She drew in a long, calculated breath. The panic that had sent her running had finally settled down, and her mind was clear enough so that she could untangle the maze of thoughts that had been crashing around in her head. It had been just hours since she and Mark had been on their way to Jasper; the October air was crisp, his car was loaded, and their much-needed mountain getaway had finally come. She remembered every song on the playlist she had prepared. She remembered the rest stops, the pictures she’d taken, the moment that they had both been laughing so hard that Mark almost lost control of the steering wheel…
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” -Benjamin Franklin
Travelling up north to Scandinavia, the Vikings loved to fight. Those who died bravely in battle could be chosen by the Valkyries who would then bring them to Valhalla and be watched over by Odin. In Valhalla, they become einherjar and train each day in preparation for Ragnarök. Simply put, einherjar are destined to fight alongside Odin in one massive battle during Ragnarök, which is a series of events resulting in the deaths of most gods including Odin, Thor, and Loki, as well as most beings across all 9 worlds. Our world will be brought to the brink of destruction so that it can begin anew with a few survivors and gods left over to regroup and repopulate. When the einherjar aren’t training for Ragnarök, they get to eat, drink, and be merry to their heart’s content. The warriors who weren’t chosen for Valhalla instead go to Fólkvangr, watched over by Freya. There isn’t much surviving information to go on regarding Fólkvangr, so we don’t know exactly what it is like there. Most people, mainly those who don’t die in battle, end up going to a realm called Helheim, ruled by a goddess named Hel. Important note: Do not confuse Helheim with Hell. Hell and Helheim are different places entirely, the name similarity between the two is purely coincidental. While Helheim isn’t necessarily a bad place, it’s not exactly the ideal place for a dead Viking to end up in either.
Epicurus was a Hellenistic philosopher from the 3rd century B.C. who believed himself to have discovered the formula for true happiness. Although most of the three hundred books Epicurus wrote have long been lost, fragments of his writings still remain. From these few surviving words, we can attempt to understand his philosophy. While he may have lived more than two thousand years ago, his ideas could still be applicable in the world we live in today.
Epicurus saw desire as a negative force that lures us away from true happiness. He believed that anxiety could only be dispelled by taming our wild desires to put our minds at peace. Happiness, he argued, can be found in understanding the innate beauty that is present within nature and existence itself. Our desires are a perpetual illusion; we seek them with the belief that they will bring us happiness only to realize once we have obtained them that they aren’t enough. Our eyes then become fixed on some other insignificant pleasure. Epicurus called this fruitless pursuit the “disease of insatiability,” emphasizing that “[n]othing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” Epicurus proposed that the cure for this disease is to learn how to be satisfied with what meets our fundamental needs. We have water to quench our thirst, food to satisfy our hunger, and friends to keep us company. Epicurus called these fundamental needs “natural pleasures.” Anything else we may desire, such as fame, wealth, and power are all what he called “unnatural pleasures” which must be renounced in order to find happiness in this life. As long as we have good people surrounding us, we are well-fed, and we have ample time to reflect on our lives, we have the ingredients for happiness. These ideas sound rather contrary to those perpetuated through current media; we are constantly bombarded by advertisements attempting to convince us that there is something missing from our lives: we need more clothes, a nicer car, or a better television. Epicurus would have understood our addiction to such luxuries; they are our way of sifting through the void and attempting to grasp at something that resembles happiness. He would have likely told us that we will never find what we are looking for, because what we are looking for is already in our possession.
Epicurus and his followers withdrew from their society and created a fruitful garden beyond Athens. There, they practiced the philosophy of Epicurus, living simply and engaging in rich conversation with one another. Epicurus is often attributed with being one of the first Atheists; his argument against the existence of God is still rather popular today. The argument goes as follows: If God wishes to prevent evil but is unable to do so, then he isn’t omnipotent. If he is able to prevent evil but doesn’t want to, he must be malevolent. If he is willing and able to prevent evil, then it is not clear why evil still exists. If he is neither willing nor able to prevent evil, we can’t call him God (God being understood as a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent being). Taking influence from the Atomists, Epicurus believed that the cosmos was composed of two things: atoms and void. Upon death, we dissolve back into the Earth from which we came; there is no afterlife awaiting us. We will be neither punished nor rewarded for our actions in this life. Epicurus, however, did not think this reason to fear death; on the contrary, it is reason to pursue with greater enthusiasm happiness and fulfillment within the life we have. The statement “death is nothing to us” is one of Epicurus’ most famous quotes. We can be happy without God, Epicurus taught, and we can be happy with a life lived in simplicity.
