Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good Works You Might Ignore

This is going to be hard, but I'd like to make a list of creative works that people would normally dismiss immediately which are actually pretty good. I don't have a lot right now, but with reader comments, I think I can make a pretty complete list.

First, reasons works are dismissed:

1. Idea/concept.

Sometimes you hear the idea behind something and it just isn't attractive. Sometimes that's because the idea makes a bad movie. However, sometimes good movies come from bad ideas because the person making it built it into something that works, using the skills given to him.

2. Yeah, like that person could make something good.

Every once in a while people surprise us. Actors and directors who are known for releasing crap manage to release something that's actually worth watching.

3. Bad advertising.

Probably the worst candidate. Advertisers try to sell to the wrong audience, or don't make any effort at all to sell a good movie, so it goes ignored or unnoticed.

4. But it's a kid show.

Many shows or movies made for children tend to be simplistic and boring, with no real entertainment value. It's natural to assume that all children's shows don't appeal to adults. However, some of them are well made despite the intended audience.

5. Adult entertainment.

Sometimes movies are dismissed as just being porn, or being sex and violence without having content. Often it's true, but sometimes it's not.

6. Critical Failure

Like it or not, critics have quite a bit of influence on public opinion. They usually try to be fair, but it's a subjective field and they aren't perfect. Sometimes they let things slip through.

Now for what this list doesn't include. Any mainstream hits are of course out. If it has success it was obviously not ignored and was probably sold really well. That's not what we're looking for.

Also any cult classics will not be included on the list, so no suggesting movies like Evil Dead. Although cult classics are often good movies, they already have cult status which gives them enough life.

This is a list of movies, TV shows, games, books, and music that weren't successful enough to be hits, but weren't unique enough to gain a cult following. The works on the list might not have a spot on any top 100 list, but they're worth seeing anyways. The order here is the order in which I thought of them.


1. Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.

David Spade might be good in small doses, but any time he has a role in a movie, he sort of creates a vacuum that sucks all the quality out of the work. However, with Dickie Roberts, somehow, either from how the movie was written or the character he was given, he managed to be believable in the role without taking away from the entertainment. Part of what might save the movie is the long list of real former child stars who agree to appear in cameo throughout the film. It kind of lends the movie some credibility.

2. Shaolin Soccer.

The idea of making a martial arts parody movie based around soccer just seems stupid. Add to that the travesty that was Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, and the fact that most parody movies nowadays are turds that rely entirely on juvenile humor, it seems that Shaolin Soccer doesn't have a chance of being good. However, despite all that, it works. The jokes work on exaggeration, using CGI that makes no effort to hide the fact that it's computer graphics. However, some of the actors were actually pretty good at working with invisible objects. Most importantly, though, the movie has heart, something which many parody movies lack. If you're going to watch this movie, I reccommend seeing the Chinese version (In dubs or subs). The American release cuts out a lot of the fat, but in doing so cuts a lot of the meat as well, which leaves the movie feeling like it's lacking something. The Chinese version is just a half-hour longer, and that half-hour is dedicated to selling the jokes and story more.

3. Simone.

For some reason, critics hated this movie. I'm not sure why. It was a fun look at celebrity and public opinion, maybe not completely groundbreaking, but still worth seeing.

TV Shows

1. Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Airing on Nickelodeon at a time when all Nickelodeon show suck, especially Nickelodeon cartoons, Avatar the Last Airbender seems to share the humor of most other Nick shows, which is to say transparent attempts at jokes, the kind of jokes that children will come up with. You have to watch a few episodes to realize how good the entire series is. It's sort of quiet in it's quality. However, once you learn a bit about the characters and the story, the show just becomes fun. Add to that the fact that the creators seem to understand Asian culture a bit better than most and were able to build a complex world around it. The show is also pretty good at guessing what my complaints will be and addressing them in a way that makes it fun. The villians are layered rather than just being truly evil. Really, just give it a chance.

2. Golden Boy

Ecchi, or Hentai has a lot of negative connotations associated with it. Most of them are fair. Tentacle pron is very popular for some reason. Golden Boy is a series where most of the humor is based around sex, however the character is really endearing despite being a pervert. Kintaro is a man who dropped out of law school and now travels around the country on a bicycle taking odd jobs in order to survive. The odd thing is, he finished all his requirements for a degree before he dropped. Obviously he's quite smart, but his personality causes people to underestimate him. One thing I say every once in a while is "the pay-off is worth the entire thing" meaning it's worth watching the rest of the work just to see the ending where everything comes together. This is definitely true for Golden boy, where he visits an animation studio and the show makes fun of Japanese animations.


none for now. Send suggestions


none for now. Send suggestions


none for now. Send suggestions

This list is far from complete. Feel free to point me toward other works that might belong here.

On the Flight of Pigs

[It’s been a while, but I have found another great essay from the great Servus Tertius, so I present it to you, starting at the next paragraph, an essay. As always, anything in brackets are comments to help you understand the essay better. (like this)]

Okay, I know it might be an anachronism, but I don’t know what an anachronism is, so…
I was talking to a friend yesterday when he asked me how I could possibly make pigs fly. This sounded rather odd to me, so I asked him what he meant, and he told me he was wooing the fair Julia when her father, may he spit on his grave, told him that Julia would marry him when pigs fly. My friend took that as a challenge, and I have been stumped on the question ever since.
The simple thing is pigs don’t fly. You might as well have said when the moss decides to turn purple, or when Cicero gives his next speech from his place on the rostra. [I would try to explain this, but I fear I wouldn’t be able to give the humor justice. Ask a Latin student, or Ancient History major and see what they say.] They have just as much chance of happening. By the way, Cicero, you are starting to stink. [Here, Tertius takes a joke that was already questionable and takes it a few steps further down the line. I’m just a translator, though. I don’t have to sink to that level.] Why don’t you bathe sometime? [Baths were very important to Roman life, especially in the upper class. Rather than just being a time to purge onself of the germs and bacteria that one was bound to pick up over the course of the day, baths were social events. Meetings took place there, and I’m sure more than one plot was hatched in a bathhouse. Whether these plots were actually successful is up to speculation.]

The simple fact of the matter is pigs don’t fly. If pigs could fly, they’d have wings, and I told my friend just that. I mean, what are you going to do? Stick a feather [here part of the manuscript was destroyed. This happens all the time when digging up old documents. I’m sure, that what was lost was very much in accordance with the wit and taste of Servus Tertius.] Still, he was determined to try. He asked what if we were to launch them. Of course we all know if you were to launch a pig, it would fall back down, but my friend was of the mind that if we were to launch them high enough, they might not come back down. I dismissed this. Anyway, if you launched a pig, it wouldn’t be flying, it would be more like falling over a trajectory which if looked at in the right way could possibly resemble flying. Besides, just because you don’t see a pig hit the ground doesn’t mean it didn’t. [A very advanced thought for Tertius, indeed]

It became apparent from this that we needed to define flying. A good definition of flying would be staying up in the air without touching the ground. That’s when we had an idea. As long as the pig doesn’t touch the ground ever, it would be flying. However, the father did say “pigs,” not “pig.” And he didn’t say “some pigs” either, so the only way of making it work that I see would be to juggle all the pigs in the world for the rest of your life. Good luck, friend.

Goodman Brown's Children

For one of my classes, I was asked to write a story detailing what happened to Young Goodman Brown’s children. This is what I came up with

Over the years the now Old Goodman Brown stayed with his wife Faith, as a proper man should, and even though his faith with her was gone, they bore four children. They raised these children all to be goodly and true, and true and goodly they became. They became learned in the ways of the lord and were taught their catechism by the Goodman himself. All the people of the village agreed that these children were some of the most well behaved children they had ever known.

The first of these children was Devotion, a girl of exceedingly strong morals and sound mind. Everywhere she went her head was hung in prayer, a few bangs hiding her eyes as she elevated herself to God. She never spoke, and when she did, those who heard her always benefitted from what she had to say. Noone ever questioned her, for they knew she was of a pure heart. Devotion went to church every Sunday, and sang the loudest of any at the congregation, along with her mother. With her father, she was always kind, and always showed him love, even though she couldn’t understand him. She had a strong, angular face in a thin mouth. Her red locks were always tied up in a bun behind her, except for a few small strands in front that couldn’t reach. These hung down in front of her eyes, but she never bothered to brush them away. She always dressed plainly. When she became of age, she devoted herself to the church. She was a respected member of the cloth and was honored in her death.

The second child was a son that Goodman decided to name Tolerance, much to the confusion of the others in the village, since that was a name which wasn’t ever used before then. Tolerance was a mischievous child, but not so much that people didn’t enjoy his company. He was always willing to listen and help with problems. Everyone in town agreed that he was one of the friendliest people there, befriending everyone from the lowest beggar to richest man; from the most decrepit of people to the godliest saint. He had a bright face and slightly disheveled brown hair. His eyes seemed to look into your very being. He rarely went to church on Sundays, preferring instead to study for himself, but he still read the Bible and prayed every night. Old Goodman had a fondness for him, and talked with him for long periods of time, divulging some of his darkest secrets to his son. Of all the children, Tolerance was the only one who knew what happened in the woods, Yet he still remained very loving of his father. Once, as a teenager, he took it upon himself to enter these same woods. He saw many sight which he refused to divulge, but otherwise remained unchanged. When he was old enough, he left the village to start a career for himself and see the world. He died somewhere in Africa.

