We Wear the Mask

Written By Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) and published in 1896

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

An End of the Year “Thank You”

Like I said in my “Week Twelve” post, the English blog assignment is pretty much over.  I’ve got to say that I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and receiving your comments on my own blog.  Especially this week, I think that all of the blog posts have been really interesting and entertaining, and they really helped me learn more about the people I have been in class with.  Thank you all so much for teaching me so much with your blogs!  Have a great summer, and I hope things works out for everyone as you all prepare for next year!

Week Twelve: “Brooklyn Bridge”

“Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.”– Elbert Hubbard

Brooklyn Bridge

This is a watercolor painting called “Brooklyn Bridge” by artist Maja Wronska, who goes by takmaj on her deviantART account.  Looking at this painting, all I can think of is leaving.  It doesn’t matter where you are leaving from; it just simply looks like an exit.  I thought that, since it is coming to the end of my freshman year and this will be my last blog post for my English class, this painting was extremely appropriate for tonight.  Obviously I’m not literally leaving any place, but it seems like I am figuratively leaving all of my apprehensiveness about college behind.  (Except not really.  College still freaks me out, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The earlier sentence just seemed somewhat poetic…)

Honestly, I don’t think you ever really leave a place during your life.  You always carry that place with you in your memories and return there during the moments when you recall the times you spent there.  It seems to me that the only time you make an actual exit in your life is when you truly just exit life itself.  Yes, I am talking about death, a topic that, while most people try to avoid it, I end up thinking about quite a lot.  I have this really strange idea that I will die at the age of thirty-seven.  It’s not that I plan to die then, but I just can’t seem to get the feeling out of my head that it is at that age that I will go.  Because of this, I have developed this personal philosophy for my life.

Bringing a bit of religion into this (sorry, but it’s necessary to explain my thought process), I admit that I believe in the whole heaven and hell after death thing.  As I am now, I realized that I really am not a very good person, definitely nowhere near as good as I should be, and, if I am to believe the feeling I have about dying at age 37, I don’t have that many years to effectively remedy that.  I mean, I could if I tried really hard, but I am extremely lazy and would probably need thirty or forty years to do that.  So, as it so happens, my hopes for the future aren’t too great and I’m not really confident on where I will end up after death.  It is for this reason that I want to live as full a life as I can and get as much out of it as possible.  Apparently, I often interpret that as acting extremely selfish and doing whatever I want for myself and no one else.

This is also why I refuse to die for myself.  I know that I am a terribly selfish person, but I would like to preform at least one selfless act during my life.  I figure that act may as well be my death.  If I don’t see much of a chance of my going somewhere nice after I die, then I really don’t want to die for something stupid like my own desires or a disease.  If I am going out, then I plan to go out helping someone else, whether it’s by protecting them or just aiding them in general.  I may dislike people as a whole, but I seem to care enough about humanity that I want to do anything I can to help it survive.  I guess the shortest way to sum up my motto in life is “Live for yourself and die for everyone else”.  A lot of people may not like or even understand my ideas, but I don’t ask for anyone to try to.  I just ask that you all give some thought to who it is you live for and try not to judge others based on the way they live their lives.

P.S. “One Particular Harbor” by Jimmy Buffett= Though this isn’t the best version of the song, it is still fantastic. I grew up with my parents blasting Jimmy Buffett music in our living room and would even dance to it when I was younger.  Though I don’t like his really country-sounding songs as much, his TropRock stuff is still some of my favorite music of all time.

Week Eleven: “Words”

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”– Buddha

words_by_koyamori

This is a watercolor painting called “words” from artist Cynthia L., who goes by koyamori on her deviantART site.  Her comment on this painting is “Every once in a while people spit out words that are precious.”

I probably should start off by saying that I love words.  This isn’t limited to words that are combined to mean something profound.  I love the individual words themselves.  Sometimes I pull out a dictionary and just flip through the pages reading random word entries to see if there are any interesting words to learn.  I am pretty sure that koyamori referred to certain phrases when she talked about precious words and painted the gems in her work, but I just want to put out there that I think all words are precious and fantastic.

Think about it; how would one understand the world without words?  A single word can’t even be explained without using a ton of other words, so it’s impossible to try to explain the complexities of life without them.  Now, I might sound kind of silly right now, but everyone has some kind of language or communication system and those are each made up of words of some form or another.  It’s pretty hard to get away from them.

One of my favorite quotes is from a book called Clockwork Angel, written by Cassandra Clare. “‘One must always be careful of books,’ said Tessa, ‘and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.'”  Honestly, I agree with what the character says about both words and books.  We as humans talk to each other all the time, but most of us talk without actually saying much.  I know that, personally, I speak simply because it is a pretty much a requirement if I want to make and keep friends.  Unfortunately, though, I am completely ineloquent when I verbalize anything.  The points and ideas that I form inside my mind are generally lost when i try to explain them aloud to another person.  This is not the case when I write, though.  Writing allows me to take time to organize my thoughts completely and manipulate words in whichever way I want to effectively communicate anything that happens to be stuck in my mind at the time.