Although Epicurus was a Hedonist, he did not believe in luxury of any kind. He is said to have owned two cloaks, and he lived off of water, weak wine, bread, and olives. Epicurus argued that simple dishes offered the same amount of pleasure as fine dishes. When he wanted to “indulge,” Epicurus would ask for a pot of cheese. When speaking of excess and luxury, Epicurus wrote: “One must regard wealth beyond what is natural as of no more use than water to a container that is overflowing.” He also argued that we should live in harmony with nature rather than having sovereignty over it, an idea that is still relevant today, particularly in debates over climate change.
Many other philosophers living in the time of Epicurus practiced a stoic indifference towards grief, refusing to mourn even at the loss of a child. Epicurus thought that the refusal to mourn was inhuman, and he believed that grief itself isn’t contrary to reason. However, we shouldn’t lament the death of a loved one because, according to Epicurus, if we measure the limits of pleasure by reason, it is offered in an equal amount in both limited and unlimited amounts of time. If we understand the limits of our bodies and dispel of our fear of the future, we have the capability to live a complete and perfect life. If one lives by the principles of Epicureanism, he or she can look forward to saying the following when faced with imminent death:
“I have anticipated you, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all your secret attacks. And we will not give ourselves up as captives to you or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go, . . . we will leave life crying aloud in a glorious triumph-song that we have lived well.”
Those of us left behind after the passing of a friend can take pleasure in the knowledge that they lived a good life, leaving the world a better place than it was before they entered it.
Epicurus believed that friendship was one of our fundamental needs, but he was suspicious of passionate love as he believed it had the power to replace reason. Both friendship and sex are perfectly natural, but love, Epicurus argued, is merely an idea dictated by society and thus unnatural. Furthermore, because Epicurus believed that love was a desire that could not possibly be satisfied, to pursue it was to condemn oneself to unhappiness. Although he thought sexuality is natural as it is necessary for the survival of humanity, he observed that it is not essential to the survival of the individual. Our sexuality can disturb our peace of mind and cause suffering, and so Epicurus thought it best for a wise individual to abstain from sexual relationships. This is advice that would seem rather difficult to follow, and perhaps Epicurus’ proposal is unrealistic. He himself took no wife and fathered no children, so it is difficult to speculate whether Epicurus would have changed his opinions on love if he had met the right person. Is the amount of happiness we receive from love once we find it worth the pain caused by its pursuit? This is a question that is ultimately up to the individual to answer.
The garden of Epicurus was the first philosophical school to admit women on principle rather than exception, and Epicureans believed their philosophy could be easily extended to anyone, intellectuals and commoners alike. Epicurean communes were immensely successful, and at the height if their popularity there were over four hundred thousand of them from Spain to Palestine. The Christian church converted these into monasteries in the fifth century, but some elements of Epicureanism remained. The teachings of Epicurus are sometimes compared to Buddhism or Taoism, urging its followers to live a simple, peaceful, reflective life. By setting some time aside to reflect on one’s life and to think about the joys that come along with our existence in a world that gets busier and nosier every day, we can perhaps bring ourselves a little closer to happiness.
by Ester Latifi
“Everybody has a creative potential, and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” – Paulo Coelho
One of the things I’ve heard people say time and again is “I’m just not a creative person.” While you may have heard that some people are more left-brain dominant and others more in tune with their right-brain, I feel like this whole idea is nothing more than a myth. Creativity is so complex; there are many ways of expressing it, and it is not limited to the “artsy” or “musical” people out there. In fact, I would argue that whether you feel that you are left- or right-brained, you are more than capable of being creative and expressing that natural creativity (yes, I said ‘natural’). In other words, if you have a brain and are capable of thought and reason—congratulations! You’re creative. Supposedly being more in tune with one side of your brain does not magically limit your abilities, so it is entirely possible to have a mathematical individual who plays the piano and an artistic person who enjoys math. So the question remains: is creativity limited to a particular type of personality?