The third child was a daughter named Honor. She was a beautiful girl with a lovely face, big blue eyes, and curly golden hair which she tied back in a ponytail. She usually had a serious expression on her face. She rarely laughed or smiled, though those who have seen her do either claim that it is truly a sight to behold. When she became old enough, many boys tried to win her hand, but she always played hard to get. However, if one were to try hard enough she might reward them with a kiss. Boys who were kissed by her recalled the experience as one of the greatest moments in their life, and even though that was all they got, forever held her in their hearts. Sometime in her twenties, she married a man named Discipline, (Changing her name to Honor Ann Discipline) and they had a long happy life together.

The last and unsaid favorite child of Old Goodman Brown was a son whom he named after himself. Young Goodman Brown in his early years was very much like his father. He was devoted to the church and went there every Sunday with his family. His father treated him with all the respect in the world and his mother pampered him. After his father’s death on the insistence of his brother Tolerance, he entered the woods and spent the night there. When he came out he was forever changed. He looked upon everyone with suspicion, including his brothers and sisters. Only Tolerance was able to calm him, and gradually through Tolerance’s guidance, he was able to live normally again. He soon befriended his sister Honor, but never gave Devotion more than passing respect. Until the day he died, Devotion was never able to be a part of his life again. A year after entering the forest, Young Goodman Brown left the town with Tolerance. Sometime in his fifties Tolerance died, and Young Goodman Brown started spending more time with his sisters and Honor’s husband. He never went to church again. When he died his sisters carved on his tombstone. “Here lies Goodman Brown, who, like his father, was troubled with the world, yet he remained strong and true, and lived with Honor in end.”


The worlds and places that Borges creates in Labyrinths are fantastical to say the least. The worlds are so for removed from our perception of reality that at times they seem impossible, or at the most improbable. Still, even though they are different from our world, they are so well held together, so tight, that they are entirely believable, despite seeming impossible. This is one of the admirable qualities of his writing, every detail is thought of; all ideas are explained. However different from the real world these worlds appear, though, they are all reflections of the real world and can be considered accurate depictions of the real world themselves. Maybe it isn’t his worlds that are askew. Maybe our perception of this world is off.

As is suggested by the title, each of the stories as well as describing a labyrinthine world is a labyrinth is itself, which me must sift through to find the inner meaning. The closest analogy to that idea would be the labyrinth of the Garden of Forking Paths, which was a book where all possibilities were acted out simultaneously, so you had to sift through your understanding to understand the various paths within the story. (145) Except in the Labyrinths themselves we must sift through the various levels that the author is working on the find the meaning at the end. What’s happening on the surface, what happens just below, and the symbols and ideas used all mesh together to convey the author’s overall purpose. This is with such complexity that changing one word could change the entire meaning. For example, the quote that Ts’ui Pen left behind: “I leave to the various futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths” would not have been so profound without the word “various” or the very small phrase “not to all.” In the Library of Babel, where every possible combination os letters was present, people were looking for the one book that told them their life. However, how is it possible to know you have the right book? The book might be right so far, but then change and tell a different story. It may tell something almost right, but leave out one very important word that changes the meaning of the idea. Also, there are so many languages that the same series of letters might mean something different to different people. “You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language?” (151) In this, the author is giving a hint on how to read his labyrinth. Everything has meaning, no matter how meaningless it seems. As you dig through the Labyrinths of this work, each phrase and each action gains it’s own small significance. By understanding the significance of each idea in turn, one can navigate through the labyrinth

In all of the Labyrinths, the world created is grounded in the real world and separated from it. They seem to be set in the real world and make reference to historical events that happened to us. The Garden of Forking Paths is set during World War I, and is passed off as the memoirs of a German spy. The main action in the Garden of Forking Paths, however, takes place in the middle of a large hedge maze, so in effect they are also separated from the rest of the world. The article on Uqbar was found in an edition of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia, which is a reprint of the Encyclopedia Britannica. However, the reference to Uqbar was found in four pages that were added to the volume, and “Uqbar” wasn’t within the markings on the side of the Encyclopedia. (They went from Tor to Ups) These details serve to separate the idea of Uqbar from the real world. On top of that, Tlon was a place which was invented by the people of Uqbar, so this is a case of a made up world being made up by a made up world. At the end of the stories, however, Borges connects these fantastical worlds to the real world again. In Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, they first make the Tlon encyclopedia, which is later translated to the language of Tlon, then objects from Tlon start appearing in the real world: a compass, and a small cone which was extremely heavy. In the end the author predicts that “the world will be Tlon” (141). In the Garden of Forking Paths after Dr. Yu Tsun shoots Albert, he is arrested by Madden and sent into the gallows. Madden in effect breaks through the barrier that had been set up before, namely the maze. In each case the author removes himself from the real world and then the world he creates becomes the real world.

Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius reflects the human races willingness to accept an easy ideology or a sense of order in the world. The world of Tlon seems like an impossible world. Everyone in united in their idealism. The fact that everything on the planet stems from this idealism also seems impossible. Science, the way we understand it doesn’t exist. Neither does philosophy. Since science involves the explanation of facts, thereby changing the facts, the explanations of the facts have no effect on the actual facts, thereby negating the idea of science. (although the author also says that even though science is supposedly no possible, it still exists) Philosophy is basically a “dialectical game,” a chance to come up with a pleasing way to explain what happens in the world, and not a way to describe the world itself. It’s more about aesthetics than developing an understanding. “Metaphysicians… do not seek for the truth or even verisimilitude, but rather for the astounding.” (136) Even their language is affected by this idealism. Nouns do not exist. Rather, they use verbs or strings of adjectives, depending on where they are located. The example the author uses in the text is “The moon rose above the river.” In the southern hemisphere, where verbs are used, that phrase would be translated as “upward behind the on-streaming it mooned.” The word “moon” in the northern hemisphere of adjectives would be “round airy-light on dark” or “pale-orange-of-the-sky.” There are some hints, however that Tlon may be closer to the real world than it seems. Literature has always been about expressing the beauty of ideas. The word “moon” despite being bery specific, doesn’t elicit the same reaction as “bright silvery orb in the sky,” or “great beacon of the night.” These words give the reader an idea of how the author perceives the moon. Adding adjectives to literature to make an impression is not that new an idea. One could also argue that philosophy for the most part is a “dialectical game”, where it doesn’t matter what your ideas are as much as how you present them. Why is the Bible such a popular book? Is it because it has many great ideas or because it has many quotable phrases that may just happen to have good ideas behind them as well? After the First Encyclopedia of Tlon is found in a library, the world was immediately exposed to to writings of the place. “Reality yielded on more than one account.” Borges compares this to many other philosophies and ideas already adopted by the world “dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism.” Since we want a “semblance of order” and Tlon is “a minute and vest evidence of an ordinary planet” “how could one do other than submit to Tlon.” In the end Borges writes that the past has been changed around so we aren’t sure of anything. All the sciences and disciplines are being modified to match the ideology of Tlon. In at little while “the world will be Tlon.”

The Garden of Forking Paths is a study on the consequences of the choices we make. The narrator was sent to find “the secret name” of the place the British are. To do this he visits Stephen Albert in the middle of the hedge maze where Albert has taken up residence. Albert is the protector of the Garden of Forking Paths, a book in which whenever someone makes a choice, all possible outcomes are explored simultaneously. This is, Borges proposes, the way that time works in our world. Whenever someone makes a decision, time branches off in many different directions, making all different universes for each outcome. We are manifestations of the decisions made before us and the outcomes of those decisions. Before Dr. Yu kills Albert, he sees, or rather feels, many different copies of Albert and himself, each choosing a different outcome to whatever choice they made. Once he had made his decision, they were gone. It seems in the end Dr. Yu Tsun regrets his decision to kill Albert. He mentions his “innumerable contrition and weariness.” The decision was made. Now he can’t take it back.

The Library of Babel is an interpretation of the universe itself. The library itself represents the universe, a large sphere where every point on the sphere is the center of the universe. The hexagons represent each of the individual worlds, or maybe the understandings of each person in the world. The books represent different levels of understanding the world. These range from very simple (the letters “MC, perversely repeated from the first line to the last”) to the complex and unintelligible. (”"a mere labyrinth of letters, but the next-to-last page says Oh time thy pyramids“) Each person has many different ideas and many different ways of viewing the world. No two people are alike, although they might have similar ideas. Since each hexagon has a finite number of books and no two books within the library are alike, it makes sense that they each represent a person or being. The author later says that there is not one book in the library without meaning. One can find meaning in every book, although the meaning might change from person to person. If every book is made up of random characters, how can it be known if you found a book in your language, or how can you decipher what language any book is in? Heretics have tried to use the books for their own. Others have decided any useless books should be burnt. Useless books were books that people couldn’t understand or that people believed were false. Because of this many great books were burnt, but many similar books survived. (150) and the ideas expressed in the burnt books live on, although with slight changes made to them. This is how beings deal with ideas. The ideas will long outlast us, and indeed everything in the world. “The Library will endure, illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.” (151)

In the end, although these labyrinths might seem separate from our world, they are very much a part of the real world, and stem from Borges perception of human understanding and the human condition. Each labyrinth deepens our understanding of the world we live in and the obstacles we face. The world is a confusing and complex place, and there are many more labyrinths we must face after these, but each labyrinth, if traveled correctly will bring us closer to understanding this world as a whole.