This is why the warning about books seems so appropriate to me.  Before I came college, I read all the time.  I had more free time than I do now, so I devoured any book I could get my hands on.  I also, like any normal teenager, watched a lot more television.  Because of this, I began to notice something about communication through these two different mediums.  I felt a stronger connection to the events and emotions portrayed in the books than to those I witnessed on screen.  The cause of this, I believe, is the fact that, even though you are able to recognize the visual cues in an onscreen event, the written word allows for so much more time to explain the occurrences and actually establish exactly how the author wants the reader to feel during the parts of the book.  What I read seems to make more of an impact on me than what I hear, meaning that I actually remember the things that I read and it changes the way I view the world around me.  If you really want to get a point across some time, I would recommend explaining it in writing.  (Unless you’ve got that natural charisma that people always describe leaders as having.  Then it doesn’t really matter.)

P.S. “Modern Age” by Anberlin= In regards to the song, I felt like changing the style of music up a bit, and I really like this band.  What is actually has to do the post is a little less…definite.  It seems as if I’ve gotten away from the point I was initially going to make, which explains why it is such as stretch to connect the post to the song.  I may as well just say the other point now.  In this post I actually wanted to indicate just how important words and communication are.  Sometimes the things that are said end up being so important to another person that they can affect the lives of that person.  Because of this, it is a necessity that people actually say, or even write, what they believe.  Not using the words that you have helps no one.  This still doesn’t connect much to the song, but I do think that the lyrics sometimes can apply.  Not sure if anyone else will see it, but I do.  Sorry for how much I have rambled and skipped around!

Week Ten: “Back to the Future” collection

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.– Bertolt Brecht

berlin

This is called Christoph 1990 & 2011 Berlin Wall and is one of the many sets of photographs in photographer Irene Werning’s collection titled “Back to the Future”.  This collection takes a subject’s old photograph and recreates it in the present, at the same location and with the subject wearing a similar outfit.  A lot of the images in the collection were taken at people’s homes, so, unlike the way the individual’s appearance changed, there wasn’t much change in the scenery of the picture.  This picture, on the other hand, really caught my attention because it was taken out in the city, so the scenery actually changed along with the subject.  Even from a historical standpoint, this set of photographs is fascinating because of where it was taken.  It depicts an event that the western world considers a great victory of the modern era- the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

The biggest theme of both the photos and this post is change.  My belief is that change is constantly occurring, for better or for worse, regardless of the efforts made by us humans.  We are powerless to stop change from happening, and those who believe can avoid it and not have to adapt to it are fools.  I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it is what I strongly believe about the nature of the world and existence.  If you don’t understand or don’t agree with me, think of a forest.  Honestly, the forest probably existed before we did, but we humans attempt to shape it so that it will fit with how we believe our world should be.  So say that we have cut this forest back in order to build a town.  For years, it seems as if the town and forest remain the same, neither one filtering into the other because we want them to stay separate.  The truth is, though, that if you carefully examine the boundary that separates these two things you will see how pieces of one begin to fade into the other- garbage from the town will inevitably end up in the forest and the underbrush that covers the forest floor will begin to encroach upon the area of the town, with grass and other plants sprouting up through the cracks in the pavement of the cities roads and sidewalks.  People can attempt to prevent these things from coming to pass, but it will be a constant struggle against nature and time.

Although change can sometimes be unpleasant and difficult to deal with, it is pointless to resist it’s effects.  You will end up fighting against it your entire life and it will leave you feeling exhausted.  To actually be able to live, it is just better to accept the inevitability of change and simply adapt to it.

P.S. “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane= First of all, the relation to the rest of the post is pretty evident in the title of the song.  Second of all, I just really love this song and the band that sings it.  For some reason, all of their songs make me feel really happy and upbeat.  Plus, the way the lead singer’s voice sounds on the albums is almost identical to how it sounds live, which makes me like the group that much more.

Week Nine: “Romantic Tree”

“I like to see the difference between good and evil as kind of like the foul line at a baseball game. It’s very thin, it’s made of something very flimsy like lime, and if you cross it, it really starts to blur where fair becomes foul and foul becomes fair.”– Harlan Coben

tree

This is a watercolour painting called “Romantic Tree” by an artist whose profile names are Ireart or Dimdi.  Her first name is Irene, and she is and Italian artist, but there isn’t much other information available on her.

I understand that this painting looks really simple- I mean, it’s a tree– but the effect that watercolour produces is the blurring of the aspects of the image.  Looking at it, there are very few sharp, clear edges, and all of the colours bleed into each other.  It isn’t only this image that has these characteristics; all watercolour images do this because of the medium they are created with.  If you’ve read any of my other posts, you have probably realized that I don’t actually discuss the artworks, but instead use them to introduce my particular philosophical, moral, etc. points.    Obviously, that is what is going to happen here, so I should just go ahead and get on with it.

