something else about Hamlet’s appearance and G would go down the list of ridiculous things, that class was fun.
Having someone introduce James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that actually knew everything instead of figuring it out as he taught was a blessing. It was like having a patient geometry teacher after trying to learn equations of a line for the previous 3 years. When I read the first page of Portrait, I thought I was doomed, I figured this was going to be no fun and I am going to do horrid on the test, but my class helped a lot. Not everyone would contribute everyday to our discussion but when we hit on a good couple of pages, my notebook filled up with notes pretty quickly. Everything that was said just made so much sense after someone would talk about it. Then Mr. G put the nail in the coffin with all his knowledge of religion, Greek mythology, and literature in general. I learned the importance of context and how to use it in my papers and how to understand that we cannot just derive ridiculous statements from our own head because that’s what we just think, I learned to interpret what Mr. Joyce meant, rather that Mr. DiNisco.
I knew Mr. G cared about us when he said if it were up to him, we wouldn’t be graded. I felt respected. I don’t know if it had that impact on anyone else in the room but for that six and a half seconds it took for G-man to say that, everything I was about to be hit with in that year, I felt ready for. Everyday I felt laid back, if I read the night before or had been working on a paper I could be proud of, the next day I looked forward to period 5. Academically, English means more to me than just books. It incorporates videos, images, and poems, books, etc. Context is important, what the author is trying to say about a subject is like the holy trinity, one of the most important things, and one of the hardest things to understand. Explications and how to cite sources in a research paper are all stuck in my head, thank goodness.

we call him Loco

During AAU, I had a team player named Joe, who was very athletic, motivated, kind-hearted, and just full of potential. On the surface, Joe was a great guy to be around with lots of jokes and insight. Mentally, he could not handle loosing a game, or walking an opponent. His mental explosions during some of the games were causing a lot of problems with the team. The other team mates were becoming frustrated with him, as were the coaches. He was becoming a cancer on the team. As the leader of the team, I decided to get involved.
I invited Joe to lunch one day. I had no choice but to give Joe an ultimatum, either control his emotions or I was going to ask the coaches to suspend him. I explained to Joe that he was being unfair to the team, and before I could help him, he would have to be honest with himself. I learned that he was having some problems at home that were preventing him from focusing. He was also loosing his confidence. He was the number one player in his local city, but he was being intimidated by the talents he was up against in the AAU league. I invited Joe to practice with my dad and me at the batting cages and the YMCA. The practice would enhance his performance and his confidence, while I knew my dad would take care of the attitude. My father has no tolerance for childish outburst.
Afterwards, Joe struggled because his baseball skills were rusty, but he never had a negative attitude. He would come up to me and say “DiNisco, why did that happen, what did I do wrong?” and I would explain things to him like “your dipping your shoulder and your popping up” or “you have to pause in between pitches and shorten your delivery so these kids don’t steal bases on you”. I have patience for anyone who is willing to learn and willing to work hard. I admired Joe for the learning qualities he posses and his work ethic. Despite the negative attitude the team had towards him, he appreciated and executed the advice I gave him, and he became a very valuable player of the team.
I learned that no matter how unstable someone can seem, they can still learn and apply things. With my coaching and encouragement, Joe became a focused, confident and a phenomenal player. I saw the potential in Joe, and I knew all he needed was someone to believe in him and willing to help him.