36 hour days

So I’ve been having a lot of trouble with sleep lately. It seems I spend most of my days just trying to get on a sleep schedule. I’ve been staying up late some nights, falling asleep in the middle of the day other times, staying up for multiple nights at a time. Yep, overall my sleep schedule is fucked up.

So what would be the best solution to this little dilemma?

Actually fall asleep at a decent time?

No. That’s far too obvious and pragmatic.

No. The best solution is to convince others to follow a completely new schedule that fits better with my way of working.

I have come up with a plan that will solve many problems of sleep disorders, especially insomnia. Also, it would increase our productivity and give us more time for the things we love.
And what is this amazing time saving idea? Simple. It’s the 36 hour day.

Think about it. How much time is wasted getting up or going to sleep. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if that time happened less often? With a 36 hour day, you fall to sleep 2/3 as many times as you would in the same time with a 24 hour day.

The secret is in the scheduling. A normal day lasts 16 hours and has 8 hours of sleep. The trouble is most people get far less than 8 hours. The reason for this is they don’t feel tired when they should be sleeping. They toss and turn for hours until they finally doze off. For many, 8 hours isn’t enough. They need more. How many people hit the snooze alarm multiple times everyday even to the point where they end up late for their engagements? Too many to count.
The 36 hour day solves both of these problems. It’s easier to sleep when you’ve been up longer. On the 36 hour day, you get 24 hours of wake time instead of the normal 16. Also, you get twelve hours of sleep every night instead of the minuscule eight hours we get on the 24 hour day. 12 hours is enough to let anyone feel rested and 24 hours of wake time is just enough that sleeping is easy. It’s the perfect length for the day.

What are the benefits to this amazing plan?

I’m glad you asked. Think about it. On this schedule, you’ll have more time to do the things you want to do. Say it takes me an hour to fall asleep and thirty minutes to wake up. That’s an hour and a half everyday when I’m doing nothing. Expand the day to 36 hours. Now it’ll still take me that hour to fall asleep (even less, actually), and the thirty minutes to wake up (probably less, since I’m more rested.) That means that over the course of 72 hours, I will have added an hour and a half extra time to my schedule; time that could be spent doing productive things I just couldn’t do on a twenty-four hour day, and those hours and a halves add up. Over the course of a lifetime you will have had years of extra time to live that you wouldn’t have on the twenty-four hour day. You’ll feel better about yourself, more rested, confident and secure, just because you have that extra time to do what you need to do.

Isn’t it hard to stay up 24 hours at a time?

No. In fact it’s rather easy. As a college student I’ve stayed awake up to 48 hours at a time so that I could get work done. Staying up twenty-four hours at a time is no harder than running on five hours of sleep a night, which is what most Americans do anyway because either they can’t fall asleep, or they have too much work to let them sleep. Now you can get your work done and have a full night’s rest.

But we are diurnal. We need to follow the sun cycle.

That’s not true. I myself am naturally nocturnal. If I had my way I’d stay up at night and sleep during the afternoon, but I can’t because society won’t allow it. We only follow the sun cycle because that was the best way to keep time when we didn’t have watches. Noone keeps track of time by the sun anymore. There are clocks everywhere. We don’t need it. If you like being out in the sun, then on a 36 hour day, you are guaranteed to have sunlight at some point during the day, unless you live on the north or south pole.

Wouldn’t we have to learn a whole new way of keeping time?

Why are you asking that? It’s ideas like these that keep America from switching to the metric system. Look it’s not that hard. Don’t try to think of the system in terms of the old way of thinking. Just learn the new way. It’s a lot easier and you aren’t confusing kids by having them remember all those weird conversions. How many yards are there in a mile? Noone knows, but I can tell you how many meters are in a kilometer in a second. It’s easy to learn a new system, especially when it makes sense. Two meters is the average height. That’s easy. I can hold up an accurate centimeter, but I can’t for the life of me hold up an accurate inch. The point is, if a system is developed that makes sense, we will have no trouble learning it.

But our system works just fine.

No it doesn’t. Seven days in a week? Why seven? A week doesn’t divide evenly into a month. A week doesn’t divide evenly into a year. How many days are in a month? You don’t know because it changes from month to month. We could easily develop a system that’s much more regular. We could have a week that divides evenly into a month. We could have a series of months with the same number of days. Our system is not perfect, and it’s getting less and less accurate as time goes by.

What are some of the benefits to society?

We can have someone awake at every point of the day. If we decide to stagger the days, then society could be at work all the time. Also with this system, day and night shift would be meaningless. Both would be equally attractive so you wouldn’t have to force different shifts on people that don’t want them, or do that weird rotation thing some companies do. Just have group A and group B. Problem solved. On top of that, there’s a twelve hour overlap every day between “day” and “night.” People on different schedules still have plenty of time to converse, so if your spouse is opposite you, it won’t be like you never see them, as opposed to the 24 hour day when having different schedules would clash.

I could go on, but I think I’ll stop here. Remember 36 hour day for a better America.

Someone on the old blog asked me to come up with a time-keeping system, so here it is.

365*4 = 1460 + 1 = 1461 (accounting for leap year)

1461/1.5 = 974 which when divided by four is 243.5.

So there are 243.5 days in a year with 36 hour days (give or take). If you were to expand the hour out by a little bit there would be 240. The day would change by so little it won’t have any effect on us.

While we’re changing the length of time in an hour, let’s expand it a little more so we have thirty hours in a day.

Now with 240 days in a year, we can divide a year into four seasons of 60 days. Seasons are what show the passage of time. However, if you still want twelve months, each month could be twenty days, giving us three months a season.

Next we’ll make the week five days long (with one weekend) giving us four weeks a month.
This makes the total conversion 60 seconds a minute 60 minutes an hour 30 hours a day 5 days a week 4 weeks a month 3 months a season and 4 seasons a year.

There you go. A perfectly balanced time system.

Morality and Hypocrisy in Candide

A good way to describe Candide might be the morality play by Voltaire without any morals. Throughout the entire play the worst things happen, people commit the most heinous acts, murder, rape, genocide, and torture, but they are described in a way that they almost seem normal, may be even right, that is if convention didn’t say otherwise. Candide is a man of seemingly strong moral character, he has strong belief in his philosophy and follows it, yet he is portrayed as one who lacks any understanding of the world around him or the human race as a whole. When he is exposed to the outside world, he finds that even he can’t remain sin-free. Most notably he kills three people (33 and 48). The entire story chronicles his travels across the world and his philosophical development. Along the way he meets some people of a most corrupt nature, yet somehow he maintains his naive optimism that it will all be fine in the end until the last few chapters of the book. In the end he loses his high-minded ways and decides to live at peace with the world around him.

Pangloss, Candide’s mentor and role model is an example of a corrupt person who operates under the guise of righteousness. What makes Pangloss worse is the fact that Candide looks up to him throughout the entire story. Pangloss is unwavering in his efforts to prove that his way of thinking is best and everything is meant to be how it is, so much so that even when everything is wrong all is well. At one point he stated clearly that this was his belief, “Private misfortunes make up the general good, so the more private misfortunes there are, the more all is well” (24). His reasons for everything in the world are so skewed as to be hilarious. Noses are made for spectacles (16), syphilis was brought over to Europe so that we could have chocolate (23) He even describes the disease as a “present”. Most important however, is Pangloss’s refusal to get anything done, unless that thing involves a member of the opposite sex. When Candide is lying near death from a he feels that this is the perfect time to start applying science. (26). When the Anabaptist drowns Pangloss purposefully stops Candide from saving him because “the Lisbon roads had been formed expressly for the Anabaptist to drown in” (25). However, when an attractive female is around, Pangloss is more than willing to take action. He contracted syphilis from Paquette. He became a slave on a galley because he had his hands on her bosom too long (96). Even after these offenses caused him immense harm, he still maintained that all is well. But even the unshakeable Pangloss is shaken in his philosophy by the end of the story. “Having once maintained that everything is well, he still maintained it and believed not a word of it” (99). It’s also pretty significant that throughout the entire story Pangloss usually gets the last word except for the last line. Pangloss tries to get the last word in by saying that if all the bad things didn’t happen, they wouldn’t have their garden, and Candide responds by telling him that they need to tend the garden. It’s like saying “I’ll accept that, but I don’t care whether or not it’s true.”