Creativity is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas.” I think we can all agree that having original ideas does not require being into painting or sculpting. Scientists often have ideas that they test, and some of those ideas end up becoming scientific theories—still others making it as far as to become scientific laws. People often rule out what they are capable of, making blanket statements such as “math isn’t my thing,” “I’m not an artsy person,” or “I’m not musically inclined.” While there is something to be said for your natural strengths and weaknesses in different areas, I think that by saying things like that, you’re immediately limiting yourself, and in turn, potentially missing out on something you might love or enjoy. For the longest time, I used to be convinced that I was left-brained, telling everyone that I was a science-y person and that the only reason I was good at music was that music has mathematical elements that I naturally excelled at. If you asked me about poetry five years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face, because poetry was something that seemed abstract to me. I didn't know how a poem about different footpaths in a forest could represent life choices (“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost). It all seemed so ambiguous, confusing, and pointless to me that I never took the time to try to learn the mechanics of a poem, and in turn, I just never read poetry, because “poetry isn’t my thing.” I assumed that since I was good at math, I’d never be the sort of person to voluntarily read a poetry anthology. Today, I write poetry for fun. It’s my favourite kind of writing. I love analysing poetry, and being able to write it has become therapeutic for me as far as my struggle with anxiety is concerned. Sometimes I stop and wonder how much more I might have been able to develop this skill had I not shunned it throughout my teenage years. Furthermore, I’ve switched from being a bio major to being an English major over the last year—there’s the “I’m left-brained and can’t be good in the arts” myth debunked. I can still be good at math and science if I put my mind to it, but I’ve decided to explore my other “hidden” talents, and it’s turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I think the mindset that only certain people are creative leads us to stop ourselves from trying new things because we feel that we won’t be good at them. I also think that more than anything, we hide behind these statements and use them as excuses, because we’re so afraid of failure. While you may never be a Vincent van Gogh, you can still express your creativity in other ways.
Even within the Faculty of Arts, there are so many disciplines (music, English, fine arts, language); even a “right-brained” individual cannot be simultaneously good at all of those things. The same goes for the science kids. I have a friend who is a genius at physics and chemistry yet struggles hard in biology. Actually, you are engaging both hemispheres of your brain in whatever you are doing. For example, if I were to write a book, I’d have to be very knowledgeable and have solid research to back the subject I am writing about—and that’s something that is classified as being very “left-brained.” Engineers, similarly, must have a visual idea of what the bridge they’re designing will look like and how it will structurally blend in with its surrounding architecture.
Everyone has a creative capacity, and creativity itself is not something a person is born with, it’s learned. As well, there is no one proper way of expressing creativity. Whatever your “thing” may be, please don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try new things! Don’t let your perception of what creativity is limit you to living in your comfort zone. If I had never begun to write poems, I might be facing my crippling anxiety with no outlet, and as a person, I’d be significantly less stable than I am now.
I am not denying the reality of being better at somethings as opposed to others; I just want to assert that oversimplifying your abilities is a very harmful thing. Be open to trying new things even if they don’t fit into your realm of familiarity. You might discover a new hobby or learn a new skill, and it’s okay if you aren’t the best at it! Also, stop telling yourself that you aren’t creative because that’s just not true. Whatever it is you’re good at, you have so much to offer, and there are so many ways that you can manifest your own original ideas.
by: Ester Latifi
One of the things I’ve learned this semester is the concept of realism within a literary context. “Realism” is defined as the technique an author uses in an attempt to portray people as they actually are, distinctly real (this definition is directly taken from my lecture notes for Dr McNamara’s English 393 class). In other words, the author creates his or her characters in a way that makes you feel as though you can identify with them and experience what they are experiencing within a given plot. You’re able to get into the characters’ heads, individualise them and feel as if you know them on a personal level. Often, this is what causes us to become very attached to certain characters in a book and be able to empathize with them quite profoundly.
What if you were to take the concept of realism and apply it to other forms of entertainment, for example a movie or a TV show? I realise that not everyone is a reader, so the beautiful thing about realism is that it’s not limited to books. I want to talk specifically about realism in the TV show Freaks and Geeks and Disney’s Tangled.
I only watched Freaks and Geeks for the first time last fall. My boyfriend had mentioned it a few times, and one night when I was feeling particularly bored and unable to sleep, I decided to give it a chance. That’s quite literally one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. From the beginning of the first episode to the end of the last, I was completely hooked.