Red Shift

In the poem “Red Shift”, Ted Berrigan emulates the shifts in his life in 42 lines. Nothing is what it seems, everything changes, and nothing is stable. Friends vanish into thin air, no matter how much fame has made them seem invincible. America’s kryptonite has none the less been America itself.
Great authors and poets of berrigans time vanished “The streets look for Allen, Frank, or me, Allen is a movie, Frank disappearing in the air, it’s heavy with that lightness, heavy on me,”(lines 6-8). Berrigan shifts into his mind, into his memories, his fondest and heaviest memories that affect him. Being younger than Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara, Berrigan is especially vulnerable to the fate of these men. Berrigan is crushed, O’Hara’s death and the inevitability of Ginsberg’s death has shifted Berrigan’s perspective on life and love.
Eleven lines into the poem, Berrigan shifts his tone as his emotion builds. Like his friend Frank O’Hara, Berrigan’s work is very personal. Lines 11-18 express his loss of a family, love, and woman “Twenty years almost ago, and the man smoking is looking at the smilingly attentive woman, and telling. Who would have thought that I’d be here, nothing wrapped up, nothing buried, everything love, children, hundreds of them, money, marriage ethics, a politics of grace, up in the air, swirling, burning even or still, now more than ever before?”. The shift is from twenty years ago when he met this woman to now when he is 43 years old and lonely with no kids, and no wife. Berrigan speaks of marriage ethics, the shift from your wedding day to your attorney’s office for a divorce. Before he could make a family and build a foundation life changed for the worse and his tone increasingly seems angry as he emulates his feelings. A politics of grace which made America seem like the superman of the world when the politics that made this country turned out to be the kryptonite that turned it into a frenzy of fear. The shift from comfort to chaos affects men like Berrigan who thought life was so simple and stable when it rained on his love life, it poured on his country.
By line 19, Berrigan’s tone gets more intense and the lines get longer. Berrigan writes “not that pretty girl, nineteen, who was going to have to go, careening into idle age so, to burn and to burn more fiercely than even she could imagine so to go” (lines 21-24). This is a message, a warning to the young nineteen year old girl who doesn’t know what she is going to experience or even what she is going to miss out on. Berrigan emulates Americas growing disrespect for love “to breathe and who will never leave me, not for sex, nor politics nor even for stupid permanent estrangement which is only our human lot and means nothing” (lines 27-29). A woman has hurt Berrigan, she left him and most likely without giving him reason so he blames human nature. Maybe it was for better sex or maybe she was in the opposite favor Berrigan’s political preference; whatever the “stupid permanent estrangement”, Berrigan’s tone has shifted and he begins to contradict himself because he doesn’t know whether he wants to live or die. Inevetibly he will die, but like O’Hara and Ginsberg his work will exist to have an impact on people “I will never go away, and you will never escape from me who am always and only a ghost, despite this frame, spirit who lives only to nag. I’m only pronouns, and I am all of them, and I didn’t ask for this you did I came into your life to change it and it did so and now nothing will ever change that , and that’s that”(lines 32-34).
Nothing will change; human nature will be human nature. Love will always be unpredictable and politicians will tell Americans whatever they have to in order to be voted into office. Berrigan is dead, and all of Mr.Gallagher’s students’ lives have changed and Berrigan is right; nothing will ever change.


At the end of act 1 scene 5 of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to Hamlet and tells him that he was betrayed by his brother who poured poison into King Hamlet’s ear while he was sleeping out in the orchard as usual. Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, who was loved so deeply by Hamlet’s father, has now stooped down to the uncle with less than adequate natural gifts. Then the ghost vanishes leaving Hamlet alone on stage with new insight on his beloved family.
Hamlet’s soliloquy starts O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? (1:5 line 92) The mans world has come to an end. All goodness in life, all respect, honor, dignity has gone out the window. Hamlet’s marbles have been knocked from their nesting place in his head and are about to be gone. His heart is feeling the facts right now “And shall I couple hell? Oh, fie! Hold, hold, my heart, (1:5 line 93). He’s like wait, hold on, don’t drop dead yet, Hamlet is soaking it up like a sponge and his heart is starting to feel it and his tone is not out of control, yet. Physically, his body is feeling it and he literally tells himself not to grow old and instructs his muscles not to give out “And you, my sinews, grow not instant old, but bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!”(1:5 lines 94-95). Hamlet is relating to his father’s pain and thinking about how he would cope with such a devastating betrayal and it hurts. And still the memory will last forever in his mind “Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat” (1:5 line 96), like yea dad, I will never forget this happened. The reference to the seat could be a reference to the throne where Hamlet will always have the memory of his father on the throne instead of the gift less swine Denmark now calls king.
Then there is a tone shift “Yea, from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past That youth and observation copied there, And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven! (1:5 lines 98-104). Hamlet is freaking out to himself saying he will wipe away anything in his distracted head and he will only remember thee. Hamlet is going mad, but at the same time he is loosing it, he is putting all the pieces together and understanding the situation. Hamlet is in control of Hamlet, he is just loosing his mind because a ghost of his father just came to him and gave him this breath taking news and now that it is processed in his brain, that’s all that will go on in there.
Then Hamlet realizes that his mother really stuck it to his father. She was coaxed into the uncle’s love somehow by his less than adequate natural gifts. She went from the most generously loving man to scum of the earth. And Hamlet knows who the vilans are “O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, dammed villain! (1:5 lines 105-106) like damn you mom how could you do that, you are an evil woman. Hamlet’s tone switches down a notch and goes from a sad realization, to an outburst of promise, now to blame. Now he wants to write it down, he searches for a notebook to remind himself that villans can smile, and still be villans “My tables!—Meet it is I set it down At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark. (writes) So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word” (1:5 lines108-110). Now he is really vexed at his uncle because he knows what he did and made a vow to his father to remember it, and do what he thinks is right by the king. After all the king did say” Remember me” (1:5 line 111) and that is just what Hamlet intends to do.