The world Candide lives in features many extremely corrupt people. This starts with the Bulgarian captains. During the war both sides burned down the other’s village without a second thought, raping the women and slaughtering all people they come across. Then he comes to a village where noone is willing to feed him. Even a man who talks for a full hour about the importance of charity turns Candide down when asked for some bread. Next there the Inquisitors hold an auto-de-fe, meant to prevent the earthquakes from happening again (they happen anyway) but one of the punishments is a burning for marrying their godchild’s godmother. Pangloss is himself hung for speaking, and Candide for listening. Cunegonde was plagued by a series of people who tried to take advantage of her. The Baron’s son attacked Candide when he said he intended to marry Cunegonde after just before being “unable to tire of hugging [him, calling him] his bother, his savior” (47). The Dutch captain steals his sheep. He is cheated out of most of his money by gamblers and Jews. Finally he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit because his philosopher asked the wrong questions. Basically they were trying to get a great philosopher to agree to their own philosophy and not trying to learn from him. Everywhere in the book are people either guilty of hypocrisy, or excess desire.

Speaking of desire, lust runs rampant throughout the world Candide lives in. Candide’s mentor Pangloss is a lecherous old man. Everywhere Candide turns he’s surrounded by rape or lust, and he’s not innocent of these crimes either. His obsession with Cunegonde, while it might seem pure at first is as depraved and shallow as anything else in the book. He speaks of his love which only got him one kiss and twenty kicks in the rear, and which gave Pangloss his disease, but when he finally finds Cunegonde and finds out she’s ugly, he doesn’t want her anymore. Never mind that she is the reason he kept on traveling and hoping for the future. He left Eldorado so he could be with her, but when he finally gets to her, he is unhappy with her.

All of Candide’s guides seem to have an exaggerated view of the world. The only exception to that seems to be Cacambo. Candide’s valet is the one stable point in the story. He is morally sound (at least compared to everyone else), keeping his promise to Candide to find Cunegonde, and saving Candide on many occasions. He has a realistic view of the world without becoming cynical like Martin. Martin, on the other hand is like the antithesis of Pangloss. Both are as unwavering in their views as one another and both seem to have an equal say in Candide’s personal beliefs. Both also seem to prefer pressing their own beliefs on others rather than listening to what other people have to say. The large difference between Martin and Pangloss is that Martin is as pessimistic as Pangloss is optimistic. The fact that Candide seems to take equal stock in both of their views, even though those views are the exact opposite from each other, shows just how confused he is before the end and just how confusing the world can be. Jacques, the Anabaptist is another person Candide shows a lot of respect for. Jacques seems to have a realistic moral view which makes it all the more tragic when he dies. This death is to show that any extreme can be bad, including extreme kindness. Jacques went out of his way to help people, but when he needed help himself, nobody helped back. It shows that you need to be able to help yourselves as well as others and recognize who should and should not be helped. It may seem slightly immoral, but it seems that Jacques gave too much without expecting anything in return. He provided for both Candide and Pangloss on his own expense, and the only thing they did for him was try to force their beliefs onto him, and he died helping a man who had just punched him in the face. Was anyone any better off for him doing that?

The misery in the world is almost universal, with the exception of Eldorado, which is hidden from the rest of the world and the good man at the end of the story. Everyone Candide asks on his journey has a tale of woe to give, even the six kings he dined with and the bored senator who had everything and took joy in nothing. By the end it seemed like Candide was trying to surround himself with misery. One of the more poignant moments was when he found a Black man on the side of the road. The man was missing an arm and a leg because he had messed up while working and had tried to run away from his masters. Even though he is only seen once, he has one of the most important lines of the entire work. “We are all children of Adam…If that’s the truth then we’re all second cousins. Now you must admit noone can treat their relatives in a more horrible way.” (61) This is one of the major points of Candide. Man shouldn’t be treating their fellow man this way. The man who causes the turnaround of all the major characters at the end, the man with two daughters and a comparatively happy life is Voltaire’s view of the ideal. He lives in moderation. He only has what he needs, nothing more and only wants what he needs, nothing more. He doesn’t try to think about or explain what he can’t understand, he excepts this world for what it is. The fact that everyone including Martin could follow his example, and be successful shows that Voltaire still has hope in the human race. No matter what has happened to you, you can still be good and happy. All it takes is a lot of hard work and a willingness to accept the world at face value.

Candide is a morality play in that it involves a character witnessing the very depths of sin but coming out on the other end much better than he started and ready to put his sins behind him. Everyone in the work is either disillusioned with the world or so possessed by religious fervor as to be blinded to all around them. Candide is in effect a parody of Everyman, and while he doesn’t find enlightenment or absolute happiness by the end, he does find what he wants. He just didn’t know he wanted it until then. Pangloss was right on one point. If Candide hadn’t been kicked out of home and experienced all he went through, he wouldn’t have the great appreciation of life that he did one the end. Candide, however, was also right when he said that all we need to do is cultivate our gardens.

Moral Views of The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales may seem like just a story about people telling stories on the surface, but in reality it goes much deeper than that. The Canterbury Tales represent a cross-section of Medieval life, as well as a look at corruption within society. Each story has at least two messages, the point the narrator was trying to make, and the point Chaucer wanted to make, and all throughout there are many underlying themes and messages. One of these themes is the idea that morals in a conventional sense to not apply to the world. In other words, idealistic moral ideas such as chivalry, chastity, and honesty do not apply to the world as it is and in fact sometimes hinder one’s ability to live well. When reading the Canterbury Tales, one must realize that none of the characters really represents Chaucer’s view of the right way to live. Most of them are either too worldly, like the Miller and the Wife of Bath, or too high-minded, like the Knight, the Parson and the Oxford Scholar. This is shown through subtle inconsistencies within the text. Finding these inconsistencies is part of what makes the Canterbury Tales a joy to read.

First, there are parts of each tale that are inherently wrong if the reader were to take conventional morals into account. In some the narrator finds the wrong message from the context of the story, which can be seen in the Knight’s tale as well as the Sea Captain’s tale. In the Knight’s Tale, after all that happens, the message he comes up with is that great gladness will come from great sadness and “there where we find the deepest sorrow, there shall we first of all begin the cure” (Chaucer 78). The Sea Captain never tries to make a message, although at the end of his tale where the moral goes he finds it fitting to say “may He who lives in heaven send us tail in plenty” (Chaucer 158). The Host Sam Bailey also falls short of finding a fitting moral when he says “never ever bring a monk into the house” (Chaucer 159). Some stories, such as the Reeve’s Tale, the Wife of Bath’s Tale, the Clerk’s Tale, and the Sea Captain’s Tale involve immoral acts with no retribution. The Reeve’s Tale involves the two Scholars sleeping with the millers wife and daughter, but they don’t receive any punishment for it and in some ways are rewarded (the miller’s daughter reveals where they can get their stolen flour). (Chaucer 106 - 109) The knight in the Wife of Bath’s Tale rapes a woman, but the instance is quickly forgotten after he is sent on his quest to find what women want (Chaucer 241). The marquis from the Oxford Scholar’s tale treats his wife horridly; (sends away her children, tells her he’s marrying another) the narrator himself says that what the marquis is doing is “ruthless” (Chaucer 300). However, the marquis in the end receives a happy marriage. Finally, in the Sea Captain’s Tale the monk sleeps with his friend’s wife, but he isn’t punished at all. In fact the people that possibly were punished were the merchant and his wife, and all the wife got was a firm scolding and the knowledge she had been duped. (Chaucer 149 -158).

Still other tales are incongruous, such as the Sergeant at Law’s Tale, and the Prioress’s Tale. At the beginning he talks about “hateful poverty, of all evils worst” stating finally that “it’s better to be dead than to be poor” (Chaucer 115-116). However, his story is about a woman who keeps her faith in Christ no matter what. These themes just don’t connect at all. The Prioress, a lady who would “cry if she saw a mouse in a trap” (Chaucer 4) tells a tale of Anti-Semitism, (Chaucer 162) which features a cold telling of countless Jews being tortured and killed (Chaucer 164). In this story, Chaucer is showing that the Prioress is living a double standard.

One of the themes throughout most of the tales is every attempt to do the right thing turns out wrong. In the Knight’s Tale, King Theseus suggests the tournament in order to have a more chivalrous, more ordered fight. (Chaucer 45). He also proclaims that no mortal blow may be struck (Chaucer 65). Does this sound like an ordered tournament?

A fall/ need not be counted, it’s incidental/And to be hauled by main force to the stake/
Unyeilding, captured by a score of knights,/ One man all on his own, and harried so/
Pulled and propelled with arm and foot and toe/ And his horse driven off with stave and cudgel/
By yeomen, men on foot, and boys as well:/There’s nobody would count that as disgrace/
Or who would dare call it cowardice!/It was proclaimed by order of the duke,/
To put a stop to rancor and malice. (Chaucer 69)

Also King Theseus decided to destroy an entire kingdom because some women were complaining about their husbands not receiving a proper burial. (Chaucer 25). The carpenter in the Miller’s tale did everything he could to keep his wife chaste “Jealous was he and kept her closely caged” (Chaucer 82). Yet he still is cuckolded by Nicolas. In the Sea Captain’s Tale, the merchant, who never gives any evidence that he’s immoral, is cheated out of a hundred pounds and cheated by his wife as well. In the Doctor of Medicine’s Tale, the Knight preserves his daughter’s chastity by chopping off her head (Chaucer 392). All of these instances just seem wrong. Seemingly moral acts are twisted around so that they are in fact immoral. In doing this Chaucer shows that trying to act in a moral way doesn’t always receive a just result.