The show follows the everyday lives of two siblings, Lindsey and Sam Weir, throughout their high school experience. Lindsey is a 16-year-old girl who is having an identity crisis; the former math-lete has become friends with the school’s group of “freaks” and the whole plot surrounding her is about Lindsey finding herself in her social environment. Her 14-year-old brother Sam is among the “geeks” of the school and struggles alongside his best friends to escape his geeky reputation and win the heart of his crush, Cindy Sanders (who turns out to be a dud anyway).
Each episode has its own story, and the best part is that everything that happens in the show, with the exception of episode 17, actually happened to either the show’s creator, Paul Feig, or one of the show’s writers. Every character is relatable and lovable in their own way. Viewers can feel Lindsey’s insecurity on a spiritual level, and we genuinely want her to find her place. We’re also able to sympathise with Sam and his friends who feel ostracised in a school full of different social groups, none of whom can accept them for who they are. Real issues are addressed, and Feig does an excellent job of capturing the essence of what it’s like to be a teenager. Though the show takes place in the 80s, the concepts explored are still extremely relevant today. As I watched it, I was able to identify myself in different characters, especially Lindsey. I especially love how nothing in the show is out of the ordinary, there are no crazy camera effects or supernatural events; it’s simple, it’s relatable, and it’s easily the best show I’ve ever seen. I was devastated when there was no “next episode” button at the end of season 1. Throughout its eighteen episodes, I honestly felt like I was experiencing things along with the characters, and at times, it felt like I was the one going through their different ordeals.
When Tangled came out, I saw it three times within a month of the release date. I love all things Disney, but for some reason, this was my all-time favourite film for a solid five years. I love how Disney took a classic story and made it into something so fresh and lovely. In the movie, Rapunzel is a wide-eyed, innocent young girl who has been kidnapped and locked in a tower for her entire life. She wants nothing more than to go outside, primarily to find out what the floating lights are all about. She doesn’t know until the end that the floating lights are actually lanterns that her parents, the king and queen, release each year on their long lost daughter’s birthday. Although the story isn’t realistic at all, Rapunzel’s spirit and childish curiosity are traits that all of us have been able to relate to at one point or another. We get to know her on a personal level, her hobbies, her favourite food (hazelnut soup), and her hopes and dreams. We’re all rooting for her and Flynn Rider throughout the film, and nothing is more annoying than the presence of the evil Mother Gothel. Rapunzel’s infectious personality is what makes her so lovable, and it’s easy to become lost in the plot and feel as if you’re the one on the quest to see the floating lights. We feel like we know Rapunzel, and because of that, we hate whatever she hates and want whatever she wants.
I wanted to talk about Game of Thrones and realism, but I’ve already gone on too long. I find it incredibly fascinating how this creative technique engages audiences, and as a writer, it’s my goal to be able to incorporate the same levels of mastery into my own works!
Sidenote: if you haven’t watched Freaks and Geeks before, what are you even doing with your life?
As a formerly home-schooled student, you could say that I did fit in more than a few of the “geeky kid” stereotypes. For example, yes, Anne of Green Gables was my favourite book and movie for a long time (my thirteen-year-old self used to have a pretty big crush on the character of Gilbert Blythe). Yes, I listened to classical music—I still do. Field trips meant that my family would occasionally make a day trip to the Telus World of Science or an excursion to Drumheller so that my mum could make my siblings and I write a report on dinosaurs. Also, I‘ve been reading Dickens and Austen and Shakespeare’s works since I was in grade seven because my parents chose to use a curriculum that encouraged such readings in the relatively earlier stages of learning.
With that said, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was educated in comparison with what sorts of movies, music, and books I choose to indulge in today. Did the curriculum my mum picked out for me influence what kinds of things I like or dislike today? I think so.
I’ve always gravitated towards classic literature (Jane Austen is the bomb) and older music—I own at least 25 vinyl records that are strictly classical/baroque—and as far as Shakespeare goes, I’ve never had issues reading his unabridged plays because of how I was trained. I’m not saying that I’m smarter than the average person by any means; I just want to assert that a person’s background regarding education plays a massive role in what sorts of entertainment pique that person’s interest. Adding to that, I was never formally trained in politics or social studies, so my knowledge of those subjects, as well as my interest level in them, is pretty limited. I don’t usually read books that have strong political themes because I simply cannot understand them. Knowledge cannot stem from ignorance.