Uelsmann 1000 words

The first image I chose by Jerry Uelsmann was a tree hovering over a small body of water surrounded by woods. The lake which the tree hovered over is like one you would find up in New Hampshire, very calm and quiet surrounded by trees which line the bank. There are no houses though, not even on the horizon instead there are mountains off in the distance and another tree far off in the sky hovering over the mountains much like the tree over the water. Of course the tree off in the horizon is just as symmetrical to the mountains as the close up tree is symmetrical to the lake. It is not just a tree though. There is land around the tree that it is planted into that hovers over the water too. The land around the tree is straight grass about the circumference of the shadow the trees leaves would cast if the sun were directly about the tree. The tree is thick and full of leaves but the colors are all blends of black and white. The reflection under the tree looks like the columns of the coliseum from back when the ancient Greeks used to feed men to each other. The whole image shook me because of the display of the defiance of gravity and not that there was an object hovering but in fact a piece of earth. The tree isn’t rooted into the earth but it looks even as though it hovers a foot or two over it. From top to bottom the image has the hovering tree full of leaves and its dangling roots close to touching the patch of earth just wide enough to hold the shadow of the tree if there were one. Then the reflection on top of the glassy calm water that doesn’t look like the reflection of the bottom of the patch of earth, instead looks like the Greek coliseum columns. But off in the horizon where the pale white/grey sky meets the mountain tops off in the distance there is the exact same image of the exact same tree hovering off in the distance. There is no water under the tree but it is smaller, more symmetrically fit to be off in the horizon. It has the same roots; the same full thick head of leaves like the top of a piece of broccoli, minus the green because it’s in black and white. The fact that the tree and the other tree and the body of water with the landscape to fit the obscure images all looks so real, make me feel like that is a picture out of another world. The world looks like a gloomy dream with no gravity and no people, just earth. Although it seems gloomy and eerie, if I could, I would go there and sit under the tree and pull one of the roots to see if the tree would come down or if it were stuck at that height by some undefined new world of gravity. So pretty much the defiance of gravity with a realistic image is what draws my close attention to Jerry Uelsmann’s images.
I actually decided to choose two of Jerry Uelsmann’s images because there are all so good and look like you can write about them because they attract my attention more than any of the other artists. The other image I decided to write about (even though I might have to narrow it down to one) is a picture of a small wooden row boat with no paddles hovering about the bottom of a waterfall where the falling water meets the body it is pouring into. The boat is sitting there all still and not moving while everything else in the image is all moving water. The water at the top of the waterfall looks as though it is swirling around and around waiting to drop and the streams of water that are actually in mid-fall captured by Uelsmann look amazing because they are so bright and straight. The water looks like a beautiful woman’s hair evenly spaced out as though she just brought her head out of water and it’s dripping down her hair. Towards the bottom of the fall however, there looks like there is a mist of water forming from the water falling but it does not make the picture look blurry nor is it even covering the small row boat with no oars. Instead it looks like a controlled mist that would hit your face evenly and feel awesome. Though this image is in black and white as well, it looks like a beautiful place to put yourself, like a place you would be in your dreams. In fact, that is exactly what both of these images put me in mind of, dreams. These places look eerie enough so that you wouldn’t be surprised if something terrible happens there or even something beautiful. Uelsmann kind of leaves it up to us to fill in what we would envision filling the landscape. Unlike the first image, this one has something at least made my man in it. The boat with the oars sitting in it were made by man but that could either be a heck of a date spot to sit in a hovering rowboat and eat dinner at the bottom of a beautiful water fall or a nasty ghost could stick her “Ring” looking face out at you and could be haunting the place where she died some hundred years earlier and she’s just pissed because she didn’t see the waterfall at the end of the pond above. So what really catches me in both images is the defiance of gravity, definitely the eye catcher and then the uniqueness of the images and how beautiful and real all the landscape looks is fascinating and moving. Then when you think about it more and more you think to yourself that you would either be petrified to wake up on that hovering patch of land or that abandoned row boat or you may say to yourself hey that looks crazy imagine if that really happened.