Also, the tales that are the most twisted, and the most incomplete are also the ones which seem to try the hardest to follow conventional morals. The Knight’s Tale is a great example of this. King Theseus, after just winning a war against the Amazons (Chaucer 23), sees a group of women crying on the side of the road. The description the Knight employs to describe them isn’t very flattering either: “But such a cry, such clamouring they made that in this world there is no creature living that ever heard the like of their lamenting.” (Chaucer 24) They claim that their husbands have had improper burial at the hands of King Creon. Well, Theseus upon hearing this decides to wage war on all of Thebes. While in battle he fought valiantly enough against Creon “and killed him, as befits a valiant knight, in fair combat” but after he had won his actions were not very chivalrous. First he “took the town by storm and wall and beam and rafter he tore down.” Then “the pillagers went busily to work… to rummage in the pile of slaughtered men and strip the armour and clothes from them.” So basically after starting a war because some bodies were disrespected after death, he allows pillagers to steal from the dead bodies of the enemies he killed, in effect showing disrespect for the bodies of his enemies. (Chaucer 26) Afterward he finds Palamon and Arcita, and can’t think of anything to do with them, so he throws them in prison with no chance of being let out. (Chaucer 27). Later Palamon and Arcita catch sight of the beautiful Emily and are immediately stricken. They then bicker over who should have her, even though neither has taken into account whether she likes them. Their arguments are pretty childish too. Palamon says “I saw her first” while Arcita says “All’s fair in love in war” (Chaucer 30). Their actions can be compared to the actions of stalkers. They both obsess about Emily to the point where they would do anything to be near her. Arcita, after being released from prison, disguises himself as a lower class person so he can work for his love. (Chaucer 37) Also, neither of them takes into account how Emily feels, choosing to instead fight with each other. Theseus finds them fighting in the forest and decides to hold a tournament for the heart of Emily. Again, Emily’s feelings in the matter aren’t taken into account. (Chaucer 45). Finally, Emily is forced to marry against her will. Palamon loses the battle, and Arcita dies, but everyone is happy, and Palamon and Emily spend the rest of their lives in “wealth and health and happiness” (Chaucer 78). This is of course a fitting ending to this tale.

In the Sergeant of Law’s Tale, Constance is shown as a very faithful person. She’s described as a “most perfect beauty… all arrogance quelled in humility.” However, as she passively goes about her life, people around her are made to suffer, especially the people she converts to Christianity. First a sultan hears about her and decides to convert to Christianity just so he can marry her (but we know he wants more than that). Before he can successfully marry, however, the sultaness decides to kill all the Christians at the party. “The sultan and the Christians, every one, were stabbed and hacked to pieces, all but the Lady Constance, she alone.” So everyone at the party died but Constance by some divine twist of fate (Chaucer 125). Afterward she is put on a boat with limited supplies and floats there for “many a year and a day”, somehow surviving. The narrator notes that this is highly unlikely but offers that Daniel survived a lion somehow. He says that Constance was saved by “no one but God, whom [she] bore in [her] heart” Next she lands in a land near Northumberland, claiming her “wits were so bedevilled by the sea that she lost her memory” but she still remembers her faith in Christ. Somehow in a land where “no Christians dared assemble” Constance is able to convert the governor’s wife to Christianity, (Chaucer 128) as well as the governor himself (Chaucer 129). Then one of the knights of this kingdom decides to frame her for the death of the governors wife, but no one believes him, despite the fact that Constance is holding the knife and was sleeping in the same bed as the governor’s wife, because she is so pure. (Chaucer 130) The knight is then brought to justice by being killed. Next Alla decides to take her as his wife. At this moment is the only time sex is mentioned in the story. “They go to bed as is both meet and right; for although women are most saintly beings, they’ve got to take in patience at night such customary and necessary things.” (Chaucer 133). However, Constance has yet another enemy, again in the form of the king’s mother. She makes the king believe that Constance bore him an evil child and then has Constance exiled. When the king hears what has happened, he decides to torture the messenger until he says what happened, then kill his mother, which is a decision the narrator agrees with. “Thus ended old Donegild and good riddance.” (Chaucer 138) Now Constance is on a boat again. This time she sails for five years when she lands again in a heathen land. Now the castle steward of this land tries to rape her, but “she fought and she struggled desperately and overboard went that scoundrel suddenly” (Chaucer 139) This is significant since this is the first time the narrator has her do anything besides accept her fate passively. This passage gives me the feeling that during the entire story, Constance was doing more than the narrator lets on. Around this time the emperor finds out that the sultaness had massacred the Christians. This is at least seven years after it happened, by the way. So he sends out “his imperative order to exact full and summary vengeance.” His armies then “burned and killed and wasted the Syrians” which took days to accomplish, and decided to return home when they find Constance on a ship. They take her back to her father, but she’s “lost her memory” so she can’t remember him. (Chaucer 140) Then Alla, Constance’s husband invites the senator to dinner and Constance sends her son there. “It’s it was at Constance’s desire the child stood, while the banquet ran it’s course, in front of Alla, gazing at his face.” (Chaucer 142) Constance decides to send her son to the banquet and tells him to stand near Alla over the course of the meal. Alla remembers Constance and finds her at the senator’s house. He then explained everything that happened and that the mother was to blame for Constance’s sorrow. After this Constance conveniently regains her memory and tells her father all that happened. Constance and Alla settle down again for a married life, and live happily ever after, except that Alla dies a year later. This tale has so many plot holes and relies so much on chance, it’s hard to believe. The fact that these two tales are so incomplete despite the best efforts of the tellers shows that Chaucer believes the old standards are lacking. (Chaucer 146)

Tales where the characters follow looser moral standards however, like the Miller’s Tale, and The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and the Pardoner’s Tale, are much more cohesive. The Miller’s Tale especially is an excellent example of how conventional ideals fail to hold up in the real world. When Nicolas woos Alison, he is very straight-forward. “And on the quiet caught her by the cunt and said to her ‘Unless I have my way, sweetheart, for love of you I’ll surely die.” (Chaucer 83) Absolon, on the other hand woos Alison in the traditional way. He makes himself look nice, sends messengers, and serenades her underneath her window. (Chaucer 86) Although he still is trying to woo someone else’s wife, he does so in a more accepted manner. In the end, it’s Nicolas, who sexually assaulted Alison the first time he talks to her, who finally gets her in bed. But in the end everything comes together, Absolon gets to kiss Alison, even though he didn’t get to kiss her where he wanted. Nicolas is burned on the “arse,” the carpenter is ridiculed by all his neighbors, and Alison gets off scot free for not being stupid enough to try the same trick twice. “And that’s how the carpenter’s wife got poked…and Absolon kissed her bottom eye, and Nicholas get a blistered bum (Chaucer 96-98). The only problem with this story that I can find is that Alison didn’t get punished for cheating on her husband, but that’s just one minor detail.

The Wife of Bath’s Tale is also very cohesive, if you ignore the fact that the knight in the story raped a woman and you never see the woman he raped again, but the entire story is cause and effect. He goes on trial, the queen gives him a challenge to find out what women really want, in his quest to find the answer, he meets the ugly hag who tells him the right answer for the price of whatever she may ask in the future. The request she makes is marriage. He agrees to marry her. She argues that having an ugly wife isn’t that bad, but gives him the choice of having a beautiful, unfaithful wife or an ugly faithful one. He can’t decide, lets her, and gets the best of both worlds (a beautiful and faithful wife). Another great point in this story is that it’s focused and never loses track of what it’s trying to say, mainly that women should be in control of men, which is a very progressive and unconventional view. This is shown in many instances. Queen Guinevere gives him the challenge and decides his fate. The hag gives him the answer, and when he lets her decide what she will be the dialogue shows that the female has gained control of the relationship: “‘Then I’ve the mastery over you’ said she ‘since I may choose and decide as I wish?’ ‘Yes certainly’ said he, ‘I think it best.’” Since it never loses track of its goal and is easy to follow, the Wife of Bath’s tale holds together really well.

The Pardoner had got to be the most interesting character in the Canterbury Tales. He sins openly and even admits that he enjoys it. He preaches against the very sin he’s most guilty of: “Thus I know how to preach against the vice which masters me- and that is avarice. Though I myself am guilty of the sin” and he revels in the irony of his preaching: “I only preach of avarice and the like and in this way induce them to be free in giving cash-especially to me.” The Pardoner also has the tale which best fits the character in the entire book. This tale, although extremely simple on the surface, is very complex in the different layers of meanings it has. The Pardoner’s speech before the tale begins almost nullifies the message behind his story, but not quite. The tale itself is a huge didactic against various sins, such as drinking (”lechery springs from wine and drunkedness” (Chaucer 398)), gluttony (”o if men only knew how many a malady proceeds from gluttony and from excess” (Chaucer 399)), and of course greed. The story tells of three revelers who had too much to drink and decide to hunt for death. On the way they come across an old man “wrapped up and muffled to the eyes” (Chaucer 404) The old man tells them that he can’t die. He tells them that Death can be found “in a grove under a tree… see that oak there? Right underneath you’ll find Death.” However, instead of death, the three men find “gold florins, newly minted, fine and round, and near eight bushels of them” Of course after they saw this, they quickly forgot about Death (Chaucer 405). In the end, their greed leads them to murder, and they kill each other off. (Chaucer 407). It is interesting to note that although the Pardoner is the basest character of the Canterbury Tales, his tale is the best mix of both high-minded moral ideals and knowledge of worldly ways. The Pardoner is the bridge between moral living and worldly ways, since he understands both. However, he seems to prefer one over the other. What Chaucer is trying to say through this character is that if conventional morals applied to this world, the Pardoner wouldn’t be as successful as he is at what he does.