On the other hand, one of my friends grew up reading more contemporary things and listening to more mainstream music. She was very involved in extracurricular activities, such as dance and theatre, while I was not. I don’t think that this is necessarily better or worse than how I was taught and raised, but her education in a school that was decidedly focused on the arts is the reason that she is involved in theatre and dance even while sticking to a busy university schedule. She has an appreciation for the forms of entertainment that I was unable to develop to the same extent. Alternatively, my fascination with Beethoven and Pride and Prejudice is something she can’t relate to, as she was never given the opportunity to explore those as extensively as I did.
It’s dawned on me lately that most of the time, a person’s entertainment preferences run a little deeper than just taking a casual interest in The Chronicles of Narnia. The chances are that if you grew up with your mum reading you the Harry Potter books, you'd appreciate them as an adult. This isn’t to suggest that people who don’t grow up with certain forms of entertainment are unable to enjoy them—just that those people might not hold them with the same regard as someone else who did grow up with them.
While I’ve certainly grown beyond my awkward homeschool stage and branched off from the geeky thirteen-year-old I once was, parts of my childhood have stuck with me. For instance, I’ll always opt for Bach’s Goldberg Variations when I don’t know what else to listen to. I still prefer to sit at home on a Friday night and read a poetry anthology as opposed to going out and singing karaoke with friends. My point is that the way you’re trained will set the stage for the entertainment that you find enjoyable; we’re all raised differently, and that plays into what we choose to enjoy. That said, next time your friend recommends a song that you end up hating, don’t tell them that their taste in music sucks because it’s just different from yours. We won’t all like the same things, and that’s okay!
by: Ester Latifi
With midterm season looming over us, we’re all feeling crunched for time and probably very overwhelmed. In times such as these, an escape would be nice. I’m here to tell you all that an escape is possible! It’s literally right in front of you and accessible anytime. Now would be a great time for a drumroll, but since I can’t do that through writing, I’m going to just tell you what it is: books.
Ester, come on. Books? We read those all the time! Assigned readings and--
I know, it’s probably not what you were expecting. It seems counter intuitive to suggest that you read more when you’re already drowning under a mountain of novels and textbooks, especially if you’re an English major like I am.
I was talking to my boyfriend a few weeks ago about books. He’d asked me how far along I’d gotten in a book he’d recommended to me months before, and I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn’t progressed very much since the last time he’d asked. I then went on to explain how much reading I had to get done for my classes. “I just feel really guilty reading anything that’s not related to school at this point,” I remember saying to him. His response really made me think: “Well, you still need to read things for the sake of enjoyment; isn’t that the point of being an English major?”
He’s right. Prioritizing is crucial as far as keeping afloat where schoolwork is concerned, but it wouldn’t be reasonable to drop absolutely everything you do for fun under the guise of doing well in school. Up until that conversation, I hadn’t realized that in reading all the books I was instructed to, my love for reading was slowly turning into a robotic action. What was meant to encourage me to love books even more was the very thing that was changing my view of the sole purpose of reading, and that purpose is enjoyment. I’m not advocating that we all toss our textbooks and read sci-fi all day after day; what I want to stress here is that you absolutely need to back up a bit if you’re feeling overwhelmed and schedule free time in your days. “Free time” probably sounds like a thing of fairy tales and dreams, but I promise you, it’s always available if you make it so. Scotiabank’s slogan is “you’re richer than you think” and I think that this holds true for free time—it’s more available than you think!
Instead of reaching for your phone or the TV remote next time you have a few moments to breathe, try grabbing a book. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace; the cool thing about books is that the genres are endless! Like music, there’s something for everyone. There’s short books and long books, fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and drama, old books and contemporary—there’s a whole world of literature waiting to be explored, and rather than exploring, we’re allowing them to gather dust in our shelves, and I think that’s really sad.
I understand that reading may not be your thing, but I encourage you all to at least give it a shot. If you don’t know where to start, there are many ways you can get recommendations! Ask a librarian, reach out to a friend, talk to your parents, or just wander through a library and pick whatever looks interesting. Audio-books are also something to consider if you focus better via hearing. I know that this isn’t your typical entertainment piece, but if you think about it, books are a form of entertainment too! Let’s not leave them behind. Now, off to finish A Clash of Kings.