It’s cliche to say that things in life aren’t strictly black and white, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the truth.  Nothing in life is black and white.  We live in a world that is just one big grey area.  It doesn’t bother me if someone wants to claim that there are people who are totally and completely good or evil, but that is a mater of opinion, and I will have to disagree with that particular one.  Each and every person has ulterior motives behind their actions, and all people are doing the right thing in their own minds.  Why else would there be conflicts, disagreements, and wars?

In reality, I am both an idealist and a realist.  I want everyone to be kind and loving and get along all the time, making the world a happy, peaceful place, but at the same time I realize that this is highly improbable.  It’s impossible really, because no person is that good.  There is always someone who will be at odds with the other members of society or act for selfish reasons, and that person is all of us at one point or another, some people more often than others.  Humans are not selfless creatures, so why should we pretend they are.  I see this view of the world as realism, but it could just be cynicism, but  I am not yet so cynical that I have become a pessimist.  I do think that there is good in people, in all people. It could be something as simple as giving a dollar to a homeless person, but even an action as small and simple as that is still an act of kindness and shows that there is some part of the person that is caring.  Think about the Nazis- they committed terrible atrocities to support their own sense of superiority, but at the same time they did it with the belief that they were protecting their families and their friends and making their land safer.  Society doesn’t believe they were correct in their thoughts, but the individuals probably thought they were doing the right thing for the most part.

Like the arguments you would have with your parents about some particular thing that you had done, everyone believes that the other is in the wrong and that they themselves know what is correct.  You believe that you were right to do what you had, but your parents believed that they were right to scold you.  Even simple events like those are filled with grey areas.

P.S. “Funny the Way It Is” by Dave Matthews Band= The video is a bit odd, and the song isn’t directly related to the post, but parts of the lyrics could be.  I realize that I called this my week nine post but never did a week eight one.  This is because last week was spring break and was incorrect in my assumption that I didn’t need to do a post.  So, instead of writing a post last week I just laid around at home sleeping.  Sorry, guys.  I will put up a week eight post, but it will awkwardly be after this one.

Week Seven: “Diamond Dust”

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”– Desmond Tutu

judithbraundiamonddust9

orig_333_3736

This wall mural, called “Diamond Dust”, is actually a charcoal image created by Judith Braun using finger-painting.  The first picture is of Judith actually painting the mural, and the second is the finished product.  If you remember how it was to finger-paint, each section of colour and paint is actually a finger print.  It isn’t until you get a large amount of the prints on the paper that an actual picture begins to form.  It is the same with Braun’s mural.  If you look at some of the other pictures she has on her site, a few or them depict her actual process of painting, and the initial stages look like nothing more than simple black prints.  Once you combine thousands of those prints, though you end up with a work of art that is extremely beautiful in it’s uniqueness.

If you think about it, this is how society also works.  One person alone is equivalent to practically nothing in the grand scheme of things.  That sounds a bit harsh when you think about how focused people are on being “individuals” and their “own person”, but even the most famous and influential person would be nothing without people around to watch, follow, and listen to them.  It isn’t until you get groups of these insignificant beings together that they start to have an impact or effect change in the world.  I feel like we are often so intent on being “true to ourselves” that we forget how impossible it is for us humans to thrive on our own.  Getting a bit technical, humans were not created to be solitary creatures.  Society itself is organized based on the assumption that humans operate on pack mentality, and yet we try to divide ourselves up by race, ethnicity, preference, and belief.  Seems a little counterproductive, doesn’t it?  It’s especially contradictive when you realize that the overall goal that our societies have is to cause a change in the world for the better and that most of these separate groups also claim to want something similar.

Change isn’t something that will ever occur because of the efforts of one person.  This isn’t because those efforts aren’t for a good cause or headed in the right direction.  It is simply because the small change that one person makes won’t spread to the rest of the world without help from other people.  In my opinion, if our goal really is to change and improve the world then we need to stop dividing into groups amongst ourselves and start cooperating to reach the desires result.  Remember the cliche “United we stand, divided we fall”?  There is a reason it has been used so much.  It actually is a sound theory and take on humanity.  Obviously, the way we have been doing things hasn’t been working, because the separation of groups creates tension and stops progress.  Just look at the legislative branch of the United States government and the relationship between the two political parties within it and the overall relationship it has with the United States president.  For anything to work in the future, whether it be a change in government policy or just an overall shift in society and how it’s run, there needs to be a massive compromise where everyone puts aside their differences and actually works together to accomplish a goal.

P.S. “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles= I’m leaving the link to the actual song on the music page like I normally do, but there is a particular version of the song that I felt went along with this post better than the song by itself.  This video is a collaborative effort by the nations of the world, sponsored by Starbucks, to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa.  Mainly, I chose this video because the cooperation of the various countries really exemplifies the unity theme, but there was a second reason I chose it.  Even if you aren’t a fan of the song, I would recommend watching the video just to see how the Danish decided to be international comedians.

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