If that isn’t enough to convince that conventional and living purely through traditional methods are seen by Chaucer as outdated, then the Parson should be enough to show otherwise. The Parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is the ultimate priest in terms of traditional standards. “He was the needy priest of a village, but rich enough in saintly though and work and educated too, for he could read”; “For unpaid tithes, he’d not excommunicate, for he would rather give… from his own pocket to the parish poor”; “He practiced first what later he would teach”; “You’d never find a better priest, I swear” (Chaucer 13-14). However when the host first asks him to tell a tale, the Parson answers with “Bless us! What ails the man to swear so wickedly?” at which the host ridicules him. “The next thing we’ll be getting is a sermon. This Lollard here is going to preach a bit.” Chaucer with that small scene shows that people like the Parson don’t have as much of an influence over as they thought they did. The inconsistencies within the stories and the fact that almost all the characters are indulging in one vice or another gives the feeling that an ideal world will never happen. In the end Chaucer uses the Canterbury tales to suggest that the human race needs to rethink their moral code.

On the Piety of Heroes

This essay was written for my Human Events class (a class which studies the evolution of human thinking through literary works). All quotes are from a certain edition of The Odyssey which was used by the class, and the teacher said we didn’t need a bibliography for it. I’ll write one if I can find the book.

“The Odyssey” by Homer is an epic in which heroism is redefined and morals are established. They are done through telling the story of Odysseus’ travels and trials, as well as Telemachus’ search for his father, and by using examples in the behavior of Odysseus and Telemachus as good examples and of people such as Polyphemus and the suitors as bad examples. What exactly, however, is heroism according to Homer? Is Penelope a hero for remaining chaste all those years and for tricking the suitors? What makes a great man? There are many possible answers to this question, but one of the major ideas is that all heroes in “The Odyssey” are extremely pious. Everyone from the great people that Telemachus meets to the “noble swineherd” Eumaios (Homer 240) which can be classified as heroes of the story (the swineherd can be classified a hero since, if it weren’t for his help, Odysseus probably wouldn’t have succeeded) are pious and god-fearing. However, others, like the suitors take every available opportunity to ridicule these great people for their piety. Only because of this piety are they able to accomplish great things because being pious puts the gods on your side.

To be truly pious you must realize that the gods are superior to you. The gods are in control of everything and just as the gods gave you power, they can take it away. Very little is done without the permission of the gods. As Athene tells Telemachus, “I do not think you could have been born and raised without the god’s will.” (Homer 52). When Antinoos states that Telemachus should not be allowed to have the throne, even though it’s his right, Telemachus responds that he would “take that right if Zeus should give it” (Homer 37). He is taking note of the fact that Zeus is in control of his destiny and noting that he won’t be able to take the throne if Zeus doesn’t permit it. On many occasions, Telemachus asks Athene what he should do, and how he should go about it. He uses Athene’s prayer as a model for his own in Nestor’s house; and he prays to Athene for a way to start his voyage in search of his father (Homer 46; 53). Likewise Odysseus often asks the help of Athene and Circe. He asks Circe to “be our guide into Hades” , then questions her about Scylla, whether he can “fight [her] off when she attacks [his] companions” (Homer 165; 188). When he first arrives on Ithaka, he asks Athene to “weave a design” so that he can kill the suitors “for if in your fury, O gray-eyed goddess, you stood beside me/ I would fight, lady and goddess, with your help against three-hundred/ men if you, freely and in full heart would help me” (Homer 208). He also asks Athene for help in finding the palace of Alkinoos and asks her how he might escape after killing all the suitors. Many times after talking to goddesses and asking for advice Odysseus and Telemachus both “follow behind” them, “walking in the god’s footsteps” (Homer 45; 52; 112, e.g.). The idea that Homer decided to mention that they were “walking in the.. footsteps” of a goddess conveys the idea that they wouldn’t know what to do if it weren’t for this goddess leading them, and they know that. This humility; lessening yourself in comparison to the immortals (in fact praising the immortals every chance they get) and realizing that the gods are in control of your life plays out in many instances. Odysseus, when asked if he is a god promptly responds “I am not in any way like the immortals who hold wide heaven” (Homer 116). When Telemachus compliments Menelaos’ wealth, saying that “the court of Zeus must be like it” Menelaos tells him “there is no mortal who could rival Zeus” (Homer 67). Nestor simply says “All men need gods”. When Telemachus acts embarrassed about questioning his elder, Athene tells him “some of [your speech] you will hear in your own heart, some the divinity will put in your mind” (Homer 52). However, the best example of remaining humble in the face of the goddess is the scene where Odysseus first sets foot in Ithaka. Athene comes in disguise so Odysseus doesn’t recognize her. When asked about his origins, Odysseus decides to use discretion and tell a story about being from Crete. Athene then takes on her true form and tells Odysseus “It would be a sharp and stealthy one, who would ever get past you/ in any contriving; even if it were a god against you.” (Homer 205). Odysseus then responds by praising the goddess, “It is hard…to recognize you on meeting, for you take every shape upon you” (Homer 206). Athene pays Odysseus a compliment, and Odysseus tells Athene that she is much better at being crafty. Some people neglected to be humble towards the gods, and they paid dearly for it. Polyphemus says “the Cyclopes do not concern themselves over Zeus..since we are far better” (Homer 144) He then has his eye gouged out by Odysseus, and Aias claims that “despite of the gods” he survived a storm, and was promptly killed by Poseidon. The gods like people to know their place and anyone who doesn’t recognize where they stand in the hierarchy is promptly put in their place.

Since the gods are far better and know more than you do, it would be beneficial for you to follow their commands. As Menelaos says, “The gods have always desired that their orders be listened to.” (Homer 74). Many things that Odysseus and Telemachus do are spurred on by the gods and done immediately and to the letter. It is Athene who tells Telemachus go on the journey in search of his father, and Telemachus did not “delay long after he heard the voice of the goddess” Had Telemachus not been told to start working and “get ready provisions for the journey”, Telemachus would probably still be in his house because “all is delayed by the suitors” (Homer 46). It is Kalypso who tells Odysseus to leave her island and she gives Odysseus the means to do it. All Odysseus had to do was follow her instructions and make a raft. When he left, he kept an eye on the Bear “For so Kalypso…had told him to make his way over the sea, keeping the Bear to the left” (Homer 95). Then the Ino, Leukothea, told him how to escape the storm. “Take off your clothes and leave the raft…and take this veil…and fasten it to your chest…when both your hands have taken hold of mainland, untie the veil and throw it into the wine-blue water” If Odysseus hadn’t followed those instructions he would have been killed. (While he delayed, Poseidon destroyed his raft.) Afterward he duly “unbound the veil…and let it go, to drift in the seaward course” (Homer 97-100). When Circe tells Odysseus to “consult with the soul of Teresias the Theban” in Hades. Odysseus readily obeyed even though “the inner heart in [him] was broken” since Hades isn’t a place one wants to go, especially if all that person wants to do is go home. After done crying, however, the first words out of Odysseus’ mouth are, “Who will be our guide on that journey?” He doesn’t even ask Circe to change her mind. He has already submitted to the fact that he must go to Hades, and he didn’t wait long to depart after being told, either. He roused his companions, telling them that circe had “shown him the way.” (Homer 166). After Odysseus comes back, he receives step-by-step instructions for making it back home. It is only because his men force him to land on the island of Helios, even though they were told they shouldn’t, that Odysseus’ ship did not survive the journey. Odysseus’ men pay dearly for not following instructions and for distrusting their master. They opened the bag that Aiolis gave to Odysseus, thus sending themselves all the way back to his island when they were almost home. They ate the cows of Helios, after being told not to touch them. Disobeying your master is almost like disobeying the gods, especially when the master’s orders come from the gods themselves. If you do not listen to the voice of the gods you are going to pay for it.