Within society the word ART has taken on a stereotypical connotation. When we hear the term art, generic forms of the fine arts are brought into light. However, the fine arts only bring recognition to the art forms of painting, music, dance, and drama while others are left out of the limelight. As a whole we have neglected the imagination, creativity and beauty presented by other less recognized forms of art. Specifically, as a society we have neglected to appreciate literature and writing for what they truly are, the uniting front of the art world.
Art as an umbrella term presents numerous categories and subcategories that are defined and characterized by their recognition in society. There are countless ways to describe the intricacies, emotions, imagination and details that surround various art forms in the world. Take a moment to consider all the ways in life that we are able to express our human thoughts, emotions and nature. Art is not just painting, music and drama- it is all that and more! Any way a human being is able to express themselves is a unique and valuable form of art. As humans we have the ability to express ourselves through countless outlets including: cooking, sports, sculpting, wood or metal work, photography, poetry, writing, leadership and even volunteerism. To go even further, the way we express our cares and commitments to the world through leadership, volunteerism and compassion for humanity also hold an intricate line of beauty thereby falling into the arts category. The arts are an outlet for self-expression, an outlet for the reflection of life and an outlet for respect of such human conditions. One does not need to be creative or imaginative to experience and value the arts. Visual arts while they are a major sect of the artistic world do not encompass all that the arts have to offer.
While it may be a stretch to call leadership and volunteerism forms of art it does remind us that these words hold a deeper connotation, definition and meaning to the plethora of people that use these words to describe themselves and the world around them. Hence, as we speak, read and communicate with one another the world of literature has a major influence on how these words are meant, interpreted and used in daily life. We use words to describe our thoughts, perspectives and define the beauties we behold with our own eyes. Words and languages are the building blocks of how we perceive the world around us and describe those perceptions and emotions. When we go into an art gallery, watch a film or experience a drama production we use words like magnificent, brilliant, and priceless amongst others to describe our initial experience. Thus, without the ability to share our human emotions through speech and words the art world we be at a major loss.
More and more, people are turning away from literature and poetry. In particular, poetry has been interpreted as a dying art form. People no longer want to put the effort into deciphering the intricate details of a well phrased poem. We’ve neglected the details placed in poetry and writing while we praise the details of various other works of art. When you stare at a famous painting like the Mona Lisa or The Starry Night a plethora of different meanings and emotions can be plucked out of the woodwork if one is willing to take the time to look. The same can be said about poetry. If you are willing to take the time to decipher a poem like The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare or I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth you can find these intricate pictures of art within your mind through the correlation of words these poets placed together. When it comes to reading things like novels and poetry there is no 100% correct or incorrect answer on how it may impact you personally as a reader. Through the art of reading you are able to interpret the author’s works entirely from your own point of view- which can change and grow as you read and learn more.
One of the many benefits of the arts is that there is something for everyone. When you choose to delve into the art of literature and poetry you are not only benefiting yourself but those around you. Without literature we would be lost to countless opinions, ideas and perspectives on the world we live in, we would be lost to the understanding and acceptance of human nature and emotions and more severely we would be lost to the appreciation of nature and the world around us. Concordia, this spring and summer I urge you to take the time to pick up a book or poem and read, read for relaxation, read for entertainment, read for knowledge- read so that literature may acquire the appreciation it is due as the glue holding our society together. Remember you may borrow a book, but you get to keep the ideas found inside. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”- Gandalf. What will you do with your time?
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and the women merely players” – William Shakespeare
In literature we experience other worlds and the character’s presence within them. Through reading we are given a lens into the minds and lives of both fictional and real life characters- a scope that can profess both falsehoods of reality as well as the truths in which we live. As Shakespeare’s conceit expresses a truth of humans being mere players of the world’s stage, it shows the depths in which we live our lives. We all have different roles we play that make us who we are. Let it be as a student, family member, artist, employee, athlete or friend- we all portray different sides of ourselves in various streams of our personal being. As our character changes with the mode of life it is evident that the things we read, learn, and experience play a major role in shaping us all into what the world sees.
