Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Latest Word: Paroxysm

Today's word is one that is found in a near-identical form in many other languages, as it's been borrowed from the Greek word παροξυσμός or the verb παροξύνειν. Simply take a look at these translations:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Monica Wood - Disappearing (Overview - Part 2)
This is the second part of the overview of Monica Wood's short story "Disappearing". Before reading, please take a look at the introduction I've written here which includes a link to the story itself, a short biography of the author, the setting of the story as well as the characters that interact in it.

This second part will cover the plot and deals with the "growth" process the story describes. Through this process, Wood intimates how destructive others can be and how -- as traumatizers -- they can permanently stunt development.

In part 3,  the point of view and symbolism are discussed.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Monica Wood - Disappearing (Overview - Part 1)
People's cries for help often go unnoticed because as a society we have either become immune to other people's plight or we have become too self-centered to notice others at all.

Monica Wood captures this feeling of insignificance, a kind of nullity of human existence imposed by others by dint of their disregard for their fellow man (and woman, naturally), in her short story "Disappearing". 

The title says it all. The passage from one existence to a non-existence is depicted in a matter of pages. Twenty-eight paragraphs is all it takes to erase one's physical identity. Yet how much longer it takes to erase an individual's entire existence -- both body and mind -- is what lies at the heart of this story. The answer to this question is a terrifying "few people, a few comments, several reactions" rather than a specific time period. In fact, I would contend that this is not a story just about anorexia --  anorexia is simply a by-product of a greater disorder plaguing society. What "Disappearing" truly achieves in doing is highlighting the encounters rather than the time span or symptoms of a medical condition that afflicts over 2.9 million people (see the study here). Through these encounters, readers understand what someone has to put up with, why they obsess with body image and especially body weight, and how the desire to erase yourself from the face of the earth starts well before the idea itself consciously materializes.

If I could phrase the gist of the story in a sentence, it would be the following: When we efface others regularly, we enhance their longing to reduce themselves to nothingness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Commentary: How does Literature instruct?

I've loved books ever since I can remember. They're the only thing I've consciously made a choice to collect. I love how they smell, how the pages feel, the different textures of their covers and the way they look as they stand, motley-colored and neatly arranged on bookshelves. If I hadn't become a teacher, I'd work in a library or a bookstore, such is the extent of my obsession. My love of books is so great that I can't imagine why others don't understand their importance. 

This is what brought me to write this post, in fact. A few weeks ago, I'd seen a question posted by someone online (no doubt a desperate student who was assigned the question by a teacher) asking how Literature instructs, and wondered why on earth anyone would ask such a self-explanatory query. After all, the reason I revere books doesn't merely come from the satisfaction I get as I turn pages over or capture the scent of a book the minute I open its cover. I've always felt they were, each and every one of them, fascinating worlds -- both real and imagined -- in their own right, with heaps of knowledge to be garnered. 

So I said to myself that it was about time I got my ducks in a row and expressed in writing what I'd felt to be true for a long time now by pinpointing how in actual fact books benefit mankind. I especially hope my thoughts on the topic will change the way people view studies undertaken in the Humanities (seeing as there is a declining trend in the number of students who enroll on Literature courses at undergraduate level these days). 

How Does Literature Instruct?

My dad wanted me to become a lawyer and sure enough, I'd seen enough Perry Mason and Matlock episodes in my youth to know that lawyering on screen was about as dazzling as it could get. Gregory Peck got it right in To Kill a Mockingbird, Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution, but I was quite sure real life was in no way bound to be like that. Besides, stories are what really mattered to me and I dreamed of being able to teach others to squeeze the life out of them and make it their own as I myself had done so. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

C2 Sample Essay 23 (Screen Addiction)
Writing at C2 level (Proficient User) on English language examinations is the same no matter the awarding body when it comes to writing essays. If you are a candidate giving an exam in English, make sure you read my earlier post What do I do with the sample writing found on this blog? to get the most out of the sample essays provided on this blog.  

If you are not taking an exam but need to discuss what can be done to protect people from becoming addicted to television, cell phones, game consoles and computers, then read on and note down what you deem useful. If you intend to use this essay as part of an assignment, remember to paraphrase so as not to plagiarize.

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