Another example of the voice of the gods is prophecy. The Odyssey has many prophets within the verses. Prophecy is duly obeyed by the heroes of the story, while some villain, like the suitors, look onto to prophecy with scorn. Menelaos is saved because he traps the Old Man of the Sea, who tells him to make a sacrifice to the gods. Menelaos then promptly does what the Old man tells him to do “in the way he tells it” (Homer 77). So doing, he is able to make his way home. When Halithersis, a man “far beyond his generation in understanding the meaning of birds” interprets what the two eagles flying overhead meant, saying “Odysseus will not be long away from his family,” Eurymachos immediately shuts him down:

Old sir, better go home and prophesy to your children/for fear they may suffer some evil to come. In these things/I can give you a much better interpretation than you can./Many are the birds who under the sun’s rays wander/ the sky; not all of them mean anything; Odysseus/is dead, far away, and how I wish that you had died with him/also. Then you would not be announcing all these predictions,/nor would you so stir up Telemachos, who is now angry,/looking for the gift for your own household, which he might give you./But I will tell you straight out, and it will be a thing accomplished:/if you, who know much and have known it all, stir up a younger/man, and by talking him round with words encourage his anger,/then first of all, it will be worse for him; he will not/on account of all these sayings be able to accomplish anything;/and on you, old sir, we shall lay a penalty, and it will grieve your/mind as you pay it, and that for you will be a great sorrow…/Nor do we care for any prophecy, which you, old sir,/may tell us, which will not happen, and will make you even more hated. (Homer 44)

Later when Theoklymenos tells the suitors of many bad omens within the house, they “laugh happily at him”, and say that “this stranger…has lost his sense” (Homer 307). Both times they hear the prophecy, but refuse to believe it, even though both prophecies offer an escape from their eventual fate. Polyphemus suffers because he misinterpreted a prophecy. He was told that he would “lose his eye to Odysseus” yet he thought Odysseus would be a strong great man, not a man skilled in guile as Odysseus was. Alkinoos, who may be seen as a greater man than Odysseus received a prophecy that “Poseidon someday would be angry…because we are convoy without hurt to all men.” Yet he accepted it as fact, and knew it would come. When it finally did come, he knew exactly what to do: “Come then…let us all be won over./Stop our conveying of every mortal who makes his arrival/here at our city. We must dedicate also to Poseidon/twelve bulls, chosen out of the herds” (Homer 202-203). Odysseus received his prophecy from the blind, dead seer, Teresias, and after Teresias is done speaking, although he gave a prophecy that wasn’t exactly happy (”I testify to the destruction of you ship and your companions”, “You will come home in a bad someone else’s ship, and find troubles in your household”), yet Odysseus doesn’t question it or show anger because Teresias’ prophecy “must be as the gods spun it” (Homer 171). He even takes the prophet’s advice to “take up your well shaped our and go on a journey until you find men who know nothing of the sea” (Homer 171); a great premise, in my personal opinion. He took the prophecy to heart, unlike other people within the epic.

Another main point of great people is hospitality. Odysseus seems to be obsessed with it, asking himself on many occasions whether the people he sees are “violent and savage, and without justice, or hospitable to strangers, with a godly mind” (Homer 105). This is because hospitality is sacred. There are many instances in the epic that show that hospitality is sacred to the gods. Alkinoos daughter says “all strangers are sacred in the sight of Zeus” (Homer 107). And the swineherd concurs: “I have no right to deny a stranger, not even/if one came to me who was meaner than you. All strangers are under Zeus.” (Homer 211). Telemachus and Penelope are the pinnacle of good hospitality. Why don’t they force the suitors to leave? It would be just. The reason is because there are set rules for hospitality that both the host and the guest must follow. They don’t keep the suitors around for fear of the suitors, they let them stay for fear of the gods. When Odysseus finally kills them, that is because he was given the god’s permission to do so. There are other small instances of great hospitality throughout the book. When Athene first come to Odysseus’ house, Telemachus approaches and tells her she shall be “entertained as a guest” and will be questioned “afterward, when you have tasted dinner” (Homer 30). Nestor when talking to Telemachus doesn’t allow him to “go sleep on the deck of a ship”, but instead offers “an abundance of fine rugs and blankets” (Homer 60). Menelaos also shows great hospitality to Telemachus, taking him in without knowing anything about him. Alkinoos supplies Odysseus with great food and entertainment. However, there are also many people who are not hospitable, such as Polyphemus, who without even thinking about it “caught up two [men] together and slapped them…against the ground” and then ate them (Homer 144). The suitors are also extremely mean to strangers, ridiculing every guest that Telemachus brings in, and even physically assaulting them. These guests include Odysseus himself. One of the suitors got the bright idea to throw a cow hoof at him (Homer 306). At another point Antinoos refuses to give Odysseus his fair share of food, instead hitting him with a stool (Homer 265). This behavior is unacceptable in Greek culture. Any stranger asking for lodgings could be a god in disguise. It is wrong to anger the gods.

Therefore, the heroes of the Odyssey are heroes because they love and respect the gods, while the villains see the gods with scorn. One gets the sense that if it weren’t for the god’s favor, these great men would have been nothing, and would have easily been destroyed (example, Aias). The gods are to be respected and revered.

How to Write a Five-Page Essay about Nothing

So here you are in your English class, or whatever class you happen to be in and your teacher gives you the assignment of writing a five-page essay. At first you gasp and groan, but when that doesn’t work you try to plead the case that this is cruel and unusual punishment, which might get you credit in social studies class, but in English? Don’t fret, however, if that doesn’t work. I have the perfect way to write long descriptive essays about absolutely nothing while making it fun and enjoyable.

First, I’d like to pay homage to my dear friend, the run-on sentence. Think about it. Instead of having a period then a new sentence, there’s a comma, three letter, then a new clause. Conjunctions are our friends. All those little things add up. Soon you’ll have taken up a lot of space without having actually written much of anything.

Now that you know your greatest weapon, it’s time to prepare the text. If the teacher doesn’t specify how to write the header, use as many lines as possible to write it. Write your name, the date, the assignment you’re supposed to be doing, the teacher, the period, the name of the book the assignment comes from, the name of the class, the time you started writing, and the school you come from. If you write the time and date you finished, however, the teacher might be suspicious, so don’t do that. Make sure your title is short. That way it can be a bigger font and still take up one line. Next, look at the maximum font size and go one over that. For example: if the maximum font is ten, try making your font eleven. The teacher can tell two or three, but one is too close to be sure. However, you will be able to take up more space with fewer words. Always double space for the same reason as listed earlier. Next, increase your margins. Although with everything else you may not need these, they do help to increase the length of everything. Now that you have done this, you are ready to start an essay.

First off, never begin with a thesis statement. Always start off with your own opinions on the assignment and how some people are naturally better equipped for it than other people and how being a good student doesn’t play into that. In fact, don’t even give a thesis until the second or third paragraph. Your teacher will view this as a very creative way of approaching the subject. She might even use this idea as an example in the future.

The key to writing a long-winded work is to make everything as vague as possible. This starts with the thesis. The more vague the thesis is, the more freedom you have to go off on tangents in your actual essay. Later I will discuss how to use this to your advantage. A good idea for making a thesis is taking the command from the assignment and changing it so that it is an actual sentence. For example: if the assignment is, “Find the similarities and differences between pigs and bats,” your thesis will be, “There are many similarities and differences between pigs and bats.” This will leave you a lot of room to navigate around this “interesting” subject. Afterward you can use an entire paragraph to say that while pigs and bats are very similar in some ways, they are very different in others, or how amazed you were to find so many similarities and differences between pigs and bats. After that you can start writing the body.
Start off by saying how much you hate doing this and then give a thesis statement. Also try to make the title and the header take up as many lines as possible, and remember: you want a short title. Okay, let’s write the body. The body is the longest part of your essay, so you have to make sure it’s as wordy as possible. This isn’t hard if you follow my simple pointers.

Point #1 Repetition is Key

Your teacher by this time should have taught you how to paraphrase. Now you can put that skill to good use. Paraphrase yourself as much as possible. You’d be surprised how many ways you can say the same thing over and over again. Also, two points take up a lot more space if you try to put them in the same space. One point will constantly be falling back on the first. This means that you can keep on switching back and forth between these two points, which brings me back to my previous point. If you learn to paraphrase, you can put fewer ideas into more space, which will make your essay seem longer, and two points which are closely related are a gift from God and should be used simultaneously instead of separately. It’s really that simple. You can make an entire essay out of the same two ideas repeated over and over again. You will find if you can paraphrase you can make an essay seem longer than it is.

Point #2 A Lesson on Quotations

Quotations are the best way to make an essay longer while still keeping its credibility. Try to use as many quotations as you can get without doing any work to try and get them. If you want to quote a passage from the Constitution, quote the entire Constitution on the claim that you want the reader to see the passage in context. Just remember to underline or otherwise mark the phrase you are actually using. When quoting a book, make sure you use as much of the book as you can. If you are writing a book report, just rewrite the book, changing a few words if the book is written in first person. Quotations are a great way to take up space while keeping up the appearance of legitimacy. Remember the words “read in context” and you are on your way to writing a great essay about absolutely nothing.

Point #3 Tangents are Fun

However, the best way to write on and on about nothing is to constantly stray from the subject at hand. Use as many tangents as possible. Try to lose your train of thought so many times that the essay at the end is not about the same subject as the beginning. Question the existence of alien life. The best way to go off on tangents is to mention a movie. This movie can then be connected to another movie, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to Alien: Resurrection, which brings me back to my previous point. Every essay can be connected either directly or indirectly to the possible existence of alien life or the advantages and disadvantages of having ESP. The great thing about this is you can use these topics over and over again as long as you don’t use it on the same teacher more than three times over the course of the school year. That means that you can make up a discussion that takes up to three pages and use it as many times as you like. This is the place where you get to have fun with your paper. When was the last time you had fun writing a paper? Isn’t it amazing that I figured out how to do it?