As a child you were in the most vulnerable stage of life. Everything is a new, exciting opportunity to learn and everything you experience has a lasting impression on the person you will become. Hence, reading as a child is vitally important in the process of human growth and development. Looking back now on the stories and books I read as a child I can see how reading alone has influenced me as a person. I remember times my mom or dad would read to me before bedtime, those first few books I was able to read on my own and those books turning into ones I would later read and share with my siblings. Personally, I grew up with stories like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Winnie the Pooh, as well as numerous nursery rhymes and bible stories. All the things I read as a child and into adulthood have given me little pieces of wisdom, experience and enjoyment throughout my life. I’m sure each one of us could recall one or two stories we read as children that have had a lasting impression in shaping your current personhood.
Literacy is a major part of life. Every turn of the page, written word or remembered quote can leave a lasting mark. When we read and analyze Shakespearean works, novels like The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders or The Catcher in the Rye amongst many other pieces commonly studied in school, our minds are awakened to an endless array of thought provoking opinions, metaphors and allusions that allow a reader to grow in knowledge and understanding of the world and their role within it. Take a second to reflect on the novels or words that have had the greatest influence in your life. Even for those of us that are not avid readers, words still make a difference in how we perceive the world around us. Literacy and reading is something that shapes and grows with us out of childhood and lasts till our final days. Reading is a way we communicate with others, navigate from point A to point B and is a spectacular form of experience and knowledge. Without the basic fundamentals of literacy and reading we would be at a loss of the full experience life has to offer.
By harnessing our inner child we can experience every word we read in a new light. As we go about our daily lives on the world stage remember the roots from which you’ve grown and the branches that lead to new and exciting adventures of experience, being and reading.
“The medium is the message” – Marshall McLuhan
Within the modern world we have the ability to communicate through an endless array of technological advances. The mediums of communication are vast and growing as texting, skyping, emailing and social media have taken over the world. These advances have even affected the way we view literature and reading as a whole. More often than not, people would rather purchase an e-reader over a physical hardcover or paperback book. As emails and texting have taken away the interpersonal relations of communication, e-books have taken the life and intimacy out of reading paper books.
While e-readers are more convenient for a person to read on the go it is evident that this convenience negates the environmental and health effects it has on the world and those living in it. As paper books are manufactured through the consumption of trees, ebooks contribute to our ecological footprint through production and maintenance. It is evident that both traditional books and e-readers have environmental drawbacks, however, “in terms of the effect on the climate, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal roughly to 100 books”. This figure may be alarming but when taken into consideration e-readers are truly a more volatile product as they require materials like plastic derived from oil, as well as glass and other metallic materials to create the device in addition to acidic batteries and regular electrical charge. Traditional books require “wood fiber” from a natural resource that is renewable if looked after properly. Furthermore, a study conducted in Sweden revealed that reading for 10 minutes online uses more carbon to maintain the computer’s energy than is expelled from a print newspaper. In consideration of the effects ebooks have on our environment, it is also evident that as a medium, it takes the longevity and comprehension out of reading.
Moreover, it is evident that e-books also pose a risk to your health. Have you ever tried to read an article or book online before going to bed for the night only to find that you can’t fall asleep? This sleeplessness is caused by the lighting of electronic devices like televisions, computers, phones and e-books. The blue light that is given off by our electronics was discovered to reduce the amount of melatonin produced in your body thereby reducing your ability to sleep. The chain reaction of sleep deficiency can in turn lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Hence, the harsh lighting e- readers amongst other electronics emit can be detrimental to your health and sleeping habits.
In conclusion, it is evident that Marshall McLuhan is right in saying “We drive into the future using our rear view mirror”. Constantly, we focus our lives on the next big thing- neglecting the great advances we already have around us. Novels and books are sources of information that will never go out of style. Paper books whisk us off to imaginary places, inform us, and create an artistic outlet for people to share their stories with the world. When we turn our backs to the simplicities of life, diving head first into the future we forget the reality we live in and lack direction. The present is tangible, the future is just a virtual reality of possibilities- good and bad. Paper books creates a lasting impression. In contrast to books, computer screens and e-books only provide convenience and status, negating the overall value of books and reading as a whole. By putting paper books online and in e-readers the medium of reading is tainted. Thus, I feel that it is important for our generation to encourage the world to read paper books, as the medium of reading physical books over a screen speaks volumes.