blog on stranger

Shaun talks about the characterization of Mersault on p.10 paragraph 2 at his mothers funeral. Ashley said that Mersault doesn’t show respect for his mom. She also says the stranger is Mersault to his mom. I say Mersault is the stranger to the world and acts like he doesn’t know or care about anyone so he won’t be disappointed when something bad happens to them. I wonder if he even cares about himself. Danielle agrees with Ashley about how shady it was of Mersault not to want to see his mother’s body. Cathleen then adds to the argument that Mersault is emotionless on the bottom of pg.24 when Mersault went to work and nothing changed. Mark loves the main character, he talks about how he is laid back and doesn’t make up his mind. William then spoke about the shooting on pg.80 when Mersault says it was like a game. Ricki then brought up some Camus history about how he loved a woman named Francine but they never married. Camus is always contradicting happiness and sadness. Rodney disagrees with Ashley and Danielle and Cathleen because he thinks Mersault has respect for his mom. Rodney thinks Mersault is just embarrassed and ashamed and partially accountable for her death.
Shaun speaks about the book not being about Mersault and how its about being a stranger to society and the way you choose to live your life letting nothing bother you. Steff Pierre went to talk about the murder on pg.59. She brings up Mersault’s head hurting and burning up and how he could have went back to his friends cabin. How Mersualt uses the sun as an excuse for walking towards the arab and she talks about the symbols of the sun and the personification of the world; Mersault is cold and machinelike. Still on the topic of the murder Ronald jumps in saying the sun sparkd his emotions and when Mersault shattered the exceptional happiness of the day like the beach with Maria (pg.50).Mark agrees with Ronald and Marks says Mersault pauses after the first shot because he realizes how angry he is. Danielle totally agrees saying this is his grieving over his mothers death and that Mersault jus broke down. Ashley did some research over the past day or so on Camus and found out that he grew up poor, his father died on him and he and mom were not close and Camus married a drug addict. Kevin went back to the murder and said how the film over his eyes was Mersault’s way of crying from the inside. Danielle then talks about how he never grew up to knew how to express his feelings. Ashley talks more about Camus’ beliefs and how he says there is no sin and if we know ourselves totally then we should die. Very depressing and can tell Camus had some pipe dreams in his time. Mark talks about Solomano and how he and his dog represents the love that should have been between Mersualt and his mom. Steff agrees with mark. Then Ronald brings up a great point about on pg.39 when Mersault jus starts to think about his mom when he reminds himself he needs to go to bed. Mersault doesn’t take the time to think or live or feel anything because he’s afraid of inevitably being hurt.
appropriate and avoid sarcasm!