Point #4 Writing Persuasive Papers

Persuasive papers are the worst. It’s not that you can’t use the previous steps to make the paper longer. It’s just that you have to at least pretend to get to a point by the end of the paper. That means you actually have to think about it. Or do you? Here’s how I would go about writing a persuasive paper. First off, I would do everything I did before to get prepared, then I would write my thesis. Next I would make a point. Now this is where it changes. Once you make your point refuse to use proof on the grounds that proof is superficial; then try to prove that proof is superficial. Believe me, this proof will take up so much space, you’ll have five pages before you even know what you’re writing. Usually, you only have to write one persuasive paper per year (or even less) so this technique should work every time you get the assignment.

So you get this far, but you still have a little more space to fill and your teacher wants the essay to be exactly five pages (most teachers are anal). So what do you do? I’ll tell you what. (This is the most fun section.) If you need more space, use the space to question the mental health of your teacher. I promise you; this will provide an interesting and relevant topic for you (or at least to your life). Also, you can make it any length; from the very short, “P. S. You’re crazy” to something as long as 19 or 20 lines. I once knew someone who had a whole page left to fill and he saved his essay using this technique. It works.

Some Helpful Phrases for Your Perusal
1. “Which brings me back to my previous point”
2. “This reminds me of”
3. “So the reader can see in context”
4. “I still don’t know why this is important”
5. “I could just start writing gibberish”
6. “Man this is stupid”
7. “Pigs and bats are different because pigs can’t fly. Just a minute. Scratch that.”
8. “My back hurts from sitting so long”
9. “If I get carpal tunnel syndrom, can I sue you?”
10. The first sentence of any great novel
11. “P. S. You’re crazy”

Domestication of Animals

The following is an essay by Servus Tertius.

Servus Tertius of course is the great philosopher best known for his little catch phrases such as “The nose knows, but when it smells that bad, why would you be interested?” and “Who cares why chickens do what they do? They just get run over.” I have for a long time been part of a society dedicated to unearthing and preserving the works of this prolific writing (whatever else can be said about him, he was prolific (we later found out that he thought the more he wrote the more chance something good would come out (obviously that didn’t work))). We are called the Society for Finding and Preserving the Works of Servus Tertius Since Noone Else Wanted to do it and We Felt it was a Good Way to Pass the Time Because We All Need Something for Time Passing, or SFFPWSTSNEWTDWFWGWPTBWANSTP. (Check out our website. We’re planning on having one in twenty years or so.)

Everything in brackets is an explanation by me to help the reader better understand Roman culture.

So without further ado, Servus Tertius’ excellent essay on the domestication of animals.
There seems to be a lot of discussion today about the domestication of animals. It seems this would be worth a lot of money to the food industry, but some people are afraid that doing so would ultimately ruin these animals. Some even say it would make them less tasty. I for one wonder how much they have to be domesticated. Do you just have to put them in a cage or tie them up to domesticate them? If that’s the case, all food is domesticated. Other people feel that it just means the animals are “tame,” or that they won’t pull on their ropes or try to escape, and that you can control them. If that’s the case, neither my dog nor my cat is domesticated. Actually, under that definition, food is more domesticated then my pets, which would mean there isn’t a problem.

But there is. Some people say that domesticated animals provide more food, which in my opinion would be really great, but a small radical group of outcasts feels it would impinge on animals rights. What rights? Animals are either food or pets, or in the case of my dogs both. They are meant to serve and entertain and sometimes brutally maim humans. They are beasts of burden, beasts of war, and teachers to small children. They are gladiators, slaves and executioners. They have no more rights than the common soldier or paedagogus. [A paedagogus was a slave whose job was walking children of rich families to and from school. They were usually smarter than the average slave, but still had just about as many rights] You give them shelter and food, and they serve you until it’s time to set them free. That’s how it works.
But to give these “animal rights” jerks the benefit of the doubt, I’ll pretend that animals do in fact have “rights” before they are slaughtered mercilessly to provide for our nourishment. First off, we need to determine exactly what “rights” these “animals” might “have.” Do they have a right to shelter, a right to own slaves or pets? (in some cases you might be able to do both with one person) Do they have a right to protest, or if they don’t can we murder them in the streets when they do? These are the questions that need to be answered. Are animals human? I’m sure we can all agree the answer is “no.” So what would they need to make them human, and if they are human, how will we eat? Will they legalize cannibalism? Are we already cannibals? Do the gods hate us? There’s just too much to think about.

So I think the consensus is: eating animals = good. I rest my case because this essay is making me hungry and I hear they are having a special on rotted rabbit carcasses in the marketplace. [Rotting meat was actually considered a delicacy back then. It added to the flavor and health codes hadn’t been invented yet. Some vendors would leave meat out so it would be just a little rotted getting the right amount of fungus required expertise, I’m sure.]

This is indeed a huge discovery. We will continue to search for more writings and will try to get them out to you whenever we find them.


A little while back, I had another blog which slowly morphed from a journal to a place where I wrote faux philosophical essays on pretty much any subject I could think of. The goal was usually to make them amusing. This is the first essay I wrote there. I’m still quite proud of it.

So I was watching a baseball game the other day when I started thinking about the nature of how ideas are formed and accepted by society. I also realized that baseball is the perfect metaphor for how ideas come to be, and how they rise and fall.

Think about it. What you have is one person, such as a pitcher, casting out an idea (pitches) to the masses ready to just hit it away (otherwise known as the batters). Sometimes they just ignore it, letting it zoom by, especially if it’s a bad idea, but if it’s a good idea, they will almost always take a swing at it. In fact, most good pitches are hit back. This might be seen as a successful rebuttal to said ideas.

If the masses, or their representative the batter, hits back hard and well enough, he’ll hit the idea out of the park, where it will be remembered as a folly. The batter might also be remembered as a champion of his way of thinking. However, usually it is hit in a way that it can be caught, and returned right back to the batter.

Now an interesting thing about this is if a good idea is completely missed by the person defending against it, it’s quickly forgotten, taken for granted. It’s given the title of “strike” and never thought of again. It’s only when an idea is opposed and hit back that it gains any attention at all.

Now that brings up the question: which are the better ideas? I would say the ones that the batter couldn’t contest even though he tried would be, but these are the ones that people don’t remember. Instead they all talk about the ideas that are hit back, and if the ideas are hit back, they must be flawed. It’s just plain logic. Our entire society is built on groups of people believing in flawed ideas and not the ones which are close to perfect.

In fact, the only way that the pitcher will be recognized for having these really good ideas is if he makes an insane number of them in a row (strike-outs and perfect games). Otherwise he’s forgotten as well.

Now the fielders serve an important part in that they save the originators ideas, maybe by changing the attack or modifying it slightly. The pitcher is capable of doing this as well. After catching and analyzing what the other side sent back, they in turn send it back to the other side, hoping in some way to save the imperfect idea or make an “out.” The fielders are supporters of the pitcher. They have an obligation to help him get his ideas through, and they will try to save most things that don’t.

There we have it; Baseball as a metaphor for progression. It’s obvious that most sports represent some aspect of human behavior. Otherwise we wouldn’t invest so much in them. I’ve figured out baseball, now I need to try with the others.

Why I made this blog

This used to be on wordpress, but now my account has been suspended. I don't know why. It's not for copyright infringement because I know everything I wrote was of my own design. Anyways, I'm in the process of transferring all the essays from to this address. Afterwards, I might write new stuff here.

Philosophy Wars

I’ve had an interesting idea. Let’s pit philosophers against each other, one-on-one. See how they stand. Also, we can try to find weird combinations to see what they say.

Let’s meet the contestants.

Christ: Using solely what is taught in the New Testament, as well as a few key phrases from Old Testament.

Zen: The Eastern philosophy, a mix of Daoism and Buddhism, with an emphasis on the Daoist part.

Buddha: Life is suffering, but we can end the suffering if we free ourselves from want.

Hindu: Live how you need to live. Fulfill your task to take the next step toward paradise.

Socrates: Deals with other philosophers by questioning their ideals.

Kant: Intention is all that matters in morality.

Nietzche: Master morality or slave morality? Nietzche likes neither. Instead, he wants supermen.

Freud: The beginnings of psychoanalysis. Also uses Jungian theories.

Descartes: Nothing can be known unless there’s no doubt of it’s falsehood.

Fem: Feminist philosophy has taken many strides, ranging from militant feminism to liberation.

Science: Let the researchers have their voice. Conjecture from evidence. No emotion allowed here.

Sartre: The only things that speak are actions. Be free, goddamnit.

Skeptic: Just not sure. If he’s a true skeptic, he’ll doubt Science as well.

Universalist: Just because terms are contradictory doesn’t mean they can’t both be true.

Tertius: a philosopher invented by me who uses catch-phrases and faulty logic to make a point, usually a false one.

Kid: With the ability to undermine almost any philosophical pursuit. Just because you know what Mommy says doesn’t mean you understand it.

Naturally, all these characterizations will be parodies. I’m not going to try to say I can put words in all these great thinkers’ mouths.

However, whenever I have an argument, I want to recognize both sides equally. This is an exercise to see if I can put my mind into someone else’s mode of thinking.